A year after I'd graduated college, I went to a weeklong conference intensive in Boston, and that's when things kicked into high gear. My workshop leader was a Harvard professor and editor. At the end of the week we met one-on-one over breakfast, and she said, in essence, "Look, you're ready to turn pro." She gave me a list of literary agents to query once I had something to show them. I came home and wrote my first real novel, and the agent that sold it to Tor Books was on that list.