Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…










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 where 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 Laura Rueckert. This great query connected her with her agent, Zoe Sandler at ICM Partners.





I hope you’ll be interested in my YA Fantasy with Vietnamese and Maori-inspired elements.



When an assassin kills Princess Anh’s older sister Mai, her ghost is doomed to walk the earth. Blinding rage leads her to punish loved ones until the killer is brought to justice. Before anyone can track down the murderer, King Matewa, from a country far away, requests that seventeen-year-old Anh take her sister’s place as his betrothed.



Anh couldn’t be more torn. She’s never forgotten that breathtaking moment—back before her sister’s engagement—when the tattooed king’s laughing eyes had locked with hers. But due to dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, her chances of learning a new language are slim. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land, where she’d be unable to communicate.



Then Anh discovers evidence that Mai’s assassin came from Matewa’s country. Marrying the king would allow Anh to seek the murderer and release herself and her family from Mai’s spirit, whose thirst for blood mounts every day.



With a translator by her side, magical bracelets on her forearms, and a dagger strapped to her calf, she makes her way to the country of her sister’s assassin. But Anh hasn’t even reached her new home when the first attempt is made on her life. To save her family, Anh must find Mai’s killer…before he murders her too.



A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN is complete at 76K words and would appeal to fans of Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.





Fun Tidbit:

I only sent a handful of this version of my query. Then I rewrote it. Just goes to show a query doesn’t have to be perfect—only good enough to make the agent interested in reading more. I also actually sent the query to a different agent which proves many of them really do share queries if they think someone else is a better fit!





Laura grew up in Michigan but dove into a whirlwind romance just after college, which meant moving to southern Germany without a job, but with a lot of love. She and her husband married a blink of an eye later, and they’ve now lived there happily for more years than seem possible. By day, Laura manages process and system projects, and she’s a mother of two. Nights and stolen daytime hours are devoted to living in her head: writing YA science fiction and fantasy novels. Laura is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and her work is represented by Zoe Sandler of ICM Partners. You can find her on Twitter (@LauraRueckert) or on her blog.






W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with McKelle George October 26, 2016








Every writer has their own path to publication. Some paths are long and winding. Others are a straight shot. No matter the tale, the journey always involves ups and downs, caution signs, and for some, serious roundabouts, but what always remains is the writer’s commitment to their craft and their enduring dream to see their work on bookshelves one day.



In bringing you the W.O.W. series, I hope as a writer you will learn that no dream is unfounded. That with time, patience, perseverance, and commitment to your craft, it is possible to cross that finish line and share your story with the world.



Today, I’m pleased to share McKelle George’s writing journey…






Amy: When did you first begin seriously writing with the intent of wanting to be published?


McKelle: 2011. I remember, because I’d been living in Hungary for almost two years. Before then, I’d been studying illustration. I switched to English (which isn’t necessary to write, but it was for me and my focus) when I started university the fall of 2011, and now here we are!






Amy: How many completed YA manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?


McKelle: One and a half? I queried the first book I ever wrote, and it was terrible, and though I did get a few full requests, it really wasn’t that good and I’m glad it will never see the light of day. The half is because I submitted my next book to a contest before querying, and it got signed with a small press as a result. However, when I signed with my agent with my next book, we got out of the aforementioned contract.






Amy: How laborious/frustrating was the query process for you?


McKelle: It wasn’t easy, exactly, but also not that hard. For my first book, that was because I didn’t put as much time into research because I had no idea what I was doing. For the book that got me my agent, I only queried 20 before it was in the Brenda Drake’s Pitch Madness contest, and also got some requests from #PitMad. From first query to offer was only about two months, and I blame those two contests for propelling my querying process so quickly.






Amy: From beginning (first draft) to end (signing contract), how long was the process of getting a deal for SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE?


McKelle: I wrote the first word of the first draft July 20, 2013. And I had the phone call with the editor who signed my book December 2015. So, two and a half years.





Amy: Do you have critique partners? If so, how critical are they to your writing process?


McKelle: Yes! Sometimes I will give my manuscripts to other author friends and I always appreciate their feedback. But I have two critique partners who read everything I write. I met them in college and we went on a study abroad to the UK together and are still really good friends. It’s not at all necessary for CPs, but even more valuable than their feedback on my writing is their friendship, so I love being able to call them to get ice cream with me if I need it—as well as critiquing my work. (:





Amy: What one thing are you looking forward to most as a debut author? 


McKelle: Holding my physical book in my hands, seeing it on a shelf. So many of the “perks” of publishing are not in your control, and every journey is different. But nothing can take away from having the published finished result of your hard work in front of you.






Amy: What was your “call” like with Katie Grimm? How did you know she was the right fit for you?


McKelle: So, I actually had another offer and another phone call with another agent first. After I sent the courtesy will-you-let-me-know-if-you’re-interested-because-I-have-an-offer e-mail to the other agents who had the full of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE, she was one of the ones who got back to me and was still interested. And her e-mail was like, ha ha, this huge paragraph of things she thought needed to be fixed in the manuscript, and the end of it was basically, “I would expect a lot of work, but if any of my notes are resonating with you, I’d love to chat.”


I remember being really stressed out about choosing the right agent between the ones who offered, because there wasn’t a bad choice. Katie had all the professional things I was looking for in an agent (I had a small checklist of qualities), but in the end, it was also a gut feeling. She just sounded so smart and tough on the phone! I knew she was someone I’d want to have in my corner, and someone I could trust to know the business and get things done. I haven’t regretted the choice once.






Amy: What one piece of writing advice did you receive early on in your career that you still use today?


McKelle: I don’t know if I still use it, but I still stand by it, and that was: put your first project aside. It was revelatory to me, to stop picking at the same story again and again. Writing more books taught me way more than revising the first old one.


The other thing (and sorry to be cliché and use Stephen King) was reading the book On Writing, and reading the passage that starts: do not come to the blank page lightly. It was the first time it clicked for me that I would need to sacrifice other things to do this, that it was a serious thing that deserved to be pursued seriously, and not just some fun hobby.






mckellegeorgeMcKelle George is an editor, perpetual doodler, associate librarian at the best library in the world (the Salt Lake City Public Library), and lover of quiet adventures. Her debut novel SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd. For more on McKelle, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@McKelleGeorge).




Filed under: Blog,Publishing,YA Fiction — chasingthecrazies @ 7:11 am
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The Breeders 4




I’m very excited to share info on the recent release in THE BREEDERS series written by my good friend, Katie French. In book four, THE BROTHERS, Riley continues on her mission to find her missing boyfriend and brother and unite her family for good.


“They tell me it’s for the good of humanity. That I’m saving our way of life with my body. They lie.”


Book Four in the award-winning, best-selling Breeders series.


Riley has survived madmen, deranged doctors, and false prophets. Her next task is uniting her family, which has been ripped apart by Nessa Vandewater, the Breeders’ enforcer. Her boyfriend Clay and brother Ethan are still missing. Only she can find them.


But on her way, Riley is stung by a scorpion. To ease her suffering, Auntie Bell shares the story of Riley’s mother, Janine, and how she escaped the Breeders.


Nearly twenty years in the past, Janine, an obedient Breeders girl, is nearing her seventeenth birthday, and the clock is ticking. She has two months to become pregnant, or she’ll be put out, sold into slavery . . . or worse. When her doctor informs her she’s infertile, she’s devastated. But some doctors lie, and one in particular seems to want Janine for his own . . .



THE BROTHERS is available for purchase now via Amazon.


Check out all the books in THE BREEDERS series here:



Katie2Katie French is the author of The Breeders series, a bestselling YA dystopian adventure available on Amazon. She’s a wife, mother, and teacher, but not always in that order. She’s represented by Amanda Luedeke of McGregor Literary. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, or Twitter.






Cover Reveal: Brenda Drake’s LIBRARY JUMPERS May 28, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Cover reveal,Publishing,YA Fiction — chasingthecrazies @ 6:54 am
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Brenda Drake has done amazing things for the writing community. Year after year, she tirelessly puts together opportunities to connect agents and editors with writers via her contests like: Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness. On top of that there is also the infamous #PitMad, Twitter pitch contest, that I know has connected many writers to their agents.



So what better way to say “Thank You” to Brenda for her years of service to the writing community than to shout from the rooftops about her book’s cover reveal.



Here’s a bit about LIBRARY JUMPERS…



Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.


Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.



And here’s the gorgeous cover from Entangled Teen that actually made me gasp…








library jumpers_500

 (Available January 5, 2016)





Congratulations to Brenda and the entire Entangled Teen team on this stunning cover!


Want to add on Goodreads or Pre-Order? See links below!






BBrenda Drake Author Photorenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love of storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). For more on Brenda, check out her website, or follow her on Goodreads, Twitter or Facebook.




Add to Goodreads

Pre-order opportunities:  Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


SVS 12: Forces Beyond Our Control – YA Science Fiction February 9, 2015

Filed under: Blog,contest,YA Fiction — chasingthecrazies @ 5:48 am
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Category/Genre: YA, Sci-fi

Word Count: 71,000



My Main Character would prefer to live in: 



Growing up behind glass walls and locked doors stifled Force. Now that she’s escaped her prison, she relishes the crisp bite of winter against her skin. The clean slate of freshly fallen snow reminds her she’s finally free. And the harsh edges of icicles glinting in the sunlight make her think of the man she called Father, and of the fate she’s ready to bring him.






Dear Amazing Agent,


Finally free of the lab where she was created, Force faces a new challenge on the streets of Minneapolis: remembering who she is. She has no idea why the eight-inch blade she carries fits comfortably against the calluses on her palm or how she’s able to best the instructor at a martial arts school, but she’s going to find out.


When a man from her past and an old photograph bring Force’s memories back, she almost wishes she could forget. She is the experiment of Dr. Kenneth Pulling, a ruthless scientist whose brutal experiments killed every one of the children Force grew up with. She alone survived, quickly becoming Dr. Pulling’s obsession. With a combination of bioengineered enhancements and constant training, he shaped Force into the ultimate weapon and rented her out as an assassin, until she broke free.


Now Force realizes: she may have escaped the lab, but she hasn’t escaped the scientist. Dr. Pulling has affixed psychological programming in Force’s mind so deep that he can shut her down with only a few words—if he can find her. Force could keep running, but there’s one thing keeping her back: she needs to ensure she’s the last thing Dr. Pulling will ever create. But facing him could mean becoming his subservient killer again, this time for good.



First 250 words:


She sat up. Blood roared in her ears, coupling with the thundering waterfall nearby to deaden the sounds around her. She should be panicking—waking up in a strange place with no idea how she’d gotten there, who she was—but her heartbeat thrummed steadily in her chest as she stood, rolling back tight shoulders.


Towering above her, the stone arches of a bridge lit with tiny spotlights stood out against the darkening sky. Downriver headlights and taillights crossed on a larger bridge, lit blue from beneath like a science fiction speedway.  She inhaled deeply, waiting for memories to come. Nothing. Was this how amnesia worked?


Her hand strayed to her thigh, eyebrows tightening as her fingers gripped the handle of the blade strapped there. Unsheathing the knife with a quick pull, she held it in the orange streetlight. The black handle carved with unfamiliar Asiatic characters rested comfortably in her palm against rough calluses. That couldn’t be right.


Her heart rate picked up as she slammed the blade back into its sheath then loosened the straps from around her thigh, moving the knife inside her jacket. The press of it against her ribcage stilled her. She took a calming breath.


Running a hand through her choppy hair, she climbed the crumbling boulders that littered the ground below the bridge. She navigated the path effortlessly, balancing her way up and over the railing, landing right beside the sign reading: “Do not climb on the rocks.”



It’s Back… 2015 Sun vs. Snow Contest! December 11, 2014



sunvssnow copy2



Yes!! It’s time to think about the New Year and get those queries and first pages ready for Sun vs. Snow!


Michelle Hauck and I are absolutely thrilled to be able to bring you this contest again and it’s going to be better than ever this year!


Here are some brief details about the 2015 contest:


The submission window will open on January 26 at 4pm eastern and will only stay open until we have 200 entries!  Entries (Adult, NA, YA & MG only) will require your query and first 250 words. We will also be continuing the tradition of having contestants answer a fun winter-related question as part of the entry process. Selected entries will be posted February 2.


Instead of a mentor round this year, Michelle and I are each assembling  a team that will read the selected entries and provide feedback for the agent round. Contestants will have a few days to polish their entries and return before the agent round which runs from February 9-11.


Last, but not least…There are currently 12 14 AGENTS participating with a few perhaps jumping in to ninja later on! And let me tell you, it’s an amazing list this year!


So writers start polishing those entries and get excited because the cold, cold ice and warm sunny rays will soon be battling it out again!


Any questions? Tweet at Michelle (@Michelle4Laughs) or me (@atrueblood5) and use #sunvssnow.


Looking forward to seeing some great entries this year!







QUITE THE QUERY: David Arnold and MOSQUITOLAND December 5, 2014




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 David Arnold. This great query connected him with his agent, Dan Lazar of Writers House.



In my YA contemporary novel titled Mosquitoland, Mim moves from northern Ohio to Jackson, Mississippi, with her dad and new stepmom, Kathy. When Mim learns that her real mother is sick back in Cleveland, she steals Kathy’s savings and hops on a northbound Greyhound.


Brutally honest and habitually snarky, Mim has learned to live in almost total isolation. Enter Walt, a homeless boy with Down syndrome who lives in the woods off I-75. Walt—along with Beck Van Buren, a charming, heroically flawed traveling photographer—stir Mim’s spirit in new ways, challenging her to confront her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.


Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey in 72,000 words. Like Charlie (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Juno McGuff (Juno) before her, Mim sees the world through a kaleidoscopic lens. But can this lens protect her from solar retinopathy, psychosis, and creepy old men?




David’s query tidbit…


I don’t remember exactly how many drafts my query went through, but I can tell you I spent almost two months on it. And probably three or four rounds of revisions with my crit group. Once we landed in a good place, I spent a lot of time crafting it to each agent’s desired specifications.


One thing I’ll say — I’ve read a lot of queries that tend to fall into one of two camps: too heavy on the synopsis, or too light. I think finding that sweet spot–where you showcase just the right amount of book, just the right amount of voice, and just the right amount of person–should be the primary objective in query writing.






Available March 3, 2015



David ArnoldDavid Arnold is the author of MOSQUITOLAND (Viking/Penguin, 2015). Previous “jobs” include freelance musician/producer, stay-at-home dad, and preschool teacher. He is a fierce believer in the power of kindness and community. And chips. He believes fiercely in chips. Davis is represented by Dan Lazar at Writers House. You can find him at and on Twitter @roofbeam.




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