Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You are now entering AGENT TOWN. Population: MEEEEEEEE!!!!!

YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!

This. Is. Happening.


I just signed with Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this is a series of selfies--which I despise, BTW--but, alas, when hubs works late, I'm left to my own devices. So. Anyway, this is me, taking pictures of me, signing a contract for . . . wait for it . . .


For the past two weeks, the hook from Chiddy Bang's song, Happening, has been on repeat in my head. I sing it all the time. 

In my head. 

And sometimes not. (Sorry, hubs.)

♫ It's your choice, what are you waiting for?
Cause this is happening
Yeah, this is happening 

It still doesn't feel real. 

Here's the song, so you can all sing along with me. You know you want to:

So, yeah. Apparently, this is happening.

I can't even.

(Side note: As many of you know, DIVIDE is the second novel I've queried. If you'd like to refresh your memory with the very long, rejection-saturated journey I went on with EVER, you can do so HERE.) 

My road to Agent Town, simplified: 

When I began writing DIVIDE: 
November 1, 2012 
(Yes, DIVIDE was a NanoWrimo novel! I finished November with 41K--not quite enough to "win," but I'm still a winner. My mom says so.)

When I began querying DIVIDE (after three critique rounds and an in-depth edit)
April 1, 2013

Total Queries Sent to Agents:  23*
*Of those 23, 13 of them were regular queries. 10 of them were requests from contests . . . (WriteOnCon, Pitch Madness/PitMad and MSFV's February Secret Agent.) 

Total Rejections: 17

Total No-Reply-At-Alls: 4

Total FULL Requests: 6

My road to Agent Town, explained:
 (And in color! Because I want to.) 

Now, to go into the long story, I'll start by saying that this really is amazing on quite a few different levels.

First of all, my critique partner/friend, Tamara Mataya, and I used to talk about how cool it would be if we were agency sisters one day. Imagine us gushing about that a little over a year ago, but knowing deep down that the chances of that happening were very, very slim-to-none. I mean, we discussed it in the way that little girls dream of Prince Charming, right? It's a great, shiny idea, but reality usually has other plans. There are so many different agents, and so many different authors, and how on earth could we really expect to find an agent who wanted BOTH of us, and who we also BOTH wanted?

What are the odds of that happening, right?


Wrong. Take that, odds! Tam signed with Marisa back in the beginning of the year! o.O

Critique partners and agency sisters FTW, Tam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 

(You can read Tam's awesome agent success story HERE. And hey, while you're there, sign up for the blog so you can stay in the loop about PitchMAS! Our PitchMAS in July event is right around the corner!)

So, the second awesome thing about this, is that about a month ago, I pushed (literally strong-armed forced and threatened) my editor/friend, Krystal Wade, to enter Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness. When she didn't get through the blog rounds, she was discouraged and ready to skip querying all together. She's multi-published, and knows her way around the publishing world with her eyes closed, and I have NO DOUBT that she would have been successful with any route she chose . . . but something made me urge her to twitter pitch for #PitMad. I even went as far as coming up with pitch ideas for her, just trying to pique her interest. 

Well, it worked (*grin*), and Krystal received at least SEVEN requests that day!

Then you know what she did?

Go on, guess.



This brings us to the most awesome part of the story--as if having two very close friends as agency sisters isn't freaking RAD enough, right!?


Well, this time last year, almost exactly a year ago, I entered EVER into a contest Marisa was hosting on her blog. At the time, she was still an intern at The Seymour Agency, mentoring under Nicole Resciniti. To be honest, entering this contest (as well as the other one I entered around the same time) was a last ditch effort for me. I was beyond fried from losing so many contests with EVER, and receiving over 100 rejections--most of them form because I obviously wasn't even good enough to warrant feedback or a Dear Ms. Russo instead of a Dear Author. Basically, my negative inner voice was on a rampage. I was ready to shelve EVER and borderline ready to quit writing all together. I mean, I obviously wasn't any good.
(I know you other writers know the feeling. I still struggle with it now, even as a published author--maybe even more so at times when reviews are extra negative. I think the trick is to just keep going. Though that in itself can often be, well, tricky.) 

Anyway, when I entered Marisa's contest, I also entered a contest on Sharon Bayliss' blog. This is the contest that eventually led to my friendship with Krystal Wade, and the contract with Curiosity Quills for The EVER Trilogy.

Bck in the end of May 2012, as I was nudging agents and other publishers, letting them know about my offer from CQ, I completely overlooked the contest I'd entered on Marisa's blog.

Then I found out I was a finalist. O.o

So, in one hand I had an offer of publication from CQ (as well as another offer from another small house), and in the other hand I had the chance to possibly win Marisa's contest and have my work critiqued by Nicole Resciniti.

What to do!?

I could have rejected the publishing offers I'd received, or requested more time, but my doubt crept in, and I knew the kind of bad luck EVER had in contests, not to mention the absolute lack of success I'd had with literary agents.

So I listened to my self-doubt. Because I do that a lot.

I politely declined the finalist position in Marisa's contest, and withdrew my horse from the race. I signed with CQ last June, published EVER in the Fall of 2012, and the rest is history.

Well, my friendship with Marisa continued, and she's been very helpful over the last year when I've had questions about the industry, contract questions, etc, on top of being a friend in the writing community. Then, when she officially became an agent, she hinted to wanting to read DIVIDE, so I knew I'd eventually query her with the finished manuscript.

I just didn't actually think she'd offer representation.
(Remember that doubt I mentioned? Yeah. It's a pesky em-effer, and I HAZ A TON OF IT.) 

Anyway, bing bang boom, long story short . . . a year after Marisa picked me as a top three finalist in her contest, and I withdrew from the running, she is now my agent!

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, what's the lesson in all of this? 

People like colorful blog posts.  *grin*

No, no, I'm kidding. 

Things really do work out the way they are supposed to, don't they?

We just never know it at the time, but if we can be patient, the right thing will happen. So keep on keepin' on, you guys. Whether you're waiting for the ideal critique partner, or slugging through query hell, or even biting your nails on submission . . . the right thing WILL happen. When it is right. 

Marisa was destined to be stuck with me. And now she is. :-) 

A HUGE SQUEEZE and a shout-out to my irreplaceable critique partners Tamara Mataya and Laura Hughes, and my editor Krystal Wade . . . as well as my many betas . . . for helping me whip DIVIDE into shape. (And also for helping me in my down times, which are many.)

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Brenda Drake for her many, many contributions to the writing world. I received so much positive and priceless feedback from the agents who requested during Pitch Madness, but more importantly, something you said during that time has really stuck with me and helped me believe in myself just a little bit more. You're a writer's rock star. 

And lastly, thank you Marisa . . . for seeing in me and my writing what I often don't see in myself: something to believe in. I'm so excited to be part of the Seymour family!


Just Write. 

Write until the words come. 


  1. YAY!!!! Congrats!!! I remember "meeting" you last summer during a blog hop where I "met" Marisa!!! Love this writing community & so glad to call you an agency sib!

  2. YAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Now we can FINALLY squee in public about this! Finding each other was the best thing that happened in 2012. *nods* It is known.

  3. YAY! We're agency sisters! WOOHOOO! Thank you for the kind words. And thank you for pushing me into PITMAD. Without you, I would have traveled a completely different path. And I really like this path. I'm glad I'm on it! :-)

    Muah! You're going to do great. You always do. You just fail to see it. Love you.

  4. Congratulations, Jessa!!! Woo hoooo!!

    That is sooo amazing that you wrote Divide in a month! Respect, girl! :D Loved hearing about your journey, and your wonderful advice! And colorful blog posts are definitely a lot of fun!

    Way to go, lady!!! Wishing you much success as you go on submission with Divide!!

  5. CONGRATULATIONS! I am so happy for you, Jessa, and for Divide. Good things are coming, chica, good things. :)

  6. Yay!!! I'm so excited and happy for you! <3 *Hugs!!*

  7. It's a great time to be alive and part of the publishing industry, especially with so much support and recognition for how much we bleed to see our words in print! I have to say, Jessa, those selfies of you... stunning!!! ;D

  8. Congrats, Jessa! You found a great agent :-)

  9. Congrats, Jessa, and welcome to the Seymour Agency!!!! I've got a somewhat similar story...Nicole's my agent, and I got here in the footsteps of some amazing authors from my RWA chapter...we form the Midwestern Seymour Alliance. Or something.
    Anyway, great to have you, and I look forward to getting to know you!

  10. Big Congrats! Marisa is so nice and this is a great agency!

  11. Congratulations! Glad to have another agency sister on board =)

  12. You're the poster woman for perseverance, Jessa :-) Great blog--and best of luck. This truly is the most wonderful group ever!

  13. Just saw this!!! Congratulations!