News! (Or, Wow! This Querying Thing Actually Works!)

Posted by on Jul 26, 2011 in Parenthood, Writing & Reading | 53 comments

Last winter, as my daughter and I spent another chilly afternoon lounging around indoors, Sunshine babbling and me responding as if she had spoken in actual sentences, I pictured all the conversations we might have when she was old enough to string more than two real words together. Naturally, I would have intelligent and well-informed answers to questions such as “Why does the wind blow?” and “Why is the sky blue?” and “What is blue, anyway? How did it get that way?” (Note to self: Do a little research. Knowing the right answers would be good.)

And then I imagined a question that truly stumped me: “Mommy, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why didn’t you do it?” What would I tell her? There’s no Wikipedia entry for that one. “Mommy wanted to be a writer,” I could say, “but she just never got around to it. You can be anything you want to be, though, sweetie. Really.” Hollow words from someone who had several completed manuscripts languishing, mostly unqueried, on her laptop, plus a few unwritten ones banging around inside her brain.

Obligatory signing-of-the-contract photo

This answer – entirely truthful and seriously lame – haunted me. Did I owe it to my daughter to follow my dream? Maybe. More importantly, I owed it to myself, my passion for writing, and my abandoned books.

The next afternoon, instead of spending Sunshine’s naptime doing laundry or reading a novel, I pulled my computer onto my lap and opened my most recent manuscript, a young adult paranormal romance I’d written several years before. After an exhaustive round of revisions I shipped it off to my phenomenal critique partner. She was nice enough to tear it apart before sending it back to me to put together again. My query letter – all three reincarnations – followed. Then I zapped it over to my friends Shari, Liz, and Heather for their (very helpful) opinions.

Finally I could stall no longer. I had to get my work out there.

I knew that, in the face of rejection, the temptation to quit querying would be strong, so I made a list of potential literary agents and vowed not to give up until I had emailed every last one. I didn’t get that far. I didn’t need to. Because after several tumultuous months, I am happy to say that last week I signed with an agent.

Although it’s not a guarantee that this book will sell, it’s one giant step closer to my being able to tell my daughter from personal experience, “Dream big. Because if you keep at it, you have a chance to make your dreams come true.” Here’s hoping that soon we will indeed make my publishing dream a reality, for this and future books. In the meantime, I have revisions to make, and a career to plan, and a new novel to write. Better get to it.

  • Claudia

    YEA!!! I am so happy for you. This was a dream of mine when I was a child…it was somehow lost over the years. I so admire you for not losing that dream, and following it. I can’t wait to read your books! Congratulations! I am so happy for you…we all are!

    • Caryn Caldwell

      Thanks, Claudia! It’s certainly no guarantee that my books will be published, but it’s a big step nonetheless. I do hope you get to read the book someday.

  • Vicki Tremper

    Congratulations on your awesome news, Caryn! Boy, do you work fast. Wishing you all the best on your journey to making your dreams a reality. I love your story. It deserves a happy ending.

    • Caryn Caldwell

      Ha! I wish I worked that fast! This is actually a book I wrote a few years ago, and had even revised some, so I had a head start. Writing one from scratch? Not that fast at all!

  • Jess

    Hooray! I’m so happy for you! A big reason why I’m not giving up is the same thing~ I want to show my daughter that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and passion. Can’t wait to hear news of your book deal :)

    • Caryn Caldwell

      What a great reason! (Or maybe I’m just biased here…) Anyway, I first found out about my agent through your awesome blog, so thanks for sharing the info! I can’t wait until it’s your turn. I bet it won’t be long. You really know your stuff, from what I’ve seen.

  • Shari

    To say I’m elated for you would be an understatement. Your talent and determination overflow in spades, and this is so, so well-deserved. It’s been such a joy to go along on the journey with you. I cannot wait to hear about all the marvelous, exciting things that will continue to come your way. This is only the beginning!!

    The last paragraph made me a little teary – because dreaming big is so important for ourselves, but when you’re also doing it for your child, it’s just … beautiful. I know she’s going to grow up admiring her mommy’s dedication and following in your footsteps. And really, isn’t that why we write? For ourselves, yes, but also for the people who inspire us every day.

    HUGE congratulations again!! Keep reaching for the stars, because you are proof that we can capture their light and hold it in the palm of our hands.

    (P.S. I am looking forward to putting your novel on the shelf in my bookcase that I reserve for autographed copies! :)

    • Caryn Caldwell

      Awww, thanks Shari. I can’t tell you how much your support has helped over these last few months. Your emails have gotten me through a lot of rejection and and worry, and I so appreciate it. Plus your query critique really was helpful!

  • emily

    Congratulations! I truly believe you can be a writer without having a book deal. But I’m thrilled for you — what an amazing accomplishment!

    • Caryn Caldwell

      I totally agree, Emily! I think I’ve been a writer all my life. Now I just want to make it official (and, I hope, eventually make a living out of it). We’ll see!

  • Conda V Douglas

    Yay, Caryn, you go girl! I’m in the position of new novels as I’ve sold two in two different series this year! Let’s get writing!

  • Dru

    Congratulations Caryn! That is great news! I can’t wait to see it on the shelves.

  • Robin

    “YIPPEEYAHOOHOORAYWOOHOOYAY!!!” (That’s me screaming in excitement for you for the hundredth time – I never get tired of squeeing for you!)

    I am so thrilled for you, Caryn, and know you have a very bright future ahead. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to share this journey with you, and I look forward to many more big announcements on this blog. I feel so lucky to have you not only as a CP, but as a wonderful friend too! Your determination and hard work are but two of the many qualities I admire about you. I got teary-eyed reading this post too. Sunshine is a very lucky little girl and you are a wonderful role model.

    Congratulations again! I’m totally happy dancing for you! Still. Good thing happy dancing over the internet doesn’t require actual feet or I’d be dead on mine.

    Hugs and *pom pom swishes*!!

  • Stina Lindenblatt

    Woo hoo, Caryn. Congrats on the great news!!!!

  • Suzanne

    Congratulations. I couldn’t be more pleased. This is wonderful news. Woo Hoo!!! I want to shout it to the world.

    There is something in seeing and hearing of writers reaching their dream, it puts a big smile on my face.

    I’m really thrilled for you,

    Keep us posted. :)

  • Christina Lee

    YAY!!! Wonderful news for you! And a wonderful lesson for your daughter!!

  • Pamela Cayne

    I am *still* happy dancing for you, and cannot wait to pick up your first book (and your second and your third…) I hope this is the story I got to read, because it was so amazing that I *knew* it was going to be published someday! And your voice is so strong that it didn’t matter if it was that story or another, YOU WERE GOING TO DO IT!!!

    Congrats, Caryn!!!!

  • Lindsay

    WOW, congrats!!! That’s wonderful and positive thoughts and vibes coming your way for the upcoming journey:)

  • Liz

    Woohoo!!! I LOVE that you told this story through Sunshine’s eyes as well. One of the things that keeps me going when things get (really, super, extremely) frustrating is the knowledge that I can one day tell my daughter my publishing story…and wanting that story to have a happy, inspiring ending keeps me going. I am SO FREAKING proud of you and so happy that lot of other people will soon be reading your work. It NEEDS to be out there for the world to read!! I’m really glad I could be part of the process (hi all! I’m the Liz who read the query letter and also told Caryn to take the signing picture!). PS You look adorable in your pic; that’s one you need to get framed, lady!! Thanks for sharing this post!!

  • Janet Johnson

    Congratulations! Very exciting. :)

    And seriously, I hadn’t even thought about that as a reason to keep going, but good point!

  • Marilyn Brant

    YAY, Caryn!!!!!!!
    You know I’m thrilled for you! What I also love is the wonderful example you’re setting for your daughter on following your dreams. I know just what you mean. And, someday in the future, she’ll thank you for that. Congrats again and again!!!

  • Maddie Dawson

    Ohhhh, Caryn!! I am doing the happy dance for you all around my screened porch! This is such wonderful news, and could not happen to anyone more qualified or deserving. You are a terrific writer, and this book is going to get a contract, and be out there for the whole world to see, I just know it! It’s good that Sunshine was able to inspire you this way. xoxox

  • Jessica (BookLover)

    That’s wonderful and inspiring news! I hope that when I have children I can be that example for them and not the, “don’t do what I did” kind.

    I can’t wait to hear more about this book. :)

  • Leslie Rose

    Great news! Congratulations. It is amazing how our kids can be the best catalyst for us to follow our own dreams.

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Conda – Yay! You are on a role, woman! Good work.

    @Dru – Thanks! I hope it ends up there. I can’t wait, either.

    @Robin & Liz – Thanks again for your amazing support through the whole querying process! I really don’t know that I could have done it without you two. I absolutely can’t wait until it’s your turn!

    @Stina – Thanks!!!

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Suzanne – I love how you phrased that! It makes me happy when I see other writers reach their dreams, too. It inspires me and shows me what can be done, and their enthusiasm is catching.

    @Christina – Thanks! That’s what I’m hoping. :-)

    @Pam – Thanks! You gave great critique, too. And, yes, this is the book you read so long ago. I figured it was time I do something with it.

    @Lindsay – Thanks for the congrats and the good wishes! I hope you’re right. :-)

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Janet – I figured I could use being busy with Sunshine as an excuse not to do it, or use her future as an excuse TO do it. I chose the latter. Well, after plenty of the former…

    @Marilyn – Thanks! You’re such a great example for following your dreams. You really have been an inspiration.

    @Maddie – Thanks! Oh, and check your email. 😉

    @Jessica – I think that’s the wish of so many parents. I bet you’ll be great. And, yes, I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this book. I hope so!

    @Leslie – Thanks! I truly think our children can mold us into better people if we let them.

  • Suzanne Casamento

    Congratulations! That is SO exciting!

  • Jen

    So exciting! Congrats!

  • Lois Moss

    That’s fantastic! Good luck with the shopping around. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

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