Everyone’s writing journey is different.
This is mine.
I began writing my first “novel” at the age of 10. It was chock full of danger, dragons, castles, and a really smart and clever protagonist that I may or may not have based off of myself. (Alright, I totally did.) All the characters were named after my classmates, and it was a whopping TEN pages long, which felt incredibly long at the time.
So although that might not have been a full-out novel, it was the first time I fell in love with telling stories.
After that, I dabbled in some writing projects throughout middle school and high school, but mainly stage plays and short stories. Nothing serious. I had much better things to do, after all, like defend my laser tag high score and sign up for every club imaginable because apparently having no life outside of school sounded fun at the time.
It wasn’t until college when I took my first screenwriting class that I fell in love with writing all over again. For a while, I perfected my screenwriting craft, convinced that I was going to become a famous screenwriting and win an Oscar one day. I moved out to LA, joined an awesome screenwriting critique group (go Werewhales!), and wrote script after script.
And nothing happened. The closest I ever got to moving the dial was an actual pitch meeting with a production company…that went horribly. After a bunch of dead ends, I decided to put screenwriting aside and focus on my first love - novels.
I joined SCBWI and attended a ton of great events. It helped that SCBWI is headquartered in LA, so events, workshops, and retreats were plentiful. Slowly, I began to develop my craft and story telling skills.
I wrote my first novel, a Middle Grade mystery, in 2009. I revised it once, showed it to a few critique partners I’d recently met, and revised again. Then, I sent out my first queries. Rejections slowly trickled in, until one day I got a request for a full. I was so excited that I emailed them back immediately with the requested material. I waited, refusing to query any more because I was just so certain this agent would be THE agent.
After a full year and a couple nudges, it was clear the agent had ghosted me.
But by that time, the writing bug had fully infected me (ew) and I was hooked. I wrote another novel, and another. I played around with different categories and genres, from Middle Grade high fantasy to Young Adult fairy tales. With each book, my craft improved, and so did my love for writing and books.
Whenever I felt a manuscript was as polished as it could be, I would send out a batch of queries. Full requests kept coming, but never any offers of rep. I knew I was close, but I couldn’t quite get there yet, wherever there may be.
For my sixth novel, I wrote a quirky YA horror. It was (and still mostly is) the novel of my heart. It poured out of me easier than any story had before. I love, love, loved it. But no agents did. In fact, that book had a worst request rate than any of my previous books.
I had followed the advice “write what you love” and it had bit me in the butt. Hard. Frustrated, I decided that I’d write one of my more commercial or “hook-y” ideas.
Thus, For Evil Eyes Only came to fruition, a MG supervillain humor novel. I revised it with the help of critique partners and in early 2020, I decided that I needed to put myself and my manuscript out there more. I entered into Author Mentor Match and was OVER THE MOON to be selected as a mentee by the wonderful Jennifer Honeybourn. With her guidance and wisdom, I did one more revision and queried yet again.
But this time, everything clicked. I got an offer of rep in late July and signed with my most wonderful agent, Hilary Harwell at KT Literary!
For Evil Eyes Only is my seventh novel. Yup, 7!
My writing journey has been a long, hard one full of highs, lows, frustrations, shared laughs, and shared misery. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. :)
Check out my Instagram highlights for more Writerly Wisdoms!
Some of my favorite writing podcasts: Scriptnotes, 88 Cups of Tea, Literaticast, Print Run, Writing Excuses
My all-time favorite writing site: Susan Dennard’s author website (you NEED to subscribe to her newsletter)
Favorite writing competition: Author Mentor Match