I (finally) went to see Moana at the cinemas on Thursday and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. Honestly – it was sheer brilliance. I laughed, I cried, I felt like being one of “those people” at the end and clapping my heart out. Above all, I remember sitting in my car afterwards, preparing to drive home, and thinking two thoughts.
It’s come to my attention that different readers of this blog like different things. I know, I know, that’s not such a groundbreaking revelation. But bear with me for a second here.
Some of you like reading about my writing escapades. About the random things going on in my own writing world. My crazy, often uncooperative characters. My tangent, also often uncooperative plot lines. How my writing is going on a semi-regular basis. (This also includes writing advice, encouragement, and anything else related to, well, writing.)
Some of you like reading about the publishing and/or literary agent side of things from my perspective. The editing. The copy editing. The proof reading. Writing the blurb. Writing the acknowledgements. Release dates and cover reveals and all ins and outs of publishing.
Some of you like reading about my personal life—what I bake, where I go, what I watch and read, and all the other random things I do.
Generally my rule for blogging is similar to my rule for writing novels—I write what I’d like to read. That’s how my voice comes across as genuine rather than forced, because it’s just, well, me.
As a Christmas present, I want to know what you would like to read on here over the next fortnight. If there’s a burning request you have, or something you’re curious about (especially in relation to writing/publishing etc.), then please comment below and, presuming there are enough responses, I’ll pick three (3) to write posts about between now and the New Year.
To give you an example, I had someone contact me via email the other day to ask how I find motivation to write. I’ve also had (many) people ask me how I became traditionally published without an agent… And, recently, I’ve had people ask me how I ended up signing with an agent and specifics regarding the whole querying process… So these are just a few ideas. Feel free to ask these, or similar, or something else entirely! And if I end up choosing your question/topic and you want me to include a link to your site with my post, make sure you include it with your comment (disregard this if you don’t have a website).
I’ll look forward to hearing what some of you are interested in reading!
I’m trying to avoid the clichéd ‘How I Got My Literary Agent‘ post here because, firstly, I’m still having trouble believing it, and secondly, I honestly have no idea how it happened, exactly. But I’m absolutely thrilled to say I now have a lit agent from New York City representing me, as mind bogglingly amazing as that is!
I’m still in a total state of shock, and I won’t lie, I’m also frequently spacing out into mental moments where I’m pretty much like this:
But really, can you blame me? I know I’ve done things a little backwards, since it’s much more normal for traditionally published authors to have an agent before they end up with a publishing deal, whereas I’ve somehow managed to do it in reverse order (my mother always said I was special). But regardless of that, it’s always been a dream of mine to have an agent interested in working with me. And when I say that, I mean, for years I tried to get representation for first Akarnae and then later Dreamscape. (Though, my publishers offered me a contract for Akarnae just after I’d started querying for Dreamscape, so I quit pitching really quickly when they said they were interested in both series…)
I have to admit, I actually really loved the querying process and, surprisingly, the years of rejection that came with it. (See an earlier post on rejection here). I think it really shaped me as a writer, and it made me question why I was doing what I was doing. After three years of hearing ‘no’, it would have been so easy to give up and think, “Oh, well, clearly I must suck at this.” But instead, I kept writing new work, I kept querying, and eventually I ended up with my book deal—and that was without an agent.
But then I wrote a new first-of-a-series book earlier this year, and after completing it in May, I sent it off to my publishers in early June to see what they thought. After a few months passed, I presumed they weren’t interested in it (because, believe me, it’s rather different from anything I’ve written before; sort of like Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series mixed with Maria V. Synder’s Poison Study series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, to give you an idea), and I decided to try my hand at pitching it to agents at the end of September.
Now, it should be noted here again that I’d queried for years with Akarnae (and for a couple of weeks/months(?) with Dreamscape) so I knew—I knew—the odds weren’t in my favour. I had a 99.999999% confidence in absolutely nothing coming of it. And I was perfectly content in knowing that, because I also had the hope that I might get some kind of constructive feedback with the rejections I was certain would come. That’s what happened with Akarnae, after all, since some of the agent-given criticism I received with that helped me re-write it into the novel that is now in bookshops all across Australia. So that’s what I was hoping for again with this new manuscript—constructive feedback on the odd occasion that the rejection wouldn’t be a form response.
Given all that, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when, within a couple of short weeks, I had I think five full requests to see my manuscript (and I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I only sent off about ten queries, so I was understandably confused and wondered if I’d accidentally signed my name as J.K. Rowling instead of Lynette Noni).
A few more weeks went by and, regardless of the full requests, I was still adamant about my 99.999999% rejection likelihood. And that was because in my years of querying previously, I’d been asked for full (and partial) manuscript requests—again, for both Akarnae and Dreamscape. Sure, it was exciting to think that my query letter must have been half decent, or better yet, the story I pitched was intriguing enough for the agents to want to read more. But as far as I was concerned, any full request I received simply meant I might be given more in-depth constructive criticism when the inevitable “Thanks, but no thanks” response came back to me. And I was totally cool with that. In fact, I was actually really excited to hear about everything wrong with my story so that I could jump in to re-writing it with improvements. (I’m a bit of a weirdo, okay? As stressful as editing can be, I seriously love it because the results are usually awesome!)
The total shocker for me came when an agent from an extremely successful agency in New York got back to me and said they were interested in my manuscript and then ended up offering representation. I’m not kidding, I thought it was a prank. But then I realised that it was a legit offer and, well, I was (beyond) overwhelmingly excited.
I was understandably stunned, amazed, and over the moon with excitement, but I also knew at that time I had three fulls still out with other agents, so despite the fact that everything in me was like, “OMIGOSH, TAKE THE OFFER!!!!” I somehow managed to calm myself enough to be professional about it and say I needed some time to consider and also check in with the other agents.
The surprises kept coming when, almost immediately, two of those agents (a second one in New York and one in California) asked for a few days so they could properly consider my manuscript and get back to me. Needless to say, I was in a state of absolute bafflement crossed with amazement. And, no joke, I actually had tears spring to my eyes when the literary assistant of the second New York agent said something along the lines of that she wasn’t surprised I was offered representation, because what she’d read of my manuscript was “really phenomenal”. I have no words for all the emotion I felt in that moment, since I think that was when it really hit me that something big was happening, something more incredible than I had ever thought possible.
So, cutting to the chase, the second NY agent read my manuscript within, like, a day (!!) and got back to me (this is the one whose assistant brought me to overwhelmed/happy tears) and she organised a Skype call with me for later that day. Well, it was later that day for me, since I received her email in the morning and we scheduled it for that night, which was really her next morning (gotta love the USA to AUS time difference).
We ended up Skyping for something like two hours and during that time she offered representation too, which both blew my mind and scared the stuffing out of me. I mean, I was so excited by the amazingness of the first offer that to be given a second offer—which meant I then had to actually choose who I wanted—was beyond incredible but also hive-inducingly terrifying. But to be honest, I knew during that Skype call that there was something just… right, about the second offer. Not just because she seemed ridiculously awesome, but also because I got the sense that she would really challenge me to be a better writer, and more than that, she would also champion me through the complicated—and at times, daunting—side of the publishing industry. It also helped that she just knew what she was talking about. Having had over twenty years in the industry, with most of that time spent as an editor (which means she’s an editorial agent, which seriously rocks), I was just filled with so much confidence as I listened to what she had to say. She was also wonderful at answering my questions, of which there were a lot. I’m like the most annoying person in the world when it comes to questions. I question everything. But not once did she seem annoyed, frustrated or impatient. She answered everything in fantastic detail, never making me feel like I was wasting her time or asking ridiculous questions. So, she definitely earned a stack of points for that!
Anyway, fast forwarding onwards, I still had to wait to hear back from the third agent and despite my inner happy dancing mixed with rocking in the corner moments, I remained calm enough to tell everyone that I would have my decision made by the end of the month, which gave me just over a week. There were a few hiccups along the way, which actually ended up with me having another massively long Skype conversation with the second agent to discuss said hiccups, something to which I have no words for how amazingly she handled that situation—and me in that situation. By that stage she’d given up hours (and hours) of her time with no guarantee that I was going to choose her in the end. I still can’t believe it, actually. Every second I expected her to say, “Jeez, you are way too high maintenance. This is so not worth the effort.” But, amazingly, she stuck with me. More than that, she told me exactly what I needed to hear—that everything would be okay.
Now, despite her comforting words, I know that may not actually end up being the case. I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist. (Fine, I’m more of an idealist, but I still know that sometimes I have to take my head out of the clouds and see things for what they really are.) That means I know that it’s possible that things won’t all turn out okay. But in that moment when everything was really difficult, I needed to hear that it would all work out, and that’s what she told me. Kinda like when you’re a kid and your mother tells you, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything will be okay.” And because she’s your mother, even if you’ve, like, just accidentally chopped your finger off, you still believe her. And that’s because you trust her and you know that even if things don’t actually turn out okay, she’ll still do whatever she can to make sure things eventually end up being as okay as they can possibly be.
It was because of all that that there ended up being absolutely no question about which agent I would choose. Which is why I am now beyond thrilled to say that everything is official with me being represented by the incredible Victoria Wells Arms of Wells Arms Literary.
I really can’t emphasise enough how wonderful Victoria has been to me over the last couple of weeks, as well as her amazing literary assistant I mentioned earlier, Brigette, who is absolutely delightful. They’ve both been so welcoming and just… well, more than I could have ever hoped for. If you follow me on any of my other social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook), you would have seen the flowers that they sent me last weekend, but if you missed it, they’re so beautiful that I have to share again here:
So, yes! That’s my story. Not so much a ‘How I Got My Literary Agent‘ because as I mentioned earlier, I’m still not certain how it happened, and I’m still in a state of shock about it all. But I will tell you that it’s amazing and I am so, so, soooooo excited to see where it all may lead!
On a final note, given that I did the querying thing for years, I was always fascinated by reading the dates and status updates of other authors who were offered representation, so for anyone interested, here are mine (in regards to signing on with Victoria):
Sent query letter: September 24, 2015
Full request: September 29, 2015
Nudged after first offer of representation: October 22nd, 2015
Skype chat and offer of representation from Victoria: October 23rd, 2015
Everything signed and officially confirmed: October 31st, 2015.
Call me crazy, but that’s insanely quick, right? It doesn’t feel like it since so much happened in all that time, but I literally ended up with an agent within, like, a month of sending off the query! And given my earlier mention that I went through years of rejections on previous manuscripts, you can see why I’m in a dazed state of shock, right?
Victoria (and Brigette), if you’re reading this, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. That’s also from the top of my heart. And from every other part of my heart. Just thank you! I absolutely can’t wait to see what the future holds!!!
For anyone who was around reading my blog last year, you might remember that I have a teensy-tiny (*cough* crazy *cough*) love of birthdays… I mean, come on! We all only get one special day each year that’s ours! It’s a celebration of our birth! What’s not to get excited about?
Thankfully, I have some incredible publishers who just may have picked up on the fact that I’m a total birthday junkie. (Like, seriously – I have a legitimate problem. I should possibly look into speaking to someone about it. But maybe on a day when it’s not, you know, my birthday.)
For anyone who follows me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you will have already seen these posts, but I just wanted to share again here for everyone else. The fabulous team at Pantera Press are offering a birthday sale of 20% off the paperback version of AKARNAE until the end of the weekend – how fabulous is that!
If you want to cash in on this offer – with free international shipping, from what I’ve been told! – then all you have to do is go to www.panterapress.com/shop and follow the ordering prompts etc. but make sure you type in the discount promo code NONIBDAY when you reach the checkout.
I also want to say a huge thank you to all you wonderful readers who have already wished me a happy birthday today! I’ve been so touched by some of your amazingly lovely messages, as well as your encouragement and well wishes. I have no words, so please just know how much it means to me – thank you.
Oooh, and speaking of lovely birthday mentions, I also received this incredible surprise delivery today from my (again, it bears repeating) fantastic publishers:
Yummy chocolates, helium balloon and absolutely gorgeous flowers! See what I mean? They totally get me. In fact, it’s almost like they’re enabling me and my OTT birthday addiction. But……. *Shrugs*…. You see me complaining? Nope! BEST PUBLISHERS EVER!!!
Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering about my birthday book haul (or at least the first part of it), check it out:
No spoilers, but has anyone read any of these? I’m so excited for QoS since I LOVE the rest of the ToG series and HoF was amazing. I’ve heard fab things about Legacy of Kings and The Bone Season too…. So what to read first?? Such a hard choice!
Again, thank you so much for the birthday happiness, everyone! And don’t forget to hit up that sale if you’re interested in a physical copy of AKARNAE!
As always, feel free to drop me a line on any of my social media thingamabobbits too. I absolutely love chatting with you all!
Until next time! :-)
… And I clapped like a complete dork at the end.
What am I talking about, you ask? Why, Disney’s Maleficent, of course!This movie was beyond anything I could have expected! I’m such a happily-ever-after kind of girl, so I was quite apprehensive about it, especially since I’m also a huge Disney classics fan and I adore the animated version of Sleeping Beauty. But I have no words to describe just how stunning this movie was!
Angelina Jolie was incredible in it. She made it so easy to fall in love with her despite being the ‘villain’ of the story… And she made it easy to root for her, too! I won’t say any more on this since I don’t want to give anything away, but seriously…
It was also visually captivating with gorgeous fantasy elements that seemed to come to life and burst straight out of the screen (and I didn’t even see it in 3D!).
To top it all off, the story itself was singularly unique and beautifully redemptive. All in all, it was breathtaking!
I cannot recommend this movie enough, so you’ll just have to go and experience it for yourselves! Here’s a link for the trailer just in case you haven’t seen it yet. It looks pretty ‘dark’ in this clip, but while there are definitely those elements in it, overall the movie itself is just beyond gorgeous. And like I said earlier, it’s beautifully redemptive. So, give it a go – you won’t regret it!
You might be a writer. You might be a dancer. You might be an artist, a chef, a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a carpenter, a student, a janitor, a musician, a preacher, a lawyer, a politician… You might be none of those at all. But it doesn’t matter, because I think we can all agree that inside the very depths of who we are, at heart, we are all dreamers. We all have hopes, we all have aspirations. Dreaming is as natural to us as breathing.
Sometimes our dreams can get clogged down by life and circumstances and all kinds of other things, but just because they’re buried, that doesn’t mean those dreams disappear. Admittedly, sometimes they can change. When I was a child, I dreamed of growing up and becoming a hairdresser. Now, not so much. As a teenager, I dreamed of being a veterinarian. Now, definitely not so much. I wanted to earn an ARIA award (despite the fact that I don’t like singing in front of people), I wanted to win an Academy Award (despite the fact that I can’t act – full stop), and I even wanted to receive an Olympic medal (despite the fact that, growing up, the only exercise I did involved running after the ice-cream truck). As an adult, my dreams are different now…
… but I still dream.
And you know what? Dreaming hurts. It hurts, because when our dreams don’t come true, or when they don’t turn out like we anticipated, the disappointment can be crushing. We can feel shame. We can feel anger. We can feel pain, longing, loneliness, even guilt. And, primarily, we can feel frustration. Because why, why, why didn’t our dreams come true?
But at the other end of the scale is the reason why we keep on dreaming, and that’s because dreams are beautiful. They show the best in us, our greatest potential, our most fervent desires. They give us hope for a better tomorrow, for a brighter future. Dreams can keep us going when we have nothing else left. They focus our minds, they guard our hearts, they shape our identities.
Someone once gave me this advice: “Dream bigger. Dream brighter.” At the time, I thought I already was dreaming pretty big and bright, but now that I look back, I can see that he was right. We can always dream bigger, we can always dream brighter. And that’s because our dreams are only ever limited by our own imaginations. Step outside the box of your mind, take a trip down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, and start dreaming of a greater future than you’ve ever before imagined possible.
What was it that Walt Disney said?… *Google break* … Ahh, there it is: “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember, this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” It doesn’t get much smaller than a mouse! But his dream was big, his dream was bright. And now look at how far that dream has come!
So, I want to encourage you: hold onto your dreams; reawaken those desires that you’ve lost or buried; and, importantly, always be ready and willing to dream new dreams. Because life is worth living, dreams are worth having, and the future is never, ever without hope.
Oh, wow. Yesterday was beyond a doubt one of the best days of my entire life! I honestly could not have imagined a more perfect day – in every way, from beginning to end, and everything in between! I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll do my best to not leave anything out. So, here goes!
The day started with a morning flight from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney… and even just arriving at the airport was fantastic. Airports have such a ‘feel’ about them, you know? It’s almost like there’s a sense of anticipation in the air; the knowledge that you’re about to embark on a fabulous adventure. But airports also mean waiting time, so I found my way to my happy place while I waited for my boarding call:
Then it was up, up, and away, before arriving in Sydney to miserable, rainy weather (but really, even a little rain couldn’t dampen my mood!). The moment I turned my phone back on I had a text message from the driver service that had been hired to collect me, and in all my dorkishness I managed to sneak a photo without looking like too much of a weirdo (and, hey, at least I managed to hold back from asking him if I could keep the sign with my name on it! Total restraint on my part!).
My driver, Geoff, was fabulous and very chatty in the best possible way. He also used his hands a lot to talk, which would have been concerning what with them not being on the steering wheel, but he seemed to know how to drive perfectly well without hands, so I who was I to argue with his methods? (Exhibit A:)
Anyway, let me skip ahead to the amazing parts!
So, Geoff dropped me off in Neutral Bay (I still have no idea where I was, but I did get a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge at one stage, so I know I was definitely in Sydney somewhere)…
… And once I was alone outside the office building, the nerves hit me like a freight train carrying a load of drunk elephants. I’m pretty sure I was actually shaking! The good news was, I was so determined not to forget a moment of the trip that I was taking photos left, right, and centre, so I managed to take a photo of the sign that gave the suite numbers for which offices were where, so when I reached the second floor and my brain totally froze, I just pulled out my phone and looked at the photo to see the suite number. Score one for my OCD-photo-taking. (That said, it turned out that the office was really well signed so I didn’t need the photo-suite-number-help in the end anyway).
Anyway, I buzzed on the door and almost immediately it was opened and I was in the room being bombarded by smiles and handshakes and welcomes-galore. I’m not kidding when I say that within seconds I was completely enamoured. Everyone was just so out-of-this-world nice! No, ‘nice’ doesn’t even do them justice. Because they were definitely nicer than nice! I could continue on about their awesomeness forever (seriously!), but I won’t because, well, that’s slightly weird. So, moving on…
I’m skipping heaps here because obviously we chatted for hours about them, about the company, about me, about my books, about the future, about all kinds of random other things like psychopaths and dreaming in black-and-white (don’t ask!)… We went off on tangents all over the place but always circled back around to the whole point of the meeting. (And, omigosh, did I mention how beyond-nice they all were?! I’d been previously told that working alongside them would be “like a warm hug”, and I can officially say I was definitely feeling that! Toasty warm hugs all-round!).
Umm… I just totally got off track…
So, yeah, there was food and drinks and talking and laughter mixed in with seriousness and all the other really important things… And we talked about cover design and editing and marketing and publicity and… wow… just all the amazingly exciting things. I’m sure I probably looked like an idiot because I was smiling so much, but I couldn’t help it! It was all just so perfect! Everything they said was exactly what I needed to hear! And at the end when they offered for me to go and think about it, I already knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was more than happy (ecstatic, even) with everything in every way, shape and form.
… So, I signed the contract!!
And now I’m officially part of the Pantera Press family! And I could not be happier! They broke out the champagne and we rushed through the signing and the toasting and the photos because I needed to hurry to get back to the airport, so we were swept up in this crazy whirlwind of ‘sign here’, ‘drink this’, ‘photo now’… and it was insane… but because it was so insane, it was also perfect! I was given a goody bag (I LOVE goody bags!) and hugs (I LOVE hugs even more than goody bags!) and a non-promise-promise was fulfilled in regards to a certain person (who will probably murder me if I mention names) singing a Disney song which totally was the icing on the top of an already beyond-amazing day.
I’m not kidding – I could not have dreamed of a more perfect day. And I have a pretty creative imagination! I’m still on Cloud Nine – and I’m sure I will be for a looooong time yet!!
So, I want to say a huge, huge, HUGE thank you to everyone at Pantera Press for making my dreams come true – and also for simply being so indescribably lovable. I cannot wait for the next step in our journey together!
I also want to say thank you so much to all you loyal bloggers who have been bombarding me with encouragement, support and congratulations. I’m so excited that you’re sharing this adventure with me – and I look forward to updating you on the next instalment! In the meantime, feel free to go and check out my AMAZING NEW PUBLISHERS! You can find their website here: http://www.panterapress.com.au/ and their Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/PanteraPress