Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust, and WriteOnCon changed my life.

Well, gang, as you already know, I have the most amazing agent in the world, Marietta Zacker from the Nancy Gallt Agency. She’s inspiring, funny, and puts up with my creative process. That’s really what you want from an agent.

You also probably have heard that signing with Marietta was a direct result of the amazing WriteOnCon. But how, exactly?

Well, first you have to know that, although writing has been a lifelong dream, it hasn’t been a lifelong priority for me. I’ve worn a lot of hats in my life, some incredibly fulfilling, others incredibly disappointing, and one or two that were both of those things. Yet, through it all, I would dream of being a writer. However, I didn’t really believe I’d become a writer. Someone else did, though. My wife.

My amazing wife believed in me every single day that I would someday be a professional writer. She bought me books about writing, and journals to keep my thoughts in. She pushed me, way back in 2002, to submit a short story for publication. And when I got that rejection letter back? She didn’t let me tear it up and throw it away, she saved it. She’s going to frame it next to my contract with Marietta. That’s the amazing woman I have in my life. 

(Stops for applause. Continues)

Eventually, I started believing the dream myself, and I started researching how to accomplish that dream. I read about query letters, and agents, and MFAs, and on and on. One consistent thread, though, was that it is way easier to get an agent by going to a writing conference than it is by just cold-calling them. (Or cold-querying them, as it were)

Problem was, I didn’t have any money.

No, seriously. My family was in poverty.

The recession hit us like a sack of bricks. My wife lost her job, which cut our household income in half. We were living in a house at the time that we could barely afford. Without hers, we didn’t have the money to pay our mortgage. We had to give up the house.

Eventually, I lost my job, too. Another casualty of the failing economy. With that, we couldn’t afford to live in the apartment we were renting anymore and had to move in with my brother. Our car broke down, and we couldn’t afford to get it fixed. We were jobless, carless, and basically homeless.

Did I mention that we had two kids at that time? (That sounds like we either eventually got rid of one or we had another. Let me clear that up, we had another.)

Thankfully, we did have the help of some wonderful people, my family most of all, and we survived. I had to work odd jobs. We depended on a lot of real miracles.

The cost of any kind of daycare was so high; it wouldn’t have mattered if my wife would have gotten any of the jobs available to her, all her money would have gone to pay for daycare. She stayed home.

And through it all, she dreamed big for me.

Things eventually turned around. I got a job that paid the bills, we got into a decent home, and got an ok vehicle again. But even thinking about trying to go to a writing convention of any kind made me sick, there was just no way.

Then I heard about WriteOnCon. The free online writing convention. I went to the website to figure out what the catch was. No catch, these wonderful people were just passionate about helping out writers.

When the event started this year, I wasn’t honestly thinking anything big would happen. (My wife, on the other hand…) I got involved in the forums, attended the chats, and took part in the competitions. I put up the sample pages of my book and checked the site whenever I could, in between calls at work.

Then I got a private message in my inbox. The subject line said “Aplauso” and it was from Marietta Zacker.

I almost peed my pants.

She asked to read the full manuscript and gave me her email address. I finished a few tweaks I was working on, and sent it to her.

A little over a month later, I was signing with the Nancy Gallt Agency.

So, I guess the point of this blog is:
1.       If your spouse believes in you, you’re half-way there.
2.       There’s no circumstance so bad that things can’t get better.
3.       WriteOnCon (and my agent) rocks!
I’ll see everyone there next year, fo shizzo.


aneducationinbooks said...

Great inspiration in this post--thank you and congratulations!

IsaiahC said...


Marieke said...

I'm so happy for you! Though I'm totally not surprised - I cannot wait to see your book on the shelves :)

Many wonderful sales together!

Norman Lindsay said...

Isaiah, you are an inspiration. Of course, so is your wife. I know your parents are quite proud of you. And you make me consider rethinking my own position. I have written numerous books and hundreds of article (probably thousands, actually). But the idea of going through the process of getting published is overwhelming. I will check our your source and see what happens. Congratulations, again.

writemohr said...

Wow! I joined for the first time this year as a children's picture book writer. As someone in similar shoes in life, your story is especially inspiring. Thanks for sharing it!