The first in our series on the theme of agency—a term both literal (i.e. about finding an agent) and abstract, in that we talk about pursuing your writing life with intentionality. In this episode you’ll hear from Lacey Yong, learn about her YA historical fantasy, writing in multiple genres, navigating writing as a new parent, and the idea of agency.
It’s important to protect your heart. Finding an agent is a really tough long process…and getting the agent is just the first step. —Lacey Yong
Links and Resources from this Episode:
- Lacey’s YA book is currently titled Dauntless
- The Whole Book Course
- Lacey mentioned learning about expansion and compression from Susan Forest at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre https://www.alexandrawriters.org/
- Lacey referenced scenes from Emma by Jane Austen and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Lacey found representation through the agency Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC at https://www.dystel.com/
- Tools and sites Lacey used in her search for an agent include: Query Tracker https://querytracker.net/, Manuscript Wishlist at https://mswishlist.com/ and the hashtag #MSWishList on Twitter, and Manuscript Academy https://manuscriptacademy.com/
- Lacey referenced checking agency acknowledgements in the books on her shelf including that by author June Hur
- The Lit Mag Love Course
- Learn more about Lacey’s publication journey in the article How I Published in JMWW
- You can find Lacey Yong on Instagram and Twitter.
Sign up for my Writerly Love Letters filled with support for your writing practice and sent every week.
- Rachel Thompson
- Meli Walker
- Lacey Yong
Rachel Thompson: 00:01
Welcome luminous writers to the Write, Publish and Shine podcast. I am your host, author and literary magazine editor Rachel Thompson. This podcast explores how to write and share your brilliant writing with the world. In each episode, we delve into specifics on how to polish and prepare your writing for publication, and the journey from emerging writer to published author.
Welcome to this episode, which is a first in our series we’re going to do exploring the theme of agency. When we look at agency, we’re thinking both of intentionality for writers in choosing the path that works for you, and making choices that are really authentic to you versus what you think everybody’s doing, or what you think editors or publishers want you to be doing. And then also, we’re getting really literal too, so the next couple episodes, I will be discussing, finding an agent with two writers in our Writerly Love membership community who have found agents recently for their work, they have shopped around their book, and they found an agent who’s willing to work with them and champion it and help them sell it to a publishing house. We’ll get a little bit more into what exactly an agent is because I think there are so many players in the literary field, I guess that it’s hard to keep track of what all of them do, although we won’t unpack that entirely in this episode. But I think that will be coming up in another episode where I speak with an agent and editor, someone who wears a couple of hats, and we’ll unpack those roles.
Just know that today’s episode with Lacey Yong, we’re going to be talking about how she found an agent for her novel and what that’s meant for her. She’ll talk a little bit about the process that she’s going through with her agent, which will help maybe demystify a bit about that role. Also, the difficulty in deciding whether or not to go the agent route. Again, back to the idea of agency and maybe not every route is for every writer.
You can listen to this episode to learn more about Lacey’s novel “Dauntless“. It’s a YA historical fantasy inspired by around the world in 80 days, and she’ll talk more about that exciting book that had us as readers on the edge of our seats when we were reading it in a course in my Writerly Love community. Also, she’s going to talk about writing in multiple genres and what that meant for her in really navigating the road as a new parent and a writer, and how to maybe not excel at both or find that balance because of course, we know that it’s all a myth, but just how she is navigating that balance, or navigating that road and finding that balance.
We’re also talk about the idea of agency and how she protects her heart as she put it, in terms of being able to develop the relationships that she wants to develop in the literary community that work for her and feel fitting for her.
Listen, to hear more about agency finding an agent, and just the brilliant advice that Lacey Yong has for emerging writers.
Lacey Yong: 03:22
My name is Lacey Yong. My pronouns are she/her and I’m recording from Treaty 7 territory and the territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy. So, Calgary, Alberta,
Rachel Thompson: 03:33
Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey with us, Lacey. You’ve been such a wonderful community member, and it’s such a joy to see all of your successes. Can you tell our listeners a bit about your novel?
Lacey Yong: 03:45
My novel is called “Dauntless“. It is a YA historical fantasy inspired by around the world in 80 days, and it follows a young British Chinese woman named Horatia who undertakes the first airship race around the world in a bid to save her family’s home after her father willed it away as payment for a debt. And the holder of that debt is a mysterious young gentleman named Victor who also happens to be the captain of this airship. So, together with a ragtag crew, they fly around the world in a bid to win this race, at the same time, as Horatia tries to figure out the mystery of her father’s death, while evading the machinations of the race organizer, Maximilian Sharp, who will stop at nothing to make sure they do not win.
Rachel Thompson: 04:33
I’m thrilled that you workshopped parts of this novel in our Whole Book course and as I recall, even the parts where we were reading it in outline format, and everyone turning the page quickly to see what happens next. How do you create that tension in your story? And what are the things you learned by writing the novel about creating that edge-of-the-seat experience for readers?
Lacey Yong: 04:55
I love this question. I’m so glad I’m being asked it because it’s forcing me to reflect on my own craft and how I tried to create tension in the plot. I think it probably helps to define tension. The way I think about tension is, is just that feeling of wanting to know what is going to happen to a character that you care about, and I think that word care is central to how you create tension. Readers have to care what’s going to happen to your character, or the eye and your memoir. So, part of creating tension is setting up that necessary context right from the outset of your work, right from the first chapter readers, and you, as the author have to know, what does your character care about? What do they want in their life? And what do they stand to lose if they don’t get it?
As soon as you and the reader understand what’s at stake, then you can start creating tension, because as soon as something doesn’t go in your character’s favor, that’s automatically a moment of ‘oh, my gosh, what are they going to do next? How are they going to overcome this obstacle to achieve what they think they want? Or how are they going to overcome this obstacle in order to learn what it is they actually need’.
That’s how I like to think about tension. And that’s tension on like a chapter scene level, you create instances of, it could be physical danger or emotional peril that force your character into situations where they have to make the decision in pursuit of what they want. But there’s also tension at the sentence level as well. One of the things I love doing is writing action scenes, and the reason I love writing them is because you get to play around with sentence structure, and language. So, one really simple way of injecting tension at a sentence level is to keep your sentences short. Really keep them simple. So, noun, verb, those verbs are doing a lot of work. So that’s kind of tension at that level, as well.
I’ve been getting a lot of tension since getting this question. And I want to make it clear that one of the things I had to learn in revision for this novel is that tension doesn’t require explosions. It doesn’t require like a car chase scene; it doesn’t require a gunfight. Tension can be really quiet. I was trying to think of an example.
For me, one of the best examples is Emma by Jane Austen. And there’s a scene in Emma, where Emma is stuck in a carriage with a character named Mr. Elton. And Mr. Elton is the man that she has been trying to set up with her friend Harriet. And just at the moment when she thinks that she is about to clinch this union, he declares his love for her. It’s a brilliant moment of tension. Because previous to this scene, Jane Austen has already established that Harriet is an illegitimate child who has very few prospects for her life. And she at Emma’s urging, has given up a union with a farmer in favor of a potential union as Mr. Elton. So now when the plans go awry, you realize, ‘oh, my gosh, Harriet is in so much trouble’. Because this guy doesn’t even like her. And she’s given up the love of her life, because Emma has told her, so that’s tension that has been well established before the scene. And then there’s a second layer of tension, because you realize this is a scene that goes to Emma’s perception of herself, she thinks of herself as handsome, clever and rich. This is something that Jane Austen has set up right from the beginning of the novel. And here we have a character who undermines that perception of herself. It’s a very quiet scene, it’s just two characters talking in a carriage. But suddenly, we have romantic peril. And we have the peril of the self, all happening in one scene. So, I like to use that idea as a way to show that tension doesn’t have to be loud.
Rachel Thompson: 08:42
I love what you say about how tension can be really quiet. And the examples you provided are so resonant and helpful. Thank you, Lacey. So, you’ve been helping writers in our community as well, one of the writers in the Whole Book course, and in our membership community, Miche Genest told me about how an exercise you taught her on expanding and compressing really helped her with revising her memoir. Can you tell us how you picked up this technique? Describe a bit about how it works and how you applied it to your writing and revision?
Lacey Yong: 09:16
Yeah, so this technique is something I learned from Susan Forest, who’s a wonderful sci-fi fantasy author and teacher at the Alexandra Writing Centre, which is the local Writing Centre in Calgary. The way I think about expansion, and compression is really a way of thinking about seeing or showing versus telling. I think, as authors, we get pulled to show all the time and tell but the terms end up getting used so much that we lose track of what it actually means. So, expansion and compression are a different way of thinking about that.
Expansion simply means expanding the time that you’re taking to depict a particular scene. If you think about it, in like cinematic or television terms, it’s that moment, in a sports game where suddenly everything slows down, and you have the commentator analyzing each and every little detail and speculation about how the person must have been feeling in that moment. That’s kind of what you want to do when you’re expanding time. Some hallmarks of expanded time are like dialogue, you’re going to have internal thoughts, you’re going to be writing with all five senses, you’re going to be showing the character might be sweating, their heart might be pounding, all these things, you really want to linger in those details. And you use expanded time for critical moments of change in your manuscript.
Change can be, the character meeting the love of their life, or the character meeting the main protagonist, there could be a moment of emotional revelation, or even a physical revelation, if it’s a murder mystery, maybe they find a clue, a critical clue that’s going to help them solve the mystery. So, these really important earning points in your manuscript is when you want to use exploded time.
Compression is exactly what it sounds like. It’s sort of sped up time. So, I like to think of, in Lord of the Rings, you have the Council of Elrond, where Frodo and the fellowship are formed. And then you have a moment where they go off into the distance, and you see them all and they’re sort of traversing through various settings. And that kind of like montage is compressed time, nothing has really changed with your character in those moments. Things are kind of at a stasis, they’re still doing stuff. The fellowship is still going to Mordor. But nothing really has changed yet, the bonds haven’t been tested, Frodo hasn’t been confronted with any more conflicts since stepping up to become the bearer of the ring. So, it’s a way of connecting the more important exploded time scenes. They’re kind of like the connective tissue. That’s how I like to think of them. And you’ll often see them in books. It’s usually cued by the author going over the next few days,
“Maggie felt at a loss, she wandered through her day in a fog…”
So, that’s kind of how you know you’re in compressed time, and you need both to be able to tell a story effectively.
Rachel Thompson: 12:12
Thank you so much, Lacey. That’s really helpful. And such a good tip for writers. You have an agent now! Huge congratulations. Can you tell us about your agent and how you found them? Why you went the agent route? What was the search like? What did you learn along the way? I wanted to know all the answers for all the questions.
Lacey Yong: 12:31
I’m represented by the wonderful Michaela Wattnall of Dystel, Goderich and Bourret, which is a New York-based agency with agents hosted in LA. I guess I’ll start with why I decided I needed an agent to begin with, because I think that is a question that every writer has to ask themselves, when they come to the point where they want to start publishing their long form works. I decided to go for an agent because I knew that I wanted to try and be traditionally published, as opposed to self-published and traditionally published is the easiest way to think about it is, the books that you see in the bookstore, most if not all of them will be traditionally published. And that means published by usually the big five publishers that are based in New York City. And there are pros and cons with going either the traditional publishing route or the self-publishing route. But for me, I sort of had a sense that my novel Dauntless was commercial enough to fit into the traditional publishing market. And so that’s why I wanted to go that route first. But of course, to be traditionally published, you need an agent, because the publishers do not accept manuscripts submitted by authors themselves.
So, I decided,
“Okay, I need an agent, now what?”
So, what I ended up doing was, after educating myself, there are tons and tons of classes and resources online, telling you about how to go about finding an agent, it sorts of came down to three elements that I sort of needed to perfect in order to reach that stage. And that is having a really great query letter, doing my research as to which agent would be a good fit, and creating a submission system for myself, when I was sending my queries to these agents, each of these things can be topics of their own. But after crafting my query letter, I dove into the research and the way I found my agent was just by picking up books from my shelf, looking at where my novel might fit on the shelf. And looking at the back because in the acknowledgments’ pages, authors will always thank their agent, as they should. So, I was able to just by looking at the books that I aspired to be published next to I was able to compile a preliminary list of agents that I wanted to talk to. Then after that, I expanded my search further, there are a number of tools on the internet that can help you.
QueryTracker is a really great place to research agents, you can sort according to your genre, as well, just looking at agency websites. So, you’ll have a particular agent mind, but you go to their website, and you will find that they’ll have other colleagues as well who will represent your genre, and that is a really great place to continue doing research.
Manuscript Wishlist is also a really fabulous resource, because there’s kind of two components to it. So, an agent on their website will say, I’m looking for this kind of work. So that’s a really good way of finding out if your work is a good fit for them. Also, if you happen to be on Twitter, there’s hashtag #MSWishList, which you can search through and find agents that way who might be a good fit. So, my agent, Michaela, actually did make it onto my list of agents to Query. But I did something different, and it was kind of serendipitous. So, before I sent out my query letter, I signed up for a service with Manuscript Academy, where you could have a 10 minute consultation with an agent about your query letter. The reason I did this was because I wanted to make sure my query letter was as strong as possible before I submitted it.
The agent I chose for this consultation, her name is Amy Elizabeth Bishop. And she is another agent that Dystel and the way I found her was by picking up one of my favorite authors June Hur who writes historical mystery set in Joseon, Korea. She is that agent, so I thought,
“Okay, my novel is historically inspired, this might be a good fit.”
So, I went into the call, and we sat down, I was prepared to take notes on my query letter. And she said to me, ‘Lacey, this is really strong, I have no notes for your query letter. But what I do have is someone who would be really interested in this story, and that is my colleague, Michaela Whatnall’. She said, if, when it comes time for you to query, you’d be interested in query my colleagues, they would love that. So, as it happens, Michaela was already on my list. But that recommendation just bumped them to the top of my list. And they were the first agent, I queried. And they are the agent I signed with.
There were a few steps along the way, though, I did query them. First, I did also query other agents, because you want to make sure you’re giving your book the best chance of being put in front of other agents to be considered. But I guess Long story short, I sent my query in May of 2022. I got a response from Michaela, Mike in July, requesting a call, I got on the call with them. They said, love your book. But there are a few things that I would like to see ironed out. On this call is what’s known as a revise and resubmit. So, it’s not an offer, but it is a chance to rework your novel for reconsideration. They gave me their notes, I spent another four months revising the novel, sent it back to them in November of 2022. And then nine days later, I got the call for an offer of representation.
That is how I found my agent. I’m glad we’re talking about it, because I think it’s an element of the agent query process that gets mentioned but doesn’t get talked about because it’s not as glamorous as getting that agent offer right away. So, I was very fortunate because when Mike gave me there, revise and resubmit notes, they were so comprehensive, we sat on the call for probably an hour and a half. And they gave me sort of three big pieces. One of them was the inclusion of a new subplot, another piece was revising the entire manuscript to get it as close as possible, so the protagonists voice, and internal thoughts as I could, and because their directions were so clear, and most importantly, they match my vision for the novel. I was excited, I wasn’t scared. In fact, I was really thrilled to have somebody to speak to about my novel, who understood what I was trying to do, and he knew how to help me make it better. It has to be said that a revise and resubmit is no guarantee of an offer. So, many authors have done revise, and resubmit, submitted their manuscript and still received no. So, it was never going to be a guarantee. But the way I decided, was I asked myself, are these notes going to make the novel better? Even if I don’t receive an offer? And if the answer is yes, which of course it was, then for me that was absolutely worth doing and dedicating another four months of my life to executing those changes.
The process was difficult because at the time, my son was two months old. I was writing these revisions at my standing desk with him in the rap against my chest, doing these revisions, and that’s not easy, but I think I was so energized by the notes that I was given and confident in my ability to execute them to at least a level that I would be okay with, even if you objectively it wasn’t good enough, but at least to a level that I was confident about that, I just ended up plowing through them. I created a revision plan for myself. And I did it in stages as anything, you have to break it down. So, I sat down, I plotted out a new subplot, I looked through my manuscript found places where I could insert that new subplot in and tie it all in together. Once that was done, that was the biggest piece.
At the time, when I started revising, I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll do a pass for the subplot. And I’ll do another pass for the voice’. But what I discovered is these two things are so closely interlinked, that as I was going through the manuscript to insert the new subplot, I found myself just revising the voice as I went. And I think it worked really well, because once you sort of figure it out, the subplot was the father subplot, which is a key to my main character, sort of emotional journey. So, once that piece was in place, it made it a lot easier to find her voice in the novel. That is a big lesson that I learned during revision is that usually the solution to one problem is found in the solution to another problem, they’re all sort of interconnected, it can be hard to separate them out. But that’s okay. Sometimes actually, it’s just better to integrate it together.
In terms of whether I used expansion, or compression, I think that was already in place from the early drafts that I had written. So, I didn’t have to do too much of that. It really was just in relation to the subplot. I already knew they were going to be big turning points. So, I knew that I had to spend some time in those scenes and really flush them out.
Rachel Thompson: 21:34
Thank you, Lacey, for really pulling the curtain back and showing us what happens behind the scenes, and how a no can turn into a yes with an agent. That is really helpful and heartening for so many writers.
I’m interrupting these words of wisdom from my guest, Lacey Yong, who is a member of the Writerly Love community. Again, I’m just so proud of that. And I’m proud of all of our members who support each other with care, compassion, who go their own way as well to provide great examples of agency and working on writing in their own time and in their own way.
I would love to invite you to hone your craft and connect with these luminous creative writers in the Writerly Love community. This is my inclusive and supportive membership community, for creative writers to get together and learn about everything from writing craft and getting published to building a platform and sustaining themselves as writers. It is a place to grow a luminous writing career with a community of brilliant peers. If you’re ready to learn and grow, I’d love to have you join the Writerly Love membership community.
I offer a sliding scale pricing model; I don’t think many people offer that in this particular field. So, I’m also really proud of being able to offer that opportunity. And I tried to do that to make it as accessible to as many writers as possible.
You can learn more and sign up at rachelthompson.co/join.
Can you share any tips you might have for writers who are looking for an agent? What is the most important thing they should know before setting out? Maybe even how do they answer the question whether they should set out on that path?
Lacey Yong: 23:17
I thought long and hard about this question. And I think the most important thing that writers need to know when they’re setting out for an agent search is that it’s important to protect your heart when you’re doing it because this is a really tough, long process. And I don’t think many writers, and I have to convince myself as well until I started this, realize that getting the agent is just the first step. I think there’s this perception that when you get the agent is like first off agent, next off New York Times bestseller. That is not at all, how it works.
I think part of protecting your heart is doing the research to know what the process is like so that you can manage your own expectations. So, in relation to the agent search, for example, like it’s not uncommon for authors to send out 100 queries before an agent makes an offer. So, if you know that you can set up your submission system in a way that will protect yourself. What I mean by that is you can decide,
“Okay, I’m only going to query 60 agents before I give up on this project and move on.”
I think just having that number and mind is important, because then you’re not going, ‘should I continue? Should I stop? Or should I be with this project’, you’ve kind of already drawn a line in the sand. So for me, I said to myself, I’m going to query 80 agents, because probably by that time by that number, I will have gone through all the agents that I really would like to work with and I would be scraping the bottom of the barrel to try and find somebody who would want this project. So, I set myself a goal of 80 agents. Now, I was very fortunate. I didn’t even get anywhere near that number before I got an offer, but it’s not uncommon to go through many, many rounds of querying before you get an offer. So, just knowing that and then taking your power back by saying, ‘I’ve only got a query, this number is really important’, I think. Then also having an actionable plan on how you’re going to query. So, for me, I said, I’m going to query kind of 10 agents in each batch. Then I’m good to see what their responses are, you don’t just want to send out like 100 queries all at once. Because A, it’s too hard to manage and B, you’re not giving yourself the chance to make any changes, if your query letters not working, if your first pages are not working. So, having a kind of plan is really important to protecting yourself and taking a lot of the heartache out of the clearing process. It’s still going to be hard, because you have spent years of your life working on this thing, and you’re putting it out there. And that’s just part of the process, and you just kind of have to work through it. But there are ways to somehow take the edge off of it.
Then of course, once you get the agent, celebrating it, is really important, which I think, in my rush to work on the novel more, I don’t know if I really took it in as much as I could have. So, celebrating it. Then also realizing, again, that you are going to have to do major revisions, once you have partnered with an agent, and just that knowledge is going to help you manage your expectations. The reason I say that is because I know that I’ve had some writer friends who said, ‘Oh, but you really did the revise and resubmit, surely that’s enough’. But it isn’t. And you have to prepare yourself, because every agent is editorial. Now the extent to which the editorial is going to depend on their personal taste and style. But they’re all going to have stuff that they want you to go in and try and make better and fix because the goal is to make your novel rejection free when it comes time to send it to the publishing houses. Just being prepared to do that work is really important. Then knowing that even if you land a book deal, you’re going to have to go through the revision process, again, with the editor, the publishing house, knowing that I think will help manage the impatience that can come with the process, and it’s something I have to do myself constantly. Right now, I just got my notes back from my agent. So, I will be embarking on my second round of revisions with them since signing with them in December, that’s just part of the game, and you just have to get used to it. And it’s just an important reminder that it all just comes back down to the work and the craft. So, that’s the way it is.
Rachel Thompson: 27:32
We really value what you say about protecting your heart, Lacey. And also, I’m just really thrilled for you that you have this beautiful relationship with a really, a champion for your writing with Michaela. That’s really cool.
As you know, our theme in the Writerly Love community at present is agency. And we’re taking it both in terms of finding an agent as you have, but also more conceptually in terms of intentionality and self-knowledge and reflection. So, what does agency mean to you, Lacey?
Lacey Yong: 28:04
Agency, to me means having the freedom to explore the creative life, which can look different depending on what stage you are in your life, in your career and what’s happening. But just having the time and the support to be able to do that is so freeing and so empowering. For that you need the support of other people, you need the support of community, hopefully your family can provide that. I’m very lucky, because I do have a husband and a mom who believe in what I’m doing. Those are all, I think critical pieces to having that agency. But of course, if you don’t have it, and it is something you want to pursue, then it’s about trying to find ways to create that space so that you have the power to explore your creative limits.
Rachel Thompson: 28:50
When have you felt the most agency in your life, in writing life and the least? And why?
Lacey Yong: 28:56
Obviously, querying can feel like a really disempowering process because it can feel like you’re going around begging people to get this manuscript. But I think like rejection, every sort of rejection that you receive when you’re queering is an opportunity to make a connection. Even though it’s a no, you’ve reached out and you’ve contacted this person, and they have considered your work, that’s a huge thing. That if you receive a personalized rejection that’s even bigger. Just trying to reframe thoughts about that is really helpful, as difficult as it is, as well, when I became a mother, I was so afraid. I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, like how am I going to do this? I don’t have time because I have this child to take care of now’. I mean, it’s true, like children are the most wonderful time sucker in the world, but it’s a double edged sword like on one hand, yeah, but on the other hand, because I am on leave to be able to take care of my child I actually have time to do all these things in relation to the novel which I might not otherwise have. So, I think actually, you’re more empowered than you think you are, and the circumstances are actually more favorable than you might otherwise think. So, just trying to sort of work within those boundaries is necessary and crucial to keeping that fire going.
Rachel Thompson: 30:20
Yeah, I love what you say about becoming a parent and the double-edged sword of that, I feel that sword myself on the daily. I’m curious, this question actually comes from our producer Meli, what will you tell your son about this time in your life?
Lacey Yong: 30:33
I think I will tell them that he was my lucky star, because if he hadn’t come into my life, I wouldn’t have had the time and the space to think about this project. They both came into my life at the appropriate time, and I sent my last query 24 hours before I gave birth to my son. So, to me, they’re the two major projects of my life, and they both came in at the same time. I’m just very grateful that they did. So, I think that’s what I will tell him.
Rachel Thompson: 31:09
I love that about him being your lucky star. That’s really beautiful. So, this is a little tangential to agency, but it does come down to intentionally choosing how you spend your writing time. I know you write in many genres; I’ve seen your work in many genres, and you shine in all of them. Many writers asked me about focus and whether they should focus on one project or genre at a time. So, I’m pulling writers, and I’m wondering, what’s your philosophy on this? And how have you applied it successfully or otherwise?
Lacey Yong: 31:41
I love writing in different genres because they test me in different ways. For me, I started writing a nonfiction first, because that felt a little more accessible. I was starting the very early draft of my novel at the time that I started writing nonfiction. But for me, nonfiction felt like a way to establish my own voice, learn different skills and techniques while I was crafting my novel. So, for me, it didn’t feel like they were at odds with each other. In fact, they complemented each other really beautifully. Many of the techniques that I learned through submitting my nonfiction, like through Lit Mag Love, I later went on to apply to the querying process for my novel.
If you have the ability to write in different genres, at the same time, I’d say go for it. At the moment, I am pivoting, so now I’m obviously switching, spending all of my time focusing on fiction. For me that strategic because I want to make a career of writing commercial novels for young adults and possibly adults in the future. As I’ve established, I have limited time now. So, I have to pick and choose where I’m going to spend my attention. And that’s where I’m focusing at the moment. As well, I mean, creatively, I like the challenge of being able to explore the themes that are explored in my nonfiction, but in a much more commercial way. I love all the stuff that you get in like genre fiction, like in romance novels, trying to force proximity, or like grumpy sunshine tropes, or like great big action scenes, I love all that stuff. So, for me trying to take that stuff and marry it with the kind of deeper themes of identity and family, which you find in my nonfiction, to me, that is a really fun challenge. So that’s where I like to spend my time. But I think, for anybody who’s writing in different genres, you learn lessons that you can apply to all areas of your writing. So, if you have the luxury to do that, then absolutely, why not?
Rachel Thompson: 33:37
I love hearing about how you’re testing yourself with all these different genres. Just hear these love for all this good, various writing comes through, and I really appreciate it. Thank you for sharing your care and your brilliance with us Lacey, and for propping up our writing community. I have a final round where I’d like you to finish the sentences for us, please.
Being a writer is —–
Lacey Yong: 34:05
Rachel Thompson: 34:06
Rejection for a writer means —–
Lacey Yong: 34:09
Rachel Thompson: 34:10
Writing community is —–
Lacey Yong: 34:13
Everything. Absolutely, everything.
Rachel Thompson: 34:16
Thank you so much, Lacey.
Lacey Yong: 34:17
Rachel Thompson: 34:19
The Writerly Love community is my warm membership community for creative writers to get together and learn about everything from writing craft and getting published to building a platform and sustaining yourself as a writer. If you’re ready to learn and grow, I’d love to have you join us.
Learn more and sign up at rachelthompson.co/join.
So, that is the luminous Lacey Yong member in our Writerly Love community, I’m keep saying that because I’m really proud to say. I’m proud of her and the work that she’s done to bring her YA novel to an agent and to life in the future to publication. She’s on that path and just working diligently but also doing it in her own way. I love her advice about protecting your heart and being able to really navigate this world with as much agency as possible. I love all of her enthusiasm about writing too. I just really appreciate that she spent the time with us and shares so lovingly with our community members, both behind the scenes and then now publicly in this podcast. Thank you so much, Lacey.
The Write, Publish and Shine podcast is brought to you by me, Rachel Thompson and my co-producer for this episode is Meli Walker. Thank you Meli for bringing the questions to Lacey Yong and doing the recording with her. I really appreciate it. Sound editing is done by Adam Linder of the spoken podcasting. All of our episodes have transcripts, and these are done diligently by Diya Jaffery. Thank you, Diya.
You can learn more about the work I do to help writers write, publish and shine at rachelthompson.co. When you’re there, sign up for my Writerly Love letters sent every week with some needed necessary mental health breaks thrown in and some holidays, but mostly every week with support for your writing practice.
If this episode encouraged you to write in multiple genres without a care in the world, I’d love to hear about it if it encouraged you to choose your own path and write with agency to choose a writing life that has a lot of agency and intentionality, or to choose to find an agent who inspired by Lacey’s story, I would love to hear about it. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell other luminous writers about this episode please. That’s how most writers find us is by word of mouth and I really appreciate the word of mouth that’s going around. We have a lot of listeners out there and I just really appreciate that other writers have brought other writers to us. So, you can do this by sending them to the podcast at rachelthompson.co/podcast or ask them to search for write, publish and shine wherever they get their podcasts.
Thank you for listening, I encourage you to follow your own instincts and intentionality go forth and write with agency. Here is Lacey Yong with a territorial acknowledgement of the place that she is writing and working from.
Lacey Yong: 37:23
I’m recording from Treaty 7 territory and the territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy. So, Calgary, Alberta.
Rachel Thompson: 37:30
Here is my co-producer Meli Walker, also with a territorial acknowledgement.
Meli Walker: 37:35
This is Meli Walker recording from unceded W̱SÁNEĆ (wah-SAY—netch) territories.
Rachel Thompson: 37:40
And I am a guest in the South Sinai, Egypt, on the lands of the el Muzzina Bedouin.