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FALL FICTION FEST – CONTEST ENTRY DETAILS!!!

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 30 October 2018 · 59 views

 

 

The submission window for Fall Fiction Fest opens tomorrow, October 31st, at 4:00 pm EST!  The instructions and rules for entry are below.

No need to rush. We will be open for 24 hours. That’s right, submissions can be sent on Halloween or All Saints Day, depending on whether you’re feeling saintly or slightly more evil.

Please do not enter early or your entry will be deleted. You can resend at the proper time if this happens accidentally. Confirmation emails will be sent. If you don’t receive one, don’t resend. We don’t want duplicate entries. Please check with us on Twitter first to confirm your entry did or did not arrive, then you may resend.

There is only ONE, yes that’s right, ONE entry per person allowed. Any attempt to cheat will result in entries being thrown out. This contest is only for finished and polished stories.

Important note: The story can’t have been in the agent round of any other contest in the last three months. This doesn’t mean twitter pitch events with hashtags, but multiple agent blog contests. If you entered PitchWars and didn’t get a mentor, we welcome you.

Though we love picture books, Michelle holds special contests just for them. We do accept all MG, YA, NA and Adult genres, excluding erotica. We’d like you to be followers of our blogs. Click the “follow” button on my blog. You can find Michelle’s blog here and Marty’s blog here. If following our blogs doesn’t work, follow us on Twitter. Don’t sweat this. Do your best.

 

 

The Format:

Send submission to Sunversussnow (at) yahoo (dot) com. (Yep, we’re recycling the address.) Only one submission per person is allowed. It doesn’t matter if you write under different names or are submitting different manuscripts. You are still one person and get one entry.

Here’s how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded!) Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, single-spaced, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. No worries if your gmail doesn’t have Times New Roman. No worries if the email messes up your format. Yes, we will still read it! 🙂

(Here’s a trick to keep your paragraph spacing: copy and paste your entry into your email and then put in the line spaces. They seem to get lost when you copy and paste. It may look right but sending scrambles the spacing.)

 

Subject Line: Fall Fest: TITLE, Age Category + Genre

(example: Fall Fest: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)

 

In The Email:

Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)

Genre: YA dystopian Ownvoices (Age category and genre. Add “Ownvoices” here if it applies)

Word Count: XX,XXX (round to the nearest thousand)

Twitter Handle: (Optional so we can contact you. Will not be public.)

How Did You Fall for Writing: (Share your origin story in 100 words or less.) My husband dared me that I couldn’t write a book. And–ta-da–I could!

 

Query:

Query goes here! Include greeting and main paragraphs. You may include bio, closing, but not the word count + genre. We already have that. You may include comps if you’d like. There is no word count limit on the query but please aim for 250 – 300 words.

You may include if your story is OwnVoices or otherwise has diversity up in the genre line and in the query.

Remember a query has several paragraphs with spaces. Don’t send us a pitch.

 

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence. But I will not go over 257 words. Be reasonable and don’t make us count. Don’t forget to space between paragraphs! No indents!

 

That is it!!! See you at 4:00 pm Eastern time on Halloween. Good luck!

 

 

Now for the fun stuff!

Watch on Wednesday for our Twitter Party!  We’ll have a list of daily topics to talk about on Twitter under #FallFest.

Also join us for a very special party on November 6th! That’s when we’ll try to get 100 voters to give us shout outs and blow this contest wide open by adding extra (!!!) picks for each co-host. On Election Day just share with us on Twitter how you voted using #FallFest and if we get 100+ Tweets we will add picks!

 

 



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DEAL ALERT! NOTHING BUT SKY IS ON SALE!

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 27 October 2018 · 43 views

 

Hello friends! Just a quick post to say that my debut, NOTHING BUT SKY is a featured deal today on BookBub. That means the e-book version is available for only .99 on all digital platforms. My publisher is not going to leave it at this price for long, so if you love a fearless female lead who hangs off biplanes for a living, and doesn’t blink at death-defying stunts, NOTHING BUT SKY may be the book for you! Also, if you’ve already read THANK YOU, and I hope you’ll pass along this awesome deal to family and friends who might enjoy a thrill-ride of a read!

 

More on NOTHING BUT SKY:

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

 

Praise for NOTHING BUT SKY…

A Spring 2018 Junior Library Guild selection

 

“Post World War I wing walker Grace Lafferty is the kind of spunky, stubborn
heroine that will make readers feel like the sky’s the limit.”
Stacey Lee, award-winning author of OUTRUN THE MOON

 

“Adventure-minded girls of all ages will be inspired by Grace Lafferty, a fearless
heroine whose grit and persistence overcome every obstacle she faces.”
Gwen C. Katz, author of AMONG THE RED STARS

 

“Trueblood’s action-packed first novel explores the post-World War I époque with
visceral period detail.” –Publishers Weekly

 

“An exhilarating historical novel with a strong feminist core that will appeal to a
broad range of readers.”—Booklist

 

“Action scenes play out with a cinematically breathtaking intensity; it’s a gas” – Kirkus 

 

Now just .99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

 

 



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FALL FICTION FEST-Welcome Mentors!

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 25 October 2018 · 50 views

 

Michelle, Marty  and I are very excited that so many mentors have agreed to help us out with FALL FICTION FEST this year. These talented authors/mentors will be split between the three teams. Once we have selected our picks, the mentors will work with their assigned entry’s query and first 250 words and provide feedback.

To refresh your memory about contest details you can go here.

Many thanks to these amazing writers for agreeing to share their time and expertise with the selected picks. We are looking forward to seeing how polished and beautiful the final entries will be for the agent round!

My list consists of eight mentors. The rest of the mentor team can be found over on Michelle and Marty’s blogs.

Submission window for the contest opens October 31. Get those entries ready!

 

Ian Barnes

Ian Barnes is a writer of bad jokes and various flavors of fantasy. A former computer engineer-turned-technical writer-turned-purveyor of puns, he lives outside Boston with his wife amid an ever-expanding fort of books. He’s a lover of video games and whiskey, and will happily talk your ear off about either. When he was four, a ghost said hi to him. Ian is represented by Matt Bialer of Sanford J Greenburger Associates. For more on Ian, follow him on Twitter (@imbarnes) or check out his website.

 

Ryan Dalton

Ryan Dalton is the author of the young adult Time Shift Trilogy. He splits his time between writing books, fighting crime at night, and hanging out in his awesome underground lair. Please don’t tell anyone he’s Batman. It’s a secret. For more on Ryan, follow him on Twitter (@iRyanDalton), Instagram (@RyanDalton), or check out his website.

 

Sarah Janian

Sarah Janian is a Progressive educator and MG writer. She attended Swarthmore College (’05) and earned her master’s in literacy education (’09) from Bank Street in NYC, and has worked for over a decade with elementary-aged kids. In between teaching and parenting her littles, she also binges on SF shows like The Expanse and plays the ukulele badly but enthusiastically.  She is repped by Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Lit. For more on Sarah, follow her on Twitter (@sarahjanian) or check out her website.

 

Léonie Kelsall

A Professional Counsellor, Léonie (Lee, because no one can pronounce her name!) lives in the wilds of Australia. Okay, not so much the wilds, as in a country town…but it is inhabited by a generous mix of bitey, stingy, poisonous varieties of Australian wildlife, as evidenced on her Twitter feed.

Represented by the Donaghy Literary Group, and writing historical and contemporary YA, along with Women’s Fiction, sci-fi romance and erotic romance, Lee is big on extensive research, including archaeological digs and…ah, other stuff that shouldn’t be listed here, given that last genre. Her books are published by The Wild Rose Press under a pseudonym (again, because of that last genre!)

Being an Aussie, her spelling can be a bit off. A finalist in the YARWA Rosemary Award ‘17, and WisRWA Fab Five ’18, she swears she duz no how too rite gud, though. For more on Léonie, follow her on Twitter (@leehotline) or check out her website.

 

Syed Masood

Syed Mushahid Masood grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and currently lives in Sacramento, California, where he is a practicing attorney. He received his J.D. from the William and Mary School of Law, after attending the University of Toronto, where he studied English Literature. He wrote a few couplets in Urdu when he was a teenager, and his family still tells everyone he is an Urdu poet. He is not. His interests include good food, video games, sitcoms, and books of all kinds. For more on Syed, follow him on Twitter (@smushahidm) or check out his website.

 

Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros is the author of Project Pandora (Entangled Teen, 2017), Project Prometheus (Entangled Teen, 2018), and Hades Rising (Entangled Teen, 2018). He grew up in Illinois and Arizona, but is currently living in Germany. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys traveling, going on walks through the city, visiting flea markets, and daydreaming about the stories he will write. He is represented by Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/adenpolydorosauthor and https://twitter.com/AdenPolydoros.

 

Sara Stevenson

Sarah Jamila Stevenson is a writer, artist, editor and graphic designer in Northern California. She is the author of three YA novels: THE LATTE REBELLION (Flux, 2011), UNDERNEATH (Flux, 2013) and THE TRUTH AGAINST THE WORLD (Flux, 2014). Her first novel for young adults, THE LATTE REBELLION, was a Scholastic Book Club pick as well as an IPPY Bronze Medalist in Multicultural Children’s Fiction. Her work has been featured on Capital Public Radio’s Insight and NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is also an active blogger: since 2005 she has been posting children’s literature reviews and information at Finding Wonderland (writingya.blogspot.com), a blog she shares with fellow young adult author Tanita S. Davis, and she is a regular participant in the Cybils Awards. Her next project is a middle grade graphic novel with artist Veronica Agarwal, ALEXIS VS. SUMMER VACATION, forthcoming in 2019 from Avenue A Books. For more on Sara, follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

 

Gail Villanueva

Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipina author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer, an entrepreneur, and a graphic artist. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly, will be released on July 30, 2019 by Scholastic Press. Gail is represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group. For more on Gail, check out the following links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fate-According-Butterfly-Gail-Villanueva/dp/133831050X/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39884772-my-fate-according-to-the-butterfly
Website: www.gaildvillanueva.com
Twitter: @gaildvillanueva
Instagram: @gaildvillanueva
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gaildvillanueva/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gaildvillanueva/

 

 

 



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FALL FICTION FEST agents!!!

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 18 October 2018 · 72 views

 

We have 15 agents joining us this year for FALL FICTION FEST!!!  Some are new. Some are established. All are looking to make requests. To everyone entering this year, best of luck! The Slush Pile is going to be VERY competitive.

Only a third of the agent list is here. You can find the rest of the participating agents on Marty and Michelle’s blogs.

Mentors will be revealed next week, and they will be followed by instructions to enter. This is not a twitter pitch event but an online contest where you will email your entry. For the announcement post, go here. Remember that the submission window opens on October 31st!

If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Now for the agents…

 

 

Having grown up with the same name as her favorite Sweet Valley High twin, Jess has always had a love for books, especially those that feature kickass female characters, child psychopaths, and serial killers. She loves a book that can scare her, that can make her cry when she’s least expecting it, and a book that she can’t put down no matter what time it is or what rerun of SVU is on. She has a BFA in Writing for Film and Television from the University of the Arts and worked in entertainment for eight years before returning to her home state of NY where she worked at a literary agency for two years before joining Brower Literary & Management.

 

 

Jessica Errera was born and raised on Long Island and credits her love of reading to the built-in book club that is her large family. Jess attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a BA in English and Dramatic Arts before returning home to New York in search of the elusive “real world job.” Luckily, JRA was in need of interns and, in the tradition of good romance novels, it was love at first sight. Jessica now works full-time as an assistant to Meg, reading to her heart’s content while also tracking book sales and PR. A self-proclaimed book nerd, Jess can often be found curled up on the couch with the latest bestseller. Her favorite genres include young and new adult, contemporary fiction, fantasy, and anything that can be read in a day on the beach.

 

 

Ann Rose is Prospect Agency’s newest agent, but she isn’t new to publishing. Over the last few years she has been exploring this field by working and mentoring with literary agents in various capacities. Everything she has experienced from editorial work to the magic of finding the perfect match between author and editor has hardened her resolve to join this wonderful profession. Now she’s thrilled to be building her own list and is actively seeking clients ready to grow amazing careers with her. Ann’s perfect manuscript is a character driven story that isn’t afraid to push boundaries. She loves an unlikeable character — even though she is incredibly likeable herself!

 

 

Caitlen joined the LKG Agency in 2008, thereby disproving the theory that no English major ever does anything with their degree.  Before that she worked at another literary agency, Don Congdon Associates, where she had the behind-the-scenes thrill of seeing Kathryn Stockett’s The Help first come in (and getting one of the first reads). And before that she was getting her Masters in English and Publishing from Rosemont College. She has enjoyed her apprenticeship under Lauren very much, and is now actively looking to build her own list, which includes (after a surprisingly minimal amount of begging and pleading on my part), securing Lauren’s agreement to open the agency to considering middle grade and young adult fiction.

 

 

A literary agent for over fifteen years, Andrea represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including projects for adult, young adult and middle grade audiences. Her clients’ books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers, as well as nominated for The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and have been chosen for ABA’s Indies Introduce Program. Andrea is a guest instructor for MediaBistro and Writers Digest.

 



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Monday Musings: Realities in “Queryland”

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 08 October 2018 · 61 views

 

Last Friday I was excited to share a new post about the upcoming contest, FALL FICTION FEST I’m hosting with Marty Mayberry and Michelle Hauck. While promoting the contest on Twitter, I used the hashtag #amquerying. I was curious to see what people were saying about being in the trenches these days so I scrolled through the thread. As I read, I gasped once, then twice. I couldn’t believe the amount of misinformation and non-reality based conversation I was reading.

Now, let me put this out there – I am NOT a literary agent. But, I have been in the query trenches more than I’d like to admit. I’ve been there, signed with an agent, been on submission, parted with an agent, sold two books, and been back into the trenches again. With this blog, I’ve also had the unique opportunity to interview dozens of writers about their publishing journey, and talk to agents about the process of querying and submitting those first pages.

Here are a few things based on my experiences and interviews I’ve learned about querying:

  1. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS follow submission guidelines. Part of your job as a writer is to do your due diligence in researching each and every agent you want to query. This means going to the agency website and reading their submission guidelines thoroughly. If it says only submit to one agent at a time, then follow this rule. If it says a “no” from one agent is a “no” from all, then heed this directive. What I’ve heard from most agents is that a good portion of their slush pile gets deleted for these reasons:
  • People do not follow submission guidelines
  • Writers submit material the agent does not represent

Agents often say that if writers follow guidelines, and submit the proper category and genre, they are already rising in the slush pile. A well-written query, and an intriguing premise, will move you up higher. Don’t think that you can be one of those people who buck the system because it makes you stand out. What will happen is that your hard work will end up in the circular bin.

WORD OF NOTE: I’ve seen a few whispers about writers sending queries and manuscripts to agents’ private residences. DO NOT EVER DO THIS. The publishing world is very small. Agents talk. Just don’t do it. EVER.

2. Giving up too soon

I saw in the thread that people were quoting things like how many times TWILIGHT, HARRY POTTER, or THE HELP was rejected. Here’s a reality-check. First, you have to define whether those rejections came from agents or editors. This is important because it is the difference between being in the query trenches or being agented and on submission. The two are VERY DIFFERENT processes.

For the sake of our discussion here, let’s say we are referring to querying.

If you are talking about a writer getting 20 rejections in the query trenches and are alarmed, I’m here to tell you THAT IS NOTHING. Seasoned writers, who’ve been in the game a long time, will tell you it took numerous manuscripts, and most likely 100+ rejections, before they signed with an agent. The rare unicorn is the writer who signs their first manuscript quickly with very few rejections. Querying is a grueling process. If you want to be published, you have to be in it for the long haul.

Let’s say now that the quoted “12 or 15” rejections were about books being submitted to editors. Again, from experience, I’m here to tell you this number of rejections is LOW. And to be even more honest, I’m going to share this fact: many, many, many agented writers do not sell their first book. As hard as that is to hear, it’s a truth in this business.

My overall point here is that you should keep querying beyond 10,12, 15 rejections. Most people send out queries in batches of 5 or 10. If their query and submitted materials are not getting any bites, they go back and rework the query and those early pages. Once that’s done, they submit to 5 or 10 more agents on their list. Keep working and pushing through the process. I know people who signed with an agent after receiving 50, 75, even 100 rejections for the same book.

3. Nudging on requested materials

Most agency websites will share their reading timeline on requested materials. If they do not, the best rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution. You must take into account that the agent has other clients and requests they must juggle along with your submitted materials. The typical rule of thumb is not to nudge until after 12 weeks. My additional recommendation would be to nudge using the same email thread as the original request. By doing this, the agent has a frame of reference for your inquiry.

4. Having a bad agent is better than having no agent

The plain and simple answer here is NO. This goes back to something I talked about in number one. I know it’s hard to imagine that after you’ve slaved for months, maybe even years, on a manuscript that you still need to do more work, but it’s the truth. In order to get the best possible outcome, you need to figure out who is the best fit for your manuscript. This means taking your time to research and weigh who are the agents that might be a match for your work. There are many things to consider here:

    • The agent’s sales record. How many books have they sold in your category and genre? Do they have a proven track record? The caveat here would be new agents. If they are with a reputable agency, and have a mentor they’re working with, they are still a viable choice. Every agent had to start somewhere and many times newer ones are eagerly looking to build their list.
    • Their agency. Is this a one-man shop or a bigger business with many agents under their roof? There is nothing wrong with a one-man agency as long as that person is respected in the publishing community and has had a long run in the business with a proven track record of sales. If it’s a larger agency, often times if your query doesn’t work for one agent they may pass it on to another within the company.
    • The idea that any agent is a good agent. This is certainly not true. There have been many incidences in the past where people have hung out a shingle without the proper qualifications. Again, do your research. Make sure you are sending your beloved work to someone with proven experience and who has your best interest at heart. Talk to other writers. Read up on agents in important periodicals like Writer’s Digest, Publishers Weekly, and Publishers Marketplace. This goes for contests too. Just because you get a request, it does not mean you should send your work right away. Look into that agent and their record before sending off your manuscript.

I love that Twitter has opened the conversation about the process of querying. What I would suggest is that you take each comment with a grain of salt. Talk to seasoned writers if you have questions. Read and keep up-to-date about changes in the publishing world. I know better than anyone the difficulties of this process, and I want to make sure you are getting honest information so you can avoid some of the common pitfalls.

As always, my comments are open if you have questions!

 

 

 



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New Contest!!! FALL FICTION FEST is coming soon!

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 05 October 2018 · 65 views

 

 

Who is ready for something new this fall? Because of the many changes in the contest world recently, we’ve had to rethink Nightmare On Query Street and Sun versus Snow. As we didn’t want to let these amazing contests (who have many years of success) go, Michelle Hauck, Marty Mayberry, and myself have come up with a brand new fall contest called, FALL FICTION FEST!

Like past contests, this will be a query plus first 250 words event. We will open a contest window for twenty-four hours and accept entries that meet the contest requirements and guidelines. Once all entries have been received, Michelle, Marty, and I will review the entries and make ten selections each. After these thirty selections are announced, the writers will be paired with seasoned mentors who will help them polish their materials for the agent round. Currently, there are ten agents on board with hopefully more committing soon!

The agent round will be open for a full three days and will allow the participating agents to travel between our three blogs and make requests based on what they represent. To keep a bit of fun (and tradition) in the contest, we will continue having the agents request in a fall-flavored way. Like “Add an extra marshmallow to my hot cocoa and send me the full!”

As always, once the agent request period is over we will direct the participants on how to send in their requested materials.

 

 

Now for the guidelines and rules…

  • Entries can be Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, or Middle Grade. All genres (excluding erotica)
  • Entries must be for a completed and polished manuscript (please check word count guidelines to make sure your entry qualifies!)

Some great online posts to check out:

Agent Jennifer Laughran’s Word Count Dracula

Writer’s Digest Guide to Word Count

  • The entry cannot have been part of an agent round in a contest for the last three months

Important dates:

October 31: Submission window opens (will be open for 24 hours)

November 19: Selected 30 entries announced

November 20- 25: Mentors work with entries

November 26-28: Agent round

As we get closer to the submission window on October 31, we will post full details on submission guidelines and entry rules.

If you have a beautiful, stunning, exciting entry polished up and ready to query, we hope you’ll think about joining us for FALL FICTION FEST! It is certain to be a “CHILLING and THRILLING” time!

 

 

 



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Monday Musings: Transparency and My Writing Journey

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 17 September 2018 · 73 views

 

 

For a while now I’ve been promising to share the wild ride that lead me to publication. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit tentative about writing this post. While I love all the recent transparency in publishing, it can feel a lot like pulling off a Band-aid when you have to share your own story.

What has pushed me to write this post is that I know people are languishing out in the query trenches feeling hopeless. I understand that people are grappling with the question if whether or not they should leave their agent. Questioning if the book they love will ever see the light of day.

I have been in every single one of those situations and I am here to tell you there is HOPE!

I started my writing journey in 2010. Writing a book was a gift to myself as I approached a very momentous birthday. My idea was that I would give myself a year to write that book. I finished it in eight months. IT WAS TERRIBLE. Every single thing I know now as being bad form in writing I did in that book. I opened with a dream. My character described herself as she looked in a mirror. I even went so far as to send that very bad book to a freelance editor. It was single spaced. Written in Courier. When the editor returned it, he schooled me in what was proper manuscript formatting. I was beyond embarrassed, but it was a lesson learned.

Knowing that book was hopeless, I wrote another manuscript. This one was just as troubling, but I thought for sure it was a winner. I even went as far as to travel to New York to go to an agent/editor pitch conference. I did get requests, but those eventually turned into rejections. At this point I was three years into my writing journey. I went on to write two more manuscripts and have each one rejected. Just to give you insight, I was well past 200 rejections now.

By this time I’d been lucky enough to make friends in the writing community. They were all in the same place I was: writing, querying, being rejected, until they weren’t anymore. One by one they all signed with agents and then got deals. I vividly remember sitting at a happy hour during a conference with all of them toasting their successes, and while I was so happy for them, I thought “I am a fraud. I have no right to be at this table.” On the plane ride home I cried because I was ready to give up on my dream.

But then a funny thing happened, I took a trip to Chicago and that writing bug came back to bite me. Wandering through a museum I happened upon an exhibit with a mannequin hanging upside down from a plane and the idea for NOTHING BUT SKY was born. Here is the truth though…It would be a long journey to see that book on the shelves.

Here are the stats:

Started writing NOTHING BUT SKY: 2013

Began querying: 2014

Queries sent: 100+

Fulls requested: At one time I had 12 FULLS OUT – all but one was rejected

Offers of representation: 1

I went on to sign with that agent and we revised for close to three months before it went out at the end of 2014.

The submission journey was BRUTAL. I was on sub for over a year, and while we had a few nibbles, every single one of the editors who requested NOTHING BUT SKY (33 in total) rejected it save for one. I did get a request for an R&R, but in the end I turned it down because the notes did not align with my vision of the book.

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I just try, especially since it was from a Big 5 imprint? It was a really DIFFICULT decision, but sometimes you know when a direction is wrong for your book and I knew the notes weren’t right for NBS.

At this point, I was in a very dark place. My next manuscript was having issues and I knew I needed to make a change. Take a break. Step back and figure out what was next. I parted ways with my agent, who was very kind about my decision, and then took a break from writing.

Here is the honest truth though, when a story gets hold of you it is very hard to let go. A few months after leaving my agent, I went back to NOTHING BUT SKY and read it again. I felt that same early elation about this book and knew I couldn’t give up on it. My choices at this point were very limited. I emailed a friend who was an editor and asked her to read. If she told me the book was fraught with problems, then I was going to put away NBS for good. Her notes came back and they were filled with inspiring comments and great direction on what needed to change. I knew that if I made those revisions, I’d be ready to give it one last chance.

So after revising NOTHING BUT SKY for what was the tenth time (including three full re-writes), I sent to three publishers who took unsolicited manuscripts. This was in March of 2017. I received two more rejections. Then a month later, April 19, 2017 to be exact, I got the email I’d been waiting on for seven years. Flux wanted to publish my book. Full disclosure, I was standing in the produce section at COSTCO (freezing my butt off!) and I started to cry. An older man next to me was so startled he approached and asked if I was okay. I told him I was fine and then ran off the wine aisle to call my husband.

In March of 2018, my dream came true. NOTHING BUT SKY was published, but my journey did not end there.

This is the hard part of the post that I’ve been terrified to share. I’m going to be brave though because I think it might help someone who is struggling right now.

Here it is. My rejection did not end once my book was released.

My wonderful publisher, Flux offered on my next book. It just so happened that I was querying another book at the time. Now for honesty’s sake, I will tell you that the book I was querying was way outside my YA Historical brand. It was Adult Contemporary Romance. I had a ton of people tell me I should go back and tell the agents them I had another offer on a different book because, of course, they’d want to sign me. I was handing them a deal on a silver platter. All ten agents ended up rejecting that manuscript-even with the offer.

My pride is taking a huge hit by sharing this but it’s important I be honest about the rough tides of this business. Publishing is full of exhilarating highs and soul-crushing lows. One day you feel like you are queen of the business, and the next you literally feel like the world’s worst hack. I am here to tell you that life goes on. You feel sorry for yourself, curse A LOT, lick your wounds, and then get back to work.

I am so lucky to have made a real partnership with Flux. They continue to believe in me and my writing and are publishing my next book in Fall 2019.

Do I still want an agent? Yes. Will I begrudgingly go back into the query trenches with another book? Absolutely. I’ve been knocked down a lot, but every single time I come back stronger. I’m in this publishing game for the long haul. I want to make this a career, and I want a partner who will help make that happen.

For the time being, I remain optimistic about the future. I love my new book and can’t wait for it to be in readers’ hands. I hold onto that fact during the rough times.

I am a storyteller. Even as this business spins me in circles, I refuse to give up because I know deep within my bones that this is what I was meant to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Monday Musings: “About That Call”

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 13 August 2018 · 117 views

 

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I posted a “Monday Musing” but I’m finally in a good place to stop and actually write something coherent after being way knee-deep in drafting a new book.

A disturbing issue has recently come up online I want to discuss. With the recent slew of posts about “bad practices” from literary agents, I want to go back over some thoughts about what it means to query and what you should be asking and researching when you decide to sign on the dotted line with an agent.

First, let’s talk about querying. I know, really I do, how hard it is to work on a book for months, maybe even years, to get it to a good place. Once you get it to that place, all you want to do is query the heck out of it and get a good agent. You’ve worked long and hard on it, it’s been through rounds with both critique partners and beta readers, and you’ve given it a ton of polish, right? Yes, right. Now, you want to connect with an agent and get your publishing career started.

Again, I get it, but remember you have worked your butt off on that book. You want to make sure it gets into the right hands. To ensure that happens, you need to develop a plan. You can’t just open “Query Tracker” and randomly pick people who rep. YA. Nope. You need to make sure you are seeking out those who represent your genre, too. Not all agents who rep. YA take all genres. Some may only be looking for fantasy or contemporary. It is your job to dig deep into research and find those agents who want your type of manuscript. The quickest way to get rejected is to submit a manuscript with a category and/or genre an agent does not represent.

Your job isn’t done here. Once you have your agent list, you need to look at their sales and who they currently represent. Yes, this is VERY important. This is not to say that a new agent with minimal sales might not be a good fit for you. If that person works for a reputable agency, and maybe has a seasoned agent as a mentor, they may still be a good bet for you. Again, you need to do the legwork to make sure you are sending your work to a professional who will properly advocate for your work.

Okay, moving on. So let’s say you’ve done your work, queried, gotten a request for more pages, and now the agent wants to talk. Do you jump on the phone right away? No, you still have work to do. First, you need to write out a list of questions to ask. These questions must cover a variety of topics from submission strategy, to communication style, to practices of the agency in regards to your work.

Submission strategy and communication style are KEY here.

In my years of blogging and interviewing many writers, the chief complaint I hear from people who have left their agents fall into these two categories. Please, to help yourself, ask up front how long they take to respond to emails, texts, and/or phone calls. This is one of the biggest frustrations I hear about. A writer has a question about a book proposal, or the sub process, and the agent takes many weeks to respond. THIS IS NOT NORMAL (unless there are extenuating circumstances like illness, family emergency). You as a client should be able to talk to your agent regularly. If this is NOT happening, it is a RED FLAG.

Second, your submission process. Let’s remember, the agent works for you. This means you need to be involved in all levels of the sub process. This should include, but is not limited to, seeing/reviewing the editor pitch, discussing what editors will be pitched, regular updates on editor feedback (pass/request for more), and the ability (if you so wish) to see rejection responses. Some writers want to be very involved. Others prefer a more “hands off” approach. It is up to you to communicate how you want to be involved in the process.

If you are inclined to sign with the agent, I recommend you take one more step. Talk with current and past clients (if possible). Ask them pointed questions about their experience with the agent. If you request to talk to a client, the agent should say yes. If you are met with resistance, this too is a RED FLAG. If the agent is professional, and has worked in a respectful manner with clients, they should be open to you talking to them.

One last topic before you end that call, and I know this is uncomfortable, but you must talk about the exit process. Ask things specifically about what are your rights if this happens. Can you exit in 30 days? 60 days? Does it have to be in writing? What are your rights about ongoing material (proposals, drafts) that have not been pitched to editors. Do those remain your property? Can you move on and pitch elsewhere? I’ve heard about bad practices in regard to this issue. Please double-check your contract and confirm material remains yours unless they have been purchased by a publisher. If it has a contract, then the agency gets to keep their fifteen percent, otherwise that material should remain yours.

Also, I’ve heard too many stories where writers and their agents part and they do not get their submission list. If you end your partnership with a book still on sub, you have a right to that list. Confirm with the agent you will get that list before parting. If this does not happen, it is another RED FLAG.

NOTE: I am not an attorney. In regards to any contract, I highly recommend you have a lawyer look at the details. 

Let me say this one last thing. Signing with an agent should be a partnership. Both of you working together to build a career. Key word here is TOGETHER. You should never be afraid to reach out to your agent to ask questions or to follow-up if you are not getting a response. They work for YOU and YOU should receive kindness and respect during the process.

The most important thing to remember is communication is critical to this relationship. If you’re worried, confused, unhappy, you must talk about this with your agent. Many times the situation can be worked out. You have enough to worry about with trying to draft a new book, work, school, family, and all your other responsibilities. You should not have to fret over why it’s taking your agent six months to read your new book – which by the way, reading timeframes should also be discussed in the call.

I’m sure I have not covered everything about the writer/agent relationship, but I’ve tried to cover the critical aspects. The most important issue here is that you and your work deserve respect. There are dozens upon dozens of good, professional agents out there. Be sure to do your research and hopefully you will connect with one of them.

 

Here are some great articles about “The Call” process.

Writers Digest: 10 Questions To Ask An Agent Before You Sign

The Next Set of Questions To Ask Prospective Agents – Janet Reid, Literary Agent

5 Questions Authors Don’t Ask but Should When an Agent Offers Rep. – Nelson Literary Agency

 

 

 

 

 

 



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20 in 2018: Featuring I AM STILL ALIVE, SANCTUARY, and HERETICS ANONYMOUS

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 07 August 2018 · 104 views

 

One of the things I’m incredibly happy about is being a part of the Class of 2K18 and supporting my good friends as their book babies make it out into the world.

The Class of 2K18 is a group of 20 talented Young Adult and Middle Grade writers who have their first books releasing in 2018! We’ve come together not only to support one another but also help promote each other’s titles.

The “20 in 2018” series features a new release from the Class of 2K18 and includes the cover, blurb, and buy links for that debut. At the end of the following week, I’ll be giving away that book (or books) as we do have some writers who share a book birthday!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a name and contact info in the comments below by Friday, August 17 at 11 p.m. EST. Email or Twitter handle is just fine.

U.S. entries only please.

Winner will be announced on Monday, August 20.

Today there are THREE books in the “20 in 2018″ giveaway…

 

I AM STILL ALIVE by Kate Alice Marshall 

After

Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.

Before

Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.

After
With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.

Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father… and she wants revenge.

Now available via Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound.

 

SANCTUARY by Caryn Lix

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

Now available via Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound.

 

HERETICS ANONYMOUS by Katie Henry

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s—a strict Catholic school—sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

Now available via Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound.

 

Want to win a copy of one of these beautiful books? Remember to leave your name and contact info in the comments. Please specify which book you would like. If open to any of them, please let me know.

 

 

 



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“20 in 2018” features WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW

  Posted by Amy Trueblood , 03 July 2018 · 133 views

 

One of the things I’m incredibly happy about is being a part of the Class of 2K18 and supporting my good friends as their book babies make it out into the world.

The Class of 2K18 is a group of 20 talented Young Adult and Middle Grade writers who have their first books releasing in 2018! We’ve come together not only to support one another but also help promote each other’s titles.

The “20 in 2018” series features a new release from the Class of 2K18 and includes the cover, blurb, and buy links for that debut. At the end of the week, I’ll be giving away that book (or books) as we do have some writers who share a book birthday!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a name and contact info in the comments below by Friday, July 6 at 11 p.m. EST. Email or Twitter handle is just fine. U.S. entries only please. Winner will be announced on Monday, July 9.

Today’s book in the “20 in 2018″ giveaway is…

 

WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW by Cindy Baldwin

 

Twelve-year-old Della Kelly has lived her whole life in Maryville, North Carolina. She knows how to pick the softest butter beans and sweetest watermelons on her daddy’s farm. She knows ways to keep her spitfire baby sister out of trouble (most of the time). She knows everyone in Maryville, from her best friend Arden to kind newcomer Miss Lorena to the mysterious Bee Lady.

And Della knows what to do when the sickness that landed her mama in the hospital four years ago spirals out of control again, and Mama starts hearing people who aren’t there, scrubbing the kitchen floor until her hands are raw, and waking up at night to cut the black seeds from all the watermelons in the house. With Daddy struggling to save the farm from a record-breaking drought, Della decides it’s up to her to heal Mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville for generations.

She doesn’t want to hear the Bee Lady’s truth: that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain than with healing Della’s own heart. But as the sweltering summer stretches on, Della must learn—with the help of her family and friends, plus a fingerful of watermelon honey—that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

 

Now available on Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound.

 

Want a chance to win a copy of this beautiful book? Remember to leave your name and contact info in the comments.

 



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