Monday, April 23, 2018

How I Got My Book Deal With Swoon Reads!

It's still hard to believe that I have a book deal! And that it's with a manuscript I wrote four years ago! Wow, that really puts things in perspective.

Way back in 2014, I started working on a book titled Fading. The idea had come to me in a dream (I know I know, insert Stephenie Meyer joke here. But I love her so don't judge). I quickly worked on a first draft and spent some time revising it before sending it to a CP (thanks, Molly!). You see, I wanted to enter Pitch Wars. I thought this story had potential and hoped it would make it into the contest. After some more revisions I entered Pitch Wars 2014. And I got in as an alternate. I couldn't believe my luck. I thought, maybe this was it. I was getting closer to my dream. With the help of my mentor (the incredibly insightful and talented Monica Bustamante Wagner) I strengthened my pitch, query letter, and first couple of chapters.

Right when I entered the contest I had started to query some agents. One of whom requested pages. After I got into Pitch Wars I let her know that I would be revising my manuscript and if she would like to look at the newest version once done, she said yes.

The showcase came and went, I got requests. Some of those requests turned to fulls, and then eventually I got more rejections, but that's how publishing works. It was a downer, but I wasn't ready to give up. There were still plenty of agents out there who might want to represent me. Then the agent who had been waiting for my revised manuscript emailed me. She loved the story, but thought it needed some more work. She gave me some notes and invited me to resubmit if I decided to implement those changes. I took her up on the offer of the R&R because I really liked her suggestions and felt that the changes would make my story much stronger.

After I was done with those revisions I sent it to more readers (thanks again Molly and Soni Wolf). Once again I revised and then sent it back to the agent and waited. Well, not exactly, I also decided to query more agents. Again, I got requests, partials and fulls, again I got rejections. C'est la vie. Fast forward a few months and the agent with the R&R got back to me, she again told me all the things she loved about the story, but ultimately passed. Yes, it was a bit devastating, but I'm nothing if not stubborn and giving up wasn't really an option. I thanked her for her time and asked if she had any advice to share. She very sweetly gave me a referral to another agent at a different agency. See, being nice and professional does pay off. Also, it was kind of an ego boost because if she thought my writing and story sucked she would never have given that referral. I thanked her and queried the agent she suggested, making sure to include that it was a referral. The agent immediately requested a full. I again waited. She passed. Sigh. I know, it was tough, but I understood her reasons and appreciated the time she took to look over my story.

This all happened in 2014-2016. At that point I had given birth to my fifth child, and we were in the middle of moving to a new house down the road from us. Lots of life had taken place. I also started working on my next project. I ended up putting aside Fading, figuring it had run its course and I needed to move on. Possibly for my own sanity.

At this time Katy Upperman, whom I interacted with through our blogs and Twitter, announced that she had a book deal with Swoon Read. I had never heard of Swoon Reads before and decided to check it out. I loved their model where readers got a say in what would be published. It's new, unique, smart, and successful. Katy wrote about her experience with them and encouraged others to submit their polished work. I thought it over. I asked my Pitch Wars '14 peeps about it, they are all incredibly talented, insightful, and encouraging group of writers and I trusted them. They said to go for it.

I chickened out.

The fear of rejection kept me in place . I thought, "It's not good enough. I need to focus on my current project and put this one aside." But for whatever reason, I couldn't quite forget my story about a boy and girl falling in love while fighting the demons of their past.

Let's fast forward again. It's summer 2017, my husband and I decided to do something completely insane and moved our family across the ocean to Hawaii. Maybe I was riding high on that wave of change and possibility, I'm not sure, but Swoon Reads opened up submissions and I thought "Why the hell not, I've got nothing to lose."

I went through Fading one more time, polishing it up a bit, changed the title to Chase the Night and *tried* uploading it onto the website. After about ten times it actually worked. In fact I had to contact Swoon's team because my manuscript would not upload and they had to help me figure out what was wrong. I did think that maybe that was a sign from the universe to not go through with it, but like I said, I'm stubborn and I refused to not follow through this time.

Then I waited (publishing is pretty much waiting, waiting, and waiting some more). Submissions closed. I got a few reviews, some adds, but it was mostly quiet. And I was okay with it. I remember feeling at peace with my decision. I remember thinking that I had given it my all, sought out all options, and it was time. Finally. To put Chase the Night aside. Yes, my heart broke a little, but I learned so much while writing that story and I would always cherish it for giving me that little glimpse of what could be if I stuck to the whole writing gig.

Now let's go to February 2018. Once again submissions had opened for Swoon. All of sudden my activity for CTN saw a huge rise as an influx of new hopeful authors and readers joined the website. I didn't think much of it, honestly. At one point a reader compared the story to Step Up, which I loved because that is my go to dance movie! (Let's take a moment of silence for the break up of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.) I rode the high of that review for a bit and then went back to writing my new manuscript.

The end of February approached fast. It was mid-morning Hawaii time. I just finished my workout and was sweating quite profusely thanks to the humidity, and my heart rate still rode the high of my cardio session. I decided to check my email before eating some breakfast. After scrolling down a bit one caught my eye. It was from a Swoon Reads editor. She wanted to talk to me about Chase the Night. My heart, which had started to calm itself, immediately picked up steam again. I stared at the email for a few minutes. Then I called my husband. He thought something terrible had happened because, according to him, I sounded like I was hyperventilating. He was ecstatic, both that a tragedy hadn't befallen our family, and that this could be IT. The moment I had been working towards for over a decade.

After hanging up with him I emailed back the editor. We set up a time to talk. I proceeded to freak out some more. The morning of the call was a bit surreal. My husband took part of the morning off so he could watch our toddler while I was on the phone. I honestly didn't believe them at first when they said they wanted to publish Chase the Night. I was completely overwhelmed and didn't talk as much as I wanted to because I was taking it all in. I'm truly so so so grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I'm grateful to every person that read any word of Chase the Night, to the Swoon Reads team, to the readers on the website who took the time to read and review it. I'm grateful for my family for putting up with me as I daze off into my own little worlds, creating new characters and stories. My favorite part of this whole thing was hearing and seeing and reading the reactions from various family members and friends when I shared the news.

My journey wasn't quick. It wasn't easy. Over ten years of writing took place before I got this deal. Chase the Night was my fourth novel. I have various projects at different stages that I've worked on  before, in between, and after I finished Chase the Night. And I still don't have an agent. Nothing about writing and publishing is perfect, nothing is concrete. I have book deal now, but I have no clue what the future holds. I'm enjoying the now, but also remaining realistic at the same time. But like I said before, I'm grateful, and I will continue to be grateful. If you stuck with this post from beginning to end, thank you! If you're still on this journey, unsure of what the future holds, afraid of continuing, I hope this gave you a glimmer of what could be. Please don't give up. If writing is your passion, your love, if you can't imagine a life where you're not writing, then please continue. I will cheer every single one of you on as you find your own path to your dreams.
**Edit** I TOTALLY forgot to mention that I also got into the Sun Vs. Snow contest with Fading and wanted to give a shout out to Amy Trueblood and Michelle Hauck who run the contest as well Rachel Simon who helped me polish my pitch, query letter, and pages.

Monday, December 18, 2017

I Finished The Thing

I did it. I finished a manuscript. I typed The End, even though it's just the beginning.

I haven't finished writing a novel in...a while. The last time I did was a few years ago. It was the project that got me into Pitchwars as an alternate. With it I had many requests, fulls and partials, an R&R and even a referral when the agent who requested the R&R ended up passing, which is kind of a big deal. It meant that even though it wasn't right for her she believed in it enough to pass it along to someone else. And though that agent did end up rejecting it as well (ugh, I hate that R word, it's so...mean) I had hope. My writing didn't completely suck, and I was getting closer.

Here's the thing though, with hope also came the doubts. Which can be difficult to move past. I got a little lost along the way. I didn't know where to go next. My mojo took a hit. I struggled to write and to focus. I struggled from one project to the next, unsure where to go from there. I started and stopped multiple WIPs. Then the idea for my next novel hit me. It was something I felt strongly about, something that had been on my mind for a while. And it took me almost 18 months to finish the damn thing.

During the course of writing my newest manuscript, I had to maneuver around a few stumbling blocks. Like the difficulties presented by caring for a newborn. Then there was that time we moved. Twice. In less than a year. Oh, and one of those moves was thousands of miles across the ocean. Yeah, it has been a doozy of a year. But I persevered and here I am. I'm glad to be here. I'm glad that I can still write, because don't we all doubt our ability to do so when it seems like we're going around in circles going nowhere when in reality we're making more progress than we thought?

Writing is hard, it probably won't get easier, and might even get harder, but at least I get to learn something new about myself along the way. Now I just need to get through revisions. Like 10000 times. #writinglife

Thursday, October 19, 2017


I've thought a lot about the whole inspiration thing over the last month. You know, writing when you feel inspired and not forcing yourself to do it when you plain old don't feel like it. I used to do that. More than I like to admit, but then it hit me. Inspiration is a fickle b***h and you can't rely on it to get you to where you want to be. This is tough for me to say since my name literally translated is Inspiration in Hindi, but alas, it's true.

I have daily routines. One of those routines now includes writing. I wake up, get my kids ready for school, drop them off, work out (I can't function without exercise, it's my "me" time), have breakfast, shower, clean up the house, and then I write. All of this while also taking care of a toddler, so sometimes the timing of all of these things can be a bit off. Sometimes I write for fifteen minutes, other times it's a half hour or more (blessed be! Those days are the best).

BUT, not every day. I fit my writing in a few times a week, I don't force myself to do it every day. If I do by some miracle get to write every day, I consider myself lucky and don't pat myself on the back too much. So I have a routine, but I also give myself wiggle room and don't kick myself in the head if I can't get to it every day.

So why did I change my whole writing while inspired philosophy? Well, because inspiration will come. Sooner or later while your getting it done, it will suddenly hit you and you'll be so glad that you're already clacking away on those keys and don't have drop what you're working on in order to grab your laptop and open up that document (although those moments still happen and I'm so glad I can a phone with a notes app to help out) Also, I want to make a career out of this and that can't happen if I don't actually do any writing.

With that said, breaks can be necessary. Once I'm done with a project, I will take a break. I'll read as much as I possibly can, catch up on my favorite shows (Jane the Virgin and The Flash come to mind) and then get back to it. Everyone has their own way of working and I honestly don't think there's a wrong way to do it as long as it gets done. At the end of the day (or week) if I have something to do show for my work, I'm glad. Progress is progress, and isn't that what all really want? To move forward?

Monday, October 2, 2017

That Time I Moved To Hawaii and Why It Takes So Long For Me To Draft

Yup, I now live in the land of Moana, surfing, beaches, and so so so much more.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, mountain, grass, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, plant, child, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, beach, outdoor, nature and water

You would think that living in paradise meant heaven all day every day, but some things don't change even if your location does.

Lots of mundane things still fill my day. Kids still have school, I still have to drive them there and pick them up, I still have to run errands almost daily, I still have bills to pay (why, bills, why?!?), My husband still has to work every day, I still have to do laundry and clean. And roaches. They don't bother me too much, but I never saw them when I lived on the mainland. And not just the small annoying ones, but the giant flying kind! A couple flew into our house the other day and both my husband and I kind of freaked out. So all in all the same regular old things as before. Now that I've knocked on paradise and maybe made it seem not all that great let's talk about what has changed.

Beaches. So many beautiful and incredible beaches every where. Sure there are crowds ( I'm already sick of all the tourists lol) but they are so breathtaking. Every weekend we pick a new one to try out and none of  them have disappointed yet. Then there are the hikes that feel like a trek through the jungle, filled with guava trees and lush green scenery. With no snakes! One of my favorite things about Hawaii is the no snakes. Then there is the access to all the tropical fruit. Mangos aplenty, the guavas, papayas, apple bananas, pineapples, lychees, so much yumminess. Then there's the weather. I will miss fall, I assure you I will, but winter? No thanks. See ya later snow! Oh, and the sunsets, every single one is incredible. Plus rainbows everywhere! You see one pretty much daily.

This has been a life changing experience and we've only been here for a few months!

Okay, now let's get back to the writing bit.
Drafting. Ugh. I know, the word can send waves of nausea and shivers of fear down a lot of writers' backs. But I actually don't mind it too much. Although it does take me months to get through just one single draft. Why? Because I can't stop going back and fixing things. Every writer has their way of working and mine is as follows: Write a chapter or two. Go back the next few days and reread those chapters and fix them. Rinse and repeat. Yup, I revise as I draft.

I wish I could write a single draft and not go back. That's not how I operate. This does have some downsides, like the amount of time it takes to get the work done. But there are perks as well: fewer grammatical issues to fix, fewer consistency and plot issues. And, yes, I do go back and revise even more after the draft is done.

Currently I am finishing up my latest manuscript and hoping to have it in some beta hand ASAP. I also have another story idea percolating and I can't wait to get working on it!

Well, happy writing all! Hope you like the pictures, I plan on posting more. Hawaii is gorgeous and surreal and completely magical at times.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It's Been A While

Do people blog anymore? If not then I probably won't get an answer. Or maybe I won't get an answer because people don't read my blog anymore. Which I don't really blame them for. I sort of fell off the face of the Earth (or at least blog land) and am trying to find my way back. Hope this time it sticks.

Since the last time I blogged A LOT has changed. I moved. Twice. Once within a mile of our old home, and once all the way across the ocean to an island surrounded by the vast blue everythingness of said ocean where the chances of a tsunami or tidal wave or hurricane are pretty high, which now that I'm thinking about and the state of our current climate (Harvey, Irma) might not have been the greatest idea. But it's paradise and you have to pay something for this little piece of heaven. We were probably nuts to do it, but when a once in a lifetime opportunity falls into your lap you should always take it. No ragrets, not even one letter 😉 (bonus points if you get that movie reference).

One thing that hasn't changed? Current writerly status. Still unagented and unpublished. And you know what? I'm kind of okay with it. Yes I am still writing and pursuing the impossible dream, but I am in no rush. I am taking my time, perfecting my craft, working on stories I love but may never see the light of day. But why? Because why not? Because I can. Because I want to. I love this writing thing and I want to keep at it. Either until someone finally takes notice of my literary genius and jumps at the chance to make one of my dreams come true, or until I die. Whichever comes first.

Anyway, I don't know how long I'll keep up this blogging thing. I might be the only one that ever takes the time to peruse this page, but I'm trying. And maybe rambling a bit. But I'm here and I plan on staying. For now at least.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Goal Setting and Reality

I turned thirty recently. It doesn't seem real, mainly because I still feel like I just graduated high school and just got married and just had kids. None of it adds up to thirty. Old people aren't joking when they say time goes by faster as you get older. But I'm not here to talk about my impending doom and possible mid-life crisis, I'm here to talk about the reality of setting goals and the reality that goes along with not accomplishing those goals.

Five years ago I made a certain goal for myself: get an agent by the time I was thirty. Unfortunately that hasn't happened...yet. I'm not losing hope, but I am frustrated and disappointed by how slow it seems to be going.

It's scary to realize that the goals I set for myself five years ago aren't happening. They are a little closer than before, but still out of grasp. So, what now? It's time to reassess. I took a step back this weekend to reflect on what's happened to keep me from accomplishing this goal and what I can do to make it happen. What l learned is that part of it is my own doing. I've been revising two books for the last several months and that's taken away my focus from finishing any new manuscripts. I've started a couple that I really love, but have yet to complete a first draft. So, yeah, part of it is time management, part of it is prioritizing the wrong projects.

The other part it TIMING. Maybe it's just not my turn yet. That's hard one to swallow because I have no control over it. I do have control over how to react to all the things happening, or in this case not happening, in my life. I'm choosing not to freak out and keep going. That's what distinguishes the winners from the losers.

So now to my new goal: write write and write some more. Don't put a time frame on anything, it will happen when it's meant to happen. But it definitely won't if I stop writing.

Hope you all have set goals for yourself and are trying to accomplish them. But remember, it's okay to fail, because it gets you one step closer to success.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hello, Monday!

Wow, every time I think I'm getting back on track with the writing and blogging thing, I fall behind. Maybe I should stop giving myself so much credit.

The last little while has been productive, though, so there is that. I'm pretty much done with revisions and I have another idea simmering at the back of my mind. I think the only way I'll get through to the end and move on forward is holding myself accountable and blogging helps in that aspect because writing down my goals and publishing them to the world is a great way to be accountable, not just to myself but to everyone out there in the blogosphere. (Sorry for the long winded sentence.)

So, I'll start this Monday off with some goals:

- Revise two chapters (only a few left!)
- Read that book you've been wanting to forever but keep putting off with lame excuses
- Start an outline for new book idea!

How are all of you doing? Did anyone participate in NaNo (Only hours left until it's over!)?