Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Introducing Deena, Miss Recently Repped! (or Fun But Non-Incriminating Information for Anyone Internet-Stalking Me)

Tip of the Day: Beware the combination of an empty refrigerator and full tins of Xmas cookies. Especially at dinner time. And breakfast. And, um, lunch, too.

Hello and welcome to Author2Author! Thanks for spending valuable time here with me when you’re probably already addicted to a dozen other blogs. But I promise, this one is worth adding to your daily read -- soon you won’t be able to sleep at night if you haven’t checked in with us.

Hopefully you’re here because you’re interested in our writing journeys. (But if you are here to internet stalk me, the least you could do is buy our books.) I am happy to share this with you, and hope you’ll weigh in with your own journeys, tips, questions, answers, etc., because lord knows the writer’s gig is never short, simple, or easy and we need all the support we can get!

I’ll start with the explanation of how I got my name, Miss Recently Repped: I signed with my agent one month ago! OK, that was probably obvious, so here’s some more background info on me, starting with those days of no sleep and weirdo roommates that I like to call college.

College Undergrad: Wrote a bunch of short stories. Thought I wanted to be a journalist. Thought wrong. Majored in Communications and Creative Writing while working at the public library.

2001-2002: Finished college, and wrote some more short stories while working my new full time day job as a legal editor. Read a lot of novels. Got bored out of my gourd. Went back to school.

Grad School: Got my Masters in Library Science where my favoritist class was Resources and Services for Young Adults. I reconnected with the books I had always loved and read as a kid – and still loved but just didn’t know it. I had always thought I wanted to be a college librarian, but that class alone convinced me I wanted to go back to public libraries and be a YA librarian.

June 2004: After I got my MLS diploma, I was restless again and searching for a YA librarian job (I’m still seeking this job, so any library directors out there gimme a shout!*****). I was also reading YA novels like a fiend. One day I sat down at the computer and after a fruitless job search, was like “Now what?” “Well,” I answered myself, “I could write a YA novel. How hard could it be? I could be published just like all these other authors whose books I’m reading!” [HA! Yes, HAHAHA on me. Not hard? Right.] I connected with two writer friends and we formed a critique group. I also found a YA novel writing contest online, saw it had a submission deadline of December 31, 2004, and decided I’d have my novel done by then. I did. I submitted Novel #1 in all its unbeknownst-to-me-horrible glory, but I’d met my goal! Go me!

2005: Got the You Did Not Win letter from the contest. Sent out [HORRIBLE] query letters to publishers on it. Wrote Novel #2 and submitted it to the contest in December. At that point I knew it wouldn’t win, but it was still my measurable goal and I had attained it. Got form rejections, and one request for pages on N#1. I pity the editor who read those pages. I also discovered Verla Kay’s Blue Board and learned a TON from it!

2006: Joined SCBWI and went to conferences. Wrote Novel #3 and queried my first agents on it. Got a lot of requests for pages, and this book was better, but I still had a lot to learn. In August I took an online writing class where I hooked up with Emily and Tina, and started my LJ where I met Lisa. Kate joined my in-person critique group. Finished Novel #4. Collected more agent and editor rejections, some “close but not quite rights.”

2007: Wrote Novel #5 and loved it more than any other book I’d written. Went to more SCBWI conferences. My writing got better and better. I queried more agents on N#5 that summer then started N#6. Chris, my agent, got my query via snail mail in July, requested 30 pages soon after, requested the full ms in late August, then emailed in October to tell me she loved the book and wanted to show it to her boss to see if she could sign me! In November I wrote N#7 for NaNoWriMo, and then the Monday after Thanksgiving I got The Email from Chris saying she wanted to call me the next day and that her boss said yes, she could sign me! We chatted on the phone and got along really well. She totally “gets” my novel and she sent me the contract to sign a week later.

Now I am happily agented and awaiting my first agented subs to editors in this new year! I think 2008 will be a very exciting year for all my Author2Author friends.

Hopefully you will never have to read through a post this long from me again, but alas, its length also gives you insight into my blabbermouthness (which I accept with no apologies). I do hope you were entertained and informed about me, and that you come back to read about our journeys going forward!

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

****Eeeeee!!! I just accepted a position as the Young Adult and Circulation Services Librarian at my local public library! I am THRILLED!!!


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Way to go, Deena! Thanks for sharing your journey. And BTW, I LOVE librarians! You guys rock! I once had a man beg me to talk his granddaughter out of majoring in Library Science. NO WAY! I said.

Congratulations on your drive and on your representation! Good luck with the next step.

Lisa Schroeder said...

I love this post because it shows the best thing to do is to keep writing, keep writing, keep WRITING! :)

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Going public is a little scary. But it's also exhilarating. There are so many wonderful people out there to support you.

I look forward to reading Author2Author every day from now on - so keep it coming!

This is your year!

DeenaML said...

Ghost Girl, Talk someone OUT of becoming a librarian? NEVER! Go you! :)

Lisa, I loved the same sentiment you gave in your recent interview -- you do have to keep writing those novels until you find the one that calls to you so badly, you know it will be IT!

Joyce, meeting up at the Philly con was so cool bc it was like I no longer JUST had online supporters, I had REAL PPL attached to them! :) It DOES make it exhilarating to "put yourself out there."

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you were so near to Kate. Give her a hug for me will ya? She is one of my Chautauqua buds. :-)
After all of your short (but wonderful) posts, I'm thrilled to read this nice, long one and find out so much about you!

Kate Fall said...

Me, too, Deena, it was great to learn how you committed to your goals. I doubt your first novel is as bad as you say, because after all you finished it! You should see how bad my early unfinished novels are.

It's interesting how people start writing YA. Why does it seem like a more attainable goal, I wonder? Because we're more interested in it and that in itself makes it seem easier?

DeenaML said...

Julie, yes, I am super fortunate that Kate and I work together and live in the same city! And I'm glad my long post was refreshing and not snoozy. :)

Kate, I think for me YA seemed more attainable bc that was what I really loved reading. The year after undergrad, I read a ton, but all "adult" books. They were good, but weren't what made me think it'd be fun to write a novel. The YA class for my MLS got me reading those YA books again and totally hooked me. So I think you're right -- "attainable" is what we're drawn to reading?

Emily Marshall said...

Great post, Deena.

Your story does really motivate me to keep working and writing.

And I agree with you about your comments about writing YA. Even though I read lots of non-YA books, I still love YA so much and for right now that's where my "mind" is at and my character ideas. I can't see writing anything else for awhile.

And it's funny because I started reading so much YA again after college because I was so bored at waiting for all the teen movies to keep coming out. Good thing there's so many good YA books out, now. No wait.

Kristina Springer said...

You're such a hard worker Deena!! Thanks for posting all the details-- it's really cool to see how you got from point a to agent. :-)

I love writing for this age group too! I tried other genres but it always felt like I was really pushing and wasn't so fun. I tried this and it was instant fun and stories just came pouring out.

Little Willow said...

Good luck to all of you! :)

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Yeah! I almost forgot I met you at the Fall Philly! Are you coming to the EPA Poconos Retreat?

Rhonda Helms said...

What a fantastic post!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I look forward to seeing you go further down the line and sell, sell, sell!!

DeenaML said...

Ghost Girl, sadly I won't be making it to the Poconos, but if you're going (???) you must post notes!

Thanks for the good wishes, everyone! It HAS been hard work -- and will continue to be -- but looking back, I enjoyed writing every one of my novels, and have enjoyed every part of the journey. With the speed this industry moves, you really have to love what you're doing. I'm so glad I do!

Sherryl said...

Deena - I am totally impressed with the fact that you kept writing, and kept producing novels. Did you feel you were improving with each one?
Most people have trouble finishing one, and then they pin all their hopes on it. Seven! Inspiring!

DeenaML said...

Hi Sheryl! It's funny, I didn't even think my first novel was bad until I'd finished the second one and collected form rejections on the first. Then I was like "oh dear...." :)

But I had so many more stories in my head, so I didn't worry about "abandoning" those and moving forward -- then I DID realize what was lacking in my first novels and I did improve with my later ones for sure. It was a great feeling to know I WAS getting better!

And I totally hear ya about writers pinning all their hopes on that first novel. I recently read an interview with a children's book editor who said basically "never send our your first novel." It's a practice novel, one that gets you into the groove of writing and revising and critiquing. Then, move on and get that second one polished.

I also see writers on message boards and such who do have lots of hopes pinned on that first novel as well, and they are sad about all the Rs they are getting on it, but they should be writing something new while subbing, not waiting around for an acceptance before writing their next novel.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Hi Deena! Although you're no longer aiming to be a journalist, I shall honour our high school "agreement" and say that if you ever need a photographer for your projects just let me know!