chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Giving Thanks for “small wins” in a Difficult Season November 23, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:34 am
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I’ll be honest, I’ve kind of sworn off the internet. Every time I log onto Twitter or Facebook, I can actually feel my blood pressure rising. Unless I’ve been promoting my posts, or answering DMs, I’ve managed to stay off social media. I have to admit it’s been nice to be out of the fray for a while. It’s allowed me to write 20,000 words and plan an entire new series. The time away has allowed me to find the joy in writing again.

 

 

This quiet reflection has also brought to light one other thing in my life-the resurgence of the love of family and the small blessings that come with being present in the moment. Too often over the last year I’ve been so focused on the “end game” in publishing that I’ve forgotten about the small joys. A quiet dinner with my family. A bike ride on a sunny, seventy-degree day. The smell of baking pumpkin bread. The comforting hug of a child.  All things that only months ago I took for granted in my quest to reach my dream.

 

 

My break has also afforded me the chance to reflect on all the “wins” I’ve had this year:

 

Writing a book in a new category, genre, and POV!

 

Helping create a local YA/MG writing group that’s built many new friendships and is growing by the month

 

Being a PitchWars mentor and watching a writer flourish

 

Having this blog go over 5,000 followers (THANK YOU!) and introducing a new query series that seems to be helping writers

 

 

In a long year these may not seem like major accomplishments, but for me it’s meant learning and growing. Taking stock of what I put into this world and its effect on others. It may only be a small contribution, but to me it feels HUGE.

 

 

So this holiday season, I ask that you think not about what you haven’t accomplished this year, rather focus on your small victories. The moments that have brought you joy and laughter. The times that have made you think. Reflect. Smile.

 

 

It’s true, it has been a rough year, but perhaps we can all make it a little less dark by remembering who we are and what we love. What fills us up and makes us work for that dream.

 

 

If you’re so inclined, I’d love you to share in the comments one small victory from this year. Whether it be in writing, or your publishing journey, I hope you’ll share a little light today and allow others to rejoice in your small “wins.”

 

 

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Hugs,

 

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Latoya Smith – L. Perkins Literary Agency November 18, 2016

 

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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 the right balance, but I hope by reading each agent’s comments you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that’s requested over and over.

 

Today, I’m proud to share Latoya Smith’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?

 

Latoya: I will be honest, I have a short attention span. So the first line or first few paragraphs is very important for me when deciding which projects I’d like to request the full manuscripts on. This is especially true because of our submission guidelines–we request a synopsis and only the first page or two, so the opening to the story is very important.

 

 

 

 

Amy: Many times a writer is told to stay away from common openings like dreams, eating breakfast, riding in a car, etc. What are some common openings you recommend writers stay away from?

 

Latoya: Honestly, I am all about the writing. There are a lot of things that may not work for some writers, but if you’ve crafted a very strong opening, it doesn’t matter how it starts. For me, as long as it’s compelling and draws me in, that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Latoya: Definitely the writing, storyline, characters, and voice. I love strong characters, fully-fleshed out plotlines (opening is clear, character goals are nicely established), and, of course, a compelling voice. I also look for marketplace potential. It’s very tough to try and sell in a project that isn’t working well in the marketplace or that the publisher has struggled to sell in the past.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Latoya: They try to create mystery and intrigue, but end of leaving out too many details which makes the opening vague and confusing. Or they start with dialogue that isn’t very compelling because they’ve been told to open their story with dialogue.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Latoya: All of the above! Like I mentioned earlier, I want to know who I should be paying attention to, what their issues are, and of course, I need to connect to the character’s/author’s voice.

 

 

 

 

Latoya C. Smith started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing, while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya joined Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group. For the span of her eight years there, Latoya acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and non-fiction, to digital romance and erotica. She was featured in Publishers Weekly and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year.  In early 2014, she appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. From August 2014 to February 2016, Latoya was Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing where she acquired short and long form romance and erotic fiction. Now, Latoya provides editorial and consultation services through her company, LCS Literary Services. She is also an agent with the L. Perkins agency.

 

If you’re interested in submitting to Latoya, please follow the submission guidelines for the L. Perkins Agency.

 

FIRED UP FRIDAY: An incredible publishing journey from Laura Heffernan November 11, 2016

 

In a Monday Musings post a few weeks ago I talked about how too often we see negativity in the writing community. I’m tired of opening social media and seeing authors tear each other down when we should really be building one another up. Supporting each other.

 

With that idea in mind, I reached out to some friends who have had AMAZING publishing journeys and asked that they share (in their own words!) what they went through before they saw their publishing dream realized.

 

My hope is that these posts will light a fire in each and every writer who may be struggling. Who wonder if they can take another month in the query trenches. Or those feeling low from being on submission for what feels like forever. Each post will be proof that if you hold onto that dream, it CAN and WILL come true.

 

 

 

Fired Up Friday – A Post By Laura Heffernan

 

 

Publishing is a roller coaster. Sometimes it feels like there are more downs than ups. Sometimes it feels like you’re stuck, waiting for everyone else to get on or off before you can move at all. Compared to some people, my journey may look like riding It’s a Small World After All. Compared to others, it was a race through Space Mountain. Sometimes I felt like I was spinning on the teacups (and trying not to throw up). And that is one reason everyone will tell you not to compare yourself to other writers. It doesn’t help.

 

 

In October 2013, I started to write the manuscript that would become AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR. My book debuts on March 7, 2017 – three and a half years after I wrote the first words (which have long since been deleted and replaced).

 

 

I’m a fast writer. I started querying in December 2013. Little did I realize that this was a terrible idea, because everyone was querying their unedited NaNoWriMo projects, and while I’d read through my manuscript a couple of times, I didn’t know what a critique partner was. I didn’t have beta readers. No one else read it. And, shockingly – none of the agents I sent it to wanted to read it, either. But, I started researching. I joined Twitter. I met other writers, and that’s where I found out there were contests for writers who were looking for agents. One of the writers I met in that very first contest is a dear friend and critique partner today. One of them is an agent sister.

 

 

Anyway, by some miracle, when I entered Sun vs. Snow that January, Michelle Hauck picked me as an alternate and decided to host a query critique workshop on her blog. This was where–while hanging off a balcony to read my email in Mexico at my sister’s wedding–I learned that I needed to swap with people, get opinions, grow. That was also how I learned how to write. Not just through getting critiques, but from reading and critiquing other people’s work.

 

 

People didn’t like my main character, so I revised. I scrapped the beginning, swapped with a new critique partner…and got an email three days later that it was so boring, she couldn’t read it. That was it. No suggestions on how to fix it. No commentary on the scene beyond the one she objected to. Nothing. Back to the drawing board. I did #CPMatch and I found someone to help me. In March, I entered another query contest. Like the first contest, I sat glued to Twitter while slush readers tweeted out hints. One of them mentioned my plot and said they didn’t like it. Ouch. Even though there were multiple readers choosing for multiple blogs, it hurt. My critique partner got in, but I didn’t. After the picks went up, another reader told me that my main character–who I’d spent many, many hours editing to make nicer and more likeable–was a doormat. Oops. Apparently, I went too far in trying to make her likeable. The most frustrating part was that I knew once people got into the story, it was good. I just couldn’t manage to get to the part people wanted to read.

 

 

Finally, finally, finally, I got a beginning that seemed to work. In April 2014, I was chosen for NestPitch. I got no agent requests. But I had a decent query and a better beginning, and I finally started getting requests from regular queries. I started to feel pretty good. Then I entered Query Kombat, where I was wiped out 7-0 in Round 2. I still haven’t gotten over the judge who said she liked my book, would prefer to read it over the other one – but she was voting for the other entry. No, I don’t know why.

 

 

Not so much a nice ride on the Monorail, is it? (At some point in this blog, I decided I was publishing at Disneyland. Sorry. Just go with it.)

 

 

Anyway, I got some great feedback from Query Kombat, and in July, I got not one, but two agent offers. That was awesome. Savor those small victories. (Side note: I later made a spreadsheet so I could check off the little things as I achieved them. Sometimes we need the reminder of how far we’ve come.) It wasn’t that I queried for an excessively long time, but there were a lot more downs than ups on that road. Over the course of about 7 months, I sent 67 queries.

 

 

Finding an agent gave me newfound faith in myself. Things were great. I was the first person in my small group of writing friends to get an agent. Once we did some revisions, I was so jazzed up, I was certain we’d get a quick sale to a Big 5 publisher – maybe even at auction! Yeah… not so much. Rejections trickled in, most of them the same. Editors liked the book, but didn’t want to buy it. It wasn’t big enough. (I still don’t know what that means, and I’ve heard it about a quadrillion times.) No feedback.

 

 

And then, around the time my critique partners started getting offers from agents, my agent stepped down, and I was transferred within the agency. I was thrilled to work with the other agent (who gets me in ways I never dreamed, even when I’m being weird), but at the same time, I wondered – if my book were better, if it had sold faster, if it had been something editors wanted to read, would my first agent have stayed? (Yes, I know this is stupid but it came on the heels of someone I queried with getting a three book deal despite going on sub after me and another friend getting buckets of money thrown at him after less than a week after his book went out so I was just a swirl of nasty emotions. Plus, it was January. It was dark, it was gross outside, I work from home, and I basically was miserable.) I found out around the same time that every editor who had my book during the first round of sub had turned it down. It had been out several months at that point, so I kind of figured, but – it hurt.

 

 

Anyway, I started working with my new agent. My poor, wonderful agent who had to deal with the stress ball I’d turned into when she hadn’t even subbed my book yet. I spent probably 4 months wondering if someone made her sign me, or if she only took me because she felt sorry for me. (My agent is lovely and wonderful and did nothing to cause any of these feelings. I was just really down, and nothing was picking me up.) We did more revisions, the book went out again and… we waited. We waited and waited and waited. Waiting is agony. Still, we got no useful rejections. No useable feedback. Nothing.

 

 

All this time, in the background, I kept writing. An entire manuscript while querying. A third right after my book went out on submission. A fourth started in January, much darker than any of the others. A fifth started in the summer. A sixth, two weeks after my one-year anniversary on sub. That last one…. doesn’t even make any sense. I wouldn’t begin to know how to fix it, and it’s not even worth trying. I was just in the wrong place to write it.

 

 

Finally, in January 2016, we decided it was time to call it. My agent nudged the editors reading for the last time, and we turned to editing what I thought was the most marketable book I’d finished during the last year and a half (I write fast. We had too many options). While my agent was compiling a sub list–seventeen months after the first submission went out, only days before we planned to start trying to sell something else–she got an offer. When I got an email from her, I actually checked to see if it was April Fool’s Day.

 

 

But it wasn’t! We had an offer. Finally. Then I had to be quiet and keep it all a secret for almost three months until I was allowed to announce it. But now I can happily say that AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR will be the first book in a three-book series, coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Shine on March 7, 2017, with SWEET REALITY and an untitled book to follow. Sometimes I still pinch myself when I get an email from my editor. I’m thrilled with the way things worked out.

 

 

 

AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR

 

SEEKING THE SMART ONE

 

Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash, it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

 

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .

 

 

 

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AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR is forthcoming from Kensington/Lyrical Shine on March 7, 2017.

Pre-order today!

AmazonBarnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Apple iBooks

 

 

 

44vc7pg3_400x400Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off: AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, the first book in the REALITY STAR series, is coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Press in March 2017. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

 

 

Some of Laura’s favorite things include goat cheese, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, the Oxford comma, and ice cream. Not all together. The best place to find her is usually on Twitter, where she spends far too much time tweeting about writing, Canadian chocolate, and reality TV. Follow her @LH_Writes or visit her website, http://www.lauraheffernan.com/

 

 

Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.

 

 

COVER REVEAL: RUINED IN RETRIBUTION by Valia Lind November 7, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Cover reveal,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 10:42 am
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Thrilled and excited to share the cover today for Valia Lind’s RUINED IN RETRIBUTION.

 

 

 

Gone. Gone. Gone.

 

For the past two months, it has taken all of Logan’s determination to just keep going. Losing Tasia to Kallos Enterprises shattered his world, but he is not about to give up on what she had started.

 

Together with her family, Logan works to destroy the company that ruined their lives. The corporation is growing bigger and stronger by the minute, weaponizing the drug and selling it to the highest bidder. But that’s not the only hurdle to overcome. Logan’s past is catching up to him, and the time has come to pay. His family’s secrets are unraveling everything he has built for himself and now, Logan is fighting on multiple fronts.

 

Save Tasia. Destroy Kallos Enterprises. Stay alive.

 

Such a simple list, such an impossible mission.

 

Time is running out and Logan is left with one question: can he save them all?

 

 

 

RUINED IN RETRIBUTION is Book Three in the Titanium Series.

 

 

 

 

Now for the cover….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Release date is December 7, but you can pre-order now via Amazon https://amzn.com/B01N00SZRB

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in reading the series from the beginning? PIECES OF REVENGE is now FREE via these sites:

 

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B00PVQEXHY

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pieces-of-revenge-valia-lind/1120818358?ean=2940046584172

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/520411

 

 

 

 

 

agqnfjfg_400x400Author. Photographer. Artist. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Valia Lind has always had a love for the written word. She wrote her first full book on the bathroom floor of her dormitory, while procrastinating to study for her college classes. Upon graduation, she has moved her writing to more respectable places, and have found her voice in Young Adult fiction. You can visit her online at http://valialind.wordpress.com or follow her on twitter, where she spends way too much time, @ValiaLind.

 

 

 

 
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