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Happy Wednesday Everyone! I hope you had a fantastic August. Mine was pretty quiet. I worked on my blog schedule for the beginning of next worked, worked at my job (thankfully with more work), and helped Anna Li get ready for college. Tomorrow at 9:00 am is our big day where we move her in, and I start my new adventure living alone. At least she'll still be in town, and we're planning to see each other. I'm so grateful for that. I'm glad I have good friends like you all to help me through the process.

Today I have debut author Ronald Smith here with a guest post and a giveaway of his MG Historical Southern Gothic HOODO that sounds fantastic.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell.       Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first.       Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.   

 Now here's Ronald!
A Road to Publication Story

By the time this article posts, my debut middle grade novel, HOODOO, will be out in the world.


Actually, it’s not a wow feeling. It’s more like a numb one.

As I was trying to come up with ideas for this post, I thought back to what I most wanted to know when I was searching for an agent and hoping for the Elusive Book Deal.

I was obsessed with finding out how long it took debut authors to get an agent and a deal.
Or, how long it took from the time they got an agent to sell their book.

I really struggled with deciding whether to share this information or not. But in the end, I’m going to do it because hopefully, those of you still in the trenches will get an inside look at how things happen. There’s not a whole lot of info out there about being on submission. You’ve heard before that no two stories are alike, and this is no exception.


December 21, 2012
Queried Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary with HOODOO, a middle grade southern gothic fantasy novel.

(I just realized I sent a query a few days before Christmas. Why did I do this?)

February 19th, 2013
Adriann writes back, saying she enjoyed the ms., but had a few issues with it. She went on to explain what they were, and invited me to revise and send again, if I wished.

(This was really nice of her and she didn’t have to do it. A lot of agents don’t.)

September 16th, 2013
Resubmitted after revision. (That's a seven-month revision!)
Took a class led by YA Author Nova Ren Suma. She’s a great writer and teacher. Read her! Or take one of her classes.

I was also doing real life stuff during this time so it wasn't just spent doing revisions.

September 25, 2013
Email from Adriann saying she loved the revision and wants to speak on phone.



September 26th, 2013
Offer of Representation on phone!

I told her a few other agents were looking at the ms and I should let them know about the offer. I did. After contacting them, I knew that Adriann and Wolf Literary would be a good fit for me. A week or so later I contacted her and said Yes!

She sent me the contract and I became a writer with an agent!

Of course, when I told non-writing people this (what I call civilians) they had no idea how awesome this was. I think a lot of people think you “type-up” a book, put it in the mail to Random House (with a check so they can publish it) and then watch it appear in bookstores.

And then they ask when it’ll become a movie.


Since my seven-month revision was extensive, HOODOO didn't need a lot more work. Just a few small tweaks.

We felt good about the ms around October of 2013, but decided to wait until the New Year because of the holidays.

January 15th, 2014
At this time I was still working as a writer in the advertising industry. I had to record a radio spot and decided to do it in New York, because there was a studio there I really liked. And, um, an agent I just happened to know.

After the session, I was able to meet up with Adriann.

We met, and she was awesome in-person. Easy to talk to. She shows me the submission list. Holy Cow! It’s an impressive list.

I take the train home feeling great because train-car bourbon.

I search everything on the web about submissions even though everyone says not to.
Adriann says be prepared to wait at least a month for responses.



Reading submission stories on web…


Nail biting…

More bourbon…

January 19th 2015
Exactly Four Days After Meeting Adriann

Phone rings. Or chirps. Or maybe it was the Game of Thrones ringtone. (Which is quite apropos for the occasion, actually.)

Adriann Ranta’s name comes up.

Me: Hello?

Ron? We have interest…

Me, in my head: (“It’s only been a few days since we went on submission. WTF?”)

Over the next several days we get some more “interest.”

Adriann calls and says I should come to NYC so we can meet up with editors.

I pretty much fall out at this point.

January 29th, 2015
I travel to New York to meet up with Adriann and visit publishing houses. It’s one of the coldest days of the year, and we’re both freezing our asses off as we walk and cab it around the city.

This is all pretty much a blur, whether from the cold or the fact that I was visiting publishing houses I’ve known about since I was a kid. I mean, who am I to be standing in these austere offices where famous authors made their names?

I swear it was the weirdest/most thrilling thing I have ever experienced in my life, aside from that time on the Vampire Diaries when Damon…

So, a few days later Adriann says we are going to auction. I guess she just thought I knew this but I didn't really believe it until she said it.

Five offers. *mind blown*

One house dropped out because they wanted significant changes and Adriann and I didn’t agree with them.

God, it was tough. Never thought I'd be in such a position.

I accepted an offer from Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I really liked the editor’s vision and thoughts on my writing career. We accepted a two-book deal. The other book, THE MESMERIST, is a MG fantasy/horror set in 19th century London.

Time from submission to accepting offer: 19 days.
No months-long nail-biting.
No R&Rs.
No shot-down in acquisitions.

I can't believe it happened to me but it did. I won't ever forget how lucky I've been in this process. Every day, I try to stop and realize how fortunate I am.

I left my job in advertising and now I write full-time.

The moral of this story is to save all your emails.

Of course, now the hard work begins: continuing to write good books, marketing, promotion, doing the work of an author.

You also get a whole new list of things to obsess about:

How come that author got their book optioned for film and TV?
Will I sell foreign rights?
What about audio?

It never ends. It just becomes…different.

So, I hope this gives you some inspiration if you’re still in the trenches. It can happen to you, too.

I’m proof!

Keep writing.

Never give up.

Thanks for your great story, Ronald! You can find Ronald at:

Ronald has generously offered a copy of HOODO for a giveaway. To enter,  you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through September 19th. I'll announce the winner on September 28th as I'll be out of town the weekend before. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Wednesday I have an interview with debut author Kevin Sands and a giveway of his MG historical THE BLACKTHORN KEY.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Heather Petty and a giveaway of her YA mystery LOCK & MORI .

Wednesday that week I have an interview with agent Moe Ferrara and a query critique giveaway.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author  Lee Mackenzi and a giveaway of her YA steampunk THIS MONSTROUS THING.

Have a great Labor Day weekend and see you next Monday!


Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Ronald! Hoodoo sounds like a wonderful, rich tale, and your voice shines through in this post - making me want to read your story even more. Natalie - best wishes to you and Anna Li on the move to college!

Jennifer Hawes said...

What a great motivation to all of us "civilians" :) Sounds like a great book and an awesome author. Thanks for sharing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That was a really fast response. Taking so long to do the revisions made it happen though. Smart to take your time, Ronald. And congrats.

Crystal Collier said...

What a story! So much fun to read about the process.

Natalie, my heart goes out to you. I can't imagine, but I'm sending virtual cheese to fill the vacancies.

cleemckenzie said...

Major congratulations on the debut, which looks and sounds very exciting.

Unknown said...

What a great sense of humor Ronald has! I really enjoyed his anecdotes. Going to auction is every author's dream. Congrats to him on the new release! :)

Brenda said...

Congratulations to Anna Li heading to college, sounds very exciting and great that you will have each other near by. What a wonderful story of your road to publication. Defiantly need more creepy/humorous books like Hoodoo, congratulations on its release. Have an awesome week Natalie.

Janet Johnson said...

Wow, Ronald! That is a whirlwind of a story. Congratulations and wishing you much success. And good luck to Anna Li at college! Exciting times!

Liz Brooks said...

Wow, that's one of the quickest publication stories I've ever read. I'm glad that Ronald didn't have to wait too long. Thanks for sharing!

And thanks for the giveaway! I tweeted about it. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That story blows my mind as well!
His book sounds really original. I can't think of another one like it.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congrats to Ronald! That's a fantastic road-to-publication story.

Glad you enjoyed your blogging break, Natalie. Hope all goes well with Anna Li in college. Hang in there.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations, Ronald!!! And high five from another Clarion author. Clarion/HMH published my historical mystery, The Caged Graves. They were wonderful to work with!

What a great Path to Publication story, and yes, I love the reaction from non-writer friends! "Hey, you should make this into a movie!" Great idea. Never thought of that. I'll get right on it ... LOL!

I would love to win a copy of Hoodoo!

Gwen Gardner said...

Ronald, thanks so much for detailing the process for us. Congrats on your 2-book deal. Your book must be something special!

Natalie, lots of time to concentrate on writing now. It'll be hard but at least Anna Li is nearby <3

Tweeted! Thanks for hosting Ronald, it was very informative.

M Pax said...

Interesting to learn the details of how it all works once through the gates. Congrats, Ronald!

Glad your daughter isn't far away. It'll be a big adjustment for you, but maybe you'll enjoy it. :)

Geo Librarian said...

I love hearing these kind of stories because they are usually pretty unique to the person. Plus I just like hearing other people's good news. ;) (mentioned contest on Twitter).

Cynthia said...

Congratulations, Ronald! Sounds like this has been quite an adventure for you!

Anonymous said...

Hoodoo looks like an amazing read. I'm always interested in these timelines to look at similarities and differences in writers' publishing journeys.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

What a great writing journey!! And I love the setting for Hoodoo.

Jenni said...

I loved reading Roald's story. Taking your time with that R/R really paid off in so many ways. Thanks for the inspiration!
(You can count me out of the giveaway, since I've won a lot of books recently.)
Natalie, congrats to your daughter on starting college. Hang in there. I'm glad she's still close.

S.P. Bowers said...

Did you find a job? That's wonderful if you did! And it's exciting and terrifying that your daughters heading to school. Hope you can adjust and make it a wonderful time.

Ronald your story was wonderful and hope inspiring. It's crazy amazing you got so many offers and so quickly too! Must be a great book.

Rosi said...

Wow. What a story. I'm still stuck on train-car bourbon. Anyway, yes, this is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Vonna said...

This post made my heart glow; it's great to hear things can work out so well. HOODOO sounds delicious, and I'm intrigued by THE MESMERIST as well. Congratulations, Ron, and best wishes!

Nancy said...

This looks fantastic! Can't wait to read it! And thank you for sharing your "road to publication" experience.

Stephen Tremp said...

Creepiness leavened with gentle humor? Sounds like my kind of book. Best wishes Rollad for a smashing success!

Danielle H. said...

I loved the detail about the writing, revision, agnt process. Thanks for the post and giveaway. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/639443412198948866

Unknown said...

Wonderful details about the process! I'm so glad this work is available; it will help diversity in juvenile publishing. I'd love to be in the giveaway, please. tlcnine at gmail

Carl Scott said...

What a process to get your book published. It makes me tired just to hear about it. Thanks very much for the chance to win Hoodoo, I'm really looking forward to it.
I follow your blog by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
I also tweeted a link: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/639463635467698176
Thanks again.

bison61 said...

we also had a quiet August and that is OK with me. a big dose of creepiness that does sound so good

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Unknown said...

Congratulations Ronald and thank you for sharing your story! Hoodoo sounds great. I can't wait to read it!

Cherie Reich said...

That's awesome, Ronald! I enjoyed reading your story about how Hoodoo found a publisher. Congrats!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congrats, Ronald! I loved reading your publication journey story!

Anonymous said...

This is a really good post! Thanks for sharing! And thanks for the giveaway. :)

Eisen said...

Congrats, Ronald! Sounds like a great book! Thanks for hosting the giveaway. I tweeted about it too:

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congratulations Ronald. Hoodoo sounds like an amazing need. Love the name Hoodoo Hatcher.

Michele Manning said...

Congrats Ronald! I look forward to reading it and sharing it with my students! Sounds like something they'd enjoy.

Beth said...

Great story, Ronald!
And Natalie, hope the drop off went well for both you and Anna Li. We just did the same thing ourselves - not easy, but it's lovely to see them making a life for themselves.

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations to Ronald! That is a great story. I agree with not rushing revisions.

Bish Denham said...

Incredible story, Ronald! I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to stand in the hallowed halls of the big publishing houses.

mshatch said...

Ooh, an Auction. That must've been so exciting! Congrats, Ronald, on Hoodoo; it sounds like a deliciously creepy tale :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow, Ronald, congrats. I'm glad you decided to share your story. I've heard authors have to sell, on average, five books before they can do it full time. Double congrats m

Lydia Kang said...

Exciting journey! Thanks for sharing, Ronald and Natalie!

Karen Lange said...

Nice to meet you, Ronald! Wishing you much success.

Natalie, thanks for being the ever gracious hostess. I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Have a great week!

Tammy Theriault said...

Wow, for someone who doesn't really know how "it works" this was very eye opening!! Thanks Ronald!! And thanks Natalie!!

Melodie Wright said...

Thanks for sharing, Ronald! I think my students would love HooDoo!

Unknown said...

What a fantastic ride you're on! I can't wait to read the book, off to the bookstore now!

Ronald L. Smith said...

Thanks, everyone for your comments!