TATTF: A Journey in Karmic Coincidence

Before we begin, don’t forget to add your creative juices to the Renaming “Trevor & the Tooth Fairy” Title Contest–you can win fun prizes!

Okay, on with the show…

Some of you know this story. For those who do not, here’s the true tale.

Once upon a time, there was an author–let’s call her “Erica”–who loved to procrastinate by surfing the Internet. One of her favorite sites to hit was Miss Snark’s blog because it was entertaining and educational, which meant Erica could rationalize the hours spent there as “productive” writerly time. Ahem.

From time to time, the anonymous agent Miss Snark would run feedback series called “Crapometers”, in which X number of readers would email her something specific, such as a story synopsis, for her to publicly snark on her blog.

These pithy flayings were hugely entertaining, and Erica cursed herself every time she missed one. (Then, as now, she tended to visit her blog roll in spurts, and the open window for submissions tended to be just a few hours long.)

In December of 2006, Miss Snark held the Happy Hooker Crapometer and dared her readers to try and hook the notoriously snarky, unhookable agent.

Erica thought that was a pretty good plan.

Unfortunately, Erica did not have a hook, because she did not have a WIP. (Because she’d been too busy procrastinating instead of writing–see paragraph #1.)

Not one to let opportunity pass her by if she could help it, Erica decided to invent a hook off the top of her head. After all, she was sitting at a departure gate in the Tampa Airport with nothing better to do while waiting for her flight to roll in.

What would make a good hook? Well, conflict makes a good hook, right? The Sesame Street skit “Fred Takes a Drink of Water” is hilarious because of its tongue-in-cheek conflictlessness, sure. But Miss Snark is more discriminating than that.

So, Erica kept in mind the old conflict adage about the fireman and the arsonist (aka, pit your hero and heroine against each other) and tried to dream up character types with inherent conflict.

Some people might’ve thought of the determined bachelor and the woman set on marrying him (possibly with a secret baby in her arsenal), or the hardened detective and the waiflike victim he must protect from the vicious killer at all costs, or the virile vampire and the ivory-skinned mortal who cannot help but succumb to his thrall.

Not Erica. She thought of the tooth fairy.

Now, some people might think the tooth fairy has no natural enemies with whom to have inherent conflict. If so, you’re not using your imagination! Erica decided to invent some antagonists.

It made no sense for a small child to fight for her tooth rather than take a shiny silver dollar, so Erica pitted the hapless tooth fairy against an archeologist who needs to hold onto the skeleton tooth he’s just found, in order to keep his job. And then, just for fun, gave the poor apprentice tooth fairy (we can’t have her being an omnipotent, uber tooth fairy!) a villain working behind the scenes to help bring her down.

Thus satisfied, Erica zipped off an email with her 250 word hook to the venerable Miss Snark and headed off to her family’s annual early Christmas a thousand miles away.

Much to her surprise, when she finally got around to checking her email again, there was a message from Miss Snark. The message said that the hook was good and funny. Erica had passed into the second (and final) round, and should please send the first five pages.

Five pages? Of a story she’d made up in an airport terminal? Crap!

Erica did what any self-respecting procrastinator would do–she waited around until it was almost too late to send anything in at all. During this waiting-around period, she read the submissions of the few people whose hooks Miss Snark had actually liked, and winced in sympathy at the brutal snarking most of them achieved.

She even checked with a few of her friends and chaptermates to get their opinion on the situation. Virtually all said something along the lines of, “Wow, I can’t believe you hooked Miss Snark! But a tooth fairy? Are you serious? No way can you make a full length adult romance out of that.”

But, not wishing for opportunity to pass her by, Erica spent the hours before a different return flight knocking out five pages. Okay, six. Which she then trimmed down to five. Or closer to four and a half.

In any case, Miss Snark posted the excerpt (ha! she thought it was the excerpt, but it was the entire manuscript! bet I was the only one who got my entire manuscript posted!) and wonder of wonders… actually liked it!

Erica thought to herself, “Well, if Miss Snark thinks it’s got potential–and she’s not only a stiletto-wearing crotchety gin addict, she doesn’t even represent romance–it can’t be that stupid of an idea.”

And so she sat down and wrote.

Between January 15 and March 6, 2007, she knocked out 99,936 words. As soon as she was done with that, she cleaned up the partial (with the help of her CPs) and started querying agents. While waiting to hear back from the dozen or so agents, she entered a couple contests and managed to triple-final in one of them (no word yet on the other). She sent all the agents who’d requested material a nice email mentioning said triple-final and waited some more. And then in July of 2007, one of the interested agents said she loved Trevor & the Tooth Fairy and offered representation.

Now Erica just received her very first revision letter and is busy polishing up the story so her agent can send it on its merry way to NYC.

Whether or not this is the book that makes that first sale, the whole experience has been amazing, emotional (lots of interest, rejections, and waiting!), and self-affirming.

*raises glass*

To tooth fairies… and Miss Snark! =)

YOUR TURN: If this is the first time you heard the tale of how TATTF came to be, what do you think? (Well, you can tell me even if you already knew about it. *g) I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions about any step of the process along the way–just ask! (Oh, and please suggest some new title possibilities!)

36 comments

  1. The Anti-Wife - Reply

    This is fabulous. I loved Miss Snark and really miss her. How exciting to be in the revision process. That means you’re on your way to publication!! WooHoo!!

  2. Miss Snark - Reply

    well, as long as you’re thinking of titles how about “Miss Snark Loved This..and Killer Yapp Too”.

    This really makes me miss the blog.
    I look forward to hearing about the “toothsome” deal on publishers lunch.

  3. ERiCA - Reply

    Anti-Wife: Thanks so much! For once, I’m actually looking forward to the revision process. =)

    Miss Snark: Hi! So glad to see you’re still around the blogosphere! Your snarklings miss you terribly. Thanks so much for all of your encouragement, to me personally and to all the aspiring authors out there. Obviously you made a huge difference in my life! (And hi to KY!)

  4. MerylF - Reply

    Go girl!

    And in other news, my prize turned up in the mail today. Hubby wandered in and said, “Who do you know in Tampa Bay, Florida?” I said Where? And then it clicked. Woo! Thanks Erica 😀

  5. Maggie Robinson - Reply

    Oh. I miss, miss, miss Miss Snark. And I see she’s as snarky as ever! Erica, three months? I am sick with jealousy. But I’m pretty sure it’s all going to happen for you! 🙂

  6. lacey kaye - Reply

    I *never* get tired of hearing The Birth of a Tooth Fairy Novel.

    *waves to miss snark*

  7. Kristin B - Reply

    Wow. That is really quite the tale! I truly love when there’s a fascinating backstory behind a novel’s creation, and I think yours takes the cake.

    I was in that same Crapometer, too. She didn’t comment much on my entry, and I didn’t make it past the first round, but, as was always the case with the late, great Snark, every word helped.

    *sigh*. We miss you, MS & KY!

  8. Carrie - Reply

    I love this story – can’t hear it enough!

    And a visit from Miss Snark! Makes me all giddy and happy to see that she’s still out there pulling for you! Boy do I miss her!!

    I had a ton of title thoughts for you, but they were all on the edge of sleep and now I’ve forgotten them all…

  9. Katie Alender - Reply

    Swoon! You got a comment out of Miss Snark. I would sooner expect the Tooth Fairy!

    What a fun story behind your story. By the way, has anyone suggested “Tooth or Conseuqences”?

    I’ll seriously stop now.

  10. Bill Clark - Reply

    Very entertaining! As I’ve said before, this fabulous backstory is sure to become part of the legend of the once (and perhaps future) TATTF.

    (Which is much easier to type than TMFKATATTF, being only half as long.)

    Great post! The definitive version of How Erica Came to Write the Very First Adult Fairy Tale Romance Novel.

    This book is going to be such a fabulous success that I get shivers just thinking about it!!

  11. Worderella - Reply

    That’s amazing! What an awesome story. Your determination and spunk really inspires me to keep going. I’m looking forward to seeing your book at my next trip to B&N!

    Miss Snark: We love you and we miss you. 🙂

  12. Tammie - Reply

    I love this story!

    And a wild wave to Miss Snark, I gasped when I read her name here in the comments section.

    I love it when things seem to have a touch of magic behind them.

  13. sylvia - Reply

    Oh my god, that’s hysterical! I remember the tooth fairy hook, how panicked you must have been. A good way to get past procrastination, though!

  14. patrick - Reply

    What a great story (just the how it happened, not to mention the novel). Congratulations! (And a visit from Miss Snark, too. Very impressive.)

  15. ERiCA - Reply

    Meryl: Yay! So glad the prize arrived safe and sound! =)

    Maggie: Three months for the first draft. It then required additional attention, and I am currently starting page 1 again for the polishing phase. =)

    Lace: :-p

    Kristin: I agree–I often learned more from hearing what *didn’t* work than seeing what *did*. (Although seeing what did also helped!) Ah, Crapometer, how I miss thee…

    Carrie: So, are you and Lacey conspiring to subtly inform me I need new blog posting material?? *g

    Katie: LOL. The day’s not over yet! Perhaps the tooth fairy will show! (Or an apprentice tooth fairy. The tooth fairy herself may be too busy depositing boons beneath pillows.)

    Bill: Yay! Thanks for all your encouragement! =)

    Wonderella: From your mouth (fingers?) to the editors’ ears! I can only dream… *g

    Tammie: Thanks! I love a touch of magic, too. =)

    Sylvia: OMG, you don’t even know! It was a total, “Yay!! Oh, crap!” response. LOL. But it all worked out in the end!

    Patrick: Hey, thanks! And thanks for stopping by! =)

  16. Vicki - Reply

    I love this story. I knew you’d sent it to Miss Snark’s ‘crapometer’, but didn’t realize you actually started the book this way.

    Oh my, Miss Snark is here…how cool is that!! You are missed much in the blogsphere world. Thank you again, for leaving your blog up. We still need it. Tell Killer Yapp hello.

    Back to Erica – We all thought you were quite brave to send it in. Who knows, if you hadn’t been sitting at the airport, waiting on your plane, you might have missed it again. Look what the world would have missed.

    I never sent anything in to Miss Snark. Every time I checked it was over. Maybe I checked a bit late due to fear of what our beloved, gin drinking, wise, and stiletto heeled agent would say.

    I can’t wait till your first book signing and then I’ll have your book as a contest give away. Of course not the one you’ve signed to me.

  17. Darcy Burke - Reply

    I’ll never get tired of this story and its inspirationalness. (How’s that for a word?)

  18. Crabby McSlacker - Reply

    What a wonderful story! I too miss Miss Snark. Was always too chicken for the Crapometer but would spend all too many hours reading her blog. Seeing her pop up here missing her blog makes me wonder…

    Well, a Crab can dream.

    Good luck on the Tooth Fairy–I have a good feeling about it. Publishers will no doubt be chomping at the bit!

  19. David L. McAfee - Reply

    Wow.

    Gotta love this story. Miss Snark sure has had quite an influence on the writing world.

    No ideas on the title, sorry. I dunno much about the plot to make any suggestions (other than I kinda like Trevor and the Tooth fairy).

    Best O’ luck to ye, erica!

  20. Conda - Reply

    A great story–and I too miss Miss Snark–it amazes me how many times those stories of the manuscript that sells are almost inadvertent–like yours. Congratulations on being in the revision process!

  21. Josi - Reply

    that rocks–way to go Erica! One day you’ll be on the Today show with this story! Way to go, keep us updated.

  22. ERiCA - Reply

    Vicki: Sure missed you on Saturday–hope everything’s all right!!

    Crabby: I hear ya re: spending hours reading MS’s blog. She was my very favorite procrastination zone the entire time she was in business. =)

    David: Thanks for stopping by!

    Conda: You’re right–that’s a weird thing to think about, isn’t it? Almost like, “Try, but don’t try too hard or you’ll jinx yourself.” LOL

  23. BernardL - Reply

    Congratulations Erica, it’s a kick hearing how you beat the Crapometer. I hope you hit the Times Bestseller List with your off the cuff creation. I’ll have to start working on an outline for a rogue Easter Bunny manuscript. 🙂

  24. Anonymous - Reply

    I read about TATTF with mixed emotions (hence the goofy smile while tears gather in my tired olde eyes). I haven’t heard the story of TATTF’s birth before. Oh, my! (Pause for a giggly sob)Reason for my petite tristesse? I LOVE the name Trevor and the Tooth Fairy. And I loved (& miss) Miss Snark. So, I won’t be a party to a new name by suggesting anything. So there! Bon chance from across the Pond, Anne Crowder

  25. A Paperback Writer - Reply

    You can’t hear me right now, but I’m clapping for you.

  26. Kristen Painter - Reply

    Okay, it took me forever to get here, but I did. Great story (about the story)! I hope it sells super fast!

  27. MWT - Reply

    That’s totally awesome. I remember that tooth fairy hook too. Great story about the story behind the story. 🙂

  28. Isabel - Reply

    Beautiful and inspirational story, Erica. 🙂 I love this story. It makes for a perfect “behind the scenes” or “behind the book” story!

    I’m always sending good vibes your way!

  29. Nora - Reply

    Heh. That’s terrific – I actually considered doing the same (tossing together a hook with no novel behind it) and then discarded it as impossible.

    Good for you for actually making it, and congratulations!

  30. Jessica D. Russell - Reply

    That’s fantastic Erica! What an awesome story and I can’t IMAGINE your panic when it was time to send it in. LOL. Thanks for stopping by my blog. We’re all feeling better now. I appreciate the well wishes. I’ve checked with my chapter mates and they’ve got information for me. Thank you for the suggestion!

    Jessica

  31. ERiCA - Reply

    Josi: Man, wouldn’t that be cool?? =)

    Bernard: Bwa, love the Easter Bunny idea. Maybe for the sequel… 😉

    Anne: Awww! FWIW, I love the current title, too, but I realize all the reasons why it doesn’t work. The suggestions have been great so far–can’t believe the amazing number of ideas everyone’s come up with!

    Paperback Writer: Yay! You can’t see me right now, but I’m grinning back atcha! =)

    Kristen: Thanks! (and… me too! *g)

    MWT: Yay for remembering my hook! I never would’ve guessed so many people would remember. *head expands*

    Isabel: You’re the best! Thanks so much. =)

    Bonnie: Thanks!

    Nora: LOL. Never know unless you try, right? *g

    Jessica: Hey, no problem. I figure all us writers are in this thing together. And I know how disappointed I am whenever I have to miss a chapter meeting–so glad they found notes for you! =)

  32. caramaena - Reply

    You know, I read TATTF’s hook and pages on Miss Snark’s blog but never knew the back story. Pretty cool!

    Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

  33. Mary Witzl - Reply

    What a great story! This reaffirms my strong belief that life is what happens to us when we’re hot on the trail of other pursuits. And it gives me hope.

    I am coming to this late, being a fellow procrastinator, but I have two similar stories (not quite as good, but both remarkable in their own way) and some day I will share them!

  34. Anonymous - Reply

    Erica, the tooth fairy is such an original idea. You go for it. Your new website is great.
    Sandy

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Erica Ridley
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