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!


Christine Danek said...

Congratulations!! I read Elana's post and wanted to hop over and say congrats. Also, thanks for the encouragement. I've quit so many times and have so many rejections that the quitting feeling is coming around again, but I'm working on my fifth manuscript so at some point someone has to want one of them, right?
Look forward to the release and congrats!!

i'm erin. said...

Thanks for stopping by Christine! Someone will want one of your manuscripts soon. Just keep on keeping on!

Jessie Humphries said...

You should post a pic of you looking that one time you came downstairs in your horrible green sweatpants (ripped to shreds and covered in ten shades of old paint), your hair a mess, and your eye makeup running down your face like a Russian whore. ;) bahaha Just kidding. I like your headshot on PW much better.

Rosalyn said...

I love this! (And you are much, much prettier than Bart the cat, poor thing). I'm so happy your story had a happy ending.

Peggy Eddleman said...

"Go Bart The Cat your life!" I think that should be the writing world's new battle cry. I'm totally using it from now on.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

If I can get everyone in this writing community to write a super "keep going it'll happen" post about once a week, that'd be awesome. Keep the good vibes out there, you know, for those of us debating which phase of Bart the Cat we are in.

I'm super SUPER thrilled for you, your story, and what the future holds!

Jenilyn Collings said...

Congratulations!! This is such happy news. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Awesome story of perseverance! Sometimes those stories we shove into drawers turn out to be the key.
And how terrible. Poor Bart. Glad he fought his way back to the land of the living.

Liz Isaacson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elana Johnson said...

Ha! We totally need to go Bart the Cat on our lives. But I bet it was hard to crawl out of that grave. Maybe I'll just go watch more Master Chef... <3

Angela Brown said...

This is such awesome news! Congrats Erin! You Bart the cat your manuscript and gained something wonderful and commendable :-)

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Yeah! What Peggy said. (And honestly, a little of what Jessie said as well 😉)

Jaime said...

Well said, Erin! I'm so proud of you. I'm off to Bart the Cat something now . . .

Ashley said...

Congratulations, Erin! I'm so proud of you! And I can't wait to read it! (special-family-signed-book-edition???)
Also, you should know, I brag about my super talented cousin to any one who will listen to me (which isn't too many). ;-)

Emily R. King said...

Such a fun analogy, Erin! Congrats on the accomplishment of a huge goal!

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Hooray! Never give up!
The Write Soil

Unknown said...

Between this blog and your presentation on the query/submission process I feel motivated to finish my (hopefully) final draft and get going. Thanks again!

Caryn Caldwell said...

Wow! What inspiring stories -- both yours AND Bart the Cat's! And huge congratulations on your two-book deal!!!

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-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

Egads! Is that a cat??

But, seriously, folks, as I stand-up
here on this Great Stage of our lifelong demise
(only 65ish feet across and 1-outta-1 croaks),
what's the MOST important objective in your
finite existence, dear? I certainly know what mine is:

Hope2God this provides some knowledge
on your everlasting, spiritual journey;
I may see you again Upstairs... maybe not...
depending on how well WE mortals have fulfilled
our voyage to the Great Beyond by 1) loving God
and 2) loving our neighbor to the best of our ability.

Why else does a moth fly FROM the night
than to a bold, attractive candle Light??
Don’t let His extravagant Brilliance be extinguished.
You’re creative, yes?
Then, fly-away with U.S. to the antidote…

Whether you obtain morality4mortality to wiseabove
or just glean tantalizing specimens for thy next best seller,
you shall find in our blogs a lotta (subliminal) moxie
which has taken this sinfull mortal yeeeeers to compile!
I lay it ALL out for you, dear, with All-Star-Oxygems:

Wouldn’t ya love an endless eternity
of aplomBombs falling on thy indelible cranium?
An XtraXcitinXpose with no zooillogical-expiration-date?
An IQ much higher than K2 all-go-rhythm?
An extraordinarily, anti-establishment-victory
with both sardonic, satirical wit Who’s savvy
and avant-guarde-humility??
Here’s what the exquisite, prolific GODy sed
(with a most-excellent-detector of bull§ht):

“Faith, hope, and love,
the greatest of these is love –
jump into faith…
and you’ll VitSee with love”
Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe (what I write);
God believes in you.

Meet me Upstairs, girl, where the Son never goes down
from a super-passionate, lucrative iconoclasm where you’ll find
of deluxe-HTTP [<- pi] opportunities for excitement BTW.

Do it. Do the deed, dude. Sign into the Big-Zaftig-House.

PS “It is impossible that anyone should NOT receive all that they have believed and hoped to obtain; it gives Me great pleasure when they hope great things from Me and I will always give them more than they expect”
-our Lord Jesus to Saint Gertrude

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Natalie Aguirre said...

Hi Erin, I'd be interested in interviewing you with an ARC giveaway of Ever the Hunted in December 2016 at Literary Rambles. E-mail me at if you're interested. Natalie Aguirre

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