Sunday 29 August 2010

Interview with Philip Ejike

Today we're chatting with author Philip Ejike, who is represented by Foladé Bell at Serendipity Literary Agency of Brooklyn. Philip's novel IF LEAVES WERE BLUE is currently on submission to editors.

Filled with a various mixture of interesting characters from a controlling best friend to a fantastical god-like being, IF LEAVES WERE BLUE takes the reader on a magical journey of identity through the eyes of a teenage girl who believes herself to be the ideal human.

Welcome, Philip. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I've used this line before, but I think it sums me up nicely: “My opinions, philosophies and curiosity about life exist most honestly in the forms of fictional characters.” Aside from that I'm twenty-five and from Pennsylvania.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was seven. I began filling notebooks with three-panel comic adventures about a Mussaurus named Sam. A full-length novel followed shortly after, when I was eleven, and has long-since been justly forgotten.

How did the idea of IF LEAVES WERE BLUE come to you?

The story started with the idea of purity; whether a universal definition exists, or, more accurately, can exist. I then decided to force it into existence through the eyes and mind of my protagonist, who is very certain of what purity is, and that she possesses it, and is furthermore unable to acknowledge that there are other perceptions and opinions beside her own.

What do you feel is the importance of such a tale?

If anything, it reinforces what we already know about each other as people: we're each and every one a universe of layers. Maybe we're not endlessly deep, but a significant amount of time spent with any person (including yourself) is bound to reveal some surprises.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I self-edit. And extensively. I do, however, have two people who are usually always up for reading my stories. The first person is my brother, who is never hesitant to tell me if something is garbage. The second is a dear friend who is a fantastic young composer, and is inspired by my work. I'm inspired by him as well, so we've a tidy symbiotic friendship between us.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Editing. But it's also the most necessary part, isn't it. It seems that every bit of the fictional world is eager to breathe, to let the real world know that it exists and has character and function, but in actuality this is just the vanity of the writer speaking.

Who are your inspirations?

A group of names that are constantly vanishing and reappearing and shuffling in order of importance. But I can for certain name Nabokov as one inspiration—to him language was putty, and you can tell he had such a grand time playing with it. And then there's Yukio Mishima for his psychological explorations, Dostoevsky for his philosophical ones; Dickens for all of those wonderful characters and incubatory prose...and Alan Moore, who is a genuine champion of the imagination.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Nothing in particular. What I need, however, is a blue pen and a notebook.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Hmm, well, I suppose at the moment it would be in vogue to say something about having the ability to flit through other people's dreams, what with Inception still being in theatres, but my ideal super power is far more simple. I'd want the ability to age myself—temporarily—so people will stop asking me about which high school I attend. It happens much too much for comfort.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: sorceressumbrella, and alligator.

An alligator with an umbrella is most likely a sorceress.

And there we have it, short and sweet.

Indeed! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Lets hear your shout outs.

My parents, certainly. And my terrific agent.

And finally, where can people find you online?

For now at

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Philip. I wish you much success with your novel. Be sure to let us know when it's out.

Friday 27 August 2010

Life is about Ass

Hi there! Happy Friday! So I just wanted to keep you all informed, because I tend to share even if it's sometimes too much. But this is blog related, so I don't think it's TMI.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you might have seen I got a new job, which I start on Monday. While this is great news financially, it does mean I will have less computer time. I'm sure after I've adjusted to the change I will figure out how to handle my full-time job/kids/house/husband/novel-writing/blogging schedule better, but I just wanted to give you all a heads up that there may be a period of spotty blogging. Don't worry, I have a bunch of great interviews already lined up, but I don't want to simply "throw" them up on the ol' blog in a haphazard way. I like to give my followers something pretty to look at.

Okay, so now you know. I feel I've fulfilled my duty. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Interview with Julia Karr

Well, we're half-way through the week. I hope everyone is surviving. To help lighten the load, I have a great interview with a fabulous author. Julia Karr writes young adult and middle grade fiction and is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary.

Welcome, Julia. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a cute little house with two dogs and four cats. My Sicilian grandmother raised me and I am addicted to pasta. (I think those two things are related.) Thanks to my big sister, I’ve been an avid reader since age three. And, I love autumn.

I love autumn too. As long as it's not raining, lol. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a crayon. But, the stories didn’t start coming until my daughters were little. Before that, I wrote poetry and letters - long, newsy letters.

What's the name and genre of your book and what's it about?

XVI is a YA dystopian novel. Publisher is Speak (a division of Penguin Books for Young Readers), and the release date is 1/6/2011. Here’s what the back cover of the book says...

“Every girl gets one. An XVI tattoo on the wrist -- sixteen. They say they’re there for protection. Some girls can’t wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help - and he just may hold the key to her past.

But, with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure...for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.”

Wow, intriguing! How did the idea of the story come to you?

I got a mental image of a girl one day. She was wearing earbuds, dancing down the street of a big city, trying not to be disturbed by the noise and the homeless man at her feet. When National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) started a week later, I decided to “meet” that girl and find out what her story was. It turned out to be XVI.

What has been the most challenging part of your publishing journey so far?

Waiting. Patience is not my forte, but I’m getting better at it. Which is a good thing because there is a lot of waiting in the publishing business. Waiting for responses from agents, publishers and editors can be excruciating!

I think we all join you in this lack of patience. Any tips on writing you'd like to share?

Just do it. Excuses like no time, writer’s block, uninspired, writing’s not good, no one wants to read what I write are just that - excuses. Stuff ‘em and write.

No time? Write when you’re waiting to pick up the kids, when you’re in line at the grocery store think on plots, when you’re waiting in the dentist’s office jot down a scene. Voilé, you’re writing.

Writer’s block? I just don’t buy it. Write something, anything -- a list of your main character’s traits, a description of your story setting, reasons why certain plot points will or won’t work. Just simply write -- even if it sucks, eventually it won’t.

Uninspired? Take a walk and mentally write what you are seeing. Then when you get back home, write what you saw in relation to what you’re working on. So, you may be writing a Lost in Space book and you saw only gardens and lush growth - might your Main Character be homesick for something like that?

Your writing’s not good? Well, truth is, it won’t get any better if you don’t practice - which means write!

No one wants to read what I write. There are audiences for nearly every kind of story you can imagine. If you write, rewrite, edit, polish, find a critique group for help and support -- you’ll honestly discover whether what you are writing will find an audience. If you ultimately decide it won’t -- then write something else!

Amazing advice! You're like a personal trainer for writers. Cool! Who are your inspirations?

Really good storytellers. Some who come to mind are: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, JK Rowling, Rebecca Stead and Mary E. Pearson.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

My cats. I prefer that they not be right on me; a preference that a couple of them (mainly, Esmerelda and “A”, the cat) choose to ignore more often than not. And a cup of jasmine green tea.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Patience. Oh, you mean like Superman-type super power! (tee hee) Well, it would have to be the ability to fly. What could be grander? (Ummm... maybe writing a NYT’s bestseller would be grander?)

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: anecdote, penguin, and refusal.

Dear Editor,

Please accept this letter as my formal refusal to write any anecdotes about the penguin incident. 

Pol R. Bear

Ahahaha, that's awesome! Heehee. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My most awesome agent, Kate Schafer Testerman!

My incredible, amazing editor, Jen Bonnell at Penguin (Ah! Maybe I would not refuse to write an anecdote about my Penguin editor, Jen!)

My long-time critique partners, Marybeth Kelsey and Marcy Skelton.

My fabu sister, Sarah, who has had faith in me since we were kids.

And, my daughters, Amy and Missi - they are the absolute best and I would never have gotten this far without their love and support.

And finally, where can people find you online?

My website:

And, I blog weekly with a super group of YA dystopian authors at The League of Extraordinary Writers -

Thank you so much for letting us get to know you, Julia. It's been a pleasure. I wish you much success with your book!

Be sure to check out Julia's website and mark your calendars for January 6th, 2011, for her debut release.

Monday 23 August 2010

Interview with Derek Haines

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Derek Haines. In addition to offering English proofreading and copy editing services, Derek is a writer of fiction, essays, and poetry, and has just released his new book, VANDALISM OF WORDS.

Welcome, Derek. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Although officially born in the middle of last century in outback Australia, I was for some odd reason, recreated some moons ago at the age of 42, and then just started writing books, novels, poetry, songs and anything else one can do with a pencil and piece of paper. Everything is a bit of a blur before that. A strange blueish blur in fact. Probably something to to with the Australian bush and eucalyptus gases. Things are much clearer now that I live in Switzerland.

I seem to be attracted to the antithesis of anything. The divergent, contrary, antipode or just plain opposite. Agreeing seems to be one of my very weak points. On the other hand, I am a very good cook, which hardly anyone believes. Additionally, I don't agree with nobody that double negatives are passé. I didn't used to teach English for nothing, you know.

As for my writing style, I just try to put words in, as Douglas Adams once said, 'a clever order'. Not that I always achieve this feat. Probably because my creative juices are handicapped by trying to remember how to spell. I always get stuck on words like restar... no.... restaura... no restaure..... well you know, somewhere you go to eat food. My clever order theory is often tested by the fact that my impatience always races ahead of my brain and fingers. Causes a bit of calamity.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was recreated, reincarnated, remodelled, rehashed and recycled at the age of 42. I have to credit a rather tumultuous period in my life at that time for this. I also blame Douglas Adams again. Once he died, I think I saw a gap in the market. But alas after all this time, I haven’t managed to be even as good as one of his toe nail clippings.

Tell us about your new book.

My new book Vandalism of Words is oddly made up of very old chunks of scribble. I think I tired myself out when I wrote my previous book Milo Moon. So I decided to bang together about 140 extra short pieces of my old tirades, opinions, biases, life advice and the odd recipe to create a new book. As I didn’t sit down for months and slave over every word, I decided to reduce the price of this book to free or really very, very cheap and release it as an e-book.

What an interesting concept. How did the idea come to you?

I was looking at my Macbook and noticed this file called ‘OLD STUFF’. Once I opened it and dug around for a while, I tossed up between deleting it or archiving it. I decided on archiving everything into one document to save space, and by the time I had finished I noticed there were about 55,000 words. It seemed about the right number of words for a modest book, so I hit the publish button and thought to myself, “Oh dear. What have you done?”

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I pride myself on my knowledge of grammar, my years as an English teacher and my ability to put red pen marks all the way through any document. As I used to terrorise students with the ‘red pen of death’, I now do the same to myself. Then I ask a few trusted ex-English teaching colleagues to do the same again with their own red pen.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?


LOL. Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I believe I am a stereotypical writer in this regard. My Macbook, caffeine, nicotine, occasional alcoholic binges and a packet of biscuits.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would like to be able to type with all of my fingers. I have managed to work up to nearly three, but even with this modicum of improvement it still takes ages to write a book.

I have faith you will be able to master the technique at some point. ;)

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: underwater, stars, and mountain lion.

After having subdued the ferocious mountain lion with the threat of my trusty Swiss Army knife, I quickly grabbed him by the scuff of the neck and shoved his head into a bucket of water and held him underwater until he saw stars. After three near death experiences, he finally gave in to my torrid questioning and told me that his name was George.

Excellent! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My wife should be given a bravery medal or at least a statue in her honour. How she has tolerated me for so long is completely beyond me. She is my greatest supporter and harshest critic. She also makes the best fondue in the whole of Switzerland.

Mmm, fondue! And finally, where can people find you online?

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Derek. I wish you much success with your books!

Derek's other works can be found and purchased on his website.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Guest Post by Kate Walton: Staying on the Path

Today we have an inspiring post from the fabulous Kate Walton, whom I interviewed back in May. She also made a brilliant parody song for aspiring writers that I still sing to this day. Listen to her words of wisdom, fellow aspiring writers.

First, thank you to Dorothy for asking me to contribute this guest post.  It is an honor.

Quitting.  Throwing in the towel.  Jumping ship.  Leaving it all behind.  Giving up.

Ever want to do it?  If you said no, then you seriously are a super human and far stronger than I.  I’m sure you’ve read or heard, “Publishing isn’t for the faint of heart.”  I know I have, and I truly believed my skin was tough enough, that my manuscripts were good enough, and that I had the iron will to plow through and attain my goal…land a literary agent.  

Then the rejections came. 

They came on queries.  They came on partials.  They came on fulls.  They came as form letters all the way up to the ultra-painful, “After reading your novel, I’m afraid I’m going to pass because…”  And they kept coming until I literally quit, threw in the towel, jumped ship, left it all behind and gave up.  Oh yes I did. 

I just couldn’t take it another second.  And you know what “it” I’m referring to…the agent researching, contest entering, query-revising, query-submitting, query-checking, tear wiping, fist balling, forum reading, blog reading, manuscript reading, and on and on and on.  A writer’s life on the agent hunt ain’t easy, and I was bone crushing tired of it all.  Ache and want filled me up and I overflowed all over my office when I typed on my blog: At the risk of sounding overly dramatic...I think I'm going to take some time off to lick my wounds and do some writer'ish soul searching.

I quit.

That was June 3, 2010.

Time jump with me to June 10, 2010 – a mere seven days later (yet a long 922 days since I completed my first novel. Yes, that translates to 2.4 years).  

On June 10th I wrote a public letter to The Universe…a letter of gratitude.  In those seven days I received two full requests, and one of those requests ended up turning into an offer of representation from Sarah LaPolla at Curtis Brown Ltd.  I am proud to say I am represented by her (proud and chill-inducing-excited).

You know my ultimate point; you’ve heard it before:  If you want it bad enough then do not give up.  It really is that simple.

Stay on the path no matter how many trolls or witches try to lead you astray.  Shut the inner demons up by doing even more…more writing, more conference going, more class taking, more researching, more revising, more reading, more everything.  If writing flows through your veins and feeds your soul, then it IS your destiny.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Monday 16 August 2010

Interview with Regan Leigh

It's that time again. Yes, of course, Monday, but also time for another fun interview. Today we're talking to aspiring writer Regan Leigh.

Welcome, Regan! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a Capricorn, an INFJ, and I love mashed potatoes.

Hehehe, that's awesome. How long have you been writing?

Most of my life... I'm thirty and started writing seriously around twenty-eight, but I was creating "books" at the age of seven.

What is the name and genre of the manuscript you're currently pitching?

I'm not quite to the query level, yet. I have two completed novels. One is an adult novel that has been through a few edits, but still needs more. The other was an adult novel that I decided fit the YA genre better, so it's going through a big over-haul.

Practice one of your pitches on us.

I guess I'll pitch Mallory's Story, the adult novel with more edits. (And yes, I know the name needs help. I'm terrible at titles.) query for Mallory is shaky and I think this describes it better:

Mallory's Story from reganleigh on Vimeo.

Very cool. How did the idea of the story come to you?

I tried an exercise from a writing prompt book, The 3 AM Epiphany by Brian Kiteley,  and that initial short story led me to develop it into five hundred pages. :) (Yes, I have since edited down that crazy page count.)

What else do you have in the works?

Hayes' Story (I know, enough of the horrible titles. :D) Hayes' Story is the adult novel that is transitioning into a YA book.

Here's what I can say about it:

Hayes is trapped in a town where everyone hates him. They’ve hated him since that one particular incident when he was a young boy. They never forgave him. Because of that, Hayes is bitter guy with a dark sense of humor.

Hayes has to come face to face with one of his worst fears, just as the opportunity to leave presents itself.

That’s not even the beginning of all his secrets. But could he really have more secrets than the others? They have quite a list going for themselves.

Intriguing! Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I've had a few betas over the past year for both novels, as well as for my short stories and flash pieces. I do have a couple of people that I turn to on a regular basis and one person that I consider a really important writing partner. But I also do a lot of editing on my own.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Right now, it's finding the time. I can sit down and write for hours, but I find it much more difficult to write in small amounts. Sometimes life doesn't allow me to write for any decent length of time. ;)

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Candles. I love writing late at night and by candle light. (Ok, my Mac is lighting the way, too.) :D

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

To read minds. :)

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: daily, crackle, and antler.

The antlers were mounted to the wall, where they hovered above the boy eating his daily helping of crackling Rice Crispies.

Yikes, sounds like a setup for an accident. I feel myself wanting to urge the boy away from the antlers before they fall. LOL.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Oh, I have too many! I've started featuring writers on my blog. Start there. :)

What a great concept. *wink* And finally, where can people find you online?

Absolute Write and Twitter.

Regan, thank you so much for chatting with us. Good luck with your books, and I hope you'll keep us informed on the next steps of your publishing journey.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Last Chance to Get to WriteOnCon

With over 800 people registered at WriteOnCon, it's hard to believe some aspiring writers haven't heard of it. But just today someone asked me what it was, so I thought I'd do a quick "Hurry up and get there" post.

WriteOnCon is a free online conference for writers where many industry pros have been giving advice, critique, and general know-how posts that are so valuable you wouldn't want to miss it. Registering at the site gives you access to the forums, where you can post your queries or sample pages and get outstanding feedback. And who knows, maybe an agent will see your work.

I hope to see you there!

Here's the schedule (via the amazing Elana Johnson) for today's fun:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

6:00 AM: Writing With a Real Life by author Lindsey Leavitt

7:00 AM: Writing Advice from PJ Hoover and the Texas Sweethearts

8:00 AM: Writing Realistic, Captivating Dialog by author Tom Leveen

8:30 AM: Author Branding by author Shelli Johannes-Wells

9:00 AM: How to have a Successful Author Event at a Bookstore by Calondra McArthur

10:00 AM: Q&A by literary agent Steven Malk

10:30 AM: Writing a Complete Story Even Though it’s Part of a Trilogy by author Michelle Zink

11:00 AM: From Submission to Acquisition: An Editor’s Choose Your Own Adventure by editor Martha Mihalick

12:00 PM: Transitioning from Adult to YA by author Risa Green

1:00 PM: Rhyme in Picture Books by author Tiffany Strelitz

2:00 PM: The First Five Pages by Kathleen Ortiz

3:00 PM: Writing Thrillers for Young Adults by author Kimberly Derting

3:30 PM: Picture Books and Easy Readers by author Shelley Thomas

4:00 PM: Staying positive in the face of rejections by author Crystal Stranaghan

5:00 PM: Avoiding Character Stereotypes by literary agent Mary Kole

6:00 PM: Creating New Mythologies by author Aprilynne Pike

9:00 PM: Panel of Professionals chat LIVE (Michelle Andelman, Molly O’Neill, Kate Testerman)

10:30 PM: The Revision Process from Both Sides of the Desk, a live Workshop with literary agent/author Regina Brooks

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Interview with Jay Eckert

I suspect everyone is over at WriteOnCon. I certainly am, and I didn't think I would be this nervous about an online conference, but that's exactly how I feel. All those eyes! Not just the professionals, but fellow aspiring writers as well. I'm all a-jitter!

Speaking of aspiring writers, I've got a great one to chat with today. I saw a small sample of his work on a Secret Agent contest and immediately liked his work. Today's spotlight falls on Jay Eckert.

Welcome, Jay. It's great to have you here. Tell us, how long have you been writing?

I have to answer this as if I've had two lives, which from a writing perspective I have. While in college, I took a lot of theater courses and spent quite a bit of time writing a couple of plays which are, in retrospect, incredibly awful despite the good grades. Then I graduated, started working, got married, had kids. Life happened, but over the years I toyed with the idea of writing again. It was about seven years ago I began to write in earnest again.

What is the name and genre of the manuscript you're currently pitching?

"Urban Mythos". Young Adult Urban Fantasy.

What’s your story about?

Zydeco Cashcan is a former Griffin adjusting to life as a human teenager. After a run-in with the deputy mayor’s security minions, he discovers a plot to capture fellow ex-mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with ravenous hellions. Before long, the former mythic beings Zydeco cares for start disappearing at the hands of the politician’s henchmen.

The deputy mayor demands that Zydeco turn in the leader of their local support group for recovering mythological creatures, or those he loves the most will be exiled as Chimera-Chow. Zydeco despises threats, so he decides to mount a rescue attempt to save his friends rather than betray the support group leader, whose help will be critical to the mission’s success. There’s just one problem—Zydeco hasn’t the slightest clue where the guy is hiding.

What a cool concept! How did the idea of the story come to you?

I decided on the genre first - I write YA, and I wanted to try my hand at an urban fantasy. I went into my "what if" mode and eventually came up with the question, "What if mythological creatures were living in a city among the human folk?" Of course there are about a billion urban fantasies where mythological creatures live in a city among human folk. I set my imagination back to coming up with something a bit unique.

So then I thought, what if these these creatures had become human after being exiled from mythical world. And what if they retained some of their mythological capabilities? For example, Zydeco is a Griffin -- half lion, half eagle. He remains incredibly strong and fearless, and when he sets his mind to it, can retain the elevated senses of those creatures. Finally, it occurred to me that if you had a bunch of former mythological creatures running around a city, they might not be happy and have trouble adjusting to human life. Hence, the support group for recovering mythological creatures.

Sounds great. I'd love to read it. What else are you working on?

I'm mostly focused on submitting Urban Mythos around, but I've toying with the idea of turning it into a series of sorts. I've got a series of notes in case I decide to go for it. On the flip side, I'm in "what if" mode for my next book, which will likely be dystopian, but might be post-apocalyptic. Some of the ideas are a bit deranged, anywhere from zombie mermaids to something conceptually similar to Soylent Green.

LOL, zombie mermaids. Kind of reminds me of the merfolk in the lagoon at Hogwarts. So, do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

Yes and yes! I subscribe to and belong to the YA forum there. There are a great bunch of people who write a number of YA genres and we critique chapters as we write -- good, long detailed critiques on everything from plot, voice, character, setting to fairly detailed line-by-line notes. We've got people from all around the world. I consider them my friends, and I don't know what I'd do without them.

But, yes, I do self-edit as well. I've got a whole revision process I documented on my blog.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

You mean apart from allocating time? I guess it's writing scenes in which there is very little dialog. I'm a verbal kind of guy. My fingers get twisted up on the keyboard and I over think scenes where nobody talks. It takes me far longer to get those scenes written.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

1. Coffee, preferably a Starbucks Cafe Americano along with a few cookies.
2. Music to suit the mood of the day. The selection is wide ranging and ever changing.
3. My sasquatch notebook with all my notes.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: baby blanket, missile, and jury duty.

Bobo preferred jury duty to his day job as a circus clown, where he spent countless hours cleaning up after the baby elephants who blanketed the arena floor with baby missiles.

Heehee, very funny. And um, gross.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Oh, oh, oh. The family first. I'd like to thank Rona, Scott, and Rachel for putting up with me effectively disappearing into my imagination after dinner most nights to write. Big shout-out to my buds from and to all the other wonderful writers, editors and agents - my tweeple, my blogmates. You've each helped me along my way. And thank YOU, Dorothy for indulging me. :-)

Aw, that's sweet. Thank you. And finally, where can people find you online?

You can check out my blog at -

Jay, thank so much for letting us get to know you and your work. I wish you much success on your publishing journey!

Friday 6 August 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins of Querying

Bad querying is a sin and can guarantee you a one-way ticket to Hades. Okay, not really, but it certainly won't help you get an agent. To help you avoid damnation on your querying quest, let's go over the seven deadly sins you must not be tempted by.

GLUTTONY: Do you stuff your query full of more junk than found in a Vegas buffet? Does your email query address EVERY agent who ever lived? Is your pitch ten fat pages long (and still doesn't get the point of the story across)? We know you want to quadruple your chances by telling as many agents as possible every single detail about your BEST NOVEL EVER, but avoid doing this. Keep your pitch simple and concise with a killer hook, address one agent at a time, and you shall be healed!

ENVY: Do you use sentences like "My book is ten times better than the crap found in bookstores nowadays." or "All the bestsellers I've read suck. I'm a REAL writer!"? Could it be what you really feel is jealousy that you're not published? Could it be that you just insulted every single client your dream agent has? Avoid putting down other writers, big or small, and you shall be healed!

LUST: Do you slut yourself out in an attempt to land an agent? Do you send provocative pictures along with your query letter? Do you offer time-share condos in the Bahamas or send coffee cups stuffed with your lacey underwear in hopes to sway an agent's judgement? Do not try to seduce your way into the hearts of agents, and you shall be healed!

PRIDE: Do you brag that your mommy says your novel is the best piece of literature she's ever read? Do you claim that all your friends think you are the smartest person alive? Avoid proclaiming how great a writer you think you are and let your writing speak for itself, and you shall be healed!

SLOTH: "My fiction novel is attached." Is that your best attempt at a query letter? Do you address the agent with To Whom it May Concern? Do you even know if the agency you're querying represents the genre you write? Don't be lazy. Do your research, follow submission guidelines, and take the time to perfect your pitch, and you shall be healed!

GREED: "My novel is so good I'm certain I'll get six-figure offers from multiple publishers." "I know the publishing industry usually takes time, but my novel is so kick-ass that I'll land an agent, get a publishing deal, and my book will be in stores IN A MONTH!" We know this is your dream, and you have every right to chase it. But don't let your greed make you delusional. Be sensible, and you shall be healed!

WRATH: "How dare you reject my masterpiece! I'm going to write a scornful blog post wherein I tell everyone I know how much you suck! Agents are just jealous because they can't write!" Have you seen the statistics of how many query letters an agent gets a week, and the percentage of those writers who actually get requests for submission, and the percentage of those writers who actually land an agent? Do not let rejection make you a monster. Be professional, and you shall be healed!

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Interview with Kate Hart

Today's interview will make you smile. No really, it will! Not only because of the brilliant content, but because of the awesome interviewee. Say hello to the wonderful Kate Hart.

Hello, Kate! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a history nerd married to a fellow history nerd. I taught preschool for a few years, then middle school Spanish, and now I write grants and marketing materials for a local non-profit. I have two little boys, an oversized garden and a fairly strong Southern accent.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote all through high school, stopped completely during college, and just picked it back up a year ago. Going to SCBWI LA at the end of July was like an anniversary celebration for me.

Well then Happy Anniversary! :) What is the name and genre of the manuscripts you're currently pitching?

I'm querying two YA manuscripts: REFUGE, a paranormal, and AFTER THE FALL, a contemporary.

Let's hear your pitches.

REFUGE: "Varsity Blues" with witches
AFTER THE FALL: Raychel is sleeping with two boys-- her best friend... and his brother.

Wow, excellent pitches. Sweet and to the point. How did the story ideas come to you?

REFUGE is set in southwest Oklahoma, where my grandparents live. I was talking to someone about witches and the paranormal, and started considering how a real family of witches would get by in that region.

AFTER THE FALL just appeared fully formed. A local hiking accident got me thinking about how my own group of friends would have dealt with that situation. But I neither slept with my best friend nor his brother, in high school or any other time! LOL

Sounds like your muse follows you everywhere. Cool! What else do you have in the works?

I have a few SNIs, some YA and some middle grade, but nothing has declared itself "next" yet.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I have a fantastic group of betas. My husband and my best friend both read multiple drafts of each MS, and my girls at YA Highway read various rounds of drafts and queries as well. I also have several other friends from Absolute Write who are indispensable, both for crits and general support.

What’s the hardest part about writing for you?

Not being competitive. It's the hardest part of life for me, period.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I go through ridiculous amounts of iced tea and Dr Pepper when I'm writing.

Mmm, Dr Pepper rocks! So, if you could have any super power, what would it be?

This question has some Freudian implications, right? What does it mean that I can never decide on an answer?

LOL, it probably means you WANT THEM ALL, but who could blame you, really.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: robot, yogurt, and glory.

If you can beat these guys in a robot contest, I will reward your glory with frozen yogurt.

That's so awesome!

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. To whom would you like to give a shout out?

My husband; my best friend Catherine and her husband Chris; all my meese at YA Highway: Kirsten, Kristin Sr, Michelle, Kaitlin, Amanda, Lee, Kristin Jr, Kody, Emilia and Leila; my girls Kathleen, Cory and Deb; and my family.

And finally, where can people find you online?

My personal blog is at I also write the weekly industry roundup at, and my Twitter is @Kate_Hart.

Kate, it was a pleasure talking with you. Thank you for letting us get to know you a little more. I wish you lots of success with all your publishing endeavors.

Thanks Dorothy!

Monday 2 August 2010

Interview with Laurie Devore

Hello, everyone. How was your weekend? What's that I hear? Not long enough? Well, I totally agree. But to help us deal with our dreaded Monday, let's take a break from the stress by getting to know a great aspiring writer. Let's welcome Laurie Devore.

Hi, Laurie!Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 21-year-old college student in South Carolina. By day, I intern for sports teams and by night I write about high school students with far more dramatic lives than my own.

How long have you been writing?

I know it’s cliché to say, but I’ve been writing for as long as I remember. But I’ve only been writing seriously for the past two years, in which time I’ve finished a novel, almost finished another one, and quit one halfway through (for those keeping count, that’s a lot of words).

What is the name and genre of the manuscript you're currently pitching?

I’m working toward querying my YA dark contemporary Pretty Sins.

Ooh, I like the title. Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

Pretty Sins is about Olivia, a high school cheerleader, who is betrayed by her best friend and falls from social grace. But Olivia’s not one to take things lying down: she decides the best punishment will be to steal her ex-bff’s boyfriend. It’s not like she would hate having him (back). It doesn’t take long before Olivia realizes she might be the meanest mean girl of them all. And that’s not something she wants to live with. Along the way, she deals with the grief over her older brother’s death and meets a golfer who she either loves to hate or hates to love—she hasn’t decided yet.

(This is a pitch in progress. Still haven’t perfected one for this book yet.)

Sounds dark indeed. I'm captivated! How did the idea of the story come to you?

This story actually began as a short story I wrote for my fiction class. I had the idea of this cheerleader who had contempt for how she was viewed because she was a cheerleader and Olivia was born (though she was originally named Tristan).

What else do you have in the works?

I have an already complete novel about a college sophomore which really has nowhere to go. I have a half-finished (but badly in need of a rewrite) YA romance based on a Taylor Swift song and I have a YA mystery in the works.

Wow, a little bit of everything. Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I like to self-edit a good bit and then let a group of beta readers loose on my ms.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Plotting. To me, the words come easy, but trying to guide my readers through a coherent, believable, tense story is incredibly difficult. And all the pretty sentences in the world do not a book make.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Well, I really like to write in cafes, so maybe some food or a drink. But I’m kind of the ‘write anywhere, anytime’ school, so honestly, nothing. As long as I have a computer or a pen and paper, I’m good to go.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I don’t know if this is a super power, but I would like to have the power to eat whatever I want and never gain weight.

LOL, I think we'd all like to be able to do that. Imagine the possibilities!

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: zebra, elevator, and thesis.

I kept waiting for my thesis to start writing itself, which seemed about as likely as seeing a zebra board the elevator in my apartment complex.

Hehe. Okay, here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. To whom would you like to give a shout out?

I don’t know if they’ll read this, but obviously my family, who has been super supportive of my dream of being published and all my online friends, cheerleaders and betas from Twitter and AW and Google Groups. I don’t want to start naming in case I forget someone, but they know who they are.

And finally, where can people find you online?

Uhm, probably more places than you should be able to. I blog at Old Enough to Know Better, Too Young to Care. I tweet from the account @laurie_devore and I’m JustLaurie on the AW forums.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Laurie. I wish you lots of success with your books. Let us know when you've reached the next step in your publishing journey!