Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Dahlia Adler’s LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT EXCERPT November 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 8:51 am

If you’re a regular on Twitter you may have heard of Dahlia Adler. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she is what I consider a force to be reckoned with when it comes understanding the world of both Young Adult and New Adult books. Need an amazing recommendation for a YA Thriller? Dahlia is your girl. Want a better understanding of how to approach the crazy world of publishing? Check out Dahlia’s blog.


I devoured Dahlia’s first book, BEHIND THE SCENES, and am eagerly awaiting her first New Adult book, LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.  Here are a few details:




Dahlia Last Will



Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.


But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.


Until he does.


Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.


Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.



And here is a chapter excerpt…


“Did you mean what you said?” he asks. “About dropping?”


“I’m not sure yet.” No point in lying, especially to the one person who’s actually been helping me organize my thoughts. It’s not like I know I can get into another class this late, but I do know the idea of sitting in one with him is torture. And the truth is, it’s not just his class I’ve been thinking about leaving. The more of Tyler’s moodiness I observe, the more I wonder if Radleigh itself just isn’t the right place for us right now.


“You can’t make me the difference between staying and going,” he says tightly, bracing a hand on the back of kitchen chair. He doesn’t meet my eyes, but instead watches his own knuckles go white from his grip. “That’s not fair.”


I snort. “First of all, you’re talking to someone who lost her parents in an instant and became an eighteen-year-old mother of two, so if you want to compete about ‘fair,’ you’ve brought a fucking watergun to the Second Crusade.”


“That’s not—”


“Second of all, this isn’t a ‘boo hoo, the boy I like doesn’t like me back so I’m uprooting my life’ situation, okay? I need an A in all my classes this semester in order to keep my scholarship, which I need to stay here. Now my transcript is shot to hell. Honestly, it’d probably be better for both me and the boys if I stopped wasting money on my tuition altogether and got a full-time job instead. Maybe then I could actually afford to get the boys’ their own damn bedrooms.”


“But you’re getting an A in the class….”


“Maybe for now, but you think that’s gonna hold up without you tutoring me?” I all but growl, taking care to make sure the boys can’t hear me through the door. “You think I’m gonna be able to focus in class every day? Watching you hand out papers and remembering how those hands feel on my skin? I’m supposed to listen to you lecture and not think about how you said my name like I was a glass of water and you were dying of thirst?”


“Lizzie, stop.” His knuckles are so white now I swear I can see bone through the skin. But I don’t care. I’m not done.


“I can’t be around you. I’m sorry if that sounds crazy to you or whatever. But I need to focus, and I don’t see myself doing that when all I can think about when I see you is finishing what we started.”


Connor swallows hard. “Even now?”


“I threw myself at you earlier today, Connor. Just because your feelings go away with the snap of your fingers doesn’t mean mine do.” The humiliation of my admission burns in my face, and I gather up the remaining dishes with a clatter and stalk past him to drop them in the sink. When I turn back around, he’s standing in my face, so close I can feel body heat radiating from every inch of him.


“You don’t really think that’s what happened, do you?”


“I don’t know how else to explain it,” I counter, but all the fight’s gone out of my voice. He’s just too close. The heady scent of his aftershave is scrambling my brain cells.


“I told you—because I’m your TA. And everything you just said is exactly why they forbid us from getting involved.”


“Then why are you here?” I rasp.


“Because I can’t not be.” He takes the last step needed to close the space between us and slides his hands into my hair, pulling me into a starving, searching kiss. His tongue sweeps my mouth as if he doesn’t want to miss a spot, and pressed up against him as I am now, there’s no doubt he wants me every bit as much as he did last night, if not more. Even when he pulls away, panting.


Be sure to check out this stunning book when it becomes available December 9 via Amazon.


DahliaAdlerDahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a YA/NA author and blogger at every spare moment in between. More often than not, you can find her on Twitter as @MissDahlELama, and if you tweet her pictures of macarons, she just might fall in love with you. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.




WIPMarathon Intro August 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 3:10 am
Tags: , , , ,


I need a little kick in the pants with my latest Young Adult manuscript, so I decided to join the lovely, Ifeoma Dennis, and several other amazing writers in an August WIPMarathon.  I figured if I have to share my writing goals in black and white on a daily basis, it will shame me into getting the work done.


As part of this great marathon, I’ve been encouraged to share a few things…



Marathon Goal:


Honestly, I’d love it to be 40k, but realistically I’m going with 20k. I’m already 21k into this story, and it’s just getting good, so I’m hoping this goal will really drive me forward.



Stage of writing:


Aaack!! I already answered this one, but I will add that this is a very ROOOOOUGH draft. I’m churning and burning as fast as I can without any editing as I go along – which I WILL admit is killing the copy editor in me!



What inspired this project:


A trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry – and that’s all I’m going to say. Keeping this one pretty tight to the chest!



What might slow down this marathon:


Life? Work? Family? And about a 1,000 other obligations – but I AM going to get my butt in the chair every day and write!



Good luck to all my fellow marathoners and let the merriment and mayhem begin! :)


“Departures” for the The Memory Project July 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 11:27 pm
Tags: , , ,




Just a quick note to let you all know I have a story debuting today as part of Carey Torgesen’s The Memory Project.  I previously wrote about the inspiration and challenge I undertook to pen “Departures” here.


Today I hope you’ll take a moment to read my piece, and then go back to the beginning of this amazing project, and read each and every story included.  Each tale is beautiful, poignant and compelling in its own way. I am honored to have my story showcased among so many talented writers.


To read “Departures” click here.


Have a great day and as always THANK YOU for visiting my blog :)


“Behind the Curtain” – A Guest Post by Michelle Krys January 21, 2013

As an aspiring writer I’m always educating myself about the publishing process.  In all my research, there remains one murky area: what happens after “the call”? This step always seems to be shrouded in mystery. It’s hard to find out exactly what happens between when someone signs on the “dotted line” with an agent and gets a fabulous announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace about their sale.


Today, I have asked author, Michelle Krys to take us “behind the curtain,” and share with us the exact details of what happens after the ink is dry on an agent contract. Her thoughtful post shares the intricate details of the process and reveals what it takes to actually get a book submission-ready.  It is a revealing look at the path to publication and an education on how the work doesn’t end once you get an agent – it only just begins…



The wonderful Amy Trueblood has asked me here today to speak a bit about my experience going on submission. For those of you who aren’t deeply entrenched in the publishing business, I’m not referring to some kinky 50 Shades of Grey stuff, but to the process whereby an agent sends an author’s book out to editors in the hopes of landing a book deal.


Before going out on sub myself, I didn’t really know much of anything about the process. All of my focus had been on landing an agent. And then once that happened (I mean after I Carlton-danced around the house, called everyone I knew, and bragged excessively on the interwebs), I blinked at the computer screen, wondering what comes next.


See the thing is, no one really talks about going on submission. I guess you’re not supposed to or something. Well, here I am, talking about it. Today, I will share with Amy’s lovely readers my experience, beginning from the moment after I accepted my agent’s offer of representation.


*hides from agent and editor*


It was within the first week after the call with my fancy new agent, Adriann Ranta, that I received her edit letter. It was short (a few small paragraphs), and it outlined her suggested changes to the manuscript. We’d already touched on these changes during our phone call, so nothing came as a surprise. It took me just a couple of days to complete. A few weeks later, we were on submission.


Initially, I was pretty calm about sending my book baby out into the world. But it wasn’t long before I was cyber-stalking editors like a madwoman. Oh, the stalking! And then I stumbled across Mindy McGinnis’ SHIT series (Submission Hell—It’s True), and really tortured myself. I was cautioned against comparing myself to other writer’s experiences, but that didn’t stop me from becoming completely obsessed with the series. One moment, I was a failure because I hadn’t gone to auction in the first week and Fox hadn’t bought my film rights, like one author, and the next I was still doing ok because another author had been on sub eight months before they got their deal. Sounds horrible, but if I could go back, I wouldn’t do it any differently (I challenge you not to read Mindy’s SHIT series while on submission. It’s impossible).


My agent forwarded along my rejections as they came in, which was something I really appreciated because I have the patience of a housefly. And actually, for some inexplicable reason, I was exhilarated any time I heard back, even when it was a rejection. I lived for those emails. (Have I mentioned I checked my email about 32,000 times a day? Because I did).


I was often advised by fellow writers to dive into a new writing project to distract myself, but that just wasn’t possible. I couldn’t concentrate, knowing that any moment I could hear back from Adriann and my life would change forever. Going out didn’t help either—I just thought about when I could check my email next. Chocolate didn’t help. Neither did wine (Okay the wine helped a little bit). This was the part that sucked. That feeling of being in total limbo. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it that wouldn’t qualify you for AA. It just sucks.


And then I got a book deal.


Allow me to set the scene. I was at work. It was a busy day in the neonatal intensive care unit. We were a month into submission, and it was the last day for offers on HEXED, which we were accepting until 12 noon. I’d already struck out with 6 out of 10 of the houses I was out to.


All morning, like any self-respecting writer, I compulsively checked my email any chance I got. My agent emailed me at about twenty to 12 to say we’d received rejections from another three of the houses, and no word from the last house. Adriann remained incredibly optimistic and let me know we’d go out for another round soon, but I was pretty shattered. However I was at work, so I sucked it up and put on a brave face.


But in a turn of events straight out of the movies, not twenty minutes later I got another email from Adriann, saying that she’d heard from the last editor and could I call her? I went into a quiet hallway to make the call. Wendy Loggia of Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, had made an offer for a two-book deal. I was euphoric! Except I couldn’t really jump for joy since, you know, I was at work and it’s a hospital and what not.


After the call, I went into the bathroom to compose myself and do some deep breathing exercises before going back into the NICU. When I walked back inside, another nurse casually asked what the call was about, and I broke down and ugly cried in front of all my coworkers and the babies’ parents, who had no clue what was going on and looked quite startled.


Wendy and I spoke on the phone later that week. She was incredibly warm and easy to talk to, and so enthusiastic about my project that I just couldn’t help loving her immediately (and not just because she bought my book!).


It’s been a while since then (almost a year), but as I recall we chatted about what aspects of the book she liked and then got into the revisions she had in mind. I was lucky because I completely, wholeheartedly agreed with her ideas (that woman is a genius), and it seemed we shared the same vision for the book. We also chatted about timeframes for when I would likely receive my editorial letter, and what the road to publication might look like for me.


I got my revision letter about 4 months after that initial phone call—pretty average in the business. The letter was 4.5 single-spaced pages. It expanded on what Wendy and I had already discussed, plus a few more things we hadn’t discussed but that I totally agreed with. My deadline was six weeks, and I finished just under that without too much stress. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed when I got another revision letter not long after, but this one was just a page or so in length, and the fixes were so easy it took me just a few weeks, maybe less, to complete.  Copyedits came a few months later, which took a day or two.


Which leads me to last week.


So there you have it, folks. I hope my lengthy diatribe has been helpful to some poor author out there on submission. Or at least, that it hasn’t made anyone question their self-worth too much.



michelle krys final 4x6

Michelle Krys lives with her husband and son in Northwestern Ontario. She loves bad reality television, celebrity gossip, dance music, and nachos, and is not ashamed of any of it (though she probably should be). Her debut novel HEXED is forthcoming from Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books in Spring 2014. She thinks it would be swell if you followed her on twitter.



Many thanks to Michelle for pulling back the curtain and sharing the details of her submission journey. I learned a lot and hope you did as well!


Monday Morning Musings December 10, 2012



1) As I’ve established on this blog before, I am a voracious YA reader.  I probably go through 2-3 three books a week.   Over this past year I’ve begun to notice a trend.  Many of the books marketed as YA have a significant literary bent to them.  Gone are the days of lines like “he was so hot.”  Now the prose goes something along the lines of “he was cloaked in a luminous shock of light that modeled his frame.”  Ok – so I made that up – but you get the point.


I don’t have anything against this, in fact I learn a lot from contemporary writers who go over the mountain and through the woods to give literary detail, but I wonder if it’s being twisted and bent to capitalize on the only percentage of the marketplace that is growing: YA.


Why am I bemoaning this? Because I question whether a 13,14 or 15 year-old has the education and/or the attention span to read a long list of adjectives and metaphors and still keep reading.  Is this adult literary fiction being cloaked in a character who just happens to be 17?



Are you a fan of YA fiction? If so, I’d like to know your opinion on this topic.



2) Do you ever read a novel and become completely envious over the writing?  I’ll admit it’s happened to me quite a bit.  For example, the first chapter of HUNGER GAMESSuzanne Collins builds an entire dystopian world in one chapter – completely brilliant.


So this is the part where I segue into the fact that I want to be John Green when I grow up. Yes, FAULT WITHIN OUR STARS, PAPER TOWNS, AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, John Green.  The man is brilliant and when he puts a pen to paper it’s like listening to a beautiful song – it is pure magic. If you have not read one of his books, drop what you are doing and go get one. Now. They are simply AMAZING (Yes, I’m shouting that one).



3)I once read a great article (which I can’t find now or I’d add the link) about your chances of getting an agent and/or getting publishing. It went something like this:


80% of queries sent are to an agent who does not represent that specific genre.


The next 5%  have grammatical or spelling errors or are sent with the salutation “Dear Agent or Dear Sir” which doesn’t work, of course, if you’re sending to a female.


The next 5% either claim they are the next “Grisham, Kerouac, or Rowling,” or they completely forget to include their premise altogether, only telling the agent they’ve written the next NYT bestseller and need to be signed right away.


If I’m doing the math right that means a meager 10% of all queries sent to agents are done correctly.  What does that mean for you and me? Well if you do your research, follow submission guidelines, and send to an agent who actually represents your genre, you have a 90% chance of actually getting noticed. I’ll take those odds any day.


FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Amy Boggs of The Donald Maass Literary Agency November 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 1:48 pm
Tags: , , ,


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 five pages of a manuscript.  By reading each agent’s comments, I hope you’ll learn how to make your MS a shining gem that will be requested time and time again.


Today, I am proud to share Literary Agent, Amy Boggs’ perspective on what’s important in those critical first pages.  And yes, it is hard to outline an interview with someone who shares the same first name as you!


Amy :  Many writers have the impression that a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is that to you as an agent?


Amy Boggs: The first line is very important, but what’s more important is the second line. And more important than that is the third, and all the way down to the end. The author should build a relationship with their reader and, much like a good pick-up line, a good first line can catch that first interest but it will not be enough to hold it.


It is also supremely important that the first line matches the rest of your book. I actually see this quite often, where it’s clear that the writer came up with a totally brilliant first line but that over the revision process the rest of the novel moved into a different tone or direction but that line stayed the same, and so now it feels off. Killing our darlings doesn’t just apply to characters.



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 beginnings you recommend writers stay away from?


Amy Boggs: Waking and traveling are the big ones. In urban fantasy, any kind of bar or club scene is rote. In YA and children’s, there’s also the protagonist finding out they’re moving, arriving to their new house, starting up the first day of school, or “It was the most boring normal day ever and I was so bored.” On a psychological level, these kind of beginnings make sense; most of them are on the crux of changes and new beginnings anyway, so of course you’d start a novel there. But that’s what makes them so boring, so expected. “I went to a bar to hit on chicks and that’s when I met your mom” is an expected beginning. “I wolf-whistled at a cute guy who was running around the track on campus, and that’s when I met your dad’s roommate” is an unexpected beginning. Which one do you want to hear more about? My money’s on the latter.


Of course, these examples can all be worked in brilliant ways to be great openings, but the main thing is to know that you’re working with a cliché so you can consciously play with reader expectation. Doing things in ignorance or because they are easy is where writing runs astray.



Amy:  When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?


Amy Boggs: What piques my interest is something new. This is not to say that a rewrite of Twilight with chupacabras and bigfoot will appeal to me; that’s just painting the horse another color. (Side note: Twitter hivemind helped me decide that the plural of bigfoot is bigfoot; like moose.) Newness instead comes from being beyond clichés and having a character who shows why they are worth following from page one. It’s a hard thing to describe, so I’ll give a couple of examples from now-published books I pulled from the slush pile.


The first is DRAGON BOUND, a paranormal romance by Thea Harrison. Thea had a query that was so-so, but her pages really drew me in. Here’s the first line:


Pia was blackmailed into committing a crime more suicidal than she could possibly have imagined, and she had no one to blame but herself. That line does a lot of heavy lifting. We meet our heroine, we’re introduced to the inciting incident, and we get the tone of the book, with Thea’s wonderful humor. It also gives us great questions to propel interest forward: What was she blackmailed for? What suicidal crime did she commit? Why is she the one to blame? The answers to all these questions are important to the plot and to Pia’s character. Her first five pages aren’t a throwaway opening; everything in them is tied to what comes next, and the tension is there from the very start. In the pages, Thea also, quite brilliantly, keeps weighing the familiar with the fantastic. Pia internally laments about how her ex screwed her over, something many people have gone through. But he screwed her over by blackmailing her; that’s unusual. And what did he blackmail her into doing? Stealing from the hoard of a dragon. Boom. The balance of the familiarity of Pia’s feelings with the uniqueness of her situation makes for a compelling opening.


The second is THE CITY’S SON, a dark YA urban fantasy by Tom Pollock. Here’s the first paragraph:


I’m hunting. The sun sits low over Battersea, its rays streaking the brickwork like war paint as I pad through the railway tunnels. My prey can’t be far ahead now: there’s a bitter, burned stench in the air, and every few yards I find another charred bundle that used to be a rat. Very different tone and opening. Tom focuses more on the situation, but notice he does a similar reveal to Thea’s: The character’s hunting. But wait, he’s hunting in a city? But wait, the thing he is hunting turns rats into charred bundles?! There is that little bit of normalcy, followed by the strangeness of the world. We soon find out that our narrator, Fil, is hunting the spirit of a train through the railways of modern day London. And then what does Tom do? He ups the stakes by having Fil find the body of a boy. The only thing missing would be a way of attaching the reader to the character, but Tom addresses that, too, by having a moment where this strange hunter admits to being unable to go to one part of the city. There is a being there that even he fears. That little glimpse makes Fil, the son of the Goddess of London, feel very human. His situation might be unique, but his emotions are familiar. That is a powerful blend.



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


Amy Boggs: This is a tricky one, because for me the only mistakes that really matter are those that deal with the writing itself. But “not engaging my interest” is not a very helpful answer. So here are some ways opening pages fail to engage:


Starting in the wrong spot. From my query reading, I feel that many writers start their story too early. This is understandable, because as a writer you need some time to get to know your character, but much of this needs to come out in later revisions. A fair few also start too late, throwing us into the middle of action that the reader doesn’t have a reason to care about yet. It’s a balancing act, finding the right moment where caring about the protagonist and plot action converge.


There is also starting the pages with a non-main character. As an agent, there’s a bit of whiplash when you’re reading a query all about a specific group of characters and story, and then the pages start and none of that story or those characters are in the pages. As a reader, why would I want to spend that time getting invested in a character that isn’t the main one? Often these non-main character starters die or disappear after the opening pages, either because they are a parental figure whose death/disappearance shapes the protagonist’s journey or because they are a hapless victim to the Big Bad to show just how big and bad they are. So a reader gets invested in them and then, whoops, that person doesn’t matter, here’s the *real* person you should care about. I find it irritating. It also ties to my answer to question one. You want to hook the reader for the long haul, and the best way to do that is give them a protagonist they will want to follow right from page 1.


Starting without any questions. I think curiosity is a great way to drive the reader and create line-by-line tension. When a reader says, “I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next.” it is because there are questions that they want to see answered. They don’t even have to be big questions; a roommate once told me that a book drew her in with simply the question of, “Will the protagonist be able to get off the phone in time to save his pasta from overcooking?” That is an average moment made tense. What I normally see in openings are average moments presented as average, likely in the hopes that when the plot starts, it seems more exciting. I think it is better to present the average as unique and then let the even more exciting elements build on that strong start. (For example, the Harry Potter series starts with a businessman commuting to work. Could have come off as plain average, but Rowling instead makes the average (amusingly) terrible.)



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


Amy Boggs: All of the above? My, I am horrible at answering questions. But I think I’m going to go with voice. Yes, I’m quite sure writers are sick of hearing it, but the thing is, voice is an amalgamation of everything in your writing. It’s what makes you the storyteller, rather than someone making an elaborate list of events. In high school, my brother had a very clever friend who could come up with in-class quips quite easily, but he couldn’t pull off the delivery to save his life. My brother, bless him, couldn’t come up with such clever observations but his delivery always had the class rolling. Their powers combined, they were the perfect class clown. As a writer, you need both. It doesn’t matter how funny a joke is if you don’t deliver it right, it doesn’t matter how good a story is if you don’t tell it right. Your voice is your delivery.


Amy Boggs joined The Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2009. She is looking for fantasy and science fiction, especially urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk, YA/children’s, and alternate history. Historical fiction, Westerns, and works that challenge their genre are also welcome. She is seeking projects with characters who are diverse in any and all respects, such as (but not limited to) gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and sexuality. She is not looking for thrillers, women’s fiction, or picture books.  She is a graduate of Vassar College.



If you’re interested in submitting to Amy, please make sure to check The Donald Maass Literary Agency for their guidelines.


W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday – Ashley Elston November 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 2:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,



I absolutely love asking the question about a writer’s “call” with their agent.  I’ve heard some pretty good stories, but I think at this point,  Ashley Elston’s story may just be the best I’ve heard so far. If you love Laffy Taffy and Coke Icees (my favorite!) you’ll understand what I mean.



Ashley, like many other authors I’ve interviewed, went through the critical process of writing and then shelving something to move on to a new project.  Undaunted, she went on to write her debut novel that will be available in 2013.



Here is Ashley’s writing journey – I hope her odyssey will inspire you to stick to your writing dream!



Amy: What drew you to write a YA Thriller?


Ashley: I love a story that takes you for a ride – the more twists and turns the better. And I love a story that has an element of crime – so many possibilities open up when you deal in that world.



Amy: How many manuscripts have you completed to date?


Ashley: 3! I just finished the first draft of the sequel to RULES.



Amy: Was THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING your first completed manuscript?


Ashley: No. The first manuscript I ever wrote is on a permanent siesta in my bottom desk drawer. It was a wonderful learning experience writing it but that’s really all it will ever be – practice.



Amy: How long did it take to complete?


Ashley: The first draft of RULES came together rather quickly – 3 months! But it went through round after round of edits – my own revisions, my agent’s revisions and finally my editor’s revisions.



Amy: Did you use critique partners for THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING? If so, how did that affect your writing process?


Ashley: The best thing I came away with from my first SCBWI conference was finding a wonderful critique partner. It really changed how I wrote. We began swapping chapters shortly after the conference and two things happened – my writing moved to a higher level since I didn’t want to share anything that wasn’t as perfect as it could be and it kept me on a schedule since we were trading pages every couple of weeks. I think you learn as much from critiquing others work as you do having your own work critiqued.



Amy: When you first wrote your query for THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING did it come easily or did it go through many drafts?


Ashley: Since this wasn’t the first book I queried, I felt like it didn’t take as long to get my query where it needed to be. It went through a few changes along the way but it stayed very close to the original draft. And it broke a lot of the “rules” – it was written from the character’s perspective. The entire query was backstory, ending just where my book opened. I didn’t even tell my main character’s name. But it worked.



Amy: How many queries did you send for THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING?


Ashley: I sent out queries in groups – 5-7 at a time. If I didn’t get great results, I tweaked it a bit. I probably sent out four or five batches.



Amy: Did you receive immediate response or did you have to twist your hands and wait a while?


Ashley: Both. Some query responses were rather quick – from a couple of minutes to the next day. Others not so much. I even got a full request from an agent after my book sold to Disney Hyperion. I had written that agent off as a non-responder.



Amy: As many writers know, the publishing world is very hard to break into. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention?


Ashley: I tried to submit the best possible work I could. It’s seems simple but that’s the best way to get their attention. The first manuscript I wrote, the one hiding in the drawer, wasn’t it. And sometimes the hardest thing to accept is when to move past one story and start something new.



Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Sarah Davies?


Ashley: I got a heads-up when the subject line of her email read: “A chat?” Holy moly – all I ever heard was if an agent wants to talk to you on the phone – they will probably offer representation. We planned a time to chat later that afternoon. Since I had three kids at home and it sounded like I was in the middle of an amusement park, I got a sitter, drove to a convenience store and bought a Coke Icee and banana Laffy Taffy and waited for the call. Yes, I took the call in the parking lot of a gas station while eating junk food. It was a great call. We clicked and every idea she had to make RULES stronger sounded perfect.



Amy: You currently juggle a lot being a mom and helping run your family business. Were there times when you just couldn’t get to the writing and wanted to give up on the dream? What kept you motivated?


Ashley: I don’t think I ever wanted to give up writing – I just had to figure out how to make it all work. I wrote most of RULES in the middle of the night when everyone else was sleeping because that was the most uninterrupted time I could find. It helps now that all three of my boys are in school full-time. As far as my motivation – I’m not sure. I just can’t imagine NOT writing.



Ashley Elston lives in northwest Louisiana with her husband and three sons. Her debut, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, will be published by Disney Hyperion in May 2013. She can be found on Twitter or Facebook.





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,236 other followers

%d bloggers like this: