Today’s Path to Publication story is from Clean Reads author, Carol Riggs.
Without further ado, here’s Carol…
Hello, and thanks so much to fellow Clean Reads author Christi for inviting me to be a guest here on her blog!
I had a long and convoluted path to publication. In high school and college I dabbled with writing, collecting my first rejection slips for short stories in high school. When my daughters went off to kindergarten, I started writing in earnest. Here are some stats before my debut novel, The Body Institute, released in September 2015:
- I completed 12 novels (the first half-dozen were short, 100-150 pages long)
- I amassed over 350 rejections from publishers and agents
- I wrote for a total of 11 years before selling my debut novel
- I got discouraged and quit for 8 years as a single mother; I started up again in 2009
- I spent a LOT of money on manila envelopes and postage; in the 1990s, submissions were sent directly to publishers via manila envelopes and SASEs (self-addressed, stamped envelopes)
In 2010 I met my agent-to-be at an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) retreat, and signed with her in April 2011 for my debut novel. I learned to revise. I signed a contract with one publisher (Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robots in the UK), only to have them go out of business 5 months before the book was due to come out…ugh! That was really discouraging. Back to square one with submissions. The Body Institute finally came out via Entangled Teen, 4 years after I signed with my agent.
During those 4 years, I also wrote 4 other young adult novels. After my agent and I amicably parted ways in 2015, I dusted these manuscripts off, shaped them up, and sold two of them on my own. One was Bottled, which releases from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016. I’d submitted less than a half-dozen queries on this one—cue excitement! I’ve always had a soft spot for this novel, and really enjoyed writing it. I also appreciate Clean Reads’ policy of no graphic violence, sex, or profanity.
Why did I write Bottled? I used to watch “I Dream of Jeannie” all the time as a young girl (yes, I am that old), along with “Bewitched.” I loved those shows. Except I have to admit sometimes Jeannie drove me NUTS with all the torturous scrapes and tangles she got her master into. Such chaos! I decided I wanted to write a novel about a genie, a more serious tribute to the enchantment of this show, with a splash of romance in it. Unlike Jeannie, my genie has limited powers; Adeelah isn’t able to use her abilities to reach her own goals. Having limitations with the magic made things more challenging and fun plot-wise.
I’m currently writing a fantasy novel, a retelling of an obscure French fairy tale. I’ll probably query when I’m finished and try to find an agent for it, because an agent is SO helpful when negotiating contracts, and taking care of the business side of things. Otherwise, I’ll just wing it and see what tomorrow brings!
The takeaway from all this is that if you have a dream, a goal that’s important to you, keep learning and persevering. Wouldn’t it be sad if you were a week away from reaching your dreams, and you gave up?!
At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.
But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.
As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.
Carol Riggs is an author of fiction for young adults (and adults!) who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, The Body Institute, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, Bottled, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, Safe Zone, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.
CONNECT WITH CAROL