Stopping by today is Molly Lee. She’s a fantastic author that I’ve connected with via twitter and found out through random chats we have SO. MUCH. IN. COMMON. I asked her to share her agent story and her secrets on writing.
Thanks for stopping by Molly. Starting with an easy question, who is your agent?
The fantastic Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary Agency
I love Jamie to death! Tell us how you meet her?
This is a long story, but I’ll give the short version 😉 I had signed with a previous agent a year prior to meeting Jamie, but that agent ended up becoming a NYT and International best seller with her NA novel and was unable to continue agenting. When I went on the hunt for a new agent who would love my novel as much as my previous, I was beyond nervous. Luckily, I had an amazing friend and critique partner, Rebecca Yarros, who referred me to Jamie and after a few exchanged emails, she read my manuscript and set up a call the next week!
Wow! To be agented and have to go back out into the querying world again must be terrifying. Sounds like your CP made a great recommendation. This is one of my favorite topics. Please share with us your agent phone call story.
Jamie called me shortly after she read my full and I was beyond ecstatic. She’d known and worked with my previous agent so they had similar reading tastes, so that put me at ease a little, and the fact that she represented my good friend was also comforting. I had just had my first baby only three weeks prior to this phone call, so I had to adjust a time I thought she’d be sleeping in order to speak with Jamie sans crying. Of course life doesn’t work that way. Little Lexi woke up just as Jamie called, luckily my husband entertained her upstairs so I could carry on a conversation. Jamie was amazing! We talked like we knew each other already–she’s a military spouse too and has three kids of her own–and we talked about our love for a manuscript we’d both read by friend. Then she told me how much she loved JUDGES–my YA Paranormal Romance–and offered me representation! I couldn’t believe it! I had a few other fulls out with other agents at the time, but I knew I was signing with Jamie before we hung up the phone. She understood my story and, even though the market is saturated right now, she still believed in it! I accepted her offer after informing the other agents of my decision, and thanked God for my luck of not having to dive into the query trenches again.
What an amazing feeling to know right away you’ve landed your dream agent. Is JUDGES out for submission or has it been purchased by a publisher?
We went through an extensive round of edits on my MS and will be going out on submission soon!
Oh how exciting and nerve wracking to know JUDGES is about to go on submission. I have my fingers crossed for you. Having gone through the agenting process and obviously have a love for writing. What advice can you share with other writers hoping to get where you are?
My advice would be to read in the genre you are currently writing in! The more you read, the better writer you become. The same goes with critiquing–find a good group of trusted critique partners and betas and trade MSs whenever possible. Through editing others work I’ve found weaknesses of my own. It is always easier to spot mistakes in a work you’re not as familiar with as your own and after doing this frequently, you’ll start to notice mistakes in your work and be able to correct for them. Also, never give up. If you’re serious about writing you have to understand it is a long, hard, road. One filled with rejections, lots of waiting, and bad reviews. It’s also filled with the amazing sensation of reaching readers too and finding people who love your work as much as you do. The key is being able to persevere as well as learn from constructive criticism. A good writer never stops learning.
I think you hit the nail on the head with your advice. Let’s talk about support. Can you identify an entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
My trusted group of critique partners and beta readers. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. They give me the cut and dry critiques I need to see what isn’t working in my books. Of course they give me instances on what is working, but what helps me make the book better is seeing what needs fixed. And they do it knowing that I’m not going to take it personally. Getting critiqued and having people show you the major plot-holes in your work is part of the process and being able to learn and adjust for it is an important role. Having the people who will actually be honest with you and not sugarcoat anything is also important, because honest critiques are the only way we learn. Without these people, I wouldn’t have a solid novel, or an agent to speak of.
I don’t know what I would do without my critique partners and beta readers. Give us a taste of what you’re working on.
As of right now I have my YA Paranormal Romance, JUDGES–where a 17 year old Harley Locke is Called to be one of God’s Judges and finds herself facing, demons, a malicious cult, and a life-threatening romance with her mentor. We’re about to go on sub with that and then I have a Contemporary NA novel, EDGE OF CHAOS, in the early stages right now. Think sexy storm chasers and overbearing boyfriends. I’m excited to see where both will go.
For the record, JUDGES sounds amazing and EDGE OF CHAOS — you had me at sexy storm chasers! Here’s a tough question for you. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
This is an easy answer for me. Kimberly Derting. She’s the author of the YA books THE BODY FINDER series and THE PLEDGE series. This was easy because in the beginning of my career, after reading the first Body Finder book, I contacted Derting on Goodreads. I sent her a message, telling her how much I loved her book and why, and then went ahead and asked some writerly questions. I honestly didn’t expect an answer, a bestselling author’s life is busy I imagine, but she did respond. And it was amazing. She opened up and offered me all kinds of advice on the business side of being an author and encouraged my aspirations. Furthermore, she gave me her personal email and an open invitation to ask questions throughout my process. We exchanged many, and she was one of the first people I emailed when I signed with my agent, and her congratulations paired with the hopes to see my book on the shelf soon was beyond surreal. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have that kind of connection and the advice and encouragement she offered me has been invaluable.
That’s amazing to receive feedback from a bestselling author. Proof that you never know until you try! Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been writing all my life. I know that is the typical answer, but it’s true. The first story I can actually remember writing was in Kindergarten. The plot was about three ice cream cones who travel the world. Strawberry and chocolate never got along. And the moment I knew I wanted to be an author was in second grade. Our teacher had us write a story, anything we could imagine. We did three mock ups before making it a final project where she gave us blank hard back books that we could write the story in and illustrate it ourselves. My book was called A CROP OF ALIENS FOR ALEXANDRA and was about a little girl who plants some seeds in her garden that she received from a stranger (I know, tsk tsk on not thinking of stranger danger, but what can I say? My MC was a rebel lol) When the seeds grew they ended up blooming aliens. Friendly aliens who’d been trapped in those seeds by a malicious witch and the MC helps them return home–except one stays behind, a male alien named Chiller. They lived happily ever after. Now, my illustrations were horrible! I envy those who can draw, but the thrill of creating characters and an adventure from nothing was in my blood from the second I completed that story, and I’ve been writing ever since.
I love hearing authors talk about their first stories. A CROP OF ALIENS FOR ALEXANDRA sounds so cool. Who knows, maybe it can become a PB. Wouldn’t that be amazing. Okay, what are all your social media links that I can share with everyone?