(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)
I've been sitting on pins and needles for a full month waiting for the green light to announce this news publicly. And today, I finally got the thumbs up from my literary agent (the amazing Kristin Nelson) that I can make it official.
My young adult novel, LEGEND, is going to be published by Penguin Group (imprint Putnam Children's) as part one of a trilogy!!!!! A three-book deal! And not only that--LEGEND is going to be Putnam Children's Lead Title for Fall 2011!! I'm going to be a published author with a major publisher. OMG OMG.
Here's the official news from Publisher's Marketplace:
FICTION: YOUNG ADULT
Flash media and online game artist Marie Lu's debut LEGEND trilogy, set in the flooded Republic of Los Angeles 2130 A.D., about a boy who is the Republic's most wanted criminal and a girl who is the Republic's most beloved government prodigy whose paths cross when her brother is murdered and she is hired to hunt down the boy responsible -- but the truth they uncover will become legend, to Jen Besser at Putnam Children's [Penguin Group], in a major deal, at auction, for fall 2011 publication, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World).
UK & Foreign: firstname.lastname@example.org
And from Publisher's Weekly:
Putnam Kids Invests in Facebook Game Designer
Jennifer Besser at G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers [Penguin Group] bought world rights, in a three-book deal, to the debut dystopian novel by Marie Lu, Legend. Lu works as an art director for a Los Angeles video game company (note: actually the company is in Austin but that's ok :) ), and the book is built around the world she created for a Facebook game, also called Legend, that currently has over 13,000 subscribers. The book is set in 2130 in a Los Angeles that has been submerged by flooding. A girl who is a prodigy being groomed for government work meets a boy who is one of the state's most-wanted criminals. The main characters' love story—she's tasked with finding his brother's killer—is based loosely on Les Misérables. Legend, which is scheduled for December 2011, is the first book in a planned trilogy; Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary brokered the deal, and Kassie Evashevski at UTA is handling film rights.
This is how it happened. After two rewrites where Agent Kristin and I hammered LEGEND into a presentable form, we sent it out on submission on July 9 (two days before I turned 26). Now, I've been on submission before. Twice. Having that experience, I was ready for the LONG haul, the 6 month wait for rejections and "I loved it, but" letters from kind-but-professional editors.
One week passed. I spent my birthday in a nervous wreck.
Then I heard from Kristin that there were two editors who had read and loved LEGEND. One of these editors was someone I'd heard a great deal about, and when Kristin said her name, I almost fainted in front of my laptop (good thing I didn't, or else I'd probably have QWERTY embedded permanently on my forehead). The other editor was the editor for one of my favorite YA books. Can we say faint x 2?
However, as aforementioned, I've been on submission before. I've been down the road of "Editors are liking it" and then "Editors decided ultimately to say no". So I toughened up as much as I could, and got ready for the inevitable rejections from both of these incredible editors.
Another week passed. Then Kristin told me she was going to be setting up an auction. 6 publishers were interested. At first I laughed at the email. Oh Kristin. Sometimes you are such a joker. Then I read it again, got tingly feelings in my fingers and toes, and ran around my apartment until I collapsed in exhaustion. Still, STILL, I felt like everything could fall through. That was what I'd gotten used to, anyway. Auction day would come and no one would show up. They've all decided that they'd rather not buy LEGEND. Back to the drawing board.
But that didn't happen. Instead, I got to talk to each of these editors on the phone. This may have been the most exciting part of the process (ok, the 2nd most exciting part). To hear industry professionals rave about your manuscript is as amazing as a cheesecake made of double rainbows. I was smiling so hard that my boyfriend thought I'd gone off the deep end.
So auction day came. I alternated every few minutes between absolute JOY and sheer abject TERROR. They all want the book! I haven't heard from Kristin in 6 minutes--something must've gone terribly wrong and everyone dropped out! They all want the book! I haven't heard from Kristin in 14 minutes--something must've gone terribly wrong and everyone dropped out! And repeat.
Several times throughout this day, Kristin would call me with updates that made me lose all feeling in my brain. (This is an extremely surreal feeling. I've never had a numb brain before.... well, not that numb.) Then, as the auction's final round started, I spent 3 hours doing nothing but rocking back and forth manically on my couch while my boyfriend tried in vain to soothe me. I stared at my phone without pause, willing it to ring. My trigger finger hovered over the "refresh" button in my email inbox. (Even though it refreshes automatically by itself.)
Silence. 3 hours of it!
Terror set in. All the editors dropped out. They must have. Kristin just doesn't want to tell me yet--she must not want to break my heart. NOTHING ELSE CAN EXPLAIN THIS SILENCE!!!
Finally, late in the afternoon, I got a call from Kristin. The Call. This is how it went down....sort of:
Kristin: You have a very hard choice to make. Are you ready for this?
Marie: Am I going to faint?
Kristin: Yes, I think you might faint.
Marie: [sits down on couch to keep from falling too hard, then listens in quiet stupor]
Kristin: *lists out the final offers*
Marie: *NUMB. This is the only word appropriate for the feeling in my entire body. NUM NUM NUMMY NUMMY NUMB.*
Kristin: Still there? Are you listening to me?
Marie: I didn't understand a word of what you said. Each deal sounds like it's made out of red velvet cupcakes.
Kristin: (thinking) Oh Marie. Thank god you're not doing this by yourself or we might all be in the papers tomorrow--and not in a good way.
Marie: *still numb*
Kristin: Do you need the night to think it over?
Marie: *babbles incoherently in a squeaky voice*
Kristin: Ok, yeah, I think you need the night. Let me know what you decide in the morning!
[Phone call ends]
Several moments of silence. Several moments of unbridled joyful shrieking with boyfriend.
And then .... I burst into tears. I just cracked. I don't think I've ever really felt true joy in my life up until then. Sure, I've felt happiness plenty of times. There are so many things I'm happy about. But joy is different from happiness. Joy makes you cry. Joy is about achieving something you have worked so hard and so long to get. It unleashes emotions of relief, pain, rage, passion, ecstasy, fear, excitement, and fulfillment in one giant ball of glory that completely overwhelms the boundaries of your mind. It is rare. (Unless you're high on shrooms or something, I guess.) It is the most amazing feeling in the world.
And when I burst into tears after The Call with Kristin, I felt joy like I've never felt before. I have been trying to get published since I was 14. I have been rejected hundreds of times. I've written 4 unpublished manuscripts, 2 of which made it all the way to the agent+submission level only to slowly fade away into oblivion at the end of the submission cycle. I'd started to think it might never happen.
But now it's happening, really happening. Penguin is releasing the first book of my trilogy in December 2011, and my editor is none other than Jen Besser, the editor of the (drumroll) PERCY JACKSON BOOKS. (I even have a film agent now, Kassie Evashevski!) The characters living inside my head are actually going to meet the reading public.
A dream come true, after 12 years of struggling.
I am so unbelievably thankful for my agent Kristin Nelson, who stuck by my side through the good times and the bad (if you're a writer and wondering whether or not you need an agent, I am telling you right now that YES YOU DO); for the amazing and wonderful editors that each gave me a chance to fulfill my dream; and for the people in my life that always believed I could do it and that I wasn't wasting my time.
Anyway, that's the big news! My characters will actually be in a bookstore near you next fall! Boyfriend and I are celebrating with some delectable veggie food and fancy wine (although honestly, I can't tell the difference between good and bad wine....they all seem the same). And now, there are only 2 thoughts I have the strength to comprehend in my incoherent brain:
1) I really hope people buy the book when it comes out
2) Damn, I better get crackin on LEGEND 2