Release Week! And a Facebook Live Chat!

Hi friends, today is the day-before-the-big-one! Although it's funny to even say that--tomorrow won't necessarily feel like a big day because not much is happening (other than people finding my book (my book!) on their doorstep). I'll take the kids to school, probably go for a walk, and swing by a bookstore to check out HURRICANE SEASON on the shelf. The kids will come home and it'll be business as usual. But I'll have a second book out in the world! The magnitude of that is not lost on me. I still feel like such a new author, like THE HIDEAWAY is still fresh in the world, yet here's another one coming along. I love this story, love these new characters, and I'm so excited for people to be able to read about their world. I really hope you love them as much as I do!

As far as I know, I will be doing a FACEBOOK LIVE event tomorrow night (Tuesday 4/3) at 7pm CST on my author page.  It'll be a chance for us to chat about whatever you want--any questions you have about either THE HIDEAWAY or HURRICANE SEASON, anything about books or writing or publishing or how ready we are for summer! I'll talk more about HURRICANE SEASON, my inspiration for the story, and what got me interested in writing a book set on a dairy farm! I'd love for you to stop in if you can. If you go onto my author page tomorrow at 7, you should be able to see me chatting away!

If you're not following me on Instagram or Facebook, that's where I've been posting a lot of goodies like behind-the-scene Pinterest boards and quotes from the new book. I'll be listing some giveaways soon too! But don't worry, if you're not a social media person, I'll post about giveaways here too. (If you do want to follow me, click the links above or click the FB or IG buttons at the bottom of the page.)

What I'm Reading

news.jpeg
light.jpeg

 

I recently finished two really good books, News of the World and The Hidden Light of Northern Fires. It was interesting to read them back to back. Hidden Light takes place in a small town in New York (actually a town that seceded from the Union, despite being so far North) during the Civil War and News of the World takes place during Reconstruction, although this time in Texas. Both have a type of outlaws--Hidden Light has bounty hunters looking for runaway slaves and News has Indians and a wave of ruthless cowboys in a basically lawless land. I really enjoyed both stories. 

gift.jpeg

 

I stumbled on Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Gift from the Sea in a used bookstore in Bryson City, NC, on our spring break. I've been wanting the book for a while and was so pleased to find it. Now I have to decide if i'm going to start it now or wait until I'm farther south near the water. 

LAUNCH PARTY

We're putting finishing touches on the launch party for HURRICANE SEASON! It'll be this Saturday, April 7 (also known as TRP's birthday ;) at Little Professor Book Center in downtown Homewood. 6-8pm. If you're anywhere close by, I'd love to see you! 

I'll be updating my EVENTS page very soon with new book signings and appearances (including Page and Palette in June!) so check back in!

Hope to "see" you tomorrow night on FB Live and/or at the party Saturday night! Have a great week!

 

Contest ends Tuesday March 6!

Hi friends, 

I just wanted to remind you the drawing to win the advance copy of HURRICANE SEASON ends Tuesday evening at 7pm CST! If you haven't entered, all you have to do is sign up to receive my newsletter! (By doing this, you'll also get a notice when I update this blog, which I only do when I have important news to share--events, book news, giveaways, etc.

I'll announce the winner soon after 7. Good luck!!

Hurricane fanned cover with blurb.jpg

Few updates and a GIVEAWAY!

Hi friends! I'm so glad it's the weekend. We had a doozy of a week and we're supposed to have sunshine on Saturday, and that's a good thing. We have no plans, which is a relief. I foresee maybe pulling some weeds out of our front flower bed (a never-ending process), maybe a trip to the library with the girls, and hopefully some reading in a sunny spot in the backyard. 

A few things to note...

HURRICANE SEASON was just included in Southern Living's list of Best Spring Break Reads! This is a huge deal and I'm so honored to be included. 

It's also had some nice reviews coming in from all over...
Publishers Weekly said it's "a heartwarming, character-driven story that will appeal to fans of Southern fiction."
RT Book Reviews called it "a truly remarkable read." 
Book reviewer Kristen Swanson called it a "really enjoyable read- just like The Hideaway was. Denton has a delicate way of presenting her characters and enabling you to fall in love with them."

I make it a point to not read reviews, but as these early ones come in, it's hard not to peek!

Hurricane Season_Cover.jpeg

 

Lastly, I'm giving away a signed advance copy of HURRICANE SEASON to one lucky reader! To enter the contest, just sign up for my newsletter/blog. There's a spot just over to the right--> 

I promise to not bombard you with annoying emails! I only post when I have important things to tell you--new books, giveaways, events, Great British Baking Show wisdom, etc. Contest ends Tuesday, March 6 at 7pm CST. Good Luck!!

Hope you all have a good weekend. If it's not warm and sunny where you are, I hope you can find a warm spot to read for a while.

Lauren

Release Day!

I don't know what I expected this day to feel like. Way back when, when I first started writing and dreaming of publishing books, I imagined the life of a writer to have a touch of glamour. I guess I was hanging onto images of writers as sitting in cafes, congregating together to talk about the art of writing and their place in the writing world. I imagined what it would feel like to hold a printed book with my name on the cover and what it would feel like to see it on a bookstore shelf. I know now that the writing life isn't glamorous, that some write in cafes (or anywhere with free wifi and preferably free refills of coffee) though I prefer my own quiet house or the library. I also know writing is mostly a solitary pursuit and you're lucky if you find other writers (in real life and not via the internet) who you can talk to about the craft and difficulty of writing, and maybe laugh about it a little. Incredibly, I know what it feels like to hold a printed book with my name on it, and I guess today I'll know what it feels like to see my book on a bookstore shelf. (Little Professor, here I come.)

So all in all, at one point, I probably expected this day to have a little more pomp and significance--but that was back when I still thought the writing life was glamorous. Not too long ago I heard an author talking about release day as an incredibly normal day (other than the fact that all over the place, people are seeing the book in stores and seeing their pre-ordered Amazon box on their doorstep containing your book). After all the build-up--the writing, editing, revising, hand-wringing, beta readers, query letters, rejections. After more edits, editor phone calls, marketing information, cover reveals, excitement, line edits, proofreads, more proofreads. After all the articles and essays you write to get your name out as much as possible, after the reviews start coming in...release day is pretty much a normal day, just like that author said. At least I imagine it will be. I have no essay due today, no signing, nothing I need to do except drop off the kids at school, buy some plastic Easter eggs, have lunch with Matt (and spy on my book at the bookstore!), call the oven repair people, and pick the kids up. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, as my daughter Kate would say. 

Except that now I'm a published author. And man, that's just completely wild. I'm not crazy about a lot of attention on me--I get nervous and awkward and sort of forget how to sound like a normal person, but I'm not nervous about attention on The Hideaway. I still, after all this time, love the story and I'm really excited about people I know and don't know meeting Sara and Mags and everyone else. I'm a tad nervous about the follow-up coming next year, but I'm sure after my editor Karli gets her hands on it and makes her careful, insightful suggestions, I'll end up in this same place--loving a group of people and a little place in the world that doesn't exist outside my imagination and the confines of 350 pages of paper. 

Huge thank you to those of you who've been on this journey with me from the start. And for newcomers, I hope you like The Hideaway enough to stick around to see what comes next. 

 

The Friday 5: book news, difficult middles, and waiting for summer

1. In The Hideaway news: I finally turned in the manuscript to my editor! It has been sitting on a flashdrive untouched since last summer when I began talks with HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson, and I've been dying to send it off to get the process started. Unfortunately, it'll still be a couple of months before I get the editor's letter back, but at least it's out of my hands. I'm very curious to see what Karli (my editor) has to say about it when she finishes reading it. I re-read it a week or so ago just to double-check everything and make sure I hadn't left any misspelled words or punctuation errors. I was happy to find I still love the story! Only a year to wait for it. (**Release date is April 11, 2017.**) 2. In Book 2 news: I almost abandoned it. And frankly, that option isn't totally off the table. I probably won't, but it was close there for a few days. See, I got to the dreaded middle. It's the same thing that happened with the previous book I wrote (the one I thought was going to be my book 2, but I got to the middle and completely freaked out and lost the thread. Maybe I'll come back to it one day.) I probably hit the rough middle in The Hideaway, but I just don't remember. (Honestly, I look at The Hideaway through rose-tinted glasses. In my head, the process was smooth as lake water without any middle-of-the-night panic attacks over how much I still had left to do. It's probably because that book is FINISHED and it's easy to think happy, loving thoughts about a book that's finished.)

Anyway, about middles, Dani Shapiro says: "Middles are where you have to tough things out. Ideas fall apart. All that promise vanishes when facing the cold, harsh light of making something out of it. Middles challenge us to find our tenacity and our patience, to remind ourselves that it is within this struggle--often just at the height of hopelessness, frustration,  and despair--that we find the most hidden and valuable gifts of the process. Just as in life."

So, onward with whatever thin strands of tenacity and patience I have. I will (try) not (to) abandon this story for another something else shinier, easier, lighter. Because this is the story I'm telling now. It's possible I just found my way into the a difficult character in my story--a character I'm having a hard time figuring out. If I go down this new path, it'll probably mean trashing several thousand words, but it may be worth it. I won't know unless I try it.

Y'all, writing a book is HARD. What was I thinking, getting myself into this? (I'm kidding. Mostly.) I read yesterday that success (when writing books, at least) is writing the book you meant to write. I truly believe I did that with The Hideaway--it is just what I wanted it to be when I first started writing. Now, to do it again with another book? In the words of Miracle Max, "It'll take a miracle."

3. Looking for something good to read? 

 download

download

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon. Fictionalized story of the Hindenberg. Historical and funny, sensual and suspenseful. I couldn't put it down.

Anything you've read that you loved? Tell me!

4. In other book news, my 6 year old is learning to read and it is such a joy. She sat at the breakfast table this morning, a stack of library books next to her, and said, "I just love books. Don't you love books?" Proud mama moment. I've grown to love picking out children's books at the library almost as I love picking out my own. Trying to pick something new--a new topic, a new author, one with amazing pictures or a super funny story--it's such a treat to introduce her, and little sister Sela, to the worlds waiting for them in books. Here are some of our recent favorites (she doesn't necessarily read these--she just picks out the words she knows--but we read them together):

Really, anything by Kate DiCamillo is a treat. We love all the Mercy Watson books. Bink & Gollie is a new favorite.

 bear

bear

Daniel Pinkwater has several Bear and Bunny books. They're sweet and funny. We love when they think the frog croaking up in a tree is a kitty because only kitties climb trees.

 butterfly

butterfly

For a long time, Kate avoided Magic School Bus books because they'd read one in school that was all about germs and it happened to be while she was in her germ-phobia phase. Finally, we've found some Magic School Bus books she likes. This one was fun--Mrs. Frizzle turned the kids into butterflies.

If your kids have favorite books, I'd love to hear about them!

5. I've always loved summer and wait for it impatiently through the cold winter months. (And chilly springs, like this week.) But this year, our first year in "big school," I'm waiting for it with a new impatience. Spring Break was a little taste of slow, non-rushed mornings, and it was really nice. The 7-7:45 timeframe is such a chaotic crunch, as I know it is for most people with kids. I'm looking forward to not having to rush through "Eat! Eat! Eat! Brush your teeth! Get shoes on! Where's your bag? Do you have your lunch?" We are not scheduling much for the summer--a couple of VBSs, a short session of tennis lessons for Kate, and lots of pool time. That's about it. Here's to not overprogramming for the summer! (Ask me again in August, and maybe I'll be singing a different tune.)

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

The Hideaway comes out in just a little over a year!!

Seriously. I've been throwing around "a year and a half" but really, it's only about a year and two months. That's crazy. So I need to stop saying a year and a half. Closer to one year sounds much closer. In the interest of full disclosure about how this whole publishing process works, I'll tell you about my first official "work" for my editor! (Other than, you know, writing the book.) She, Karli, emailed me the Advance Marketing and Sales Information sheet. This document will help with the titling and packaging meetings the team will have to discuss, well, how to package my book. The title and cover are so important when selling a book. How many times have you pulled a book off the bookshelf (or the virtual bookshelf on Amazon) just because you like the title or the cover is amazing. That's what we're aiming for. The title has to carry just the right amount of weight, has to hint at the story inside without being too on the nose and giving too much away. On the other hand, you don't want it to be so vague that it doesn't mean anything.

Similarly, the photo and design on the cover needs to evoke the emotions you want the reader to have when they read the book. It has to strike the right chords and mesh with the title well so that the reader has a sense of what they're getting into, but again, it's not so specific that it gives the story away. (Sort of like a movie trailer that tells you way too much. I've seen book covers that show two people hand in hand, kissing, in love--then read on the back cover that the whole book is about whether or not these two people will end up together. Well, thanks, you just showed me on the cover that they in fact do end up together, and happily, so no need to read the book.)

So in this information sheet, they had me brainstorm a lot of title and cover ideas; dig into the themes and ideas in the story; talk about the main characters, their physical appearances and personalities; and think about what emotions and "takeaways" I want the reader to have and feel when reading the story.

I realize this can all sound a little silly--brainstorming emotions--but it was really fun for me to get back into the story and put into words what I actually want my book to say, what I want readers to think of it. I'm so very excited to get The Hideaway (which may not remain the title) out into the world and into your hands!

I gave lots google images of what I have in mind for cover possibilities, as well as other book titles I like that could be similar to what we want for mine. Also, because I tend to be a little long-winded (my 30-second "elevator pitch" for the book is currently at about three minutes), I gave Karli about thirty title possibilities. They said I could use the space to brainstorm, and boy did I. I wasn't sure if it was going to be helpful, or if everyone in that titling meeting would look at each other and think, "what have we got ourselves into with this girl?" But Karli said it was a great jumping-off point and that it'd be a big help. Whew.

So, first assignment done. I'm not sure when the meeting is, but she'll let me know how it goes and what ideas they come up with for title and cover. Hopefully, we'll be thinking along the same lines.

 

How It All Went Down

Everyone knows the process of publishing a book is a long slog. Even I know that and I’m still at the bottom of the hill. Maybe a few steps up from the bottom, but significantly closer to the bottom than I am to the top. I always like to read about how a person goes from hopeful writer to published author—who was a slush-pile standout, who had an awesome connection, who got their agent through a writers’ conference or other face-to-face meeting, who won a contest. Because there may be someone reading this blog who also likes to know the order in which things happened to catapult a hopeful writer into “the publishing world,” I’m going to outline what happened to me. (This is also to have a record for me, so I can look back and remember how all this came about. Because details tend to fly out of my head sometimes.) And first, let me say I always wanted to be one of those slush-pile standouts. I wanted to be able to tell other hopeful writers—“See?! It happened to me, it can happen to you too!” I can still say that (because what happened to me really is sort of random and unorthodox), but it didn’t involve the slush pile. (Although I can’t even count how many query letters I wrote that no doubt languished in slush piles all over New York City. In fact, I still get random rejection emails from agents who are really behind on their query letter reading.)

So, without further ado…

February(ish) 2013—I began writing The Hideaway.

June (ish) 2013—got sort of stuck in the middle and panicked because I loved the story and the characters and I really didn’t want to lose the story, so I enrolled in a Fiction Workshop class at Samford University, taught by the wonderful Denise Trimm. I took two courses of this workshop, which was priceless. Through the workshop (and the writers’ group that came out of this workshop), I was able to hone The Hideaway into something worth sending to agents. I honestly think if it hadn’t been for this group of people, I wouldn’t have had a novel worth anything.

December 2013—finished first draft.

January 2014—began process of editing and revising. Some of this was on my own, but a lot of it was with the workshop/writing group. They gave such valuable feedback at every level. Also sent manuscripts to beta readers—some were other writers, some were just readers.

June 6, 2014—I entered a query critique contest through Writers Digest. I had just barely begun tinkering with a query letter (since I knew I was nearing the end of my revisions). I won the contest and hurriedly went over my query letter, taking out unnecessary words and streamlining it as much as possible, and sent it off to the agent. All she had to do was read the query and send some feedback—that’s all the contest offered—but she said she wanted to see it again once I made her changes. Then she requested the first 50 pages. (Cue mic drop.) I sent them.

June 24—With a burst of excitement due to the first agent’s enthusiasm, I decide to query my TOP CHOICE AGENT! I’d researched her, knew she liked and had repped Southern fiction, and I liked her demeanor and humor on Twitter. I crafted an awesome query personalized just for her (I mentioned something she’d recently said on Twitter), and sent it off. The NEXT MORNING at 6 am, she emailed me back asking me for my full. I ran to the bathroom where my husband was showering, told him she requested the full, and then burst into tears. Happy tears, mind you, but I was elated like nothing I’d experienced in quite a while. (Other than my wedding, the birth of my children, etc.)

After spending a day finetooth-ing the manuscript, I sent it to her. Or I thought I did. I actually sent her a blank email without the manuscript attached. Then I realized it the next day and sent it to her for real. Then I sat back and waited for my ship to come in.

August 6 2014—Top Choice Agent sent a very nice rejection email. She gave helpful feedback that I ultimately, as in several months later, took, but she was kind, and I appreciated that.

August 15 2014—Hadn’t heard anything back from Contest Agent about the requested 50 pages, so I asked if I could send a revised 50 pages (I did this a lot—asking agents if I could send revised partials. Rookie mistake.) She said yes.

Between August and end of the year, 2014—I queried a whole bunch of agents. I started off with the ones I really wanted, as evidenced by my querying my TOP CHOICE AGENT first. I went down the list querying the ones I’d starred as ones I really thought would be a good fit for my type of story. Some people tell you to start with your top choices, others (many others) say to start somewhere in the middle so you can use their feedback to finetune, then query other higher-choice agents. I went with my top choices first because I figured I might as well get them out of the way first, then I could move onto other, more likely agents. I don’t know—I had to pick a route, so I chose that one. Hindsight, and all that, but that’s what I did.

October 2014—I had coffee with Patti Callahan Henry. She is the author of a large handful of lovely Southern novels, and she happens to live in Birmingham. I’d been keeping track of her (in a very non-creepy way) for a while, and finally met her at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. We made plans to meet for coffee. We chatted about life and writerly things, then she asked about my book. I gave her the rundown, and she asked me to send her the query and synopsis. I did, and she emailed and asked if she could send the query and synopsis to an editor friend of hers, Ami McConnell, at Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins. Obviously, I said yes.

November 2014—Patti connected me and Ami. Ami read my query and asked for the full manuscript. I sent it.

November 2014—Contest Agent finally sent a rejection email. She gave feedback similar to what my Top Choice Agent gave.

December 2014—participated in PitMad, a pitch contest on twitter where agents request manuscripts based on a short Twitter-sized pitch. I got several requests. I highly recommend these because they give you a chance to hone your pitches, query letters, and manuscript.

February 2015—Participated in SunVsSnow, another Twitter pitch contest. An agent who requested my manuscript during PitMad (and ultimately rejected it) requested it again. I’d made some revisions, so I sent it on with a note saying she’d read an earlier version. She rejected it again but gave me a key piece of advice—she suggested I cut the first two chapters entirely and start with chapter 3, because that was where the action really started. This resonated with what the very first two agents had told me—so I did it. Manuscript now begins with chapter 3. Much tighter and makes a lot of sense.

Early part of 2015—querying, querying, querying. Never heard back from Patti’s editor friend. I read in Publisher’s Lunch that she moved to another publishing house. I assumed my manuscript had gotten lost in the shuffle.

April 2015—I got an email from Karli Jackson, an editor at Thomas Nelson. She told me the editor friend of Patti Henry had gotten had passed my manuscript on to her before she left the company, saying she liked it and wanted another set of eyes on it. Karli said my manuscript was still bouncing around their offices and she wanted to know if I’d have any luck in the agent department. (Cue mic drop #2.) I told her no agent yet but that I had several partials and a couple fulls out and was hopeful. I asked if I could send her my revised manuscript, since what she had still had those first two chapters I’d decided to cut. I sent her the revised ms.

May 2015—Got a rejection from an agent who had been very promising. Emailed Karli to ask if she had any suggestions for agents she knew who might be interested in my type of novel. (Usually I would never ask an editor that, but this was already an unusual situation and Karli had been super helpful and encouraging. I figured I had nothing to lose, but possibly a good deal to gain by asking.)

June 5 2015—Karli emailed to say my novel would be discussed at the next week’s acquisitions meeting. EEEEKKKK! I got on the horn (as an old boyfriend used to say) and emailed all the agents who had a query, partial, or full and let them know of the development. I put *Editor Interest* in the subject line to get their attention. A couple passed right then, and a few thanked me for letting them know and said they’d read what they had asap.

June 6—I looked at some of the Thomas Nelson authors who write women’s fiction and looked up who their agents were. One name, Karen Solem, stood out, and when I looked her up, I was shocked to find that she was looking for the exact type of story I had written. I didn’t know how I hadn’t run across her in my agent search. So I sent her a query and first three chapters, explaining that my story would be in TN’s acquisitions meeting, and that I was still hoping to find an agent who believed in me and my story.

June 8—Karen wrote me back saying she was very interested in the story and would read asap.

June 9—Karen wrote saying she loved what I sent and set up a time for us to talk the next day.

June 10—we spoke on the phone. She told me she loved the synopsis and first three chapters and offered to represent me. (Eeeekk!) I did what I had been advised by every writer’s blog and discussion thread from here to the moon and told her I needed time to let the other agents know and said I’d give her my answer in two weeks. I could tell she wasn’t too pleased with the wait time! (In hindsight, I should have said I’d give them a few days. If they wanted the story bad enough, they could have made their mind up very quickly!) I also told her I was thrilled she loved the first three chapters, and that I was even more excited to know how she felt after reading the whole thing.

In next two weeks, I waited for answers from agents who had queries/partials, particularly one agent who had a full and who I also thought would be a good fit for me. I’d originally queried her back in May but never heard from her. I’d written her again with “Offer of Rep” in subject line.

June 22—spoke on the phone to the other agent I’d been waiting for. She offered rep. We spoke for an hour and clicked really well. She liked my book a lot, had some suggestions, and hoped to work with me.

(FYI, I was at the beach with my family at this time. Totally freaking out.)

2:00—phone call with Karli and two others at Thomas Nelson. Discussed how my book would fit into their audience and vision. Told them I was trying to decide between Karen and the other agent who had offered me rep. Great conversation that left me super excited. They had not yet made the decision to offer me a contract, but things were looking good.

After a LOT of pacing and thinking and making an actual pro/con list, I decided to work with Karen—she’s been in the business a long time, she’s worked extensively with Thomas Nelson and knows the editors, and everyone I talked to about her (other writers) thought it was a BIG deal that she offered me representation. Called her and gave her the news—she was super pumped. Called the other agent and told her the news—she was disappointed, but said good luck. I decided I did not like being on the other side—the one actually giving the rejection.

July 9 2015—Karli emailed me and Karen telling us the team at Thomas Nelson had decided to move forward with The Hideaway. The next step was to talk to the sales team.

July 29—Karli emailed saying they received all the feedback they needed and everyone was in full support of my little novel! (Eeeeekkk!) They would begin circulating all the necessary paperwork and hoped to send an offer soon.

August 11—morning of both of my kids’ meet the teacher orientations at school and I got a phone call from Karen saying she’d gotten the offer from Thomas Nelson—a two-book deal with the first book coming out spring of 2017, next book a year after that. My brain was fried for the rest of the day.

August 12—spoke to Karli on the phone and had a great conversation. She’s super easy to talk to, very excited about my book(s), and we totally clicked. Couldn’t be more excited! (Thinking back on this conversation even now makes me smile.)

Between August and November I tried to be very patient. Emailed Karen once a month to check in (which means I tried not to sound like a bothersome nag but I really wanted to get my signature on the proverbial dotted line!)

November 9 2015—finally got the actual contract. Read through it, talked to Karen about it, then signed four copies and mailed them back to Nashville. Woohoo.

So where am I now? I am not writing! To be more specific, I’m taking time off from writing—time to enjoy the holidays, read, watch Friday Night Lights, notice Christmas before it passes by and is gone for another year. Just before Thanksgiving, I finished a supremely rough draft of what I’d originally thought would be book two, but now I’m thinking I will work on something else in January—a story I previously started but paused because I thought it was too heavy for a second book. Now though, in light of the pain and grief I’ve seen people go through over the last little while (including my own family as my sweet mom has been diagnosed with the beast of cancer), I’m thinking a book with teeth and meat on its bones is what’s in order. It’s tentatively titled Hurricane Season, and I love the idea of it. (And I’m experienced enough with this sort of thing to know that part of the reason I love it is because I haven’t yet really gotten into it, and any book seems bright and shiny and full of hope and promise before you actually begin writing it.)

Until next time, folks.

 

Tempering my Excitement (aka Good Things are in the Works!)

When I was pregnant with my first daughter Kate, I refused to register for baby things until I absolutely had to. I waited until I had a baby shower coming up, when I knew friends and family would want to buy us things we needed. I’m not sure I ever said it out loud to anyone, but I couldn’t allow myself to get too excited. Not when I felt things were still so not-guaranteed. So much could still go wrong—you heard sad stories every day of mamas losing babies, miscarriages, stillbirths, etc. I didn’t even write the due date on my calendar. At all. I couldn’t stomach the thought of turning to the November page and seeing “Kate’s due date!” staring up at me all covered in hearts and stars if in fact something bad had happened and she didn’t make it to her due date. Instead, I wrote it in after she was born. I can see how this hesitation to allow myself to feel excitement could look like pessimism or “the sky is falling” or a glass-half-empty outlook on life. I don’t think that’s it though. Much of this hesitation was likely due to the fact that we went through a couple of years of fertility *stuff* before getting pregnant with Kate. There were oodles of disappointments, and through that process, I learned to temper my excitement. It hurt to get my hopes up and allow myself to start thinking pink and blue thoughts, then have it turn out just like the month before. I found it was easier to expect the worst, then if the worst didn’t happen, it’d be that much better.

Now, before you think I missed out on all the excitement of the birth of my first child, rest assured, I didn’t. There was plenty of excitement, laughter, and happy tears before she was born, at the hospital, and after we got home. But there was something about having physical things—written or tangible—associated with her before she actually came that made me quiver with nervousness.

I have a similar feeling these days about my book and the possibility of its publication. It’s why I’ve waited a couple weeks before even attempting to write this “I Have an Agent!” post, and why it still may be weeks before I actually hit “post”: I’m afraid to get too excited about the possibility because I know things in publishing fall apart all the time.

I know, I know, usually it would be too early to worry about anything falling apart when nothing has actually happened to fall apart. Usually, when an author signs with an agent, the agent starts from scratch sending out letters and proposals to editors. My story is a tad different in that there was already an interested publisher (can't say who) before I signed with the agent (Karen Solem of Spencerhill Associates!) I was able to send my query to Karen with the subject line: *editor interest*, and she got back with me within a couple of days instead of my query getting warm and cozy in the slush pile as usual. I queried her in particular because I saw that she was the agent of another book similar to mine, and when I looked her up, her agency website said she was looking for the exact kind of story I had. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found her and queried her earlier. She offered to represent my book pretty much right away, and since then, I’ve been mystified as to everyone’s interest in the book and me as an author!

Now, it’s not that I don’t think my book is good or worthy of anyone’s attention, because I do. I love the story, the characters, and the setting. It’s the kind of book I’d like to read, filled with sights and sounds and voices I’d love to sink into. I’m thrilled my agent believes in this story and me, and that the publisher in question does too. It’s just that a big part of me is sitting here waiting for the bad news (or the shoe to drop, the sky to fall, or however you want to say it!). Maybe the interested publisher backs out and no other publishers are interested. Maybe Karen says she can’t sell the book and for me to just work hard on book #2 and we’ll hope for that one. Honestly, I’ve prepared myself for all these eventualities. Not because I’m expecting them to happen, but as I said earlier, it’s easier for me to prepare for them, then enjoy the surprise and fun if they don’t happen. Even if something bigger than I can imagine happens. Because, despite all the doom and gloom I’ve set up here, I do believe big, exciting, wonderful, hopeful things can happen—even to me!

Stay tuned…