Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since my first hard-hitting journalism assignment on snails for the Balboa Elementary School newsletter. After cultivating a love for kidlit in college, I finally found my groove and finished my first novel about ten years ago.

Five more years went by before I got serious about submitting, but I was a hopeless newbie. I made a lot of mistakes, and seriously underestimated the amount of time it takes to hear back from anyone in publishing. I submitted to a handful of publishers before discovering the treasure trove of information and support that is Verla Kay’s message board. I switched my focus to agents. I cleaned up my manuscript and received a few requests, but it soon became clear that I was missing the mark.

So while continuing to query I did what good writers should: wrote another book. Unfortunately it was a sequel to the first one--another rookie mistake (can’t sell the sequel if you don’t sell the original!). Plus we lived overseas at the time, creating a disconnect in my own head that I couldn’t seem to overcome. All in all I sent about 50 queries on that first book before moving on.

We navigated our way through a foreign adoption, then moved back across the ocean in ’08. I wrote and polished book #3 and started querying again in Jan. 2010. There were more requests and better feedback this time, but after about 20 queries still nothing concrete. I branched out, rewrote the query, explored writing blogs, and eventually stumbled on an offer by blogger (now agent) Weronika Janczuk to critique a query + 10 pages for anyone who submitted. Her generosity eventually landed me an agent.

Weronika provided great feedback and posted my query in April. The next month I received a request to read the full from Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (!!!!!!!!) She later called to suggest revisions and invited me to resubmit. I quit querying and got to work.

It took a second call and another round of revisions before the book was where it needed to be, but on 1/11/11, I got THE CALL from Joan. She is wonderful. Life is good. Here’s what I learned:

Total time from request to offer: 8 months
a) Don’t give up.
b) Work hard to improve your craft.
c) Find writer friends. They understand! Help each other. Lift others up when they're down, and they will do the same for you.
d) Dig deep for patience and be productive while you wait.

Husbands with infinite patience of their own also help quite a bit. Thanks, honey!


Mike Jung said...

Congratulations Christine! You're gonna LOVE having Joan as your agent, she's the best. Wheeeeeee!

Mystery Robin said...

Congratulations!! So, so excited for you!

Siski Green said...

So wonderful! So, so happy for you. Ms. Paquette is a super agent. Congratulations!!!

M.B. West said...

Yay! Congrats!

Serenissima said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I love reading about the journeys of other writers. BTW, I wrote three manuscripts before I signed with Joan too, so I heartily agree with the philosophy, "if at first you don't succeed, write another book."

Best of luck to you and welcome to the EMLA family!

Jeanne Ryan (aka Serenissima)

Chris said...

I can't say it enough: the blueboards rock.

Thank you so, so much. And having agency "brothers" and "sisters" is like the bestest thing ever!

Happy sigh.

out of the wordwork said...

What a wonderful agent-finding journey story!! Congratulations and thanks for sharing.
Nelsa (nrwrites on the BB's)

Nikki said...

Oh, I just love a happy ending, don't you? I'll have my fingers crossed for you to have a quick and amazing success selling what must be a truly amazing manuscript!
Yay for you!
aka nickypicky

Stephanie Blake said...

Giant congrats to you!!!!!!

angela cerrito said...

oh, that is awesome!


Ruth Donnelly said...

I'm so happy for you! Joan Paquette spoke at a SCBWI agent day I attended last year. She's very smart, and so nice, too!

Samantha Vérant said...

Congratulations! Very happy for you!

Karin said...

Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your determined story to us all.

Helena said...

Fabulous! Best of luck!

I think "be productive while you wait" is great advice for a lot of things.

Marian said...

Congratulations! I just got agented last month, and I'm still in cloud nine over it.

(mairi in blueboards)

Anonymous said...

I love reading writing journey stories! Hope we read about the sale very soon. Congratulations!

Bryce said...

I don't know about infinite patience, but thanks for the shout out.

Congrats kiddo!


Kelly said...

Congratulations!!! (here from the blueboards!)

Lynda Mullaly Hunt said...

WELCOME to the Gango, Christine!! SO happy to have you onboard!! And Joan is *Awesome!* You've won the lottery!

Chris said...

Kelly and Lynda, hello and thank you! And to everyone who has taken the time to comment, I'm truly grateful for your kind words!