Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I am SO excited to write this blog post. This is a post that I have been looking forward to writing for a really really long time. A blog post I have been dreaming about one day writing. These types of posts from other writers always inspired and encouraged me when I was in the depths of the query trenches, so I'm honestly beyond excited to now be able to write one of my very own.  

I am excited to announce I HAVE AN AGENT!!

I still can't believe it. The last few weeks have been an exciting whirlwind, to say the least. 

And to pay it forward, I'm going to be giving away a query critique--more details below! I'm also having a book giveaway, which you can enter on my Booktube channel--more details at the end of this post!

This blog post is much more detailed if you're interested in the full story and information on the journey--but here's my announcement video if you want to see both! 

So, obviously, this did not happen overnight. Oh no, not by any means. So here's a little bit about my journey. If you're a writer, I hope this will inspire you and encourage you to keep writing and to keep trying no matter what. <3 

Note: This is going to be a long post, so if you're more into the destination than the journey, you can scroll to the end to enter the giveaway and see who my agent is!

The Journey

Book One--The Plot-less One

I started writing my first novel in college. It was the first book I started and I am really proud that I finished it. But, as my mom and my best friend pointed out after reading it...the writing was good but it essentially had no plot. They were completely right of course, so off in a drawer that manuscript sits, never to be revived again. It's not that I don't think I could revive it, but that I'm really not interested in the story anymore. 

Book Two: The Epic Sci-Fi

So then I had an idea for my next book, but as it happened, I was just about to start law school. But I figured, hey, I'm always going to be busy, and made writing it a priority. That was my YA Sci-Fi. I wrote it during the first year of law school...a good chunk of it during the lead-up to finals time, which generally seemed to be my most productive writing time #studyingprocrastination. After that, I revised it and had some awesome friends beta read it. 

From there, I won a few random contests from author giveaways, including a full critique of the manuscript from an incredible agent, which was so exciting. Meanwhile, I became more involved in the writing community on Twitter and met other writers through various contests, my local writing group in Atlanta, and some awesome writing retreats. 

So after doing lots of revisions and tons and tons of research on querying and agents, in 2013 I started querying. Oh querying. For the non-writers, querying is when you send agents a "query letter," which is basically a cover letter about your book that has to be super catchy and make the agent read on to your sample pages or whatever other materials the agent has specified to send, such as a synopsis. Agents get hundreds of unsolicited queries so you really have to stand out to them in their "slush pile." So when I started querying, I got a lot of rejections but some requests for a full and a partial of the manuscript too, which was really exciting. 

Pitch Wars #1

And then I heard about Pitch Wars, a contest run by the incredible Brenda Drake, who is essentially the Fairy Godmother to the writing community. Pitch Wars is basically the writing contest of all writing contests.  Published/agented authors, editors, or industry people choose a writer to mentor, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to make it even better. There's then an agent round where each of the mentees' pitches and short samples are posted for agents to request. But the best part of Pitch Wars is the incredible writing community, as I soon learned. 

I met so many people through Pitch Wars and I had no idea at the time how important they would continue to be in my life. Beyond that though, I was so excited because I was selected to be mentored on a team as an alternate. I worked with an amazing mentor who made such incredible suggestions on improving my book even more. And I met Dannie Morin, who was my unofficial mentor and talked up my book to the mentor who selected me. I never could have imagined how much meeting Dannie would influence my writing career. She is the absolute best. More on this later. 

During the time when my mentor and I were working on revisions for Pitch Wars, I also got an edit letter back from the agent who was reading my full manuscript from the contest I'd won. The edit letter was so incredibly helpful, and had suggestions on how to make the book even better. So I officially went back to the drawing board and started even more revisions. At one point, I even just opened up a blank document and started rewriting the book from scratch. I went on more writing retreats with my Atlanta writing group where we joked that we completely tore the book apart and broke it and then figured out how to put it back together. 

The Writing Clubhouse

Also, during this time, shortly after Pitch Wars, Dannie put out a call on her blog/Facebook saying she was going to be starting a writing group and if people who she had selected in contests or that she had mentored wanted to join to let her know. I immediately jumped on her offer and joined what became the most amazing writing group ever--The Writing Clubhouse. Our numbers have grown throughout the years but the group has remained an incredible support through the ups and downs of the writing journey. We have once a month Skype meetings and they have helped and supported me so much through the writing times, the not writing times, the querying times, the revision times, everything. 

Pitch Wars #2

So then it came time for another year of Pitch Wars. And I had revised and revised that book a billion times. I submitted it to Pitch Wars and I got a lot of requests from mentors who wanted to read the full manuscript. It was so encouraging and I was really hopeful I'd get in that year and be mentored...but I didn't. The announcement day was definitely disappointing until some of the wonderful mentors who had read my full book reached out to me on Twitter and via e-mail and told me how much they loved my book. Several of them told me they didn't choose it because they thought it was query ready and they didn't have suggestions on how to mentor it for two months. So that was incredibly encouraging and I went off to the query trenches once again, this time feeling really hopeful. 

BUT....it had now been a few years that I'd been revising this book and now the market for YA science fiction was really really tough, as I soon found out. Once again, I had a few requests, but after six months of querying to no avail (after *years* of revising that book), I was really burned out on that book and decided to set it aside for the time being earlier this year.

So once again, I was looking at the calendar and seeing that Pitch Wars was going to be coming up again. I knew I really wanted to enter something into Pitch Wars because it is honestly the best contest there is. But as the months went on, I was really busy at work and also still really burned out from querying. As Pitch Wars grew closer and closer, it became very clear I wasn't going to have time to write something completely new and be able to submit it.

Book Three: The Funny One I thought Only My BFF & I Would Like

BUT...I did have this other book on my computer. Wait, what other book? Oh, that book that I started before fall law school finals my second year of school #studyingprocrastinationstrikesagain. 

Why study when you can just write instead?

This book was a YA Contemporary and completely different from the YA Sci-Fi in every way. So different in fact, that I didn't think anyone would really like it. I have a note in my journal from back when I first started writing the book, which I always just referred to as Summer Book. I wrote about how I wasn't really writing the book to try to get it published because I didn't know if anyone would like it, but that I was just writing it for me and for one of my best friends, Megan, because I knew she would like it and find it funny. And I thought it was a very David Levithan thing to do, to write a book for your friends, as he does with his Valentine's Day stories for his friends. As many of you know, David is my favorite author, so I just wrote the book to write the book and because I liked it. Also, for the record I noted that the book reminded me of the Red album by Taylor Swift, hence the Taylor Swift references in the book and all the Taylor Swift gifs here. :)

But then things got busy again with school and I was still working on the other book, so I let the book sit, until...finals time spring semester of my second year of law school. Seriously, that became an actual thing I did--writing during finals. So then I revised the rest of the book and finished it at the beginning of the summer and gave it to said bestie Megan and my mom to read. I had definitely set out to write a happy, completely upbeat light summer contemporary. This did not happen. One of the characters had to go to rehab in that draft and another one died in an unrelated boating accident. Which goes to show how terrible authors really are (we live on the tears of readers as you may know). ;) Megan loved the book and got all of the jokes and thought it was funny, and I was like YAY! But again, I didn't really think of querying it or doing anything with it. (No surprise, my mom also liked it). So I just let it sit and gather dust on my computer while I focused all of my attention on the YA Sci-Fi book. 

Pitch Wars #3: Third Time's The Charm

Flash forward to July of this year and Pitch Wars was About To Start. I spent a few very intense weeks revising the book because after some deliberation I wanted to make the book less dark and more upbeat. I completely rewrote the ending and then selected several awesome mentors to submit it to for Pitch Wars. I also won critiques from several different mentors of my query and first pages and was absolutely floored when I got such incredible, positive feedback from them. Once I submitted, I immediately got requests from several mentors to send them the full manuscript! I was so excited, but cautious given that I'd had lots of full requests from Pitch Wars the last time, too. And then I waited. 

Those weeks felt very, very long. BUT I went on TWO writing retreats during the waiting time. The first with some wonderful friends from the Writing Clubhouse! YES! After all those years, we got to meet up in person for an awesome writing retreat in Boston! And then I went on another writing retreat the next weekend with my local writing group in the mountains and that was wonderful also! 

Pitch Wars 2016 Mentee!

And then the Pitch Wars Mentee picks were announced and I discovered I WAS ON THE LIST OF MENTEES!!! After three years of submitting to Pitch Wars, I was an official mentee! I literally had to look at the list like ten times before it sunk in. And my mentor was the incredible Nikki Roberti!!! I was soooo excited! Nikki and I instantly clicked and we soon started communicating exclusively in Taylor Swift gifs, aka she was the perfect mentor for me. On top of that, there was an absolute outpouring of support and congratulations from the writing community, the other mentors who had read the full, and friends, and it was absolutely so heartwarming. <3 <3 <3

And then we revised...in addition to having the craziest month of my life at work and taking a two-week vacation to Hawaii, so yeah, it was some busy times. But we revised, and then revised in Beast Mode, and then listened to lots of motivational Sia (Unstoppable is a great go-to track to hype yourself up for revisions). The last several weeks of Pitch Wars were PRETTY INTENSE to say the least. But Nikki was the best and always believed in me and encouraged me to keep going! Funny enough, in the end we basically ended up taking out many of the revisions I had done prior to the start of Pitch Wars and making the book a bit darker again (though no one dies still). The good thing was I still had the original scenes on my computer so I was able to modify them and then implement Nikki's genius ideas to improve and polish the book even more.


Pitch Wars Agent Round

Then before I knew it, the Agent Round was upon us! I was really excited to get several requests from incredible agents--it honestly blew me away. And then Nikki told me that she also got an agent ninja request where an agent reached out to her on Twitter via Direct Message! The agent said he was interested in a partial of my book when the Agent Round opened up to other agents beyond the official Agent Round agents. I was instantly like AHHHH and super excited. I followed the agent on twitter and soon he also sent me a wonderfully kind message requesting I send the first 50 pages. I was so excited and instantly just got a great vibe from that agent. 

So then came the day that we were able to send out our requested materials and begin to query (ahhh!). It was so exciting but also nerve-wracking. I hadn't queried this book at all before Pitch Wars so I didn't know how it would do out in the mysterious Agentland. The next day after we could send out materials, it felt like so many people had a bunch of requests from other agents to send them fulls and some people even had offers already!! I was really excited for them, but also refreshed my inbox more times than I realized was possible.

Was my inbox functioning? Why was I not getting any e-mails? I settled in for a long wait and tried to pretend I was being patient while also refreshing my e-mail every 30 seconds. But from querying twice before for long long periods of time, I knew the drill and that it could be months and months before I heard back. 

That weekend was absolutely silent and I didn't hear anything back from anyone. Again, was my e-mail functioning? ;) The next week I expected that I would get some rejections but didn't expect to hear back from anyone soon at all. 

The Call

BUT THEN I GOT AN E-MAIL. I had to do a double take because it was one of the Pitch Wars agents who had requested my full and she wanted to have A Call. Other writers will know that I absolutely freaked out at this e-mail. WAS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? And only days after I had sent out my fulls? WHAT? I tried to be cautiously optimistic, not sure if perhaps the call might be an R&R (Revise & Resubmit). I set up a call for the next day and freaked out with Nikki. 

Nikki, being the amazing mentor she is, had a call with me that night and prepared me for the call and gave me sample questions I could ask the agent. I also happened to have a writing group meeting with my Writing Clubhouse that night so it was super helpful to talk everything over with them and celebrate as well.

That night I got no sleep at all. I was literally so nervous and excited. The next morning I had what turned out to be The Call! Agent A was offering ME representation!!! I was so excited but I managed to keep it cool on the call. Agent A was so wonderful and had such great comments on my book. It was obvious how much Agent A loved the book and the characters and it was all so exciting and incredible. 

Offer of Rep #1

I could not believe I had AN OFFER OF REPRESENTATION from an agent after all that time! My dreams were finally coming true. It felt both like everything was happening really quickly and also like it had been a really long time coming.

When I got the offer I basically just kept texting my friends and asking them if it was real life. 

So after the call I was able to do that thing I had only ever heard about where you e-mail the other agents who are considering your book and let them know you have an offer of representation. I let them know that I wanted to get back to the offering agent within two weeks.

AND THEN I GOT A BUNCH MORE REQUESTS FOR FULLS and I was like but wait, is this real life though? The two-week period fell over Thanksgiving, so several agents ended up stepping aside because of time constraints, but so many others requested the full and it was so exciting. Over the next two weeks, I received the loveliest e-mails from agents I could have imagined. Everyone was so complimentary of the book and the writing and thanked ME for allowing them to consider it.

Offer of Rep #2

And then the Friday after I got the offer from Agent A, I had a missed call. I stared at my phone. Surely it was just a random number? I'd had a few other random calls earlier in the week. BUT THEN a voicemail message popped up and my heart stopped. I quickly listened and discovered it was a voicemail from Agent B, the agent who had originally been a ninja request and reached out to Nikki and me on Twitter! Earlier in the week, Agent B had e-mailed and said he finished the first 50 pages and that he was, I quote, "Dazzled" and asked that I send the rest of the book immediately. I texted my best friends and my mentor, beyond excited that I had managed to "dazzle" an agent--WAS this real life?

Agent B said he had just finished reading my book on the train and wanted to have a discussion about the book and my career!!! I was instantly so thrilled. I had felt a connection with Agent B from the start and had really really hoped that he would love the book and offer. I immediately e-mailed and let Agent B know I could get on a call. Then within the hour I had The Call with Agent B! It was so exciting and I loved how Agent B had a strong personal connection to the book. Agent B also had incredible ideas for revising the book and was so wonderful.

As soon as I hung up, I messaged Nikki and my best friends with how excited I was. But I also instantly felt the existential crisis of having two offers from two very wonderful agents and not wanting to have to let either of them down after they had said such wonderful things about my book.

I spent the next week doing a lot of thinking and heard back from other incredible agents with such positive feedback. It was a tough decision because Agent A's clients absolutely loved Agent A and Agent B's clients raved about Agent B and said Agent B was a "dream agent."

I ended up having another call with Agent B after Thanksgiving. Once again, I just felt like I clicked so well with Agent B. Agent B had great revision ideas in mind for this book, really loved and understood the characters and my vision, and also had my long-term writing career at the center of his focus. (From there, in a classic lawyer move, I managed to write up about four pages of questions on a one-page agency contract, which ended up probably being the most stressful part of the whole process).

The next day I scheduled a call with Agent B and was so, so excited to accept his offer of representation...Which brings me to the Agent Reveal portion of the blog post:


My Agent!

I am beyond thrilled to announce I am now represented by the incredible Steven Salpeter of Curtis Brown, Ltd.!! 

I am so thankful to each of the agents who considered my book and to the other agent who offered me representation.

But I am SO excited to be able to work with Steven and to be represented by such an incredible literary agency!! As I discussed above, Steven is a dream agent, and all of his clients raved about him. He really gets my vision for the book and has a deep and nuanced understanding of the characters. I'm so excited to work with him and continue on this amazing writing journey! 

Signing the agency contract!

Query Critique Giveaway & Book Giveaway!

I have had SOOO many people help me along the way, and I want to pay it forward to other writers by giving away a query critique. Click on the Rafflecopter widget below to easily enter! I'll also be doing a blog post with tips on How to Get a Literary Agent, so be sure to follow my blog and social media so you don't miss that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also enter to win a free book on my Booktube channel! If you aren't a writer yourself or aren't yet at the query stage this is another way I want to celebrate you for all of your support! Click on my video below to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on YouTube on that video.

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Thank You!

Finally, thank you so much to everyone who has supported me along the way. A huge thanks to Brenda Drake for connecting Steven and me, to my wonderful Pitch Wars mentor Nikki, to my writing groups both locally and my Writing Clubhouse, to the Pitch Wars 2016 Mentees (keep going I know we will all get there and I am cheering for each of you), to all of the wonderful writers I have met along the way, to my friends and family who have given me such tremendous support, and to anyone else who has ever read my book, critiqued my work, or supported/encouraged me in any way. I am truly so thankful to each and every one of you, and I could write an entire post just filled with my thanks.

I can't wait to see where this journey takes me, and I'm so glad to have you all on my side cheering me on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Hi everyone! It's been a minute since I wrote a new blog post! I've mostly been doing a lot of vlogging on my YouTube "Booktube" channel, which you can check out here if you'd like! And I've been doing a lot of writing! Which brings me to this post!

I was selected as a 2016 Pitch Wars mentee!! (AHHHH!!!) Pitch Wars is an incredible writing contest hosted by Brenda Drake, who is basically the Fairy Godmother to the writing community. You can learn more about Pitch Wars here--and if you're a writer I highly encourage you to check it out and enter next year! It is seriously everything I could have hoped for and more. 

If you've entered in the past, KEEP TRYING. This was my third year submitting to Pitch Wars. The first time I was selected as an alternate with a different book, the second time I got great feedback from incredible mentors who told me to go straight to querying with a revised version of that book, and this year I got to work with my mentor soulmate Nikki Roberti with a new book. Seriously she is the best and we communicate exclusively in Taylor Swift gifs. It is everything. 

I am going to do a more extensive post on the Pitch Wars experience, but for now, I just wanted to give a quick update of what I've been up to and tell you a little bit about my Pitch Wars book! 

It's called THE FRIEND ZONE HYPOTHESIS and it's a funny and heartfelt YA Contemporary. The pitch is below and you can check out my official Pitch Wars agent round entry on Brenda's site to read a sample of the first chapter!
When his nerdy sidekick swipes a copy of Cosmo claiming it holds scientific secrets to winning any girl’s heart, seventeen-year-old Mikey launches an experiment to transform his status from best friend to boyfriend. One problem: Jessica Sterling is a variable who can’t be controlled.

Read a sample of the first chapter hereSee my inspiration board on Pinterest!

More very soon!

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