i will push SEND (soLs)

Nearly one year ago I began writing a YA fiction story. Something I’ve learned about writing fiction is to avoid back story as much as possible. Right now, though, I’m going to record some of the back story to my writing adventure.

After Stacey and I submitted our completed manuscript of Day by Day I felt this need to write. It was like I couldn’t just stop. Stacey wasn’t ready to jump into a new project and my editor kind of chuckled and said, “Let’s finish Day by Day first.” At the time I only envisioned writing professionally. The idea of writing fiction hadn’t crossed my mind since middle school.

So I decided to read 100 YA books. It was kind of a whim. I didn’t want to just read the books, but learn how they were made. I wanted to learn the inner workings of the genre in order to make me a better teacher at the middle and high school levels. So in mid-April of 2010, I started reading and developed a system to collect my noticings. After four months I was halfway to my goal and learning lots about the genre.

I still had no desire to write YA fiction myself. No desire.

But then, at the end of July, my friend Nate died unexpectedly. My husband and I gave the eulogy at his funeral. We came home completely exhausted at the end of the long day of the funeral, graveside service, and dinner at the church. I picked up a book to read, but couldn’t.

I had to write.

What I found emerging was a YA fiction story. I wrote every single day from the day of Nate’s funeral through December 1 trying to sort out the feelings that came with an unexpected death of a young friend. I wrote when it hurt. I wrote when it didn’t make sense. I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote. And then I took a break through the month of December. In January I started writing again. I needed to finish it. I needed to finish it so I knew I could do it. I needed to finish it so I could figure out some of the emotions I was feeling. I needed to finish it so my character, Em, wouldn’t be left in limbo.

I wrote it for me. I didn’t intend to pursue publication. Fiction writing was a pipe dream left over from when I was a little girl. This story was about healing, not about chasing after a dream.

However, today I’m beginning my search for an agent. With the encouragement of Ruth (my friend + crit partner) and my writing group, as well as Andy (my biggest fan + husband) I’ve decided to see where this path will lead. I think I owe it to the story. I think Nate would smirk a little, revealing his smile that I miss, if he knew I wrote 66,566 words because of him.

So today I will push SEND on my query letters to potential agents and see where this path will lead.

Let's Be Email Pals!

Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.

Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.

Don't worry, I won't send you spam, and you can unsubscribe any time. (I'd hate to see you go, though.) Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Thank you for sharing this back story. I love your passion but yet surprise that this story was in you and just had to get out. I can't wait for you to post when your publication date is. I know it will happen.

  2. Amazing and inspiring how many reasons we write. I guess your friend Nate is looking over your shoulder as you push that send button. Best wishes electronically. Thank you for sharing your back story; can't wait to read your book!

  3. My eyes are brimming with tears. To think that a tragedy would lead you to live out a childhood dream leaves me speechless. I can only imagine the heart and emotion that went into your story. I wish you all the best in finding an agent who keeps the heart of your story strong so we can all read it. Please keep us all posted. I know that I can't wait to get my hands on a copy when it's published…which I know it will be.

  4. How exciting for you Ruth! What an emotional roller coaster of a journey . . . that is still pushing forward. As you said about celebrating: “The small steps on the journey make the final step of publication possible for a writer. If we don’t celebrate the small steps often, we run out of stamina to make it to the final step.”

    Best wishes! Keep celebrating!

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your friend, Nate! Good luck!! I am sure it is a wonderful story!

  6. You and Stacey are both such inspirations – I am constantly sending links to your posts to my writing and hope-to-be-author friends. Now you've done it again, good luck!

  7. You know, it was because of you that I shared my story I had written last summer to someone other than family. My brother's told me to do something with it, but I never did. Then one brave Tuesday I posted it on SOL. I got SO many nice comments. So I wrote a query letter (and you wrote a post about them) and “pushed send” four or five different times. Then I thought no one will read this, it's just a sweet story, a picture book, and they're not buying picture books right now. I wasn’t even sure I had sent it to the right type of agents.I tried to push it from my mind.
    Yesterday I received an email from one of my queries. The agent was not interested. I thought I would be disappointed, but I wasn't. I was so thrilled someone in the literary world actually “read” my story; it didn't matter that it “wasn't right for her.” There was comfort in knowing I had followed through, and it had been seen.
    I know you will not have this problem. Your problem will more than likely come in the form of trying to decide which agent to pick. But just know that there is satisfaction in a response, even if it is a no thank you.
    Patiently awaiting our next serendipitous encounter in this strange but wonderful blogging life.
    Best wishes,