In which we have guests, part 5

For the second year in a row, I am turning over the blog to guest posters for the month of December. And for the second year in a row, we’ve had a great response–thirty-three requests for spots! For the next month you’ll be hearing from writers, editors, and other pros on a variety of topics. I always let the guest writers choose their own subject and give them carte blanche while they’re here. There are no limitations on topic or language, and this time we’ve got everything from favorite words to sexsomnia! Since I will be hunkered down doing revisions on the first of my new books for NAL/Penguin, I am turning comments off for the month. Most posters will include links to their own sites if you want to follow up with them. So, I wish you all the best of holiday seasons–peace, prosperity, good health, and a fabulous start to 2015. See you in the new year!

Today we welcome Holly Faur.

I didn’t intend to hijack Deanna’s Christmas blog with how I got my agent, but here we are and I must say this is the perfect place. Because it sometimes takes more than just your own stubbornness to find your way.

Shall we begin?

Early summer, 2013. I had been querying book #2 with gusto since late 2012. Book number #1 had gone out years before (so far in past, all 7 queries were sent snail mail. Yes, 7. I tucked tail and ran before I had even given myself a chance). I was blissfully browsing the bookstore coffee in hand, minus 4 very special but rambunctious children, when a book perched on the bottom shelf caught my eye. I nearly missed it, smugly waiting for me. But catch my attention Ms. Delilah Drummond did and I scooped her up. Now, I adore book recs and the people that champion them, but there is a special place inside all of us for those few books we’ve found all by our smart selves. Deanna Raybourn would be one of them. (Here I must confess Ryder White was my first Raybourn boy, so he will always be my favorite. Sorry, Brisbane.)

Let’s move ahead to later that fall when book #2 had easily tucked away 75 rejections. Deanna put out a call for guest bloggers for her December holiday. I was sitting with glass of wine (I fully blame the wine) when I read that tweet. I wanted to do it. I really did. But I was small stuff. Rejections were piling up and book #3 was flapping around like an uncontrolled pram in the wind. But, embolden by wine, I replied, and she said yes, folks. Because she’s awesome.

I panicked, head in knees. I threw out all the wine. Okay, I didn’t. I wrote posts and tossed each one out, finally deciding on one. Meanwhile, I wrangled book #3 into some form of submission. December came, my blog went out. I interacted with a few other guest bloggers, one of which would end up being the extraordinary Blake Leyers. (You really ought to go back and read her post from last December. Right. Now.)

December ended. I pulled book #2 after several fulls and a total of 83 queries turned into “Thank you for sharing, but no…” Book #3 didn’t make it in to a few pitch/mentor contests. I wallowed. Stuck on book #3 and at my whit’s end, I asked Twitter for some beta readers. The immediate response from some amazing women blew me away. I’d never asked for help before. Blake Leyers was one of those women. Ohai, I thought. I remember you from Deanna’s Christmas blog.

Blake was the longest getting back to me. This surely meant she hated my book. No, she loved it! She somehow got inside my head and understood my characters. She caught things—small things—that were so, so important. I cried. Actual tears. I blabbed to my husband about some stranger named Blake and how she’d made everything all right. And anyone that has ever worked with Blake knows what I mean when I say she makes you feel like your book is the most important in the world.

I worked feverishly, hauling my laptop to my room at night where I sat on the cold February floor and sang my daughter to sleep. Smarter this time, I started several “top 10 agent” lists, only allowing two or three very top picks per round. My agent would be waiting on round two, marked in pink. The only one hand-written in on my extensive, computer generated spreadsheet. She’d had me at “Wicked”.  I sent book #3 to the first round, with immediate replies for more, which turned into more rejections. I skipped spring cleaning and attacked book #3 again. Blake was now indispensable. Could she read a new draft? Right. This. Minute. (Writers have a patience problem, no?) She had time for 3 chapters, wedged in between vacation.


Armed with her new notes and encouragements, I polished again. While she was gone, I chewed on whether to send it to just a few more agents. The one in pink, because I couldn’t get her out of my head. It couldn’t hurt, could it? At least I’d know if all my new edits was working. (Don’t do this. Wait for your Blake to come back from vacation.) Only just a query turned in to 3 chapters. A full. Now look what I’ve done.

Blake was there for all of it. When I doubted. When the inevitable “imposter syndrome” invaded my day. When agent emailed half way through to say how much she was enjoying MS and I felt for certain I’d lose her on the ending. But Blake wouldn’t let me pout. She encouraged me with perfect words and the promise of lemony things.

It was now the 4th of July, 2014. The one day I thought I could sit back, help my sister move, hang out with family, and not worry about my email dinging. I could relax.

Only, my email DID go off. I had a phone call. I messaged Blake first.

So that’s my story and here we are again, one year later on Deanna’s holiday blog, and I wanted to say thank you. To Deanna, who gave me the opportunity and also freaked me the heck out by calling me on the phone (I fan-girled something awful) and to Blake, who, along with my family, never doubted me. And thank you to my agent, Maria, for believing in my story. (And for actually writing a very Canadian “eh?” in my edit notes. That absolutely made my day. )

If you don’t have a Blake yet, you need to ask for one for Christmas.


Come say hello! I love coffee and macarons and writing historical fiction. or @holly_faur