So this story starts way back when I was fourteen. (I say “way back” rather sarcastically, since that was barely three years ago.) Anyway, I was really sick at the time, so I was reading an awful lot of books. I started noticing a trend to the novels: Either the MC was perfectly healthy, or they were about to drop dead any second. There was no in-between. In other words, there were no MCs who were like me–very sick, but used to it, and just living life as normally as possible.
So I started writing a novel featuring a disabled MC, with a plot that didn’t focus on her disability. This novel turned into “Tone Deaf”, and after being posted on Wattpad, it gained over 850,000 hits and 20,000 interactions.
Now, this was back when I was fourteen. This was only my third novel. It sucked big time. It needed work, and I knew it wasn’t nearly ready to publish. So I tucked it away and decided to rewrite it someday when I had more experience.
That “someday” turned out to be June 2013. I dusted off the manuscript, made some major plot changes, and rewrote “Tone Deaf”. The first draft was done within about a month, and revisions came along at a relatively fast rate. So by the time it was late July, and I was about to attend the PNWA conference, I figured I’d try pitching it. I didn’t expect any results, but I thought I’d have some fun with it.
Before the conference, I sent a draft of my pitch to Laurie McLean, my super-boss-extraordinaire. I’d been interning for her since February, and since she’s a fabulous literary agent, I thought she’d be a great person to critique my pitch. Below is the pitch I sent her for critique:
Ali Blinde was a prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the 21st century.
Until the brain tumor struck.
Now seventeen, Ali lives in a silent world where she gets by with sign language and lip-reading. When she’s not avoiding her abusive father, Ali spends her time shoving away the memories of the music that once completed her life. So when she meets Jace Beckett, she thinks he’s her worst nightmare come-true. At nineteen, Jace is already a world-renowned musician—the exact type of person Ali hates and resents. And his personality doesn’t make him any easier to like; Jace is angry, arrogant, and just as hot as he is hot-headed. The rotten cherry on top is his mysterious grudge against deaf people.
But when Jace learns that Ali is living in an abusive home, it strikes a chord, and he reluctantly proposes a solution: run away with him and his band as they tour the country. With freedom in sight, Ali takes the offer. Immediately, she’s swept into a world of wild punk music, wilder musicians, and maybe—just maybe—love.
TONE DEAF is a 65,000 word Young Adult Romance.
The first chapters of the novel have already received over 800,000 hits on the website “Wattpad”, and the book has a large and active fan-base.
Laurie did critique my pitch. She also asked to see the full manuscript.
At this point, I was all like, “Whhhhaaaaaa?” (Yes, I know, an incredibly articulate thought process.) But, I mean, this was LAURIE MCLEAN. She’s my dream agent, and she was asking for the full manuscript. So I polished it up, sent it off to her, and expected nothing. After working with Laurie for months, I knew how picky she was about writing. I was 99.99% sure she’d hate everything I’d written.
But she didn’t hate it. She actually kind of liked it. In fact, she sent me an email shortly after she received the manuscript, and told me, “This beginning rocks!” Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if she was being serious, or if she was making a kick-ass pun, since the book is about a rockstar. I was still putting my bets on the pun when she asked if she could call me.
Now I was having a freaking panic attack. I didn’t know if this would be a “Good Try” phone call or an “I Want to Agent You” phone call. But I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to offer me representation. Because, like I mentioned before, this was LAURIE MCLEAN.
We set up a time for the phone call, but it had to be postponed because of exciting news. (I don’t think I can reveal this exciting news yet. But it’s EXCITING. And it’s NEWS.) So after all the Exciting News was dealt with, and I was at the point of standing by phone just staring at the thing, Laurie finally called.
And she offered me representation.
At this point, I was just trying not to faint. I’m not kidding about this. I have a cardiac condition that makes it super easy for me to faint, so I was trying sooooo hard not to black out. I’m pretty sure I made absolutely no sense for the rest of that conversation, but by the time our call ended, we’d made a plan for “Tone Deaf” and discussed some future publishing works.
AND I HAD AN AGENT!
So that’s the story of how I got my agent. It’s a little different than most stories, but it’s basically the same as usual–pitch, full request, offer of rep. I’m still in shock over all this, and I keep pinching myself to see if this is a dream. But, apparently, it’s not. Because…
I HAVE AN AGENT!