I never wanted to be a writer, but like many people, I’d always wanted to write a book just to say I did. So in January 2010 I made a new year’s resolution to do just that. I googled ‘how to write a novel’ and after a month of research and outlining, I started and couldn’t stop. It was the most addictive, enjoyable, happy-making thing I’d done in a long time. I wrote that book (YA historical fantasy) in longhand and proudly shared it with friends and family. That’s when thoughts of becoming published started. I took that book to WIFYR in 2011, my first ever writers conference, to workshop in Louise Plummer’s class where I learned I had no idea what I was doing. J
That week at WIFYR was one of the key moments of my life. Looking back, I realize how bad that manuscript really was—passive writing, terrible grammar, too coy, cliché, etc. A typical beginning writer nightmare. I even cried one day that week feeling so overwhelmed with All The Things I needed to learn and All The Work I’d have to put into this writing gig. I didn’t know if I could do it. But for some reason this quirky and hilarious lady (I love you, Louise!) told me I had it in me to be a writer, and I clung to those words and decided to keep trying.
Five of us from that class formed a critique group (big shout-out to Katie, Emily, Robin, and Taryn). Little did I know that those girls, who were spread all over the country, would not only become the biggest influence on my career as a writer, but my best friends as we celebrated and cried over each other’s life moments through almost daily emails, phone calls and writer retreats. There is NO WAY I’d be where I am today without them.
I attended more conferences, devoured books on writing craft, stalked writing websites and blogs, and most importantly kept on writing. I tried my hand at a YA contemporary followed by an MG fantasy (my first Nano experience). Then in March of 2012, I wrote my fourth book, a YA science fiction novel titled REMAKE. I took the first chapter to LDStorymakers where it earned a second place prize and a full request from an agent, and then again to WIFYR in Ann Dee Ellis’s bootcamp class with another full request.
After a roller-coaster summer of querying, I received an offer of representation. I may have run into the bathroom screaming to tell my husband (who was showering) the news. J I decided to sign with Jennifer Skutelsky of Veritas Literary. We spent several months editing the manuscript and went on submission earlier this year. And then, after the hardest trial of patience I’ve experienced in my writing career so far, this happened:
“Ilima Todd’s REMAKE, a girl has to choose a name, trade and gender before her seventeenth birthday, but is catapulted by a gruesome shuttle crash into a world where choice takes on an entirely new meaning, to Chris Schoebinger at Shadow Mountain, in a very nice, two-book deal, for publication in summer 2014, by Jennifer Skutelsky and Katherine Boyle at Veritas (World).” –Publishers Marketplace
To say I’m excited is an understatement. I still want to pinch myself sometimes. Woo-hoo! There have been so many people to help me get here (including Carol and Ann Dee), and I’m grateful for every single one of them. THANK YOU! I’ve written two other books since REMAKE and have started a 7th. Whether I sell another book or not, I plan to keep learning and writing for no other reason than it just plain makes me happy. J