Secret Agent Update

On Monday, I posted this on Facebook:

I just received a request, from AN ACTUAL AGENT OF ACTUAL BOOKS THAT ARE ACTUALLY ON SHELVES IN LIBRARIES AND BOOKSTORES, for my full manuscript!

I both can and cannot believe this news.

Thank you Jesus!

Most of you know that I finished my novel in September, then spent a week researching agents and writing (and revising…and revising…and revising) my query letter.

On Monday, about five weeks after my queries went out to six agents, I received one email requesting the full novel, and one email saying, “No thanks.” On closer look, another agent’s website stated that if four weeks passed without hearing from her, to go ahead and look elsewhere.

So, the score stands as follows: 1 maybe, 2 no’s, and waiting on 3.

This is starting to feel real, baby. And exciting!!! In fact, in a lapse of judgment I may move to regret, I wrote this back to the agent who asked to see more:

Dear Secret Agent,
It would not be stretching the truth to say that I screamed loudly enough to wake the neighbors when I received this email. Thank you for walking me through another milestone.
Just kidding about the Secret Agent part! But seriously, will I someday, in an interview, laughingly recount the time my agent decided to work with me based on the puppy-like energy I showed in my email? Or will I descend slowly into the bitterness of regret, knowing I had blown my one shot at greatness on a stupid impulsive email?
Ah, who cares? I meant what I said. Now I’ve just got to wait, what? A month? A week? A few days? How long can it possibly take to read my book, anyway? Really, friends are wondering when I “find out,” and I honestly don’t know. This isn’t like a recipe: Shut agent and book in oven at 350 for eight days. Results may vary.
Thank you, Secret Agent; I will always remember you as the one who wrote me my first “send me more” request. Thanks even to you, Agent of Doom, who wrote me that rejection email; that’s a first too! I’ve never been able to say, “I took a year-and-a-half to write a novel, and sent it to an agent, but she rejected it.” Now I can!
I’m feeling like less and less of a fraud when people ask me what I do and I say “writer.” I feel legit.
like feeling legit. And so, that reminds me…here’s another thing I didn’t used to be able to say: It’s time to go work on my second novel!
Creepy illustration credit: Ben Crowder (Flickr: Secret Agent) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

New Piece Online at Mothers Always Write

I’m honored to announce that a new essay is up on Mothers Always Write. Click here to take a look–in it I share my true and painful ER experience from when my daughter broke her arm. Trust me: if you’re a parent, you will want to read this now, before one of your own children breaks a bone.

As always, look around Mothers Always Write while you’re there. This gem of a journal always has lovely writing!

Getting over your bad self: Writing for children’s markets

What is 8 pages long, is read by a very small audience, and has ONE OF MY STORIES ON THE COVER???

Our Little Friend magazine!

In this post, I’d like to share a bit about writing for children’s markets.

Like any field, writing comes with its own set of elitism. There are certain types of writing, and specific publications, that authors aspire to. So we all sweat and labor and send off our best 10,000 word literary essay to a giant in the industry, and cross our fingers until, oh, our next birthday. Duotrope (a database of publications for writers), has lists of the slowest and most challenging markets. For the top 25 slowest markets, the number of days an author has to wait to hear back about a submission ranges from 286 to 483 days–well over a year! And the statistics for the most challenging markets are even harder to swallow: all of the top 25 in this category accept less than half of one percent. It’s hard to imagine, but for one of the journals, a famous one that you can buy at any Barnes and Noble, an author would have to wait an average of 276 days to learn whether a submission fell into the .2% which are accepted–or the 99.8% which aren’t.

And that journal isn’t even first on either list.

This brings me to writing for children’s publications. Many authors ignore these markets, thinking that they aren’t literary enough, or important enough, or famous enough. As a former public school teacher, this attitude grosses me out (it’s why a teacher with a family of four qualifies for the food bank), but as an author it is just fine with me. It means there is less competition.

This week, I’ve got a piece on the cover of a sweet little devotional magazine. I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. They may have changed the title–a common editorial move that can happen anywhere–but look at the amazing illustration to go with it! And, something many writers don’t know: children’s markets pay, and they pay well. I got paid about $0.10/word for this story; that’s about $18/hour for this particular piece. Yes, there are higher paying markets out there, but I love the approachability of smaller journals. They are perfect for me at this stage in my writing career.

So, log onto Duotrope (or sign up if you haven’t already), and search up those markets who cater to kids. Children deserve well-crafted, meaningful writing–and hard-working authors in this genre can earn a decent wage.

I hope to read your name in one of the magazines my children bring home!