chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

QUITE THE QUERY – DYLANN CRUSH AND THE WRITE TYPE OF WRONG May 5, 2016

 

 

QuiteTheQuery

 

 

 

 

 

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 Dylann Crush. This great query connected her with her agent, Jessica Watterson.

 

 

 

 

Grad student Faith Wainwright is financing her education by writing erotic romance novels on the side. But with a successful Christian author for a mother and a famous televangelist for a stepfather, she’ll do anything to keep her pen name a secret.

 

 

Cocky bartender Dante Bishop is two semesters away from earning his MBA, and isn’t interested in anything more than the occasional one-night stand. With the exception of his spunky grandma, he hasn’t let a woman lay claim to his heart since his high school girlfriend cheated on him with his best friend.

 

 

After a series of unexpected encounters leaves Faith and Dante locking lips and breathless for more, they agree to a no-strings fling. She needs new material for her scorching sex scenes, and Dante’s never been one to deny a blistering booty call. Just as their sinfully sweet hookups develop into something more, Faith’s alter ego is exposed. And with it, Dante’s identity as the devilish hero of her next novel. Furious at Faith for using him in the name of research—and at himself for letting his heart get involved—Dante walks away. Now, Faith has two choices: deny the vixen he’s awakened inside and shut down her budding career or embrace her alter ego and fight like hell to win him back.

 

 

THE WRITE TYPE OF WRONG is an adult, contemporary romance with erotic elements. It has series potential and is complete at 78,000 words.

 

 

 

Fun Tidbit:

 

In THE WRITE TYPE OF WRONG, Faith writes erotic romance. To give her experience an, ahem, authentic feel to it, I had to do some internet research of my own. I’ve learned quite a bit during each manuscript I’ve written, but while working on THE WRITE TYPE OF WRONG I learned I need to clear my browsing history before letting my husband use my laptop or else I’ll have a lot of explaining to do.

 

 

 

dylann-bw-lowresDylann Crush writes contemporary romance with sizzle and sass. A romantic at heart, she loves her heroines spunky and her heroes super sexy. When she’s not dreaming up steamy storylines, she can be found sipping a margarita and searching for the best Tex-Mex food in Minnesota. Although she grew up in Texas, she currently lives in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul with her unflappable husband, three energetic kids and a canine who doesn’t think he’s a dog. She loves to connect with readers, other authors and fans of tequila. You can find her at www.dylanncrush.com. Twitter: @DylannCrush Facebook: www.facebook.com/dylanncrush

 

 

 

QUITE THE QUERY – WHITNEY GARDNER AND HERE May 4, 2016

 

 

 

QuiteTheQuery

 

 

 

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 Whitney Gardner. This great query connected her with her agent, Brent Taylor.

 

 

 

Thank you for the book recommendations on Twitter! I checked out your bio on Publisher’s Marketplace and I immediately thought of sending you my contemporary, illustrated YA novel, HERE.

 

 

When your favorite after-school activity is tagging walls, friends are a liability. Julia learned this the hard way, when she covered up the slur about her best friend with a beautiful (albeit illegal) mural. Sprayed right across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf.

 

 

Her best friend snitches, her principal expels her, and her mothers set Julia up with a one way ticket to a mainstream school in the suburbs. Utterly deserted, the only thing she has left is her art. Not even Banksy himself could get her to give that up.

 

 

Out in the ‘burbs, she paints anywhere she can, ready to claim some turf and make a new name for herself. A tag on a sign, a piece on an overpass. An artist can’t help but create, but Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town.

 

 

Someone has been adding to her tags, making them better, and showing off. She expected her art might get painted over by cops, but she never imagined getting involved in a graffiti war. Now, Julia must show up her rival or face being painted into obscurity. But when her opponent takes it a step too far, Julia has to decide between anonymity or getting caught.

 

 

HERE is an honest look into the life of a girl who is trying to make her mark on the world, and ends up making her first life long friend. It’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN meets EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. It has been read by interpreters and Deaf beta readers to ensure a full and accurate picture of Julia’s experience as a Deaf girl. I’ve drawn sample images from the book which can be viewed here: [link redacted]. It is complete at 58,000 words. You will find the first ten pages below.

 

 

 

Fun Tidbit:

 

In this query you can see that my book used to be titled HERE. It’s since been changed to YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE.

 

And I always queried with a one out, one in mantra. If I got a rejection, I would query someone else the same day. It was not the first book I queried either. It took me a while to find the perfect agent for my work. It was worth it, Brent is the best.

 

 

 

 

 

9VA_mb1cWhitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she lives by a bridge with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, and tending to her garden or apiary. YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE is her debut novel and is coming out in Spring 2017. Find her: @heywhitney on Twitter and @heywhitneywrites on Instagram.

 

QUITE THE QUERY: Jen Petro-Roy and P.S. I MISS YOU May 3, 2016

 

 

QuiteTheQuery

 

 

 

 

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 Jen Petro-Roy. This great query connected her with her agent, Brianne Johnson.

 

 

 

Evie’s older sister Cilla is gone. Their parents sent Cilla away to some super strict boarding school after she got pregnant her junior year of high school. Getting pregnant is not something the Morgan girls are expected to do. They’re supposed to go to church and eat fish on Fridays. They’re supposed to be good little Catholic girls.

 

 

Evie still can’t believe her parents were that cruel, though. Or that Cilla isn’t responding to her letters, even though she’s writing to her almost every day. Some of the letters talk about normal sixth grade stuff, like the school play she didn’t get cast in or the growing distance between Evie and her best friends Katie and Maggie. Some of the letters tell about exciting stuff, like June, the new girl in Evie’s class. And some of the letters hint at stuff that Evie can’t quite bring herself to admit: like that her feelings for June are becoming decidedly…uncatholic.

 

 

When the other kids at school find out about her secret crush, Evie sets out to find her sister, convinced that Cilla is the only one who can tell her what to do: follow her heart and get kicked out of her family, too—or start questioning her family and her faith.

 

 

P.S. I Miss You is a contemporary middle grade epistolary novel (LGBTQ) complete at 36,000 words. Inspired by Dear Mr. Henshaw, it would also appeal to fans of Alex Gino’s George, Nancy J. Cavanaugh’s This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, and Linda Urban.

 

 

 

Fun Tidbit:

 

I got lucky with this query, as it landed in Brianne’s inbox the day before New York City got hit with a major snowstorm and she had lots of free time to read. She was one of my dream agents in the initial round of ten that I queried, and the first one to contact me!

 

But even though she told me she loved the book, she had a few comments and asked for a revision before signing. Brianne’s comments were spot-on and I so enjoyed talking with her that I dove right into editing.

 

After emailing the changes back to her and after a nail-biting week of waiting, Brianne emailed me back that she wanted to sign me! I actually first saw her email in the middle of the night–I had woken up randomly at 2 am and of course checked my email (just in case!). I shrieked and woke my husband up to tell him the good news.

 

 

 

 

JenPetro-RoyJen Petro-Roy is a middle grade author and a teen librarian. She is a member of SCBWI and runs a young writers group at her library. She loves running and is ridiculously obsessed with Jeopardy! She lives near Boston with her husband, two daughters, and way too many books. P.S. I MISS YOU will be published in Fall 2017 by MacMillan/Feiwel & Friends. You can find Jen on Twitter (https://twitter.com/jpetroroy) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenPetroRoy/)

 

QUITE THE QUERY with Rae Chang and MAD QUEEN’S CHESS May 2, 2016

Filed under: Publishing,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 7:00 am
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QuiteTheQuery

 

 

 

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 Rae Chang. This great query connected her with her agents Mandy Hubbard and Lindsay Mealing.

 

 

 

Four years ago, Lena Zan Aurin was banished by Prince Andonel, the boy she spent summer evenings pelting with figs and sharing juice-stained kisses with. Dead-set on getting him back, Lena has trained in intrigue and seduction with the queen of a rival country, a queen who wants someone more competent and receptive than Andonel on the throne. Both are all too aware that they’re playing each other – just another part of the court chess game.

 

 

However, the eventual inevitability of betrayal is not Lena’s immediate concern. She plans to seduce Andonel back to her, but it will take all the skills she possesses. The newly crowned King Andonel has developed an out-of-control taste for opulence and women – rumor has it, he keeps a new mistress every month. 

 

 

Lena will never stoop to being a mere mistress to the man she loved; she will be his queen. But to do so, she’ll have to outmaneuver Andonel’s shrewd and utterly devoted cousin Sherek – rumored to be the real power behind the throne – for control of Andonel’s heart. Not to mention every other noble vying for power in the court chess game of betrayal, treason, and murder.

 

 

But little do Sherek and Lena know, the supposedly inept king they both love controls more chess pieces than they think.

 

 

It’s chess for three on a board where every move masks a lie in MAD QUEEN’S CHESS, a 99,000 word fantasy with the ruthless court scheming of REIGN set in the opulent and intrigue-laden world of THE SERPENT AND THE PEARL.

 

 

 

Fun Tidbit:

 

I originally wrote this book as a teenager and only edited as an adult. After racking up nearly 150 rejections on that manuscript, I wrote a different book, and then came back to rewrite this manuscript from scratch. This version was (obviously) WAY better and found the right agent at the right time!

 

 

 

 

typingI’m a YA author and freelance editor and tutor. I ‘ve mentored writers as a Pitch Wars mentor and presented on panels  at LDStorymakers and Romantic Times Convention, and I’m represented by the incomparable Mandy Hubbard and Lindsay Mealing of Emerald City Literary Agency.

 

When I’m not doing that, I am a composer, food worshiper, irrepressible nerd and gamer, cooking instructor, youth mentor, and school speaker. Yes, I have an Asian last name and, no, I didn’t pick it out just because the name sounds cool. My husband’s grandparents escaped from North Korea as young adults, and “Chang” is the Anglicization of the Korean surname “Jang”. As for me, I’m half Argentinean (viva!); my mom immigrated to the US in the early 1970s. For more on Rae, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram (@RaeAChang).

 

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

 

QuiteTheQuery

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Fun Tidbit:

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Kate Watson April 27, 2016

 

WOWlogo

 

 

 

 

Every writer has their own path to publication. Some 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 am pleased to share Kate Watson’s path to publication.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Kate: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I started seriously thinking about it in 2009 or 2010. I was a director at a private university, and in the middle of meetings, I would find my mind wandering to people and places that didn’t exist. I knew I was either crazy or I had a story to write. I think it was the latter.

 

 

I started writing a YA portal fantasy trilogy and actually wrote all three books. I queried the first before realizing that, although I still think there’s something beautiful there, there was also a lot of ugly. Abandoning that project was the best decision I’ve made since I started writing. In addition to all of the what-not-to-dos I learned from the experience, it taught me that it’s okay to write something, love it, and move on. Not every book has to be The One.

 

 

 

 

Amy: I love that your debut is a reimaging of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. What inspired you to recreate this classic story?

 

Kate: I’m a borderline Jane Austen fanatic, and in addition to rereading at least one of her books every year, my bookshelves are filled with retellings and spin-offs of her works. Mansfield Park is rarely retold, yet it’s one of my favorites (they all are, let’s be honest). Aside from the delight I take in Henry Crawford, part of what has always struck me is the modern reaction to the main character, poor, perennially overlooked Fanny Price. Jane Austen’s works nearly all translate wonderfully to modern day, and most of her heroines would be considered strong and exemplary in any era. Mansfield Park stands out as the exception. Fanny’s character and situation are a product of a world we can’t quite relate to, even if we can understand it in theory (although, in fairness, it wasn’t universally loved at the time, either). The result is a book that is often tricky for readers to get behind. During a reread of it a few years ago, I started to wonder what would make sense to a modern audience. SEEKING MANSFIELD was the result of that question.

 

 

 

 

Amy: I love your background, especially living all over the world. How do you think that experience influenced your writing?

 

Kate: Living overseas was a humbling and eye-opening experience. There is so much beauty and diversity in the world beyond what we see in our personal bubbles or on TV. It’s like the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy leaves Kansas and suddenly everything is in color. That’s what traveling and living in foreign places has done for me, and it’s certainly influenced my perspective, which I hope has influenced my writing.

 

 

There’s something unique about every country—like the land itself has a soul, or maybe it’s the collective soul of the people. I find that the more I’ve traveled even in the States, the more I’ve found the same to be true here, too. Being in Chicago feels different than being in Boston or Miami or Seattle. As soon as I got the idea for SEEKING MANSFIELD—before I’d written a single word—I knew Finley had to be half Brazilian, and I knew the story had to take place in Chicago. Her heritage influences who she is, just as her hometown does.

 

 

 

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

 

Kate: My experience with querying my ill-conceived portal fantasy was exactly what you’d expect: lots of rejections, a handful of requests for partials, none for fulls. I used every resource at hand to make it better, including reading every post from Query Shark and using the Absolute Write forums. I entered a First Five Pages workshop and a few First Page contests and got fantastic feedback. After incorporating all of it, I tried again and got more requests for partials and a couple of fulls, but all ended in rejection. In total, I queried around 40 agents before realizing that I wasn’t confident enough in the project to continue. Fortunately, my experience with SEEKING MANSFIELD was very different.

 

 

 

Amy: How many agents did you query for SEEKING MANSFIELD?

 

Kate: This will sound unbelievable (and it still is to me). I queried one agent, the amazing Bree Ogden, who represents me now. The timing of my being ready to query coincided perfectly with Pitch Madness (Team Fizzy for life!), and I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate. I had figured that I would start querying if nothing came of it. But a couple of days before it started, I was interacting with a friend on social media who happens to also be friends with Bree. I said something about SEEKING MANSFIELD to my friend, and Bree commented that it sounded delightful. I knew Bree was a big deal in horror and graphic novels, but I looked her up and found that she also represented YA contemp. I read a bunch of her interviews, and the more I read, the more excited I got about her. So I queried her. Just after Pitch Madness ended, I got The Email from her asking for The Call. I was floored! I’d had some agents request fulls from Pitch Madness, but something about Bree just felt different, and after talking to her, I knew I wanted to work with her. Everything about it has felt kismet since day one.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Kate: For my first book, I received a lot of form rejections and did the math many times on “no response after six weeks means no.” But a handful of the responses were personalized and absolutely invaluable. Agents are almost impossibly busy, so when they took that extra few minutes to give me helpful feedback, I was in awe of that kindness, and I took their feedback very seriously.

 

 

 

 

Amy: It can be difficult to find an agent who is the right fit for you. How did you know you wanted to work with Bree Ogden?

 

 

Kate: You hear it all the time, but she just got me and the book. She knew what I was trying to accomplish with it, and she loves the classics as much as I do. My writing style is influenced by the classics and the fantasy novels I grew up on, which means I tend to be a bit wordy (okay, a lot wordy) and to want to world build more than is necessary for a high school setting, for instance (turns out readers don’t typically need to know what is carved on the back of every single bathroom stall, but does that stop me? Nope.). Bree was able to see past all the extraneous words and scenes to what I was trying to do. Her feedback made me so excited, I knew I needed her vision to help me make the book shine.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Kate: Writers write. It may not sound like advice so much as a mantra, but however you see it, it is a constant reminder that if I want to make this a career instead of a flash in a pan, I have to write. Not chill on Twitter or catch up on all the shows on my DVR, but write. It’s also an empowering statement. Being a writer doesn’t mean you’re published or a NYT bestseller, regardless of what your friends and family think. It means that despite all of the other things you could be doing with your time that would, frankly, make life a lot simpler, you choose to write.

 

 

 

 

Amy: Writing can be a difficult experience at times. Was there ever a time you wanted to give up? If so, what inspired you to keep writing?

 

 

Kate: When I started writing seriously, I was going through a lot of difficult things personally, and writing became my escape from it all. I found that whenever real life got hard, my thoughts turned more and more to my writing, and it was like shelter from a storm. Then I became a mom, and writing became a cute dream I had when I was sneaking naps or, when I returned to work, during meetings again. At the end of every workday, though, I realized my thoughts had been on two things all day, neither of which were my job: my daughter and my WIP. I decided to stay home in 2013 to focus on my family and my writing. I’m happy to say I haven’t looked back.

 

 

 

 

Kate_WatsonLike every little girl, Kate Watson dreamed of studying philosophy in college and being a director at a private university one day. Then she grew up, became a wife and mother, and realized she should do the responsible thing and write for a living.

 

Born and raised in a village in Alberta, Canada, she has lived in Utah, Israel, South Carolina, Brazil, and now calls Phoenix home. Her husband and two children are the loves of her life. Her novel, SEEKING MANSFIELD, debuts in Spring 2017 with JFP.

 

You can find Kate at katewatsonbooks.com, and on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Lauren Karcz April 13, 2016

 

 

WOWlogo

 

 

 

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

 

In bringing you this 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 am pleased to share Lauren Karcz’s path to publication.

 

 

 

Amy: At what age did you truly know you wanted to be a writer?

 

Lauren: I have a very clear memory of being in Kindergarten and imagining myself as the author of a coloring book about my life. I think that was my moment of realizing that there were people behind the books – and coloring books – I loved, and some inkling that I could be one of those people, too.

 

In second grade, we had a designated Creative Writing Day every month. We were given a writing prompt and several quiet hours to work on a story related to that prompt. That was such a gift. At some point, it hit me that I didn’t have to wait for Creative Writing Day to work on a story. My mom bought me a spiral notebook with Care Bears on the cover and I started filling it with little bits of fiction. I couldn’t imagine ever not loving the writing process; I knew I wanted it to be a constant part of my life.

 

 

 

 

Amy: When did you complete your first manuscript?

 

Lauren: Ahh, that’s hard to say! How old of a person and how serious of a writer does one have to be before one has a manuscript rather than a long piece of fiction? I guess I’ll go way back once again and give Young Lauren some credit. About halfway through fifth grade, I decided I was going to write a novel, and have it finished by the last day of the school year. And you know what? I did it. I stayed up late the night before the last day of school, but I wrote “The End” and I was so proud. The novel was about a ten-year-old girl and her six sisters living in New York City. I wrote it on a stack of notebook paper fastened into one of those Mead folders with brads. 166 pages – I’ll never forget that number.

 

And the best thing was, since I’d written one novel, I knew I could do it again. I kept this up throughout middle school and into high school: starting a story, giving myself a deadline, finishing it, and then sharing the manuscript with friends. I wish I had stayed that disciplined into college and adulthood. The Internet appeared in my life in early high school and destroyed a lot of my good writing habits! I had to reteach myself basic writing stamina and will power in my 20s. I was so thankful to find NaNoWriMo in 2001 – it helped me get back to writing fiction regularly, and around 2006 I was finally able to write “the end” on a YA manuscript.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Lauren: I had this thing – a contemporary YA manuscript – I wrote and trashed and rewrote for years. It was perpetually “almost ready to query.” Every year I’d go to the same SCBWI conference and see acquaintances who’d ask about my progress, and after a while it was embarrassing to be at the same “not quite ready” stage with this manuscript. I realized that I was addicted to the manuscript’s potential, and to my own potential, which itself was a symptom of my fairly paralyzing dual fears of failure and success.

 

All this to say, a friend made a bet with me to send out some queries for that manuscript. I did it to symbolically put it to rest. I sent fewer than five overlong query letters. Nothing resulted from them, which was a relief. I finally put the manuscript aside. I was back to the blank page.

 

I should say that up to this point, I had been an obsessive reader of what we’ll call The Publishing Internet. I had been reading all the agent and editor blogs for years. I followed numerous writers and publishing people on Twitter. I read the deal announcements every week. I tried to file all that knowledge away as “writing research,” but publishing stuff really needs to go somewhere else. Like, if your brain was a town, then writing thoughts should be in a cozy house and publishing thoughts should be in a mall down the highway. Anyway, the biggest thing I did toward writing my debut was to completely shut off  The Publishing Internet. I drafted for six months without reading a word of publishing news or gossip. Once I returned, I was actively revising my novel, and The Publishing Internet was actually of relevance to me. When I queried that novel, it was out of confidence and hope rather than capitulation and exhaustion. And it did get me an agent!  (And eventually, a book deal!)

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Lauren: By the time I was ready to query THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS, I had been reading stuff about crafting queries and pitches for over eight years (save for those delightful six months when I took a break). I had pretty well internalized the structure and feel of query letters by that point, so my first query drafts weren’t too dire. It wasn’t too long before I had a query I was happy with. The hardest part was hitting send!

 

 

 

 

Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with your agent, Victoria Marini? How did you know she was the right fit for you?

 

Lauren: I was thrilled when Victoria requested a phone call with me to talk about THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS. I felt like our literary tastes were very similar, and I’d had a good feeling when querying her that the manuscript would be up her alley. Several of the characters in the manuscript, including the protagonist, I’ve been writing about since I was in middle school, so it was pretty surreal to be talking about those characters in a professional context. I loved that she loved the characters, and also that she had some great revision ideas for the manuscript.

 

I also loved when she told me she’d stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish reading it! In all the hundreds of “how I got my agent” stories I’d read over the years, that was always one of my favorite things about other people’s agent stories – that thrill when realizing they’d hooked a publishing professional with their manuscript! I was just like, wow… now that’s part of my writing story, too.

 

 

 

 

Amy: The writing process is grueling and querying even more difficult. What one piece of advice can you impart to aspiring writers to encourage them to keep working towards their dream?

 

Lauren: Be kind to yourself – in whatever form that takes. The publishing industry will magnify all of your best and worst qualities, and will give you endless things to obsess about. Find ways to be kind to yourself and practice them often.

 

 

 

 

laurenKLauren Karcz is the author of the upcoming THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS (HarperTeen, 2017). By day, she works in the linguistics world, which has given her an unholy fascination with the grammar of various languages. By night, she listens to Broadway cast albums and writes young adult fiction. Lauren lives with her family in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkarcz.

 

 
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