Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bart The Cat your Life

Have you heard of Bart the Cat, the zombie cat that came back from the dead? After being hit by a car, then buried by the owner's neighbor, and spending five days in the dirt, Bart the Cat suddenly returned to life. It's a miracle that the poor, abused and believed-dead animal was able to claw his way back to life.
That's what he did! Bart fought to live.
(Picture found on

When I heard of Bart's plight, I called my friend Elana Johnson. Sure the news story is gut-wrenching, if not a little disturbing, but it is also inspiring. 

Have you ever felt like you wanted to give up? Throw in the towel? Bury that dream you've been chasing for so long? 

I have! Holy Bart The Cat, I have. 

The first time I sat down to write a novel, I thought I was God's gift to writing. My book was about a girl that lived sometimes in this world and sometimes in a creepy elfin world, changing location whenever I felt like the writing needed a little spice. I threw in a dash of romance with a hot guy, danger from scary bad guys, and a lot of internal musing.

So why didn't it get published? Clearly it was a masterpiece. 

Well, it was a masterpiece of something, that's for sure. Something that smelled more like my dog's excrement (see former Poo post here). 

The manuscript was bad. As in Bad News Bears kind of awful. 

If I've taught my kids anything, it's that Summerills are winners. Which means we can't be quitters when the going gets rough and tough and too wordy. I buckled down and set my sights on one day acquiring an agent who would sell my book to a publisher. (Cue angels singing).

I wrote 6 more novels. 

The last one was my best. My YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED, was one that I sunk my heart and sole and my kidney into (More about the kidney, see here.) With encouragement from my fellow writer friends, I started querying and looking for an agent. 

A couple months passed and no agents were interested. 
Honestly, I was sort of devastated. I'd had enough bitter rejection. My manuscript had already been revised, revised, revised, edited, and then revised some more. When agents weren't blowing up my phone, it killed a little piece of my heart. I decided to give up. 
Ya'll, I done went and buried that son-of-a-gun manuscript, EVER THE HUNTED.

I let a month pass. Then another.
I decided to dig that manuscript out and revise once more. Even though I was pulling it out of the grave, I believed in this story. I cleaned it up and sent it out to more Beta readers, and when I'd revised once more, I queried again.

You know how the story ends. (See agent post here) In the late fall, I signed with Josh Adams, of Adams Literary and recently it was announced on Publisher's Weekly that I signed a 2 book deal with HMH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 

If I had given up and let the book sit in the bottom of that shallow grave, I would never have signed with Josh Adams, agent MegaAwesome. And I certainly wouldn't have ever been offered a two book deal from HMH! Which, can I just say that even now, as I write this, still blows my mind and makes me cry. 

The thing of it is, you can't give up. Never ever let go of your dreams. You have to Bart The Cat it all the way till the end. Even when it feels like your done, you've been buried alive, you have to fight for it. 
Now go Bart The Cat your life!