Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Go Ahead...Jump!


by Kimberly MacCarron

I’m kicking off a special guest blog for the next seven Tuesdays.  It’s to honor the 2013Golden Heart® finalists in YA, but somehow I got stuck with the first week.  We’re supposed to talk about our book or the exciting call announcing us as finalists.  I’m talking about not being afraid to take chances.

In 2010 I was a Golden Heart® finalist, and I assumed the red carpet would unfurl and agents and editors from every big publishing house would be lined up, throwing rose petals and their business cards over the velvet rope and shouting, “Call me!”

Brace yourselves.  That didn’t happen.

I didn’t realize that the finalists were on a loop and supporting each other and becoming fast friends.  By the time I finally contacted Vanessa Barneveld, who was another YA finalist and had a website, the Golden Heart® train had left the station.  I panicked when I saw everyone’s good news.  People were signing with agents and getting book contracts.  I thought all the best stops had already happened.  I missed my chances.  I missed my stop!

But that’s not true.  You only miss your stop if you don’t jump and take a chance.  For two solid years after that I didn’t query agents.  I didn’t submit to agents and editors—even when it was a request.  Why?  Because it’s easier to tell yourself that you’re not getting rejections because you aren’t submitting and not because they might not like your voice or story or characters.
It’s much easier, yes.  But it’s certainly hard to get your work into the right hands if you aren’t willing to jump, to take the chance. 

I finally jumped.  And guess what?  Not only did I final in the 2013 Golden Heart® and became one of the Lucky 13s, but I also signed with the very best agent for me.  She believes in me, and that makes all the difference!

This post was supposed to be about my Golden Heart® entry—STICKS AND STONES.  But, that’s not my story.  That’s Brynn’s.  And someday I hope she’s able to tell it.  My story is about taking chances.  About putting yourself out there even when it’s hard—especially when it’s hard. 

Although I cried when I didn’t final for those two years in between, and even though it hurt not to believe in myself, I couldn’t stop writing.  Oh, I threatened it all the time.   This is it!  I’m done!  I can’t do this anymore!  Then an idea would pop into my head and wouldn’t rest until I told the story. 

For instance, here’s the boring way I came up with STICKS AND STONES.  I was folding laundry and watching a talk show when I heard about a condition where the person is unable to feel pain.  At first I ignorantly thought, “How cool!”  But then I heard the individual stories.  The accidents.  The illnesses.  The life-threatening fevers.    

My OCD behavior kicked in, and I researched CIPA—Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis.  Then I imagined a teenage girl with this condition.  How would she feel?  What would her life be like?  What would it be like for her to fall in love for the first time?  To take the riskiest chance of all?  And the idea for STICKS AND STONES was born.

I obsessed about this condition.  I obsessed about this imaginary life I created for an imaginary character.  When NaNo started in November, the words poured out, and I wrote the book in twenty-seven days.  Thanks in part to Pintip, who bugged me every single day to sprint with her.   J

The best thing about being a finalist with this particular book is that I adore my characters.  I do!  And that’s the hardest part about having it out there—letting my characters be evaluated and judged for their worth.  In the end, no matter what the outcome for Brynn, her story has been told.  She took some risks and jumped.

How could I not do the same?

I’ll end with my favorite Taylor Swift quote:  “Being fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful; it’s being terrified but you jump anyway…”

By Kimberly MacCarron
(who is now represented by the uber-fabulous Michelle Grajkowski at 3 Seas Literary)

Next week our guest blogger and two-time Golden Heart® finalist is Sheri Adkins!

49 comments:

Princess Alethea said...

Congrats!
So proud of you and all your accomplishments. xox

Carlene Love Flores said...

Good morning Kim! You know, with your ability to both make me crack up laughing and tear up crying, I cannot wait to read your stories, especially Brynn's. I could not be more in love with a person's spirit than I am with yours. I am so happy for you. Keep jumping! It suits you ;)

Melissa Landers said...

Congrats on signing with an agent, Kim! And great post. One of my favorite sayings is, "You can't win if you don't play."

Kimberly said...

Thanks Alethea! And right back at you! :-)

Thank you so much, Carlene! My spirit totally loves your spirit. We should set up a play date. :-)

Thanks, Melissa! And you're right. You can't win if you don't play. Perfectly said.

Loni Lynne said...

Kim,
This is such a great post! You have the spirit and dedication that makes for a real Cinderella story! Thank you for taking that leap of faith...it is terrifying! But how do we know if we don't try? :)

I'm raising my cup of vanilla bean to you this morning! Such an inspiration! Best of luck to you!

Hugs!

Kimberly said...

Loni,
I would love some vanilla bean! Thanks so much for stopping by. And you're right. You never know unless you try. I'm feeling very inspired by my commenters today. :-)

Gail Hart said...

Kim - Congrats on putting yourself out there, and on landing your dream agent!

Gail

Kimberly said...

Thanks so much, Gail! It's hard to do, but sometimes it really ends up being worth it. :-)

Vanessa Barneveld said...

My fabulous talented friend, Kim, what a fabulous post! Congrats on signing with Michelle -- I couldn't be happier for you.

Sorry for being lame and missing our sprint today! I'll take a running jump tomorrow. Risky behaviour, I know. :)

Kimberly said...

Vanessa,
Thanks so much for stopping by. And shhhhh. Don't tell Pintip, but I was writing this post when I was supposed to be sprinting. So, let's get back on board the sprinting train tomorrow. :-)

Jennifer McGowan said...

Kim, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm thrilled you scored your dream agent, and that you took the risk. A great post!!

Darcy Woods said...

Kim,

Wonderful post and always a great reminder of what can be achieved by taking the plunge!!! So proud of you for putting it out there and landing your dream agent.

I've shared it before, but in the awesome words of my yoga teacher: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up to much space."

Cheers to doing things that scare the snot out of us!

Darcy :)

Kimberly said...

Jennifer,
Thanks. And Congrats to you! A little birdie told me that you have a Book Birthday today! I'm so happy to welcome into the world MAID OF SECRETS. :-)

Darcy,
I love what your yoga instructor said. Like I said, I keep getting all kinds of inspiring sayings today. Love that! I need to write them down on a post it for the added reminder when I feel like moving to the center again. Here's to living on the edge.

Denny S. Bryce said...

I adore you. I adore this blog post, and I'm thrilled for your courage. You are an inspiration. And this post hit home for me, too! Thank you and I'm thrilled I'm going to be sitting in the audience in July waiting to hear a familiar name being called:)...and if need be, I'll yell it out my own darn self!

Kimberly said...

Denny,
You scare me sometimes. Truly. Other commenters will think you're just joking. That's the funniest part. ;-) I adore you as well. And congrats on your final in the Daphne with CHASING DAMN! What a fun title! And the final in Southern Magic and...
Jeez. Mermaids have lots of celebrating to do this year. :-) Our tails are sparkly and goin' places. LOL

Michelle said...

Beautiful post, Kim! But, *I* am the lucky one that you decided to take that leap of faith in yourself. STICKS AND STONES is amazing, and so are you! I feel sooooooo lucky and blessed that you met with me at the WRW Retreat. You made my weekend! Here's to many, many wonderful years ahead of us. :)

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Michelle!
I really am revising today....REALLY! ;-)
That was a retreat I'll always remember. Thanks so much for a non-stop smile for that entire week.

Bonnie Staring said...

Awesome post, Kim!

Your courage and insight is inspiring. Thanks for sharing the not-so-nice parts of the journey, since I too thought that a GH final meant instant fame and world domination. ;)

STICKS AND STONES sounds absolutely brilliant. Can't wait to see it on the shelves!

And I'm so glad to have you as a Lucky 13s sistah!

Pintip said...

Kim,
I am so crazy proud of you for taking the leap and so crazy proud of Sticks and Stones! Most of all, I am crazy happy to have you as my friend.
As for the sprint this morning... Well, I might as well come clean and say I sprinted for half an hour and then took a nap. That's what happens when I don't have you and Vanessa spurring me on. :)
"See" you in a few!

Gillian Layne said...

Congratulations!! It's a super post, you're so right. And I'm very guilty of letting life get in the way. Thanks for sharing your positive attitude!

Kimberly said...

Bonnie,
I wholeheartedly think we deserve world domination. I just don't think anyone will take us seriously. LOL. I'm very happy to have you as a Lucky 13 and a wonderful new friend! :-) Thanks for stopping by.

Pintip,
Thanks for coming clean. Looks like all three in our Group of Awesome bailed this morning. Tomorrow's another day and all that jazz...
And I count myself so lucky to have you as a friend--both in my writing life as well as personal. You rock!

Gillian,
Thanks so much for stopping by! And I'm very guilty of letting life get in the way of writing. And then I also feel guilty when I let writing getting in the way of life. LOL. Guilt all the way around. It's a great motivator!

Kerri Carpenter said...

Congrats Kim on both the GH AND the agent!!! What a year for you! ;-)

Tammy Baumann said...

Hi Kim,

Congrats on signing with Michelle. And kudos for getting back out there!

When you mentioned your idea for this book, I knew it was a winner! I am so proud of you for taking a niggle and making it a winning manuscript!

Can’t wait until I hear your name called out in Atlanta! (And I’ll bet I can scream louder than Denny can ;0)

Jenni Graves said...

So happy for You Kim! Jeff was telling me About Sticks And Stones yesterday and it sounds like such a great story.. . I am so anxious to read it and all the other stories you will do in the future!! :)

Kimberly said...

Kerri,
Thanks so much for stopping by! And Congrats to you for finaling in the Southern Magic contest! You and Denny rock my socks--to use a Kerri-term. :-)

Tammy! I have no doubt you can scream louder. Not even a little doubt. Thanks for stopping by. Did I guilt you into saying nice things since I bid on you for the Brenda Novak's auction? Can't wait to see in Atlanta!
And I think I was the loudest and most obnoxious in the audience when they called YOUR name last year! I bow to a 2012 Golden Heart® winner.

Kimberly said...

Thanks so much, Jenni! Hopefully those stories will one day be on the shelves. LOL.
You rock for stopping by! Tell my baby brother that I love him...:-)

Sandy Owens said...

Kim,

Wow, what a story and so glad you persisted and are now one of my Golden Heart sisters! Sticks and Stones sounds like a fascinating story. Can't wait to read it.

Sandra

Jacqui Nelson said...

Congrats on all your accomplishments, Kim! Most of all, congrats on hanging in there!

And thanks for being supportive when I didn't final in the Golden Heart during the last two years as well. You are a treasured friend through the good and the bad. My favorite saying is, "The race is to the driven, not the swift."

So looking forward to seeing you at the RWA conference in Atlanta. My fingers are crossed for STICKS AND STONES to find a publisher soon so I can finally read one of your stories!

Kimberly said...

Thank you, Sandy, for stopping by! And I'm blessed to have such rockin' GH sisters! Love me some Lucky 13s. :-)

Jacqui,
We offer encouragement during the tough times and praise in the good times. I remember clearly you accepting your Golden Heart® necklace in 2010 for BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL! What are you going to do with two? Maybe you should give me one. LOL. Can't wait to see you in Atlanta! May good things happen for us both this year. It IS Lucky '13, right?

Miranda Liasson said...

Kimberly, thanks for the inspiring post and I can't wait to read your story--it sounds very original!

Nan Dixon said...

OMG Kimberely-- why didn't I know you had signed with Michelle!!

Congratulations- this is huge. Cyber-champagne has just been popped and will be flowing just for you. (And I'm buying you a drink on Tuesday when we get to Atlanta.)
You are absolutely right that you have to take chances. It hurts to get rejections -- my oh my -- it hurts, but no one is knocking on doors looking for writers. We have to put ourselves out there. And keep writing through the rejections. (I limit myself to how long I can stew when I get a rejection. The top is 24 hours. But I don't stop writing -- because this is my dream.)

And look at all the extra time you will have at the conference because you don't have to pitch!

(Whoops the bubbles from my champagne just tickled my nose!)

Congratulations!

Leslie Lynch said...

Kimberly, what an interesting place to get your story idea! But writers do that, don't we? What if...?

I used to fly reporters around the Louisville Metro area to provide rush hour traffic reports. We were on different radios (me, for air traffic control; them, for the radio station), and I used to get such a kick out of hearing one of the reporter use his awesome voice and energy to tout the lottery: You can't win if you don't play! I'm not a lottery person, but every once in a while his voice pops into my head, years later, and it's an encouragement to apply the sentiment to other areas in my life. Like writing!

Wishing you the very best, fellow Lucky 13, in your writing journey!

Kimberly said...

Miranda, Nan, and Leslie,
Yay for my Lucky 13s! Thanks so much for stopping by.
Miranda,
Thanks for saying my post was inspiring. That's why I wrote it. It's easy to be happy when the good things happen, but it's important to remember how we got to the good stuff. ;-)
Nan, I'll gladly let you buy me a drink. Or even two. LOL. Just watching you in motion last year was inspiring. You are seriously a girl who will never give up. I love that you give yourself a time period to stew.
Leslie, It is like playing the lottery, isn't it? In so many ways. That's neat that the reporter's voice still pops into your head. LOL.

Amy said...

Great post Kim, my new friend and an inspiration. I do fear that this wonderful GH finalist experience may not end in the ultimate goal for me-- rep and publication, but now I realize that even if it doesn't happen this year, it WILL happen, if I'm brave like you and keep going. I'm so happy for you!

Kimberly said...

Amy,
What some call "brave" others call "glutton for punishment." LOL. The one thing I loved more than anything in 2010 was making friends with my GH sisters (and brother, Ken). To this day, we're all still great friends. Three of us are on this blog together (Jen McAndrews, Carey Corp and me)!
Not all of us can win the Golden Heart®, but in the end, we all will be winners because of those friendships we make now! And those will last longer than a necklace. And fame. And fortune.
Just joking about those last couple...

Talia Quinn Daniels said...

Kimberly, that may be a boring story origin to you, but I found it utterly fascinating, and it makes me want to read the book RIGHT NOW. *ahem* What a fantastic idea for a novel!

I know that feeling very well, when a book pours out of you. There's absolutely nothing else like it. And now I'm starting to get an inkling of an idea of how Pintip achieved her jaw dropping word count during NaNo. You were driving her on!

Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta!

Kimberly said...

Talia,
Actually, it was the other way around. Pintip would bug me first thing in the morning, "Wanna sprint? Wanna sprint now? How about now???" She drove me crazy, and the only thing I could do was sprint. So, I did. I always say that I only became a finalist because of her.
But it's super awesome when you do have friends who are NaNoing with you. When their word counts make you feel crappy, so you sit down to make sure your word count goes up. It's the competitive streak coming out in me. LOL. But I love NaNo!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Talia! It's great to see so many of my Lucky 13 sisters. :-)

Megan K said...

Mom, congratulations! I knew you could do it, and that you weren't just a fluke. ;) Through all of my begging, asking for you to do things for me, and constantly putting on "the megan show" you still manage to keep up with a something that you not only like, but are really good at. I know I don't say it often, but I am so grateful to have a mom who cares about me so much and I appreciate everything you do for me and the rest of the kids. Im so glad you didn't give up on your writing. You kept with it and persevered until you got what you wanted. (I think that is where I get it from... haha). I can't wait to see where Sticks and Stones gets in the future. I knew you would make it big someday. I am so excited for you and am so happy for everything you have accomplished. Congratulations again. I love you.
-Megan

Kimberly said...

Megan,
Come on down and get the money now. LOL.
Seriously...you just made me cry. Thank you.
I love you too.

Sheri Adkins said...

That's a great story, Kim! And so true. No matter what we really want in life, we have to take chances. Putting ourselves out there, in life or love, means risking the chance of failure. But if we don't risk it, there isn't even a chance of true success. And you are going to be one HUGE success with this book! I just know it!!!

Sheri Adkins

Kimberly said...

Ah, Sheri! You're so sweet! Your emails and comments always brings a smile to my face.
And you are so true! There isn't even a chance of success without putting yourself out there.
And I can't wait to see MIRANDA PERRY'S IMPORTED PROM DATE on the shelves! And I'm going to get a picture of me pointing at the book on the shelf and then post it, saying, "I know her! I really do know her!"
Just make sure you acknowledge that you do know me. Otherwise, I'm going to be very embarrassed. LOL

Laurie Cooper said...

Hi, Kim. Congrats on landing your dream agent! That's one thing I'm hoping for this year. Counting on Lucky13 being truly lucky.

I can sooo relate to your situation. Kudos for jumping out of the shadows and snagging the gold ring.

I look forward to reading your story. It sounds like exactly the type of book I'd love.

Kimberly said...

Laurie,
Thanks so much! I think Lucky 13s will indeed be lucky this year. I feel it! :-)
Good luck to you in your submission process! You can still be scared to jump, but you have to do it anyway!
I'm glad you stopped by!

kimberly Starr said...

My Dearest Kim, Wonderful post. I'm so darn proud of you for all that you have accomplished and for never giving up. Congrats on finaling in the Golden Heart, for signing with your amazing agent …love saying “your agent” !! …. and for being the best friend/sister a girl could have. I absolutely love Sticks and Stones and can't wait to see it in print. Denny look for me at the Golden Heart Awards - i'll be seated next to Kim so that we can BOTH yell out her name "our own darn selves" Kim you are truly an inspiration to us all for charging ahead even when you felt like giving up....you took the plunge and now you’re on the ride of your life. I could not be happier for you my dearest friend. I once read ...Life is truly a ride….you’re all strapped in…and no one can stop it …when the doctor slaps your behinds he is ripping your ticket and away you go….sometimes you will put your arms up in front of you and sometime you will hold on to the bar in front of you…but getting on the ride is the thing…the most you can hope for at the end of life is your hair is all messed up, you’re out of breath and you didn’t throw up Enjoy the ride KIM!! Love you! Kim Starr

Kimberly said...

Kim,
Love that analogy. There was one I heard at my uncle's funeral about getting into Heaven. I'll just copy and paste since I'm so lazy...
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in an attractive and well preserved body,
But rather to skid in sideways,
chocolate in one hand,
wine in the other,
body thoroughly used up,
totally worn out and screaming
"WOO HOO what a ride!""
Always loved that! We shouldn't be afraid to let go of the bar and throw our hands in the air! LOL

Stephsco said...

Congrats on your GH nomination! What a cool angle for a story.

The other side of putting oneself out there is to overextend and send out dozens of queries that aren't ready. The key part you mentioned is that when you weren't submitting, you were writing. I'm guessing you also shared that writing with a critique partner or read a book on craft or something. It's fine to not jump right in to join the rest if you're not ready.

Kimberly said...

That is an absolutely valid point! Don't jump if you can't make it safely to the other side. LOL.
Thanks for stopping by and for reminding me that sending things out into the publishing world before they're ready is never a good idea.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Great post, Kim! So glad you jumped. :)

Kimberly said...

Dawn,
Thanks so much for stopping by. Jumping is always great--at least when there's a soft landing. :-)