Reaching Past Rejection: How Dreaming Big Led to a Book Deal

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I wrote this in the sand the day before I met my agent in person, at this past summer’s SCBWI LA conference. I was in a bit of a creative/emotional funk, wrapping up months of revisions and getting ready to send my manuscript out into the great big world of publishing. I had one of the best agents in the business, (and her amazing editorial skills), but I had no guarantee that the doors I hoped would open, wouldn’t in fact—close.

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I stood barefoot in the surf and stared toward the horizon, making wishes on the waves. I picked up two sea stones, held them tight and thought of every dream I had for myself as a writer, and threw one of those rocks back to sea. I let the waves carry away the hopes and dreams I’d made, and kept the other stone, as a reminder to myself that those dreams were still out there—waiting for the right time and place to land.

As my feet sank into the sand, I gave myself a pep talk: if things didn’t go as I hoped, I’d allow myself a good cry, then get right back on that metaphorical horse. This wasn’t my first Rejection Rodeo. I had persevered through years of rejected queries and manuscripts to get to this point. The fact that I hadn’t given up was something to celebrate.

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One of the promises I made myself as I watched the August sun sink into the ocean, was that—whether I landed a book deal or not—I’d keep writing.

What I couldn’t know then, was that I’d make it through the ups and downs of the submission process with more than one editor who wanted the stories I had to tell. I couldn’t know then, as I drew those letters in the sand, what Sarah’s voice would sound like when she called and said, “how does it feel to know you’re going to be a published author?” Or how I would cry happy tears when she told me they wanted not just one, but two books.

As I threw my rock out to sea, I didn’t know that some of my dreams would find their landing just eight weeks from that day.

That sea-tossed stone now sits on my desk, a reminder of when I let go of what I couldn’t control, and celebrated what I had accomplished so far.

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If you are holding your own sort of sea stone, remember the dreams you painted inside your heart. Keep pushing. Keep running. Keep learning and growing and doing everything else but give up. And if you’ve been too afraid to go after what you love—maybe this is your moment. Whisper your dreams to the waves and be true to the courageous voice inside you that says “reach.”

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#8TerribleTitles

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My fellow Sweet Sixteeners Janet Taylor, author of THE DIM, and Jessica Cluess, author of A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING, tagged me on Twitter to participate in this blog hop! The rules are simple: Scroll through your manuscript and stop in random places. Whatever you land on becomes one of eight terrible titles. So, here are my beauties taken randomly from my YA debut (spring, 2016), ASHES FOR STARS:

  1. The water is hungry
  2. I am so, so close
  3. I still want my banana
  4. A sort of vibration
  5. My hands these days
  6. Five minutes to curfew
  7. Like it might bite
  8. “Huh-uh.”

Haha! #3 is my favorite. This is actually a timely post because my editor has suggested a title change for my book. Hmm, perhaps I should send her this list . . .? Who wouldn’t want to read a book called “Huh-uh”?

*pets tiny dog and muses about titles*

This isn’t my first title change. Every agent who offered me rep was like, “So . . . how attached to the title are you?” (Originally called SUBPARS) And my wonderful, amazingly-British super-agent Sarah was all, “I hope you’re not married to the title, attol.” *hear that in the queen’s English*

Fast-forward to much earnest re-titling and the editors I spoke to were all

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So, good times over here in Title-land . . .

I now tag fellow Sixteeners Jeff Garvin, author of SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN and Erin Schneider, author of WHERE THE WATER FALLS, as well as my amazeballs CP and author of TRUST ME I”M LYING, Mary Elizabeth Summer, my agency sister, Dawn Kurtagich, author of THE DEAD HOUSE, and hilarious writing friend Rena, who is currently outpacing me in NanoWriMo by like,15,000 words. *cues up blog distraction*

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Happy terrible titles day, everyone! (And wish me luck finding just the right one to (possibly) replace ASHES FOR STARS . . .