Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…


Filed under: NA Paranormal Romance,New Adult,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 10:00 am
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I’m so excited to share that Julie Hutchings’ sequel to RUNNING HOME is now available! RUNNING AWAY continues Eliza’s story as she learns the ways of the ancient warrior vampire clan, Shinigami, to save the life of her beloved Nicholas.




Running Away Final Cover




Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.


On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.


Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.





Running Away Graphic 4




Now available from Amazon, this powerful New Adult Paranormal Romance will have you quickly turning the pages!!




Author Julie HutchingsJulie’s debut novel, RUNNING HOME, giving you vampires with a Japanese Mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys. For more on Julie, check out her blog, DeadlyEverAfter, or follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter.






QUITE THE QUERY… It’s a secret no more September 26, 2014




This space is usually where I place the intro for this series. In most cases it goes something like this: Queries are hard. But once you hit on the right story, and work with your CPs and betas, you can write one that will attract agent interest. This is not something I just put out there, but what I TRULY believe.


Over the years I’ve written more queries than I care to remember. In fact, for one manuscript I think I rewrote the query 25 times. It got some agent interest and then went nowhere. Then I wrote this baby, and well, from the moment the words hit the page it felt right…



Eighteen-year-old Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling by her teeth 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace thrills crowds, and battles inner demons, trying to forget her abusive childhood and a secret that haunts her every move.


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


After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a big-time Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform on the national stage. She jumps at the chance to have her future secured. But when a trick goes horribly wrong, it crushes her world and brings an unwanted visit from her alcoholic father who could demolish all her dreams. With her future in the air slipping away, Grace must confront her past and decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.


Complete at 68,000 words, NOTHING BUT SKY was inspired by real-life women who risked everything to follow their barnstorming dreams in the early twentieth century. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed CODE NAME VERITY and SUCH A RUSH.



So as you may have guessed by now, I’m sharing this query today as my way of saying…I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!


Yes, it’s true. I’ m lucky enough to say I’m now working with the lovely Roseanne Wells at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. This moment has been a long time coming for me. I’ve always thought about what I would say when it arrived, and now I’m completely speechless. All I can say is I’m incredibly grateful to Roseanne for seeing the potential in NOTHING BUT SKY, and for loving Grace and Henry enough to take a chance not only on this manuscript but on me too.


In keeping with the tradition of this series, I’ll share one tidbit:


The idea for this book came from a trip I took to the Field Museum in Chicago. Once the little plot bunny started hopping around in my head, I knew immediately what the first line of the query would be. Though the plot changed a little, and some of the characters went through serious revisions, I was adamant that the first line always remain the same – and it did.


One last thing is very important for me to share. I know for a fact this would have never happened without the love and support of everyone in the writing community. You lifted me up when I was down. Made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. And most importantly, made me keep trying even when I was at my lowest. I’m not going to list everyone by name but you know who you are, and I’m sending hugs to you across miles and oceans. Thank you. Thank you for ALWAYS believing in me!























W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with N.K. Traver September 24, 2014




“I want to give up.” It’s an easy thing to say after getting a mounting pile of rejections. But for some people the rejections make them stronger. Make them fight harder for what they want. That is the case with today’s featured author N.K. Traver. As she shares in her own words, a rejection “felt like a personal blow, like saying no to my idea meant I wasn’t cut out to be a writer.” But as her journey shows, N.K. used those negative responses to push herself. She learned about the craft and became a better writer which resulted in connecting with her agent and the eventual sale of her debut, DUPLICITY.


Many thanks to N.K. for sharing her inspiring writing odyssey today…



Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?


N.K.: Honestly, I really miss the days before jobs and bills, when family and relationships came first. I love reliving the drama and the thrill of those days.



Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to DUPLICITY?


N.K.: Two. A YA fantasy and its sequel.



Amy: If you had preliminary rejections, how did you deal with that process and continue to write?


N.K.: They say “the first cut is the deepest,” and I think that’s so true. The first rejection I ever received, for that YA fantasy referenced above, basically brought me to tears. It felt like a personal blow, like saying no to my idea meant I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. It’s all I could think about the rest of the day. I’d poured my heart into that book. I’d even edited it. Like, twice. Couldn’t the agent see my abounding potential?? But the rejection was also a challenge. It made me face the harsh reality that maybe I still had some things to learn, and if I wanted this, I was going to have to work harder. It drove me to improve. Thanks to my rejections, I signed up for a local writers’ conference and a course on how to get published, and joined an online forum where I could swap work with other writers. The encouragement and enthusiasm of the people I met kept me going.



Amy: How long did it take you to write the query for DUPLICITY? Did it go through many drafts?


N.K.: Ahhh not the “q” word! Some people have a natural talent for writing queries … I have a natural aversion. I want to say it took me at least a month or two to get the query for Duplicity down, including back-and-forths with critique partners. I think it went through at least 5 different versions and a hundred million tweaks?



Amy: How many agents did you query for DUPLICITY?


N.K.: 10. But I want to add to that–Duplicity was a much different experience from my first manuscript. I queried over 80 agents on my YA fantasy with very few requests to show for it. With Duplicity, I sent out a cautious batch of 10 queries … that all came back as rejections. So I stopped, took a harder look at my first page, and rewrote the first chapter until my fingers bled. Then I entered it into two online pitch contests, intending to query afterward if I made the cut for one of them, except I made the cut for both! Suddenly I had 11 requests for pages from the contest agents.


I think that’s a really long way of saying 21.



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



N.K.: It varied from agent to agent. I heard back anywhere from 2 days to 8 weeks.




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



N.K.: It was like flying to the moon and discovering they have plants made of cookie dough. Bri was so enthusiastic about my work and had some great ideas for revisions. One thing that struck me was her interest in my career beyond Duplicity, and I liked that she was going into our potential partnership for the long term. Really I could go on for pages, but it comes down to 1) Her incredible professionalism 2) Her amazing publishing connections 3) That I felt entirely comfortable with her and her direction for the book.



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



N.K.: Yes. After I’d sent those 10 queries for Duplicity and received rejections on all of them, I was devastated. I had so wanted my experience with Duplicity to be different than my first book. I had learned so much since then, both about the publishing world and writing. I had edited and polished and edited and polished some more, and my excited, encouraging critique partners had raved that this could be “the one.” So it really hurt to feel like I’d come so much farther only to get the same results. I didn’t think I would ever be good enough to get published. But it’s writing. It’s what I’ll always be doing, with or without a book deal. So just like I had to with those first rejections, and all the rejections after–I picked myself up, and I tried again.




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



N.K.: An editor friend of mine told me writing is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve found that to be true in learning the craft, getting an agent, getting a book published, and even in drafting a new manuscript. I think it goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite quotes from Earl Nightingale: “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”







(Releases March 17, 2015)



In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts for thousands of dollars just for the hell of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move cities every couple of years, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep on living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things come along to shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, preppy girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something – washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Changes he can’t explain to his classmates, who think he’s having an identity crisis, and certainly not to nosy Emma, who thinks this is his backward apology for telling her to get lost. Then Brandon’s reflection tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’s going to be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and Emma and his parents won’t even know he’s gone



N.K.TraverAs a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. TRAVER decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said “no one could make a living” with an English degree. It wasn’t too many years later she realized it didn’t matter what the job paid—nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Programmer by day, writer by night, it was only a matter of time before the two overlapped. For more on N.K., check out her website, get info at Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter.



Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 4:23 pm
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Tina gif




On Twitter every day I watch people setting goals for word counts and then racing toward those goals like a fiend. These writers inspire and encourage me to set my own goals. Some days it’s 500 words. Others it may be 1k. Do I fulfill those goals every day? Not always and here is the reason: sometimes the creativity just isn’t there. I can get all set up at the computer with my outline ready to go, but the words are a no show.


It’s easy to beat yourself up when this happens. Worry that perhaps your writing mojo is taking a permanent vacation. That’s all very normal. But here’s what I’ve learned over the years – any words at all is a victory. You got in a great sentence today. Rejoice! 400 words just flowed out of you. Fantastic! Being able to create something from nothing is an accomplishment. Something we should celebrate.


Do you know how many people in this world would love to be able to create a beautiful sentence? Put together a series of paragraphs that can transport someone to another world? The answer is A LOT of people and for that reason alone writers are incredibly lucky souls.


I think we forget how lucky we are to have the gift of creativity. To take a blank piece of paper and minutes, hours, days, even years later, write something so amazing it makes people laugh, cheer, or even weep. It’s truly a blessing to be able to produce something original and unique.


Maybe that creativity won’t appear today. Or it will only come in the form of 200 words. In my opinion, that is an accomplishment because those words will multiply over time and become a gift to a reader one day.


So look at those goals. Shoot for major words each day, but don’t beat yourself up if they don’t come. Remember the story is inside you, it just may take a while for it to bubble to the surface.



QUITE THE QUERY: Vicki L. Weavil with CROWN OF ICE September 19, 2014

Filed under: Blog,Literary Agent,Publishing,Query,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 7:15 am
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If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few writers 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 Vicki Weavil. This great query connected her with her agent, Jenn Mishler of Literary Counsel.



Seventeen-year-old Thyra Winther is the Snow Queen–and immortal–but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.


Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.


A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend present more formidable obstacles. Thyra’s willing to do anything—venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts—to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s desire, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.


Complete at 74,000 words, CROWN OF ICE is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” from the perspective of a young woman who discovers the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity.




Query Tidbit from Vicki:


While my query garnered many requests, I actually first attracted the attention of my agent, Jennifer Mishler from Literary Counsel, through a pitch contest.  My pitch was: As the Snow Queen she’s immortal. As a seventeen-year-old human, Thyra Winther has less than a year to live. Very succinct, and not delving into a lot of details of the plot, but it seemed to work! I think this shows the value of trying different avenues to reach agents and publishers.




Crown Of ICe




Thyra Winther’s seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith. Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal. A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s desire, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.

CROWN OF ICE is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” from the perspective of a young woman who discovers that the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity.


Available now via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Indigo & Kobo.




VickiWRaised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler at Literary Counsel, NYC. Her debut novel, CROWN OF ICE—a dark YA retelling of H. C. Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”—will be published by Month9Books on Sept. 9, 2014. An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband and three very spoiled cats.

For more on Vicki, check out her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr (author), Tumblr (Crown of Ice) or Pinterest.





Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,Publishing,Writer,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 9:58 am
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It may be cliché, but it’s true that we are our own worst enemies as writers. We question every word choice. Every sentence and piece of dialogue we craft. It is the nature of what we do, and self-doubt, unfortunately, is a huge part of the process.


So knowing all this, why would we willingly subject ourselves to people who want to do nothing but tear down our work? Those people out there filling the critique boards with unconstructive and thoughtless feedback. People who spew venom in contest forums and well, in general are really, really unkind (and no, that wasn’t my first word choice – you can fill in the blank with something more colorful if you’d like).


In a recent critique, I saw someone give advice on punctuation, word choice, and general theme of the story. In each example they gave, their tone and approach was well…toxic. As if every fiber within them had to scream out and put down the writer. Is that helpful? Will that feedback encourage the writer to shape a better story? Absolutely not. But here’s the thing, if you put your work out there not everyone is going to be kind. As writers we have to understand that. Understand, yes. Tolerate? No.


Where am I going with all of this you may ask? Here’s my point: find betas and critique partners who want to lift you up, rather than tear you down. Surround yourself with writer pals who support your choices and want to guide your work in a helpful direction. Yes, it’s true you must have thick skin in this business, but that doesn’t mean you have to endure someone belittling your work or even you.


Believe me, I understand how hard it is to search through the writing community and find good, reliable CPs. It takes time, but when you land on the right ones you know instantly. They are the ones cheering you on from the sidelines when you’re in a contest. Or lifting you up, and encouraging you, when you just can’t revise that manuscript for the umpteenth time.


There are toxic people out there in every walk of life. No matter where you go, or what you do, you’ll find them. The key is to block them out. Refuse to listen to their negative ways. Instead, align yourself with those who want to see you succeed. I can promise you those people are out there, you just have to sift through the muck until you find your critique partner diamonds!




First Five Frenzy with Michelle Richter of Foreword Literary September 12, 2014

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, Michelle Richter’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?


Michelle: It’s pretty clutch. Sometimes a writer can come up with that one line that grabs me by the throat (which is a good thing). But it has to flow into a narrative that holds my interest and that makes sense with that first line. But if you don’t have a killer first line–and most don’t–that’s OK. Just hook me within the first 1-5 pages.



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?


Michelle: All of the ones you mentioned, of course. But also, discussions of the weather (unless this is the about a tsunami or blizzard or tornado), waking up from a dream, someone’s morning routine whether tooth-brushing/blow-drying/going to the bathroom or running around getting kids ready for school.



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?


Michelle: Usually it’s a combination of a great voice, compelling character(s), and a hint of a plot that will either thrill or move me, depending on whether it’s mystery or women’s fiction.



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


Michelle: Including an epigraph, which never does anything to advance plot and uses a full page. Those first few pages are precious real estate. I’m also very much an opponent of prologues, something a lot of writers use. Unless a prologue takes me by surprise, is extremely short yet consistent with the feeling of the rest of the book–and not a flash-forward or flash-back that will be repeated later–I think it can easily be eliminated.



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


Michelle: I’m looking for a unique concept in the synopsis, and looking for the first pages to show me the writer can execute that concept, with a strong voice, vivid characters, and most importantly, a plot. As much as I love character-driven fiction–and I do love it, a lot–something has to happen. In The Casual Vacancy, for example, Rowling is fantastic at creating characters. But I felt no momentum or urgency, no plot, because the event that informed the action happened at the beginning and then I kept waiting for something else and eventually stopped reading (I didn’t finish the book).



Michelle Richter is an Associate Agent at Foreword Literary. She was at St. Martin’s Press for eight years, where she edited Melissa Joan Hart’s MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL, among others, and worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction. Michelle is seeking fiction including book club reads, literary fiction, well-crafted women’s commercial fiction, thrillers, and mysteries (amateur sleuth, police procedurals and smart cozies). In nonfiction, she’s seeking fashion, film, television, science, medicine, sociology/social trends, and economics. She has a soft spot for stories set in Boston, Ireland, and Russia. You can find her on Twitter at @michrichter1.


If you’re interested in submitting to Michelle, please check the Foreword Literary website for their guidelines.



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