My sister the secret rock star.

Necessary preface: this is a true story…and it just happened to me.

So, about eight weeks ago, my younger sister, Shelley, comes to me and says, “Hey, I wrote a book.”

(You may recognize Shelley’s name if you read The Duke of Shadows.  The book is dedicated to her for good reason.  She found the manuscript under a bed, where I’d abandoned it after numerous literary agents declined to represent it.  Having read and liked the book, Shelley convinced me to try again. She is the reason that I’m now a published author.)

I’d always known Shelley was a talented writer and an avid reader, but I had no idea that she’d been writing fiction, much less novel-length fiction. So here’s how our conversation went:

Me: “You’ve been writing?  Hey, that’s awesome!  I always said you should give it a go.”

My sister: “In fact, I’ve been writing for some time.  This is my…oh, seventh manuscript?”

Me: “What?!?”

My sister: “Yeah, I enjoy it.”

Me: “Um.  Okay, that’s awesome.  A bit…secretive, but purely awesome all the same.  So, what kind of book is it?”

My sister: “YA, set in the near future.”

Me (thinking myself witty): “Hmm, let me guess: it’s about a girl who meets and falls in love with a mysterious and slightly sadistic stranger in her chem/bio/gym class.”

My sister: “Wrong all around.  For one thing, the protagonist is a teenage guy.”

Me: “A guy?  Huh.”  (I think to myself: Bummer.  I prefer female protagonists.)  “Well, can I read it?”

My sister: “Sure!  Emailing it now.”

24 hours later…

Me (purely astonished): “Shel, this book is…amazing.  I mean… I’m kind of speechless.  It’s that good.  Totally intense, but also amazingly funny in parts.  I literally couldn’t put it down until I was finished reading it. It’s just…awesome.”

My sister: “Thanks!  Good to hear!”

Me: “What I’m saying is that this book could be published. You should be querying agents RIGHT NOW.  I could give you some tips—”

My sister:  “Oh, I already have an agent.”

Me:  “…What? You already have an agent?”

My sister: “Yep.  I queried a while back and [big fancy NY agent] liked it a lot.  He’s planning on submitting in January.”


My sister (no doubt blinking innocently):  “Well, I didn’t know if anything would come of it.  Still might go nowhere, you know?  Maybe just forget you read it.”


My sister: “Seriously, you never know.  Maybe nobody will want it.”

Six weeks pass

Me (unable to play it cool any longer): “Shel, any news from your agent?”

My sister: “Oh, yeah, nice news!”

Me (dying of excitement): “What kind of news?”

My sister:  “It just sold in a pre-empt for [a sum that my brain translates to a gazillion trillion dollars].”

Me (collecting jaw off floor): “…This means you’re buying me dinner from now on, right?  ’Cause I’m a starving student, you know.  You owe me dinners.  You owe me LOTS of dinners.”

My sister:  “Dude, WTF?  No way.  You’re the big sister!  You buy the dinners!”

Me: “You’re the super-secretive 007 writer whose book just got bought AS A PRE-EMPT about ten seconds after I found out that you’d started writing!”

My sister: “Okay, fine.  I’ll send you a Cliff bar in the mail.”

Here’s the text of the Publisher’s Weekly announcement that just appeared:

S.J. Kincaid’s INSIGNIA, in which a teenage video gamer becomes a government weapon in a futuristic world at war, to Molly O’Neill at Katherine Tegen Books, in a pre-empt, in a significant deal, in a three-book deal, by David Dunton at Harvey Klinger.

If you’re curious to learn more, go check out her blog (!  Me, I’ll be over here on the fainting couch, recovering from the vapors. 🙂

28 thoughts on “My sister the secret rock star.”

  1. Ha, fun post – and sneaky but awesome rockstar sister! Her book sounds amazing – and I am definitely keeping my eyes posted!

  2. Wowww…your sister is like a ninja! All stealthy with her mysterious writing career!

    Great for her though 😀 That’s awesomely exciting and the premise for her book sounds really interesting!

    Oh, and I visited her blog and she cracked me up over her awe of winning a free toothbrush – she’s a hoot!


    • Ultimately, the best part of all of this is probably the fact that I can say with certainty that you’ll probably like it. It’s a page-turner but it’s also such a…smart, uncomfortably believable vision of the near future. I kept reading bits of it aloud to my SO and then saying, “And my little sister was the one who wrote this!”

      Hmm, I should probably stop sharing these anecdotes lest she smack me upside the head for making her sound twelve rather than twentysomething.

  3. Saints on a spoon, has she always been this secretive? What else don’t you know about her 😉

    Congratulations on another creative branch of your family tree!

    • Seriously, it was the happiest surprise of my life. Happier even than when I found out I’d won the Gather contest and was getting published myself. I must admit, I could never have anticipated that it would feel quite *that* good — I was pretty damned happy when I found out I’d won! 😉

      • Aw, thanks, Mer! My point of comparison: when you won the Gather Contest. You sent me a text, “I WON” and I screamed in the middle of a Chicago street (which at least caused those walking towards me to give me a wide berth). We surprised each other, then. 🙂

  4. Meredith, thanks for the awesome post! And thanks to all the rest of you for the congrats!

    One point, though: I would never settle for sending you a Cliff bar. Maybe an Odwalla bar, or a protein bar with chocolate chips in it…

  5. Congratulations. Some people never get published and your family has two writers. That’s quite an accomplishment.

  6. Aunty M here. You girls are amazing!

    I recall visiting with Ben and remember SJK getting some check pluses on your report card – no more Star Trek for you until you got pluses! Look at you now!

    And MD I thoroughly enjoyed BWBH (I must talk to about it sometime) and romance #1.

    I’m not fond of romance or sci-fi, but I just might need to change. Congratulations!!!

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