My husband, Rich, is truly one of the greatest men on the face of the earth. He has a way of pushing me to do things, try things, and finish things, that my sometimes flaky, sometimes fearful brain really needs. And in 2013, when I was frustrated and defeated after receiving a group of rejection letters, Rich did the research and found a writer’s conference to attend in Las Vegas because he insisted it would be worth it. While I sat on the couch and contemplated whether or not I could do a writer’s conference, Rich sat with his laptop and signed me up and booked us a room. And a few days before the trip, when I had my typical meltdown over our impending travel, he let me know with all sorts of certainty that I would be fine and we were most definitely going. And we went.
I’ve put money into this dream, the convention, an editor, a half dozen half filled notebooks, a Chromebook, and packs of Ink Joy pens, and he’s supported me the whole way. When it came time to send the requested full manuscript for review I dragged my feet. I put it off and put it off for days, all out of fear of being rejected again. Rich bought me the printer paper and the mailing envelope while I was at work one day, and hung out with me while I printed the 246 pages. I had read the manuscript so many times that I was sure it was all good. I didn’t even catch the fact that entire lines were missing in the middle of multiple pages, making it so Liz didn’t get to read that Cole gets a warrant for a storage unit after it shows up in financial records. Sorry, Liz! If I’d asked him to look at it, Rich would have been calm enough to notice for me.
Once I got it printed Rich took me to the UPS store and made sure the package was sent out on it’s way. After, when I panicked and cried a little over possible rejection, he oh so lovingly called me a dork, and reminded me that it was going to be fine. And like (almost) always, the guy was right. If he hadn’t booked that trip to Vegas I never would have sat down with Mia Thompson for a 5 page review, and she never would have suggested I meet with her agent, Liz Kracht, and I wouldn’t be reading through page notes tonight from my agent, Liz Kracht, to start my next editing process. I did it all because of the never-ending support from my fantabulous husband. Oh, and did I mention he is an awesome cook and does laundry? He really is the greatest.
I can’t claim all writers write about death but I can say what I write about often – ok, pretty much all the time – includes death. I started a novel about a vampire who isn’t one of the nice vamps. I started my detective series and there are obviously a few homicides there. Then I started a fluffy romance novel. I was writing it just for fun, to have a light project to work on with a character that I really love. Then I somehow ended up writing a murder for her to solve. I didn’t even mean to that time, it just happens when I start writing. I started another story about a guy, his girlfriend, and their pet raccoon George and they come together to crash a plot to destroy the world. The three of them survive. Not everyone else is so lucky…
I wrote the below poem June 17, 1987 at the insightful age of 11. I know the exact date because I have a copy of it in my little kid handwriting – signed and dated of course. It shows that death has always been one of my main topics.
Death by Natalie Dumas (I wasn’t also a Heidt yet)
Death is scary and mysterious
Strikes at any time
For different reasons, and in different seasons
It worries everyone’s mind
But death will soon come to everyone
And everyone will die
Because death is just another part of life
‘Where are you with your book?’
It’s a question I’ve heard a million times since I started letting people know I’d submitted my manuscript to an agent for representation. ‘It’s a long process’ I would tell them. I’d submitted to agents at the end of 2012 and first part of 2013. By April of 2013 I’d received 12 rejections and it was hard not to be discouraged. Instead of giving up, my cute husband booked a trip for the Las Vegas Writers Conference. The luck of the draw had me submitting 5 pages to be reviewed by author Mia Thompson, and there was so much validation with that review that I was encouraged all over again to keep going. Then Mia suggested I sit down with her agent, Liz Kracht, from Kimberly Cameron & Associates. After attending a few sessions with her, then sitting down with her, I decided to make the process of landing an agent a little more difficult.
I spent the rest of the year cleaning up my story. I hired an editor and then cleaned it up some more. Then I sent a query with my first 50 pages off to Liz, and only her, and I waited. I started working on book two and waited a little more. After a little more waiting I got an email back; she wanted to read the full. I was on cloud nine! But because I’m also the sensitive, creative type, I stressed out about whether or not she would like it every time I thought about it so I tried not to think about it.
I worked on my second story, answered the questions always in the same way, and tried to be the most patient person I could be. In Vegas I’d had someone ask for the full manuscript but I didn’t send it. There wasn’t anything that clicked with her for me and I am a person that tends to go with my gut. She liked my story concept when I pitched it but I wasn’t sure she’d get my characters the same way I do, and that mattered. When I first met Liz I knew she was the agent I wanted to work with. She was so enthusiastic about the industry and her writers. That was the kind of agent I needed. And the events of last week proved that my patience has been worth it.
She liked it! She really liked it!
After all the work and all the waiting I will now be working with Liz Kracht to get my first novel out into the world. I don’t think I stopped smiling for three days after getting that phone call. I’ve become more determined than ever to make this story the best version that I can, and to step it up with the second. I’ve also decided that adding the words ‘my agent’ to sentences concerning my writing is the coolest thing ever.
So, keep checking back while I move this project forward. I’ll be updating here on a regular basis. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to say that not only do I have an agent, I now have a publisher. 🙂