Saturday, November 3, 2007

It Only Takes Once...

By Kirsten Scott

As of Thursday, October 17th, there are now officially two days that completely, and unexpectedly, changed my life.

The first came on January 1, 2000. My husband and I were staying at a condo in Northern Washington with our dear friends the Seyfarths (yes, that's Bandita Susan and husband), celebrating the new millenium. I was in the middle of my third year of law school, and had lately been bitten by that hormonal bug many of you women may recognize. This particular bug called out to me at odd moments of the day, "Procreate! Go Forth and Multiply!"

Now, having a baby wasn't really in the plan for my husband and I. First, I was going to graduate from law school. Then, I was going to study like mad and take the Bar exam. Then we were flying to New Zealand for a vacation before I started work at The Firm. Sometime after I had paid off some portion of my enormous student loan, we would think about babies.

But I've never been particularly patient (understatement of the year) person and there was one time..ONE TIME I TELL YOU...that I threw caution to the wind.

And it only took once.

We found out on New Years Day. Awestruck at what a difference one day can make, we changed all our plans. I put off starting work at The Firm, put the student loans on the 30 year plan, and New Zealand became a distant dream. We had a beautiful baby boy about two weeks after I took the Bar. Just like that, life changed.

So it happened again, on October 17th, 2007. I was at work, reading email during an endlessly boring meeting. Fabulous news! my agent wrote. Call right away!

I slipped out of the meeting and made the call, heart pounding. My agent had sent out my young adult manuscript a few weeks before, and I'd steeled myself for a long, long wait. What could "fantastic news" possibly mean?

It was more than I had ever imagined. An offer for a two-book deal for my young adult urban fantasy from Hyperion Books for Children, my dream publisher.

Being at work, I couldn't whoop and holler like I wanted, had to stifle the tears and pretend to be normal--normal, other than feeling like the room was spinning and I couldn't breathe quite right. I nearly passed out right in the hall, and barely managed to gasp, "I'll take it!"

I called my husband and he did the hollering for me, along with a little crying. Then I called Bandita Susan, who hollered some more and generally satisfied the rest of my need to make noise and dance around hysterically. I owe so much to Susan, and it was unbelievably satisfying to share my joy with her, and know she understood what it meant better than anyone.

What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four hours later, my husband and I were talking options--quit the day job? Work until I (please please) get another contract? Pay off the student loans? Can you believe we're even talking about this? Did it really happen?

What a wild ride. I've made virtually no decisions since then, just wandered around, awestruck once again at the difference a day makes.

So what about you? Any unexpected blessings change your life? Did it only take once for you, too? Did you guess I was hiding a call story in this post right from the start? :-)

49 comments:

Helen said...

Kirsten I am so happy for you congratulations and big hugs all that hard work has paid off well done another published Bandita.
Yes forgot to take that little tablet back in October 79 and July 80 we had a daughter not on our plans at that time either but wouldn't change anything I got to stay at home with the children ( I had 4 in 6 years) for 10 years before going back to work and loved every minute of that time.
Congratulations again Kirsten.
Have Fun
Helen

Authorness said...

Congratulations on your deal, Kirsten! How exciting!

Vanessa

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, I've been waiting for this post!!! Once again, congratulations on your mind-blowing success. We are proud to call you a fellow Bandita.

And about the instant conception--it only took once, maybe twice for us, too. At least we knew we hadn't been wasting our money on contraception all those years:)

And now...who will be the next Bandita to sell??

Joan said...

Well, I'd have to be in the running to be the next Bandita to sell because the other.....

Kirsten I predict a long, wonderful career for you. The joyful, positive energy when you told us Banditas just knocked us over and put huge, silly grins on our faces for days.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Way to go Kirsten, and yes, when I saw the fireworks, I just knew there was a call story coming. I can only guess at the excitement for you since I am not a writer but I am thrilled for you.

Gillian Layne said...

Ack- you make me cry, but they are good tears!

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, this is SO FABULOUS!! We Banditas have known and, of course, been sworn to secrecy for weeks. Aren't we all just evil?

I can hardly wait to get my hands on these books. What a great concept it was and how smart Hyperion was to leap on it!

Of course, having Boy wasn't too shabby, either. Good job all around! Yes, my own Boy was quite a surprise for me. He completely changed my life and gave me what I needed: focus and direction. Children are such a marvel!

CONGRATULATIONS and keep us posted as things develop!

AndreaW said...

Congratulations, Kirsten!!!

Wow, this is really great news! I'm so happy for you! Woo-hoo!! Par-tay time!

~Andrea

Susan Seyfarth said...

Yay, Kirsten! If it means anything, I STILL dance around the house at odd intervals when I remember that you sold your YA. I was sitting beside you at a workshop in Atlanta as you scribbled out a first chapter on that book, & I read first drafts, second drafts, brain stormed titles... I know exactly how hard you worked to write a great book, & I was thrilled to be one of your surrogate yellers. (I know it's unseemly to shout in the hallways at work. But as a stay at home mom, shouting at work is kind of my stock in trade. I was happy to do your yelling.)

I remember that New Year's day in 2000, too. The other one that changed your life. :-) I remember how proud I was to be present on such an important day in your life. I had no idea at the time how many more important days we'd share, from your pregnancy announcement on New Years Day, to my wedding day seven months later, to your baby's birth a month or so after that. Then there were those giddy emails after our first 'the end's, our first RWA conference, our first agent/editor appointments, our first Golden Heart finals...

And now this. Your first sale. And I couldn't be prouder if it had happened to me. I'll be first in line at B & N on your release date, bandita! Mmmmmwah!

Susan

Kirsten said...

Hi Helen! Thanks so much, and congratulations on that Golden Rooster.

So you're a fertile myrtle too, huh? As I look at my little surprise sitting next to me on the couch, I couldn't be happier or feel more blessed. How wonderful that you had so much time with your little blessings.

Kirsten said...

Hi Vanessa , and thanks so much!

Christine, after chasing you around the contest circuit for a year, I'm so glad to finally follow in your footsteps to a contract! Now if only I can follow it up with a book as good as Scandal's Daughter...

And yes, I'm waiting for that next sale myself!

Susan Seyfarth said...

Okay, I just re-read my post & realized that it sounds like I was there at your baby's birth. Yeah, we didn't quite SHARE that much. :-)

But I remember getting the call that you'd had the baby. We were in the parking lot of Linens & Things, & we grinned like idiots all the way home. So I *felt* like I shared the day, sort of. Only from a safe, respectful distance. :-)

Kirsten said...

Hi Joan! No baby in your future, huh? ;-) I guess you'll just have to sell a couple of books. Oh darn. :-) Thanks again, and I simply could not wait to share my success with all the Banditas. The chain of disclosure went something like this...Husband, Susan, Banditas, Family...Is that wrong?

Dianna, it's so fun to share these stories, but I have to admit, I worry that our readers get bored of us talking about ourselves all the time! Thus my attempt to make this blog about something more than me. Nice try, huh? ;-)

Kirsten said...

Aw, Gillian, are your tear ducts as tightly wired as mine? I mean, I love that my story inspired tears, but I know from experience that for some of us, just about anything can set off the flood. For example--I read one of my son's books the other day, and it was about an immigrant kid who comes to America to find a new life, and has to take care of his family while his dad goes off to make money in a timber camp. Anyway, it's really hard, but he does it, and then the dad comes back at the end and tells the boy how proud he is. And here I am CRYING at a 25 page children's book. Yeesh!

Anyway, thanks for sharing my joy!!

hugs and kisses

Kirsten said...

Thanks Caren! And yes, I know, how crazy to think anyone could have ever passed this book over! Of course, there were those 39 other agents who rejected it, but that's old news, right? Snort!

Actually, to throw some unsolicited experience out there, about a year ago I had the sense that I was writing books that were about 80% publishable. I didn't know how to get that last 20% better, and had the sense I wasn't going to get there on my own.

Then I got an offer for representation from an agent I had never heard of before--she worked for a reputable agency and had a couple of her own sales, but was just starting out (as in, she'd been an agent for a year!). She said she loved the concept, but thought the book needed some work, and she wanted to help me get it there. This was a bit of an ego knock, because everyone always said to find an agent who ADORED your work and you and everything about you. But I had the sense this was exactly what I needed to sell. So I signed with her, and that agent and I went back and forth through three rounds of revisions over the next couple of months. And then, magically, a couple weeks after she sends it out...SALE!

So I have no idea what that means or if anyone else could benefit from my experience...but there it is. :-)

Kirsten said...

Thanks Andrea! And thanks for being such a fabulous Bandita supporter! We couldn't do it without you.

Kirsten said...

Aw, Susan, now I'm crying!! It has been an incredible seven years, hasn't it? Thank you so much for sharing my joy and making this book so much better than it would have been without you. You're amazing, and I can't wait to do that same happy dance when you sell!!

Kendra said...

Congratulations! I love this story and the one of how you got your agent. Gives the rest of us inspiration!

January 1, 2000 was a life changer for me, too. I was in the hospital giving birth.

Kirsten said...

Kendra, thanks--and I'm glad the agent story sounded inspirational. I wasn't sure. LOL. I'm wary of telling people to take their "second choice" when it comes to agents, and I've heard lots of horror stories when people get paired with an agent who doesn't care about them. I felt like I got the best possible deal--an industry professional who cared enough about my story to help me make it better.

And congratulations on your own little blessing! When everyone else was worried about the world going crazy when the clocks changed to 2000, I guess we had other things on our minds!

jo robertson said...

Ah, Kirsten, what a beautiful story. For this bandita, it only took seven times for the babies to pile up. We were going to subtitle our children by the kinds of birth control that failed, but decided that would be too cruel LOL.

And how wonderful that Bandita Susan has joined us in the Lair so that you can share your grand news with such a good friend.

Those student loans!! How well I remember paying them off . . . and paying them off . . . and, well you get the idea.

I KNOW this is just the start of an amazing other career for you!

Renee Lynn Scott said...

Kirsten, congratulations! I had tears in my eyes reading your post.

Kate Carlisle said...

Kirsten!!! Congratulations and about time, too! Yes, I can tell you all about the day my life changed -- but I just gave my own call story a few weeks ago! LOL.

I know the thrills and chills you're living through right now and I'm so excited for you. I can't wait to get your books in my hot little hands!

And I really appreciate that you talked about your instincts about your agent. I think, for anyone who's been trying to sell for a while, there comes a time when you need to decide if you want to treat your writing as a business or not, then seriously begin to evaluate your work vis a vis the marketplace and start taking those steps necessary to find the meeting point between the two that will most likely bring about a sale.

Wow. Serious stuff. Enough!

(But PS, didn't you love "vis a vis?" That was for you, Ms. Lawyer. LOL.)

Congratulations again, Kirsten! You so deserve this fabulous sale--and many more!

Kirsten said...

Jo, Are you saying it only took once...seven times? Wow. The universe clearly knew what an amazing mother you'd be! :-) As for those student loans, it would be so satisfying to pay them off earlier than the current thirty year plan. I'm tired of having two mortgages! Thanks for your support.

Renee, I'm touched that my post inspired tears. I hope whatever you're doing in life, you've also had those fireworks, wow, life-changing moments.

Kirsten said...

Thanks, Kate, though I must say, your call story seems much more inspiring than mine! I just keep telling myself I packed ten years of rejections into three years. LOL.

And yes, I did appreciate the vis a vis. Now throw in a "pursuant to" and a "heretofore" and I'll really be impressed. :-)

Aunty Cindy said...

YAY Kirsten! Keeping quiet was nearly fatal to your old Aunty!

MAJOR CONGRATS and HAPPY DANCING for you, m'dear! And thanx for your insightful post. There are definitely some moments that become definitive in your life. Some you KNOW will be, others you don't recognize until long after the fact. I do believe that ALL the Bandita's 'call stories' will be career defining moments. And I can't WAIT to see who will be next to get theirs!

AC

Stacy S said...

Congratulations, Kirsten!! That's great news.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Kirsten, what a great call story! And yes I've had moments like that. I was a 19 year old nursing student. One of the youngest in my class the day my world changed.

My mom is a surgical nurse. She went back to school while I was in elementary school to become a nurse, then went on to learn to scrub and circulate. I remember sitting at the kitchen table quizzing her on instruments by their picture and what they were used for. Not long after that the TV series M*A*S*H came on and I fell in love. Not with any hunk on the show, but with surgery nursing. I wanted to be the efficient nurse standing at the operating room table in an emergency and handing out instruments. So I went to nursing school with the idea of following my mom into the OR. UNTIL that fateful day came along.

I was standing in a delivery room during my L&D rotation. In class we'd just learned about how the baby naturally moves through the birth canal. Then I got to witness the entire process. WOW! I was hooked...big time. Tears in my eyes, I told the doc, someone who knew my mom from doing surgeries, "That's the most beautiful miracle I've ever seen." SIGH.

Poor Mom. Dr. Simon couldn't wait to tell her he didn't think I was going to the OR for my career.

But wait! I learned to scrub and circulate for c-sections and Tubal Ligations, so I got the best of both worlds! And as much as I love writing, I also love my night job!

Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten!!!! I've been panting on this post coming. It's been tough sitting on the news so long. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!!! Fantastic to see talent and persistence and hard work pay off. And the books sound absolutely brilliant. Can't wait to read them. You know you've tipped the balance? Only nine more Bandits hanging on the wall...

Go, Banditas! Go, Kirsten! Rah, rah, rah!!!

Yes, like Susan, I've been dancing too. But I bet she's better at it!

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, with all those kids, no wonder you need to escape into a romance now and then ;-)

Susan, I had to laugh - I thought you meant you were there for the conception. And I thought, hmm, those two are CLOSE, aren't they? ;-)

Kirsten, great advice about going with your gut with the agent. And it's odd - after I sold CTC, I looked back and I could see why that book did it for me but the others didn't. There really is that last 20% you have to conquer and you can't do it until you've mastered the 80% and then it's like starting school all over again.

Congratulations again! I'm so excited for you!!!!

Christie Kelley said...

First of all, congratulations, Kirsten on your sale. I can't believe it took you this long to get it on the blog!

Your books sound so great, I can't wait to see the covers and then go to a store and buy them!

I have been blessed many times in my life. A wonderful husband, two great boys and a large supportive family (okay really large but that's a post for another day). Being laid off was a major blessing because the job market was in the pits and I couldn't find a job. My husband told me to take some time and concentrate on writing.

Of course, the day my agent called with my sale was definitely a highlight and a blessing.

Kirsten said...

AC, I'm so glad I finally spilled the beans--I'm not sure how much more your heart could take!! ;-) It is so true that you don't always know a life defining moment when it happens. Life plays little tricks on us sometimes...Anyway, thanks for all your support! I fully expect another call story sometime soon!

Stacy, thanks for the well wishes! It's so fun to have a whole on-line community of friends to share my story with.

Kirsten said...

Suz, that's a really incredible story. I feel a bit cheated that I didn't get to SEE my kids being born. It must be absolutely incredible to be a part of that miracle every time you go to work. And it's wonderful that you love both your careers. Very few people get to follow their passions and get paid for it!

Kirsten said...

Anna (or should i say, Fo-Ho?) you are such a sweetheart! I knew from the first few days of the Golden Heart loop that you were an incredibly caring and supportive lady, and I'd be lucky to one day be able to call you a friend! Now, my next goal is to follow you onto the NYT bestseller list. :-)

And UGG, I have no idea now how I did get over that last 20%, but I'm terrified I'll never do it again!! EEEK!

Kirsten said...

Christie, what a fabulous story--getting laid off turns into a blessing. Just like AC says, you don't always know that a moment is life changing until you look back later.

As for my cover, since the book isn't coming out until Spring or Fall 2009 (WAH!) I don't know when I'll see it. I'm sure I'll have myself in a complete tizzy by then!

There's one thing you definitely need to make it in this business, and that's PATIENCE. Not one of my stronger suits, unfortunately.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Woo-hooooo Kirsten! It's so great to read your story. Its also so wonderful to cherish those special moments. :> With two boys - one an "oh, my! We're WHAT?" and the other a "when are we ever going to get #2?" - I found myself moved to remember that special moment in my own life. Thanks. :> And my own The Call story. My goodness. Now you've got me all verklempt. So excited for you and delighted that ALL your "babies" are doing so very very well! Grins!

Beth said...

Congratulations, Kirsten! I'm so thrilled for you and I can not WAIT to get my hands on your fabulous stories *g* I just know that one phone call was only the beginning of a wonderful and successful career for you :-)

Keira Soleore said...

INARA!! WOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! That fireworks picture did it for me. I was chanting, "OMG, OMG, OMG, she did it!" as I read and scrolled through your post. I'm so happy. You've certainly made my day. Hooray!

First it was once a month a Bandita sold. Now it's twice a month and the trend's continuing. I've never met such an incredibly talented group of people.

I don't know about the myrtle bit, but fertile. Oh my! Me, too.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, I've never heard it before but I've been snorking away like a loon since I read it - Fertile Myrtle! Oh, man!!!

doglady said...

Kirsten, I am so excited for you!! Many, many congratulations! Nobody deserves it more. Please keep us posted on the "arrival" date for your little bundle of publication!!! What a great call story. I think my day that changed my life came when Deb M called to tell me I was in the finals of the Royal Ascot. For the first time I thought "Hey, I think I can really do this writing thing." Just the knowledge that someone else considers what you have written award worthy is a great motivator!

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna, I should've known that those two rhyming words would've caught your eye! At least it wasn't a fertile turtle.

Kirsten said...

Jeanne, those kids are always surprising us--when we least expect it, they're nowhere to be found. But when we're looking for them...suddenly, they're shy! Considering how impatient I am, it's a good thing I didn't have to wait long. And my kids are apparently just as impatient as me--the first was born at 35 weeks, and the second at 36 (after I spent 2 months on bed rest because of preterm labor!).

Hi Beth! Thanks!! Right now, I feel like I hit the lottery. It would be daring the gods to think about doing it again!

Kirsten said...

Keira, Thanks! I'm just tickled to get to share my sale with you! Yes, I do hope the trend of frequent Bandita sales will continue. I was adding it up the other day, and as a group, we've sold about fifteen books since we started to blog together. Amazing!

Kirsten said...

Doglady, I have so much respect for your Royal Ascot final! I never even came close-even with the manuscript that finaled in the Golden Heart. Those ladies are TOUGH!! So yes, I'd say you can do this writing thing! :-)

Kirsten said...

Anna, I stand in awe of your vocabulary, punning, and all round wordswomanship. Fertile myrtle is about all I'm good for!

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

This was exciting to read about all over again. I'm so happy to have another pubbed YA author with me here in the Lair. And our life-changing moments were only a few months apart. I'm still walking around in a daze from mine, and it was in July. :)

Helzkat said...

congrats on sale Kirsten! How very exciting for you.

Kirsten said...

Trish, does that mean I won't see a contract until February? Yeesh! I guess I really shouldn't quit that day job!

Helzkat, thanks so much! And thanks for visiting the Lair! I can't tell you how much fun it is to share this dream come true.

DownUnderGirl said...

Wonderful news Kirsten. Just the best. Enjoy this feeling and all the other "firsts" that come along with this crazy business.
It's an amazing ride.

I gave birth on New Years Eve nearly 10 years ago. It's obviously a very lucky time of the year.

Amy

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh Kirsten, no, no, I live vicariously through all of you. I love to read the call stories and some of the pressures writers literaly live under, it makes me appreciate authors all the more. I am amazed by the talent all of you have. The best talent I have is I can make and track one heck of a spreadsheet...LOL