Monday, March 27, 2017

Hamster Wheel

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!



Monday, March 20, 2017

Like When the Teacher Shows a Movie in Class

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! 




Monday, March 13, 2017

Query Critique Winner

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!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Pub Day!

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!)