Wheeling and Dealing

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring has sprung!  I've been so happy with the gorgeous, warm weather that has been gracing the city, and have been making an effort to enjoy being outdoors more.  I've even been thinking about getting leashes for the cats and taking them to Central Park... 



When I was talking about all the submissions I have out last week, I forgot to announce another great thing: I have two new clients, the wonderful Shauna Holyoak and Kalyn Josephson!  This news-sharing is coming a bit late in the game, but I love, love, love their projects and am pumped up to be going into the summer with new things to work on.  Shauna's project actually just sold to Disney-Hyperion in my FIRST EVER "very nice deal," so I am over-the-moon pumped!!!!!!!

Which leads us to...DEALS!  I sold Shauna's book to Disney, Taylor Zajonc's new thriller THE MAW to Skyhorse, and LZ Marie's  sexy mythology short story collection to Cleis pretty much one after the other!  That was an awesome three days 

I was so worried at the start of the year that I was moving too slow, but now it seems like things are being sent out and selling left and right

Good thing I have so many AMAZING manuscripts on my roster!



Back on Track!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hi, guys!  I am back on the wheel and feeling great!  I have four great deals underway for:
  • Janice Broyle’s YA inspirational THE SECRET HEIR (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
  • Dean Haycock’s nonfiction TYRANTS (Pegasus)
  • Erin Peabody’s exciting secret project…more to come!
  • Lauren Smith’s audio book of LEGALLY CHARMING (Tantor)

Whoo!  I’m also pretty psyched to have a lot of submission out to new rounds of editors and because I’m so excited about these projects, I thought I’d give you an inside look into the letters I sent to editors about them!



THE FIRST MARTIAN

 Welcome to the world of 13-year-old Tian Slack, who has spent his entire life on the Mars research dome with his mother and the rest of her team--in fact, he's famous on Earth for being the first human born on Mars.  Of course he's not a handsome prodigy like his nemesis, 18-year-old Ishaan, but his vid channel gets millions of views.  
 However, when a shuttle arrives with new scientists, one of their daughters--a girl named Una who is Tian's age--removes the filters on Tian’s com pad so that he can see that not everyone on Earth thinks his outer space antics are awesome.  To top it all off, now that the blockers are off, Tian and Una discover that someone has been making terrorist threats against all VAST facilities on Earth, Mars, and the Moon...and it may be Tian's father, who left the dome mysteriously when Tian was a baby.
 Through holo-classes with Moon settlement children, Tian figures out that his father used to be a part of a group called Earth Is Home before joining the MIRD crew, although nothing is known of him after he left the Mars settlement and went back to Earth.  When a reality show lands a crew of stars for its new series near the research dome, Tian starts to wonder if one of them may be the "inside man" one of his moon friends told him about.
 Tian must prove that he's worthy of the approval he craves--to Una, to Earth, and to his fellow dome-dwellers. When the dome's nuclear power plant (which provides the dome with air, pressure, water, and gravity) shuts down in the middle of a dust storm, Tian must set aside his new insecurities to become the hero he once thought he was--for real now--or everyone he cares about will die. 

 REVOLUTION OF FIRE AND BLOOD

 I am so excited to talk to you about my author Kim Graff and her #ownvoices, LGBTQ, YA fantasy, REVOLUTION OF FIRE AND BLOOD.  It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Cyntha Kartal, who is trapped in Gobberbon prison with her girlfriend Lu.  They are political prisoners whose families rebelled against the Luceren government and were subsequently slaughtered, and as a result, Cyntha’s Talent--a unique ability that elite humans have--has been locked into her body with a spinal tattoo that prevents her from unleashing it.
 After a scuffle with a guard who tries to attack Lu, Cyntha finds herself face-to-face with her father, the Chancellor of Luceren.  He tells her that he has been searching for her ever since her mother took her and ran away to lead the rebels, but Cyntha doesn’t believe him for a minute.  Her father is an extremely powerful and dangerous man--he believes that only the Talented should govern and that Norms, those without abilities, should be governed harshly and kept as lower class citizens.


Brought back to Luceren’s capital, Cyntha quickly learns that Gobberbon was nothing compared to the gilded trap she finds herself in now.  Her father agrees to lift her tattoo if she will obey him (and because his Talent involves controlling peoples’ minds, she is scared to agree); her twin brother insists that he has been trying to quietly undermine the government because he is secretly gay; and his sexy best friend, Seth, shows her banned books of poetry and says they hold clues to the whereabouts of resistance meetings.  Cyntha has no idea who to trust or what to believe, but she knows one thing: she will do whatever it takes to unlock her Talent and take her revenge.

 MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS

(This is a for a new client!!!  I’m thrilled to be working with Shauna Holyoak and so glad Pitch Wars brought us together!)
 I am very excited to share a new MG project with you: Shauna Holyoak’s MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS, about Kazuko Jones, a hilariously sassy and determined detective who never quits, much to the chagrin of her traditional Japanese mother and the rest of the town. 
 However, Kazu knows the recent spree of dognappings happening around her community is a case she can and WILL solve.  With the help of her best friend March and Japanese mastiff Genki she narrows down her list of suspects to a creepy man on her paper route.  However, the more they dig into the case, the more dangerous things become.  The dognapper is getting bolder and when their search leads them to a dogfighting ring and Genki is taken, Kazu realizes that solving real crimes and knowing when to do the right thing is not always as easy as it is in detective stories.

 MISS ANTHONY AND GRACE

 In the late 1800s, Grace Adelle Woodworth was an unusual woman.  She had her own business, working as a photographer, and roamed Rochester, NY as she pleased, meeting various people and taking their picture.
 That is how she met Susan B. Anthony.  Grace struck up a friendship with Miss Anthony and took a picture of her on her 85th birthday--a picture that is now famous and has appeared around the world in magazines, newspapers, and schoolbooks.
 Anne O'Brien Carelli, Grace's descendant, discovered Grace's relationship with the famous women's rights activist and has written a picture book, MISSANTHONY AND GRACE, about how Grace came to take Miss Anthony's photograph.  It is a charming, unique story that I would love to share with you if you are interested!

THE EMPEROR’S ASSASSIN

 What would you do if Nero had you under his thumb?  Meet Locusta, a rich Gaul who gets swept up in the intrigues and dangers of life at Nero's court.  
 Originally only dreaming of making a perfect match and continuing to lead the innocent, pampered life she is accustomed to as a member of the Parisiis of Gaul, Locusta is forced to travel to Rome to ask the emperor to lift the taxes on her family's vineyard after her father's health deteriorates.
 While she is there, family friends take her in and introduce her to the wild life of Rome's elite, where multiple affairs and machinations are de rigeur.  When she uses her skills as an herbalist to perform an abortion for a young noble girl, word of her talents reach Nero's ears, and he immediately commands her to work for him, alternatively brewing up tonics to release inhibition and poisons to murder his enemies.
 But when Rome is set aflame and Locusta is forced to flee, she must decide whether she can depend on the city's nobility (and the playboy son of her family friends) or if she will put her trust in a solider whose faith in the new religion is the opposite of everything she has learned in the Eternal City.

 RUNAWAY

 I am so excited to introduce you to Kristin Lenz's contemporary YA novel, RUNAWAY, about what happens when a suburban teenager named Charlotte finds herself drawn to a boy from the streets of Detroit.

Just after her father returns from his tour in Afghanistan with PTSD, a vicious rumor about Char's supposed secret sex life spreads through her school and her former best friend, Ella, disappears.  Unable to confide in her parents, who are struggling to help her father re-adapt, Char has no one to turn to. She desperately decides to go to Turning Leaf, the teen runaway shelter where Ella was last seen, and meets Aiden, a charismatic, homeless teen with a mysterious past.

Even though there are certain suspicious things about him, Char can't help but be attracted to his sweetness and confidence.  After he escapes from Turning Leaf right before police come to arrest him on unknown charges, Char decides to sneak away from the shelter and find him.  What follows is a turbulent journey of danger, self-discovery, and friendship that will leave Char forever changed.
 

What do you think of these submissions—which is your favorite?  And let me know if you have any questions about the submission process from agents to editors!  

Query Critique (A Little Late)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  

Happy Pub Day!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The query critique is postponed a week because tomorrow is the pub day for Beth Ellyn Summer's amaazing YA debut, AT FIRST BLUSH!  I absolutely love this--it's a super fun read!--and I think the cover is one of my favorites so far!  Everyone, check out the book and Beth's interview below!





For everyone who doesn't know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to start writing.

I've wanted to be a writer since before I knew how to write. I think I was three or four when I was "writing" stories (squiggly lines on paper). I was lucky to have amazing English teachers pretty much through every grade and each and every one of them encouraged me to write. In college I got sucked into the world of TV production and thought that was for me, but the minute I graduated I was pulled right back into writing!

What was your road to publication like?

Oh boy. Ha. Long. And slow. There were two queried MSs we will pretend never happened, and once I finished AT FIRST BLUSH (then titled The Intern Diaries) I shot off about 25 queries and had an awesome request rate. I'd only been querying a month when you chose me as a contest winner on the Love YA blog. As you know, sub was a long road for me. We changed this MS multiple times. I scrapped the original love interest and brought in Tyler Lance, cut major plot lines, and we STILL had trouble. Then YouTuber Zoe Sugg aka Zoella published Girl Online. And as you know, that was a rough day. It sounded so similar to my story, and the fact that it was written by an actual YouTuber with millions of subs...I was crushed. But thankfully it worked as a comp title, and Bloomsbury was wonderful enough to offer!

After the contract was signed, were there any unexpected aspects of the publishing process that surprised you?

I think the varying speeds. Like, for my cover, things moved FAST. They started working on it like two months after the offer, and it was completed two months later. Then revisions were a whole other ball game. It took a while to get those and I was so anxious to tackle them. Then once I got them I was daunted. It was shocking to learn how far the MS was from where it needed to be!

What was your inspiration for writing this book?  What about the main character?

I had always wanted a story that touched on my time as a Conan and Fallon intern. That was the main inspiration (Lacey's best friend, Cynth lands an internship at a late night talk show and throughout the story, everything kind of leads back to that place).

My main character, Lacey Robbins, was inspired by all the YouTube beauty gurus and their makeup tutorials. These girls are successful entrepreneurs. They've made careers out of putting makeup on themselves on the internet. Who knew that could be a thing?! They're all so determined to increase their subscriber count daily. I thought it would be fun to write about a YouTuber on the cusp of a million subscribers, and how she'd handle a growing channel.

As for Lacey's love interest, rock star Tyler Lance, I've always found sibling bands fascinating. Like Hanson or R5. There's always the one heartthrob in the group, the one all the girls go insane over. But when it's family, how do the others handle their sibling's success? I was watching an interview once with R5 and I couldn't help but wonder...what would happen if heartthrob Ross Lynch just up and left his family to go solo? How would his siblings deal with it? What would happen to the band, to their careers, their relationship? And would they do everything in their power to draw their brother back in? Tyler's story is heavily influenced from that idea!

How do you think your manuscript has changed since you started working with your editor?

AT FIRST BLUSH went from being a story about a YouTuber and her love of makeup to a story about a 17 year old girl who falls in love for the first time, and has to decide if she's ready to start living for herself instead of living to make her millions of subscribers happy. It's about two teenagers learning to find balance in their lives. It's so much more developed. I swear, I think Tyler was only in like 5 or 6 scenes before my first major round of edits. And looking back, Lacey never really grew up enough in earlier versions of the MS. I wanted to make sure she comes into her own in the final product! My editor, Meredith Rich, did an amazing job helping me draw out these really cool moments and tightening everything up! 

What part of the publication process has been the most interesting/fun? What part has been the hardest?

So far I think the most exciting/stress-free thing was watching the publishers work on my cover! That was SO COOL for me. I loved each idea they had, and every time a new version popped up in my inbox I would freak out.
The hardest has been revisions! You don't realize how not developed the story is until you read that first edit letter! Another hard thing has been learning to let go. I can easily obsess over all the ways I could pace the story differently, and kick myself for not going in other directions. At some point you HAVE to make peace with your choices and press "send!" 

What is some fun promotion you've done for the book?  Anything upcoming we should be keeping our eyes or ears out for?

My pre-order campaign! I bought a bunch of makeup and for every pre-order, the pre-orderer (? lol) got one item, plus a signed bookmark, and was entered to win a Z palette! I'm excited to have more makeup-themed giveaways in the future. 

Anything that new authors can learn from your experiences?

Read in your genre, as much as possible. Read and read and read some more! Don't get in your own head so much or let fear of writing something sucky hold you back. Try new things and have fun! Also, make awesome writer friends! The biz can be rough so you need people to cheer and commiserate with. 

What's a fun fact about yourself?

I'm Wheel of Fortune obsessed and can solve puzzles with only one or two letters. Everyone tells me to go on the show, but a) it's really hard to get chosen, and b)  I know the minute I'm surrounded by Pat and Vanna and a studio audience I'd choke hard!

Hamster Wheel

Monday, March 27, 2017

While I was taking my break from blogging last week, I ended up having a chat with some fellow agent friends about the dark side of agenting and it is this: you can always, always be working and there is also always someone who is doing better than you are.  

Most of times, this is actually simulating for me and pushes me to do better, but every once in awhile it feels a bit too much like being on a hamster wheel.



When that happens, I've learned the best thing to do is just hit the brakes and step off the machine.  Well, to be honest, when that happens, I usually have a mini-meltdown and then watch cartoons and eat ice cream until I feel better, but still! 

In the past, I've compared it to giving a mouse a cookie: you always want more than what you have.  Not getting a deal or losing out on a particular author can pack a punch, especially if they happen in a row.  One of the things I was stressing about was a lack of deals to break the 2017 seal, but then luckily I landed an audio deal for Lauren Smith and a new book deal for Dean Haycock, so that got me on track to feeling better.

Breyer's Blasts Reese's Chocolate ice cream set me down that path, too...mmm!



Like When the Teacher Shows a Movie in Class

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello!  Last week was a very stressful one for me, so to cut myself some slack, this week's post is a clip from my new favorite movie: Zootopia!  Enjoy! 




Query Critique Winner

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hi everyone!  Larissa was lucky number 8 for this month's query critique!  Below is her original query:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 

A feel weeks ago I took your Potential Client Match Quiz, and after scoring 96/100 I was just waiting for the right time to query you. So I’m pleased to introduce my first novel, WAITING FOR FOREVER. It's an Adult Contemporary Romance with a touch of Fantasy, complete at 80,000 words.
 

Always a skeptic, Mark McCarthy never believed in such a thing as soulmates until his life ends in a car accident. At only twenty-three, he must say goodbye to everything he used to call life, and accept this new reality of waiting for this Brazilian girl of color everyone claims to be his soulmate. In The Waiting Room – this world where people from all walks of life have a bird’s eye view to their soulmates’ lives – he can choose between waiting for her, or moving on and giving up on their supposed special connection forever. And in his head the choice seems pretty obvious – why would he wait decades in that boring place for a girl he only met once? – until the day he catches a glimpse of Olivia's life.
 

When Mark realizes soulmates’ love is not something easy to let go of, he decides to wait for Olivia’s entire life to play out so they can live together the eternity that was promised.  And The Waiting Room doesn’t seem so bad when he discovers that their connection is more powerful than he imagined. He might not be able to be with her physically, but he can still be with her in mind. However, the more conscious the living soul is of the dead soul, the faster she will die to come meet her half, and Mark is about to find out that playing Olivia’s guardian angel can have serious consequences for them both.
 

In the living world, Olivia Brandão seems to have gotten everything she always wanted. She has a great job, she can finally help her parents financially, and she loves her devoted fiancé – but she can’t shake the feeling that something is missing in her life. Smart and sensitive, she’s willing to risk everything to follow her heart. What she doesn’t know is that her “something missing” is no longer in her world and that the more she searches for it, the closer she gets to her own death. In the blink of an eye, now Mark must choose between do what is best for him and let fate do its job; or break his own heart and give the love of his life an opportunity he didn’t have: to live a long and happy life – even if it will be with someone else.
 

Though WAITING FOR FOREVER has been written as a trilogy, it can stand alone. I believe it will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY, or Cecelia Ahern’s PS, I LOVE YOU.
I’m a Brazilian writer, currently living in France where I’m preparing a PhD thesis in Geography. Thanks to the first #DVpit the full manuscript is already being considered by REUTS Publications.
 

Thank you for your consideration.
 

Sincerely,Larissa Lopes

And here is my critique:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 

A feel weeks ago I took your Potential Client Match Quiz, and after scoring 96/100 I was just waiting for the right time to query you. So I’m pleased to introduce my first novel, WAITING FOR FOREVER. It's an aAdult cContemporary rRomance with a touch of fFantasy, complete at 80,000 words.
 

Always a skeptic, Mark McCarthy never believed in such a thing as soulmates until his life ends in a car accident and he realizes that he he has to make a pit stop on his way to the afterlife to see if he wants to meet herAt only twenty-three, he must say goodbye to everything he used to call life, and accept this new reality of waiting for this Brazilian girl of color everyone claims to be his soulmate. In tThe Waiting Room – this world an in-between place where people from all walks of life have a bird’s eye view ofto their soulmates’ day-to-day lives – he can choose between waiting for her, or moving on and giving up on their supposed special connection forever. And in his head the At first, the choice seems pretty obvious – why would he wait decades in purgatory that boring place for a girl he only met once? [When did he meet Olivia?  This isn't mentioned until now!] – but then he gets to really know Olivia until the day he catches a glimpse of Olivia's life.
 

When Mark realizes soulmate's love is not something easy to casually let go of, he decides to wait for Olivia to join him on the other side ’s entire life to play out so they can live together forthe eternity like they are supposed tothat was promised.  After making that chioce,And tThe Waiting Room doesn’t seem so bad; when he discovers that they have a powerful mentaltheir connection that allows him to be with heris more powerful than he imagined. He might not be able to be with her physically, but he can still be with her in mind. However, the more conscious athe living soul is of its dead soulmatethe dead soul, the faster she will die to come meet her half, and Mark is about to find out that playing Olivia’s guardian angel can have serious consequences for them both.
 

In the living world, Olivia Brandão seems like she hasto have gotten everything she always wanted. She has a great job, she can finally help her parents financially, and she loves her devoted fiancé – but she can’t shake the feeling that something is missing in her life. Smart and sensitive, she’s willing to risk everything to follow her heart. What she doesn’t know is that her “something missing” is no longer in her world and that the more she searches for it, the closer she gets to her own death. [You need to expand on this area more.  If Mark is communicating with her, does she not realize that he is a real person and her dead soulmate?  Why does she not specifically know what is missing?  And does she get closer to her death because she wants to die to join Mark or because something more sinister is happening?] In the blink of an eye, now Mark must choose between doing what is best for him and letting fate do its job,; or breaking his own heart and givinggive the love of his life an opportunity he didn’t have: to live a long and happy life – even if it will be with someone else.
 

Though WAITING FOR FOREVER has been written as a trilogy, it can stand alone. I believe it will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY, or Cecelia Ahern’s PS, I LOVE YOU.
I’m a Brazilian writer, currently living in France where I’m preparing a PhD thesis in Geography. Thanks to the first #DVpit the full manuscript is already being considered by REUTS Publications.
 

Thank you for your consideration.
 

Sincerely,Larissa Lopes

The premise of this story is so interesting and the query is on its way--there are a few areas that I think can be changing to help with clarity, but overall it is very compelling!  Chime in with your thoughts below.  Larissa, congrats on winning and I hope this is helpful to you.  Best of luck sending this out!

Happy Pub Day!

Monday, March 6, 2017

I'm very excited to wish Taylor Zajonc a happy pub day!  His book, RED SUN ROGUE, comes out this Wednesday, so you still have some time to pre-order your copy!  RED SUN ROGUE is the sequel to his debut, THE WRECKING CREW, which received a starred review from PW!!  When I first sent out THE WRECKING CREW, I described it is as "an Indiana Jones, underwater adventure," so if you're looking for fast-paced action, check out Taylor's interview below and both his books!




Tell us a bit about this book and its prequel, THE WRECKING CREW!

My first book in the series (THE WRECKING CREW) was about deep sea salvage diver Jonah Blackwell's release from prison to search for a lost scientist in the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa. When his expedition was attacked, he was forced to assemble an unlikely crew to take on a billionaire industrialist and an environmental disaster in the making. Jonah is forced to transition from a loner to a leader over the course of the novel; enlisting a crew that must overcome mutual distrust and self-interest to survive. 

RED SUN ROGUE picks up right after the first book ends, with the crew smuggling refugees out of North Korea on behalf of a Japanese organized crime syndicate. But soon they're ensnared in a greater conspiracy with roots in the secret Axis weapons programs of World War II. With the adventure as a backdrop, Jonah and his crew learn just how much they'll risk for one another, in the process changing from a crew to a family.

How did you come up with an idea and where did you draw inspiration for character and plot?

RED SUN ROGUE was a deeply personal book. The inspiration came from an expedition my father participated in during the late 90's, where he accompanied the Russian deep sea submersible program to explore a World War II-era Japanese submarine lost at sea while participating in the secret Axis technology exchange program. Through my job I also have a lot of exposure to deep sea tech and the people who use it. I love to draw inspiration from real people who've done really amazing things.

From a character standpoint, in some ways Jonah follows my own journey as a new father. He now has this "family", his crew, and he has to figure out who he is and who he needs to be for these people that have come to depend on him. Jonah and his crew have a tough time in this novel; they're exhausted, nobody is sleeping, and nobody quite knows what they're supposed to do. I think any new parent could probably relate to that.

How was writing this book different than writing the first?  Now that you are writing under contract, do you have to think differently at all?

So different! First off, I'm a new dad, and I wrote the bulk of this book in the six months after my son was born. As any parent will tell you, those months are a sleepless mess and your brain doesn't always hit the "record" button. Suffice to say, I ended up with a finished novel in hand but no real memory of actually writing it. My words to my publisher were something along the lines of "it's finished, but I'm not totally sure what's in it." All I can say is, thank the gods of fiction for extremely thorough outlines. Getting it done wasn't a pretty process, but the novel was the better for it and I'm so thrilled with how it turned out.

Writing a sequel is an interesting process, so many readers and reviewers shared what they liked (and in some cases, didn't!) about the first book. I think that kind of feedback will distract an author if they let it. I had to actively tune out what other people wanted from the sequel and write the book that I wanted to write all along.

What is one of your favorite plot twists in the book?

As with any good adventure book, every chapter is a new twist and nothing goes to plan. My favorite source of these plot twists is a new character, Freya Weyland. She an environmental terrorist and anarchist, and a true foil for Jonah. In some ways they're so alike; both are ruthless, cunning, unpredictable and (when the situation calls for it) violent. Freya represents everything Jonah could have become if he stayed a loner or thought a cause was more important than the people around him.

What is some fun promotion that you've done for RED SUN ROGUE--anything in particular we should keep an eye out for?

This isn't exactly promotion, but Atavist Magazine is releasing a longform story about my work as a research director for a company that looks for historic shipwrecks in the deep ocean. The shipwreck we discovered has an incredible, untold backstory of heroism and leadership on par with Ernest Shackleton and William Bligh. If anyone wants an inside look into who I am and what inspires me, I think this magazine article will do the trick.
Beyond that, my favorite promotional activity was a "book tour" of the local Little Free Libraries in northern Portland, Oregon. My one year old and I stocked the libraries with advance copies of RED SUN ROGUE. My wife (who is a professional photographer) took a few photos of us and posted them in a neighborhood facebook page. The post blew up (mostly because my little man is such a cutie!) all the books were borrowed within the hour, and people now recognize me as the 'writer guy' when I walk the dog around the block. It was an amazing experience.

Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process (e.g. do you have to write at night or while wearing lucky socks)?


I can't get beyond the first few chapters in a new novel without finding the right soundtrack for the project. The music has to capture the tone and the attitude of what I'm working on. For RED SUN ROGUE, I listened to hip hop artists like Run the Jewels, Kendrick Lamar, Die Antwoord, M.I.A., and soundtracks from composers like Brian Tyler, Paul Leonard-Morgan, Michael McCann. The one down side of this quirk is that when I'm done with the novel, I 'burn' the music lists and can't ever listen to the songs when I write ever again. I don't know too many other writers who blast hip hop and FPS shooter soundtracks when they work, but I can't concentrate to anything else.


Now fun question!  If these books were turned in to a movie (or movies ::salivates::) who would you cast to play the main characters?

I love character actors and actresses who bring a special level of physicality and intensity and creativity to their roles, really make them their own - here's a few off the top of my head: 

Jonah Blackwell, expert salvage diver: Sebastian Sam
Dr. Hassan Nassiri, ships' surgeon: Dev Patel
Alexis Andrews, chief engineer: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Dalmar Abdi, former pirate: DeObia Oparei
Vitaly Kuznetsov, ships' helmsman: Liam Aiken
Sun-Hi, communications officer: Grace Huang
Marissa Hildebrand: Alexandra Daddario
Freya Weyland, anarchist: CrossFit champion Annie Thorisdottir (in what would be her Hollywood debut!)

Writing/Story Match Quiz

Monday, February 27, 2017

I was really happy to see that the quiz I did a few weeks ago was popular with everyone, and after thinking about it, I decided to do another! Now that you've taken a look to see how our work styles, etc. might mesh, I thought it would be fun to see if our writing and story preferences are a match, too!


  1. What kind of topics do you like to write about?

  2. Interesting time periods or people
    Relationships
    Myself!
    Strong characters
    Unusual premises
  3. What writing style do you think is best?

  4. Quirky
    Literary
    Commercial and fast-paced
    Narrative
    Clipped and sparse
  5. How much guidance do you need to improve your writing?

  6. I need someone to guide me with specific examples and line edits
    A detailed editorial letter is all I need
    Several rounds of edits with written feedback and phone calls
    Some phone conversations--if I can get an idea of what needs to change, I can take it from there
    No guidance--I prefer not to have my agent comment on my writing
  7. What kind of character is your favorite?

  8. Fiesty women
    Dark protagonists
    Unsung heroes
    Curious children
    Unreliable narrators
  9. What do you think is most important about voice?

  10. It should be minimal and isn't the most important feature of the writing
    It should be neutral
    It should be tailored to fit the story
    It should guide the narrative and immediately immerse the reader in the story
    It should be unique and distinctive
  11. What kind of imagery do you usually use?

  12. Sparse and infrequent
    Delicate and thoughtfully placed
    Whatever comes to me as I’m writing
    Specific and full
    Flowery and immersive
I hope you had fun filling this out! Click the "Grade Me" button below to get your results!

Query Critique

Monday, February 20, 2017

Query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

Happy Pub Day!

Monday, February 13, 2017

This month's query critique has been moved to next week because tomorrow is the pub day for Suzanne Kamata's THE MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN!  Check out the gorgeous cover (and be sure to buy a copy of the book!)... I'm excited to be interviewing Suzanne and incorporating some of the questions you told me you'd most like to have answered by my authors!





First off, how did you come up with the idea for THE MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN and where did you draw inspiration for the characters and plot?

Originally, I wanted to take the material at hand -- my bland Midwestern upbringing -- and turn it into something magical. I grew up in a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, and by the time I was in high school, I couldn't wait to get out of there. One of my teachers told us that one day we would realize what a great place we lived in. I didn't believe him then, but after I'd left, I did start to feel nostalgic for everything I'd left behind - the dunes, the lake that was as vast as a sea, the musical fountain, the summer Coast Guard festival, and the iconic lighthouse.  I guess I started with the setting. The characters are loosely based upon people that I knew, but it's not an autobiographical book.

I tend to throw everything I'm interested in at the time into the story or novel that I'm writing. I've always had an interest in mermaids, for instance. While on foreign study in France, I became fascinated with the Rom women who tried to read my palm in front of the train station in Avignon, and the communities of Rom in Camargue. Later, I was excited to read about female wreck divers on the Great Lakes, so I found a way to incorporate one into the story.

For everyone who doesn't know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to start writing.

I started writing stories as a child, as a lot of us do, and never grew out of it. I wrote for my high school newspaper, took a creative writing class in college, and wrote a couple of never-to-be-published romance novels in my spare time. After I studied literature in college, my writing became more "literary." I didn't really start sending out my work until I found myself living in rural Japan. I'd come here to teach English "for one year," and then I fell in love with a local guy. Before I could commit to living on a relatively remote island in the Pacific, I decided that I had to figure out whether or not I could somehow have the literary life I'd always dreamed of. I started a literary journal for expats in Japan, wrote and published my own short stories, and started writing for English-language newspapers and magazines in Japan.

What has your experience been like after finding an agent (shopping to publishers, dealing with contracts, etc.)?

Having an agent allows me to concentrate on writing. I also really, really appreciate your editorial feedback! Also, I'm basically a non-confrontational kind of person, so it's good to have someone else on my side who's willing to follow up on things and deal with contracts.

What was the hardest part of getting your book published that most people don't realize?  Also tell us a bit about your publisher!

I actually wrote the first draft of this book before the publisher, Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, even existed! When I thought it was finished, I sent it out to a bunch of agents and regional publishers. I got a lot of encouragement, and helpful feedback, but I didn't really know how to revise it at the time. Every now and then, I would dig it out of the drawer, slash some pages, and add some more. Still, it took a while for the perfect publisher to show up. Nancy Cleary, at Wyatt-Mackenzie, acquired and published a nonfiction anthology on multicultural mothering that I put together a while ago. At the time, she wasn't publishing fiction, but over the past few years she's published some interesting novels with touches of magical realism, such as Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri, and Piper, Once and Again by Caroline E. Zani. As it turned out, The Mermaids of Lake Michigan fit right in! Nancy is really fun to work with because she has a lot of energy (like you, Carrie!) and is always pursuing interesting publicity opportunities. Thanks to her efforts, my anthology was featured as a movie prop!

What kind of marketing have you done for THE MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN?

I reached out to maritime and historical museum gift shops and some bookstores in Michigan, and I've also set up a blog tour.  I presented the book in Tokyo at an SCBWI event earlier this month, and I expect to do more talks, and hopefully a bit of a tour to brick and mortar stores this summer.


Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process (e.g. do you have to write at night or while wearing lucky socks)?

Not really. I used to think I needed an entire day of peace and quiet to write, but after having kids, I can write just about anywhere, and in any situation.

Anything that new authors can learn from your experiences?

Well, if I can get published while living on an island in Japan where hardly anyone speaks English, you can, too! Be persistent! Read and write a lot! Believe in yourself! And connect with other writers. In the early days, before there was Internet access in Japan, I connected to other writers via the literary journal I started. Now, I meet up with writers on-line and at conferences.  


 
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