I've had a love of reading for as long as I can remember. I was that kid in high school who picked the longest book out of the selection to do a report on. But, I'd never thought of being a writer. That just seemed like one of the careers that only special people got to do, kind of like being an actor or a musician. It took a lot of floundering through life (two failed attempts at college, jobs at lame places like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster, a failed website design business, becoming a wife, mother, and homeowner) for me to figure out that I could be a writer.
The idea started to percolate when I discovered romance novels. I've talked about my love for the genre before over on the Entangled Teen blog. I fell in love with them and started to formulate my own stories. After a couple of unfinished manuscripts, more life stuff happened and writing got put on the back-burner. A couple of years later I read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I was so enchanted by the story that I checked out Stephanie's blog and was in awe of how cool it must be to be an author.
I mean, you get to do something you love, share that something with people and maybe have them love it too, AND you can work from home (which really means you don't have to change out of your pajamas if you don't want to)! After digging a little deeper into the online book community, I wanted to commit. I wanted to see if I could do it. So, in December 2010 I started a blog to record the adventure of writing my first novel. It was a YA fantasy story about dreams and teenagers who are part gods who can jump in and out of people's dreams... And it was a train wreck, of course. Seriously, I started the book with a dream, had my main character wake up from the dream, and then go to the bathroom to look in the mirror.
|*SHIVER* Yeah, it was that bad.|
It took me 6 or 7 months to finish. After editing it, I sent out a grand total of *drum roll* ONE query. Now that I look back on it, it was the hardest query to send out. I was a nervous wreck as my mouse pointer hovered over the send button. But I did it. And got no response. After realizing the book needed a complete rewrite, I tucked it away telling myself I'd revisit it one day which I still plan to do.
Then the idea for The Summer I Became a Nerd hit me. I threw the idea out to Stefanie and she said, "Go with it!"
TSIBaN took much less time to write, about 3 or 4 months. I got some interest from an agent before it was even done due to me putting a description up on my blog. When it was ready, I sent out more than one query, lol. I think it was more like 11.
So, December and January of 2012 went by. I got rejections. I'd only heard back from maybe 5 of the 11 I'd sent. The only request from an agent I received was from the one who stumbled upon it on my blog. I was starting to feel a little down on the querying process. I believed I had a great story and didn't understand why no one wanted to look at it. That's when I looked into Entangled Publishing in February. The difference between the way I felt when I sent that first query not even a year before and in sending this query was night and day.
|First query feels|
|My feels after having done it more than a few times.|
Here's the query that got the book noticed:
Dear Ms. Howland,
On your February wish list, you mentioned LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR which I found to be full of heart and quirky characters. So, I thought you might be interested in my manuscript. Here's a little about it:
Seventeen-year-old Emma Jean Summers may look like just another dumb, blond cheerleader as she strolls through the halls with her quarterback boyfriend, but on the inside, she wonders about what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book or if that sci-fi show she's obsessed with will be canceled. The fact that she is a huge nerd hiding in a popular girl's body is not just unknown, it's ANTI-known, and she wants to keep it that way.
Now that school is out for the summer, Emma can finally spend some alone time with who she really is. That is, until Alan finds out about her secret. He's the adorkable guy behind the counter at the local comic shop, and pretty soon, she starts to give in to being a true geek with him as her mentor. During the next few weeks, he introduces her to a world of comic conventions, live-action role playing, and first-person-shooter video games.
It's when she lies to her parents, using her best friend as an excuse to go on these nerdy excursions, that things start to get sketchy. Not to mention, Emma's boyfriend, who's on vacation, would probably be kind of upset to find out she's falling for another guy. It's only a matter of time before everything blows up in her face, and she learns what people actually think about who she truly is.
THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD is my 62,000 word YA romantic comedy inspired by John Hughes' classic eighties films and my lifetime love of comic books. Below are the first 5 pages. I've been blogging for over a year here: leahraemillerblog.blogspot.com. I can also be found on Twitter (@LeahR_Miller). Thank you for your time and consideration.
Twenty minutes later I got a response from Heather asking for the full! A week later I was talking to her on the phone! A couple of days after that I was signing the contract! That's how crazy the publishing industry can be, folks.
I'm still not agented, which I hope to fix in the coming year. Maybe having already been published will give me a leg up, maybe not. I hope to share that journey with you all, as well. At the moment, I'm working on edits, trying to make this book shine per the suggestions of my editor.
And there you have it! I'm extremely looking forward to discussing writing and publishing and all that goodness with all of you!
Once again, it's contest time!!!! I'm giving away a whopping $10 gift certificate to Amazon, just enough for a new book. I won't say that you HAVE to pre-order my book, but I thought I'd let you know that it is up for pre-order... Just saying ;)
I'll also be giving away a query critique. Same rules apply. If you don't need it or want it, you can pass it on to a friend or whatever :)
Contest ends Wednesday so get to entering!