Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WMW Introduces Jennifer Schubert

Jennifer Schubert writes thrillers, and  is agented by the estimable Jim McCarthy. She lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband, kids, cats, and dog.

Landing an Agent While Being a Full-time Mom

One of the questions people ask most frequently about my writing is "When do you get time to write?" Answer: whenever I can fit it in. My kids are a bit older now, 6 and 8, but when they were young it was before they got up in the morning. While they napped. While they played. While Dora the Explorer led them on an adventure. Any quiet moment would find me scribbling notes into a notebook or pounding the keyboard. My sweet angels would be snoozing, dreaming, and I was murdering and betraying. One minute I'd be playing Candyland or nursing a baby, the next planning a kidnapping or an intricate extortion scheme. 

I think those moments of diving into a fantasy world kept me sane, kept me from dwelling on sleepless nights and endless struggles for a moment of peace. I could transport myself to a different place, one where no matter how big the injustice, it could be righted by the end of the book. And my characters, unlike me, got a lot of sleep.

Adding an agent search into my free time wasn't easy. I got up even earlier in the morning. The first book I submitted didn't get picked up. I sent queries to about sixty agents, over the course of months. I researched each agent to be sure they represented my genre and were taking submissions. After several partial and full rejections, I knew that book wasn't going anywhere. I was close, but not quite there. So I stopped querying and instead spent my few free hours writing the next book.

At this point, my time was even tighter. I had one child in kindergarten and another not yet in preschool. Without his sister at home to play with, my younger child demanded my time and energy more than ever. I wrote faster, cramming the words into the margins of my life, a distant second priority to my family, but still there. Still important. I finished the book, and I knew it was good. Certainly better than anything I'd written to date.

Then I wavered. We were moving a thousand miles away soon, so I'd have even less time than usual, and I was uncertain about the book's subject matter. Would any agent touch it with a ten foot pole? Feeling the press of time, I sent out only three queries, carefully selecting and personalizing each one. I was stunned when each query generated a quick request for material. A week later one of the agents offered. 

Nearly two years later, that book didn't sell, but I'm working on something new. It's easier to write now that the kids are in school, of course, but I remember those early days fondly. 
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Thank you for taking the time to share your post with us Jennifer.  You've driven home the importance that if we want to accomplish something with our writing, we need to find time, even if it's in small allotments.