Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Katy Upperman February 10, 2016





I love all the authors who have participated in my W.O.W. series. Each and every one of them has had their own unique and interesting path to success and I never get tired of hearing their stories.


Today’s journey with Katy Upperman is one I’m sure will stick with you. Katy has had her ups and downs with publishing, but she continued to fight and believe in her work. That perseverance led to her debut, KISSING MAX HOLDEN being picked up by Swoon Reads.


Congrats to Katy and many thanks to her for allowing me to share her journey today.



Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult fiction?



Katy: Originally… I’m not sure? When I started my first manuscript in 2008, I was a stay-at-home mom with a deployed husband, and I needed a creative outlet. I sat down, opened a Word document, and started writing. The words that filled my earliest pages were those of a teenage protagonist. Not long after, I found Sarah Dessen and Suzanne Collins and Jenny Han, and realized YA was an actual thing. Since then, I’ve read young adult novels almost exclusively and I’ve never even tried to write anything else. I’m drawn to YA fiction because it explores a time of intense change and growth — you’re not an adult, but your definitely not a kid anymore, either. Our teen years are also often when we fall in love for the first time and, being a romance writer, I enjoy exploring those feelings and challenges.




Amy: Was KISSING MAX HOLDEN your first completed manuscript?



Katy: It wasn’t! I wrote a very long, very convoluted, very melodramatic contemporary YA first. It went nowhere even though I queried the heck out of it. KISSING MAX HOLDEN came next, though the story it is today is VERY different from the original draft. It’s much, much better now!




Amy: Did you have critique partners or beta readers that helped you polish KISSING MAX HOLDEN? If so, what did they add to the process?



Katy: I have the most amazing CPs and beta readers. They are thoughtful and honest and super savvy, and their critiques come from a place of love and support, which makes them much easier to absorb and implement. They’re all incredibly talented writers, and I’ve learned so much from trading manuscripts with them. Additionally, they are the people I turn to when I’m stuck on a plot point, struggling with character motivations, or just generally having rough writing day. I feel so lucky to have them in my corner.




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?



Katy: I am terribly wordy. In the past, my query summaries have been three or four times too long because my inclination is to include as many details as possible. I always need my CPs to help me narrow my summary’s focus so I can get to the heart of the story and pique the reader’s interest without saying too much. So, yeah, I’m definitely a “several tries” kind of girl.




Amy: What can you tell us about “your call” with your agent, Victoria Marini? How did you know she was the right fit for you?



Katy: Victoria is fantastic! When she offered representation, I’d recently left my first agent, so I knew exactly what I didn’t want in a new agent. During our first call, Victoria was wonderfully enthusiastic and very easy to communicate with. She had awesome ideas for revising and strengthening my manuscript, and her submission plan was solid. I was lucky enough to receive offers from a few other agents, but I felt like I clicked best with Victoria. It’s been a couple of years since I signed with her, and I’m still so happy with my decision.




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



Katy: Uh, yes. Up until KISSING MAX HOLDEN sold to Swoon Reads/Macmillan, I thought about giving up writing literally every day. While finding my agent was a relatively painless process, submissions have not been easy. I had several close-calls with different manuscripts before MAX was picked up and while editors said lovely things about my writing, I was discouraged. It’s tough to work toward a goal while people are telling you no left and right — especially when it seems like everyone else is finding success.



I kept writing because, simply, it’s what I love to do. Even when I felt like an utter failure, the act of writing — focusing on the craft and the creativity — brought me joy. Plus, there was no way I was going to let my daughter see me give up on my dream of being a published author. In hindsight, I’m really glad I didn’t quit. :-)





Amy: If you were giving a keynote speech at a writer’s conference what would be the most important piece of advice you would share?



Katy: There are three bits of advice that have had the greatest impact on me and my writing, and there’s no way I can pick just one, so I’m breaking the rules and sharing all three…



1. Read, read, read. Mostly in your category/genre of interest, but I think it’s important to stretch, too. I’ve learned so much from the middle grade and adult novels I’ve read over the past several years.


2. Become a part of the writing community. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and sincere, people who want you to succeed. They’ll get you through the tough spots.


3. Have your next project in mind, and work on it while you’re waiting for query/submission news. Trust me — you’ll be so thankful you did!





Katy UKaty Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. Kissing Max Holden is her debut novel. For more on Katy, check out her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Goodreads.



Monday Musings: Taking A Chance February 8, 2016


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Note: This is a repeat of a post I shared after last year’s contest but all the sentiments still apply. Most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP!



As many of you know, for the last couple of weeks Michelle Hauck and I have been running a little contest called, Sun versus Snow.  This is the third year Michelle and I have hosted this event, and just like the years before it was a blast.


One of the things that caught me off guard was how quickly our 200 spots filled up…in THREE minutes. Neither Michelle nor I expected it. In fact, we were pretty sad to have to turn people away.


While I was shocked at how quickly the spaces filled up, it also made my heart very full. Why? Because it meant there were writers out there willing to take a chance. Take a chance to put themselves out there. Take a chance to share their work (which can be terrifying). And lastly, take a chance they may be rejected (the hardest thing of all in my opinion).


Sharing your work is daunting. There’s always that seed of doubt in the back of your mind that whispers what you’ve created isn’t good enough. That your writing, or story, isn’t strong enough. But those who entered were brave enough to push past doubt and try. And to me, that is incredibly admirable.


So the next time you think about entering that beloved manuscript in a contest, be like those that took the leap and entered. Yes, you may not get picked but the experience and friendship you may find will be well worth it. I promise!



WELCOME TEAM SUN!!! February 7, 2016

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I’m very excited to share this post today and welcome a fabulous group of writers to TEAM SUN! There were many amazing entries, and the selection process was very difficult for Michelle and I this year. Please remember that we not only picked based on what caught our eye, but had to consider what participating agents want as well.


My choices are listed below by category in no particular order. If your entry was not selected, please remember we only had 32 spots for over 200 entries.


Just to let you in on a little secret, I was selected for Pitch Madness, and received a few requests, but ended signing with my agent via the slush pile (six months later). So remember, DON’T GIVE UP!  We each have our own individual path in this crazy world of publishing. Keep writing, keep working, and it WILL happen one day.


After you check out my picks, hop over to Michelle’s blog to see the list for TEAM SNOW!



And now what you’ve been waiting for…Team Sun!!






The Poacher’s Code – Women’s Fiction

A Song For Sarah McPhee – Women’s Fiction




The Eternal Waitress – Contemporary Romance




Blue Serenity – Fantasy

The Phoenix – Urban Fantasy

Madness and Moth Wings – Southern Gothic

Black Butterfly – Thriller

The Birds, The Bees, And You and Me – Contemporary

Stoker – Fantasy (Free Pass Entry)

Having It All – YA Historical

Darkness Within Us – Fantasy

The Knife and the Pearl – Fantasy 

Riddle Of The TimeKeeper – Urban Fantasy




Wonderland Acres – Contemporary

Magical Raintree Daughters – Fantasy

Emily’s Guide To Owning A Castle – Fantasy



If you are part of TEAM SUN, expect an email from your mentor soon. Your mentor will help you fine tune your entry privately all this week. Also, I want to stay in touch with each of my picks, so if we don’t already follow each other on Twitter, let’s fix that. My handle: @atrueblood5


Now for the important part:


Your final revised entry must be back to me no later than Thursday, February 18 at 3:00 pm EST. That’s so I have time to format the entries and have them ready to post for the agent round on Monday, February 22 (please don’t make me hunt you down!) Mail your revised entry to the contest email Sunversussnow (at) yahoo (dot) com. Please use the exact same format.


After that, it will be up to the agents to decide! Congrats and good luck to everyone!


Sun Versus Snow Submission Day! February 1, 2016

Filed under: Blog,contest,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 6:59 am
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Today is the day for Sun versus Snow to begin! Michelle and I are beyond excited to get this party started!


Here’s a reminder of all the rules and details…



The submission window for Sun versus Snow will open TODAY 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 in the past five months. We are doing this at our agents’ request to prevent contest overlap.



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!



If you have any questions prior to the sub window opening, please let Michelle or I know. You can also check out Michelle’s contest FAQ post.



Also, we’ll be holding Twitter parties up until reveal day to keep the excitement going. Come join the fun by using the #sunvssnow tag. We’ll also be tweeting tips and inside info about what’s happening with the slush!




February 1st:  Submission day! What genre and age category will/did you enter?


February 2nd: It’s very important to read new books in your genre to get a sense of pacing and timing as well as style. What book in your genre have you read recently?


February 3rd: Is the setting of your manuscript sun or snow?


February 4th: Is your next project in the same category and genre? If not, what made you change?

Basically do you write in the same category and genre all the time?


February 5th:  Where do you write? Coffee shop, office, kitchen table?


February 6th:  Do you make a playlist for your manuscripts? If so, what music style do you tend to choose?


February 7th: What’s your best editing advice?


February 8th: It’s announcement day! Celebrate by posting a silly picture of you in sun or snow wear.



Thank you and we look forward to seeing your entries and chatting with you!


Sun vs. Snow Live Chat Details! January 28, 2016


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Here’s how you can get a jump on the fun…



As mentioned in our mentor post we are having a chat time on Twitter tomorrow, January 29th. You can ask about your writing genre. Tips about editing. Word count rules. Ask how mentors got their agents. What to expect from submission. What it feels like to be published. Just about anything writing oriented you want to know about.



Oh, and the hosts will be there too to keep things rolling!



So join us at 3:00 PM and 9:00 PM EST at the hashtag #SvSChat. Each session will last an hour. And bring some questions!



For more on our mentors check out their bios here:



Team Sun Mentors:



Team Snow Mentors:



For contest details and rules go here:



W.O.W.-Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Stephanie Elliot January 27, 2016




In today’s W.O.W. I’m proud to present Stephanie Elliot’s writing journey. Through hard work and perseverance, Stephanie struggled through the query trenches and submission until she finally achieved her goal: a publication deal. Her YA Contemporary, SAD PERFECT will hit shelves in 2017.



Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing her journey today…



Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?



Stephanie: I didn’t set out to write YA but now that I do, I’m inspired by all of the amazing young adult novels and how they strongly impact the lives of teenagers. I’m also inspired by a shorter word count – I can write YA faster than women’s fiction! ☺




Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to SAD PERFECT?



Stephanie: Before I wrote Sad Perfect I had written three and a half full novels and one novella. I self-published two novels and the novella on amazon.




Amy: After reading your website, it sounds like SAD PERFECT is about a subject that hits close to home for you. How did you know you wanted to tackle the topic of ARFID in this book?



Stephanie: The funny thing is that I had no idea I wanted to write about ARFID and in turn, this story. I originally set out to write a vignette about how my daughter met her boyfriend at the time, which is actually the first chapter of Sad Perfect. It was going to be nothing more than that.


But then my daughter went into a 20-week intensive outpatient program for her eating disorder (ARFID). She had three to four days of intense therapy a week and I also had to attend a parent’s group weekly. Sad Perfect stemmed from her being in therapy and me needing an outlet during that difficult time, so writing the story essentially became therapy for me.




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?



Stephane: Queries are hard! And I definitely play around with them – if I find that the first version isn’t getting any bites, I’ll revise the paragraph that describes the novel until it works. I’ve queried a lot – my first time querying, I sent out more than 100 queries until I got an agent. That’s not the agent I have today though. This was a long time ago!




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



Stephanie: As I mentioned above, with Sad Perfect, it wasn’t my first ‘bath’ in the querying pool. I did send quite a few queries out for Sad Perfect – 45 of them, but Adriann was the seventh of that batch. After Adriann requested the full, I signed with her a few weeks later. My opinion is you have to query wide and far to find the right agent for your book.




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



Stephanie: My call with Adriann was pretty surreal. She emailed me first to set up a call so I was hopeful that she wanted to work with me. I had a notebook and wrote down things that she said about the book so I could remember them later on. (Of course, now I don’t know where that notebook is!) At the end of the call, when she finally asked to take me on as a client, it felt like I was a high school girl getting asked out to prom – I was that giddy over it! (PS—I didn’t go to prom!)


Right away I felt that Adriann would be a great fit because we felt the same about Sad Perfect – she didn’t want to make any major changes, like change the POV (it’s told in second person), and she really liked Ben, the love interest.




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



Stephanie: Yes, I considered it – I had two books get close to the publishing stage only to be turned down after the editors took them to the acquisitions meeting. That’s heartbreaking. To be that close and then get a ‘No.’ It makes you almost want to quit. I think other writers motivated me to keep going – their words of encouragement and support that I could get there really helped when things weren’t going the way I hoped they’d go.




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



Stephanie: An author once told me that she believed in the theory of TPT … Timing, Persistence, Talent when it came to writing and getting published. I wrote that out and taped it near my desk. And I remembered that. It takes a lot of time; it doesn’t happen for most overnight, not even the famous, famous people like JK Rowling and Stephen King. And you have to be persistent – in your writing, in your querying, in your dedication to the craft. You also have to have some talent! The TPT Theory – that is the one piece of advice that I really kept to heart all those years I was trying to get published.




DSC00461Stephanie Elliot is the author of the young adult novel Sad Perfect (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, Winter, 2017), which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels. For more on Stephanie, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@stephanieelliot)


Monday Musings: Making A First Impression January 25, 2016


This weekend as I was scrolling through Twitter I saw a post that stopped me cold. The tweet was from the SDSU Writers Conference where the panel discussion was on the topic of querying. Here’s what made me shudder: out of the 5,000-10,000 queries agents receive per year, their chances of taking you on as a client are 0.1%. Wow…just Wow!


When I first started querying many years ago, thankfully I did not know these odds. All I knew was I had a finished book and wanted an agent. As a newbie, I scoured the internet for comprehensive information on how to write the perfect query. Except for a few posts on Writer’s Digest, there was a sparsity of info on how to properly format your query, or how to find agents that rep. your type of work.


Because I was completely frustrated by the process, I started culling info on the basics of querying and started my Query 101 series. This had a tremendous response, but readers still wanted more. I racked my brain trying to figure out how else I could help. After talking to a few friends, I realized writers were yearning for something more tangible, so I started my Quite The Query series, sharing successful queries that connected writers to their agents.


To this day, I’m still thinking of more ways to help writers in the trenches. It’s a difficult process (that I know VERY WELL), but by continuing to share new info I hope it will lessen the pain a little. You only get one chance to send that query and with the right information you have a better chance of rising above that 0.1 %.


I’ve shared the links below for both of the series. As always, if you have questions, or would like for me to explore a new writing topic, please let me know. Good luck out there and stay strong. If you keep working, and submitting, chances are it WILL happen for you!




Query 101B

Query 101 series – information on query structure, body copy, research, personalization, formatting & handling “The Call”.






Quite The Query – Authors share their successful queries. Posts include Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult and Adult queries.






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