Read the full post of Part 1 HERE:
When Your Writing Journey Becomes the Plot of a Novel, Part 2
By Victoria J. Coe
Last week’s cliffhanger: For the second time, agent Marietta Zacker considered my manuscript and regretfully said it still wasn’t working. She and I had shared a vision for what the story could be. She inspired me to explore my characters and plot more deeply. I’d done my best and made good progress, but my revision fell short. I had two choices: 1) Give up, or 2) Get professional help.
I decided to reach out to Ben H. Winters, my Grub Street teacher from the previous year. To my amazement, he said he’d love to help. It wasn’t easy to spend the money, but with so much at stake I had to go for it.
It turned out Ben was worth every penny. Actually, he was worth a trillion pennies! I shared Marietta’s comments and suggestions with Ben and he kept those in mind as he read my manuscript. Three weeks later, he sent a detailed critique and we scheduled a call.
Coincidentally, at that point I was taking an 8-week on-line master class on plot with editor Cheryl Klein. When Ben and I talked, he helped me see a new way to implement the suggestions Marietta had made. I was able to apply what I’d learned in Cheryl’s class and we spent the entire call brainstorming. I hung up with a plan. It was my “Aha!” moment.
I was on fire. It only took me two months to revise the manuscript and send it back to Ben. (Unbelievably, he’d agreed to reread it even though he’d just won the Edgar Award and was on a national tour for his newest book.)
And more good news - Ben said that finally, the story felt like “what it was trying to be all along.” In other words, it was ready for Marietta.
I sent the manuscript back to the same agent for the third – yes, the third – time. She said she looked forward to reading it and she hoped to respond within three weeks. I braced myself for the wait and started thinking of the next step I’d take if/when the rejection came.
A day later, my husband and I went to New York for a big night on the town. The next afternoon we were getting ready to head back to Boston, when I checked messages.
I was shocked to see an email from Marietta asking if we could talk. She said she had some questions. I was so distracted, my husband had to pull me out of the way of a speeding taxi!
I couldn’t imagine what Marietta’s questions were. She couldn’t possibly have read the manuscript so soon, so why would she have questions? I wrote her back and we scheduled a call for the following morning.
I could hardly sleep that night. I had visions of the Monty Python bridgekeeper asking riddles before I could cross the Bridge of Death. Did I know the capital of Assyria? Or the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
The next morning my stomach was in knots. When Marietta asked how I was doing, I actually replied, “I’m totally nervous!”
But thankfully, she calmed me down immediately. She said she read the manuscript in one night and she loved it!
She talked about my characters like she knew them personally. Like she cared about them. We talked about things like age range and where the story might fit in the market. The conversation was so organic, I’m not exactly sure at which point she offered representation. All I know is I was so overjoyed, I couldn’t contain myself.
It had been 11 months after I’d first queried Marietta. It was a long quest, with lots of ups and downs, a stellar supporting cast, and a heroine who never gave up. But my story has a happy ending and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
The good news from Vicki gets even better. See the Publishers Weekly Rights Report from February 3, 2014 HERE!
I’ll share mine in the comments below.