Thursday, April 17, 2014

Madonna Stuck In My Head: Homecoming Edition

As many of you know, one of the contests responsible for my finding an agent was Like A Virgin. (You can read all about my first time here.) A year later, the contest is back - and I'm incredibly honored to be participating from the other side of the fence as a Critique Angel. I look forward to working with one of you on a 5 page + synopsis crit!

(BTW, if you follow me on Twitter, I do random query/first page crit giveaways - so even if you don't win now, you could win later...)

(Also, I'll confess I'm reusing some of my answers from last year.)

How do you remember your first kiss?
I remember being surprised. Then panic-admitting that I'd never kissed anyone, then freaking out because I was a freshman in college and thought that was probably a weird thing to admit and that I'd scare him away. Impressed by my overflowing confidence, said boyfriend later went on to marry me.

What was your first favorite love song?
It would have to be "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls.

What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?
Coffee. Two cups, sometimes with chocolate mixed in.

Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?
Patrick Ness. I admire a lot of writers, but the way I click with his voice and the way he tells his stories is something surreal. I was writing before I found Ness, but the way I approached my work radically changed after I finished his brilliant novel A Monster Calls. Also, I will never forgive him for Manchee.

Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?
Nope. It went through four completely different beginnings before I found the right place. Which is still a trend, even though I'm on my fourth manuscript.

For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?
Honestly I'd be happy they're thinking of it at all! But if I had to pick something ... original. I would want them to feel like they've experienced something new. Fun fact: this is last year's answer, before I had an agent, before I had a book deal. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive praise from author Roland Smith ... who used that exact word. (See? SEE?)

And that's it for the questions! Looking forward to meeting the rest of you and learning about your "firsts." Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

THE BOOK OF BART Cover Reveal!

Today I'm honored to participate in a cover reveal for the talented Ryan Hill! His debut, THE BOOK OF BART, is a humorous YA paranormal coming from Curiosity Quills on May 22nd.

Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.

With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bart, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.

If Bartholomew wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.

And without further ado......

Black Clouds of Death, Heaven working with Hell, and a hero described as "a well-dressed Han Solo" ... you'd better add this one to your to-read, stat.

Find out more: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sub Club and The Greatest Moment EVER

Okay, I know I've hyped up Sub Club like it's some super secret thing that might result in my disappearance if I'm caught talking about it. The first rule of Sub Club is still that you do not talk about being in Sub Club ... while you're on sub. For those of you asking "What the heck is Sub Club?", it's a term coined for that special stretch of time after you have an agent but don't yet have a book deal. It's when your manuscript is on the desks of 7 to 15 editors and you start to think, "Wait, this feels just like querying." (You might be thinking other things too.) (But you already know how I feel about the comparison devil.)

There are some differences. You'll still have to wait to hear back from editors who have lives, other responsibilities, and other manuscripts ahead of yours to read. You'll still get rejections. There will still be stretches of silence you can do nothing about. But this time around, you have a superstar agent who's got your back and knows exactly when she/he needs to nudge and exactly the right things to say. AND, if you're a huge chicken like me, you don't have to SEE your rejection letters if you don't want to. Your agent can store them away in an Excel sheet, a file you'll tuck away on your computer in a folder called "This Business Is Subjective."

I'm not going to talk about the anxiousness that comes with being on sub. I think you can imagine it comes with some inherent nerves, and the longer you're on sub, the stronger those nerves get. I'm here to tell you what actually happens.

First, your agent should send you a list of the editors and houses she/he has in mind for your book for the first round of submissions.* If you've met an editor at a conference or workshop that you think would be a good fit, now is a good time to bring that up. If your agent sends you a generic "We're on sub!" email without this list included, request one for your records. (If nothing else, you deserve to freak out over the names on that list.)
*This submission strategy will vary from agent to agent. Many agents do "rounds" of submissions. If you don't sell to the first ten editors, you'll regroup with your agent, make changes based on your rejections, and then sub to a second set. And possibly a third.

Then your pitch goes out. Depending on your agent, how long she's been in the biz, and her relationship with each editor, your full could be attached to that very first email. I've also read cases where it's more like querying: the agent sends the pitch and waits for a request. Either way ...

... You wait. Sometimes you wait four days. Sometimes you wait more than a year and go through several rounds of editor submissions. Sometimes you don't sell and you write another book that possibly becomes a NYT bestselling series, like Marie Lu and LEGEND. Really it doesn't matter which path you take, because in the end you glance at your phone during lunch and see a missed call from your agent and an email with the subject line: CALL ME CALL ME

And you call. And it's an offer.

After you Gangnam Style down the hallway, your agent will gleefully nudge any editors who are still considering your manuscript, and you could potentially go to auction if more than one house wants you. Alternatively, the offer could be a preempt, meaning the house puts up an attractive advance and gives you a short time frame to accept - sometimes as short as an hour - with the goal of snatching you up before other houses have a chance to offer. Your agent will negotiate your advance, royalties, and rights (i.e. audio, translation, etc). Agent Kristin Nelson has an amazing post series called Agenting 101 that explains the different rights and key clauses in your contract, if you want to read more. That link will take you to just the first post; others are listed in the dropdown on the right-hand side of her blog.

And that is a tiny snapshot of what happens behind the scenes between revisions and Your Book Deal.

This concludes my "After the Agent" series. New posts to follow in seriesless abandon.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

(Not So) Guilty Pleasures

Story addict and blogger Kelly Johnson asked, "What are five of your guiltiest pleasures?"

Over on her blog, My Countless Lives, I declare my unabashed love of neon socks, DiCaprio, and other things I may regret admitting publicly down the road.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Comparison Devil

I read an article some time ago wherein the author said she knew she wouldn't be a bestseller as soon as the offer came in on her first novel. Because it wasn't a six-figure advance and she wasn't going to auction.

This bothered me a lot.

First, let's roll back to a not-so-happy place in my past, last spring. To be as brief and honest as possible, I'd let some things get out of control in my life and had lost all focus of the good things going on. I realized I was in a bad place. I sought the help of a counselor at work. And he tricked me.

In the best way, of course. During one session, he targeted my writing dream and made me list everything that was bothering me. Every fear. Every rejection. Every disappointment. Then he made me write down the good things that had happened. Actual words from people who had read and responded positively to my work. I tried to counter with, "Yeah, but if I was any good this wouldn't be so hard." He pointed to my fears, which were things like, I'll never get published. I'm not good enough. I don't know if I'm even supposed to be doing this. Then back to the Good Things list. "Which of these has actually happened?" he asked.

(See? Tricky.)

Which brings me back to the article about trying to read into your publishing future based on what's happening to other people. We're always wanting to compare our experiences to try and figure out what's normal. Is it supposed to take this long? What if I don't get multiple offers from agents? What does it mean if I didn't get a three-book deal? And I'm telling you (and also telling me):


There is no magic formula. There is only one example I need to give here to prove it: J.K. Rowling received a £1500 advance (or about $2400) for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Couple that with her own editor's advice that she get a day job because she "had little chance of making money in children's books,"* I think you're starting to get my point. And for heaven's sake, if you're sitting there worrying your five/six-figure advance means they're overconfident and you're doomed not to sell because how could anyone really KNOW what the bestsellers will be, I'm shaking your shoulders right now. SHAKING THEM.

I don't know the future. But if you're in that place right now where the comparison devil is whispering in your ear, using all your "failures" and "shortcomings" to bury all sense of hope, trick yourself like my counselor tricked me. There are two sides to every story, and you are not allowed to block the good side out. "I'm getting a lot of rejections ... but I know so much more than last year." "A top-choice agent just told me my book made her cringe** ... but another just requested the full." Capiche?

If you're going to do any comparing, that should be it.

*These quotes/numbers pulled from
**Yes, this was an actual rejection I received.