Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Here’s to 2017! December 31, 2016








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!











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

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



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



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


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


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


Being a PitchWars mentor and watching a writer flourish


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



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



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



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



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









Happy Thanksgiving!










Monday Musings: When All You Want To Do is Quit March 21, 2016

Filed under: Blog,writing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 7:14 am
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Since January my writing life has been a non-stop whirlwind. Between coordinating and running Sun versus Snow, working on copyedits for a major revision, slush reading for Pitch Madness, and taking care of all the other things non-writing in my life, I’m pretty close to burned out.



In my weakest moments over the last months I’ve wondered if writing was really the right thing for my life at this moment. There are so many things vying for my time, and it feels like failure if I’m not writing at least for a few minutes every day. On certain days I go to bed feeling like a wreck because I’m so guilt-ridden for not opening my latest draft and doing some kind of work.



I think the breaking point was most recently when I was sitting on a bus with twenty screaming sixth graders trying to actually fix a scene that I already knew was broken. Honestly, if I wasn’t a pretty private person I think I would have broken down and cried right there. It took about an hour of zoning out and listening to music that I finally had an epiphany moment.



Here it is…There is NO ONE out there pushing you to write-except YOU. That creature called self-doubt you’re battling is YOU. So my answer is this – give yourself a FREAKING BREAK. Log out of social media. Close your laptop. Put aside anything writing related and do something else. Anything else to take your mind off of all the things you THINK you’re missing, doing wrong, not up to task on.



Stop comparing yourself to your friend who just signed with an agent. Or sold her book for xx dollars. That is his/her story not yours. Your time may not be now but it’s coming. Be patient. Wait. Give yourself time to walk away. Take a breath. Forget everything in publishing that is wearing you down. So you didn’t get 500 words today. OK. The world won’t end. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get a 1,000 and make up for it. The reality is that the only thing that matters is you and your well-being.



Remind yourself that you have your own path and that torturing yourself about what comes next is only hurting you. If it’s helpful, take a social media break. When writing feels like a chore, step back and take a day, a week, a month to recharge. Don’t do what I did. Burn the candle so fervently that when you get to the end there’s absolutely NOTHING left. That not only harms you, but everyone in your world. It also doesn’t allow you to make rational decisions, because if all you want to do is quit, you’re in the wrong mindset. You’re so worked up and twisted you don’t realize you’re not only giving up your dream but also giving up on yourself.



Please don’t get so low that you can’t dig your way out. Talk to friends in the writing community. Reach out and ask them to honestly talk about their low points (because I guarantee we’ve all had them). Then when you realize you’re not alone, give yourself time to reenergize. The words will always be there and quitting will not solve your problems. It will only delay your path, and I know in the end that’s the last thing any of us want.



What about you? Have you ever felt like quitting? What kept you motivated to continue writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.






2016 Sun vs. Snow Contest-Introducing the Agents January 15, 2016

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Agents lead very busy lives, so when Michelle and I reach out to see if they’ll participate in Sun versus Snow, we are never sure how many we will get to participate. But every year, without fail, agents step up to the plate and agree to join us for this very fun contest.


HUGE thanks to the 17 agents who found time in their busy schedules to make this contest happen. You are all AWESOME! On this blog I have 7 out of the 17. To discover who else will be perusing the entries this year, head over to Michelle’s blog.


Please tweet your thanks to this great group by using the hashtag #sunvssnow and let them know how much you appreciate them!






Noah Ballard



Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He received his BA in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency where he sold foreign rights for the agency in addition to building his own client list. Noah specializes in literary debuts, upmarket thrillers and narrative nonfiction, and he is always on the look-out for honest and provocative new writers. Noah has appeared across the country at graduate programs and writing conferences speaking about query letters, building nonfiction platforms and submission etiquette. He lives in Brooklyn.






Kirsten Carleton

Kirsten Carleton


Before joining Prospect Agency in 2015, Kirsten learned the agenting ropes at Sobel Weber Associates and the Waxman Leavell Agency. She fell in love with working on writers while getting her B.A. in English with a Creative Writing concentration from Amherst College, and cemented her fascination with publishing with a Graduate Certificate in Publishing from the Columbia Publishing Course and internships at Charlesbridge and Liza Dawson Associates. As an agent, she gets to be a champion for the author throughout the challenging publishing process. She loves sharing an author’s vision for the book, working to help him or her uncover it, and finding a home for it with editors and readers who also feel that connection. Beyond the individual book, she wants to develop satisfying and successful careers that celebrate great talent.


Kirsten is currently seeking upmarket YA and adult fiction with strong characters and storytelling, across speculative, thriller, and literary genres. She’s drawn to books that capture her attention early on with a dynamic plot, and innovative storytelling that blends or crosses genres. In particular, she’s interested in novels that bend and blur genres; literary takes on high concept worldbuilding; diverse characters in stories that are not just about diversity; antiheroes she find herself rooting for; characters with drive and passion; girls and women in STEM fields; settings outside the US/Europe; well-researched historical settings; YA noir/thriller/mystery; stories that introduces her to a new subculture and makes her feel like a native. Follow her on Twitter: @kirstencarleton






Caitlin McDonald



Caitlin McDonald joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2015, and was previously at Sterling Lord Literistic. She represents adult and young adult speculative fiction, primarily science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and related subgenres, as well as contemporary fiction about geeky characters. She is always looking for fun, clever projects featuring badass women, diverse worldbuilding, tropes and genre-bending, heists, and LGBTQ protagonists. She also handles a small amount of nonfiction in geeky areas, with a focus on feminist theory/women’s issues and pop culture. Caitlin grew up overseas and has a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. You can read more about her on her blog or follow her on Twitter @literallycait.








Jaida Temperly



Jaida is actively building both her Children’s and Adult list!


She has a particular love for all things Middle Grade, especially those that are a bit quirky, strange, and fantastical (a la THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY, SNICKER OF MAGIC, CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, etc.) She’s also open to YA submissions (all genres), and picture books by author-illustrators with completed dummies.


For all other fiction (both Adult and Children’s) she has an affinity for magical realism, historical fiction, and literary fiction, as well as stories with a strong mystery and/or religious undertones (THE WESTING GAME, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, THE DAVINCI CODE, JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, OUTLANDER, THE RULE OF FOUR, etc.)


On the non-fiction side, she’s actively seeking topics that are offbeat and a bit strange (STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS, SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES, etc.), as well as photography projects that offer unique insight into the human experience (HUMANS OF NEW YORK, THE SCAR PROJECT, ETC.)


Prior to joining New Leaf Literary, Jaida grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, studied classical ballet, and briefly attended medical school. She loves art history, traveling, logic puzzles, horticulture, and numerous other topics that come in handy for Trivia Night and crossword puzzles.








Carlie Webber



Carlie Webber is looking for a wide variety of fiction genres in adult, YA, and middle grade, including contemporary, lighter fantasy and science fiction, adventure, horror, women’s fiction, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, and westerns. She especially loves fiction that pushes the envelope and encourages conversation (or controversy), but she’s also open to light reads and humor. In all genres and age ranges, she wants to see interesting plots, strong voices, and memorable characters. (She’d love to find the Cookie Lyon of women’s fiction!) Her current wishlist includes high-concept YA and stories with creepy gothic settings. For more info, check out the CK Webber website.







Julia Weber



Julia is specializing in representing international authors of unique and captivating commercial children’s and adult fiction, namely Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, Women’s Fiction, thrillers, and romance. Julia’s not too keen on sci-fi and futuristic stories, and Fantasy should be set in the real world. Other than that, she’s open to all sub-genres. A hooking plot, engaging characters, and a fresh voice are a must.

Twitter: @jawlitagent; Agency website:


Julia also offers freelance editing over at






Roseanne Wells

Roseanne Wells



Roseanne Wells joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an associate agent in 2012. Previously with the Marianne Strong Literary Agency, she has also worked as a proofreader and a special sales and editorial assistant. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with degrees in Literature and Dance. An avid reader, Roseanne discovered her passion for book publishing during her internship at W. W. Norton, and she approaches agenting as a writer’s advocate, editor, and partner. She is a member of SCBWI and a volunteer for Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho, NYC. You can find her on Twitter @RivetingRosie.


Currently Roseanne is looking for: strong literary fiction that emphasizes craft and style equally, and doesn’t sacrifice plot and character for beautiful sentences; young adult of all genres; very selective middle grade of any genre that connects me to a strong main character; science-fiction and fantasy; con/heist stories, especially featuring art, jewelry, and tech; and smart detective novels (more Sherlock Holmes than cozy mysteries).


I’d also love projects that blend genres that I’m interested in; have unique narrative structures that add meaning and enhance the storytelling; unreliable narrators that are unreliable for a reason; and books that include the LGBTQ experience without the central conflict focused solely on being queer.



If you want to participate in the contest, the submission window opens February 1 at 4pm EST. Find out more here:


And don’t forget to head to Michelle’s blog for the rest of the amazing list!!


2016 Sun vs. Snow Details!!! December 14, 2015

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It’s that time again for THE BIG BATTLE between the heat and the cold! Yes, it’s time for the third year of Sun vs. Snow hosted by me and the amazing, Michelle Hauck. This time we have a fun new question and some important details about the entry process. Please read the following THOROUGHLY and then let us know if you have questions.



The submission window for Sun versus Snow will open February 1st at 4 pm Eastern time. 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.



Also, Michelle and I have decided not to accept picture books for this contest. Though we love picture books, contests just don’t seem to be the best place to get them requests. We do accept all MG, YA, NA and Adult genres, excluding erotica. To enter you must be followers of our blogs. Click the “follow this blog” button on my blog. You can find Michelle’s blog here.




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 (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)

Word Count: XX,XXX (round to the nearest thousand)


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


Which would your character find more helpful in fighting through their biggest obstacle–hot or cold. And why? Tell us which weather would be the most helpful to your character.


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





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.



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!



That’s it for now. Get those entries ready for February 1st and leave any questions in the comments or ask on Twitter.



Mentors and agents will be posted in January. As of now we have fifteen fabulous agents, and I have some crazy cool mentors who are itching to work with the selected entries! Keep checking Michelle’s blog too because she may be posting BIG NEWS about a FREE PASS to be on Team Snow!



So get those entries ready! We can’t wait to get started!



W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Robin Reul December 2, 2015







“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I love this line from today’s W.O.W. interview with author, Robin Reul. As writers, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening in other authors’ lives. To get down when a friend’s book sells and yours does not. To be frustrated when they finish a new draft and you’re struggling to finish a chapter.  The key, as Robin points out, is to keep writing, focus on your own path, and tell the story you were meant to tell.


Many thanks to Robin for sharing her writing odyssey today…




Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?


Robin: I think that when one is a teenager, it’s really easy to feel like an island, that no one really gets you or what you’re going through, or your particular brand of crazy. I can tell you I certainly felt like that. My teenage years were tumultuous, filled with lots of mistakes, heartbreak, loss and self-doubt. Teenagers feel so deeply, that every setback or flaw can feel like the end of the world, and a great book can instill hope. I love writing for this age group because it is such an ‘on the verge’ time of life, where anything is possible, and the world hasn’t landed at your feet yet. You’re not who you were and you’re not even close to figuring out who you want to be. I think, in many ways, growing up is overrated, so a part of me enjoys a good excuse to continue to hang out in that world.




Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to MY KIND OF CRAZY?


Robin: My Kind Of Crazy is actually my third completed manuscript. I guess the third time really is a charm.




Amy: Are you one of those people who has an easy time writing a query or does it take several tries before you land on the one you want to send?


Robin: I LOVE writing a query, said no one ever, especially me. I have a lot of difficulty boiling down a whole book into two concise paragraphs, so it definitely takes me several tries and much feedback before I feel like I can articulate things properly. It’s a lot of pressure, and often involves caffeine and cupcake abuse to get through it. It does seem to get easier the further along I go, because there is a formula to it, but I’m still not there with being able to just pop it out on the first try. #lifegoals




Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?


Robin: My book went on submission in November of 2014 and sold in February of 2015. In the publishing world, that really isn’t a long time, but in a writer’s world, it feels like a good quarter of a century. The fact that the holidays were smack dab in the middle probably didn’t help speed up the process, but overall we had a lot of interest. The no’s always come first, but that’s not entirely a bad thing, because with them usually comes feedback and an opportunity to make changes before going out wider. But fortunately, all it takes is one yes.




Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Leigh Feldman?  How did you know she was a good fit for you?


Robin: I was super nervous. Leigh had been my dream agent for some time, and it was the second book of mine she had considered. My friend Jessi Kirby had referred me to her, and I was elated when she agreed to take a look at My Kind Of Crazy (back then titled Rebel Without A Clue.) She sent me an email asking if we could talk the next day and I knew she was probably going to offer. My hands were literally shaking when the phone rang. We immediately clicked – had very similar personalities – and I knew right away that she was, without question, the right person for me to partner with on this crazy publishing journey. She really understood the characters, the story, and she was funny, smart and knew exactly who would love to read this book. I completely trust her instincts. I feel really lucky to be working with her.




Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?


Robin: Um, yes, about five gazillion times. Like as in when the rejection letters became plentiful enough that I could wallpaper a small bathroom. But publishing rarely works on the same timetable as the script in our heads tells us it should. Everybody wants to be the overnight success with a pre-empt, six-figure sale and movie deal. It happens, just not to most of us. When I was younger my grandmother Lillian used to always tell me, “The delay is never the denial.” It’s my mantra now, because it’s so true. You have to remember that just because something doesn’t happen for you right this very minute, it doesn’t mean it never will. Just because you want it isn’t enough. You actually have to keep working at it and believe in yourself.




Amy: What advice did you get early on in your writing career that you still use today?


Robin: One of the best pieces of advice I ever received I got at a writing workshop led by my friend, fellow YA author Jessica Brody. She said end every chapter on a cliffhanger so that the reader can’t put the book down. I find this really does heighten the pacing and tension for a story, and it also forces me to know where I am going with the chapter that follows. Another is that you can’t get discouraged if your first book doesn’t sell, because you will find that even super successful authors have nine books in a drawer that will never see the light of day. You just have to keep writing. And above all, don’t write to trends. It can take up to two years from sale to shelf, so you can’t write to what is popular now. Write the story you want to tell and NEVER compare your journey to someone else’s. Comparison is the thief of joy.





My Kind

(Available April 1, 2016)



Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.


As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.




RobinReulRobin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. For more on Robin, check out her blog, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads.



An Important Auction & Free Pass into 2016 Sun versus Snow Contest November 21, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,writing — chasingthecrazies @ 7:16 am
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Hi all,


A quick note today to let you know that I’ve donated a query + first chapter critique for an auction near and dear to my heart. A writer friend, Summer Heacock and her family, have had some recent issues due to family health problems. As a result, I agreed to band together with some amazing authors and literary agents and provide an item to help raise money for the family. In addition to the critique donation, I’m also offering a bonus item…


A FREE PASS onto Team Sun in 2016. What does this mean?




It means you don’t have to go through the submission window process

You don’t have to wait and see if Michelle or I select your entry

Basically, you are GUARANTEED that agents (last year there were 15!!!) participating in the contest will see your work (in the past it’s been query +first 250).


In addition to my donation, numerous agents and authors are offering up other great items.


So if you’re planning on querying in 2016, or just want to help out a great cause, please think about checking out the auction which ends this Monday.


Thanks and have a great Saturday!


The Heacock’s GoFundMe link:


Link to my donation:


Link to all donations:




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