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Review of Stitching Snow

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 20 August 2014 · 37 views

I always love getting books before they release. It's even better if the book is by an acquaintance. Thanks to Net Galley for providing access to more great fantasy and science fiction reads. Stitching Snow will be available in October.




Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.


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Preorder on Amazon

My thoughts:

Honestly, this was one of the best books I've read in young adult for a long time.

So many things stood out about Stitching Snow for me that it's hard to put my finger on just why I liked it so much. The whole plot line isn't apparent from the first chapter, but it's allowed to build and develop so naturally. The characters acted like real people and not heroines in the making. It wasn't a case of instant love or instant hate between the two mains, and the romance grew after we got to like the characters. There’s was just the right amount of science fiction elements without getting too technical.

It was far enough away from the whole Snow White story to keep from feeling like an echo. In fact, I had to dig for similarities at some points. I really liked that the dwarfs were robots. The evil queen was suitable evil. There was one part with the king that I really could have done without—but we can’t have everything.

Essie has the bad-ass main character role down. She tough, independent, and sometimes … wrong. She doesn’t win every fight. She stubborn and frail and fragile in a way, but stills gives as good as she gets. And I like her because she smart, and not snarky or whiny as has become the trend so much in YA. 

I would have liked to see the other characters built up a little more and gotten more of an inside look at what went on from the bad guy perspective. First person point of view does limit you to only what the main character knows. A drawback that you can’t do much about.

A highly recommended read. Four stars from me! 


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Pitchwars Submissions

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 18 August 2014 · 18 views



This is the officially scheduled day for the Pitchwars submission. Brenda Drake went ahead and opened them early to give the mentors more time. See all the info at her blog here

Basically, Pitchwars is a writer contest, where writers submit to four possible mentors. Mentors being writers with book deals and/or agents. These mentors then choose one entry to spend the next two months helping their owner to polish. In November comes the agent round.

I'm a mentor for MG, that being Middle Grade stories! You can find out what I'm looking for in this post. Do make sure you pick mentors that are looking for your age category and don't waste picks sending to someone who has to reject your submission.

Whether you are chosen or not, contests are a great way to learn about writing, meet other writers, and generally have fun. 

Give Pitchwars a try and join the hilarity on twitter under #Pitchwars.

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Cover Reveal for DECEPTIVE CADENCE

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 15 August 2014 · 13 views

Always happy to give space on my blog to authors I've met online! Look at this sparkling new artwork!





Genre: new-adult romance with paranormal elements
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release­­:to-be-confirmed
Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson http://gothicfate.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20875301-deceptive-cadence?from_search=true


Description:

Cadence awakes in a hospital to find her husband and daughter dead, killed in an earthquake. So when her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time with all the knowledge she has, she accepts, desperate to prevent their deaths.

She shoots back eleven years to her fourteen-year-old self, and faces high school all over again. She is determined to do everything better, including preventing the loss of her best friend and not dating any of her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. Her main focus is on her future husband, who she won’t meet for several years.

But James Gordon crosses her path. While she wishes to remain single, the bad boy pursues her. He threatens to disrupt everything that is to come as she begins to develop unwanted feelings for him, and distract her from her original goal: to save her future family.

------------------------

  

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter, and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.


Website (http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/) | Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Hamsteads-Stories/247238178656484) | Twitter (http://curiosityquills.com/authors/katie-hamstead/) | Goodreads(https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6585259.Katie_Hamstead) 

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Getting the Call with Judy Clemens

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 15 August 2014 · 31 views

Such a joy! Not only did the Grand Champions of Query Kombat end up with an agent, but also the Runner up. I'm so happy to share Judy's story, and a long and winding one it is. What a great reminder that the road goes ever on and has its highs and lows. (See the agent round entry for Tag, You're Dead here.)


My non-tech process for figuring out the timeline of TAG, YOU’RE DEAD. Sometimes computers just aren’t enough!


When I entered Query Kombat I came to it with a different background than most of the other Kombatants. I’ve been in the business a while. My first book, an adult mystery called TILL THE COWS COME HOME, came out with Poisoned Pen Press in 2004 after years of writing (at that point I had only two manuscripts in a drawer, compared to today when there are…a lot). This sale came through my own submission, after a bad experience with an agent who sent the book to three editors before dropping me like a bad cell phone connection.

COWS, a book about Stella Crown, a Harley-Davidson-loving dairy farmer, was nominated for the 2004 Anthony and Agatha Awards for Best First Novel, which was awesome and wonderful. PPP published a second book in the series, THREE CAN KEEP A SECRET, and I was approached by a lovely agent who wanted to represent me. She did for three books…and then retired.

Having become a part of the Poisoned Pen Posse, I no longer needed an agent to sell them books, and they published five more of my novels, including a sixth Stella book this past December, and a four-book Grim Reaper series before that. PPP is a lovely community to be a part of, and I’m grateful for everything they’ve done for me.

However, my heart had taken a detour to a different place. YA novels. MG novels. Writing for that younger audience. I love to read those books, and I love to write them, but I had no luck getting them published. Eventually I found myself in a place where I wasn’t even enjoying writing anymore. Finally, I stopped myself to ask, “Where is the joy?” and I remembered that the joy should be in the writing, not solely in the final result. I loved the characters and worlds I was writing about, and needed to let that be enough. I wrote more books, and searched for agents, and realized anew what a tough business this is. But I tried not to let it get me down.

And then I thought of the concept for a new book that got me really excited. After spending Nanowrimo (link http://www.nanowrimo.org) on the book, I had my first 50,000 words. A writers’ retreat in January got me the next 25,000, and I had a first draft. The next few months were spent revising and working with beta readers, and then the next stage of work began...searching for an agent. Again.

I sent out query letters like anyone, and got involved on Twitter after encouragement from Dee Romito (link: http:www.writeforapples.com), who told me what a great way it is to learn about the industry and enter writing contests. I started following writers, editors, and agents and received a completely up-to-the-minute feel of what was going on with them. And then I found Query Kombat! I entered and was picked for Michael’s team (yay!) and made it all the way through to the championship round. Along the way people gave great feedback on my query, and I received several agent requests. And then the waiting began!

But not for long.

Within two hours of receiving my email, Uwe Stender of TriadaUS contacted me, requesting the full. I sent it, and less than a week later I answered the call every writer dreams of getting.

“I love your book!”

Cloud Nine, anyone?

So now I am a part of the TriadaUS family, and couldn’t be happier. But this didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a decade of learning, fun, misery, disappointment, support, discouragement, friendship, frustration, and excitement. It’s all wrapped up in there. But writers gotta write, and if we want to get published, we persevere.


And we find the joy.

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Judy Clemens lives in rural Ohio with her husband and two children, two cats, and a gerbil named Watson. She is the author of the Stella Crown and Grim Reaper mysteries, and a stand-alone entitled LOST SONS. She loves the people in the writing industry and is excited to be heading out on this new adventure. 



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Getting the Call with Melissa Albert

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 13 August 2014 · 11 views

It seems to be the summer of Call posts! These never get old. So glad to welcome Melissa to the blog. Congrats, Melissa, happy to have you here to share your story.  





Thanks so much for having me, Michelle! I’ve been reading your Getting the Call posts for the longest time and always hoped that someday I could share my story here.

When I began writing my first novel, I was fourteen. I finished two years later, went through one revision, and began sending out queries left and right. In my mind, this book was ready for the world to see. It wasn’t. It actually embarrasses me to look back at some of the original drafts I was sending out to agents.

Still, I continued querying and received rejection after rejection. In the end, after almost two years of on and off querying, I got three full requests for that novel, but none of them ever panned out.
It was discouraging at times, especially when my sixteen year old self had been sure I’d written a best seller. I was even convinced there would be a movie deal coming down the pike, and I’d play the main character, Emma. Oh, please.

During the two years I spent querying, however, I’d gone on to finish two more books. This time around, I spent a lot of time honing my query letters and revising my manuscript. I revised and revised and revised until all I was doing was taking out commas and then putting them right back in. As scary as it was after my previous attempt, I knew it was time for me to start querying again.

I chose to query JUST BREATHE which was my YA contemporary novel. I sent out one query to begin with and woke up the next morning to a full request. I couldn’t believe it. I sent the full off and then quickly began querying other agents, hoping to get some more requests. And I did.

Two weeks after the first request, with a few rejection letters under my belt, I woke up at 9 am and decided to send out a query to an agent I really liked. Then, I was tired so I tried to go back to sleep. (Don’t judge me, it’s my summer break!) I couldn’t. I checked my phone, and there was an email notification on the front screen. Less than ten minutes after I’d sent the query out, the agent had enthusiastically requested my full. I couldn’t believe it.

The next day, I got three more full requests. After two years of rotten luck, it seemed like things were finally working out for me.

15 days later I woke up to a voicemail. It was from the agent that requested the full within ten minutes. They loved my manuscript. They wanted to talk. I shot up from bed, heart racing, and ran around my house trying to find my mom. I came skidding into the laundry room where she was sitting and said “I got The Call. Or technically, The Voicemail.” She squealed. I squealed. It was a very happy day.

Finally, after celebrating, freaking out, and researching whatever the hell I should know for speaking to an agent, I called back. We talked, and the agent was as great as I had thought. When we got off the phone, I emailed the other agents, letting them know I had an offer of representation. Three of them said they would put it first on their list and read it that week. One politely stepped aside. Two of the three that still had the full politely passed after a few days.

The weekend after I’d received the offer of representation, I went camping with my brother and his friends. I was really nervous because reception was spotty, and I knew I should be hearing from that last agent soon. I methodically checked my phone every second. Then, on Saturday afternoon, I put my phone in my pocket for ten minutes while our group tried to take a picture on top of a very big rock. When it was done, I checked my phone and there was The Email. The agent was in love with my manuscript and wanted to schedule a time to talk. We spoke the Monday I got home from the trip. The agent was wonderful.

I didn’t know what to do. I had never imagined being in a situation where I’d have to choose between two agents. I’m also an extremely empathetic person, so I couldn’t imagine turning one of them down.

In the end, I knew my heart was set on Uwe Stender, the agent that had given me the first offer of representation. I sent him an email and he was ecstatic. I had the contract signed and mailed within a few hours of receiving it. I know I couldn’t have made a better choice!

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Melissa Albert is a YA writer who is repped by Uwe Stender of TriadaUS. She majors in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at The College of New Jersey where she is going into her sophomore year. Lover of all YA fiction, she has three completed manuscripts and four WIPs. When she’s not writing, she’s singing, acting, dancing, and day dreaming about her days of playing travel soccer and doing competitive gymnastics. You can bribe her with anything chocolate or cat related.

Links:
Follow her on Twitter: @MelissaAlbert27

Email: melissaalbert95@gmail.com


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The Difference Between a Tag and a Beat

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 11 August 2014 · 11 views

In honor of Pitch Wars, here's a little post about a basic of writing.

Tag or Beat. Do you know which is which and how they involve writing. For many old hands, this is something they've learned long ago. But for newer writers, you may not have heard of them. It's easy for this distinction to skip your radar unless you have experience. I've seen many mistakes that are easily avoidable.

Tags and beats go with dialogue. Basically a tag is a sentence where you use 'said, asked, whispered, called, yelled, replied, answered,' any word that indicates someone is speaking.

A beat is an action. Your character is doing something while talking. Beats involve things like smiling, frowning, sighing, jumping, poking.

So, you say. Why should I care these are two different things? What difference does it make if I can't tell tags from beats?

Because one gets a comma around dialogue and the other requires a period. Also the capitalization rules are different. And mixing up which gets what punctuation screams amateur.



Some examples of tags:

"Send me that full manuscript," the agent said.

"Where's your bio?" Brenda asked.

"I love this concept!" the mentor screamed.

The mentor whispered, "It's time."

"I have to have more," she said, "send it right away."

What do we see here? No periods except at the end of the whole sentence, which includes the tag. Instead commas are used to end the dialogue. Why? Because tags by themselves are not a sentence. Thus no capital letter after the dialogue either, except for proper names. 

However, note that question marks and exclamation points do replace the comma. Also notice that when a tag goes between continuing parts of dialogue you don't use a capital letter on the second section.




Often you want to mix things up and avoid the extra wordage of tags. Now a look at beats:

"I'll never get this query right." Tootie sighed.

Blair smiled. "This is my best effort yet!"



"I like a challenge." She did a happy dance.

Natalie glared at both of them. "You dingleheads, I'll be the once picked."

"Girls, girls." Mrs. Garrett clapped her hands. "You give me a headache."

Here you will notice there are periods and punctuation all around. Why? Because you have two or more separate sentences. All sentences have capital letters. Unlike a tag, a beat is a sentence on its own.

But what if you have a tag and a beat? It's still handled as if one sentence.

Jo smirked and said,"Mrs. Garrett always has a headache."

"I can get this query right," Tootie whispered to herself, spinning on her skates.

"I can't wait for August 18th," they all shouted, while jumping in the air.


Commas and lowercase letters where needed, just like with a tag alone.

And here is one last special case to truly make it confusing. A tag between incomplete dialogue. Now you need dashes and no commas!


“I’ve got”—Brenda did a pretty twirl—“it all covered!”


So there's some explanation of tags and beats. Now bring on August 18th!



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Busy Times

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 11 August 2014 · 5 views

I just want to give a little notice that the blog will slow down for the rest of August. School is starting back. One of my teens is heading to college, and my work resumes. Plus, I'm really trying to finish my work in progress. Those last few chapters take a lot of brain power to tie everything together.

There will still be posts and things happening on the blog, but I probably won't post daily for a few weeks. Hopefully, I can come back in September with something new and fun. I've got lots of plans! Contests. Giveaways. Interviews. Critique workshops. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer for the Northern hemisphere peeps. And wish me luck on my WIP!

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Getting the Call: Betsy Aldredge and Carrie DuBois-Shaw

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 08 August 2014 · 12 views

A couple of firsts today: Our first set of co-authors! Meet Carrie and Betsy, who are also the Grand Champions of Query Kombat 2014. Their entry Shalom Sasquatch not only got the most votes from our judges, they also got the most requests from agents! Check it out and it's easy to see why. So glad they went with one of the agents from our contest!

A huge congratulations to this dynamic duo! 


(Left to right: Carrie/Miss Piggy, Betsy/Hermione Granger)


Close friends from NYU, we’d worked together on a variety of creative projects through the years. Some have been more memorable than others, like the time we produced and performed in a dystopian version of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in an old store front on the Lower East Side, but we’d always planned on writing something original together.

One Halloween, while on a ghost tour of Greenwich Village, we came up with an idea for a YA Paranormal novel. We passed chapters back and forth, just for fun, over the next two years. Once we had written about 40,000 words, we decided it was time to get serious about finishing the book and enrolled in a MediaBistro online class with writer Micol Ostow, which started in January 2013. The class was just what we needed at that time to push us to finish and revise the manuscript. Plus, we met other writers, learned how to work under deadline, how to give and accept feedback, and how query agents.

After a few more re-writes, we started writing and re-writing queries and sending them out. We even made it into the Nightmare on Query Street contest and got some requests from that along with requests the old-fashioned way. In total, we probably queried 30 people, most of whom were pretty positive. But one theme stuck out over and over, even among those who liked the manuscript. No one was buying paranormal anymore. A couple of very nice agents told us to write something else and to be in touch.  That was all the encouragement we needed.

After a crazy brainstorming session in August 2013, we came up with a wacky idea, to write a YA contemporary romance about Bigfoot hunters. We still had queries out for the other manuscript, but rather than refreshing our inboxes every two minutes, we got excited about writing again. We drafted, revised, and worked with our critique partner and a couple of beta readers, until we felt it was ready.

Then we heard about Query Kombat and thought it would be a great way to test the waters with this manuscript and get some valuable feedback from other writers before wading into querying again. We wrote and re-wrote our query (sense a theme here?), with insight from a few professionals (thanks Lauren Spieller, Kate Brauning, and Taryn Albright).

We know how competitive pitching contests are, so when the hosts announced they were giving away free passes, we entered, and won one from Mike, who loved our short pitch. Phew! We were so relieved to be able to skip the slush and go right into the contest.

We figured the competition would be stiff and we’d be lucky to just get past the first round and get seen by agents. But something happened along the way. We kept winning. At the top of each round we assumed this would be the last round for us – that we would be eliminated. But it never happened. Before we knew it, we were the grand champions and had received 10 agent requests! We were completely floored that so many folks liked our pitch and writing sample so much.  

During the contest, we also sent a handful of queries to other agents who were on our short list, a few of them responded asking for partials as well. We expected that it would be a while until we heard anything, but within a few days we had an offer of representation on the table from Agent A who loved the manuscript. We quickly went back to everyone who had a full, partial, or query, because you never know. We heard from all but one agent. Most requested the full and said they would read our manuscript before our deadline. Only a couple bowed out right away, and a few agents came back later on saying they really liked it, but weren’t quite in love. Then two more offers came in from Agents B and C!

We had a long phone conversation with each agent who offered. They were all great in different ways, but we were undecided. Then, two days before we were going to make a decision, we got a fourth offer. We quickly set up a call with the fourth agent, knowing our decision deadline was around the corner. However, before we even ended the call, we just knew, “the way you know about a good melon,” to quote When Harry Met Sally. This was our agent, the one we wanted to represent us.  She really seemed to get what we were trying to do and had great ideas to make our manuscript even better.  We knew we would enjoy working with her and that she would be a rock star champion for our novel.

So now, we are thrilled to say we are represented by Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis, who was one of the agents who requested our manuscript during Query Kombat.

If we had to offer some advice, based on our story, we would say to keep writing. You never know if the manuscript you are writing now is the one that is going to get you an agent, or the one that is going to teach you how to write the one that gets you the agent. Also, working on a new project keeps your mind off of all those queries out in the world.

Thanks to all the Query Kombat judges, and especially to Michelle, Mike, and SC for playing literary matchmakers and for creating such a wonderful community!

(Left to right: Betsy, Carrie)

______________________________
Betsy Aldredge is a former magazine editor turned museum professional. She’s worked at a library and at two independent bookstores including Shakespeare and Company. Born a book nerd, she is happy to pass on the tradition. Her four-year-old daughter is named after a Harry Potter character and already insists on sleeping with piles of books in her bed. She lives and works in New York.

Carrie DuBois-Shawhas had two plays for young audiences produced in New York City and spearheaded the new play development program at The New Victory Theater, a performing arts venue in Times Square dedicated to engaging and entertaining kids and families. She recently relocated to San Francisco, where she is enjoying the abundance of independent bookstores, sour dough bread, and fog.

Betsy and Carrie are members of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). They met at NYU where they lived in a haunted dorm, studied theater, and were secretly delighted to be mistaken for English literature majors.

Blog: bookwildered.blogspot.com

@betsyaldredge /  @carriedubois


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Giveaway for DARK SACRIFICE Release!

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 07 August 2014 · 11 views

I'm having so much fun giving away a query critique for the one year book birthday of Kindar's Cure, that I want to do more. Here's a giveaway for my CP, Angie Sandro! You can win a copy of one of her books, a first chapter critique from Angie and a query critique from me!



DARK PARADISE
Angie Sandro
July 1, 2014
Grand Central Publishing/ Forever Yours

“A vivid and entertaining storyteller, Sandro is an exciting new writer to watch." —J.A. Redmerksi, New York Times bestselling author
From rising star Angie Sandro, a steamy Southern gothic romance that will appeal to fans of Beautiful Creatures . . .
DARK LEGACY

Mala LaCroix has spent her whole life trying to escape her destiny. As the last in a long line of “witch women,” she rejects the notion of spirits and hoodoo and instead does her best to blend in. But when she finds a dead body floating in the bayou behind her house, Mala taps into powers she never knew she had. She’s haunted by visions of the dead girl, demanding justice and vengeance.

DEADLY SECRETS

Landry Prince has always had a crush on Mala, but when Mala discovers his sister, murdered and marked in some sort of Satanic ritual, he starts to wonder if all the rumors about the LaCroix family are true. Yet after Mala uses her connection to the spirit world to identify his sister’s killer, he starts to form his own bond to her . . . a very physical one. As they move closer to each other and closer to the truth, Mala and Landry must risk everything—their families, their love, and even their lives.





DARK SACRIFICE
Angie Sandro
August 5, 2014
Grand Central Publishing/ Forever Yours

 A GIFT AND A CURSE
Mala LaCroix sees dead people—really. After using her psychic gifts to catch a killer, she's locked in a psych ward and must strike a deal with the devil to secure her release. Apprenticed to a dark arts practitioner, Mala vows to free herself and save her loved ones from danger. But she doesn't know who to turn to when her crush on Landry Prince turns into something more serious. 
A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH
Landry has sacrificed everything to protect Mala. A near-death experience changes him forever, and now he, too, possesses supernatural powers he doesn't understand. Mala and Landry must band together to defeat the dark forces—both human and otherworldly—who would use their abilities for evil. Even as they fall for each other, they must prepare to battle for their very souls . . .
  


One (1) Winner will receive a free Query Critique w/ (2) revisions from Michelle Hauck AND (1) Digital Copy of DARK PARADISE or DARK SACRIFICE (AMAZON US or BARNES & NOBLE), plus a First Chapter Critique (up to 10 pages) by Angie Sandro


Angie Sandro was born at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Within six weeks, she began the first of eleven relocations throughout the United States, Spain, and Guam before the age of eighteen.

Friends were left behind. The only constants in her life were her family and the books she shipped wherever she went. Traveling the world inspired her imagination and allowed her to create her own imaginary friends. Visits to her father's family in Louisiana inspired this story. Angie now lives in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an overweight Labrador.

 


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Getting the Call with Gilly McAllister

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs , 06 August 2014 · 24 views

If first you don't succeed ....  You get the picture. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of encouragement and that can steamroll into the success you've been dreaming about! Thanks to Gilly for sharing her Call story with us.





The process of getting an agent began almost a year ago today. I was off work (I'm a trainee lawyer) with a complicated immune system problem and decided to send my languishing manuscript to the biggest UK agent after accidentally stumbling across their online submission system. The manuscript was finished, but not polished, and I thought nothing more of it. For me, it was a way of saying goodbye to a novel - called The Quarter-Life Crisis - I thought I'd grown out of.

Except... three weeks later I got a full manuscript request. I freaked out, obviously. I had nothing better to do, so I polished it fervently over a long weekend and sent it off. And over that weekend a strange thing happened - I fell in love with the manuscript again. So I started querying. 

Over that strange summer and into the autumn I received a mixed bag of feedback. Not the 20 form rejections I expected, but two full requests and a lot of personal rejections saying things like, "the concept wasn't commercial enough for us, but do keep writing and we would be interested to see the next thing you write." All of the feedback was very similar. I got one such email from another agent in October, the week after my first full request was rejected. This agent loved my writing - and had checked out my blog! - and wanted to speak. Sadly, it was not to be. They, too, liked how I wrote but felt the concept wasn't big enough for a debut. We chatted about my ideas for other novels. 

After that phone call I had a cry and moved The Quarter-Life Crisis into a folder called 'first novel'. I'd had an idea brewing that autumn, so I did what anybody would do when receiving the kind of feedback I did: I wrote another novel.

I was back at work by this point, but wrote every single day between November and May. After work, early in the morning, on my birthday. I wrote 1,000 words a day for 80 days. And then I did a 'heavy lifting' second draft where I cut out boring bits and moved things around, and then I did two line-by-line edits, one before sending it to two readers I trusted and one after. In that time I also went to a Pitch Your Book event in London and ended up fleshing out the plot a little after I chatted to an agent there.

I sent it off to the five agents who had expressed that they would like to receive my second novel, and a couple more whose lists I really loved. And then I went on holiday to Mexico. I didn't fret or over-analyse, this time. I knew I'd written a novel that I, as a reader, would leap on if I saw it on the shelves in a bookshop. It had things my first novel didn't (namely, a plot AND a concept - always make sure you have a plot!).

Three days into my holiday, I got my first full manuscript request. It was from Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson. She had sent me one of the nicest rejections back in the autumn, and this time wanted to read the full. I received another full request not long after, sent them both off, and took a long-deserved break from writing. 

I received The Email while I was on a course for my day-job, while idly checking my email at lunchtime. It was from Clare, and she wanted to meet. There was none of the ambiguity that pervaded the emails in my last round of querying: it was unashamedly positive. 

We met in London and there followed one of the best afternoons of my life. Over tea and cake we chatted for hours about my vision for the novel, my characters, any weak parts of the novel, what we liked best. It was the coolest thing on earth to discuss my made-up character with someone else, not least a professional.
She made me an offer, and I nudged the other agent with the full, and the agents I'd queried, because it all happened relatively quickly (for the publishing world!) and I thought my queries likely hadn't been read yet. I received two further full manuscript requests and a few rejections. I waited a week for them, but after a weekend of soul searching, I accepted Clare's offer because I couldn't wait any longer and I really felt in my heart that Clare was the agent for me. Before I could pull the manuscript from everybody, one rejected it (I am sure she thought I was saving face when I said I had decided to work with Clare!) but I'll never know what the other two would have said. This was not my finest hour, but I'd made my decision and didn't want to wait any longer.

Clare and I are now editing ready to begin the submission process and it is all incredibly exciting. A year's worth of hard work: totally worth it. 

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Bio: Gilly is a trainee solicitor living and working in Birmingham, UK. She has been blogging for nine years. She takes baths every day, is a crazy cat lady, and professional worrier. She tweets at @Billygean and writes at http://www.billygean.co.uk   



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