Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

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:




QUITE THE QUERY with A.J. Pine and ONE NIGHT November 20, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,Query,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:21 am
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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 A.J. Pine. This great query connected her with her agent, Courtney Miller-Callihan.




Twenty-one-year old Jess used to be that girl. You know, in a sorority with the perfect boyfriend, her future all mapped out, until one night that should have been magical–that was magical–wound up shattering everything.


Now one night is all Jess thinks she’s worth. Her not-so-perfect ex taught her that. Since no guy could want her beyond a night in her bed, that’s how long she gives them. For one night she can have someone’s arms wrapped around her and not wake up alone. For one night she can pretend that she’s still that girl, that the arms around her are still his.


But when Jess’s physical therapy internship introduces her to Adam Carson, star of the university basketball team recovering from knee surgery, he reminds her how much more she has to offer. Maybe she can resist his chocolate brown eyes and witty charm, but his beautiful heart is no contest. He’s not like the other guys. He’ll take her any way he can get her, even if she draws the line at friends. But crossing the line unleashes Jess’s secret of what happened little more than a year ago. Jess cares about him too much to keep up the lie, but the truth breaks her heart wide open again…and Adam’s too. For any chance at happiness, Jess must let go of her past, stop blaming others for what she lost, and believe in a future of more than one-night-stands.


ONE NIGHT is a New Adult contemporary romance, complete at 69,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Cora Carmack’s FAKING IT and Brooklyn Skye’s STRIPPED.





I’m a big fan of Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT techniques. To write this query, I used his log line example that I found on the SAVE THE CAT website and just expanded it to the three paragraph format of the query. I knew that if I included all that was in the log line I’d be hitting the set-up, the conflict, and showing the stakes. I also honed the query online at WriteOnCon, queried my agent after she favorited my #pitmad tweet (Note to writers–you still have to query after a twitter pitch request), and the rest is history!



Just a quick mention that A.J. recently released the third book in her IF ONLY series, titled I DO. Here’s a little blurb…




I do




Sometimes you have to trust your heart to find out what home really means.


Duncan McAllister is marrying Elaina Tripoli tomorrow. Except–he’s missing. Jordan, Noah, Griffin, Maggie, and Miles arrive in Greece for the festivities to find frantic messages from both the bride and groom. Noah and Griffin set off to find Duncan while Jordan, Maggie, and Miles try to salvage what should be a day of celebration before the wedding.


But the Americans have their own baggage. Noah’s got a surprise planned for Jordan that has to go perfectly. Griffin’s keeping life-changing news from Maggie. And Miles–well, he wasn’t looking for love on this trip until a Greek sous chef named Alex rocks his world.


The race is on for Duncan to make it back to Elaina before she decides not to take him back at all. For Noah to make sure his monumental plan goes off without a hitch. For Griffin to tell Maggie the truth without losing her. For Miles to admit that letting himself fall in love is worth the risk.


Happily Ever After waits at the finish line…if the four couples can make it on time.


Now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.




Amy Pine

A.J. Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, the books she writes have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes). And a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires and superheroes. You’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago ‘burbs. For more on A.J., check out her website or follow her on Twitter.


Happy Book Birthday to Michelle Hauck’s GRUDGING November 17, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Book Birthday,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 7:59 am
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Grudging Pic




It’s no secret that Michelle Hauck and I are pals. Besides being writers, we also happen to run this little contest every January called, Sun versus Snow. Michelle and I have seen our ups and downs in publishing, but through it all she has remained resilient and persevered. So imagine my joy when she told me she’d sold her book, GRUDGING, to Harper Voyager!! To say that I did a “little” happy dance would be putting it mildly.


Today, I am again doing that “happy dance” but this time it is in celebration of GRUDGING’S book birthday!


Congrats to Michelle. She is proof that hard work DOES  pay off!



More on GRUDGING and an excerpt…



A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.


The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.


On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.


The Women of the Song.


But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power.  And time is running out.


A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.





Shortly after the combat, Ramiro made his excuses to the men at the wall and left, returning to the citadel and taking the stairs to the roof. Some alcalde’s wife from the past had turned this spot into an outdoor garden and dining room, making it a favorite retreat for many. A peaceful place when he felt anything but.


Other people’s blood spotted his white shirt. Had things gone differently, it could easily have been his own. He needed a bath and a rest, but his mind hummed from the conflict, leaving him unable to stop pacing. Cold chills claimed his limbs. His stomach was sourer than when alcohol had filled it. With no clear single-combat victory, he hadn’t earned his beard. The night reeked of disappointment.


How long? How long could they keep the Northerners out?


Stars spotted the night sky here, where the citadel met the top of the world. Or so it had always seemed to him as a child. Life was no longer so certain now that he was older.


He drew in the cool scent of creeping jasmine, carefully tended and watered by hand in pots across the rooftop. Colina Hermosa spread before him, a humbling sight. The city stretched away from the citadel on all sides, a jewel shining with lights. It spread down the hill, becoming wider and grander as it sprawled, with imposing avenues and white-clad stucco buildings whose thick walls and small windows kept out the noonday heat. There was squalor and dirt as well, fits of temper, rudeness, and often impatience. But the darkness hid all that, washing the city of its faults and giving it a fresh life until it tumbled like the sea against the immovable stone walls that now held out the Northerners.


His heart swelled with love. Something worth defending. Home.


Outside the high, white walls, well beyond arrow shot, was a sight not so welcoming. There, jammed between the city and a deep, old quarry used to build the city walls, campfires burned. A red swarm of rage and death, brimstone and smoke, offering a grim contrast with the peaceful firmament. Not by the hundreds did they burn, but by the thousands, mirroring the stars in the sky. How many peasants’ houses did they demolish to feed so much hungry fire? They must be down to burning cacti. How they kept it up night after night, he couldn’t begin to comprehend. Salvador had talked on about supply trains and quartermasters, but Ramiro had let his imagination dwell on his first ride instead. An indulgence he regretted now.


If only each fire meant a single enemy, but that was wishful thinking. Each fire contained tens of men. Tens and thousands. And behind them, the siege machines waited their turn. A lethal combination for Colina Hermosa.


He touched the spot above his spleen, and whispered, “Santiago, don’t let me give in to despair.”



GRUDGING is now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.





MichelleHMichelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat and Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer’s Double Edge. She’s repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.


For more on Michelle, check out her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Goodreads.


Monday Musings: Who Are You Writing For? November 16, 2015

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:33 am
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After I finished my very first manuscript I thought I was in a solid place as a writer. I’d heard stories about people who had been trying to write a book all their life but never finished. Once I wrote “The End” on that sucker, I felt like I’d accomplished something major. Something life changing. And I had, just not in the way I expected.



After I put the period on the very last sentence of that book, I was sure I was going to get an agent. Then selling that book? It would be done in a snap. Boy, it was sure nice to live in that naïve little bubble for a while, but reality soon popped that dream in the form of dozens of rejections.



I was heartbroken when that book never attracted the attention of an agent. I was sure it was a masterpiece until a critique partner pointed out that it was far from it. After that, I went into a funk. I swore I’d never write again. That trying to structure a story was too hard. Rejection was too painful.



While I was wallowing, I received an email from said critique partner who asked when I was going to send her something new. “NEVER!” was my short reply. She pushed on, sending me more emails, trying to encourage me to open up my laptop and try again. Then one day she sent a short, somewhat terse, message that read, “Who are you writing for anyway?” Incredibly perturbed, I shot back, “Well, readers, of course.” Then it hit me. I wasn’t writing for readers or because I wanted fame or fortune. I was writing for me. I had stories I wanted to put on paper. Characters who pulled at my every thought-demanding that I give them life.



Once I had that epiphany, things changed in my writing. I came back full force, writing a new manuscript, and then another, until I finally connected with an agent. Yes, it took me three tries before lightning struck, but I was bound and determined to make this writing thing work.



It may have taken a while, but that single push from a friend forced me to look at writing in a whole new way. Instead of being bound and determined to be noticed, praised, even read, I decided I needed to write because it was what I was meant to do. Someday I know I’ll sell a book. It may not be tomorrow, next year, or even in five years, but I’ll continue to work because I finally know exactly who I’m writing for-me.


QUITE THE QUERY: SARAH’S HEIRLOOM By Meredith Jaeger November 6, 2015





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 Meredith Jaeger. This great query connected her with her agent, Jenny Bent.





Because you particularly enjoy women’s fiction, I’ve been keeping an eye on your #MSWL tweets! Based on the two below, I think my novel, SARAH’S HEIRLOOM, will be a great fit for you:


#MSWL historical fiction (for adults) with a strong female lead and lots of plot #MSWL high concept women’s fiction, with a strong plot, great pace and lots of emotion. Like THE LIFE LIST by @lnelsonspielman



SARAH’S HEIRLOOM is women’s fiction and complete at 81,000 words, the past and present woven together in a plot-driven dual narrative. San Francisco, 1876. German immigrant Hannelore Schaeffer hugs her best friend Margaret goodbye after a long day mending dresses at the tailor shop. But when Margaret doesn’t show up for work the next morning, Hanna fears the worst. Braving the squalor of the Red Light district and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stops at nothing to find her missing friend.



San Francisco, 2015. Spirit of the City associate editor Sarah Havensworth is hiding a painful secret from her past. Having married into San Francisco’s most prominent family, she plans to keep it hidden forever. When she’s assigned an article on San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast, Sarah discovers the disappearance of two seamstresses in 1876. The deeper Sarah digs, the more she suspects the Havensworths have secrets of their own. In the process, she finds that she and Hannelore might be linked in unexpected ways, and that her heirloom emerald engagement ring holds the key to the answers.



This book will appeal to fans of Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio, The House Girl by Tara Conklin, and fans of the BBC show The Paradise.






I sent out about 40 queries. I love the tag #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) on Twitter because it really helped me target agents who were looking for exactly what I had written. Even though Jenny liked my title, Sarah’s Heirloom, we changed it to The Dressmaker’s Dowry when submitting to publishers. Choose a catchy title, but be prepared for it to get changed a few times! :)





MeredithJaegerMeredith is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. She was inspired to write The Dressmaker’s Dowry by her own engagement ring, which is an heirloom from 1903. Like her character Hannelore Schaeffer, Meredith is also the daughter of a European immigrant, who moved to California in search of a better life. The Dressmaker’s Dowry will be published by William Morrow (Harper Collins) in 2017. Meredith lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, their cat, and English bulldog. She is currently at work on her next novel. She is represented by Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. For more on Meredith, check out her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.



W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Kristy Acevedo October 28, 2015




Each manuscript provides an opportunity to learn and grow. Your first attempt at writing a story may not be easy, but if you work at your craft, and allow yourself to learn, your work gets better. In today’s W.O.W., Kristy Acevedo shares her journey on the path to publication and explains how taking her time, and allowing herself to mature as a writer, led to selling her debut, CONSIDER to Jolly Fish Press.



Many thanks to Kristy for sharing her journey today…




Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?


Kristy: Teens have always been my natural audience, which is why I also decided to teach at the high school level. My teen years were rather tumultuous, so I want to give back to that age group. Teens also respect honesty, and I’m someone who tells it like it is.





Amy: From reading your bio, I know you are a high school English teacher. How much does that affect your writing if it does at all?


Kristy: Tons. I spend the majority of my time surrounded by teenagers, including AP students and more reluctant readers. When I write, I try to engage both types of readers with fast-paced and thought-provoking stories.





Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to CONSIDER?


Kristy: I completed two manuscripts, one that I received great editorial feedback on but haven’t made all the changes yet. My debut idea begged me to write it. Glad I listened. Prior to that, I worked on two manuscripts that are half complete. Writing those stories definitely taught me how to write my debut novel.





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


Kristy: No, but I did put it on hold. I had my daughter when I was only 19, and I left college after freshmen year due to her medical needs. I returned to college a year later and finished my English undergrad degree in record time. Then I started teaching, got married, had another daughter, got my master’s. I was writing during all this time but not on a regular basis. I’m actually glad that I didn’t seek publication immediately; it gave me time to experience life and mature as a writer.


Four years ago, I decided it was finally time to focus on me and my writing dream. I joined SCBWI, attended conferences, found a fabulous critique group, and started a Twitter monthly writing challenge group to keep me accountable.




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


Kristy: Write in layers. Don’t expect to get everything right in a rough draft. Focus on one aspect and see it through to the end, then go back through and add another layer.


I was also encouraged to join SCBWI and find a local critique group. Both have been crucial to learning about the industry and building my craft.




Amy: If you met a struggling writer at a book signing and they told you they were on the verge of giving up, what would you say to them? 



Kristy: One day at a time. On March 11, 2015 I participated in #PitMad on Twitter. One little favorite by editor TJ da Roza led to my two-book deal with Jolly Fish Press ten days later. You never know what’s right around the corner.






(Available April, 2016)



As if Alexandra Lucas’ anxiety disorder isn’t enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear from the sky, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: heed the warning and step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet they say is on a collision course with earth. How’s that for senior year stress?


The holograms, claiming to be humans from the future, bring the promise of safety. But without the ability to verify their story, Alex is forced to consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself.


To stay or to go. A decision must be made.


With the deadline of the holograms’ prophecy fast approaching, Alex feels as though she is living on a ticking time bomb, until she discovers it is much, much worse.



Kristy AcevedoKristy Acevedo is a YA author, high school English teacher, and huge Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter fan. When she was a child, her “big sister” from the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program fostered her love of books by bringing her to the public library every Wednesday. A member of SCBWI, her debut YA science fiction novel, CONSIDER (Jolly Fish Press, April 2016), won the 2015 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. In 2014 she founded the Monthly Twitter Writing Challenges (see She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. She believes coffee and dark chocolate were put on this planet for the good of humankind. For more on Kristy, check out her website or follow her on Twitter – @kristyace.



Monday Musings: Building Character October 26, 2015

Filed under: Blog,creative writing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:17 am
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With National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) quickly approaching, I started thinking about story beginnings. One of the things I struggle with at the start of a manuscript is building my characters. I know their voice, but usually other things like their hair color, eye color, mannerisms, elude me. When I first started writing this was a huge problem because even though I knew what the character wanted, I had no background as to why they were driven to desire those things.



After struggling, and getting plenty of feedback on my lack of character detail, I started combing writing sites and reading craft books on how to get to the heart of a character. One of the things I found most helpful were character questionnaires.



At first, I started with the typical things like name, hair color, birthdate, etc.  And while an interesting place to start, those details still didn’t help me build the character’s backstory or give me an idea as to why they behaved the way they did.



One particularly frustrating day, I followed a link from social media to the Gotham Writer’s website. There I found a questionnaire that went beyond the common questions and forced me to think about character traits I would have never considered.



Here are a few examples of what pushed me to think beyond the basics for my character:



What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?



Where does your character go when he/she is angry?



What makes your character laugh out loud?



And this one is a little different, but it forced me to think beyond the typical realm…



When your character thinks of their childhood kitchen, what smell does she/he associate with it? Why is the smell so resonant?



Now none of these questions may strike a chord with you, but they forced me to consider all the outside factors that make up a solid character. They’re not, nor can they be, stick figures on the page. In order for the reader to connect to them, they must have both happy and sad memories. People who push their buttons and others who instantly calm them. Reasons for why they hate certain smells and embrace others. Quirky, I know, but if I think back to characters I’ve fallen in love with, I’ve had a connection to some small, odd part of them that has been revealed in the narrative.



What about you writing friends? How do you break down your character? Get to the heart of their stories? Are they already completely shaped in your head, or do you use questionnaires to help build them? Please share your thoughts in the comments and also include links if you have suggestions for sites and/or posts that have helped you create a fully formed character.



Here are some of my go-to sites:



Gotham Writers Character Questionnaire

Character Profile Questionnaire (via Writers Helping Writers)

100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Character (via Helping Writers Become Authors)









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