The idea came to her when she was only 11 years old: A teenage girl accidentally time travels to solve a murder. Though she may not have realized it at the time, this was the inception of Reckonings, a young adult novel by author Kourtney Heintz.
Heintz and her best friend shaped this intriguing concept a bit further, sketching an outline and character descriptions, but that’s as far as it went.
She didn’t return to the idea until 2006, when she was mourning the end of the Harry Potter series. Now in her late 20s, Heintz realized if she wrote her own book, the characters she loved would always be with her.
Over the next six months, Heintz wrote the sprawling, 123,000-word first draft of Reckonings. She submitted the manuscript after a couple rounds of revisions, only to receive form rejection letters. Setting the work aside, she started writing the next book in the series.
It wasn’t until 2009 that Heintz began to think of herself as a serious writer, reading agent blogs, attending conferences, and truly learning the craft.
She continued sending out the novel in batches of 10. After receiving 30-50 rejections, she’d search for the common threads in the feedback, allow a period of weeks or months to process the comments, then revise.
It’s this valuable feedback that propelled her forward. Says Heintz:
“The personalized rejections can be painful, but they are godsends. It means you are on the right track and almost there. The agent/editor took the time to tell you what wasn’t working, which means they saw something in your work that merited a personal response.”
Heintz revised the manuscript at least 15 times over the years, and received an estimated 230 rejections. At several points she put the work away and turned to new projects.
But she viewed the time away from the novel as a sabbatical, rather than an abandonment. Time and distance were key to improving her craft and determining the solutions to Reckonings‘ problems.
The call from a Harlequin editor finally came in the spring of 2013. Consumed with the launch of her self-published novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, an offer on Reckonings was the last thing on Heintz’s mind.
The excitement and disbelief were overwhelming. She recounts: “I had to take notes to keep myself grounded. Otherwise, I’d have squealed like a little girl and been incoherent.”
You can read her description of “getting the call” here!
Heintz secured an agent, who is negotiating the contract. Once it’s finalized, she’ll begin the editor’s revisions. She hopes for a long-awaited release in 2-3 years’ time.
In the meantime, Kourtney Heintz will be promoting The Six Train to Wisconsin and turning toward her next project.
Her inspiring story is yet another on the importance of hard work, perseverance, and never giving up.
Buy The Six Train to Wisconsin, an adult speculative fiction novel, and 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel semi-finalist
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