Sunday, 30 December 2012

My Writing Year in a Nut Shell

Wow.  Well, what a year it has been.  Time to do a little recap!  So here's my writing year in a nut shell...

January - April:  Sadly, no writing.  Not a dicky bird.  I'm on a writing break as my previous querying attemps struck out the year before.

May:  I start writing a YA Contemporary novel with dark undertones, called Starting With Amber. It flows faster than I can imagine.  First draft is finished before the month is out.

June:  Time to edit, edit, edit on SWA and I go at it like a hellhound off the leash.  By the end of the month, I decide to send out two or three tester queries, which result in very quick full requests.

July:  I get 5 full ms requests for SWA out of very few queries.  I hit send and feel immediately nervous and terrified.  While I'm waiting, I start writing a YA Gothic Horror called Overtoun Bridge.  It hits me with as much force as a freight train doing 200mph off the track.

August:  I get a reply from two of the full ms requests I had out on Starting With Amber. Both rejections, but with very insightful and helpful comments for revision, with an invitation to submit again in the future.  I still have three full ms subs outstanding, so I wait on tenterhooks.  I finish the first draft of OB and get down to the bare knuckle section of revising.

September:  I take a break from querying, but decide to enter Pitch Mad, the online writing contest where aspiring writers hone their best pitch and aim for agent requests.  I am blown away to get multiple partial and full requests.  I keep editing OB in the meantime and I'm so excited about it I'm done before the month is out.

October:  While waiting for replies to my fulls and partials, I enter Pitch Live, making a video trailer for Overtoun Bridge.  Again, I am stunned to receive agent requests that build into full requests over the coming weeks.  I also enter the Spooktacular pitch contests and receive a partial request.  I then see Pitch On, a contest with an editor at the helm, and I take a leap of faith and give it a shot by sending in SWA.  I make the finals and get a full ms request!

November:  I receive my first agent offer on Starting With Amber!  I let the other agents with my fulls for both Starting With Amber and Overtoun Bridge know about my offer.  Within the week, I have other offers on SWA and OB.  After much deliberation, I sign with Jamie Bodnar Drowley of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.  My world is totally ROCKING.

December:  SWA goes out on submission to the Big Guy publishers and I hear back with some revision ideas from the Pitch On editor.

So, 2012 has certainly been a whirlwind year for me.  I've been very fortunate and I only pray my good luck continues for 2013.  I am grateful for all that I have received.

Good luck for 2013, everyone!  See you on the other side!

Monday, 24 December 2012

It's almost...CHRISTMAS!

It's starting to feel a bit like...Christmas!
Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! The season of snow, reindeer and egg nog is upon us. So what writerly post do I have to deliver to you today?

Today, I'd like to talk about how to recapture the spirit of Christmas and how you need to remember to do the same with your writing too!

Rekindling My Christmas Spirit

I remember sitting in front of the frost-laced window, staring out into the flurrying snow, and wondering whether I would get a glimpse of reindeers sailing through the air, pulling a large sleigh behind them. Of course, I was six years old at the time.
I also remember looking out a different window as an adult, with my three-year-old niece on my lap, and pointing up to the crisp, clear moon overhead.
‘If you’re lucky…very, very lucky…you might see Santa and his reindeers fly by the moon,’ I whispered to my niece.

She grinned, and I felt a tremor of excitement run up her back. It was then that I realised that perhaps I had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas as an adult.

Since that day, I have never missed an opportunity to glance out of the window on Christmas Eve, wishing to hear the tinkling sound of reindeer bells or see the moonlight reflecting off the runners of Santa’s sleigh.
As an adult, I had become so consumed with work, and bills, and responsibilities that magic, wonder, and the unknown were things I simply didn’t have time for. Santa stopped existing for me, and only came to life for the niece that I so dearly love. But even that didn’t make me stop and think. Instead, I ploughed on with my life. Working every hour that I could, scraping together what money I could, and looking at Christmas as one big expense that I could surely do with out.

But on the night I pointed to the moon, and felt the unashamed excitement of a child at Christmas, I realised I was missing something so much more important than money, responsibility, and material things. I was missing the wonder and excitement of the unknown. The thrill of believing in what you can’t see. So, I decided there and then, that Santa, and the spirit of Christmas, would once more be part of my life. Because Santa is love, mystery, laughter, and that special part of your heart that never gives up hope.
And for me, at least, that's what keeps my writing flame burning bright. It is wonder and joy and laughter. It is mystery, the unknown, and the forgotten parts of life that you want to relive.  It is the spirit of Christmas...because although Christmas comes only once a year, the thrill of believing lasts all year round.  And as writers, that's what we want our readers to do.  We want them to believe.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Once you get that agent!

There is a lot of information on the web telling new writers how to get an agent, how to write a query, how to hone their submissions.  You can find plenty of writing competitions to get exposure as a new writer and plenty of writers willing to critique your work, cheerlead you on and help you through those submission doldrums.  However, what happens next?  What happens when you finally receive The Call and get the agent of your dreams?

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

Yes, I do believe that this is my agent!  She is NINJA awesome!

Stepping from one arena into the next is a big step and for the newly agented writer it's easy to feel a little lost on what you are supposed to do and how you are supposed to feel.  This is where I'd like to stress that it is SO vital that you don't just sign with an agent because they are the only one who called.  You need to pick an agent who is a complimentary match to you.

If you're a no nonsense, straight shooter then you might not want a bubbly, super friendly agent who checks in just to see if you're doing okay.  On the other hand, if you're a talkative, energetic writer then you might not match up well with an agent who only wants to contact you if and when they have some news for you.

That's why picking the right agent is SO important.  While it can be hard to resist taking an offer because "OMG I NEED AN AGENT" it is very important that you pick the right person.  Remember, this is a person you are hopefully going to work with for years to come.  It's best if you pick the right person.

So what happens when you do have that agent?  Well, it can depend on the type of person you have representing you.  I have a very fun, bubbly friendly agent who communicates regularly and is open to my many newbie questions.  She calls to reassure me, she emails to update me and she touches base with me on twitter and facebook often.  She also promotes me wherever she can.

But what's my end in this deal?

Well, to work through my edits in a professional and timely manner.  To discuss where the book is going and what the best way to move forward is.  To make sure I build up my platform.  To network on social media hubs such as twitter and facebook.  To run a good blog or website where I can pay forward what I know.

And that's the key - be proactive and pay forward what you learn.  Reach out and meet the network of writers and readers out there.  Give all you can.  You are your brand.  You have to be someone people want to connect to.

And be prepared.  I need to do my homework and not expect my agent to do everything for me.  I need to go out there and learn what I can about the business.  It's important in this day and age that writers don't just write, they have to learn how to promote and market themselves as well.

But after all that is said...WRITE.  Write and learn and improve your craft.  Keep creating books that your agent can sell.  Learn from your edits on your first book and make sure your second book doesn't make the same mistakes.  Absorb all of the knowledge you can.

So, when you do finally get that call, remember this is actually where the work begins.  Hats off to all my querying writer friends out there.  Keep at it.  But when you do finally get The Call make sure you're ready to put your nose to the grindstone and start building your career.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

And The Winner Is..

OMG!  I am so seriously excited it is beyond ridiculous!  I am literaly happy dancing in my celebration hat as we speak (well, as you read!).

The day of reckoning is upon us and I can reveal my Pitch Wars Top Pick.  So without any further ado, I announce my number one, awesome, totally gonna-blow-the-pants-off-this-gig mentee...


Things you need to know - Jennifer won because her plot has seriously MAHOOSIVE kahoonas.  Really digs deep into the whole dark and gritty thang, know what I mean?  And she has uber tight pacing that just drags you right into the story.  There is a really awesome premise here that is itching to find a huge wealth of readers.  I so want to be part of that journey!

Now don't get me wrong, we got some work to do to shine this puppy up for the state fair, but GOD DANG I got me a live one here!

As for everyone else - you guys gave some super HOT competition in the inbox.  It went right down to the nail on this one.  I had a lot of entries and not one was of poor quality.  There were at least eight that I would have requested a full read through had I had the time to do them all.

For now though, I'm going to let you know who came in second and third place:

Mad As A Hatter by Alexandra Hayman
Whispers of Disaster by Stacey Trombley

Both of these submissions really caught my eye, so I'd like the writers to know if they want to contact me over any aspect of their work, they can feel free to do so.  Anything I can do to help these two writers on their path, I'd do it in a heartbeat!

That doesn't mean I don't wish I could help everyone else too.  I wish I could.  I wish I had enough time in the day to work with you all on your novels.  But, alas, I have only so much time I can devote.  Just know that if I didn't pick your project, it doesn't mean it isn't going to be AMAZING.  Remember, every great writer in the world got a rejection at some point!

For now, I need to hand Jennifer her gun and her KICK ASS monkey mentor.  It's time for battle.  BRING.  IT.  ON!

***Note - I'm not really a monkey...honest!  Ooh, look...banana...

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Pitch Wars...the agents!

Pitch Wars ... the agents!


Are you ready for this? We have 16 incredible agents vying for our Pitch Wars team manuscripts. We're so excited to see what pitches they fall in love with, and what teams will win the coveted Pitch Wars Most Requested Manuscript title.

And, in no particular order, here are the agents..



Louise is seeking teen Sci-Fi and Young Adult horror. She's also on the hunt for deep, dark contemporary YA and select Middle Grade fiction with a literary feel--it must be realistic and thought provoking and the characters must be authentic and original. Louise loves horror and romance, especially Regency and Victorian.

Jessica Sinsheimer


Jessica is seeking Literary, Women's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Fiction.
Natalie is looking for commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), and upmarket women’s fiction. Specific likes include historical, multi-cultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, and middle grade with heart.



Pam represents young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance authors.

Jordy Albert
The Booker Albert Agency
Twitter: @bluedragonfly81

Jordy is on the look out for Romance (contemporary, historical/Regency, and paranormal). YA contemporary/historical or dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy with romance elements. She's also open to YA GLBT within those genres. She'd love to see unique, well-developed plots featuring time travel, competitions, or travel.


Andrea's looking for the following categories: Fiction; literary, commercial, womens fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, middle grade.

Jennifer Mishler
Literary Counsel


Jennifer is seeking Young Adult Fantasy, Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Literary, and Young Adult Historical.


Suzie represents adult and children's fiction. In adult, she's specifically looking for romance (historical and paranormal), and fantasy (urban fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, epic fantasy). In Childrens' she loves YA (all subgenres) and is dying to find great Middle Grade projects (especially something akin to the recent movie SUPER 8).

Victoria Marini


Victoria is looking for literary fiction, commercial fiction, pop-culture non-fiction, and young adult. She is very interested in acquiring engaging Literary fiction and mysteries / suspense, commercial women's fiction (romantic suspense, sci-fi, fantasy), and Young Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller and horror ).

Kerry is looking for Young Adult and Middle-Grade fiction, both commercial and literary. She tends to shy away from werewolves, zombies, faeries, and the like, but she’ll read anything with a fresh voice and compelling characters. She is particularly keen on contemporary YA, quirky MG, books with a strong cinematic element. 

The Rights Factory Literary Agents

Drea is currently seeking: fiction, memoir, crime, non-fiction and YA. Her roster consists of British, American, and Canadian clients. International talent is welcome.

Katie Shea

Katie specializes in fiction and memoir, especially women’s fiction and commercial-scale literary fiction, and realistic YA. She is most interested in coming-of-age stories and stories of unique relationships.

Elise is interested in serious character-driven literary fiction, well-written narrative nonfiction, and short story collections. (Note: She is not interested in Fantasy, young-adult/middle-grade, picture books, romance, and sci-fi.) She aims to work with writers who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience.

Jodell is interested in YA, MG (especially funny) , fiction and nonfiction, book proposals, and picture books. She will also coach writers wanting to self publish. She simply loves a well-paced story that moves her between joy and tears.


Brittany and Michelle are teaming up to look for Adult, YA, and MG manuscripts.
Michelle Johnson


Michelle’s published one novel, The Footloose Killer, and edited several others for publishing houses and private clients. She also is a Script/Story consultant on an independent film in Halifax, NS, Canada, and enjoys working closely with writers to help them develop their voice and craft.

Brittany Howard

When reading, Brittany loves to be introduced to new and interesting people and places. She looks for strong voice, good storytelling, and fascinating relationships between characters—romantic or otherwise. More than anything, she loves when a book surprises her.

There's just one more day to get your applications in for Pitch Wars. Make sure to check out this post here to get all the details.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Kelley Lynn - Author Interview!

Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing the exceedingly awesome Kelley Lynn, author of FRACTION OF STONE a YA Fantasy to be released March 2013, from Sapphire Star Publishing!

Okay, so here goes:

1.  So, you're a did that come about?  Where did it all start?

Well, I’d like to be able to say I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a wee lass, but that is not the case. July of 2011 I finished my first book which was really just something I was doing for fun, and thought, “What now?” I Googled how to ‘publish a book’ and this insane journey began.

2.  You're represented by the awesome Corvisiero Agency - talk us through the process, from query to offer of representation.  How did it all happen?

The book that the wonderful Jamie Bodnar Drowley is representing is called ALREADY THERE (YA Contemporary) and is a collaboration project between Jenny Morris and myself. We submitted this piece to Brittany Booker at the Corvisiero Agency. She connected with it on such a level that when she offered us representation we knew she was meant to represent this book. The book has had great success on submission so far, Brittany is truly a great agent. Brittany decided, not too long ago, to leave the agency so Jenny and I resubmitted in the hopes we could find someone at Corvisiero who was as passionate about it as Brittany was. Jamie contacted us and Jen and I immediately knew she had the same love for ALREADY THERE as Brittany did.

3.  Of course, we'd all love to know about your book.  What's your elevator pitch?

For Charlotte "Charlie" Grace, a post-high school road trip isn't just a vacation - it's a chance to change her life. While her parents think Charlie is helping a friend move into her college apartment, the real reason to pack the four best friends into one BMW and drive from Chicago to LA is a singing competition. First place wins a recording contract.

No one needs this contract more than Charlie, whose only talent is singing on stage. So she's willing to accept her father's two conditions for going: her sixteen-year-old, super annoying, uber responsible sister, Lucy, must tag along. And the sisters have to visit their grandparent’s ranch in Sherman, Texas.

But when the girl’s singing group loses the competition, Charlie’s world falls flatter than Lucy’s chest. She can’t go home to a life with no future and a father waiting to ground her barely-adult ass. So Charlie convinces her parents to let her and Lucy spend the summer at their grandparent’s. After all, they used stay there often. Years ago. When they had some things remotely in common.

Though the ranch was a last resort, it might be what the two girls need. Amidst the dung filled horse stalls, down-home cookin’, and drool worthy ranch hands, clarity for Charlie and Lucy’s futures, as well as their relationship, bubbles to the surface. It’s not something they find. It’s something they realize is already there.

4.  Do you have plans for another WIP?  Any top secret clues about what it might involve?

Haha. MANY ideas for future works. I’m currently finishing up a YA Science Fiction that I can’t wait to get into Jamie’s hands. I also worked on two collab projects for NaNo, a YA Fantasy and YA Contemporary with the amazing Jessica Salyer and Cassie Mae, respectively. So any or all of those could work. haha

5.  What's your biggest advice to new writers?

Biggest? I guess that means I only get one, huh? Critique. That’s my biggest one. Critique LOTS of other writer’s works. Not only will this help you network with other writers and get LOTS of feedback on your writing, but I truly believe the best way to improve is by critiquing other’s work.

6.  Can we bribe you into telling us how many rejections you received before you got The Call?

You don’t need to bribe me.  Three manuscripts went through the submission process before FRACTION OF STONE (Sapphire Star Publishing, March 3013) got a yes. Two weeks after I got ‘the call’ from SSP I got the call from the Corvisiero agency for ALREADY THERE. It was an AMAZING July 2012. So how many rejections? 100. That might be on the low side

7.  If you could describe your agent in an elevator pitch, how would you do it?

Jamie is driven and passionate, not only about our story, but about her role as a literary agent. In the short time we’ve known her she has done everything to assure us this relationship is for the long haul. That we will build our successes together. I truly believe she will do everything to help our careers. (Not to mention she is SUPER cool. She’s an Author, Agent, Orthodontist, Mother, Military Wife, Air Force Veteran, Animal Rescuer. This woman can do anything. Selling our book should be a synch. )

8.  Are you a panster or an outliner?

Panster. Unless I’m writing with Jenny Morris in which case I’m forced to be a little bit of an outliner.

9.  Tell us something we don't know about your characters...

Lucy is amazing at the piano and is the most insecure 16 year old you could ever meet.

10.  If you weren't a writer, what would you be?

Well, for my nine to five I’m a Technical Service Chemist. A Chemical Engineer by degree. I really do like it. I think I would also like to be a teacher. A full time writer would be so awesome though.
The YA Bookcase would like to say a HUGE thank you to Kelley for taking the time to talk to us.
To find out more about Kelley's work, check out her blog