Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

WELCOME TEAM SUN!!! February 7, 2016

sunvssnow copy2





I’m very excited to share this post today and welcome a fabulous group of writers to TEAM SUN! There were many amazing entries, and the selection process was very difficult for Michelle and I this year. Please remember that we not only picked based on what caught our eye, but had to consider what participating agents want as well.


My choices are listed below by category in no particular order. If your entry was not selected, please remember we only had 32 spots for over 200 entries.


Just to let you in on a little secret, I was selected for Pitch Madness, and received a few requests, but ended signing with my agent via the slush pile (six months later). So remember, DON’T GIVE UP!  We each have our own individual path in this crazy world of publishing. Keep writing, keep working, and it WILL happen one day.


After you check out my picks, hop over to Michelle’s blog to see the list for TEAM SNOW!



And now what you’ve been waiting for…Team Sun!!






The Poacher’s Code – Women’s Fiction

A Song For Sarah McPhee – Women’s Fiction




The Eternal Waitress – Contemporary Romance




Blue Serenity – Fantasy

The Phoenix – Urban Fantasy

Madness and Moth Wings – Southern Gothic

Black Butterfly – Thriller

The Birds, The Bees, And You and Me – Contemporary

Stoker – Fantasy (Free Pass Entry)

Having It All – YA Historical

Darkness Within Us – Fantasy

The Knife and the Pearl – Fantasy 

Riddle Of The TimeKeeper – Urban Fantasy




Wonderland Acres – Contemporary

Magical Raintree Daughters – Fantasy

Emily’s Guide To Owning A Castle – Fantasy



If you are part of TEAM SUN, expect an email from your mentor soon. Your mentor will help you fine tune your entry privately all this week. Also, I want to stay in touch with each of my picks, so if we don’t already follow each other on Twitter, let’s fix that. My handle: @atrueblood5


Now for the important part:


Your final revised entry must be back to me no later than Thursday, February 18 at 3:00 pm EST. That’s so I have time to format the entries and have them ready to post for the agent round on Monday, February 22 (please don’t make me hunt you down!) Mail your revised entry to the contest email Sunversussnow (at) yahoo (dot) com. Please use the exact same format.


After that, it will be up to the agents to decide! Congrats and good luck to everyone!


Sun Versus Snow Submission Day! February 1, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,contest — chasingthecrazies @ 6:59 am
Tags: , , , , ,


sunvssnow copy2






Today is the day for Sun versus Snow to begin! Michelle and I are beyond excited to get this party started!


Here’s a reminder of all the rules and details…



The submission window for Sun versus Snow will open TODAY at 4 pm Eastern time!


Act fast. We will only be taking the first 200 entries. 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 past five months. We are doing this at our agents’ request to prevent contest overlap.



Michelle and I have decided not to accept picture books for this contest. Though we love picture books, contests just don’t seem to be the best place to get them requests. We do accept all MG, YA, NA and Adult genres, excluding erotica. To enter you must be followers of our blogs. Click the “follow this blog” button on my blog. You can find Michelle’s blog here.




The Format:


Send submission to Sunversussnow (at) yahoo (dot) com. 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, 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: SVS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre

(example: SVS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)



In The Email:


Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)

Genre: YA dystopian (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)

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


My Main Character would use sun or snow to battle their biggest obstacle: 


Which would your character find more helpful in fighting through their biggest obstacle–hot or cold. And why? Tell us which weather would be the most helpful to your character.


(Can be in your MC’s POV, but doesn’t have to be. 100 words or less.)





Query goes here! Include greeting and main paragraphs. Please leave out bio, closing, and word count + genre sentence. You may include comps if you’d like. There is no word count limit on the query but please aim for 250 – 300 words.



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!



If you have any questions prior to the sub window opening, please let Michelle or I know. You can also check out Michelle’s contest FAQ post.



Also, we’ll be holding Twitter parties up until reveal day to keep the excitement going. Come join the fun by using the #sunvssnow tag. We’ll also be tweeting tips and inside info about what’s happening with the slush!




February 1st:  Submission day! What genre and age category will/did you enter?


February 2nd: It’s very important to read new books in your genre to get a sense of pacing and timing as well as style. What book in your genre have you read recently?


February 3rd: Is the setting of your manuscript sun or snow?


February 4th: Is your next project in the same category and genre? If not, what made you change?

Basically do you write in the same category and genre all the time?


February 5th:  Where do you write? Coffee shop, office, kitchen table?


February 6th:  Do you make a playlist for your manuscripts? If so, what music style do you tend to choose?


February 7th: What’s your best editing advice?


February 8th: It’s announcement day! Celebrate by posting a silly picture of you in sun or snow wear.



Thank you and we look forward to seeing your entries and chatting with you!


Sun vs. Snow Live Chat Details! January 28, 2016


sunvssnow copy2








Here’s how you can get a jump on the fun…



As mentioned in our mentor post we are having a chat time on Twitter tomorrow, January 29th. You can ask about your writing genre. Tips about editing. Word count rules. Ask how mentors got their agents. What to expect from submission. What it feels like to be published. Just about anything writing oriented you want to know about.



Oh, and the hosts will be there too to keep things rolling!



So join us at 3:00 PM and 9:00 PM EST at the hashtag #SvSChat. Each session will last an hour. And bring some questions!



For more on our mentors check out their bios here:



Team Sun Mentors:



Team Snow Mentors:



For contest details and rules go here:



W.O.W.-Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Stephanie Elliot January 27, 2016




In today’s W.O.W. I’m proud to present Stephanie Elliot’s writing journey. Through hard work and perseverance, Stephanie struggled through the query trenches and submission until she finally achieved her goal: a publication deal. Her YA Contemporary, SAD PERFECT will hit shelves in 2017.



Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing her journey today…



Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?



Stephanie: I didn’t set out to write YA but now that I do, I’m inspired by all of the amazing young adult novels and how they strongly impact the lives of teenagers. I’m also inspired by a shorter word count – I can write YA faster than women’s fiction! ☺




Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to SAD PERFECT?



Stephanie: Before I wrote Sad Perfect I had written three and a half full novels and one novella. I self-published two novels and the novella on amazon.




Amy: After reading your website, it sounds like SAD PERFECT is about a subject that hits close to home for you. How did you know you wanted to tackle the topic of ARFID in this book?



Stephanie: The funny thing is that I had no idea I wanted to write about ARFID and in turn, this story. I originally set out to write a vignette about how my daughter met her boyfriend at the time, which is actually the first chapter of Sad Perfect. It was going to be nothing more than that.


But then my daughter went into a 20-week intensive outpatient program for her eating disorder (ARFID). She had three to four days of intense therapy a week and I also had to attend a parent’s group weekly. Sad Perfect stemmed from her being in therapy and me needing an outlet during that difficult time, so writing the story essentially became therapy for me.




Amy: Are you one of those people who has an easy time writing a query or does it take several tries before you land on the one you want to send?



Stephane: Queries are hard! And I definitely play around with them – if I find that the first version isn’t getting any bites, I’ll revise the paragraph that describes the novel until it works. I’ve queried a lot – my first time querying, I sent out more than 100 queries until I got an agent. That’s not the agent I have today though. This was a long time ago!




Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?



Stephanie: As I mentioned above, with Sad Perfect, it wasn’t my first ‘bath’ in the querying pool. I did send quite a few queries out for Sad Perfect – 45 of them, but Adriann was the seventh of that batch. After Adriann requested the full, I signed with her a few weeks later. My opinion is you have to query wide and far to find the right agent for your book.




Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Adriann Ranta?  How did you know she was a good fit for you?



Stephanie: My call with Adriann was pretty surreal. She emailed me first to set up a call so I was hopeful that she wanted to work with me. I had a notebook and wrote down things that she said about the book so I could remember them later on. (Of course, now I don’t know where that notebook is!) At the end of the call, when she finally asked to take me on as a client, it felt like I was a high school girl getting asked out to prom – I was that giddy over it! (PS—I didn’t go to prom!)


Right away I felt that Adriann would be a great fit because we felt the same about Sad Perfect – she didn’t want to make any major changes, like change the POV (it’s told in second person), and she really liked Ben, the love interest.




Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?



Stephanie: Yes, I considered it – I had two books get close to the publishing stage only to be turned down after the editors took them to the acquisitions meeting. That’s heartbreaking. To be that close and then get a ‘No.’ It makes you almost want to quit. I think other writers motivated me to keep going – their words of encouragement and support that I could get there really helped when things weren’t going the way I hoped they’d go.




Amy: What advice did you get early on in your writing career that you still use today?



Stephanie: An author once told me that she believed in the theory of TPT … Timing, Persistence, Talent when it came to writing and getting published. I wrote that out and taped it near my desk. And I remembered that. It takes a lot of time; it doesn’t happen for most overnight, not even the famous, famous people like JK Rowling and Stephen King. And you have to be persistent – in your writing, in your querying, in your dedication to the craft. You also have to have some talent! The TPT Theory – that is the one piece of advice that I really kept to heart all those years I was trying to get published.




DSC00461Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Winter, 2017), which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels. For more on Stephanie, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@stephanieelliot)


Monday Musings: Making A First Impression January 25, 2016


This weekend as I was scrolling through Twitter I saw a post that stopped me cold. The tweet was from the SDSU Writers Conference where the panel discussion was on the topic of querying. Here’s what made me shudder: out of the 5,000-10,000 queries agents receive per year, their chances of taking you on as a client are 0.1%. Wow…just Wow!


When I first started querying many years ago, thankfully I did not know these odds. All I knew was I had a finished book and wanted an agent. As a newbie, I scoured the internet for comprehensive information on how to write the perfect query. Except for a few posts on Writer’s Digest, there was a sparsity of info on how to properly format your query, or how to find agents that rep. your type of work.


Because I was completely frustrated by the process, I started culling info on the basics of querying and started my Query 101 series. This had a tremendous response, but readers still wanted more. I racked my brain trying to figure out how else I could help. After talking to a few friends, I realized writers were yearning for something more tangible, so I started my Quite The Query series, sharing successful queries that connected writers to their agents.


To this day, I’m still thinking of more ways to help writers in the trenches. It’s a difficult process (that I know VERY WELL), but by continuing to share new info I hope it will lessen the pain a little. You only get one chance to send that query and with the right information you have a better chance of rising above that 0.1 %.


I’ve shared the links below for both of the series. As always, if you have questions, or would like for me to explore a new writing topic, please let me know. Good luck out there and stay strong. If you keep working, and submitting, chances are it WILL happen for you!




Query 101B

Query 101 series – information on query structure, body copy, research, personalization, formatting & handling “The Call”.






Quite The Query – Authors share their successful queries. Posts include Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult and Adult queries.





QUITE THE QUERY with Kelly Siskind & CHASING CRAZY January 22, 2016







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 Kelly Siskind. This great query connected her with her agent, Stacey Donaghy.




Pininfarina Gabri’s rise to shame began the moment her father branded her with those five syllables. Fast forward to the Public Speaking Incident that defined her high school career, and she’s ready for a change. On a plane to New Zealand, she reinvents herself as Nina, non-disaster magnet. That lasts maybe five hours, until she trips over a large boot in the aisle—the one belonging to the hot guy she can’t stop picturing in a one-man Magic Mike show. But to flirt with him would mean conquering her androphobia—fear of men—acquired on the night she may or may not have lost her virginity. The jury’s still out after that disaster.



If one more person looks at Sam with those damn sympathy eyes, he’s gonna go postal. Hoping to rediscover the carefree guy he was before the crash that burned his legs and killed his mother, Sam escapes to New Zealand. A change of scenery and random hookups are the plan. But there’s this clumsy girl who looks at him with hungry eyes, making him feel like a legend. Not like a disfigured guy whose girlfriend dumped him.



When Nina and Sam find themselves traveling together, Sam makes it his mission to conquer her fears. All but her androphobia. With the way his father sank into depression following his mom’s death, no way is he getting in deep with a girl. Crazy chemistry or not. Plus, if she sees his scarred legs and rejects him, it could make the downward spiral he hit after the accident look like a kiddie ride.



Complete at 80,000 words, CHASING CRAZY is a dual POV contemporary NA romance that combines the heart of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss with the sexy angst of Ruthie Knox’s Ride with Me, all mixed together with a dash of quirk.






When writing this novel, I created a cringe-worthy heroine that, I hope, goes beyond the usual clumsy trope. Her name is such a defining aspect of who she is, and I wanted to capture that in the query. Even from birth, she was destined to attract disaster, hence my opening line, “To be happy, Pininfarina needs to own her crazy, not run from it.”




Chasing Crazy



Chasing Crazy is now available for purchase via these retail outlets:



Barnes & Noble






KellySA small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning. For more on Kelly, check out her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.




Monday Musings: Are You Asking The Right Questions? January 18, 2016


In light of the fact that Sun versus Snow will soon be upon us (February 1), I wanted to talk a little bit about the topic of literary agents. This year we have 17 amazing agents who will be stopping by to check out the selected entries. And while it’s awesome to be picked for a contest, and even cooler to get a request, there is one thing every writer needs to think about: is the requesting agent a good match for them and their work?



Now I know this is VERY HARD to contemplate considering the thrill you feel when you get a request, but I caution you to think about who would be a great partner, advisor, and champion as you try to navigate the publishing world. Having been in the query trenches for a loooooong time before connecting with my own agent, I understand the despair you feel when you get rejection after rejection. When someone does show an interest in your work, it feels like the heavens open and the angels sing (I get that too). But in these situations, cooler heads need to prevail.



So how do you go about making the most informed choice? Well I’ll be honest, there are no guarantees in this business. Agents will go to other agencies and perhaps not take you along. Others may leave agenting altogether. But I think if you ask the right questions (no matter how uncomfortable), you can get close to aligning yourself with an agent who will be with you for the long haul. And let me tell you after interviewing 60+ agents, there are some incredible people out there to work with!



I recently went through my own list of questions for “The Call” and thought it’d be helpful to share them today. Again, asking these things may not guarantee that you connect with the right person, but it will help to cut through some of the worries that come along with the process.



1. What made you connect with my story? What types of changes need to be made prior to submission? You can even go further here and ask for a timeline of how this process will work.



2. Who do you have in mind to submit to? How will you share that list with me? How frequently will I get updates? Can I make my own suggestions for editors I’d like to include? Will you provide copies of rejection emails for me to review?



3. What is your working style? Do you prefer email or phone calls? What is your communication turnaround time (24 hours? 48 hours?). You need to be clear about your expectations.



4. Talk about what you’re also working on. Does it fit within the parameters of what they rep? This is critical because if you write YA, but you’ve got a Picture Book you want to submit, and the agent doesn’t rep. PBs, then you’re going to have to find a second agent.



5. If your next manuscript fits within what they rep., but agent doesn’t like it, what happens next?



6. Talk about your long term career aspirations. Does the agent only want to work with you on this one book, or do they want be a partner for your entire career?



7. Ask about their sales. Are they predominantly in your category/genre or others? This goes to the agent’s connections in the industry and how well they know editors who are looking for your type of book.



8. Does the agent only help with the submission/offer process or do they also provide marketing guidance?



9. Can you talk to current clients?



10. What happens if you decide to part ways? Do you get a copy of your submission list? As a writer protecting your work, you must consider all scenarios.



The actual process of “The Call” can be nerve-racking, but you need to approach it like any other business transaction. Think about your work as a valuable commodity and treat it, and all who you allow to touch it, as such.


Do you have your own list of questions for “The Call”? Anything you think needs to be added here? Please feel free to share in the comments.







Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,230 other followers

%d bloggers like this: