Monday, March 29, 2010

Pay It Forward Interview: Jodi Meadows

Sometimes this writing business--especially the writing for publication part--is rough and bumpy. We all go through the ditches, and feel we're alone. It's easy to look at other writers and think it was easy for them, or that they have some kind of luck or talent we don't have.

This week, a whole big bunch of us are turning the spotlight on those who are almost there, writers who are agented but haven't quite got the deal yet, or writers who have sold but their books aren't quite out. Join us this week for 70 (yes 70!) success stories!

Each day this week I'm going to post an interview with one of these writers, to hopefully inspire you, provide hope along your way, and prove that you CAN succeed in this crazy business. You guys--you're going to LOVE these interviews. They were so inspirational to me!! They're doing it. You can too.

Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura RoeckerBeth RevisLeah CliffordVictoria SchwabKirsten HubbardElana Johnson, Dawn MetcalfKim HarringtonCarrie HarrisAmy HolderKathy McCulloughSuzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, and Tiffany Schmidt.

My own interview will be featured on Tiffany Schmidt's blog this Tuesday. Please go check out all the posts this week, because you never know who's going to say exactly what you need to hear to keep moving forward.

Jodi Meadows likes books so much she decided to write them, and recently found representation with Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency. Before that, she spent a year and a half reading submissions and evaluating requested materials for another well-known agent. She's a smart cookie. LISTEN TO HER. And I don't know about you, but *I* want to read her book!

1. Tell us about your current book.

My current project is called THE NEWSOUL TRILOGY. The first in the series is ERIN INCARNATE, and I'm working on the draft of ERIN ASUNDER.

The idea behind the series is one I've been cooking for a few years now, but didn't have the guts to try until recently. It's pretty simple, I think, but there were a ton of places it could go, and consequences from just the worldbuilding...  It was intimidating!

Since the beginning of recorded time, people are reincarnated over and over. They remember all their past lives, develop their society, and so things go for about five thousand years. Then someone new is born.

The story is about Erin, the newsoul, and her journey to finding out who she is, why she was born, and learning whether there are more like her. There's a lot of science, magic, and romance.  Also a lot of death and mayhem. My favorite things!

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent and editor)?

Let me 'splain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Once upon a time, I had another agent. We parted ways on good terms and I thought to myself, "Okay, I've had one agent. How hard can it be to get another?"

Famous. Last. Words.

Fast forward roughly two years of slaving over a hot keyboard, writerly angst, and several announcements -- mostly just in my head -- that I was going to quit the goal of publication and just write for my own darn self.
Well, obviously it didn't end up like that. I stink at avoiding my goals, so I kept writing new stories, kept querying, and got a job working as a slush reader for my former agent, which was really educational and gave me a lot of insight into what agents do and how writers interact with them on a submission level. I did note in my query letter that I worked for an agent, but aside from possibly garnering a couple more requests or personal responses than I'd normally get, it didn't really affect my submission process -- except once. It, ah, ended up a rejection.

Okay, so there was a *lot* of drama involved with finding a new agent. Two years of angst, ect.

At some point, I joined Twitter and met a bunch of cool people. There was this one chick who called herself @bostonbookgirl and her profile said she was an agent, though I hadn't seen her on AgentQuery before. After I'd gotten to know Lauren -- as much as you can get to know anyone through Twitter -- I sent her a query for the dark adult urban fantasy I had recently applied a new coat of polish to. And she requested the full! Hurrah!

Then she rejected it. She liked my writing and all that, but something about it didn't work for her. So I said okay and after I thought she had enough time to recover, I sent her a secondworld fantasy YA.

Well Lauren rejected that one too, saying she loved it...but... But she didn't know the right people to send it to. Honestly, I'd already known that secondworld fantasy was a hard sell, but a girl's gotta try.

After that, I was determined to write something Lauren a) loved, and b) could sell. I happened to be working on ERIN INCARNATE then, and of *course* she was the first one I queried when the project was ready. (I also queried a bunch of other people. I'm no fool. Well, not a fool like that anyway.)

No one will believe that's the sum-up version.

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?

Goodness, yes. As I said, these were mostly announcements in my head to see how it worked out. Never very well.

I never actually intended on quitting writing -- I knew that was impossible -- so I just tried to give up the goal of getting published. But as it turns out, I really like that goal. It drives me to do better and work harder, even when it hurts (really bad) sometimes.

I want to share my stories with other people, and the best way to do that is to get an agent and publisher. So I guess *really* wanting to do that is what kept me from quitting for real.

4. How have your writing goals/dreams changed since you started the process?

I was just about to say they haven't changed, but that's not true. I've learned a lot about the industry and I think the biggest thing has actually been very simple: people run it.

How did that change my goals? Easy. I went from thinking any agent/editor would do to realizing I want someone who's as passionate and committed to their jobs as I am to writing, and someone whose working style matches mine.

It's definitely harder to find the right person, but it's worth it. Perhaps any agent/editor can help me succeed, but the *right* agent/editor can help me succeed better. (And with 10x more fun.)

5. These interviews will hopefully inspire those who are just beginning the writing process. What's the one piece of advice you wished you knew when you started?

I ate one of those little pudding cups (vanilla with caramel on top, if you must know) for inspiration on this question, because I didn't want something generic like, "Don't give up!" or "Write better, yo!" but those aren't bad. (The pudding was sugar-free, which might have something to do with the lack of inspiration here.)

Okay, how about this?

Agents and editors aren't our enemies. They aren't trying to keep writers from getting published. They are, in fact, cheering us on and waiting for us to send them The Project. The one they a) love, and b) can sell.

We just need to give it to them.

Thanks, Jodi!! You can You can also find Jodi's blog here, or follow her @jodimeadows!


Steena Holmes said...

great interview :) Especially right now while I'm waiting to hear from a sub and just starting a new WIP.

~Jamie said...


And that Erin book... well, let's just say when it comes out and we all get to read it with a cover on it, we'll swoon for days and days. :)

Jodi Meadows said...

Thanks for the interview and comments, guys!

Linda G. said...

Wonderful interview! And fantastic book idea, Jodi--it honestly gave me shivers when I read the words "Erin, the newsoul." Can't wait to see it on the shelves. :)

Kirsten Hubbard said...

love the writerly advice -- so true. thanks, susan & jodi!

Elana Johnson said...

I'm so inspired by this journey. I love the line about slaving over the hot keyboard for two years. Yeah, I pretty much did that too!

Ara Burklund said...

So what I needed to hear right now, Susan! Thanks for doing this!

Jodi~Awesome answers!!! As someone who's a year into the amicable-parting-between-agents void, hearing that it can take two years (but still happen!) was heartening. Thanks for participating! : )

Anonymous said...

Science, magic, death, & mayhem... wow, what's not to love?! Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing your story, Jodi, and thanks, Susan!

Tiffany Schmidt said...

I love your persistence, Jodi! Clearly you and Lauren were meant for each other :)

Unknown said...

Yay for Jodi! Yay for Erin! Yay! (ok, now I feel like a cheerleader...)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

great interview!

lisa and laura said...

You are an inspiration! Congrats on all of your success so far--I can't wait to buy your series--what a fabulous premise!