All The Way YA

Eating Peaches and Riding Unicorns

So if you read my first post last week, you know that I’m interested in talking about the guts and the glory of being a writer of YA fiction. Hell, being a writer PERIOD!

I am here this week to talk about the guts…the pain…the struggle. The depression.

Feeling dark about my work is nothing new, but last year my struggle got significantly darker.

It wasn’t one thing, like a particular rejection letter or words of criticism from a critique partner or editor; rather, it was an accumulation of not experiences but feelings I’ve been having about myself as a writer and as a person. Feelings that were triggered by benign events. Friends getting book deals. A rejection of my most recent submission by a favorite publisher. Feedback from my agent. A negative review of one of my newly published short stories. These are normal events in the life of a writer. Sure, they aren’t the easiest moments, per say. But usually any of that stuff would roll over me, wouldn’t set me back, or make me hate myself. In fact, I’ve heard other people get really down on themselves about a rejection, and I always thought, rejection isn’t bad or good; it’s eliminating one person who isn’t a match for my work and therefore, just one more step to a “yes”. Not to mention some rejections are constructive and helpful. I never equated rejection with failure.

Until last year.

The following are excerpts from my journal last year:

…Yet another person has gotten a book deal. Heard about it on Twitter….anger, jealousy, feeling of “it’s not fair”…I’ve worked just as hard, I’ve worked longer, I’ve done just as much, if not more! I’m just as good a writer…why? Despite all I have accomplished…despite all the signs pointing to YES…I’m still a NO and those people out there who are yeses….it’s not fair.

…What have I done wrong? What’s wrong with me?

…Maybe I’m not as good as I’ve lead myself to believe.

…Book deal=validation. Failure to get book deal means I’m a failure….

…Whenever I think about my submissions, all kinds of sadness, frustration, and depression…failure. I have failed. I am a failure. What’s the point?

…Every time I rewrite something for my current manuscript, I feel I’m making it worse. I’m worried I’m going down the rabbit hole.

…With each day that passes and I don’t get a response…I feel worse and worse.

What was starting to happen was that every “no” or “not yet” I heard about my work, no matter if it was from a critique from another writer buddy, my agent, or a flat out “no” from a publisher, I began to internalize the “no” and “not yet” to be about me. And not just about me as a writer, but me as a person. And, the victories of other writers began to feel like rejections of me. Even though I’ve always ascribed to the adage another person’s success is not an indication of my failure, it was almost as if I interpreted events to be evidence that I was a complete and utter failure.

I started to feel stupid. Like, who am I to ever think that I could “make it”? And, how did I ever delude myself into thinking I was good enough?

So you can imagine that at one point, the bough broke. The cradle fell and down came Hannah. With a crash.

What I would like to tell you about is how I’ve come out of the darkness. And it wasn’t one great epiphany or moment out on a unicorn eating peaches. Hells-to-the-no. It was work. Yes. Did you know that not being depressed is the result of hard work? It isn’t the result of a pill you pop or one particular session with a therapist or healer. It is the result of months and months of hard, hard work that really never stops but eventually becomes your new normal.

I could bore you with my self-care routine…because it is REALLY boring. So I will skip that. I will get to the part that might actually be useful to you because now that I’ve come out of the closet about my bout with depression, I have discovered that being depressed is more than common, it is, specifically, very common with writers. Besides the obvious “we’re so isolated” is the less obvious, “no matter how thick your skin is, it’s hard not to take rejection personally when the rejection has been happening for over 10 years.”

Truth–rejection doesn’t get any easier over time. You have to work at NOT taking it personally.

For me, I used to hold on to the “some day”. What I mean is that after the first set of rejections for my first book in my early twenties, I had this thought I held on to, which was, “Oh, I’ve just started. There’s so much time. It’s going to happen. I just have to be patient.” By year 10, in my early to mid-thirties, the fabric of “it’s going to happen” started to wear. By year 15, the fabric tore in half.

What I did to pull myself out of the gutter of self-loathing was…love myself, rejection, self-pity, and all. Every day. Even when I didn’t want to. This was very hard because, truthfully, I’d come to hate who I was.

The day I started therapy was the day I started to become aware of the way I thought about myself and the way those thoughts made me feel. I completed charts about those thoughts and feelings. I journaled about them. I began to separate myself from them, witness them, look at them. The ones that triggered particular sadness or depression or anxiety, I challenged. With hard core evidence. Take the thought of “I’m stupid”. My therapist actually had me challenge this one and the rules was I had to use facts to support it.

Guess what? I couldn’t find any. Not one.

Another thought he had me challenge was, I am a failure.

Same thing, no evidence.

Now that doesn’t mean I went off on a unicorn (let’s say it together now) eating peaches. Once I gathered evidence to challenge my thoughts, I had to look at the facts.

Fact: I have failed to get a book deal…for now.
Fact: I am not where I thought I would be as an author.
Fact: None of those things make me stupid or a failure.


Here I Go Again (Not) on my Own

If you build it, they will come. That’s been my motto over the past 10 plus years as an author of young adult fiction. When I couldn’t find a publisher for my first book, My Sister’s Wedding, I did it myself and promptly won a pretty sweet award that led me to my first agent. When I graduated from the Solstice Program and couldn’t find someone to publish my collection of short stories, I created Sucker Literary, and BAM, landed in Publishers Weekly. Cool. Very Cool.

But it has not been peaches and unicorns. (I will discuss this further in my first official post as the founder and regular contributor to this blog next week or so).

So how and why did I create All The Way?  I was feeling really depressed a few months back (okay…REALLY depressed. Read more about that here), and I started to feel the itch of needing something more for my writing. Not so much needing more regarding my craft but more regarding my writer’s soul. I carried inside a feeling of not being heard. A feeling of not saying what I needed to. A feeling of “am I truly alone in this feeling?”

So I reached out to my sister in writing, Kacey. We talked….and talked…and then I realized what I wanted and needed. A group of people, brothers and sisters, who were going through the Artist’s Crisis and who wanted to TALK ABOUT it!

Therefore, I created All The Way YA. The place to share the experiences and emotions writers may talk to each other about but hesitate to write about (publicly).

I want this blog to “talk shop” about what we do and what we go through as writers and authors…I think of the “all the way” to mean that we bloggers on this blog will go all the way to share with you our experiences, advice, stories about the realities of having an agent and not having an agent but having a book deal or having an agent and no book deal. The realities of almost “making it” so many times but ultimately failing, over and over. The truth about the solitary confinement of working on your Masterpiece. The truth about getting a book deal FINALLY but realizing that there is still a mountain to climb. All the different scenarios that can occur on the road to “making it” as an author, including defining “making it”.

The YA aspect of our blog really is more because that is where I started, that’s the bulk of my work, though I’ve begun to branch out to New Adult and Middle Grade. Also, authors of YA fiction are generous with their support for one another, and quite frankly, I need more and more of that in my life.


Let’s talk about the emotional turmoil and torture… and the peaches and unicorns.

Who are we and why are we here?

Why This Blog? (Please “like” us on Facebook.)

Sometimes it seems like all we hear about as writers are the successes. “Hey, I got an agent!” or maybe “Hey, I got a book deal!” I love reading about other author’s successes–it spurs me on and makes me want to work harder. The challenge though, is that writing is, for the most part, a solitary art. So when all you read about are other people’s successes and you’re still plugging away…well you get the idea. I think it’s important that, as writers, we recognize that we’ve chosen a difficult path. Heck, we chosen to ride on a rode with a million and one potholes (that’s the state flower here in Pennsylvania, by the way). Still, there’s value in knowing you’re not alone. That’s why I’m here.

I’ve been fortunate to have met some a-m-a-z-i-n-g members of the writer community and learned a ton as a result. It’s time to pay that forward.

More About Me

Where am I in my writing career…

  • I have five publications released as part of The Star Child series.
  • I am waiting to hear from agents and editors on a YA Magical Realism that I’m querying, set here in Pittsburgh.
  • I’m in the process of editing one YA manuscript, a Middle Grade Sci-fi manuscript, and a YA novella.
  • I’m co-writing a New Adult manuscript with local writer Melissa Englesberg and having a blast.

Follow me on twitter at @StephanieKeyes

Kacey Vanderkarr

Why am I here?

Oh Lord. It’s the existential question everyone wants the answer to. Why am I here? Why are YOU here? We’re all here to learn about writing. The journey. The neurosis. My gift and my curse.

First lesson. Writers are dramatic.

Perhaps I should start with Who Am I?

I’m a self-proclaimed young adult author who occasionally toes the line into new adult and adult. Lines were meant to be crossed, after all. I love fantasy and sci-fi, but my short fiction tends to be contemporary. Perhaps you’ve heard of me, Kacey Vanderkarr. I’ll wait while you do the Google.

The long story is that I started writing seriously in 2009. I had a dream and my laptop. Magic happened. Well…to be honest, back then the things I wrote weren’t so magical. The next few years moved in fast-forward. I learned A LOT of things. Then, in 2013, I published my debut novel, Antithesis, with Inkspell Publishing. I learned more things. The writing industry moves sllloooowwww. You will never stop learning how to become a better writer. You can have a million dreams but you never get anywhere without the work. Therefore, I put in more work. In 2014, in addition to being published in Sucker Literary Vol III (where I met Hannah R. Goodman, the evil genius she is), I self-published Reflection Pond and Poison Tree, and coedited a fairy anthology, Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland.

On top of all that writing stuff, I’m also a sonographer at a hospital and a sometimes coach to a high school winterguard team. My interests are wide and varied, as long as there are books or a good story involved. I have a husband and a seven-year-old mini me whose reading level is off the charts. He’s my prodigy. One day I hope he’ll write something great. I’m mostly vegan, though I love (and eat!) cheese. I’m often mistaken for a high school student. I’m taller than 95% of the people you know and no, I don’t play basketball, though I did take 17 years of dance classes.

Throughout this crazy ride in Writer Land, one thing has remained constant: My lack of an agent. It’s not because I haven’t tried (I have.). It’s not because I don’t want one (I do.). I suppose it’s just that I haven’t found that fine thread of fate that will lead me to the ever mystical and mysterious ONE. One agent to rule them all…or maybe just my backlog of manuscripts. One agent to rule my backlog. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. (Pun intended. See? I can be punny.)

Why This Blog?

Mostly I want to know that I’m not alone, and in doing so, I can share my own struggles, triumphs, and stories with others. The writing community is both remarkably gigantic AND welcoming. There are thousands (probably more) writers out there who are just starting out, and in in five years or so, I want to read their stories. We won’t get there alone.

In addition, I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I can’t write you a neat list of things that would count me as “successful,” but I’m not there yet. I’m a writer, yes, I’ve published things, but I have yet to reach my full potential. If hanging out with a handful of other cool writers will help me, I’m 100% in.

So…Where Am I? (I’m stealing Hannah’s bulleted list, because that’s what writers do.)

  • Actively seeking representation for Stepping Stones, a YA Fantasy Series.
  • That doesn’t work out? Actively seeking representation for Sleep and Shatter, a YA Fantasy.
  • Writing Torch Rock, Book 3 in the Reflection Pond series for self-publication in 2015.
  • In my backlog (Attn: Agents! I have a BACKLOG of manuscripts!) I have a new adult novella, several short pieces, 3 or 4 “shelved” novels, and something new that’s challenging me to become a better, more daring writer. It’s YA Dystopian…I think. (I’m also terrified of it.)
  • Joining a new writing group (and keeping my old one, the Flint Area Writers) to learn and share as much as I can.
  • Blogging about Things.

I have no idea what the future will bring. Will I self-publish more novels? Will I unlock the ever-elusive Agent Achievement?

Stay tuned.

And follow me on Twitter: @kacimari

Who are we and why are we here?

Hello World!

Introductions and pleasantries first:

Who am I?

I am Hannah R. Goodman (think of the “R” as my version of a Sasha Fierce), YA author of The Maddie Chronicles and represented by Erzsi Deak of Hen&ink Literary. I’m also a few other things:

  • Founder and editor of Sucker Literary Anthology
  • Writer of several not-yet-published NA, MG, and YA manuscripts
  • Literary Weeble Wobble (Because I weeble and wobble but don’t fall down. Not because I look like one : )

In addition to my writing life, I have a home and work life, both of which bring me great pleasure and stress relief from pursuing my life-long ambition to be a successful author (defining “successful” is for another blog post). For my day job, I am the owner and sole proprietor of The Write Touch, a writing coaching, tutoring, and editing boutique, and I’m finishing up coursework to become a licensed psychotherapist (certainly will enhance my writing copy!). My homestead is abundant with children, a spouse, cats, and fish.

Why This Blog? (Please “like” us on Facebook.)

The reason for this blog is purely selfish. I want to talk about my experiences trying to achieve my lifelong dream of being an author. I achieved it first by self-publishing, which was and has been an amazing experience and taught me way more than any formal education has. Yet, all the while, since I wrote my first book in sixth grade, I’ve dreamed of an editor at a publishing house saying “yes” to my work. I have not achieved that dream–yet.

I’ve been trying to sell my work to publishers for many, many years. I’ve tried on my own, with one agent, and now with another. The frustrations, the emotions, the small victories, and the discouraging failures are all part of my experience. I have spoken about them here and there on my own blog, but I’ve never fully discussed the impact that chasing my dream has had on me, personally, and my life.

Does that translate to a place to whine and complain? No way. This is where we/I share our/my experiences, our/my victories and our/my failures, and where we/I offer some perspective and advice to others who are on the climb, too.

More about moi

I used to believe that art could not exist with business and that my lot in the writing world would be indie, simply because it’s not in my blood to “write to market” or maybe a better way of saying it is “write to sale-ability”.  In the ten plus years of being in the “industry” as an indie/self-pub author and also having my toe in the mainstream world of publishing via an agent, I’ve come to understand that writing to market/sale-ability can come together with art, as long as the writer feels the core of their work is from their soul.

Where I am in my “writing career”, whatever that even means, is:

  • Taking a long break from publishing and editing Sucker Literary.
  • Editing a NA manuscript that my agent has said is my best writing yet.
  • Republishing the third book in the Maddie Chronicles.
  • Waiting to hear from a publisher about the only unpublished Maddie book.
  • Creating this blog and finally expressing my opinions and thoughts on being a long-term emerging author.
  • In my back pocket I have: a middle grade manuscript, another NA manuscript, and another brand new YA manuscript.

If you are interested in being a part of my new YA writing community and wish to be a contributor (I am looking for about 5 folks to be regulars and who are willing to spill their guts about their writing life.), please contact me at

Follow me on twitter at @hannahrgoodman