Like many writers, my road to publishing has been more of a climb along a lava flow than a stroll down a country road (if you've ever walked down a lava flow you know what I mean, if not, careful when you try it, you may break an ankle. Seriously). I've written several novels and have had two different agents on two different occasions, for two different novels. My first agent, whom I had my very first book with, ended up retiring from the business after only sending it out to a few people. We parted on good terms but that manuscript has since been put in a drawer.
The second fork in my road was longer. It was the fourth manuscript I'd written and I landed an agent who helped me polish it up a bit and sent it out to editors. The timing was all wrong though as they had filled their paranormal lists and passed on it, though many enjoyed it. Then the literary market crash occurred and my second agent cut back on his clients who hadn't sold. Again I was to part ways with my agent. I cannot express how heartbreaking and discouraging it is to have that happen a second time. For a long time I feared I would have to give up on my dream. But I didn't stop writing or working to improve.
Nine manuscripts after that very first one, I finally felt as though I had a novel that was right for the commercial market again. I took it to the RT Book Lover's Convention in New Orleans this past spring. It did beyond my wildest dreams. Every agent and editor I pitched it to requested at least a partial, and it placed second in the RT Author Idol Contest, earning me a mentorship with the fabulous Louise Fury of the Bent Agency and Nicole Risciniti of the Seymour Agency. Even more amazing, Louise and Nicole offered dual representation! I still feel like I've stepped into some lucky person's life. This stuff does not happen to me. Seriously, I've been at this for YEARS and I've never been that lucky writer that shines at such events.
The key (for those writers out there wondering) is that I never stopped learning, improving, and dreaming. I worked hard at it and I never gave up. But the work isn't over. Now it's time to edit this baby into something amazing and get ready to present it to editors. And as for the learning, well, that is never over.