I am prone to prolixity, so to keep myself from rambling too much *looks back over post; realises she has failed dismally* here is the bullet-point version!
Way back in the foggy mists of November 2010: Start writing my first novel, an MG historical adventure.
December 2010: Realise I know sweet foosh-all about writing novels, or middle grade, or publishing. Neither does the cat, nor any human I know, so I dive into the interwebs and find all kinds of stuff, the most exciting of which is a site featuring contests with Real Live Agents, called Miss Snark’s First Victim.
Dec 2010-April 2011: Finish my WIP, whilst hoovering up every crumb of information on MSFV. Learn vast amounts from the excerpts and critiques, especially to never EVER start with a dream or car crash unless I want agents to hate me, and even start critiquing some first pages myself.
May 2011: Start querying, and nervously enter the monthly Secret Agent contest. Where everyone says nice things! Even the agent! But he doesn’t pick me. Boo.
September 2011: Receive some complimentary full rejections, but no one seems to agree on what kind of revisions my MG historical needs. Decide to put querying to one side for now and start writing something new.
October 2011-October 2012: Spend a whole year trying to write something new, inhale at least 40 packets of biscuits and 4 bottles of bourbon along the way, and fail utterly. Decide to go back to my very first idea, an MG fantasy about the youngest son of the devil, who is hopeless at being evil.
December 2012: But wait! Behold: a shiny new Baker’s Dozen contest! New Book is not yet ready, but hey why not have one more bash with my original story? Do so, get picked, and after some lovely comments and a ridiculously exciting bidding war, end up with nine or ten full requests! Champagne for all!
February 2013: My thrilling Baker’s Dozen requests are turning to dust, along with my hopes and dreams. *sad writer montage* But all is not lost! *inspirational writer montage* I find my first ever, long-overdue critique partners at MSFV! One from a CP meet, and one from a contest, where I read a first page and fall in love with the writing and beg the author to be my CP...
March-April 2013: ...just in time for my lovely new CPs, Danica and Nat, to help me bash my newly-finished second novel, the D’Evil Diaries, into much sparklier shape.
Fast forward through lots of exciting agent and publisher shenanigans and celebratory Pina Coladas and writing retreats and high-fiving the cat and contests and... in November 2013 I somehow have both an agent and a two-book deal! WOOHOO.
April 2015: My debut MG fantasy, The D’Evil Diaries, is finally released into the wild and I go on to world domination muahahaha. (Hey, a girl can hope.)
All of this is to say, I may not have got my agent or deal directly through MSFV, but I couldn’t have done it without this site. I learnt so much from reading both the entries and critiques, and critiquing excerpts myself; the nice comments I received when I entered the contests boosted my confidence hugely and helped me keep plugging away through numerous query rejections; and my debut wouldn’t be half the book it is if I hadn’t found my brilliant CPs. So a massive, massive, thank you for everything you do Authoress, and to all the wonderful community of writers here. I hope I see you all in Hell ;)