Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

A Grateful Post November 25, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 11:52 am
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Turkey 2






Hello all,


The blog has been a little quiet as of late because I’m knee-deep in revisions on one book, while trying to desperately finish a first draft on another before year end (I know, I need to have my head examined over this choice!)


But while things may slow down until after the New Year, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few things I am grateful for:




The Writing Community



This year has had its ups and downs for me, but no matter my mood the writing community has always been supportive. Sending me happy emojis when I was having a bad day or words of encouragement if the words weren’t flowing. Whatever my day may be like, I know I can always count on my writer friends and that keeps me going!




Finding My Passion



Most people go their entire lives never finding the one thing that lights them up. Gives them drive and forces them to see beyond their boundaries. I may have come to it later than anticipated, but I’ve found that passion in writing. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to create characters, settings, stories that fill my soul and hopefully entertain readers. It’s a magical gift that I get to explore every waking moment and seriously, that’s pretty amazing!




Family and Friends



They say you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I truly believe this theory. When I’m struggling with a story idea it’s like one of my siblings knows because my phone rings and they’re there asking the right probing questions. When my work is on sub, I get encouraging texts from friends, reminding me to keep my chin up and that I’m loved. Publishing is a tough business, but the support I receive makes the hard days a little easier to bear.







For me books have always been my secret escape. As a child I hid in the pages when I had a rotten day, or when I needed to be inspired. Fantastic new worlds and characters led me to this writing life. Even though I put words on paper myself, I continue to be awed by my peers who create lyrical masterpieces every day. As long as there are books in the world, we all can dare to dream.




Readers of this Blog


Many of you have been kind enough to reach out and let me know which posts have inspired you. Helped you to write that amazing query or pointed you in the direction of an amazing agent. Please continue to share you comments and stories with me. It’s because of you that I post every week.



My list could go on and on, but I do have a few pies to make!!


I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving Day filled with laughter and joyous memories. If you feel so inclined, please leave me a comment about what you’re grateful for this year. It would be nice to spread a little joy and I’d love to hear from you!





An Important Auction & Free Pass into 2016 Sun versus Snow Contest November 21, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,writing — chasingthecrazies @ 7:16 am
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Hi all,


A quick note today to let you know that I’ve donated a query + first chapter critique for an auction near and dear to my heart. A writer friend, Summer Heacock and her family, have had some recent issues due to family health problems. As a result, I agreed to band together with some amazing authors and literary agents and provide an item to help raise money for the family. In addition to the critique donation, I’m also offering a bonus item…


A FREE PASS onto Team Sun in 2016. What does this mean?




It means you don’t have to go through the submission window process

You don’t have to wait and see if Michelle or I select your entry

Basically, you are GUARANTEED that agents (last year there were 15!!!) participating in the contest will see your work (in the past it’s been query +first 250).


In addition to my donation, numerous agents and authors are offering up other great items.


So if you’re planning on querying in 2016, or just want to help out a great cause, please think about checking out the auction which ends this Monday.


Thanks and have a great Saturday!


The Heacock’s GoFundMe link:


Link to my donation:


Link to all donations:




QUITE THE QUERY with A.J. Pine and ONE NIGHT November 20, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,Query,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:21 am
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If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors say writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!


Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences, but for those who don’t, I wanted to provide a resource so writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.


With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from A.J. Pine. This great query connected her with her agent, Courtney Miller-Callihan.




Twenty-one-year old Jess used to be that girl. You know, in a sorority with the perfect boyfriend, her future all mapped out, until one night that should have been magical–that was magical–wound up shattering everything.


Now one night is all Jess thinks she’s worth. Her not-so-perfect ex taught her that. Since no guy could want her beyond a night in her bed, that’s how long she gives them. For one night she can have someone’s arms wrapped around her and not wake up alone. For one night she can pretend that she’s still that girl, that the arms around her are still his.


But when Jess’s physical therapy internship introduces her to Adam Carson, star of the university basketball team recovering from knee surgery, he reminds her how much more she has to offer. Maybe she can resist his chocolate brown eyes and witty charm, but his beautiful heart is no contest. He’s not like the other guys. He’ll take her any way he can get her, even if she draws the line at friends. But crossing the line unleashes Jess’s secret of what happened little more than a year ago. Jess cares about him too much to keep up the lie, but the truth breaks her heart wide open again…and Adam’s too. For any chance at happiness, Jess must let go of her past, stop blaming others for what she lost, and believe in a future of more than one-night-stands.


ONE NIGHT is a New Adult contemporary romance, complete at 69,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Cora Carmack’s FAKING IT and Brooklyn Skye’s STRIPPED.





I’m a big fan of Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT techniques. To write this query, I used his log line example that I found on the SAVE THE CAT website and just expanded it to the three paragraph format of the query. I knew that if I included all that was in the log line I’d be hitting the set-up, the conflict, and showing the stakes. I also honed the query online at WriteOnCon, queried my agent after she favorited my #pitmad tweet (Note to writers–you still have to query after a twitter pitch request), and the rest is history!



Just a quick mention that A.J. recently released the third book in her IF ONLY series, titled I DO. Here’s a little blurb…




I do




Sometimes you have to trust your heart to find out what home really means.


Duncan McAllister is marrying Elaina Tripoli tomorrow. Except–he’s missing. Jordan, Noah, Griffin, Maggie, and Miles arrive in Greece for the festivities to find frantic messages from both the bride and groom. Noah and Griffin set off to find Duncan while Jordan, Maggie, and Miles try to salvage what should be a day of celebration before the wedding.


But the Americans have their own baggage. Noah’s got a surprise planned for Jordan that has to go perfectly. Griffin’s keeping life-changing news from Maggie. And Miles–well, he wasn’t looking for love on this trip until a Greek sous chef named Alex rocks his world.


The race is on for Duncan to make it back to Elaina before she decides not to take him back at all. For Noah to make sure his monumental plan goes off without a hitch. For Griffin to tell Maggie the truth without losing her. For Miles to admit that letting himself fall in love is worth the risk.


Happily Ever After waits at the finish line…if the four couples can make it on time.


Now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.




Amy Pine

A.J. Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, the books she writes have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes). And a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires and superheroes. You’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago ‘burbs. For more on A.J., check out her website or follow her on Twitter.


Happy Book Birthday to Michelle Hauck’s GRUDGING November 17, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Book Birthday,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 7:59 am
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Grudging Pic




It’s no secret that Michelle Hauck and I are pals. Besides being writers, we also happen to run this little contest every January called, Sun versus Snow. Michelle and I have seen our ups and downs in publishing, but through it all she has remained resilient and persevered. So imagine my joy when she told me she’d sold her book, GRUDGING, to Harper Voyager!! To say that I did a “little” happy dance would be putting it mildly.


Today, I am again doing that “happy dance” but this time it is in celebration of GRUDGING’S book birthday!


Congrats to Michelle. She is proof that hard work DOES  pay off!



More on GRUDGING and an excerpt…



A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.


The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.


On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.


The Women of the Song.


But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power.  And time is running out.


A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.





Shortly after the combat, Ramiro made his excuses to the men at the wall and left, returning to the citadel and taking the stairs to the roof. Some alcalde’s wife from the past had turned this spot into an outdoor garden and dining room, making it a favorite retreat for many. A peaceful place when he felt anything but.


Other people’s blood spotted his white shirt. Had things gone differently, it could easily have been his own. He needed a bath and a rest, but his mind hummed from the conflict, leaving him unable to stop pacing. Cold chills claimed his limbs. His stomach was sourer than when alcohol had filled it. With no clear single-combat victory, he hadn’t earned his beard. The night reeked of disappointment.


How long? How long could they keep the Northerners out?


Stars spotted the night sky here, where the citadel met the top of the world. Or so it had always seemed to him as a child. Life was no longer so certain now that he was older.


He drew in the cool scent of creeping jasmine, carefully tended and watered by hand in pots across the rooftop. Colina Hermosa spread before him, a humbling sight. The city stretched away from the citadel on all sides, a jewel shining with lights. It spread down the hill, becoming wider and grander as it sprawled, with imposing avenues and white-clad stucco buildings whose thick walls and small windows kept out the noonday heat. There was squalor and dirt as well, fits of temper, rudeness, and often impatience. But the darkness hid all that, washing the city of its faults and giving it a fresh life until it tumbled like the sea against the immovable stone walls that now held out the Northerners.


His heart swelled with love. Something worth defending. Home.


Outside the high, white walls, well beyond arrow shot, was a sight not so welcoming. There, jammed between the city and a deep, old quarry used to build the city walls, campfires burned. A red swarm of rage and death, brimstone and smoke, offering a grim contrast with the peaceful firmament. Not by the hundreds did they burn, but by the thousands, mirroring the stars in the sky. How many peasants’ houses did they demolish to feed so much hungry fire? They must be down to burning cacti. How they kept it up night after night, he couldn’t begin to comprehend. Salvador had talked on about supply trains and quartermasters, but Ramiro had let his imagination dwell on his first ride instead. An indulgence he regretted now.


If only each fire meant a single enemy, but that was wishful thinking. Each fire contained tens of men. Tens and thousands. And behind them, the siege machines waited their turn. A lethal combination for Colina Hermosa.


He touched the spot above his spleen, and whispered, “Santiago, don’t let me give in to despair.”



GRUDGING is now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.





MichelleHMichelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat and Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer’s Double Edge. She’s repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.


For more on Michelle, check out her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Goodreads.


Monday Musings: Who Are You Writing For? November 16, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:33 am
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After I finished my very first manuscript I thought I was in a solid place as a writer. I’d heard stories about people who had been trying to write a book all their life but never finished. Once I wrote “The End” on that sucker, I felt like I’d accomplished something major. Something life changing. And I had, just not in the way I expected.



After I put the period on the very last sentence of that book, I was sure I was going to get an agent. Then selling that book? It would be done in a snap. Boy, it was sure nice to live in that naïve little bubble for a while, but reality soon popped that dream in the form of dozens of rejections.



I was heartbroken when that book never attracted the attention of an agent. I was sure it was a masterpiece until a critique partner pointed out that it was far from it. After that, I went into a funk. I swore I’d never write again. That trying to structure a story was too hard. Rejection was too painful.



While I was wallowing, I received an email from said critique partner who asked when I was going to send her something new. “NEVER!” was my short reply. She pushed on, sending me more emails, trying to encourage me to open up my laptop and try again. Then one day she sent a short, somewhat terse, message that read, “Who are you writing for anyway?” Incredibly perturbed, I shot back, “Well, readers, of course.” Then it hit me. I wasn’t writing for readers or because I wanted fame or fortune. I was writing for me. I had stories I wanted to put on paper. Characters who pulled at my every thought-demanding that I give them life.



Once I had that epiphany, things changed in my writing. I came back full force, writing a new manuscript, and then another, until I finally connected with an agent. Yes, it took me three tries before lightning struck, but I was bound and determined to make this writing thing work.



It may have taken a while, but that single push from a friend forced me to look at writing in a whole new way. Instead of being bound and determined to be noticed, praised, even read, I decided I needed to write because it was what I was meant to do. Someday I know I’ll sell a book. It may not be tomorrow, next year, or even in five years, but I’ll continue to work because I finally know exactly who I’m writing for-me.


FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Services November 13, 2015


FFF SideWords



If you’re like me, you toil for hours editing and fine-tuning the first pages of your manuscript. You look at the first lines to make sure they are compelling and tight. You examine the next few paragraphs hoping your MC’s voice is already taking hold of the reader.


The First Five Frenzy is all about getting an agent’s perspective on what works, and what fails, in those first pages of a manuscript. It’s tricky to get just the right balance, but I hope by reading each agent’s comments you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.


Today I’m proud to share Literary Agent, Saba Sulaiman’s perspective on what’s important in those critical first pages.




Amy: There is a belief among many writers that having a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is a first line to you as an agent?



Saba: It makes a huge difference, but I wouldn’t throw a manuscript away if the opening line wasn’t perfect. What I’m looking for is the potential to craft a stellar first line, or perhaps another line somewhere in the opening pages that would work better as the first line. I think if the writing voice and tone has personality and purpose overall, a less than super opening line can be overlooked. That having been said, there’s nothing like a fantastic first line to get me excited to read a project, often well after I’ve begun to lose interest. So the bottom line is: make each line count, especially your opening line.




Amy: Many times a writer is told to stay away from common openings like dreams, eating breakfast, riding in a car, etc. What are some common openings you recommend writers stay away from?



Saba: Other than the ones you’ve already mentioned, I’ll add the following that come to mind:


-Kid finding out the family’s moving.

-Kid starting first day at new school and feeling overwhelmed.

-Monologue about a) wanting to be popular, or b) being too cool to want to be popular.

-Person waking up (even if there’s no dream.)

-The “My name is X, and I am Y” opening. It can work, but I see it a lot

-Couple lying in bed contemplating strained marriage

-Lying in bed and thinking in general.

-Thinking in general (start with action, if possible).

-The weather (just don’t).


Again, I always say: never say never. If an author can find a way to make even the most common opening unique and interesting, I say go for it. My mind’s always open to exceptions to any rule, especially when it comes to writing.




Amy: When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full manuscript, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?



Saba: It varies. It’s usually some combination of stellar writing + voice + characters + point of view + general concept. It’s never just concept, although it can be just the writing or the voice, if I connect with either of them hard.




Amy: What are some common mistakes writers make in their first five pages?




-Too much backstory and exposition

-Poor, unlayered dialogue

-Too much dialogue

-Introducing too many characters

-Overuse of cliched images and phrases

-Not starting at the right place

-Too much telling vs. showing


This may be too early for the first five pages, but it’s something I look for personally, as soon as possible: an emotional anchor to the story. This usually comes in the form of a character who I can connect with immediately, who I care about, and who I find interesting. If that’s missing, I find it very difficult to continue reading on.




Amy: What resonates with you most in those first pages? Voice? Pacing? Unique concept?



Saba: Definitely the voice. And a complex, interesting, dynamic character, whose story I want to read. Ideally, a layered protagonist with a memorable voice and a unique perspective on the world. My favorite characters are relatable while still being larger than life in some sense. I’m always looking for that balance. Of course, there’s nothing like a seemingly ordinary character with an extraordinary story, and that’s where voice comes in. So, in short, voice and character.



Saba Sulaiman is a literary agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She’s looking to build her client list in a variety of genres (because that’s the beauty of agenting – see her website for details.) Captivating storytelling with characters who are smart and weird and wonderful engage in meaningful relationships that evolve over time is what makes her world spin. She’s an unapologetic advocate for all things Bollywood and she really, really just loves soup. For more on Saba, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@agentsaba)


If you’re interested in submitting to Saba, please check the Talcott Notch website for their guidelines.


QUITE THE QUERY: SARAH’S HEIRLOOM By Meredith Jaeger November 6, 2015





If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors say writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!


Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences, but for those who don’t, I wanted to provide a resource so writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.


With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Meredith Jaeger. This great query connected her with her agent, Jenny Bent.





Because you particularly enjoy women’s fiction, I’ve been keeping an eye on your #MSWL tweets! Based on the two below, I think my novel, SARAH’S HEIRLOOM, will be a great fit for you:


#MSWL historical fiction (for adults) with a strong female lead and lots of plot #MSWL high concept women’s fiction, with a strong plot, great pace and lots of emotion. Like THE LIFE LIST by @lnelsonspielman



SARAH’S HEIRLOOM is women’s fiction and complete at 81,000 words, the past and present woven together in a plot-driven dual narrative. San Francisco, 1876. German immigrant Hannelore Schaeffer hugs her best friend Margaret goodbye after a long day mending dresses at the tailor shop. But when Margaret doesn’t show up for work the next morning, Hanna fears the worst. Braving the squalor of the Red Light district and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stops at nothing to find her missing friend.



San Francisco, 2015. Spirit of the City associate editor Sarah Havensworth is hiding a painful secret from her past. Having married into San Francisco’s most prominent family, she plans to keep it hidden forever. When she’s assigned an article on San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast, Sarah discovers the disappearance of two seamstresses in 1876. The deeper Sarah digs, the more she suspects the Havensworths have secrets of their own. In the process, she finds that she and Hannelore might be linked in unexpected ways, and that her heirloom emerald engagement ring holds the key to the answers.



This book will appeal to fans of Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio, The House Girl by Tara Conklin, and fans of the BBC show The Paradise.






I sent out about 40 queries. I love the tag #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) on Twitter because it really helped me target agents who were looking for exactly what I had written. Even though Jenny liked my title, Sarah’s Heirloom, we changed it to The Dressmaker’s Dowry when submitting to publishers. Choose a catchy title, but be prepared for it to get changed a few times! :)





MeredithJaegerMeredith is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. She was inspired to write The Dressmaker’s Dowry by her own engagement ring, which is an heirloom from 1903. Like her character Hannelore Schaeffer, Meredith is also the daughter of a European immigrant, who moved to California in search of a better life. The Dressmaker’s Dowry will be published by William Morrow (Harper Collins) in 2017. Meredith lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, their cat, and English bulldog. She is currently at work on her next novel. She is represented by Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. For more on Meredith, check out her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.




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