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Carrying the torch

(To be read to the theme from "Chariots of Fire"). *g* Because Melissa pinched...um...cajoled so sweetly,

Like lots of people, I've known I wanted to write since I was kid. In my heart, I never doubted that I would be a writer, but I was easily swayed by those who said, "You can't ever do that for a living; you'll starve" or "Genre is despicable; don't write it" and so on. I always felt (and still often do feel) that I live a double life, working in secret on my writing, feeding it like a small fire I had to shield against the things that sought me out there in the dark. Except now, I suppose, it's not such a secret anymore. :)

My first novel, gods rest its soul, was something I worked on since adolescence here and there until it was a behemoth of a thing with millennia of history and notebook upon notebook of info re: cosmology, genealogy, ecology, aphorisms, etc., etc, dripping off its shaggy, lumbering back. After years of crafting, detouring through three master’s degrees, sharing w/my lone critique partner, revising, sharing w/other beta readers, losing an entire draft of it to a computer malfunction, and so on, I finished it in 03. I attended the WisCon workshop w/lrcutter in 04, and got the attention of an editor that same con. He took it out of the slush, held onto it for about 1.5 yrs, and finally deemed it unworthy. Good writing, wonderfully dark and twisted, but unworthy.

My baby was unlovable. I thought I would die.

But! In the meantime, as the novel had fermented on this editor’s desk, I’d been thinking about another idea—a fairytale novelization-- that I’d never developed, a thing I wanted to do maybe someday. My lone critique partner (who had gone on to become respected YA author Shannon Hale) met an editor at a con (different editor, different con) who was looking for dark fantasy YA writing. Shannon said, “Hey, maybe this might interest you.” (And what she didn’t say, but what was equally important: And maybe you’ll actually write more than one thing over and over for the rest of your life). So I talked to slwhitman. She told me what sorts of things Mirrorstone was interested in and I started considering how my idea might fit with their vision. I sent her my little (stand-alone) novel idea, and she said, “Great! Can you expand that over a 10-book series?” And I managed not to faint and said, “Sure!”

Hallowmere was contracted six months later and the first in the series In the Serpent’s Coils debuted this past August. The second By Venom’s Sweet Sting will be out Dec. 26. I also have a Hallowmere-based short story coming out in Magic in the Mirrorstone in March 08.

When the big promo push started for Book 1 (which included a big ad right in the front of Publisher’s Weekly, I was flabbergasted when Kim Whalen from Trident Media Group called me, asking to represent me. They though Hallowmere sounded fantastic and wanted to see what I’d do next. I had been through several requests for fulls on my first novel and all had ended in duds, even *after* I told one I had the Mirrorstone contract. (Mind you, though, I still don’t recommend signing a contract without an agent. I did it, but it was not the wisest thing I’ve ever done). So, honestly, I sat through the conference call w/Kim and Robert Gottlieb (president of Trident Media and former agent to a bunch of writer giants) pitching me *hard* and feeling like I must be insane, b/c this could never happen to me. I had other agents who had expressed interest in seeing my work, but here was an agency (one of the best, from what I could glean) that really wanted me and wouldn’t force me to go through the query pile again. I said yes, mostly because I felt time was of the essence and I knew it would be a looong time before I could revise my first novel. Time will tell whether I made the right decision. We’re working on a proposal to go out early next year.

With Hallowmere has come so much more than I ever expected—promotional visits, working with the media, meeting so many amazing writers it makes my head spin, and all the little gifts that come with seeing your book out in the world. How I wish, though, that I had had a better understanding of the industry beforehand! It’s something no creative writing class ever taught me and it’s been a very steep learning curve at times.

But the moral of the story is that it *can* be done and if you want it badly enough and work for it, it will happen. I almost allowed other people to convince me it was impossible, but I’m really glad I nurtured that last little spark of belief, because that’s what made all the difference.

-Tiffany

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
sarah_prineas
Dec. 9th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
Sounds like the Never Surrender speech to me! Thanks for sharing your story.

I attended the WisCon workshop w/lrcutter in 04,

Holy crap. Was I in that group with you? I can't remember if it was 04 or 05.
tltrent
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
I don't *think* we were in that group together, though I could be wrong. I would be sad to think that way back when I missed the perfect opportunity to meet you.
sarah_prineas
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
I do remember that Shannon whossname was in the group. Big guy, curly brown hair?

And the table was square. And the teacher was very interested in standard manuscript format...
tltrent
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
Um. No freakin' way, Sarah!

Yes, she was mad at *me* b/c I'd a)not done manuscript format and b)splattered copyright symbols all over everything. Can you say n00000000000b?! :P

And do you remember the transgendered woman who kept getting mad at being called 'he'?

What were you workshopping? WHY do I not remember? Were you wearing a cloak of invisibility?

This is insane!!!
sarah_prineas
Dec. 10th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC)
Hee!

That's too funny. Were you sitting around to LC's left, around that corner of the table? I think I remember you...

I got chastised for the lack of SMF too.

My chapters were from my horrible first novel which I hatehatehate and which will never see the light of day. Ahem. It was a historical fantasy with a passive protagonist, a magical storm, and a girl scientist. And not memorable at all, ew.

So are you going to WisCon this year? Please say yes!!
tltrent
Dec. 10th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC)
Honestly, I don't remember where I was sitting--I seem to remember facing Leah. I remember a woman with a lovely sari, the transgendered woman, and a young woman who was very persistent about getting her graphic novel out to everyone she met...:) And Shannon.

Someday I will learn to take better notes. They obviously come in handy!

I very much want to go to WisCon, but will probably need a roommate to accomplish it. It would be awesome great fun to meet (again!). :)

maprilynne
Dec. 10th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
*sigh* Faerie Tale . . . very cool.:)
tltrent
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC)
Well, I left most of the nightmare parts out. :P
frost_light
Dec. 10th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
Yay for your success! (and I don't think your first baby is unloveable. I just think baby needs a new pair of shoes :)
tltrent
Dec. 10th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Someday...

And thank you again for reading it. I hope you don't feel your efforts were wasted. It helped to know that it might not be complete crap, that maybe some of it is salvagable in some form. It will probably reincarnate as a YA at some point (after...um...all these other things I'm working on!)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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