Today we have Amy Mills on the blog with us, now represented by Lane Heymont of the Seymour Agency. Lane signed Amy for her young adult science fiction manuscript, THE CURE. Amy’s story is embodies precisely what I mean when I say contests work, querying works, and combining the two is like supercharging your chances of signing with an agent! I don’t wanna spoil all the details, so I’m just gonna introduce you to Amy now!
Amy Mills is a young adult science fiction author with a soft spot for STEM protagonists, adventure, and heart-wrenching romances.
When she isn’t wrangling words by night or snuggling numbers during her day job, Amy can be found dancing (tap and jazz), cross-stitching, or binge-watching Doctor Who on Netflix. She’s lived in San Diego her entire life, making her a certified weather wimp and a lover of California burritos. She enjoys traveling around the world with her husband, even if it means leaving her three cats, Sherlock, Watson, and Moriarty at home. She is represented by Lane Heymont of the Seymour Agency.
Now, without further ado, let’s ask some slightly difficult writerly questions!
- First, let’s talk about your manuscript, THE CURE! I’m always curious to know what triggered the idea for a story! How did THE CURE come about, and which came first—the premise or the main character?
Thanks for having me, Kendra! Let’s see…premise came first. I had just gone through a sad break-up, and I started thinking, what if hearts–or souls–were tangible things we held on to? Another piece of our actual anatomy? The idea spiraled out from there to include aliens with eniads–emotional processors that show what they’re feeling at any given time–and the rest is history. It’s funny because it seems like such a small piece of world-building in the grand scheme of the story now, but that’s where it started!
- What’s one juicy fact about yourself readers may not already know? And please, provide tons of details!
Oh geez. Okay, “juicy fact” huh? It’s a little gross, but when I was little I used to eat the fur of my stuffed animals. It was a problem. My mom still has “Bah Bear” who, poor guy, just has seam lines of blue fur left. My stuffed Barney suffered a similar fate.
- What does a writing day look like for you? Do you have any habits or quirks you can share with us?
Most of my writing happens after work. My husband and kitties are pretty self-sufficient, so writing at home isn’t difficult. I also try to get bigger chunks of writing done on the weekends, just because I feel the most creative during mid-morning/early afternoon. As for habits…I have GoogleDocs on my phone, so when I do have downtime at work, or whenever I don’t have a computer in front of me, I can write there. It’s not the easiest, but it’s a great way to help keep the ideas flowing.
- What’s your favorite writing resource—or the one you simply can’t live without?
The Emotional Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I use it all the time to help show different emotions in different ways. I break it out during revisions and leave it out through all my revisions. It’s a very handy resource for the $5 I spent to get it on my Kindle.
- What do you do when you’re faced with “no-writing-feels”—those days all writers encounter where we’re certain we’re not meant for this writing-thing?
It depends. If I’m just not feeling the words coming, I won’t write that day and I’ll do something else for the MS: character traits sheets, timelines, research, etc. If I just feel like crap, I’ll email my critique partners and vent to them. They’re good at picking me up.
Now it’s time to show off my hard-hitting journalism skills—try to contain your laughter as I adjust my sleuth’s hat!
- Tell us all about the querying process! Was this the first novel you queried? If not, how many others did you query first? We’d love to hear your query stats and details about “the call” if you’re comfortable sharing that information.
Oh the querying process. THE CURE was the first novel I queried, and I actually got my feet wet with contests before I started querying widely. That helped a ton.
I sent my first queries in December 2014 after participating in #PitMad and #SFFPit where I got my first requests. I started querying widely after that and accumulated a nice pile of form rejections. Then, in February, I participated in the Agent Match contest where Lane requested. Five days later, he requested the full.
In the middle of March, I got a call from someone on the East Coast. I don’t usually pick up for unknown numbers–or answer my cell phone in general when I’m at my desk at work–so I let it go to voicemail. Once I heard the words “This is Lane Heymont from the Seymour Agency…” I squealed. And promptly emailed ALL my critique partners as I freaked out. I was prepared for an email of warning to schedule “the call”, but nope (this is your friendly PSA to always be prepared!) I quickly jotted down a bunch of questions, reserved a small conference room on my lunch break, and called him back. Honestly, most of the phone call was a blur, but I remember chatting about Lane’s plans for the book and the edits he was thinking, which matched my own vision for THE CURE.
I told him I’d have an answer to him in a week, and as soon as we disconnected I emailed all the other agents with my queries and fulls. In the end, Lane was the agent for me!
Total Number of Queries Sent: 21
Partial Requests: 1
Full Requests: 4
Offers of Rep: 1
- It’s not uncommon for writers to go through one or more rounds of edits with their agent before going on submission. Can you share what the revision process has been/will look like for you and your manuscript?
Sure! Lane is an editorial agent, so we’ve worked together on edits. As for rounds–the amount depends on when Lane thinks it’s ready for submission. Every author is different!
- I’ve heard more than a few writers say they experience a lot of anxiety after signing with an agent. Will they like my revisions? What if they don’t like my next idea? Did you experience this and what advice would you have for someone who’s newly agented?
Yes and no. I think the anxiety isn’t any MORE anxiety than I had before, but it’s just different. There is a nervousness that comes with sending back revisions, and it’s easy to question your writing abilities when you get an edit letter. But, at the same time, you know they already love your book and your writing. They wouldn’t have taken it you on if they didn’t!
My advice for someone newly agented…publishing is SLOW. It’s slow when you’re querying, it’s slow after you have an agent, and I hear it’s slow after a book deal. Get comfortable with waiting. Learn to embrace it, because that’s the time you can work on other projects.
- If you could whisper in the ear of the writer reading this, what one piece of wisdom would you share with them?
Get writer friends. I didn’t have any for the first year that I was writing THE CURE, and I was lonely! The only people who truly understand what you’re going through (with querying, contests, submissions, etc.) are those who are going through it with you.
- What’s up next for Amy Mills?
Brainstorming and plotting. I’m trying to get really prepared for NaNoWriMo since I’ve never done it before! Thanks for having me, Kendra!
You’re more than welcome, Amy! Thanks for sharing with us! Be sure to follow Amy on Twitter and at her blog so you can hear all the exciting news about her publishing journey as it happens!
Thanks again, Amy!