Middle grade author Lindsay Eland is one of those amazing moms of four young children who still finds time to write. She's represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writer's House. Her book, Scones and Sensibility, published by Egmont and edited by Elizabeth Law, will be released on December 22nd.
Stay tuned for details at the end of this interview of how you can win a free copy of the book!
So Lindsay, tell us about your journey to agenthood.
My journey to agenthood had all the ups and downs, the cries of despair and the hopeful joys of a daytime drama…or at least in my memory that’s how it looks.
I went into my first query with hopeful abandon thinking that surely this first agent would think that my beloved manuscript was brilliant and they would be knocked to the floor in awe. Obviously after the first through ten informal rejections, my hopeful abandon turned into something that resembled more of a pleaful begging as I slid my envelope and SASE into the mailbox. And though at times I thought that maybe I should just give up, I knew beyond any doubt that I couldn’t. That this—this writing stories thing—was something I was born for and meant for and that I just had to keep trying. That of course happened with the help of chocolate, and my amazing critique group.
So I did keep trying.
And one lonely query to a brilliant agent at an amazing Agency turned into a partial…which turned into a full…which turned into a revision letter…which turned into a request to see more of my writing…which turned into a contract!
And then your agent hooked you up with a publisher – what was that process like?
It was very exciting and completely nerve-wrecking. And to back-track for a second, the first manuscript my agent sent out was NOT the manuscript in that very first query letter. That manuscript is something I’m still revising right now!
Okay, so anyway, my agent began to send one of my manuscripts out into the great wide world of publishing. There it met with one rejection after another until I had racked up around fifteen very nice and complimentary rejections and one “I’d like to see revisions if she’s willing” responses. Of course, in the meantime I continued to write, write, and write some more because writer’s can’t stop writing and it did help me get my mind off of the gathering rejection emails filling my in-box. About three months after the first submission went out, I submitted another manuscript called Scones and Sensibility to my agent, who in her brilliant agent fashion, sent me a long, much-needed revision letter. I revised and sent it back. Then Brilliant Agent called me one day about the manuscript on submission. “I think this first novel will sell, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be your debut novel. I think we should pull it and start submitting Scones and Sensibility.” Of course I said yes, cause obviously Brilliant Agent knows what she’s doing.
And she did.
After I revised again, she sent it out. Two to three weeks later it sold at auction, and I got a two-book deal. All-in-all it was around eight months from signing with my agent to Scones selling to my amazing editor!
Can you tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it?
Scones and Sensibility is about matchmaking gone horribly and hilariously wrong.
And I was inspired to write this novel from my own love of LM Montgomery and Jane Austen, as well as the fact that I wanted to create a story with a main character who wasn’t a tom boy like a lot of middle grade mc’s are (and understand that I’m not down-playing these at all, cause I write them too and love those types of characters…but really, not all girls are like that, right?). I was also inspired my daughter’s best friend who is completely dramatic, overly romantic, and absolutely hilarious…which is very much who Polly Madassa is.
What was your own craziest love match?
Hmmm…all the guys I dated throughout Jr. High, High School, and college were pretty normal, great guys. But Billy Ross, one of my first boyfriends ever, was probably the funniest match cause we were in seventh grade and I was literally a whole two-heads taller than him…it made dancing together very interesting.
Your characters have been described as “the funniest, most unique batch of lulus you’d ever want to meet.” Have you ever met anyone that came right out of your book?
Yes! Audrey, my daughter’s best friend that I mentioned above, is based loosely on her! I also come from an extremely hilarious family with so many stories I could fill three notebooks full of material.
And then I did write a picture book that won third place in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition back in 2006 about an old lady using her purse as a weapon…that was based on my beloved crit mate’s off-the-cuff comment one time…yes, Lisa Amowitz…that was you ;).
So yes, I have met people that came right out of my books because unique, wacky, lulus are all around us if we as writers just stop and listen and observe them. :)
Your book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com (I've ordered my copy!) and will be released right before the holidays. Are you nervous or in a state of perpetual bliss?
Both at the same time. I can’t wait for it to be released, but it’s also terrifying because it will be out in the world for anybody to read or love or hate or praise or critique. It’s a very scary feeling.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
I would say the waiting, waiting, waiting and the mindset of “good enough” that plagues all of us yearning for affirmation and publication (ooo, I rhymed!). Anyway, I really feel no more confident in my abilities as a writer now that I am agented and published as I did when I wasn’t. It’s a constant battle and the hardest part of writing.
How on EARTH do you manage to be so productive with four little kids?
I have my schedule and routine and I’m adamant about keeping it for my sanity as well as my kids. :) Every day, from 1-4 or so, they must occupy themselves in some way (preferably not setting fire to the house or coloring on the walls).
How do you always manage to stay so cheerful?
I’m extremely thankful. And for me that’s what being happy really is…looking around and realizing despite all the sadness and brokenness in the world and life in general, there are still so many things to look at and wonder at and be thankful for. And you can’t help but smile at that.
Would you like to share something with aspiring authors everywhere?
Whatever you do don’t give up. Cry, pout, burn your mss, use rejection letters as a dart board, eat chocolate until you are nice and round and plump, even become a telemarketer for a while…but do not, I repeat, do not give up. It’s only those who give up that always, without a doubt, fail.
Tease us! We would love to see a short excerpt from your book.
The mailman, Mr. Snookers, was delivering the mail, much to Jack the Nipper's protest, and Miss Wiskerton seemed to be in quite a frenzy of excitement. At the same time she attempted to calm the ferocious beast, her cheeks flushed, and she kept trying to fluff up her hair, which sat in sausagelike rolls on her head.
...I quickened my step to her small gate as Mr. Snookers ran past me at quite an astonishing speed when one considers his girth. Jack the Nipper was subdued as much as a dog of his disposition could be, and Miss Wiskerton appeared to look down the street at the retreated mailman with a hint of remorse.
Miss Wiskerton was indeed lonely. Lonely for love.
Where can people connect with you?
You can visit my website at http://lindsayeland.com/
I’m also on twitter: http://twitter.com/lindsayeland
And Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lindsay.eland?ref=profile
Thanks so much for having me, Suzette!
The pleasure has been all mine, Lindsay. I wish you all the best!
Now for how to win your free copy. Head on over to Lisa Amowitz's blog where she's hosting the SUPER-FABBY Scones and Sensibilities Challenge. And thank you, Lisa, for introducing me to Lindsay and for coming up with the most creative of the above questions. :)