Peeps!! I'm happy to announce that the lovely Beth Ellyn has great news to share. Here's her story in her own words! CONGRATS, Beth!! =D
Monica, the Girly YA contest on your blog changed my life. I participated back in February, and now I’m so thrilled to announce that I’m happily repped by the amazing Carrie Pestritto of theProspect Agency!
There was never a time when I didn’t know I loved writing. When I was four I would scribble wavy lines that, in my head, told a story. I got so frustrated when no one understood what I was “writing.” When I was six I sketched Snoopy and Thumper on pieces of loose leaf paper cut into small squares. Since I was too little to use a stapler, I Scotch taped the “book” together. When I was eight, I still cut loose leaf into small squares, but I was filling the pages with actual words. It wasn’t until I graduated college that I realized I should probably try doing this on a computer and see if I could achieve my dream of completing a YA novel.
So I did! I had so much fun working on it too. I always thought the query process seemed exciting and intriguing, not daunting at all. Until I got my first rejection. Still intrigued, but not as excited, I continued sending out my query in small batches. Every request, partial or full, was the biggest rush. I’d go through the following series of thoughts after getting a full request:
“This is it! I feel it!”
“I’ll only refresh my inbox every
twenty minutes. Any more often than that and I’m being unrealistic.”
“I mean the agent requested it in like three days, which means they were excited about it, right? I bet I hear back in a week, at the latest.”
“Maybe it’s been a month because the agent is REALLY being thorough before offering rep?”
“Oh God. I totally overused the semicolon. That’s what this is all about.”
After only 30 queries I realized the manuscript wasn’t ready. I was lucky to have received some amazing personal rejections with seriously awesome compliments on my writing, which definitely pushed me to try again. I couldn’t wait to put everything I’d learned into a brand new manuscript.
And I did! I wrote an even longer book this time. I queried close to 80 agents total on this one.
Again, I received more helpful feedback. This time the praise revolved around one central theme: the late night talk show setting my MC worked in. Only a few short scenes took place there, but the consensus was loud and clear from agents and beta readers: “Write more of that!” That was fine with me. I interned for Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon from 2008-2009 and it’s something I love to talk about—I just never dreamed people would be interested in reading about it.
It was freeing to sit down and write about a time of my life I loved so much. I’ve always wanted to give a glimpse into the crazy world of late night comedies. I remember the first time I sat in on Conan’s rehearsal. I watched grown men and women engage in a serious, twenty minute discussion about whether or not the rabbit DJ puppet should spin hip hop records or hard core rap.
I mean heads together, steepled hands, heated arguments. Over a rabbit DJ puppet.
It was riveting.
So, I decided a big focus of the manuscript would be the internship. But I still needed new characters. And a plot (minor technicality, really.)
I worked on this book the same summer I got hooked on YouTube makeup tutorials. When I say “hooked on,” I mean totally, completely addicted. The videos not only relaxed me, but taught me how to apply all the makeup I owned, but was always afraid to really dig in and use.
Pretty soon I was smudging out my eyeliner like a pro. I learned how important it is to blend, blend, blend, otherwise a smoky eye look will just be a regular eye look. I discovered exactly where to place highlighter, and that a little goes a very long way (except I still use a ton because, well, can you ever have too much of a healthy glow? No.)
These YouTube beauty gurus fascinated me so much that I decided I was going to create one as a MC. Initially I worked on it as a separate MS to see where it went.
But, like all my previous protagonists, this beauty guru found herself enamored with a late night talk show, and all the interns working there. So the two projects merged and became The Intern Diaries, completed in January 2013. I queried a small handful of agents, but I was really keeping my eyes peeled for blog contests. I had watched all the Pitch Madness and The Writer’s Voice fun from afar in 2012 and really wanted to participate.
Then one night I was scrolling through Twitter and caught a retweet for the Girly YA contest right here on the Love YA blog. Does it get any girlier than a makeup guru? I couldn’t wait to enter. Then, the following day, I found out I was one of four winners! I’m not going to lie—I did a fair amount of squealing. I e-mailed my 100 pages off to Carrie that afternoon.
When I heard back from her six hours later I assumed there had to be some mistake. No one could be that fast reading my work. I figured her original email confirming she received it was just coming through again. That’s all. A silly glitch. But nope! It was a detailed R&R!
The following day we talked on the phone. For months I had read so many stories about how when you talk to the right agent on the phone, you will know it. I never understood how that could be possible just from one call.
But then Carrie and I talked about Sephora, and the inexplicable need to own eye shadow colors we’ll never, ever wear, but absolutely have to have.
AND I KNEW.
The official offer came last week! We’ve been working on revisions together for a couple of months now, and I am so happy with the changes. I know The Intern Diaries will only continue to develop and grow stronger with Carrie’s guidance and support.
Thank you again, Monica, for this incredible opportunity! Without your blog contest I’d still be alternating between querying and posting Facebook status updates that say: “Snookie has Gorilla Beach and I have an inbox full of rejections? Why? WHY."