I’m thrilled to have the fabulous Lori M. Lee on the blog today. She’s celebrating her latest release, The Infinite. It’s the follow-up to the action-packed Gates of Thread and Stone (which I LOVE), and it’s burning a hole in my Kindle even as I type this because I’m dying to start reading it. The Infinite looks just as thrilling as the first book, and Lori’s post below is truly inspiring. Be sure to read all the way to the end for your chance to win some great swag. Enjoy!
Take it away, Lori!
I love reading Success Stories, but when you’re querying and slogging through the query trenches, watching as apparently everyone except you gets an agent can really start to mess with your head and crush your confidence. You start doubting your abilities. You start thinking how lucky those authors are. You start feeling resentful. All of this is okay—so long as, once you’re done, you remind yourself that luck has very little to do with it. They’ve worked just as hard as you have.
So I suppose this is a reassurance that it’s all normal. And that despite what rejections and setbacks you might currently be facing, never lose sight of your passion for words and remember that everything can change with a single email.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I spent a looooooong time working on my craft and learning from other writers (by reading). I started my first book-with-intent-to-query for NaNoWriMo in 2009. It was an urban fantasy. I completed it a year later and began querying in early 2011. Although it had a strong hook that garnered a lot of requests, they all ended in rejections. The book, pacing and plot-wise, was a bit of a mess. It was overly complicated. There were too many characters who just sort of darted around from place to place without truly moving the story forward. I learned a lot in that time, but it was also a total confidence crusher. (My husband, ever unhelpful, called my writing a “hobby.”)
Did I even know how to write a proper novel? It didn’t help that I sucked (and still do) at writing queries. I had half a dozen different versions of my query letter, none of which felt right. The rejections were pouring in, and for the first time since third grade, I questioned whether I wanted to do this writing thing.
I was sitting in my car at a red light after having received another rejection, and my thoughts were tumbling into the abyss of “Why am I doing this to myself? I’m never going to get an agent. I’m never going to make it. I suck at writing. I’ll never be good enough.”
Then the song “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus came on the radio. I teared up. It was something of a turning point for me. I had to keep fighting, keep climbing. I told myself to stop throwing a pity party, because this “writing thing” is all I’ve ever truly, passionately wanted. And anything that matters that much is worth fighting for.
So I kept querying, and in the meantime, I started working on a new book, a cyberpunk fantasy. Then, I received an email from an agent who liked the premise of the urban fantasy but couldn’t offer rep because the book needed too much work. She provided two pages of editorial notes along with her rejection. I was amazed. She had pinpointed exactly what was wrong with the book.
But while I was so grateful and so ecstatic for her feedback, I was also frustrated. A part of me wondered why, if she’d taken the time to give me such detailed feedback, she didn’t just offer me rep? (In hindsight, I understand now why she didn’t offer rep. First, because it really was too much work to fix the book and her priorities are with her clients (rightly so). Second, because she didn’t know whether I could follow through with those revisions to produce something sellable. Third, because she simply didn’t love it enough, and that is a completely valid reason. I want my agent to love my book and to be passionate about it.)
So I was happy and crushed again all at once, but I at least knew now what was wrong. I stopped querying, set the book aside for later, and continued working on the cyberpunk fantasy.
I began querying that book a couple months later, and although interest was super high, the rejections did, indeed, start to trickle in. Yet again, I was doubting myself. “I really do suck at this. It’s never going to happen. You can’t write; why do you even try?” My lowest point was a few weeks into querying when I received three rejections in one day. I wanted to smother myself with my pillow.
Then, the next day, the email I’d been waiting for arrived. A response to my query from Suzie Townsend. My heart was pounding. I braced myself for “sorry this isn’t for me,” too afraid to even hope at that point, and then couldn’t understand what I was reading when I instead saw “love” and “call” and other words that I had to reread a few times.
After all the rejections (they number in the hundreds) and some tears as well, that “yes” finally came. And yours will, too.
(Of course, it’s not really done, not even close (oh god, submission), but it certainly feels like you’ve just survived a trek through Mordor.)
Well, I guess this turned into a Success Story after all. But not because I found representation or reached publication. And not because I got “lucky.” I persevered. I kept writing and learning and putting myself out there, with a query in one hand and all my hopes clutched in the other.
Don’t give up. Keep trying and keep writing. I believe in you.
About The Infinite:
The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.
Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever. To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels.
With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.
In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.
Buy it here:
Lori is the author of young adult fantasy novels Gates of Thread and Stone and The Infinite. She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.
For more information, visit her here: