Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…



This week was the final stretch. It was a lot of work, but I surpassed my goal and managed to finish my YA WIP.  To say that I’m amazed and beyond thrilled is putting it mildly.  A big shout-out to Ifeoma Dennis for putting this project together.  Her brilliant idea motivated so many of us, and hopefully helped make writerly connections that will last a lifetime!



Current word count:


Final count 64,988. Woohoo! Way beyond where I wanted to be.  Manuscript is now going to sit and marinate a while before I go back and do revisions and edits!



WIP issues this week:


I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how I wanted to conclude my story. There were many ways I could have brought the story to a close, but the one I finally chose felt the most satisfying. The only thing is it will probably change half a dozen times before it finally makes it way out into the world! Haha!



What I learned this week in writing:


Outlining & plotting are my friend. This manuscript would have never come together had I not had a clear idea of where I wanted the story to go.


Last piece of fun research… A 1920s era movie premiere. Had to get down to the nitty-gritty of the clothing, the security, and even what cars were used as limousines at that time. All very fun stuff!



What distracted me this week while writing:


Cheering on my buddies. Not that this was distracting, but once I put the final words into my ms, I wanted to celebrate/congratulate/encourage all my fellow wipmarathoners!



Last 200 words (not the ending – would be a SPOILER!)


The brick hallway is dark and lit by a few candles.  Moisture fills the air as the stench of mold and rot fills my nose. Henry reaches for his collar and tugs it away from his neck, sweat beading his forehead. As we reach a dead end, another bouncer, this one short and squat with crimson hair, raps another signal on the door.  Marcus taps his feet behind me. The beat keeps time with my thrumming heart.


A moment later the door swings open and I’m knocked back by a wall of sound.  Horns bleat out into the air, while the deep timbre of a saxophone follows right behind.  Henry presses a firm hand against my back and ushers me into a smoke-filled room. Round tables cover the open space and almost every seat is taken.  A press of bodies lines the dark wood bar on the far side of the room.  Glasses clink in every direction and the combined sound of laughter and music almost knocks me over. Henry circles his hand around my waist and steadies me. I turn to meet his eyes and we share a tentative smile, knowing this kind of place is overwhelming for us both.


See other WIPMarathon updates here!



Filed under: Blog,Literary Agent,Publishing,Writing Journey — chasingthecrazies @ 2:03 pm
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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.  By reading each agent’s comments, I hope you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.


Today, I am proud to share Literary Agent, Amy Tipton’s perspective on what’s important in those critical first pages.



Amy: Many writers have the impression that a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is a first line to you as an agent?


Amy T.: The first line is kinda important but so is the second and third and every line to the end. The first line can definitely grab your attention. but you need to build a relationship with your reader so all lines are important.



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?


Amy T.: Dreams are a no-no and waking from a dream is usually a no-no … I’m not gonna say, “Don’t ever …!” because there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes a dream or waking from a dream is the best place to start … In YA and MG, the most common ways to start are moving/new house/new school/new friends or going the complete opposite route, starting out with how ordinary everything and everyone is/was so you can flip it to be extraordinary. And that makes sense, but it’s so expected! Make it unexpected! (And, again, there are a ton–A TON!–of red heads in MG … And why is it the love interest in YA is either a blond jock or a sensitive/alt/guitar-playing/poet brunette with shaggy hair? And why is everyone thin? And white?)



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?


Amy T.:  Sometimes I only get the query, so I go on the query. And a good idea (concept) is what I respond to. I like a good title–but an even better concept is what hooks me. I like weird/quirky/dangerous/”edgy” things so I reply to some weird/quirky/way out there (in this teetering-on-the-edge-of-possible-inappropriateness-for-some-high-schoolers) ideas.



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


Amy T.:  So, we’ve all heard that Coco Chanel said before a lady leaves the house she should look in the mirror and remove one accessory? Well, writers should re-read and cut at least 5 pages. Don’t be afraid to kill those darlings! A lot of the time, writers start in the wrong spot. I’ve even suggested some writers start with their chapter two.


Also, as in starting in the wrong place, writers assume the reader knows the universe they’ve created and the reader doesn’t; the “rules” are not to be assumed–so, writers, don’t leave ’em out! Same with assuming they care about your character–they don’t, so make them care!


Polish your work before you send it out. Get family or friends or teachers or crit partners or whomever to read before an agent does!



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


Amy T.: While I initially respond to a unique concept, voice is what sustains me. The voice, a unique POV, is essential. I’m very character-driven so find me a good character and I’m sold! But voice (to me) is also about the actual writing–and good writing is always key.



AmyTiptonAmy Tipton joined Signature Literary Agency in 2009. She graduated from Naropa University with a B.A. in Writing and Literature and received her MFA from New College of California in Writing. She comes to the agency after working as a literary assistant and office manager at several literary agencies including JCA Literary Agency, Diana Finch Literary Agency, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency, and Liza Dawson Associates. Amy has also worked as a book scout for Aram Fox, Inc. dealing with foreign rights. She became an agent with Peter Rubie and continued to agent with FinePrint Literary Management. In addition to her agenting experience, Amy also worked as a freelance editor to Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada. Her work is published in the anthology, Controlled Burn, and pieces of her first and second novel can be found in a variety of literary journals.


Amy is looking for both fiction and nonfiction–edgy or quirky, commercial or literary–in particular, she is interested in YA and middle grade. In nonfiction she is looking for women’s studies/academia, fashion/beauty, and pop culture.


If you’re interested in submitting to Amy, please make sure to check the Signature Literary Agency website for their guidelines.


W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Lynne Matson August 28, 2013





When I first read the premise for NIL, the upcoming debut from today’s featured author, Lynne Matson, I instantly thought of Hawaii as the setting. So imagine my surprise when I asked Lynne about the inspiration behind NIL, and she said Hawaii! I about fell over when she told me, and it made me even more enthusiastic for the release of her debut. If you can’t tell, I LOVE HAWAII!  I have to say too, that while I enjoyed Lynne’s story of how she queried and found her agent, I was also thrilled to learn she and I share a favorite band (SNOW PATROL!!!). It makes me hope there are more than a few of their songs on the playlist she eventually releases for NIL.


Many thanks to Lynne for sharing her writing odyssey today…



Amy: Have you always written YA fiction?


Lynne: No. I actually used to be an attorney before I became a writer! (Writing books is MUCH more fun! :D) But, I think my days as a lawyer helped hone my writing skills, and I believe all experiences you have (jobs, travels, relationships) give depth to your writing.


As for the genre, never say never, but I can’t see myself writing anything other than YA right now. I love that time of life–the self-discovery, the excitement, and of course the swoon factor of the first kiss.:) YA rocks.



Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?


Lynne: NIL was the second manuscript I queried, and the third book I wrote.



Amy: I love the premise behind NIL. It reminds me a lot of MAZE RUNNER (which I loved). Where did the inspiration for the story come from?


Lynne: Yay! Thank you! I love the story of how NIL was born, because it’s so crazy and absolutely true. 🙂


I’d gone to Hawaii (the big island) with my husband, our first getaway from our four boys, EVER. It was a work trip for him. As we left the airport, minutes after landing, we drove through miles of ancient lava fields. Old red rock, bleak and gorgeously desolate, stretched endlessly on each side; no roads, no buildings, no people–just the sound of the wind blowing over the rocks. Totally in awe, I remember thinking how creepy it would be to wake up there, all alone, with no one around to help you or tell you where you were, and I remember thinking how much it all looked like an alien planet (think DUNE). And I remember thinking how scary it would be as a teenager, to wake up alone, and what if–because isn’t this every person’s worst nightmare?!–what if you woke up naked? NIL was born in that moment. The main characters fell into my head, almost fully formed, like the story itself. I wrote 20K words on my laptop over the next 10 days.:)



Amy: Did your query for NIL come easily or did it go through many drafts?


Lynne: It went through multiple drafts but generally my query for NIL came pretty easily. But, my query for my first book went through about 100 versions (ugh!) and I think all the work I did querying my first book (writing and re-writing my query…figuring out the whole query process) paid off for NIL–even though at the time, all those rejections on book number one were VERY painful.:)



Amy: Did you have critique partners for NIL? If so, how critical were they to your writing process?


Lynne: I did! Oh, they were HUGE. I think crit partners are essential! They help see plot holes or weak character arcs that you can’t see because you’re just too close to the story. I have to give huge props to writers Jessie Harrell, Tonya Kuper, Laura Stanford, Natalie Whipple, Lindsay Currie, Becky Wallace, and Jay C. Spencer. Without them NIL wouldn’t be nearly as strong.



Amy: How many agents did you query for NIL? Did you receive immediate responses, or did you have to wait a while for replies?


Lynne: I did a blog post on my query road which you can find here:


For me, the waiting time varied by agent. Some were fast, within a day or two, others took a few weeks. I think it depends on the agent, and where he is she is with her query pile and other projects. Agents are swamped and juggling many balls, that my guess is that the response time often has nothing to do with the query (or its relative strength) but more with the agent’s time, or lack of. But, as a writer, the waiting is HARD. 🙂 I think the best thing to do is immerse yourself in another project, whether it’s your blog, another manuscript, or a short story–something writing related, and something to get your mind off of the query roller coaster.



Amy: Can you give a short summary of your call with your agent, Jennifer Unter? How did you know she was a good fit for you?


Lynne: Great question. For me, I went with my gut. Jennifer’s enthusiasm for NIL was huge, and from the questions she asked, I could tell she shared my vision for the story, which is really important. I’ve been thrilled with her and couldn’t ask for a better agent. I think if the writer and agent “click” on the phone, then it’s a good sign they’ll click working together too.



Amy: I also adore alternative music. Do you listen to it when you write? If so, how does it inspire your scenes?


Lynne: Me too Amy! I’m a huge alt music fan. This year I’ve seen AWOLNATION, Blondfire, and Imagine Dragons in concert. Last year I saw Snow Patrol (my all-time favorite band) twice!


I listen to music while I write, and while I’m brainstorming. I run to alternative music, and I often stop and dictate a voice memo into my iPod or jot a note in my iPhone (if I’m running with my phone) because listening to good tunes and running seem to be the perfect inspirational combo for me. When I’m writing, sometimes I listen to songs that fit the mood I’m working toward, and sometimes I listen to tunes for the lyrics. Mostly I’m going for all the feels.:)


Soon I’ll post my NIL playlists on my blog, which have different songs for the two main characters. NIL is told from a dual POV—Charley, a girl, and Thad, a boy. Thad’s POV playlist was packed with Rise Against, 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, and Pendulum, to name a few. On the other hand, Charley’s playlist has The Band Perry, Lana Del Rey, Plumb, and Paramore. Different feels, for the different POVs.:)



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


Lynne: Honestly, no. At times it was really hard, and I felt discouraged, but I never considered giving up. The writer’s road–especially when querying–is HARD. No one likes getting a rejection on something they worked so hard to create; it’s like someone just called your baby ugly.:) But I love my characters–in all my books–and I was convinced that if I just kept improving my craft and my query-savviness, something good would happen. And it did.:)


I can’t wait for you to meet Charley and Thad!



More about NIL…(releases March 4, 2014)


On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die.


Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.


Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that she has to find a way to beat the clock, and quickly.



Lynne is a former attorney who thinks writing books for teens is much more fun. 🙂 Her debut novel, NIL, a YA thriller with a SF twist, will be published by Macmillan/Henry Holt on March 4, 2014.


When she’s not writing or reading, you’ll find her hanging out with her husband and their 4 boys, usually at the beach. Cookies are her kryptonite, especially thin mints.


For more about Lynne check out her blog, or follow her on Twitter.


Sometimes Books Don’t Sell – A Guest Post By Amy Zhang August 26, 2013


When I first started this blog I thought I understood the publishing process. Write a book, get an agent, sell that book, and then repeat the process over and over until you’re a giant success.


Um, yeah, it doesn’t work that way.


The process is grueling just to write a good book. And the journey to get an agent? Even harder. But what happens if you get lucky enough to write a good book, get that agent, and then, GASP! that book doesn’t sell? It’s not an easy topic to think about, much less talk about, but I think it’s important to understand every aspect of publishing so you go into it with your eyes WIDE OPEN!


Today author, Amy Zhang, has agreed to share with us, in her own words, what it’s like to write a book, have an agent love it, and then have it not sell.  I appreciate her honesty in this post and her bravery for pushing past this pitfall. For most of us, I think it’d be soul-shattering, but Amy was strong enough to move on and write yet another book that eventually sold to Greenwillow/Harper Collins. Amy is the perfect example of persistence and perseverance and I’m so grateful she agreed to share her experience with us.



Sometimes Books Don’t Sell

A Guest Post by Amy Zhang


Sometimes books don’t sell.


We don’t like talking about it. We don’t like thinking about it. At least, I didn’t, as though the act of not-thinking would ward off the dreaded possibility that the book that landed me an agent would never find a publishing house.


…It didn’t work.


I was cautious when my YA fantasy, WILDFLOWER, went out on subs as the first of a planned trilogy. When it went to acquisitions a week later, my caution evolved into optimism. When a second senior editor jumped in to present it to the board, I decided that I could start celebrating early by treating myself to some mustachioed duct tape.


Which made the actual rejection hurt a lot more, but at least I had mustachioed duct tape.


So what happens when your book doesn’t sell? You buy yourself some pie. You wallow. You question your ability as a writer. You briefly entertain the idea of becoming an alpaca trainer. And then you move on.


I was in the middle of outlining a new project when WILDFLOWER went to acquisitions, and when the rejection came, I poured this new batch of blood, sweat, tears, hopes, fears, dreams into characters whose story I had promised to tell. While WILDFLOWER was very much a result of everything I had loved as a child—swordfights, sacrifice, magic, general badassery—this new project was everything I feared. Loss of innocence. Failure. Drugs. Suicide. I finished it within the month and sent it to my agent, who saw enough potential in it that she wanted to start submitting it right away.


At the time, WILDFLOWER was still on submissions and garnering a steady stream of rejections, and I was hesitant to stop it because submitting my new manuscript almost certainly meant that I would be trunking the old one. Yes, it was painful. Yes, I cried a little. Yes, I ate more pie. I had worked on WILDFLOWER and loved the characters for as long as I had been writing, and in many ways, shelving it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.


But in other ways, it wasn’t hard at all. I had more faith in the new manuscript, and I felt more confident in almost every one of its aspects. The most terrifying and wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a next. Something else to write. Something else to worry about. Something else to wait for (and waiting never gets easier).


There’s always another story to tell. Tell it.




Amy Zhang lives in Sheboygan, WI, a teensy town on Lake Michigan that probably has more cows than people. Her as-of-yet untitled debut about imaginary friends and suicide and Newton’s Laws of Motion comes out in fall of 2014 from Greenwillow/HarperCollins. She loves fancy cheeses, writing on her walls, and singing in the shower. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or at her blog.


#WIPMARATHON CHECK-IN #3 August 24, 2013

Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:06 pm
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This was the week I dug in and really went for it. I wrote 13, 428 words in four days. I’m exhausted, and I think it took a while to get the feeling back in my butt (HaHa!), but I passed the 40k mark which was my goal for this whole thing! Hurray! Woot! Woot!


Current word count:


41,661. This week I’m going to try to break the 50k mark which would make me very happy!



WIP issues this week:


For some reason that little bugger called self-doubt was prominent this week. I had some issues with my last MS, and I think I was afraid those same issues would come into play with this manuscript. But after wallowing for an hour or so, I gave that nagging voice the finger and pushed on.



What I learned this week in writing:


I CAN do the whole write straight through without editing process everyone has been urging me to try. As a total “Type A” personality this has been difficult for me. But I have found that if I can get my thoughts on the page quickly, I feel much better.  I’m sure there’s A TON of edits and revisions in my future, but that’s okay.


And just to continue the fun in regards to research…This week I learned about the construction of the World War I airplane.


Here’s a fun piece of trivia: Did you know that the paint they put over the tops of the wings on early twentieth century aircraft was called, DOPE?! I had to ask the man at the museum to say it a couple of times, and spell it, before I really believed him!



What distracted me this week while writing:


Pondering whether or not I wanted to do Pitch Madness. I toyed with the idea of entering my other manuscript, but decided against it because I really want to focus on this WIP. I will be cheering on all my buddies this week, and hoping they get LOTS OF REQUESTS!



Last 200 words:


The sun is completely overhead once I reach the edge of the farm.  The wheat stocks, cut back to the ground, look like decapitated trees. Each small, bare neck jutting up from the red soil.


A sharp grind of the windmill greets me as I walk up the dirt road toward the small clapboard house I used to call home. Thick cotton-like clouds roll across the sky. It’s the perfect day to be in the air.


The air.


My body aches for the pull of the wind. The smell of exhaust the engine churns, but as I walk to face my future, it seems unlikely I’ll ever be in a plane again. This moment can only end in one of two ways: his death or mine.


The screen door creeks as I walk inside. The smell of liquor and rotting meat knocks me back.  I take two steps toward the kitchen when a rat races over the tip of my shoe. A scream escapes my lips and I slam into the counter, knocking a dirty frying pan to the ground.


Pa bolts up from the couch. The barrel of his rifle points at my chest. “What’re you doing here?”


See other WIPMarathon updates here!



Filed under: Blog,Literary Agent,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 3:14 pm
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If you’re a writer, and have visited Twitter with any regularity this week, you may have noticed there’s lots of talk going on in publishing right now about various issues: small press/indie press debate, how fast/slow you write and whether or not any of this is good for your career.


While I love Twitter, all the subtweets, rants etc. have REALLY worn me down.  The clichéd phrase “can’t we all just get along?” keeps rolling through my head. Just when I was getting frustrated (and sad), this great little hashtag (#keepgoing) popped up and suddenly my feed was positive again.  Hooray!


In my own opinion, we all have our own paths to forge. Some writers will find success through traditional publishing. Others will work with small or indie presses, while some will choose the self-publishing route. None of these paths are WRONG. It is up to the individual to decide what is right for them. But, there should be vigilance on each writer’s part to vet and seriously research whatever path they choose.


Going with an agent and a traditional publisher? Make sure you know what kind of sales the agent has and how long they’ve been working in the publishing world. Did they work for a reputable agency before going out on their own? Were they an assistant, and learn the business from the bottom up, before becoming a full-fledged agent? These are all things that should be assessed before signing on the dotted line.


Decide on taking the deal with a small/indie press? Check them out. Is their website professional? Do they have strong sales and a marketing plan that will help promote your books? What does the contract say about your ebook rights? These are all things that should be considered.


What about self-publishing? Again, lots of RESEARCH required, but it can be done successfully if you are willing to put in the work.


My point? Do what is right for you.


The #keepgoing thread reminded me that each person has their own vision for success.  It may not be the one you choose, but we need to respect each other’s individual choice.


Did I participate in the thread you may ask? You bet! Here is my tweet:


“One ms needs a complete rewrite, the other one is 20k away from being finished. I’m exhausted, but I’ll #keepgoing because I WANT THIS!!!!”


I started writing full-time three years ago when I was on the cusp of a milestone birthday. My first manuscript (now lovingly placed on a shelf) was simply a gift to myself to prove I could write a book.  Was I bummed  when I realized the truths about publishing and knew it would never get published? Yes. But I kept going. My newest WIP is the love of my life right now.  It is almost finished, and when I write that final word, it will go through many revisions I’m sure. But when it is polished, I’ll take the route I think is most valid for this book.  That’s me forging my own path, whatever that may be.


We all want the same thing in this process: for people to read our work.  And in the end, no matter what path you choose, that is the end goal.


So if you’re a writer, and you’re reading this, I encourage you to follow what your instincts say. Choose the right publishing path for yourself and get your work in front of the readers, because realistically they are the ones who really matter.


W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Annie Cardi August 21, 2013

Annie M



I was particularly drawn to share Annie’s writing odyssey today after hearing the inspiration for her debut YA novel came during a visit to Chicago (I took a similar trip recently – which inspired my current WIP!)  And then when she described her book, and it had references to Amelia Earhart, I was hooked! Annie’s story is filled with the typical ups and downs, but what I love most about her journey is how dedicated she was to giving her MC an authentic YA voice.  She knew from the very beginning where she wanted her story to go and followed that inspiration. I always love to hear that!


Many thanks to Annie for sharing her odyssey today…



Amy: Why did you choose to write a YA novel?


Annie: I’ve always been drawn to YA as a genre, and even when I was writing more general fiction (literary short stories), my characters were primarily young adults. When I was in grad school I wrote a series of YA short stories inspired by Shakespeare and realized I put way more time and effort into those than I had in many of my other stories—YA was what got me excited. When I started THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, I knew this was going to be YA; I wanted to capture Alex’s voice in this particular moment of time when her family life changes forever, not from a distant, older perspective.



Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?


Annie: This was actually the first completed manuscript I queried. It went through a few rounds of revision beforehand, of course.



Amy: I love the premise behind THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN and its inclusion of Amelia Earhart.  Where did the story idea come from?


Annie: Thanks! It happened when I was in Chicago for the summer. I was walking around and the line “My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart” popped into my head. I was really intrigued about what this meant for the narrator and her home life. At first I tried to make it a short story, but soon realized it had to be longer.



Amy: Did your query for THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN come easily or did it go through many drafts?


Annie: SO many drafts! Some people can easily craft a query or summary, and I’m definitely not one of them. I took my query to my writing group so they could help me with it (thanks, guys!). I read query examples online and cover summaries of novels I liked. I think I even tried to persuade my husband to write it for me.



Amy: Did you have critique partners for THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN? If so, how critical were they to your writing process?


Annie: I had a critique group consisting of friends from my MFA program, and they were a huge help in the writing process. I think I showed them the first three chapters about five times (and of course had them read my query). They gave very helpful feedback, and were also great to have around for general moral support and writerly gossip.



Amy: How many agents did you query for THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN? Did you receive immediate responses or did you have to wait a while for replies?


Annie: I queried about 15-20 agents before signing with Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary. Some were pretty quick rejections. I had a few agents request partials or fulls, and most of them responded within a few weeks with constructive feedback. (I have to say, I really appreciated when agents gave feedback. Even if the book wasn’t right for them, it always gave me something to think about for revision.) Some I never heard from, but that seems to be a standard policy for some agencies. No matter what the response, I think it’s good to live knowing that you have work out for submission—any moment could be a positive response.



Amy: Can you give a short summary of your call with your agent, Taylor Martindale? How did you know she was a good fit for you?


Annie:  I queried Taylor when she was with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She liked the book but had some suggestions for edits, including a pretty major shift to the ending, and said she would like to see a revision if I was interested. Her suggestions made my next draft so much stronger, which was a good indication to me that she was someone I’d want to work with.


During “the call,” Taylor confirmed the vibe I got from her via email—she was knowledgeable and professional, enthusiastic about her work and her client’s books, and she made me feel immediately at ease. I still feel all of that today—Taylor’s emails always make me smile, even when we’re talking business.



Amy: What was one piece of advice you got during your early writing stages that has stuck with you to this day?


Annie: One professor mentioned to never create writerly rituals, like only being able to write in coffee shops or at night or with a special pen. Those rituals give you excuses to not write when you’re not in a coffee shop/when it’s daytime/when you only have a pencil. You’re the one who does the work, not the rituals.



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


Annie: I don’t think I ever thought about giving up writing in general. It’s something I’ve always done for fun, way before I thought of it as a potential career. But I’ve definitely gotten discouraged and thought, “Maybe this just isn’t meant to happen.” One time in particular was when I was working at a job I hated and received an email informing me I hadn’t gotten a residency I was really hoping for. I spent the rest of the day wanting to cry in my cubicle, then went home and actually cried.


One thing that helped was remembering a reading I went to, during which the wonderful Shannon Hale showed the audience a giant roll of rejection letters she’d received from literary journals. Knowing that even Shannon Hale was rejected made me feel like I was at least in good company. Rejection is a big part of writing (even for wildly successful authors), but you have to keep going.




chance you wont return



Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. Why is she dressing in Dad’s baggy khaki pants with a silk scarf around her neck? What is she planning when she pores over maps in the middle of the night? When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex tries to keep her budding love life apart from the growing disaster at home as her mother sinks further into her delusions. But there are those nights, when everyone else is asleep, when it’s easier to confide in Amelia than it ever was to Mom. Now, as Amelia’s flight plans become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?



Annie Cardi lives in Brookline, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press in April 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.


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