Monday, November 27, 2017

Boss Baby Week

So I am pretty much always busy, but the last couple weeks have been INSANE.  

I was speed-reading all the Pitch Wars entries that got immediate offers and making some of my own, wheeling and dealing with a publisher on an awesome YA fantasy deal (Whooo!!  More to come soon...), and having Thanksgiving and going Black Friday shopping with my parents (which really means eat with my parents, shop with my mom while my dad plays with my cats).

I was thinking about which of these things I wanted to write about today, but realized I can sum up my week with the world's most appropriate GIF...



Happy Monday everyone!  Enjoy the rest of the week!

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Ones Who Got Away, Vol. 2

A long time ago I wrote a post about how agents lust from afar (or from very close if you're Twitter friends) over certain projects that they've offered on and didn't get.  I think I wrote the previous post in a November, too, so there must be something about Novembers that make me think about things I didn't get.




I do have to say, first off, that one of my previous authors who got away did a U-turn and came back to me!  I originally fell in love with Azlyn Richards and her historical fiction about a poisoner in Nero's court called THE EMPEROR'S ASSASSIN, but she went with another agent.  A year or so later, she reached out to me asking if she could change her mind and I happily said yes!

I've been thinking of some of the ones that eluded my grasp...and interestingly most of them are from 2016 Pitch Madness...

THE HATE U GIVE - I knowwwwww.  I offered on this (I think it was called STARRY NIGHT) and another MG project of Angie's and missed out.  She is an AMAZING author and person, though and I'm so happy to see the crazy amount of success she has had....even it is hasn't been with me   If you haven't read this book, which seems impossible, be sure to buy a copy!

AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS - I knowwwww...again!!!  This book was SO beautifully written I fell in love from the first chapter.  The author is also such a great person.  We're friends on Twitter so I get to see how well she and the book are doing.  I think it was a NYT bestseller before it even officially published, so you should definitely read it!!!!

DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND - This was a really fun YA project about a girl who wants to be on her school's baseball team that I read via PitchWars.  It had the most dynamic, fun character and the best voice!

DAVY JONES, PIRATE HATER - This is another Pitch Madness project--an AWESOME MG fantasy concept that was really fresh with great world-building!!  It made me laugh out loud so many times.

A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN - This was a beautiful, beautiful YA Asian fantasy that made me think of a YA version of THE GHOST BRIDE mixed with Moana...and it doesn't get better than that!

These are all fantastic projects and fantastic authors and I'm sorry they're not on Team Carrie, BUT one agent isn't right for everyone and these lovely authors have found their deserved match.  Also, for every author I've missed out on, I've signed like 10 that I love with all my heart!  Every aspect of publishing is a subjective one; no matter what side of the fence you're on, there are rejections and signings and great moments and sad ones.  I've found that it all evens out in the end, though, and you end up where you're supposed to be!

And with that, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  My mom is foregoing cooking for the first time ever this year and we are doing Thanksgiving at The Roosevelt Hotel--I can't wait!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Query Critique Winner

Hi all!  Here is this month's luck query critique winner!

Dear Ms. Pestritto,

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. 
Then a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically expanded gift--including terrifying prophetic dreams. After a very public encounter with a spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Where the dreams suddenly stop. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles understand her new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.
 Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of his sister’s suicide, he abandons a promising career--and his place in Philadelphia society--to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Matthew is just another patient--until she channels Susannah’s spirit. 
Together, Amelia, Jonas, and Andrew engineer Amelia’s escape. But her old life is gone. And the dreams are back--and pushing her toward the island again. When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter--a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum, he turns to Amelia. Compelled by forces that refuse to leave her alone, Amelia agrees to do the unthinkable: return to the place that nearly destroyed her. They’re searching for a woman. What they find is a deadly conspiracy that threatens them all. 
Because you (represent specific author/express interest in genre/other), I believe my debut novel, THE FOLLOWING STORM, would be a good fit for your list. A standalone novel with series potential, THE FOLLOWING STORM will appeal to readers of historical mysteries who enjoy the work of Victoria Thompson, Deanna Raybourn, or Rosemary Simpson. The novel is complete at 85,000 words and available upon request.
 Thank you for your time and consideration.

And here is my critique:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City, although her methods are a bit unusual. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. She has created a safe and comfortable life for herself and her foster brother Jonas--by using her psychic talents to read Tarot cards for the upper echelon of city society. [I don't know if the Tarot reading part is accurate, but you see what I'm trying to set up here.] 
Then But when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically expanded gift--including terrifying prophetic dreams. After and a very public encounter with a spirit,--she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Where the dreams suddenly stop. [I cut the previous sentence as-is, but I think what you should do is expand up ont, because just a sentence later, you mention her using her new abilities to survive in prison, which is confusing.] As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles understand her new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.
 He finds it with the help of psychiatrist Andrew Cavanaugh, who is familiar with despair. In the wake of his sister’s suicide, he abandons a promising career--and his place in Philadelphia society--to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Matthew is just another patient--until she channels Susannah’s spirit. 
Together, Amelia, Jonas, and Andrew engineer Amelia’s escape. But her old life is gone. And the dreams are back--and pushing her toward the island again. When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter--a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum, he turns to Amelia. Compelled by forces that refuse to leave her alone, Amelia agrees to do the unthinkable: return to the place that nearly destroyed her. They’re searching for a woman. What they find is a deadly conspiracy that threatens them all. 
Because you (represent specific author/express interest in genre/other), I believe my debut novel, THE FOLLOWING STORM, would be a good fit for your list. A standalone novel with series potential, THE FOLLOWING STORM will appeal to readers of historical mysteries who enjoy the work of Victoria Thompson, Deanna Raybourn, or Rosemary Simpson. The novel is complete at 85,000 words and available upon request.
 Thank you for your time and consideration.

I love, love, love the premise of this story.  In fact, Stacie, when it's ready to go out, I hope you send it to me!  The query does a terrific job of imparting the hair-raising atmosphere of the story and leave the reader wanting more at the same time.  I made a few tweaks so that it reads a bit smoother, but other than that, I think it's in awesome shape.  Excellent job, Stacie! Chime in with thoughts and questions below! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for Dorcas Cheng-Tozun's START, LOVE, REPEAT, a prescriptive guide about to how to keep your relationship strong when there's a start-up in the family!  Dorcas speaks from experience, as her husband is one of the founders of d.light design and has also interviewed other successful entrepreneurs and their significant others, executive coaches, marriage-family therapists, venture capitalists, and start-up authorities.  Happy pub day, Dorcas!





So first, tell us a bit about the book!

START, LOVE, REPEAT is a guidebook for the significant others of entrepreneurs or anyone else who works crazy hours in their job. I read dozens of books and conducted nearly 100 interviews for the book--with entrepreneurs, their spouses, investors, marriage-family therapists, and executive coaches--to glean the best strategies on how to keep your relationship strong even when you and your partner are under a lot of stress and are dealing with major time constraints. My hope is that couples will walk away from the book feeling empowered to pursue their professional dreams and prioritize their romance at the same time.

What was your inspiration for writing this?

My own life, of course! I've been married to a serial entrepreneur for more than twelve years, and it has been quite the adventure. I've struggled with everything I discuss in the book, including resentment, anxiety, and burnout, because of the toll that my husband's high-risk, high-stress business has taken on our lives. I really wanted a resource that would help me understand why starting a business had to be so hard and would provide time-tested advice on what I could to to make things better. That resource didn't exist, so I decided to write it myself.

What was your journey to publication like?

It's been over three years since I first discussed the idea with Carrie, and it's been quite a journey since then. We did four rounds of submissions, with major revisions and additions to the book proposal after each of the first three rounds. A number of editors weren't comfortable with how much personal narrative was in the book proposal, so I spent quite a bit of time writing additional chapters that were much more prescriptive. We had an acquisitions editor who was interested in the second round, but she was overruled by her editorial board.

Then, finally, on the fourth round, when my book proposal had grown to nearly 200 pages, Christina Boys of Hachette Center Street expressed interest. She asked me a few basic questions, and then the following week I had an offer! Interestingly, I was living in Kenya at the time (another unexpected life pivot, thanks to my husband's business), and so everything was conducted over email. I had to e-sign my contract and didn't speak to my editor on the phone until several months later, when I had moved back to the U.S.

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

I was pretty surprised by how quickly Center Street wanted to move on it. I had heard that it can take a long time from contract to publication, but they were determined to have my book ready in time for a November 2017 launch. That meant I only had about three months to finish writing the manuscript, which required me to finish a 4500-word chapter every single week. It was a really intensive period of researching, interviewing, and writing, but that deadline looming over me sure helped me be productive!

Did you feel like you were involved in the various stages your book went through?  What kind of input did you have?

My editor and copyeditor were great about giving me the opportunity to revise anything in the manuscript that didn't quite work, rather than sticking in words that weren't mine. I was consulted on the book cover design even before their designers worked on it, and again after they had created the design. I also had the opportunity to review any copy about the book, such as the back cover copy, the book summary, and the press release. And I was very much involved in getting Gary and Meg Hirshberg to write the foreword, soliciting the endorsements, and with all the marketing and promotion.

I felt like I had the opportunity to be involved in pretty much every part of the book coming together, which I'm very grateful for.

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

I love this book trailer that my filmmaker friend, Ron Eyal, made for me. It's fun and engaging, but it also perfectly captures what START, LOVE, REPEAT is all about. 

I've also got a bunch of podcast interviews and original essays coming out with outlets that target entrepreneurs and leaders. My husband, Ned, and I are even doing a podcast interview together to discuss what our relationship has been like. Links to all of these can be found at my website: www.chengtozun.com.

Anything that new authors can learn from your experiences?

I cannot underestimate the importance of persistence and trying different things. This was actually the second book I wrote. The first, a memoir, went through five or six submission rounds, and we weren't able to get anyone to pick it up. So I decided to move on to a new book idea in another genre. Early on, I also got a lot of feedback from editors that they wanted me to have a bigger platform. So I spent years pitching articles and networking, some of which led to published pieces, and a few of which led to regular writing gigs. I'm certain the fact that I was a regular contributor to Christianity Today and Inc.com was a major factor in finally securing a book deal.

I really believe that if you knock on enough doors, one of them will eventually open for you.