Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

QUITE THE QUERY – Wendy Qualls and WORTH WAITING FOR April 29, 2016








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



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



With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Wendy Qualls. This great query connected her with her agent, Moe Ferrara.





As long as Paul Dunham stays in the closet, he’s golden: he’s nearly made tenure at his small conservative college, he’s finally gotten away from his controlling ex-boyfriend, and he can focus on just trying to make the best of his lonely bachelor-geek lifestyle.



Then a chance reunion with the gorgeous Brandon Mercer turns into a surprisingly hot more-than-one-night-stand, and things all go to hell. Paul discovers his ex has been stalking him and now has photographic proof that Paul and Brandon have become more than friends – proof he’s threatening to use to out Paul to his conservative family and his homophobic boss. Brandon’s offer to “show him what he’s been missing” also seems to have turned into something distinctly relationship-like, which Paul can’t afford to even dream about.  When Paul’s ex finally follows through with his threat, Brandon is the only defense Paul has against his life falling completely apart. Fortunately, Brandon seems to be willing to stick around for the long haul and – with luck – to help make their own happily ever after.



WORTH WAITING FOR stands alone as a single title, but can also be the first book in my planned “Gay and Geeky” series of similarly-themed romances. I am a member of RWA and this book finaled in [an RWA chapter contest]. I can be reached at [email, Twitter, and phone].




Fun Tidbit:



This took three months and a revision between my initial query and “the call.” Which I was super-excited about, except it turned out “the call” was actually “I really like this but can you revise it a bit more to make Brandon more alpha-male heroic?” I did the revisions, sent the new version to Moe and the handful of other agents who had fulls out, and got an offer from another agent about two days later:-) After phone calls with both the other agent and Moe, I agonized over it for a day or so and ultimately decided Moe and I would be a better fit. I officially accepted the offer on my birthday, October 11th. Best birthday present ever😀





WendyQuallsWendy Qualls was a small­town librarian until she finished reading everything her library had to offer, at which point she put her totally unrelated college degree to use by writing smutty romance novels and wasting time on the internet. She lives in Northern Alabama with her husband, two girls, one dog, and a seasonally fluctuating swarm of unwanted ladybugs. Wendy is represented by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds Literary Agency and can be found on Twitter as @wendyqualls. Her first book will be available from Kensington in the summer of 2017.




SvS 2: The Poachers’ Code – Women’s Fiction February 22, 2016

Filed under: contest,Publishing,Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 5:56 am
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Category/Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction

Word Count: 88,000





My Main Character would use SUN to battle her biggest obstacle:



As a young girl, Sadie Kessler could taste sunlight. Lemony, with fizz. But as an adult, plagued by guilt from covering up a murder 30 years earlier, Sadie no longer sees (or tastes) the wonder around her. When she uncovers another murder linked to the one she concealed as a child, she knows its time to tell the truth. To resurrect her courage, she’ll need to bring the summer sun into the dark woods where she grew up — the woods where she hid a murder. There’s going to be a fight. And Sadie’s bringing the heat.






Dear Agent,


I am seeking representation for my debut novel, THE POACHERS’ CODE. Set in rural New Hampshire, it is about Sadie Kessler, a restless journalist seeking redemption for the murder she covered up thirty years ago.


Journalist Sadie Kessler discovers a murder linked to a crime she and a friend witnessed as children. A murder they chose not to report. Eleven-year-old Sadie stayed silent to protect the girls from the perpetrator — and to cover up crimes of their own. The girls vowed to remain silent and pledged a blood oath to The Poachers’ Code, a list of commandments they constructed to justify their actions. Torn between misplaced allegiance and the desire for redemption, Sadie spends the next 30 years avoiding her past.


Faced with the second murder, 41-year-old Sadie must confront her guilt. As she searches for proof of the killer’s identity, she rediscovers the sense of wonder she lost as a child and falls in love with a man from her past. But the ripple effect of Sadie’s thirty-year-old secret begins to threaten people she loves. When an illegal immigrant is falsely accused of the murder, it sets off a wave of anti-immigrant protests. Sadie’s best friend Marta, a Salvadoran immigrant, is trying to adopt her niece and nephew, both undocumented immigrants. The protests derail the custody proceedings and land Marta’s father in jail under threat of deportation. Revealing the shameful truth could threaten Sadie’s credibility as a journalist and jeopardize her new romance, but she must act before an innocent man is convicted of murder and the real perpetrator hurts someone she cares about. It is time to betray The Poachers’ Code.


Inspired by storytelling elements in Atonement and the movie Stand By Me, THE POACHERS’ CODE delves into the timely issue of immigration and will appeal to fans of Ann Patchett, Mary Kubica and Karen Katchur.




First 250 words:



Damp ink sizzled against Sadie Kessler’s lips, stirring the hunger she worked years to suppress. The freshly-printed police reports warmed her cheek with possibility. She slipped past the safety of her copyediting desk and ducked behind a wall of file cabinets in the back of the newsroom.


She kicked off her running shoes and spread the pages on the floor. The tease of story fluttered on her fingertips. Pressing her palms into the greasy carpet, she hinged up into a creaky downward facing dog and scanned the pages. Domestic disputes, disorderly conduct.


Sadie had feigned repentance when her editor sentenced her to four weeks writing the Sunday police log. But she couldn’t tamp down the giddiness simmering in her gut.


“I knew you’d be back here.” Marta peeked around the wall. She nudged the stack of incident reports with the pointy toe of her boot. “Sorry you’re stuck with that. Four Sundays seems harsh. Especially when it wasn’t you who screwed up.”


Sadie’s knees locked. Her heart stuttered. Marta stood above her, hand on hip, eyebrows raised. Sadie tried to soften her tight shoulders and flipped to the next page. Vehicle break in, identity theft.


“I know it wasn’t really you who transposed those names,” Marta said. “Why’d you take the blame? You hate writing the police log.”


“Does anybody else know?” Sadie repositioned her hands on the slick carpet and pressed into her throbbing left ankle. “I probably deserved it anyway for mistakes no one ever caught.”


“Your secret’s safe. For now.”



SvS 16: Wonderland Acres – MG Contemporary





Category/Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Word Count: 41,000





My Main Character would use sun or snow to battle their biggest obstacle:



Tinker would use the sun because of the added daylight hours of summer to have more time working on fixing the roller coaster. Being homeless, Tinker prefers the sun to the snow.








Dear Agent:



What twelve-year-old Andrew “Tinker” Beals hates the most about being homeless, besides the obvious, is the stereotypes. His mother is neither a drunk nor a drug addict, and he has never stood on the corner with a cardboard sign begging for money.



When Tinker defends himself during a violent robbery at the homeless camp, he and his best friend Colleen flee with their families. They stumble upon an abandoned amusement park, Wonderland Acres. Once a thriving theme park, all that remains is an old roller coaster track and a few broken down rides. When they move into the amusement park, Tinker’s mother reveals she has always wanted to ride a roller coaster. Tinker does not know what the future may hold and worries it will be her one shot at coaster riding. However, fixing the roller coaster could expose his homelessness to his peers, and the world, a secret Tinker has tried to keep his entire life.



When other families move into Wonderland Acres, it attracts the police, who begin the eviction process. Tinker has two weeks to make the roller coaster operational before the city evicts them, and he loses his opportunity to grant his mother’s wish. He will need to decide if he is willing to reveal his secret in order to get the help needed to accomplish his goal.




First 250 words:




Sitting in front of the campfire, I make a suit of armor out of cardboard and duct tape for one of the littler kids at camp.  A cardboard sword lies by my side but will do little to protect me from the danger lurking in our camp, mainly Leroy Carlton.



“Tinker,” my friend Colleen calls me as she points down the path where Leroy staggers towards us; he’s barely upright. The moonlight illuminates the path.



Leroy Carlton is a tyrant who hits like a jackhammer. His tattoos span from the top of his head down to his toes; every inch of visible skin has ink. Rumor is he received all his tattoos in prison. He drinks whiskey from the sunrise to the sunset, only stopping when there isn’t a drop left.



“Gimme your money.” Leroy demands. He reeks of stale booze and body odor. I’ve never seen him bathe.



“It is give me not gimme and no,” I say as I stare at the misspelled tattoo on his neck.



“I forgot we got us a honor student.” He slurs his words.



I want to continue to correct his grammar but I know it will lead to more than just name-calling. To be honest, calling me an honor student doesn’t bother me because I am one.



“I said gimme your money.” He clutches my shirt with his nicotine-stained fingers, pushing me to the ground. “I know you got some, I seen you collecting cans.”



“Just give him the money,” Colleen pleads with me.




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
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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
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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!



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