3 S.R. Johannes: What a difference a Year makes

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What a difference a Year makes

I was going back over my posts from last year and realized how far I have come in my writing journey in just a year.

Last year, around this time, I made a serious commitment to myself and the writing process. Prior to that I had dabbled, quit, returned, dabbled, and quit again. (oh yeah, I also quit a big time corporate job, had 2 kids, helped my hubby through a major back surgery, and had 6 months of vertigo)

But, last fall, I learned my writing buddy, Lindsey Leavitt, signed the final contract on her Princess for Hire deal (that went to auction!).

Her deal and journey made me realize something. "I can do this!"

You see Lindsey and I for a long time were in a similar space. In 2007, I had met her at her first SCBWI conference, which was the first conference I was also speaking at. We were reading the Twilight series at the time (along with a few BILLION other people.) So when her book sold to Hyperion, it was the first person I knew to get a real book deal.

I thought, "Wow! You mean this really happens? To people I know?" That was a HUGE eye opener for me.

Last October, I met her for coffee/chit chat after a SCBWI conference. She gave me some praise, some great advice, some pointers and most of all, hope, that it could happen for me. She really got me back on track.

So without Lindsey - and my critique group - I would not be here today. (Yes Lindsey, it's true. Stop shaking your head at me. Don't be so modest!)

After shelving one book along with many many rejections and working for 4 years to get published, last November, I finally queried my second novel "Grace Under Fire" to agents for the first time. I also rededicated myself to learning the ins and outs of the publishing business as well as jumpstart my blog again.

Here's everything I have done in just one year:
  • Met my first Blogger Buddies: Carrie Harris, Casey McCormick, Chandler Craig, and Corey Schwartz, Sherrie Solvang, Suzanne Young, Plot This girls (BTW - Happy Bday Katie! :)
  • Reignited blog - 0 followers
  • queried "Grace Under Fire" for first time
  • got full requests
  • got vertigo
  • got my first gray hair - ok third but whos counting
  • First Marketing Blog interview with Chandler Craig -
  • got rejections - including a personal one from Alyssa (my agent)
  • started marketing series on my blog - about 50 followers, only about 2 comments a day
  • got more rejections
  • had hubby cit me off from having a 3rd baby. dolls will have to do.
  • ran a Commenting contest - followers increased to 100
  • started Facebook and Twitter
  • pissed off my hair dresser and got banned from the salon
  • Started "On the Bright Side - initially a YA
  • joined Publishers weekly and Publishers Marketplace
  • personal rejection with opportunity to resubmit
  • revised Grace's entire plot
  • another gray hair - obviously my old hairdresser's fault
  • Resubmitted to agent who asked for book to be redone
  • Changed On the Brights Side to MG/tween - wrote 100 pages
  • requeried all agents who gave me personal rejections - all said yes and asked for a partial of Bright as well
  • ran Follower Contest - followers increased to 200
  • changed my diet
  • vertigo went away - thank the lord!
  • made tons and tons of wonderful blogger buddies
  • Got an offer for representation- What!
  • Another offer- What?
  • a couple more offers - Shut up!
  • Chose Alyssa!!! yay!
  • Went to LA and got requests from editors for books
  • Hung out with Katie and SF
  • Met my now soul sister Kimberly Derting who I adore to death!
  • Shelved Grace and wrote rest of Bright
  • Revised bright at least 10 times
  • Just went out on sub to publishers
  • Just had my 40,000 visitor on my blog and 350 followers.
Last year, I never thought I would be here today. I wondered if I would EVER get an agent! I never thought I would write another book in less than a year.

Who knows where I will be next year.

So hang in there and stay positive! You have to keep going. Especially if you love to write as much as me.

Because by this time next year, you will be so much further than you are today.

And who knows where that will be!!!!

Here's to another great year and many more successes!

Here's to your dream!

I hope one day, someday, I can give back to each of you in some small way. Even if it is by giving you the hope (like Lindsey did for me) that you too - can reach your writing dream.

Good luck! :)


Paul Greci said...

A great story! Thanks for sharing your journey. I can relate to a lot of it.(My book just went out on submission,too.) And you're right, follow your dreams. And your blog is already helping lots of writers follow their dreams.
And, surviving a prolonged bout of vertigo is no picnic!

Patti said...

A lot can happen in a year, that's what I keep saying to myself. Your story just gives me more hope.

Jessie Oliveros said...

What a great journey! So much in one year. I'm very excited to see when Bright gets picked up.

cleemckenzie said...

Loved this. It's all about the journey, isn't it?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

This post is filled with such wonder, hope and gratitude. Thanks for the uplift.

Andrea Cremer said...

Hooray!! It is amazing how much can change so fast.

Last year at this time I had a vision of my MC for Nightshade and new her story needed to be told. In less than a year from NOW it will be in bookstores. Dreams take work, but if you relieve thrown yourself into them, they can indeed come true!

Pam Calvert said...

Good for you, Shelli! I expect SUPER GOOD NEWS soon!!!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You give back regularly, through your blog, to your many followers who receive valuable info and motivation each time we stop by. Thank you!

Alyson Noel said...

My fingers are crossed for you, Shelli!


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Man, you are a testament for "Don't quit before the miracle..."

Sherrie Petersen said...

Now that's inspiring!!

When I "met" you online, I barely knew what a blog was. A year does make a huge difference. What an amazing journey we're on!

Christina Lee said...

WOW!! Thanks for that pep talk--I kinda need it right now!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

You are so generous and open about the process. Here's the best to next year!

Corey Schwartz said...

Wow! I kind of knew all that but when you put it together in one post it really emphasizes how AMAZING it is!

Suzanne Young said...

By the end of the year you'll be able to add another milestone on your list! I just know it!


Katie Anderson said...

Amazing :-)

Susan R. Mills said...

What agreat story. Thanks for sharing. There really is hope for all of us, isn't there?

Unknown said...

Thanks for the encouraging post, Shelli! Here's to adding "accepted offer from publisher" very, very soon!

Donna Gambale said...

That's so exciting! And I hope that you consider me to be one of your newest blogger buddies.

Hilary Wagner said...

I Shelli! Crazy year here too! I'm so excited to hear more amazing news from you and I know it going to happen soon!! It's all so fantastic! Hope to hear more soon!

xoxo -- Hilary

Belle Wong said...

Wow! I can't tell you how inspiring this post is for me. I've just recently started back on the writing track again - I loved reading your list of all you've accomplished this past year!

Kelly H-Y said...

You go girl!!! :-)

Crystal said...

WOW, Shelli! What a journey you've had! As I read to the end of this post, I thought you've already given back to many of us much more than you realize (which we may not often say in our comments). With this post (and so, so many others that you've written in the past), you give us HOPE because many of us are on this same path . . . Thank you so much for sharing your journey thus far. It is truly INSPIRING! :)

Melissa Hurst said...

Wow, you have accomplished so much in a year. I've just started my writing journey, so this really gives me hope. Thank you for sharing:)

Little Ms J said...

Two things:

What did you do in the salon to have you 86'd and tell me about these commenting contests...?

Congrats, lady! A magical year!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Ahhh...I love how supportive the kidlit world is. We help each other as much as we can, and it makes all the difference.

Fingers crossed for you Shelli!

Cassandra Frear said...

What a year. Mine has been very difficult and not very inspiring.

But occasionally, I look at earlier blogs posts and I can see that I am improving in my writing.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...


Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It put a smile on my face and hope in my heart for the next twelve months. Again, thank you.

Roni Loren said...

That's an awesome journey! i hope mine looks similar to yours by the end of a year. :)

holly cupala said...

Lovely post, Shelli! I toast your one year and all you have accomplished, both personally and professionally - and I can't wait to hear more, which will surely come soon! xoxo

PJ Hoover said...

Great post! I love the idea of looking back at the last year and listing your accomplishments. Sometimes it seems like we're stagnant, but it's all in our minds.

Go you!

Deb Markanton said...

Shelli, thanks for making me feel like I just might make it!

Christina Farley said...

Wow. If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is. I'm off to write some more- thank you very much. You totally rock! And I can't wait to buy your book. Tell those editors to get on with it.

Gail said...

Geez, are you reading my mind???? I was just thinking today of how far I've come since last winter when I first got serious (okay semi- serious) about putting my effoorts into writing. You are always inspiring me and i'm sure many others as well. I can so relate to life's challenges creating speed bumps to writing careers! And I can't believe you got fired by your hairdresser too! Hmmm... I wonder if it's the same one??

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post. I started my writing blog Jan 9th of this year. I need to really get on the ball to achieve just a fraction of what you have. But I have progressed and I will see where I am at this time next year. I joined Facebook, became a columnist for children in a regional magazine and had a short story published. But I am still yearning to get one of my books published.


Excuuuuse me, but ... where is MY name on this list? Okay, okay, I'm over it. Awesome year, lady! :)

Dawn Simon said...

Yay, Shelli! Thanks for such an inspirational post! :)

Casey Something said...

Huzzah! So inspiring, Shelli. You've accomplished so much. Amazing how fast things can fall into place. Congrats on everything (except, you know, the gray hairs and salon incident)! Can 2010 be my year?

Anonymous said...


Daisy Whitney said...

Hi Shelli! I'm very interested in book marketing as well, so we must keep in touch!

Adrienne said...

Thanks for sharing your journey - very inspiring! And just what do you have to do to get banned from a salon?

Kimberly Derting said...

This is a *great* journey post (and I'm not just sayin' that cuz my name's in it!). I can't wait till it's the other post...the I've Done It! post!!! You're so close!!!!!!

Sally said...

I'm so glad I stumbled onto this blog! It inspires me- and I have a blast reading it.... thanks

Meghan Ward said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Shelli. It really is encouraging to read the details of your journey. And what a year it has been! May the next one be even better!

Vivian Mahoney said...

I love how you share all you are grateful for this year. Congratulations on keep a positive attitude and following your dream. Can you imagine all the good stuff in store for you in 2010?