Well, friends, it’s here: the day I feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for. My debut young adult novel, Not Our Summer, which was once only an idea inside my head, is now out in the world!
I’d like to talk for a minute about how this came to be because, trust me, it was a PROCESS. There are so many misconceptions among the general public, as well as with newer writers, about how you get published–mainly the belief that the hardest part is simply writing the book; the easy part is getting it published. Sadly, this just isn’t true. In fact, there is no EASY part at all. After all, if it were easy, everyone would be published, right?!
My journey in getting to this day began a little over ten years ago, not long after I’d left the teaching profession to stay home with my then baby daughter and three-year-old son. I decided to try to make a little extra money writing freelance, but I also wanted to try my hand at a dream I’d had for some time (but rarely ever spoke aloud), and that was writing a young adult book and getting it traditionally published.
Well, that first book never got finished. Turns out writing a book is also HARD. Like super hard. I worked on it for months, but I just couldn’t seem to get past the middle. It didn’t know where the story was going, and I just couldn’t push through. I didn’t know how to. However, I was determined to try again.
For my second book, I had a much clearer idea of how the story would go, but it would still take three years of writing and rewriting before I would type “The End”. I wanted to quit so many times that I temporarily titled that book “Don’t Quit” and it was truly a joyous day when I finished it. I’ve told the story before, but I sent out my very first query to a literary agent who was looking for horse books and received a full request a few months later. I was so certain that I had it in the bag, and I was already seeing dollar signs and a movie deal. Ha!
That full request would soon turn into my first rejection, and I’d rack up over 150 or so more rejections on that book. Moving on from my first completed book was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because I believed in it so much, and I loved the story. I still do in many ways. But again, I kept my end goal in mind: not to just write a book but to write a book and get it traditionally published.
I tried again, this time writing a middle grade novel that I would complete in about three months. I adored this story as well and querying went well at first. But in the end, it was nothing but rejections, and I was left with no choice but to try again. I wrote a third book, a young adult contemporary which didn’t garner much interest at all.
Then one day in late summer of 2017, while I was brush hogging (aka mowing) my horse pasture, I decided to brainstorm my next book idea and thus, the idea for Not Our Summer was born. The idea would change somewhat as I began to do research on the setting, but the rough draft only took me about six months to write (revisions are always the more time consuming part for me, however). I had a hunch with this book–after all, it was different from my previous three books which had focused heavily on horses. It was also more unique.
However, after about six months of querying, lots of interest, and, ultimately, multiple rejections, I began to lose faith in this one as well. I wrote a fifth book (a YA romance), but as I was revising that book, I decided to enter a Twitter pitch contest called #Pitmad with Not Our Summer (then called The Bug Collector’s Bucket List). My pitches drew some interest, so I went ahead and queried the two agents and one editor who favorited my pitch. Normally, I wouldn’t query an editor at the same time as agents, but since I figured I was at the end of the line with this book, I didn’t think it could hurt.
Well, the agents said no, but that editor, Britny Brooks-Perilli, said yes, and within months, I had a publishing offer from Running Press Kids, an imprint of Hachette. They normally don’t take unagented authors, but since this was from a pitch contest, it was considered a special circumstance. The awesome news is that I was able to query more agents and signed with Janna Bonikowski from The Knight Agency the following month!
Fast forward to today: May 11, 2021. Ten years of literally the hardest work I’ve ever done has finally paid off because Not Our Summer is on store shelves and available at nearly any online book retailer around the world. There were so many times over the last decade that I thought I’d never make it, that this dream might be too far-fetched after all. But, here I am, living proof that big dreams ARE attainable. You just have to keep trying. 🙂
If you’d like to grab a copy of Not Our Summer for yourself, here are a few places where you can do just that:
Magic City Books (signed copies while supplies last!)
And if you’d like to attend one or both of my virtual events (the first one is tonight), check those out on my News & Events page.
I’ll leave you with a few pics from the last few magical days: