My siblings will not be surprised to discover that I’m going to cheat in my list of five by combining many people within one category. They will also not be surprised to learn that I don’t care that I’m cheating. But here it is. I’ve crammed as many of you as possible into each group. Sorry about the crowd.
# 1 – My parents. Since childhood, they’ve always had unwavering faith in me. They taught me that no matter what I wanted to do, they would be thrilled to come along for the ride. I’m a single mom and a teacher, so kid-free time is limited (and expensive). I’ve been able to avoid paying for babysitters because my parents take my kids on incredible adventures, happily picking them up in the early morning and dropping them off after dinner – multiple days in a row – so I can write. They are the entirety of my support system, and without them, none of this would have happened. That’s not an exaggeration.
#2 – Brenda Drake, Karma Brown, and Susan Bishop Crispell. I wouldn’t be here today without Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest, and my amazing mentors, Karma and Susan, who worked tirelessly over the course of two months to help me overhaul THE ONES WE CHOOSE. If you’re a writer, you need to know about Pitch Wars (more details about it in a future post). Susan and Karma took my manuscript, which wasn’t getting beyond a few full requests through querying, and helped me deconstruct it and put it back together again. That resulted in nearly 30 full requests once the contest was over, and 8 agent offers. I never would have gotten to that place without them, and I will be forever grateful.
#3 – My agent, Mollie Glick. From the moment she first emailed to request the full, to the subsequent emails and phone calls and finally offer…Mollie is everything I want in an agent. She’s a tough editor, yet is unbelievably encouraging and warm. She’s approachable, responsive, funny, and brilliant. She knows books and the industry. When she submits to editors, her solid reputation makes them sit up and read. I adore her, and when I get off the phone with her or read an email from her I say, “I just adore her.” Out loud. Every time. Which can be awkward if you’re standing in line at Starbucks.
#4 – My editor at Gallery/Simon & Schuster, Lauren McKenna. I was so fortunate to have landed an offer from Lauren. She understood exactly what I was trying to do with THE ONES WE CHOOSE, and what needed to be done to get there. My main character, Paige, instantly became our girl…and Lauren has helped me shape Paige’s story into everything I hoped it would be. The phone conversations we’ve had have made such an impact on my writing, and the faith she has in me has pushed me to work harder, believing in the vision she has for both this book and my career as a writer.
#5 – My boys, Alex and Ben. They have been my cheerleaders throughout this journey, with supportive comments such as, You’re still working on that book? and Aren’t you done yet? They’ve understood when I need just one more minute to finish a scene, and have capitalized on that with extra screen time, cookies for lunch, and one unfortunate incident with our dog and the garden hose. I began working toward publication when Alex was in first grade and Ben was in preschool. Now they’re in 6th and 3rd grades. So many times I thought, I don’t need to do this. I can sleep in! I can hang out with friends instead. But I wanted them to see what it was like to set an impossible goal and then achieve it through hard work and perseverance. And when I wanted to quit, they were what pushed me forward. They are, quite simply, the best motivation.
And I must include a #6…which is everyone who is excited to read THE ONES WE CHOOSE. My siblings, high school and college friends, aunts and uncles and more cousins than I can count…I could go on and on and still not name them all. They’re asking when they can pre-order it. They’re reaching out and inviting me to their book clubs. They’re ready to come to my readings and events. This includes my various Facebook groups, especially my Anti-Hugs-Via-Social-Media group, my Divorced Moms group, and my Math Support group…all of them have rallied behind me, propelling me and my book forward. Thank you.