Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Charlie N. Holmberg April 29, 2015







One of the reasons I love doing this series is because sometimes a writer will answer a question with such a brave response that I’m both taken aback and excited to share. This happened in today’s W.O.W. with Charlie Holmberg. When I asked what she would say to a writer who wanted to give up, her answer was simple yet accurate – “go back and remember why you wanted to write in the first place.” I think many times we get so caught up in the machine of querying and subbing, we forget why we started writing – for the pure and simple joy of it.


Many thanks to Charlie for sharing her journey today and reminding me why I’m in this crazy and exhilarating business…for the stories!





Amy: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?



Charlie: When I was thirteen. That’s when I decided I wanted to make my own stories, my own adventures. (I’m not going to lie, watching The Vision of Escaflowne pretty much spurred that desire. #nerdconfession)





Amy: I love the premise behind THE PAPER MAGICIAN. Where did the inspiration for the story come from?



Charlie: Thank you! And I honestly don’t remember. I always thought it’d be cool to have a side character who could manipulate paper—where that thought came from, I don’t know. Maybe from folding origami in church. 😉 Later I decided that character could be the central focus of the book, and the rest stemmed from there.





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



Charlie: Oh yes. I have about ten to twelve of them at any given time! I have alpha readers—other writers—who read my rough draft, and beta readers—non-writers—who read a more polished draft. They are essential. They point out my big-picture flaws and my awkward grammatical errors. I couldn’t get by without them.





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



Charlie: You know, not very many. I think I may have been close to a dozen when I signed with Marlene. Some got back to me immediately (Marlene asked for my full an HOUR after I queried her), some I didn’t hear from or I had to withdraw my manuscript from. (That is a poorly-worded sentence. Oh well.)





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



Charlie: Oh man, I was so nervous for that! It went really well. Marlene was upfront about everything and explained everything I would need to know. She answered all my questions with all the right answers. We talked for about an hour, me scribbling down her every word on a note pad and being very reserved and shy (which I very much am not, but intimidation, yo. I was so nervous!) And she said she liked me and wanted to represent me and I pretty much cried, ha! I knew she was a good fit from her answers, her confidence, and because Marlene doesn’t operate off a real contract. She makes it easy for me to end the partnership if I want to (not that I want to), so there was no pressure. I really admired that. Marlene’s now-15 years of experience really helped, too. I had agents on my favorite list who were still new to the field quitting left and right. I was terrified of being left by the roadside if I signed with a less-experienced agent.





Amy: From reading your bio, I know THE PAPER MAGICIAN was your ninth novel.Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?



Charlie: Nope. Next question.



Ha ha. But seriously, I never considered giving up. Even if I never got published, I’d still write books for my friends and family because I love doing it. And I always knew that, with enough work, I could get published. (I’m a real believer in the American dream.)






Amy: If you met a struggling writer at a book signing and they told you they were on the verge of giving up, what would you say to them?



Charlie: Honestly, if someone is really willing to give it up, maybe writing isn’t for them. It can be grueling, especially with the abundance of rejection. But there will always be rejection. Rejection from agents, from readers, from editors, from publishers.


I would tell them to go back and remember why they wanted to write in the first place. I would ask them if they’re really ready to stick a knife to all the ideas and aspirations in their head. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when the going gets tough, but I really believe it’s better to tough it out.







Paper Magician

(Now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retail outlets) 





Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.


Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.


An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.  





CharlieHomegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She’s a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses. For more on Charlie, check out her website, or follow her on Twitter or Goodreads.



4K Celebration & Giveaway April 27, 2015

Filed under: Blog,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 7:08 am
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I am completely and totally overwhelmed by the fact that this blog now has 4,000 followers, and yes, I agree with Kevin Bacon, “LET’S DANCE.”


When I started this blog in 2012 I never imagined coming this far. To be honest, there have been some crazy moments when I wondered if it was worth the time and effort to post every week, but whenever doubt would creep in, I’d get a beautiful comment from a reader on how this blog was helping or encouraging them, and I knew I was doing the right thing.


Although I’ve seen some good and bad days, and shared some of those experiences on this blog, one thing has never changed: my commitment to helping writers. I can’t promise what the future will hold, but as long as I can type, and come up with ways to help educate and encourage writers, I will keep the posts coming.


As a thank you to anyone and everyone who has ever read or commented on any of my posts, I wanted to offer up some special items as a token of my thanks.


First, I am giving away 4 books from authors who have graciously shared some aspect of their writing journey on my blog:


David Arnold has not only been a part of my W.O.W. series, but he also allowed me to share his successful query for MOSQUITOLAND. So, I’m happy to giveaway a copy of this AMAZING read.








Next is Alexis Bass. She shared her writing journey last year in my W.O.W. series. I’m giving away a copy of her LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES.




Love and Other




Mary Elizabeth Summer’s TRUST ME, I’M LYING is a twisty, thrilling ride that will keep you on the edge of your seats. She also was kind enough to share her writing journey in my W.O.W series, as well as her killer query in my QUITE THE QUERY series.








Last, but certainly not least, is Emery Lord. I fell in love with her first book, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and she graciously agreed to share her story regarding her path to publication in my W.O.W. series. Now I’m giving away her next book, THE START OF YOU & ME.




Start of




Besides books, I’ve got some other terrific goodies to give away…

1) A first chapter critique from my agent, Roseanne Wells of Jennifer De Chiara Literary.

2) A query critique from my Sun vs. Snow partner-in-crime, Michelle Hauck (Kindar’s Cure)

3) A query critique from extraordinary New Adult author, Jennifer Blackwood (Unethical & Foolproof) who shared her own successful query in my QUITE THE QUERY series.

4) A query critique from the incredible writer, Stacey Lee (Under A Painted Sky) who talked about her path to publication in my W.O.W. series.


And to top it off, 4 $10 Amazon gift cards!


Are you seeing a pattern here??? (We are celebrating 4k, right!)


To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment and include your name as well as contact info (email or twitter handle)-if you want to share what your favorite post was, I’d love to hear it too!


Sorry, giveaway only open to those living in the U.S.


Entry window is now open and will close this Friday, May 1 at 12 pm EST.


Again, I can’t say THANK YOU enough for all the love and support I’ve received from those who’ve read this blog. I’m grateful for all of you each and every day!





QUITE THE QUERY with Stina Lindenblatt and TELL ME WHEN April 24, 2015




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


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


With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Stina Lindenblatt. This great query connected her with her agent, Marisa Corvisiero.



Amber’s tragedy was splashed across the front page news. Marcus’s happened behind closed doors. And he intends to keep it that way. . . .


As a college freshman, Amber Scott’s main focus should be on her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian. With nightmares and flashbacks wearing her down, Amber is in danger of failing pre-calculus math. If she does, she can say goodbye to the money funding her college education and any hope of the life she’d dreamed of before her stalker ruined it all.



Gorgeous engineering student, Marcus Reid, with his long list of sexual conquests, is exactly the kind of guy she doesn’t need. His brilliant mathematical mind, however, is her only chance of passing the class.



Despite her protests, the exasperating playboy breathes a spark of life back into her empty existence and Amber finds herself daring to want more. But as the dark secrets of their past tragedies unfold, the question becomes, how can two broken people, who can’t manage to fix themselves, ever hope to fix each other?






Tell Me When(Now available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retail outlets)





Query Tidbit:


I hate querying. There, I said it. I have a query buddy (which I highly recommend having) and each time we queried a book (there had been a few before Tell Me When), we planned to query ONE HUNDRED agents before moving on. I never got that far. I would get bored and forget to send out more queries. In the end, I’d stop around fifty and by then have a new project to query. With Tell Me When, there weren’t a lot of agents looking for New Adult novels at the time, so I got lucky that it didn’t take me fifty queries to end up with representation. But either way, I wouldn’t have survived without my query buddy.





StinaStina Lindenblatt writes New Adult and adult contemporary romances. Her novels include Tell Me When and Let Me Know (Carina Press, Harlequin), Heat It Up (coming from Diversion Books), and This One Moment (coming from Loveswept, Random House). She loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She spent a semester in graduate school living in central Finland, and a summer during her undergrad degree working in Helsinki, where she cleaned bathrooms and saunas in a recreation center. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and had the opportunity to work with elite athletes. In addition to creating stories, she loves photography and currently lives in Calgary, Canada, with her husband and three kids.


First Five Frenzy with Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency April 17, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Literary Agent,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:04 am
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. It’s tricky to get just the right balance, but I hope by reading each agent’s comments you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.


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




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



Rebecca: Does the very first sentence have to be especially spectacular? No, not for me. A really well written first paragraph (and second, and third) counts a lot more than the first line, as does beginning the story dynamically, plot wise. As long as the first line isn’t a total dud, I’m more interested in seeing you build strong sentence upon strong sentence to set a great scene right out of the gate.




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?



Rebecca: There are a few common beginnings, especially in YA, that have to be really, really exceptionally done if you want me to keep reading. For instance, a teenager pulling up to her brand new house in her brand new town, staring out the car window while she describes her feelings of angst/foreboding. An alarm clock opening: beginning the story with a character waking up. Is that really the most interesting moment in your day? In your week? In your story arc? And I know a cold open on action is meant to be exciting – a character running through the woods from a demon/ demon hunter/ unknown danger as the branches whip at them – but if you place a character in danger before I know anything else about them, how am I supposed to have a stake in their survival? None of these opening are horrible, per say, but agents see them so often that it raises a red flag about the rest of the book.


That said, there are always exceptions! One of the first books I sold opened on a dream (or rather, a character trying to stay awake so she wouldn’t dream) and it was such an interesting twist on a familiar concept that I immediately wanted to read on.




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?



Rebecca: Voice is huge. I feel like I can forgive a lot if the lens through which we’re viewing your world is very strong. So voice is one of the first things that inspire me to request a manuscript. A great handle on language, which does NOT mean showing off. I don’t need the most beautiful writing in the book to happen in the first paragraph, but I want to know that language is in your tool box, and you know how to use it. And then just an opening scene that feels fresh. If it must be one of the more common openings, then you have to work harder to justify it, and to make it feel like no scene I’ve read before.




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



Rebecca: I think it can be hard to strike a good balance between action/ forward momentum, and character building, especially when you’re trying to make everything perfect. It’s difficult to know how much information to put in, and so some writers end up bogging down the first pages with backstory before the plot gets going, or else neglecting to develop a character and rushing headfirst into action (as with the running-through-the-woods scenario.) The first chapter can be the toughest to pace, but if you get it down, that’s a great sign for an agent.




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



Rebecca: Hah, I think I’ve mentioned all of those, so I’m tempted to say all of the above! But if I had to choose, I might say voice. We can work on pacing in edits, and the truth is, sometimes writers begin their story a little too early or a little too late, and it doesn’t take much in the way of cutting to change that. A unique concept is great, but if you can’t tell the story dynamically, then it’s a wonderful idea and nothing more. Voice, perspective, telling a story sentence-by-sentence in an interesting way, is something that just can’t be absent from the equation.




Rebecca Podos is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College, whose debut YA novel THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES is forthcoming from Balzer + Bray. Rebecca loves YA and MG projects with compelling characters whose journeys feel human, whether they’re high school students, were-dragons or space travelers. She is thrilled to represent books like Rin Chupeco’s THE GIRL FROM THE WELL (Sourcebooks), Ryan Bradford’s HORROR BUSINESS (Month9Books), Mackenzi Lee’s THIS MONSTROUS THING (Katherine Tegen Books, 2015), Sarah Nicolas’ DRAGONS ARE PEOPLE, TOO (Entangled, 2015), Ashley Herring Blake’s SUFFER LOVE (HMH Children’s, 2016) Kenneth Logan’s THE SLOW THAW (HarperCollins Children’s, 2016), and Emily Ross’s HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH (Merit Press, 2016.)



If you’re interested in submitting to Rebecca, please check the Rees Literary Agency website for their guidelines.


Closing in on 100 W.O.W. Posts! April 15, 2015




In June 0f 2012 I had this crazy idea. This blog was still in its infancy, and I was trying to get my footing as to what types of posts I wanted to share. At the time I was spending a lot of hours on AgentQuery Connect trying to improve my craft and make connections in the writing community. One day I came across posts from writers Mindy McGinnis and R.C. Lewis about their struggles prior to getting agents and publishing deals. As I was reading about their paths to publication I was inspired by how hard they’d worked to make their dreams come true. At that moment I knew I wanted to start a series sharing the triumphs and pitfalls of what it takes to make it in publishing. That idea turned into Writer Odyssey Wednesday.


Since that first post I’ve been lucky to share the stories of some amazing writers. Today, I want to share some of their inspiring quotes and highlight their work. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the series as much as I have and been inspired. Now, on to 100!!





“Silence is always frustrating. Rejection always stings. After going through the process with one manuscript, though, I knew what to expect. There were times I got down, but I tried to remind myself that if I kept working to improve, I’d get there.” – R.C. Lewis




Spinning Starlight

(Available October 6, 2015)




Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.


Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.


Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?


Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.






Do your homework, get good crit partners, learn how to take criticism. Develop very thick skin. It is not an easy undertaking, but sometimes it’s the unexpected things (like a kind rejection) that will make you keep going to that end goal. – Mindy McGinnis





A Madness

(Available October 6, 2015)



Grace Mae knows madness.


She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.


When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.


In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.





Writing is such a subjective thing, as well—not everyone’s going to love the same book. Someone once said each rejection is like a scar you earn in battle, and it’s a great way to look at it. – Elsie Chapman





Divided(Now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retail outlets)






The hunter becomes the hunted. . . .


West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life.


The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.


How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves? With nonstop action and surprising twists, Elsie Chapman’s intoxicating sequel to Dualed reveals everything.






Writing, and more specifically story-telling, is an integral part of who I am. I could no sooner turn away from writing stories then I could make myself stop reading books or watching movies and TV shows. – Mindee Arnett







Nightmare Charade(Available August 4, 2015)




The final installment in a thrilling fantastical mystery series.


Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy is hard enough, not to mention the crazy events of the past year. Dusty may have saved the day, but there are many days left in the year, and with an old foe back to seek revenge, she’ll need all her strength to defeat him and save her friends.


Mindee Arnett thrills again in this stunning final installment in the Arkwell Academy series.






Our novels are personal to us, the writer, but not to an agent. To an agent, this is a business and they view potential manuscripts and clients with a professional, business eye.  So you can’t take it personally. – Gretchen McNeil






Get Dirty

(Available June 16, 2015)




The members of Don’t Get Mad aren’t just mad anymore . . . they’re afraid. And with Margot in a coma and Bree stuck in juvie, it’s up to Olivia and Kitty to try to catch their deadly tormentor. But just as the girls are about to go on the offensive, Ed the Head reveals a shocking secret that turns all their theories upside down. The killer could be anyone, and this time he—or she—is out for more than just revenge.


The girls desperately try to discover the killer’s identity as their personal lives are falling apart: Donté is pulling away from Kitty and seems to be hiding a secret of his own, Bree is under house arrest, and Olivia’s mother is on an emotional downward spiral. The killer is closing in, the threats are becoming more personal, and when the police refuse to listen, the girls have no choice but to confront their anonymous friend . . . or die trying







One of the best decisions I made in 2004 was to reach out to other romance writers and ask to trade manuscripts. You really can’t predict how your writing is coming off to other people unless you ask. – Jennifer Echols






Superlatives 3

(Available August 4, 2015)





In this sexy conclusion to The Superlatives trilogy from Endless Summer author Jennifer Echols, Sawyer and Kaye might just be perfect for each other—if only they could admit it.


As vice president of Student Council, Kaye knows the importance of keeping order. Not only in school, but in her personal life. Which is why she and her boyfriend, Aidan, already have their lives mapped out: attend Columbia University together, pursue banking careers, and eventually get married. Everything Kaye has accomplished in high school—student government, cheerleading, stellar grades—has been in preparation for that future.


To his entire class, Sawyer is an irreverent bad boy. His antics on the field as school mascot and his love of partying have earned him total slacker status. But while he and Kaye appear to be opposites on every level, fate—and their friends—keep conspiring to throw them together. Perhaps the seniors see the simmering attraction Kaye and Sawyer are unwilling to acknowledge to themselves…


As the year unfolds, Kaye begins to realize her ideal life is not what she thought. And Sawyer decides it’s finally time to let down the facade and show everyone who he really is. Is a relationship between them most likely to succeed—or will it be their favorite mistake?




Many thanks to all the writers who have participated in the series. I appreciate your time and honesty in sharing your journey!


For more amazing quotes and stories check out my entire Writer Odyssey Series here:


Monday Musings: Always Push Forward April 13, 2015


When I was a kid I had this habit of always thinking about the next exciting thing to happen in my life. Just days into starting school in September I was already wishing it was Halloween. Once Halloween was over, it was all about Thanksgiving and then Christmas.


This pattern didn’t disappear as I got older. When I was 14 I wanted to be 16 so desperately I looked through the classifieds every week, thinking about the car I’d drive one day. At 18, and a freshman in college, all I wished for was my 21st birthday. After 21, it was graduation, first job, etc.


While annoying at times, especially when friends and family yelled at me to “live in the moment, I’m happy to say this habit followed me into adulthood and here’s the reason why: when you write, you have to look forward. Not get stalled in the process, but think about what you’re going to work on next.


When I first ventured into the query trenches, I was plotting something new. When the rejections came and it was time to think about next steps, I already had a new book I was working on. Even in the darkest days of that “rejection period,” I had hope because my mind-set was “Okay, they don’t want that one, I’ll write something even better.”


Some may think this idea of forward motion stopped when I signed with my agent. That I would work on the manuscript she signed me for, polish, and revise and then wait to see what happened. While I did work on it, and revise, and rework until it was just right, I was still thinking about what was next. And here’s the honest truth: it’s what has kept me sane through the ups and downs of publishing.


For me the idea of forward momentum is akin to running a marathon. You plan, you train, and then comes the race. Sure, people pass you, but then you pass others, always with the same goal in mind: finishing the race. It’s no different in the publishing world. You have to focus, write, and when things don’t work out, write some more. The end goal always being the same-that beautiful finish line-a published book!


What about you? Do you keep a forward momentum when you write? I’d love to hear about it  in the comments.


QUITE THE QUERY with Annie Cardi and THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN April 10, 2015





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


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


With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Annie Cardi. This great query connected her with her agent, Taylor Martindale.



Sixteen-year-old Alex Winchester’s mother starts calling herself Amelia Earhart—decades after the famous female pilot disappeared. This isn’t the first time Alex’s mother has struggled with mental health issues, so Alex and her father hope the delusion will work itself out. But a confrontation with one of Alex’s teachers makes Alex realize that this is going to be a long struggle for the whole family. Now Alex faces the responsibility of helping care for her young siblings and a mother who doesn’t recognize her.


Alex doesn’t feel like she can share her family situation with anyone, not even her friends. They assume Alex is ditching them to be with Jim Wiley, a cute junior famous for crashing a car into his house and who has suddenly taken an interest in Alex. Balancing her social life and the secret at home becomes harder than Alex ever imagined—and to top it all off, she’s the only person at her school failing drivers ed. Suddenly, the one person Alex can talk to is her mother, who spends her time mapping out historical flights. But when Alex realizes that Amelia Earhart’s final flight is approaching, she wonders if she can stop her mother from disappearing forever.


An accident involving Alex, her mom, and a late night car ride puts Alex’s mom in a residential care facility for extensive therapy. There, Alex tells her mother that she doesn’t want her to disappear like Amelia Earhart. She has to come home. Not long after being at the hospital, Alex begins to receive letters from her mother–not signed as Amelia Earhart. Although Alex knows that her mother working through deep emotional issues will be a long process, she’s hopeful that her mom will one day return.



Query Tidbit:


I submitted to about 15-20 agents before signing with Taylor over the course of about six months. I had a big spreadsheet of agents I’d sent to, what their submissions policies were, the date I sent something out, and any info I heard back from them. I really appreciated when agents (particular those who requested fulls) would offer their feedback. I know agents are so busy working with their current clients and reading new submissions that even sending a few sentences of thoughtful comments can be a big boost in continuing to send work out.


When Taylor read my full manuscript, she said there was a lot about it that she did like but had some suggestions for revision and wanted to know if I would work with her on an exclusive revision. (The original ending was SO different, and Taylor is a big part of how that changed.) Getting to see Taylor’s suggestions and working with her a little before signing with her actually worked out really well for me. I got a sense of how she worked and what things she picked up in a manuscript, and showed me that we’d be a really good match.


I’ve loved working with Taylor, and I know at some points in the querying process I doubted myself and my story. But querying isn’t about finding someone who likes your manuscript–it’s about finding someone who really loved it and gets it and gets you as a writer. That can take a while, but don’t give up!





chance you wont return
(Now available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and other retail outlets)






Annie MAnnie Cardi holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in The Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, and other publications. In 2011, PEN New England selected her as a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut young adult novel, The Chance You Won’t Return. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain. You can find her sharing funny gifs and pictures of corgis at: Blog Facebook Twitter Tumblr.

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