Friday, January 6, 2017

Lifelong Dreams & Magical Stoplights

Dear Readers, I have a story to tell you. An incredibly wonderful, magical story. So brew some tea, gather a cat or two, and get comfy!! I'll wait.




Once upon a time, I signed with Sarah Davies, the most fantastical literary agent of all. (She is both powerful and wise, and I'm pretty sure she's a wizard.) With Sarah's guidance, I revised the book formerly known as The Whale and the Tree three and a half times from May through September of 2015. It was difficult and mind-bending but ultimately incredibly rewarding. And I was so proud of the final result!! Somehow, my novel—re-titled The Haunting Sea—ended up being more like itself after all the revising than it was at the beginning. The story felt deeper and richer and better.

At the very end of September, we were ready to go On Submission.

*cue excitement and terror and dreams of going to auction and selling my manuscript in under two weeks*

I'm still not sure if querying or being on sub is worse. Each has their own unique torments, but both have several things in common:

    1. Waiting.
    2. Rejection.
    3. Despair.

I'm kidding about the despair part (but not really……)

By November, we had collected a good number of rejections, and several offers to revise and resubmit, otherwise known as the Dreaded R&R. I spoke to two of the editors requesting R&Rs on the phone. One of them really piqued my interest, and after lots of brainstorming and note-taking, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and revised my book again.

I finished in January, right before my birthday, and had visions of an extra special present appearing in my inbox.

Instead, we waited.

And waited and waited and waited.

And collected more rejections in the meantime, until all my fragile hopes were pinned on that R&R.

In April, we finally heard back from the editor……… and it was a no.

I was absolutely devastated, and began to think that this book wasn't going to be The One. I was busy working on something new, and tried to channel all my energy into that.

We sent out a few more submissions. More Rs came in.

At the end of May, Sarah mentioned we might want to think about putting this manuscript aside.

*cue despair and sobbing and ice-cream-eating and way too much Candy-Crush-playing*

On a Tuesday in June, I called my husband whilst driving to go teach piano lessons, and basically expressed to him my deep despair. He told me not to give up yet.

On that same Tuesday in June, whilst driving back from piano lessons, I checked my email at a stoplight. Incidentally, this happened to be the very same stoplight where, in November of 2014, I checked my email and discovered a full request from the agent who eventually became my very first offer of representation, leading to three additional offers and resulting in me signing with Sarah.

So in my inbox on that Tuesday in June, at the stoplight that might be a little bit magical, I found a note from Sarah. She'd forwarded me an email from an editor who had previously been a reader for one of the editors we'd submitted Sea to, but was now an acquiring editor for Page Street Publishing (follow?). Page Street was launching a YA line, and the editor remembered Sea, and was writing to ask if it was still available!

Sarah sent the editor the revised version of Sea, and that curious creature called Hope came out of hibernation and started following me around again…

The editor liked it, and passed it on to her higher up. Sarah had a conference call with everybody at Page Street. Hope stampeded through my living room and made me some cupcakes.

We got a tentative offer… as long as I was willing to do a sample edit of the first few chapters with them. I said HECK YES (in a super professional way, of course). I spoke with them on the phone. I emailed back and forth with the editor I'd hopefully be working with. I actually got excited about digging back into this wretched book again.

I wrote two and a half brand new chapters in three days, and emailed them to the editor.

She emailed back the next day…… and said she LOVED them. She passed them on to her higher up. And HE loved them.

They made their offer OFFICIAL.


My weird little novel that I first penned during NaNoWriMo 2006—the one about the girl who's cast out from her homeland and the moody boy who plays piano and the talking whale—PAGE STREET WANTS TO PUBLISH IT.

In fact, Page Street IS going to publish it!!

You guys, I am so profoundly, deeply, overwhelmingly blessed to announce that The Haunting Sea is going to be a REAL book—A REAL BOOK, YOU GUYS—and it's coming to a bookstore near you Winter 2018!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's to stories and waiting, to wizardly agents and fairy-godmother editors, to magical* stoplights and dreams coming true.

Here's to happy endings!!

November 30th, 2006:
The newly-completed first draft of The Whale and the Tree.

December 16th, 2016:
Signing the contract for The Haunting Sea a decade later!

* I don't actually believe** the stoplight is magical.

** Although, of course, it might be. ;-)


BethC said...

What a wonderful story of hope, perseverance, and grit! Congratulations, Joanna! My favorite part of the story, other than the whole getting your book published part, is that you were teaching Emily piano lessons in November 2006 and I remember you telling me about the book you were writing. I look forward to finally reading it! ~ Beth

Joanna Ruth Meyer said...

Thank you so much, Beth! I can't believe how long ago it was that I was teaching Emily—the good old days. :) Can't wait until the book is officially published and out there in the world!

Danielle Pajak said...

Aww, this is just so wonderful, Joanna! It makes me beyond happy. I am thankful to the Lord that He wrote such a story for you, definitely full of magic! Dreams really can come true, through the hard work and pain. :) I agree with the above comment, such an encouraging story of perseverance! I love the images you put up, from the first beginnings to the happy endings! Awesome. I think it will give hope to many people, it certainly does for me! ^_^ So much YAY! I cannot wait for 2018!