chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

2017 Sun vs. Snow – What it takes to put on this show! February 13, 2017

Filed under: Blog,contest,Literary Agent,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 8:18 am
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Well, once again, we’ve blown through another year of Sun versus Snow. As usual, it was crazy, a little nerve-racking, but ALWAYS fun.

 

I put together this post after last year’s contest, and went ahead and updated this year, because I believe it’s important for every writer to understand what it takes to put a contest of this magnitude together.

 

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but the rewards far outweigh the time it takes to ensure Sun versus Snow is a success!

 

 

 

 

Another Sun vs. Snow is complete and I can’t tell you how happy I am at the results this year. Team Sun and Team Snow received a total of 106 requests!

 

 

Now that it’s over, I always use this time to reflect on what went right, and what can be done to improve things for next year.

 

 

Yes, I’m already thinking about 2018. But see, here’s the thing, contests take a lot of work and time to plan. Hours are spent deciding logistics, dates, reaching out to readers, mentors, and agents. Not to mention actually writing the scores of emails, blog posts, and other types of communication involved.

 

 

What people see on the co-hosts’ blogs is the finished product, but it’s taken a lot of time to get to that point. So today, I want to share an insider’s view on what goes into making a contest a reality.

 

 

 

The Planning

 

Starting in late fall, Michelle and I start to discuss timing. We usually pick a date in early January, but things can vary depending on what else we have going on, other writing commitments, etc.

 

Once we nail down a date for the actual contest, we work backwards filling in the timeframe for what needs to happen. This includes checking to make sure no other contests are happening at the same time. We’ve had problems with this in the past, and it’s important there’s not any overlap. This is also critical for reaching out to agents. Many times agents are overwhelmed with requests, and they don’t want to spend all their time reading contest entries.

 

Once we decide on a date, we begin writing the emails – and there are A TON!

 

First, we reach out to our potential list of agents. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week, because again, research is involved. We have to look at things like who’s open to queries, who reps a variety of categories, but we also need to consider that whoever we choose is going to want/request from a wide range of entries.

 

When the emails are sent, we then wait on the responses. They can come within minutes, hours, or days. I must confess though, Michelle and I have been very lucky. The agents we’ve reached out to in the past have been great about wanting to participate in spite of their busy schedules.

 

While we wait on agent replies, we next need to consider who our mentors will be. Again, this involves quite a bit of planning. For me, I consider who I think will be open to working with a writer, and has the time for it in their schedule. Even if I know, and have a good relationship with a writer, I may not ask them if they’re on deadline or have a book coming out soon. There also needs to be consideration of what category and genre they write in. We never know what entries we will pick, but Michelle and I need to have all our bases covered.

 

 

 

The Announcement

 

After a date is selected, it’s time to think about the announcement. Together, Michelle and I formulate a blog post, as well as discuss social media plans. Once we have things in order, we coordinate a time when we will both post. Sometimes this is not always easy as we live in two different time zones.

 

 

 

Social Media Blitz

 

Because there are so many contests out there now, Michelle and I want to make sure Sun vs. Snow stands out. In order for this to happen, we need to make sure we have exposure. Starting early on, we discuss how we will announce, where, and then the follow-up. One of the new things we continued this year was the series of Twitter chats. Coordination is key because not only do we need to make sure we are available on a certain day, but our mentors are too.

 

 

 

Announcement Posts

 

When we announce both the mentors and agents it’s not as simple as posting it on Twitter. After a flurry of emails (again), we have to cull photos, bios, and social media links for both our agents and mentors. The information then has to be set into a specific blog post which includes adding text, importing images, and placing links.

 

This year it took me close to two days to build the mentor post, and about three days to get the agent post correct. This is critical to our process because potential entrants want to know who they may be working with, and who will see their work. It’s critical for Michelle and I to make sure we have this all aligned so writers feel comfortable entering the contest.

 

 

 

 

The Submission Window

 

This is always an exciting day. It’s filled with a lot of scurrying around as we make sure our posts go up on time and that the rules are clear. It may seem arbitrary, but there are specific reasons why all writers must follow the rules. If the formatting is off, or we don’t know your category/genre or word count, it skews how we view the entry. Michelle and I want to make sure every writer is on even ground when entering Sun vs. Snow. Yes, there have been times when people have not followed the rules, but I’m glad to say those examples are rare.

 

 

 

 

Why Only 200 Entries?

 

As usual, the submission window opens and closes very quickly. You may ask, “why do you only take 200 entries?” The answer is simple: time. Michelle and I are very dedicated to this contest, but we both work, as well as write. We read each and every entry, and we find that 200 is a manageable number. It’s important to us that everyone who enters has a fair shot at getting picked.

 

 

 

Parameters for Picks

 

I wish I could say Michelle and I have some elaborate algorithm for how we pick our entries but honestly, we both pick based on very simple things:

 

  • What grabs us instinctually. Premise. Voice. Concept. And above all strong writing.

 

  • What are the participating agents looking for? I personally look at websites and #MSWL to know what agents want to add to their lists.

 

  • What’s happening in the marketplace. If we know that a certain type of genre is not selling (based on agent interviews) we may shy away from picking such a genre. This is not firm. Sometimes we come across a concept we love and include it anyway, but it is something we must consider.

 

 

 

Selected Entries & Mentors

 

Behind the scenes there is always negotiating going on. Usually it’s pretty easy for Michelle and I to pick because we have very different tastes, but sometimes we come across an entry we both love and have to discuss who gets it. Because we’ve been doing this so long, it’s pretty easy for us to decide who gets the entry. That’s one of the reasons this whole things works: because Michelle and I are a great team!

 

Once each of us has our selected entries, major work is ahead. First, we have to decide which mentor gets each entry. Then we have to communicate with the mentors and send them their mentee’s work. And of course, we have to swear them to secrecy until the official announcement.

 

Like all the other big announcement posts, careful coordination has to be arranged so that posts on both blogs go off simultaneously. Again, Michelle and I not only have to take hours to format the post, but we also have to agree on a date and time when it will go live.

 

 

 

Inevitable Surprises

 

Ah yes, as much as you plan there are always surprises. Last year we had a great little shock when one of Michelle’s picks received an offer from an agent prior to the final round. And this year, I hear we may have some good news coming soon from one of our writers!

 

 

 

Before the Final Post

 

While our mentors and writers are making their entries shine, we send out email reminders to our agents about the contest. Prior to the final post, we answer any last questions and prepare for the big day when we post the revised entries.

 

 

 

The Final Post

 

It may be surprising, but this is where the major amount of work for the contest is done. We have a set deadline for when the writers must return their final entries. Sometimes it comes in formatted correctly (sometimes it doesn’t). When the format is off, there is a flurry of emails until the entry is fixed and returned. This may seem odd, but building that final post takes a loooong time. If the entry is even slightly off, it can mess up the entire flow.

 

This year it took me two and half days to build the Agent round post. You may wonder why it takes so long, but for me there is a definitive process involved:

 

  • I check the entry for typos and other issues – missing words, punctuation etc.

 

  • Next, I double-check the date stamp to make sure it is the FINAL entry.

 

  • I check the tags, the headers, as well as the spacing to make sure each entry looks the exact same way.

 

With a total of 16 entries, this process takes a long time but it’s worth it when that final post goes up and the agents start to request!

 

 

 

The Agent Round

 

When that final post goes live everything is pretty much out of our hands. Now it’s up to the agents to decide what they like and what they want to request.

 

While the agents are doing their thing, the work for the co-hosts is not over. We still have to watch the feed to answer questions, announce when agents arrive, and keep the positive interactions going. We also have to work with the agents behind-the-scenes to make sure we understand how they want their requested materials sent and ensure our writers are following those guidelines.

 

 

 

At Contest’s End

 

This is where we take a deep sigh of relief and celebrate! Agents have been very good to us over the last four years and have made a lot of requests. Those requests are what makes all the hours of organization and work worthwhile.

 

Yes, it takes a lot of time and energy to put Sun vs. Snow together, but it goes beyond sharing the entries with agents. It’s about connecting the community. Helping to link people who, hopefully, will go on to support and lift up one another up as they move through the ups and downs of publishing.

 

 

SUN VS. SNOW SUBMISSION DAY!!! January 23, 2017

 

 

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Hooray! Hooray! The submission window for Sun versus Snow opens today at 4:00 pm EST!

 

 

 

Act fast. We will only be taking the first 200 entries. Please do not enter early or your entry will be deleted. You can resend at the proper time if this happens accidentally. Confirmation emails will be sent. If you don’t receive one, don’t resend. We don’t want duplicate entries. Please check with us on Twitter first to confirm your entry did or did not arrive, then you may resend. There is only ONE, yes that’s right, ONE entry per person allowed. Any attempt to cheat will result in entries being thrown out. This contest is only for finished and polished stories.

 

 

Important note: The story can’t have been in the agent round of any other contest in the last three months. This doesn’t mean twitter pitch events with hashtags, but multiple agent blog contests. 

 

 

Also, Michelle and I have decided not to accept picture books for this contest. Though we love picture books, Michelle holds special contests just for them. We do accept all MG, YA, NA and Adult genres, excluding erotica.

 

 

 

The Format:

 

Send submission to Sunversussnow (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per person is allowed. It doesn’t matter if you write under different names or are submitting different manuscripts. You are still one person and get one entry.

 

Here’s how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded!) Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. No worries if your gmail doesn’t have Times New Roman. No worries if the email messes up your format. Yes, we will still read it! 🙂

 

(Here’s a trick to keep your paragraph spacing: copy and paste your entry into your email and then put in the line spaces. They seem to get lost when you copy and paste. It may look right but sending scrambles the spacing.)

 

Subject Line: SVS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre

(example: SVS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)

 

 

In The Email:

 

Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)

Genre: YA dystopian Ownvoices (Age category and genre. New this year! Add “Ownvoices” here if it applies)

Word Count: XX,XXX (round to the nearest thousand)
Twitter Handle: (Optional so we can contact you. Will not be public.)
Is Your Main Character hot or cold?: 

Describe whether your character is hot or cold. Personalities differ. Is your character a person of volatile emotions or are they calm under pressure?

 

(Can be in your MC’s POV, but doesn’t have to be. 100 words or less.)

 

 

Query:

 

Query goes here! Include greeting and main paragraphs. Please leave out bio, closing, and word count + genre sentence. You may include comps if you’d like. There is no word count limit on the query but please aim for 250 – 300 words.

 

New this year! You may include if your story is OwnVoices up in the genre line. We really want diverse and talented writers and stripping out the bios sometimes leaves us in the dark. Ownvoices means the author is from the same marginalized group as the mc in the story. 

 

Remember a query has several paragraphs. Don’t send us a pitch.

 

 

First 250 words:

 

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence. But I will not go over 257 words. Be reasonable and don’t make us count. Don’t forget to space between paragraphs! No indents!

 

 

And now that the rules are out of the way, how about the fun stuff?!!

 

 

 

 

 

TWITTER PARTY!!!

 

 

 

Here are the suggested daily topics. But if you want to make up your own fun games on the hashtag #SunvsSnow then go right ahead! Just keep it clean and inclusive for all.

 

  1. Submission day! What genre and age category will you/did you enter? Show us a sun or snow picture from your neighborhood.

 

  1. It’s very important to read new books in your genre to get a sense of pacing and timing as well as style. What book in your genre have you read recently?

 

  1. Do you get more writing done when there’s sun (summer) or snow (winter)? When are you most productive?

 

  1. Do you have a writing goal for each day? How do you carve out time to write?

 

  1. Pantser or plotter or somewhere in between?

 

  1. Shout out a favorite line from the ms you entered.

 

  1. If you had to choose one goal for your writing career this year, what would it be?

 

  1. Beta readers and Critique Partners are important in the writing world. Where did you meet yours so others can check out those places?

 

  1. Final advice as before picks are announced on how you manage nerves during contests/querying?

 

 

Have fun! Mix and mingle! Make friends! Be active! Let’s have fun today!!

 

 

FIRED UP FRIDAY: A Publishing Journey with Joy McCullough January 20, 2017

 

 

In a recent Monday Musings 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. Encourage those who wonder if they can take another month in the query trenches. Build up 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 Joy McCullough

 

 

 

 

In the fall of 2016, I sold my debut novel. It was only on submission for a week before the editor wanted a phone call.

 

 

BUT WAIT. Before you rage against another quick-sale-story while you’ve been languishing on sub for months and months and maybe even years, let me back up.

 

 

First of all, I wrote five middle grade novels before I signed with my first agent. I detail that in this blog post (http://joymcculloughcarranza.blogspot.com/2014/02/how-i-got-my-super-amazing-agent.html), but here’s the short version: 290 queries, 47 full requests, one offer from a really well-respected agent.

 

 

I was with that agent for two years. I kept writing. She put three different manuscripts on sub. (New ones, not the trunked ones from before I signed with her.)

 

 

Eventually, I went through the really agonizing decision to part ways with that agent. I blog about that in this post http://project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogspot.com/2016/01/on-parting-ways-with-literary-agents-by.html but here’s the short version: leaving an agent is scary, but worth it if they weren’t the right match, and it’s really very common. You’re not alone, if that’s your situation.)

 

 

Since it had taken me so long to sign with my first agent, I was pretty convinced it might take me another five novels to do it again. Or maybe I’d never have another agent. But as it turned out, I signed with the amazing Jim McCarthy quickly, did some revisions, and got out on sub, sure that this time would be different!

 

And you know what? That book didn’t sell either.

 

 

But! Jim was supportive and lovely (and still hasn’t given up on that book). Once that book had gone on sub, I had sent him a list of pitches for what I should work on next. There were five or six things on the list. At the very end of the list, I tacked on an idea that seemed so wildly unmarketable that I was almost embarrassed to include it.

 

 

But I did. (Because I’m a glutton for rejection? I don’t know.)

 

 

And Jim wrote back (within five minutes, probably, because that’s how he is) and said, WRITE THAT LAST ONE. (And then he hedged to say how several of the other ideas were good too and I should do what I wanted to do, because he’s always trying to let me be me. But it was clear how he really felt. And I really trust him.)

 

 

That last pitch? Was for BLOOD WATER PAINT.

 

 

It’s a historical verse novel set in the 17th century. Also partially set in Biblical times. Super feminist. I didn’t know what Jim was thinking. But it’s a story I’ve loved for a long time—an adaptation of one of my own plays. And I was excited about the possibilities of making it a YA novel. So I wrote it. And revised it. And it went on sub. And guys, this was my fifth book to go on sub. The tenth I’d written. My hopes? They were LOW.

 

 

Low really doesn’t begin to describe it.
And THEN. A week after it went on sub, my phone rang. I was at my sewing table. It was Jim. Jim hadn’t called me at all during the submission period of the first book we tried to sell. A phone call seemed like it might mean something.

 

 

He was calling to tell me an editor wanted to have a phone call with me. (And not just an editor. THE editor that I had freaked out to see on my submission list.)

 

 

“WHAT DOES THIS MEEEEAAAAAAN???” was my immediate response.

 

 

Jim didn’t know for sure, but it definitely wasn’t bad news. So we set up the call (blessedly for just a couple days later).

 

 

I have phone anxiety. And this felt like maybe the most important phone call ever. But the editor was incredibly lovely, and mainly wanted to talk about how I’d come to write this story and what my hopes were for it. And at the end of the call, he said he “hoped to offer” and would know in about a week if he could.

 

 

Of course, publishing is publishing, so it was more like three weeks before my phone rang again. With Jim’s number. I was at my sewing table again. (I really don’t sew that much! Next time I’m on submission, though, I’ll probably sew non-stop.)

 

 

And he told me Andrew Karre at Dutton Young Readers had made an offer on BLOOD WATER PAINT to be published in 2018.

 

 

More things had to happen before all was final, including another phone call with Andrew, throughout which he was standing in an NYC Whole Foods. Also several phone calls with Jim, during which I was so grateful he already knew I could form actual sentences, because I was probably less coherent than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

 

 

And then, finally, it was real. It was happening. I didn’t believe it, of course. Not when I signed the contract. Not when I finally got to announce it. Not even now that I’ve been working with Andrew (who is straight up brilliant) for a couple months. It probably won’t feel real until I’m holding the book in my hands.

 

 

But it IS happening. There’s even a Goodreads page! (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33301702-blood-water-paint?ac=1&from_search=true) My book is going to have a cover and ARCs and even be on bookstore shelves one day!

 

 

And yours will too, eventually. It might even happen on your very first book. If so, that’s AMAZING! But if your journey is on the longer side, just know you’re on a well-trodden path.

 

 

These are my trail essentials for the long route to a book deal:

 

 

  • The AMAZING kidlit community—find your people and surround yourself with them.

 

  • Your next story: As soon as you begin querying or subbing one manuscript, start the next thing. Getting invested in a new project has always been key for me.

 

  • Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to step away for a bit when rejections get to be too much and/or it’s not fun any more.

 

 

You’ll be back. Because you have stories to tell—and I can’t wait to read them.

 

 

 

 

headshot1Joy McCullough’s debut YA novel BLOOD WATER PAINT is coming from Dutton in 2018. She’s a freelance editor, ghostwriter, and Pitchwars mentor. You can find her on Twitter at @JMCwrites and on her website at www.joymcculloughcarranza.com

 

FREE PASS DETAILS FOR TEAM SUN! January 9, 2017

 

SUBMISSION WINDOW NOW CLOSED FOR TEAM SUN FREE PASS

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Before I provide details on the Free Pass, I thought I’d share a quick, fun story.

 

One of the first writing conferences I ever attended was in San Francisco. The experience was both informative and a little bit intimidating. The conference took place in a beautiful hotel, and the craft sessions were held in small conference rooms that looked like they had not been renovated since the turn of the twentieth century.

 

One of the best sessions I attended was on crafting an elevator pitch. For those who do not know, an elevator pitch is a one to two sentence pitch describing your story. It should be no more than 30-60 seconds and entice the agent to request more.

 

For example: Bitten by a radioactive spider, a young man learns how to manage his new extraordinary powers in order to save a city under attack by a brutal villain. 

 

LOL! Not the best example, but you get where I’m going.

 

Even with clear direction, it was hard to figure out how to take a sixty thousand word story and boil it down to one sentence, but after forty-five minutes, I had something I was proud of.

 

After the session was over, we were reminded to practice the pitch until we felt comfortable with it.  I imagined if I ever got that opportunity to actually use the pitch it wouldn’t be until later in the conference. If you guessed it, I was wrong. Not ten minutes later I was introduced to an agent who asked to hear my pitch. Needless to say, I flubbed it, but the agent was a good sport and went on to ask me several more questions about my manuscript.

 

The point I learned from that experience is that you can never know your story too well. The elevator pitch forces you to glean down your story to its core element. Root out what makes it unique, something an agent would be eager to request.

 

So after that long-winded story, I bet you can guess what you’ll have to do to qualify to enter for my FREE PASS…Yes, provide an elevator pitch for the story you will be subbing for Sun vs. Snow in the comments section below.

 

The Free Pass window will be open now until January 19. I will announce the winner here on the blog (at the bottom of this post) on January 21. The winner will get automatic entry into the contest and will work directly with one of the TEAM SUN mentors to polish up their entry before it goes live during our agent round.

 

Good luck and I look forward to reading your pitches!

 

 

Congrats Paul Sylvia (@rykter07)! You are the winner of the TEAM SUN FREE PASS!

 

 

Introducing the 2017 TEAM SUN Mentors!!! January 6, 2017

Filed under: Blog,contest,Publishing,Query,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 7:07 am
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This is one of my most favorite times of the year! Sun vs Snow is really a labor of love and Michelle and I could NOT pull it off without the help of our incredible mentors.

 

This year we have some familiar faces returning as well as new writers jumping in to help the selected entries. Please give them a warm welcome in the comments and let them know how happy you are to have them participating this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brooks Benjamin lives in Tennessee with his wife and their incredibly spoiled dog. MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS (Delacorte/Random House) is his first novel.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brooksbenjamin

Website: http://www.brooksbenjamin.com/

 

 

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Dance studios are for sell-outs. Or at least that’s what Dillon’s dance crew keeps saying. But when a chance to compete at the biggest dance academy in the state falls in his lap, he has to decide what’s more important: sticking to his crew’s rules or freestyling his way into solo greatness.

 

Buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Grade-Life-Tights-Brooks-Benjamin/dp/0553512501

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-seventh-grade-life-in-tights-brooks-benjamin/1122342052

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780553512502

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in August 2017 by Harlequin Teen and her work has been featured in Normal Noise and 202 Magazine.

 

Links:

Blog: http://insanity.today

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KdeVosAuthor

Tumblr: http://kellydevosauthor.tumblr.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellydevos/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31123268-fat-girl-on-a-plane

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her family. She’s unintentionally funny and rarely on time for anything. She writes multiple genres but her favorite is romance. Her most recent release, More than Friends from Entangled Publishing, is the first in a three book series. To read the first chapter you can check out http://entangledpublishing.com/more-than-friends/ Book 2 will be out in March 2017.

 

 

 

 

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Website: www.jodyholford.weebly.com

https://www.facebook.com/Authorjodyholford/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7370077.Jody_Holford

https://www.pinterest.com/jholford/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jody-holford

https://twitter.com/1prncs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kip Wilson is a YA writer represented by Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Her work has been published in the TIMELESS and SPAIN FROM A BACKPACK anthologies as well as several magazines for children. She is the Poetry Editor and acting Editor in Chief at YARN: The YA Review Network, publishing new teen writers alongside superstars like Jacqueline Woodson.

 

 

 

Website: http://www.kipwilsonwrites.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kiperoo

YARN: http://yareview.net/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Spence is a YA author represented by Heather Flaherty at The Bent Agency. She lives in Utah with her husband and four kids, but still calls California home and wears flip flops year-round, no matter the weather. A classically trained actress with degrees in English Literature and Theatre, she fell in love with storytelling on stage, but discovered that the costumes for writers were much more comfortable, and happily tells stories in her pajamas now. While she uses the perspective of a dramatic performer to create her imagined characters and worlds, she’s not dramatic at all in real life. You can find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/summywins or on her website at www.summerspence.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. KISSING MAX HOLDEN is her debut novel.

 

 

 

SOCIAL – Website  ::  Facebook  ::  Twitter  ::  Instagram  ::  Goodreads  ::  Tumblr

 

 

 

 

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After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea. With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

 

BOOK LINKS – Mark Kissing Max Holden T0-Read on Goodreads

Preorder Kissing Max Holden from Amazon

Preorder Kissing Max Holden from Indie Bound

Preorder Kissing Max Holden from Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

Want to check out who TEAM SNOW has recruited to mentor this year? Stop by Michelle’s blog to see her list of amazing writers!

 

Again, many thanks to all these writers for agreeing to mentor this year. Want to ask them questions or have a general contest or writing question? Drop into our annual Sun vs. Snow Twitter chat on Thursday, January 19. We will have two sessions. The first will begin at 4pm EST and the second will start at 8pm EST. We hope you’ll stop by and chat with us using the #SvSChat hashtag.

 

Keep a lookout next week for details about the TEAM SUN FREE PASS as well as our agent reveal. You won’t believe the list of agents participating this year!!

 

 

Here’s to 2017! December 31, 2016

 

 

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Wanted to share a quick note to say THANK YOU for an AMAZING year.

 

This blog continues to bring me so much joy because it connects me to each and every one of you. Your comments and words of encouragement buoy me in both happy and sad times.

 

In 2017 I promise to keep bringing you original content. The W.O.W., FIRST FIVE FRENZY, and QUITE THE QUERY posts will continue, as will my new series, FIRED UP FRIDAY!

 

I’ll also be sharing all the craziness that comes with diving back into the query trenches and looking for new ways to get my words out into the wonderful world of readers.

 

Please know that I appreciate you following this blog, and that in 2017 I hope you will share both your triumphs and tribulations in the publishing world. The only real way to succeed in this business is to keep trying and to rely on your friends who understand your struggles.

 

Here’s wishing you health, happiness, love, and laughter in the NEW YEAR!

 

 

Hugs,

Amy

 

 

 

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Another Sun vs. Snow Success Story! December 28, 2016

Filed under: Blog,contest,Inspiration,Publishing,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 7:12 am
Tags: , , ,

Putting together a contest like Sun vs. Snow is hard work. Behind the scenes there is a ton of coordination and frantic emailing going on as Michelle and I try to get all our plans ready for the contest.

 

And while it does take a ton of time, there are many rewards. One of these is seeing a past entry go on to secure a book deal.

 

Today, I’m happy to share KD Proctor’s success story. Her entry, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS (formerly IF YOU’RE EVER IN TOWN) was mentored by Laura Heffernan.

 

Here is KD’s story…

 

Remember when you were a senior in high school and you did those questionnaires talking about “Where I’ll be in 10 years”?  Here’s what I put down (photo is from my high school’s newspaper ALL those years ago–we won’t get into the fact they spelled my name wrong…)

 

 

kelleys-hopes-in-high-school

 

 

If you can’t read it, it says:  In 10 years I hope to be working for NASA as an astronaut, hopefully Commander. I wouldn’t be living in (hometown). I would live in Houston, TX.  It’s closer to my job. I wouldn’t be married or have children. It’s too soon out of college.

 

Nowhere on that little blurb does it say anything about being a published author. I was so determined to be an astronaut that I attended a school with a top notch aviation and aerospace program.  But in college, you learn a lot about yourself. For me, I discovered that quick recall and split second decision making was NOT my jam. Which kind of makes being in a space shuttle a little unrealistic. I changed my major so many times my advisor was sick of seeing me and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences knew me by my first name. When I took my first English Literature class and got to express myself through writing, I was hooked and English is what I finally declared as my major.

 

My mom’s response:  So…what are you going to do for a job?

 

As always, mom knew best.  Unlike my fellow English majors I had no desire to write a novel or be an editor or anything related to English at all.   I was drawn to student leadership and ultimately I went into Student Affairs and College Student Personnel—working full time on a college campus, where I still work today (yes, my mom is happy I’m using my Master’s degree).

 

In my full time job, I work a lot with online learning. I was looking over tools faculty could use in online courses when I came across Wattpad. I had no idea this platform existed. It was incredible!  And that led to an evening where I fell down the Wattpad rabbit hole reading stories by amazingly talented people. A spark was lit. I wondered what I would write if I had the chance?  And that’s when the ball got rolling. Two years, four manuscripts, and countless CP and beta reads later, I had a manuscript that was query ready and I got the nerve to enter Sun vs. Snow in January 2016. I went into it with a completely open mind. When I hit “send” and got confirmation I made the first 200, I remember telling my husband that night at dinner, “Whatever happens, happens.”

 

It happened.

 

I got in.

 

When the list was announced on Super Bowl Sunday, I remember screaming so loud I freaked out the dog.  I had also entered a football pool at work, so my husband thought I had won money (side note:  I did win that, too! Ha!).  I said, “NO!  I got into the pitch contest!” and I made him read the website to make sure my book was listed.  I couldn’t believe it!

 

I hit the mentor jackpot with Laura Heffernan.  She was so encouraging and positive.  So much so that a few days before our pitches went live for Sun vs. Snow, another pitch contest was happening on Twitter—PitMatch.  The idea was authors and editors were going to do what they could to “match” pitching authors with agents and editors to generate interest in our manuscripts. She encouraged me to enter PitMatch.

 

Between PitMatch and Sun vs. Snow I was approached by several editors and agents.  After researching each, I sent the requested material to those I felt comfortable with and waited for the results to come back. Within a few days, most had asked for more chapters or full manuscripts—which was incredibly encouraging.

 

It sounds very “fairy tale” like, doesn’t it?  First contest you enter, you get picked and it’s generating a good buzz!

 

Needless to say, the clock struck midnight and my carriage turned back into a pumpkin because the rejections started rolling in. Surprisingly, I wasn’t upset. At all.  I looked at every rejection as a way to improve. Thankfully the agents were all so incredibly nice and very encouraging.  But there was a reoccurring theme popping up in almost every single rejection: your voice/plot/character development/writing skills are fantastic….but selling New Adult manuscripts is really hard.

 

Many of the agents shared that they were looking to see if my manuscript could be voiced “up” (to adult/women’s fiction) or “down” (to young adult).  And every agent said doing so would hurt the story because my voice was so strong.  But I still continued to query, entering another twitter pitch contest and again, the response was high.

 

With queries circling about, I was surprised to see an offer in my box publish my manuscript with a small, independent publisher.

 

I panicked.

 

I had forgotten that I submitted to an editor, too.

 

I sent Laura (my Sun vs Snow mentor) an e-mail telling her what happened because I realized that I “double queried” which is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED. The rule of thumb is that you should query editors or agents—not both at the same time. I was horrified that I made such a rookie mistake! She talked me through the pros and cons and said not to worry because it happens. She also encouraged me to reach out to agents who did still have my manuscript and tell them of the offer. The publisher, Bookfish Books, was more than accommodating to give me the time I needed to check in with agents before accepting their offer.

 

Agents were kind enough to move me up in their queue, but in the end, they passed on representation.

 

With the agent decisions now off the table, I actually felt like Lady Justice with her scales, weighing the pros and cons. On one side, I loved this age category. I loved my story and felt it in my heart that it was THE story that would get me published. On the other side, agents are telling me that the category is hard to sell and when you make a living off selling books, that can make representation hard. Same was true with writer friends who were also querying or were out on submission as they, too, were being told the same thing about New Adult books. But then you see small publishers like Bookfish Books, Entangled and Carina accepting the challenge, publishing New Adult books and doing well with it.

 

I had to ask myself, “Do you trust your gut that bypassing an agent and going with an editor is a good idea? Or did you jump the gun and are taking the first offer because it’s there?”

 

In the end I knew the answer…I was trusting my gut. I wouldn’t have queried to Bookfish Books if I didn’t believe in what they did. In the end, with all of the knowledge I gained, and the support of those around me, I was excited to accept the offer from Bookfish Books.  Many raise an eyebrow to small publishers—we’ve heard the horror stories. All I can say to that is do your research and dig DEEP, not being afraid to ask questions. Everyone I talked to at Bookfish Books has been incredibly pleased with their experience. And to date, so am I.  The support I’ve gotten has been well above expectations and I couldn’t be happier.

 

 

 

 

kelley-headshot-bw  Kelley’s debut novel, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS (formerly titled IF YOU’RE EVER IN TOWN), is a New Adult Contemporary romance and comes out in July 2017.  In July 2016 it was selected as the winner for the 2016 YARWA Rosemary Award in the New Adult category.

 

You can find Kelley here:  http://www.kdproctor.com

As well as on social media:

www.twitter.com/kdpwrites

www.instagram.com/kd_proctor

www.facebook.com/kdpwrites

 

 

 
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