Who is your agent?
Erica Christensen at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. She's the best!
How long did it take you to find an agent?
I started sending out query letters around six years ago. I was about to graduate from Fairfield University with my MFA in Creative Writing. I had a book -- "Chasing Moonbows." It received a lot of positive feedback from industry professionals and my peers. I thought it would be the book to get me an agent. Believe me, it received a lot of agent attention. I had 14 full requests and 4 partials. Unfortunately, it never received an offer.
In the meantime, while I was kicking myself and saving every rejection letter in my email, I started writing "The Secrets of Constellations." It went through multiple title changes, seven rounds of edits, and two major plot changes. When I realized CM wasn't getting me where I wanted to be, I swapped my querying to TSOC.
After a year of querying, I received a full request from my current agent. Three months of checking my email daily and praying to every deity I knew, I received an offer of representation!
How many rejection letters did you receive?
Around 200 before I got an agent, but every author's journey is different. I know authors who received offers after one round of submissions.
Do you have any advice for writers?
1. Rejection letters are part of the game. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it only takes one “yes.” It may come after your first submission. It may come after your 196th submission. Everyone has to face the form letter!
2. I recommend a writing program or an MFA. Some people think they are a waste of time, and for strong writers, they might be, but I enjoyed the process of earning my degree. I made a lot of connections with published authors and met agents who gave me great advice.
3. Don’t be afraid to shelve a novel. Sometimes a novel’s best home is the bookshelf. You can always revisit it later. Don’t believe me? Just ask the four books taking up space in my external hard drive.
4. Before you submit, edit, edit, edit! And if you think you’re done, edit again!
If you could meet any famous author, who would it be?
I'd love to meet Gena Showalter, John Green, and J. R. Ward!
What was the hardest scene to write in "The Secrets of Constellations?"
I had a lot of trouble introducing readers to Thatchor Manor. The idea for the house came from a dream. I wanted to make sure readers understood how CRAZY the house looked. I think I did a great job, but I don't think people will fully understand how eclectic and filled with art the house really is.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends on the book! It also depends on the time of year I sit down to write. I'm also a teacher, so for 10 months out of the year, I work 8+ hours a day with students. If I start a book during the school year, it can take me a long time. However, if I am on summer break, I can write a book in a few months. For example, my current work-in-progress took me 2 months. TSOC took me 7 months and 1 year of editing to get it to a good place for submissions.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
This question made me laugh for multiple reasons, but mainly because they never had a choice NOT to support me! I started writing books in high school. By my junior year, I knew I wanted to see my books on the shelves at my local bookstore. I informed my parents I'd be going to college as a writing major. I think my mom was disappointed because she thought I'd make a great JAG lawyer (I'm really good at arguing to defend my decisions!). She got over it eventually. Now, whenever I visit my mom, she asks if I've written anything new.
Do you write anything other than young adult novels?
Absolutely! I write adult novels, but I'm focusing on YA right now. Things are always in the works. I also write television/movie scripts with my great friend, Shaun Heard. We have some amazing mentors in Hollywood taking us in the right direction. We plan on submitting to the Sundance Festival this year, as well as seeking representation.