Queen of Buts, Dethroned

If the title of this blog pulled you in, then it might possibly mean that I’m getting better at titles. Or worse. But we’ll go with better.

You know that thing where you start a sentence and delete it and start it again because it just isn’t quite right, and then delete it again and the cycle just keeps going until you’ve completely forgotten how to word? That’s been this post for me. Mostly because it’s such an important post, but one that I simply can’t find adequate words for. I’ll give it my best shot though. Here goes.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you realize that I pretty much live and breathe books and writing. Seriously, any length of time. You could have stumbled on this page because you were looking up “buts” (check your spelling), and just by the header could see that writing is very important to me.

When I was younger, I enjoyed writing. BUT how could I possibly make a career out of it? I took the “safe” route, or as safe as majoring in psychology and going into social services can be. Even after grad school, I was full of reasons why, much as I enjoyed it, writing would always be a hobby and nothing more.

A few years ago, at my church, I met an amazing woman, Jenny Moyer, who really planted the seed that got my writing to grow again. She was chasing her own publishing dream (which she also reached!), and I was inspired by her. She is also the one who got me on Twitter and introduced me to the world of publishing. She’s been my guide, my sensei through this entire process.

After A LOT of rejection, I learned to close myself off from the emotion of trying to get an agent and get published. All the emotions for writing, none for actually sending work into the world. I mean, sure, I wrote a book, several, in fact, BUT that didn’t mean that anyone would be interested. And when there was interest, that was great, BUT it didn’t mean I would ever get an agent.

And then I did. I signed with Sharon Pelletier of Dystel & Goderich and I’ve never looked back. Best decision ever.


Getting an agent is not guarantee of a book deal. It helps, sure, and I knew Sharon would work hard to get my book into the right hands, BUT there are no guarantees.

The week after my book went on submission, I talked to some fantastic editors. Some of my favorite conversations ever. BUT, a good conversation is still no guarantee.

This was my mindset. This was my expectation, though of course, I remained cautiously optimistic.

Then that Friday came, and with it a voicemail from Sharon. “Call me as soon as you can, I have an update.” An offer! A great offer from a great publisher! I had to rush to a meeting right after that phone call, but basically I was useless. After the meeting I sat in my office alternating between tearing up and maniacal laughter.

I was out of BUTS.

It was happening. The entire day was a whirlwind, many phone calls, because that first offer wasn’t the only one. I know I did some therapy sessions that day, but I’m not entirely sure I was at all helpful to those kiddos. Sorry, short ones!

Last week, I was finally able to share this with the world:

Book deal announcement

If you can’t read it, this is what it says:
Rena Olsen’s THE GIRL BEFORE, about a young woman who begins to see through the lies about the family that raised her and realizes she must question everything she knows about her past and decide whether to protect the man she loves or to face the secrets he’s been keeping, to Liz Stein at Putnam, in a two-book deal, by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World).

That’s right. My book is going to be a THING and it’s going to be published by PUTNAM. Even as I type this I can hardly believe it. I am so incredibly excited to work with Liz Stein. I spoke with her on my birthday (a good omen, I think!) and she just gets the book, all parts of it, and had some fantastic ideas to go even deeper into the story. By the time it gets to you…oh I just cannot wait. It’s going to be so good, you guys.

If you take nothing else from this, remember that no matter what your dream, never let the BUTs get in your way. Big buts, small buts, bump ’em out of the way and keep moving forward. You can do the thing.


More details on MY thing will be coming over the next few months, but for now I want to say thank you to a few people who got me to this place. My acknowledgements are a long way off, so bear with me 🙂 First thank you to my parents, who have always believed in me, always pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone, and allowed me to be me. My mom especially for reading this book multiple times, once in just a day, and for fielding the many many neurotic and sometimes tearful phone calls through the years without ever changing her phone number. And my dad for telling me repeatedly that I would do great things, and for offering to get a tattoo with me when I got a book deal. Better get to picking one, sir! The rest of my family as well, my sister for being my super stalker and keeping an eye on things, my brother-in-law for reminding me regularly that I do work hard and deserve good things, my brother for always giving me new material to be inspired by, my sister-in-law for being the first of my siblings to actually read my book, and for always being interested in what was going on in writing world.  To all of you for every kind and supportive comment. Each one means more than you’ll ever know.

My agent, Sharon, has been a dream. I thank my lucky stars that she starred my pitch in a Twitter contest and took a chance on my book. She’s a rockstar, and I’m so blessed to have her as my partner in this crazy adventure.

Of course, as I mentioned above, thanks to Jenny Moyer for leading me through this crazy maze. For many lunches, both to commiserate and celebrate, I know there will be many more. To Andrea, who has been with me from the beginning, my Alpha Gal, who knew long before I did that this would be a reality someday. And Kari, Beta Babe extraordinaire, who has read everything I’ve written (except my first novel, which I won’t let her read), a feat only accomplished by one other person, and that person birthed me (HI MOM!)

Thanks to the writing community, to Ami, who helped keep me sane through this process as a veteran herself. Tana and Margie, my first partners in crime on Twitter, I can’t imagine doing life without you guys. To Jamie and Sarah, who hung out with me in the virtual Clubhouse for hours and hours talking writing, books, life, and snacks. To Kathy, who can always put a smile on my face with a well-timed picture or gif. And Kris, the best postboy there ever was.

I wish I had time to list everyone in the Twitter writing community who has made a difference, but that includes pretty much everyone in my followers and following list. And anyone reading this who doesn’t fall into the above category. You’re all amazing.

This is the point where the music would start playing at an awards show, and I totally get that pressure now, even if the music is only playing in my head.

Most importantly, I thank God for putting this story in my brain, the talent in my fingers, and the people in my life that brought me to this point. I have been unbelievably blessed, and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me next.

The Queen of Buts has been dethroned. Thank God.

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5 Responses to Queen of Buts, Dethroned

  1. Kathy Palm says:

    You’re awesome. I am thankful that I know you. You make life better and I CAN’T WAIT TO OWN YOUR BOOK! (and I will drive all the way to you so you can sign it) ❤

  2. kristamcl says:

    So much awesome! 🙂 I love you, Rena and I’m so happy for you! This is definitely a moment you deserve and I’m so excited for you! 🙂 I can’t wait to read your book someday!

  3. Andrea says:

    Amen INDEED. . .it’s about time she got dethroned. . .and don’t you worry I won’t let her get back on that throne EVER LOL 😀

  4. Kris Holt says:


  5. Pingback: A very special AGENTVERSARY! | Rena Olsen

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