Monday, June 17, 2013

First Five Pages Success Story: Dana Edwards

I participated in the First Five Pages Workshop not once, but twice! The first time I submitted Harold – the Kid Who Ruined My Life and Saved the Day and a few months later, I sent in The Summer I Started a Business, Solved a Bank Robbery, and Showed Up on Cajun Pawn Stars. (One of my critique partners has joked that my titles will never fit on the spine of a book.) Each time, I received not only great suggestions for revisions, but also the encouragement I needed to keep writing.

This workshop is unique in that readers read and critique a big chuck of your story. The most important part of your story - the first five pages. I felt my writing improve with each revision I submitted.

After I got Harold into shape, I entered it in a few contests hosted by Brenda Drake, Deana Barnhart, and Cupid. I also sent out about ten queries, but I didn’t get any requests from those. Harold received a lot more attention by being in contests and it was that first page that struck a chord with readers. Also, I found that a few agents who were closed to queries participated in some of these same contests.

In December, I entered the first 250 words of Harold in Miss Snark’s First Victim Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction and I received four requests for the full ms! I was so excited and while I waited for the agents to read, I began writing another story.

Within a month or so, I got three rejections. I was so thankful that I’d started another manuscript. I needed the excitement of discovering a new story to keep me writing while experiencing the disappointment from the rejections. In one of the rejection emails, the agent gave great feedback. It was exactly what I needed to change up some of the play-by-play baseball action in Harold. Also, I’d met two more critique partners who read Harold and made other helpful suggestions.

There was one agent remaining who I hadn’t heard from yet. It was Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, who was closed to queries. She’d had Harold for a few months, but it wasn’t the new and improved (and somewhat fatter) Harold.

I emailed her saying that I’d made substantial revisions and asked if she’d read the new Harold. She agreed and in April she emailed me saying she wanted to talk. Whoo hoo!! She called and we discussed my goals as a writer and what else I was working on. I told her my wacky story about a girl who joins forces with a retired Marine general and lady with Alzheimer’s, who live in an assisted living facility, to solve a bank robbery. (Yes, really.) I’m sure it sounded crazy but Tricia asked me to send it to her so she could read it. I was SO glad that I had the second manuscript because three days later she called again to say she loved them both and wanted to offer representation. Double Whoo hoo!!!

It was great how we clicked on the phone and so awesome that she completely “got” and loved both of my stories!

Thanks Martina, Lisa, guest mentors, and workshop readers for your encouraging and helpful feedback! Writing can be such a lonely process. It’s so nice when you can talk with and help others who are on the same journey.

About the Author
Dana Edwards is a mom to two kids (19-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son), and she's been in education for 27 years (as a high school teacher, elementary and high school counselor, and a college professor). She has a Ph.D. in Counseling and once upon a time, had all the answers…and then she had children. Now she writes books for kids! She's written one about a kid with Asperger’s-like behaviors who loves baseball and another one about a girl who teams up with a retired Marine general and a lady with Alzheimer’s to solve a bank robbery.

You can find her on Twitter and on her blog. She is represented by the lovely and talented, Tricia Lawrence of EMLA.

1 comment:

  1. This makes me so happy! I think it's truly impressive and inspiring how much you did to make this happen for yourself. Congratulations, Dana!