chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Tackling The Sequel: A Guest Post by Katie French November 29, 2013

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,Self-Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 4:10 pm
Tags: , ,

The writing community is an amazing place. It has welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to learn so much about publishing. One of the incredible things about this community is meeting other writers.

 

One of my first critique partners, Katie French, who I met through a pitch conference, is now a close friend.  I was fortunate enough to read her first book, The Breeders, and was a staunch supporter when she decided to self-publish.

 

 

breeders

 

 

Over the past several months, Katie has been working on her follow-up called, The Believers. I’ve read a major portion of this book and the story is a complete and total thrill ride. I’ve heard many stories about the challenges of writing a sequel, so today I’ve asked Katie to share her experience with taking on the enormous task of writing the second book in a series.

 

 

Tackling The Sequel

By Katie French

 

The dreaded sequel. Has a second book ever lived up to the first? Can it even be done? I’ll give you a moment to ponder over all the sequels, be it movie or book, that let you down. Finished? No? The list is too long? Now you see my problem. Right now I am about to release a sequel in my series The Breeders. Not to toot my own horn, but The Breeders Book 1 did pretty well as my debut. So, like a diligent little work horse, I hopped back on the track and got to work on the sequel for which my fans were clamoring. For a year or more, I’ve been banging away every night to finish. And, frankly, it’s been hard, y’all.

 

Sometimes writing flows easily like a gentle stream tripping delicately along. And sometimes writing feels more like a trickle of sludge barely scraping through a pin hole. For months, my sequel felt like a mud pie and I was the pin hole. (Or pin head, whichever you’d rather.) For a while I wondered why writing had grown so difficult. Was I losing my touch? After writing my fourth book did something come unmoored in my brain? Had I lost it??? It would explain a lot, but lord help me.

 

Then I started to really ponder the sequel. First I examined all the movie sequels that had bombed. Think of Back to the Future II or The Matrix Reloaded. I mean, awful. Did any of you know there was a Speed II? I didn’t because I assume it was so bad it was unwatchable. In fact, I think there are only a handful of movies where the second was even close to being as good as the first. Books are not immune to the sequel disease. I’ve read many YA sci fi sequels this year and have quit reading quite a few. It’s so much rehashing of strangled plot twists. Or worse, more mooning over an aloof male love interest. Or more love triangles. As my teenage sister would’ve said in 1985, “Gag me with a spoon.”

 

I think this is why writing a sequel is so hard. Every time I put a word down I would think, “This isn’t as good as The Breeders. You are only going to disappoint all those people who are waiting patiently for this. Give up now and play Candy Crush.” Usually I’m very good at squashing those devious voices, but the problem is the better The Breeders sold, the more likely what I was writing wasn’t as good. It’s hard to silence voices when there is a chance that they are right.

 

But then I finished it. How, I’m not sure. Caffeine, tears and some blood sacrifices and my sequel was done. And then when I looked it over realized it was my best attempt. Even better, I realized I really, really liked this book. And that, my friends, is all I can offer.

 

 

Believers2

 

 

They’ve escaped the Breeders, yet their journey has just begun. Riley and Clay are once again on the run from the Breeders. The group may have escaped the deranged experiments at the hospital, but as one of the world’s last free women, Riley can never be safe. On the road back home, Riley and her crew are captured by a band of savage men. Their destination: the Citadel, run by a bizarre religious prophet named the Messiah. Somehow he knows their secrets. He wants them to join his group of Believers, but only if they’ll drink the baptismal water and swear allegiance. The problem is there’s something wrong with the water. Something wrong with the people. And there’s human moaning coming from the bottom of a dark crevasse that no one wants to talk about. If they can’t figure out what’s going on, Riley and everyone she loves could become a Believer forever.

 

Now available on Amazon!

 

 

Katie2Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher. In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English. Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she’s ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. She is represented by Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary. You can find her at www.katiefrenchbooks.com, at www.undergroundbookreviews.com or on Facebook.

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Tom Torre November 27, 2013

WOW

 

 

 

I LOVE Middle Grade fiction, but I have a confession…I could never write it. To write really good MG, I think there needs to be some part of you that is still in touch with your inner nine-year-old. There are many successful authors out there that write phenomenal MG because they can still tap into that wonderful world of imagination. Today’s featured author, Tom Torre, is one of those talented people. His manuscript, Copernicus Nerdicus, explores that important time between childhood and adolescence as young boy tries to save his father’s lab by competing in a video game tournament. I love Tom’s approach to this creative world and I can’t wait until his book hits shelves one day!

 

Many thanks to Tom for sharing his journey today…

 

 

Amy: At what age did you truly know you wanted to be a writer?

 

Tom: To this day, I still remember the first book I wrote. I was in kindergarten, and it was a ten page book about dinosaurs. I must have spelled every single dinosaur wrong, but it didn’t matter because at the time I was writing about things I loved. Not to mention I was able to draw pictures of them as well. I seriously really have to dig in my folk’s attic and find it.

 

Maybe that was the first hint, but I think it really hit me back in high school when I would send out a mass email to my friends with a weekly ongoing story. There was something about my friends begging me to tell them what was going to happen next that made me want to create even more adventures at a more epic level. In a way, the desire to be a writer was always there, but it didn’t hit me until recently that I should really try to pursue it. I should have really pitched my dinosaur book – it was incredible. Well, my parents loved it at least.

 

 

Amy: How much did your stints as a comic book colorist influence your decision to write middle-grade fiction?

 

Tom: Comics were always an escape for me. I was the type of kid that didn’t mind sitting alone in a room reading comics, playing with action figures or playing video games. That was one of the reasons I decided to go into cartooning in the first place. Before I was a writer, I was an artist. I’m not going to say I’m anything great, because there are thousands of people out there who are a better artist than me, but it was still something I was at least good at. When I went to the School of Visual Arts, my professors convinced me that “penciling” (creation of line art) wasn’t my strong suit, but I had a knack for graphic arts and coloring. So I went that route.

 

In the years since graduating I was lucky enough to get a few coloring gigs with a few big name comic book companies, and while it was fun, my desire to create was even stronger. It was during the years after college that a close friend of mine and I started to write our own comic books, which in turn made me want to write a novel. For me, it was all about creating my own worlds, and not just helping fill in what was already created. Don’t get me wrong though, I love being a colorist, but to be the brains behind the world felt so much more rewarding.

 

 

Amy: When did you complete your first manuscript?

 

Tom: I completed my first manuscript around five years ago. It was young-adult sci-fi / fantasy novel called “THE WANDERERS GUILD”. It followed a boy named Lucas who travels through a portal at Stonehenge to another world where he chases after his kidnapped archaeologist father. He was taken by a group of aliens trying to drain Earth’s sun of its power by use of portals scattered about Earth.Yeah, I know, a portal book. At the time, I thought it was brilliant! Ha, boy was I wrong. I was a young and immature writer, and there was so much wrong with it that I didn’t even realize it at the time. I even sent out ONE query to an agent before I finally figured out I wasn’t even close to being ready. It’s shelved at the moment, collecting dust in my top drawer on a USB drive, but I know I want to go back to it one day. My wife won’t allow me to let that book go. It’s still her favorite.

 

 

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

 

Tom: COPERNICUS NERDICUS was the first manuscript I queried. Unless you count THE WANDERERS GUILD, but that was only to one agent before I learned my lesson.

 

 

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?

 

Tom: Oof – my query must have gone through at least a dozen or so re-writes before I was even remotely happy with it. To this day, I can still think of multiple areas of improvement, but I don’t think any query will ever be perfect. You just have to make it the best that it could be. Once you start getting positive responses from agents on a consistent basis, I would say your query is set. If it aint broke, don’t fix it!

 

 

Amy: How much did your love for the movie, GOONIES, inspire COPERNICUS NERDICUS?

 

Tom: I have a ritual that I need to watch the THE GOONIES at least once a month. For me it is like the epitome of a middle grade adventure. A bunch of kids in search of lost pirate treasure only to find that they are being chased by a bunch of criminals? Come on, it doesn’t get much better than that. THE GOONIES does such an amazing job of showing how kids react to situations and how different they are from adults in finding a solution. They come up with the craziest schemes and it’s all brilliant. Every character has their own unique personality, and you relate with each and every one of them. I can recite the movie by heart. It’s really bad. I tried to create the same group of crazy characters and stakes in COPERNICUS NERDICUS, but of course with an entirely different plot. But if you’re looking to write middle grade, and need some inspiration, just pop in the THE GOONIES. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch it again.

 

 

Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with the agents at Red Sofa Literary? How did you know they were the right fit for you?

 

Tom: The call was more like a casual conversation more than anything else. Sure there were a lot of questions from both ends, but it was all about feeling each other out, and getting to know one another. It was probably a good twenty minutes into the conversation before the offer of representation even came up. I think right off the bat I knew they were going to be the right agency for me. Dawn seemed to know exactly what I was looking to do with COPERNICUS NERDICUS in terms of which publishers to send to, what type of possibilities the book can lead to, and how to market it. Not to mention it was so good to hear an agent rattle off scenes from your book that she loved. She knew every little tidbit and was able to talk about every character. I could tell that she was passionate about my book just as much as I was. And that’s basically what did it for me. To know that she was on the same page as I was and to know she was so eager to champion my book made my decision so much easier.

 

 

Amy: The writing process is grueling and querying even more difficult.  What one piece of advice can you impart to aspiring writers to encourage them to keep working towards their dream?

 

Tom: There’s really only one thing I can say, and that is to never stop writing. There will be days where you want to give up, but you really can’t. Every writer struggles, but those that succeed are the ones that never give up. It’s not a fast process, and it never will be. You have to be in it for the long haul and be as patient as possible. Never – stop – writing.

 

 
TTorre

Tom is an IT whiz by day (just think of one of those guys from Office Space), and a comic book artist, video game buff, and middle-grade writer by night. After a few stints as colorist in the comic book industry, he completed his first major middle grade novel, COPERNICUS NERDICUS, which combines his love for video games and robotic warfare.

 

When he isn’t locked away in his man-cave watching The GOONIES for the 347th time, or catching up on some geek-news on Kotaku, he’s probably busy cooking up some chaotic food dishes for his wife and his 100 lb doberman named Braveheart’s Dantes Inferno. Yes…that’s his dog’s real name. Tom is represented by Dawn Frederick of RED SOFA LITERARY. For more on Tom, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter @CopernicusNerd.

 

Writing Is A Marathon Not A Sprint November 25, 2013

 

 

 

 

When I started writing my first manuscript I didn’t know any of the “rules.”  All I knew was I had a story I needed to tell. The first draft took me eight months to write and it was an amazing experience.

 

A year later I wrote another manuscript. This time things were different. I knew more about the publishing business. Friends were getting agents, and publishing books, and I desperately wanted the same thing. I followed the rules. I edited, and put my work out there for beta readers and critique partners. I got some bites from agents, but the manuscript needed revisions that I wasn’t ready to wrap my head around. The thought of tearing apart a story I thought was pretty close to perfect almost undid me.

 

Luckily enough I had some really good writing friends who listened, and then smacked some sense into me. They reminded me that writing is not about how quickly you can put a thought onto paper. It’s more about the process of developing a good story that will transport the reader to another time and place. The creative process is one you need to revel in, not race through.  This started me thinking about my goal of running a half-marathon two years ago.

 

At first I thought the goal was insane. Running 13.2 miles? I’d never run more than five. And even after that, I needed days to recover. Sound familiar? That same self-doubt shakes almost every author when they think about writing a new manuscript.

 

Much like writing a book, training takes several months. And the actual event itself, again much like writing a book, takes a lot of mental skill.

 

So now when I contemplate writing a new story, here is how I look at it:

 

Mile 1: The warm up period: stretching out the mental muscles – preparing an outline/or beat sheet and making it solid.

 

Mile 3: Writing the first chapter – pace yourself to make sure you’re drawing in the reader.

 

Mile 5: The Middle Chapters – self-doubt starts to settle in. Can I actually make it to the finish line? Push past it and keep writing.

 

Mile 7: You write “The End” – yet it’s only the beginning. Now you edit, and much like the rest of the race, it’s an uphill battle.

 

Mile 10: The Critiques: Feedback is in your hands, and you think about all the work still left ahead. You push on knowing the story has “legs”.

 

Mile 12: You’re on your final edit. The finish line is within distance, but you’re not sure you can find the strength to get there. Rely on writing friends to push you forward and buckle down. You’ve got this.

 

Mile 13.2 – Crossing the tape at the finish line is akin to writing “The End” for the final time. Revel in your accomplishment and enjoy the moment. Soon you’ll have another brilliant idea and the process will begin once again!

 

 

What about you? How do you mentally train to write a book? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Taking Inspiration To A Whole New Level – W.O.W. Celebration & Giveaway! November 20, 2013

WOW

(Amazing logo illustration courtesy of Roselle Kaes)

 

 

 

When I started this blog in early 2012, I had no clue what I was doing.  I wanted to post about my journey through the publishing world, but beyond that I had no idea what I would talk about or share during my regular posts.

 

After months of struggling with content, I started to think about what I wanted to see in other writers’ blogs. I knew I wanted to hear stories about early struggles, and how many manuscripts successful authors had written before they got “the call.” Then I started thinking about queries. Did agented writers struggle with their first drafts? Did they have critique partners or beta readers who helped them polish their manuscripts?

 

As I started to think about these questions, I knew I had an idea for an interview series. The only problem was who would I convince to talk to me? Writers are busy people. Could I get anyone to share their story?

 

Luckily enough I’d made some connections through AgentQuery Connect and I approached these writers first. My first interview was with RC Lewis, who had just signed with her agent for her YA manuscript, Stitching Snow. Once she said “yes”(Thanks, RC!) it gave me the confidence to reach out to other writers. And as they say, the rest is history.

 

Last Wednesday I published my 60th interview in the Writer Odyssey Wednesday (W.O.W.) series! You’d think that the ideas or the stories might get boring or tedious after so many interviews, but each author’s journey continues to amaze and inspire me. At this point, I can’t ever imagine not doing this series because there will always be an exciting story to tell!

 

To celebrate this exciting milestone, I am doing a HUGE giveaway, featuring writers who have appeared in the W.O.W. sometime in the last year and a half.

 

 

Here is what is up for grabs:

 

 

 

giveaway

 

 

BOOKS (Authors and their interview dates):

 

NOT A DROP TO DRINK – Mindy McGinnis (June 20, 2012)

ANTIGODDESS – Kendare Blake (August 8, 2012)

RED – Alison Cherry (September 12, 2012)

OLIVIA TWISTED – Vivi Barnes (September 18, 2013)

THINGS I CAN’T FORGET – Miranda Kenneally (January 2, 2013)

 

 

QUERY CRITIQUES FROM:

 

Dahlia Adler (March 6, 2013)

Vivi Barnes (September 18, 2013)

Jessica Lawson (October 16, 2013)

Stephanie Diaz (January 30, 2013)

Fizzygrrl (Summer Heacock) (February 6, 2013)

Michelle Krys (November 7, 2012)

 

THE DETAILS:

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED!!!

To enter the giveaway, comment on the blog and tell me what was your favorite W.O.W. and why. Then leave your contact info and mention if you would prefer a book or a query critique. Giveaway will end at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, November 22.  Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

 

I also want to say a BIG “Thank You” to everyone who has ever read a post on this blog. I feel honored to be able to share my story and the journeys of all these talented writers with you. I hope you’ll return every week to check out all the new W.O.W.s I plan to share!

 

 

XOXO,

Amy

 

Monday Musings November 18, 2013

Just a few things of note on this Monday…

 

1) Two great contest opportunities are coming up!

 

 

PitchWars from Brenda Drake

 

Here’s a great chance to get your work in front of numerous agents. But this is way more than a contest.  If your pitch is selected, you will be paired with a mentor who will help you polish your manuscript.  Submission window opens December 2. Go here: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars/ for more details!

 

 

Pitchmas from Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya

 

Another great opportunity to pitch your work. The contest begins December 13 with a pitch-honing workshop. For more details go here: http://pitchmas.blogspot.com/2013/10/decembers-pitchmas-2013-dates-have-been.html

 

 

And again just a reminder…

 

These contests are for FINISHED, POLISHED manuscripts. This is probably not the best place to try to pitch your newly finished NaNoWriMo project!

 

 

2) A Disappointing 2013

 

Okay, so I’ll admit it, 2013 has been sort of a disappointing reading year for me. A couple of sequels fell short for me and the final books in three trilogies were just plain disappointing. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! 2014 is shaping up to be an amazing release year! What am I looking forward to?

 

Ignite Me

IGNITE ME – February 4, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MaraDyer3

THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER – June 10, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) BIG GIVEAWAY!

 

It is unbelievable to me, but last Wednesday I posted my 60th Writer Odyssey Wednesday (W.O.W.) interview. I am incredibly grateful to every writer who took the time to answer my questions. To celebrate this milestone, I am doing a HUGE giveaway this Wednesday!

 

Up for grabs? Books from these amazing authors (all featured in the W.O.W.):

 

 

giveaway

 

 

Mindy McGinnis

Kendare Blake

Alison Cherry

Vivi Barnes

Miranda Kenneally

 

 

As well as query critiques from these talented writers (all also featured in the W.O.W.):

 

Dahlia Adler

Vivi Barnes

Jessica Lawson

Stephanie Diaz

Fizzygrrl (Summer Heacock)

Michelle Krys

 

 

Spread the word and be sure to check back on Wednesday when I post how you can win one of these great prizes!!

 

First Five Frenzy with Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Group November 15, 2013

Filed under: Blog,Literary Agent,Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 3:09 pm
Tags: , ,

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, Nicole Resciniti’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?

 

Nicole: First lines are imperative. They set the tone, establish a mood. They form an immediate impression with the reader. I’m a huge fan of a great opening. And it doesn’t have to be just the first line. Sometimes it’s an opening paragraph or scene. The importance is to make something memorable.

 

 

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?

 

 
Nicole: I am not a fan of ‘a day in the life of–‘ beginnings. If it feels like something routine, it probably is, and those things aren’t really necessary. The wake up, shower, describe oneself in the mirror–I don’t recommend that approach, either. For paranormal, most openings tend to be in a bar. I also don’t like the in-school walk-through or the bored-in-a-classroom openings when it comes to YA. Try to make the opening unique.

 

 
A good rule of thumb is to make sure that each scene advances the plot, and to incorporate action and dialog. A certain amount of backstory is unavoidable, but in most cases, those details can be trickled in.

 

 

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?

 

Nicole: It’s always the voice. It’s a definable, recognizable way that an author has of telling a story that is unlike any other. Sometimes it’s the similes or descriptions. Other times, it’s dialog. But always, there is a signature way of writing that brings the whole story to life.

 

 

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

 

Nicole: A lot of stories don’t open in the right place. Many of them contain flowery imagery or over-writing. I prefer tight writing. I love seeing a manuscript where I know the author has chosen every word with care. I’m not a fan of prologues (80% of the time, they’re unnecessary). I also don’t like opening scenes where characters sit around and ‘talk’ to fill in the reader on all of the details. I like to jump into the ‘action’ as quickly as possible. For mysteries/thrillers, I want to feel that immediate tension. I want to find the body, lol. For romance, I want to see that first meet between the hero/heroine and to sense the attraction between them. For fantasy/SF, I want to be transported to another world. I want to dissolve into that world. Believe it. With YA, I want the characters and concept to feel like something I haven’t read before.

 

 
I think the most common mistake that a writer can make is being impatient. I see a lot of projects that are good, that just need some editing to be outstanding. But by sending them out prematurely, sadly, most of those manuscripts will be rejected. I work with authors whenever I can, especially if I love the voice. But I have to focus on my contracted authors, so I don’t always have the luxury of that kind of time. For agents who have been in the business for a long time, I think it’s even harder for them, since their lists are full.

 

 

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

 

Nicole: All of the above. With every author I represent, I’ve known within the first five pages that I loved the writing and I wanted to work with them. A first great impression is THAT important.

 

 
I’d suggest to any author to go to the bookstore and pick up books at random. Read the first page. Ask yourself, do you want to read more? Look at the techniques and style that those authors employed to make you want to keep you reading.

 

 
I’m going to shamelessly pimp some of my authors here, because I think you can see from the first page that they have incredible ‘voices’. Here are some awesome authors to look for:

 

 
Ashlyn Chase (humor mixed with paranormal romance)
Marisa Cleveland (fun, flirty contemporary romance)
Julie Cross (dynamic voice for YA, NA, and sci-fi YA)
Jen Danna (thrillers; a very “Bones” vibe)
Kim Falconer (brilliant fantasy author; fantastic world building)
Cole Gibsen (really believable YA)
Amanda Flower (she writes mysteries for three different houses, plus MG–lovely style)
Marianne Harden (her Rylie Keyes mystery series debuts in a few weeks–it’s a must-read!)
Melissa Landers/Macy Beckett (YA, contemporary romance; respectively. Both genres are funny + sexy)
Lorie Langdon/Carey Corp (fantasy YA; awesome female protagonists)
Lauren Layne (NA, contemp romance; If you liked Sex and the City, you’ll love her new series)
Jessica Lemmon (contemp romance; humor with heat and emotion! soooo good)
Kate Meader (contemp romance; sexy, foodie stories–amazing voice)
Cecy Robson (some of the funniest UF you’ll EVER read! I ‘heart’ The Weird Girls)
Jaime Rush (PNR, she keeps the heat balanced with action, really definable characters)
Lynn Rush (angsty, action-packed YA)
Mary Serine (her Transplanted Tales kick ass–you want to see this new version of Little Red Riding Hood)
Laura Simcox (small town contemporary, with humor)
Julie Ann Walker (best romantic suspense on the shelves, hands-down, prepare to be addicted)

 

 

Nicole has been listed by Publisher’s Marketplace as a top dealmaker in the country, and named ACFW’s 2012 Agent of the Year. She loves discovering new talent and helping established authors to take their career to the next level. Do you have the next project to feed her book addiction? A smart, tight read she won’t be able to put down? A signature voice she’ll fight to represent? HEA’s are a must for romance. Mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, YA and inspirational novels are welcome. A consummate science geek and card-carrying Mensa member, Nicole would love to find the next great science fiction/fantasy novel or action/adventure masterpiece.

 

 

If you’re interested in submitting to Nicole, please make sure to check The Seymour Agency website for their guidelines.

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Chanel Cleeton November 13, 2013

WOW

 

 

Personal experience. I love when a writer takes something they’ve lived and then carefully weaves it into their narrative. Today’s featured author, Chanel Cleeton, took her own experience of living abroad at a boarding school and used that knowledge to build her debut.  What I love about Chanel’s interview is her willingness to make changes to her original story so it would work in the NA category. Sometimes we as writers get so caught up in our original ideas that we cannot get beyond what will, and what won’t, work for our manuscript. Making changes proved to be the right decision for Chanel as her novel, I SEE LONDON, hits bookshelves in February, 2014!

 

Many thanks to Chanel for sharing her story today…

 

 

Amy: At what age did you truly know you wanted to be a writer?

 

Chanel: I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until I was twenty-five.  I’d just started law school and was already realizing it wasn’t a good fit for me.  I’ve been an avid reader my entire life so writing felt like a natural progression.

 

At that point I had already written my first book, a historical romance, and decided to query it.  I really had no idea what I was doing and my query letter was horrible! Understandably, I racked up a lot of rejections.  As I read the rejections, my first thought was, “Well I guess that’s it.  I’m not cut out to be a writer.”

 

That might have been the end of it, but I’m stubborn and rarely take ‘no’ for an answer.  So after feeling sorry for myself for a few minutes, I decided it was time to treat writing like it was my job and to get serious about my craft and my understanding of the industry.  That was the moment where I knew I wanted this badly enough to push myself to be better.

 

 

Amy: What compels you to write new adult fiction?

 

Chanel: I love writing NA because it represents the time in my life when I really developed my confidence and sense of self.  I was a late bloomer and a bit shy, so my high school years weren’t all that exciting.  College was a different story.

 

I moved to London at seventeen and it changed my life.  College gave me the freedom to let go and take chances.  London was a huge departure from my life in the U.S. and every day felt like an adventure.  I will always look back at my college years as one of the happiest times in my life.

 

For me, NA epitomizes that sense of adventure.  It’s about taking risks and discovering who you are, independent of parental expectations.  Those years (18-25) are a great exploration full of incredible possibilities.  I love getting to develop that with my characters.  I love getting to inject that spirit of hope into my stories as well as giving my characters difficult challenges to overcome.

 

 

Amy: How much did your schooling abroad fuel the story behind I SEE LONDON?

 

Chanel: So much! I SEE LONDON developed out of a lunch with my agent back in 2012.  We were discussing my next projects and I mentioned that I’d always wanted to write a book inspired by my experience attending an international university in London.  I had played around with changing my characters’ ages and setting it in high school because at that time college stories were a difficult sell, but I never could come up with a way to tweak it and still preserve the same spirit I wanted to convey.  Timing was everything! NA was really starting to become more accepted and Kevan embraced NA from very early on.  She loved the idea and I started working on it immediately.

 

The funny thing was that I originally envisioned I SEE LONDON as much closer to my own college experience.  But as I started writing, my characters took over and while it is certainly inspired by my experiences, it really is it’s own story.

 

 

Amy: Was I SEE LONDON your first completed manuscript?

 

Chanel: It was my third completed manuscript and my first NA.

 

 

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

 

Chanel: My second completed manuscript was the one that got me an agent.

 

 

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?

 

Chanel: I actually love writing query letters.  Weird, I know.  I always dread sitting down and actually writing query letters and pitch letters, but once I do, I love working on them.  I usually go through a few drafts before I’m satisfied.  I’m not such a big fan of writing a synopsis, though.

 

 

Amy: Do you use critique partners? If so, how do they influence your writing process?

 

Chanel: I don’t use critique partners.  I started writing without one and I’ve just developed the habit of working on my own.

 

 

Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with your agent, Kevan Lyon?

 

Chanel: Ahh I remember being really nervous and “cautiously optimistic.”  I was pretty sure she was calling to offer representation but I wasn’t positive.  Her email said she wanted to discuss the manuscript and she had been tweeting about it, so I had a good feeling.  I had a list of questions to ask her but I just remember it all going by quickly in a blur of excitement and nerves.  Nervous babbling was definitely involved.

 

 

Amy: What was one piece of writing advice you got early on that you still use today?

 

Chanel: I’m a HUGE Nora Roberts fan.  She’s probably one of my greatest writing influences.  She writes daily and that piece of advice has always stuck with me.  I will admit that during particularly crazy life times (i.e. when I found out we were moving to South Korea), I tend to struggle with writing daily.  But honestly, it is the best habit to form.

 

I mentioned that my first book was a historical romance.  I worked on that book for two years because I only wrote in spurts.  Looking back, I cringe at how much more productive I could have been if I’d taken it seriously.  Writing daily makes it a part of my routine and it also keeps me sharp.  Even if I can only do a couple hundred words a day, the act of prioritizing writing and treating it like a job (in the best sense) has made a huge impact on my writing career.

 

 

Chanel

 

Chanel Cleeton writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 1, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.  An avid reader and hopeless romantic, Chanel is happiest curled up with a book.  She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.  Chanel loves to travel and is currently living an adventure in South Korea. For more information on Chanel, check out her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 
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