Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting the Call: Kate Evangelista

Everyone who has ever looked, or plans to look, for an agent should read this story. Getting the call is not the end of the road. I really want to thank Kate for sharing her tough experience. I'm glad she's found where she belongs, and hope she will come back in October for the release of her second novel.
The Call – A Break-Up and a Triumph

When I decided writing was my career of choice, I had naïve (some might even say fantastical) ideas about the publishing industry. I had it all plotted out: write a book, edit it, submit, get an agent, get published. Five easy steps, right? I see many of you shaking your heads. I was totally wrong and I’m not afraid to admit it.

A year and a mountain of rejection letters later, I finally got “The Call.” That one phone call every budding writer waits for like a girl with a crush on a boy. In less than thirty minutes, my life changed. I got an agent! I had already accomplished four out of my five steps. I was feeling good about myself.

Little did I know that I would become one of those horror stories I’d read along the way to getting an agent.

Almost another year and five rejections from editors later, I got another call.

One of the things you want from an agent: a champion of your work no matter how low you feel about it.

During this fated call, I made the decision of maybe stopping the submission and maybe moving on to another novel to submit. My agent readily agreed. This was the second red flag, the first being I had a hard time getting in touch with said agent.

Still the naïve writer I was, I decided to pitch a novel I had been thinking of writing. Agent gets really excited about this novel and says it will sell easily. This enthusiasm propelled me into writing said novel in a month. In the meantime, I submitted another novel to keep said agent busy.

When I finished writing my third novel, I hurriedly edited it then submitted to my agent. The reply was a very long email that basically said the second novel I had sent was crap with concerns that since I wrote third novel in only a month it would be crap too. I quickly realized agent had not read third novel and had already judged its worth based on my other two works.

Another thing you want from an agent: Someone who will encourage you to do better and that your book will get published. Basically, someone who doesn’t give up.

This didn’t happen. Instead I was put down when I was already feeling low.

So, having once gotten out of an abusive relationship, I recognized the signs and fired said agent. The next email after the firing added insult to injury in that agent finally read third novel and said it was my strongest writing yet. What was I to make of that?

Like any girl fresh from a break up, I was determined to prove myself. I revamped my query letters and submitted to agents and smaller presses. I got the most Full and Partial requests in my writing life during this trying time.

Vindication wasn’t far. I knew it in my bones.

I also gave the universe a deadline. I said if I didn’t get an agent or a publishing contract by the end of the year, I would boldly plunge into self-publishing.

It works to give the universe a deadline because a month later, I signed my first book contract, which produced Taste, my debut novel released last April 30, 2012.

I’d since signed three more contracts after that: two of which are for YA trilogies and one for a companion novel to Taste. The first of one of the trilogies comes out this October. To date (since breaking up with my agent) I have one book out and seven more on the way, three different publishers in all.

The biggest lesson learned? My naïve views of publishing were just that. There are so many roads to a writing career. Just because you don’t have an agent doesn’t mean you won’t get published. And just because you have an agent means you will get published.

I found my vindication, and I’m living my bliss.

“The Call” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. If you get your dream agent, I’m happy for you and wish your writing career the best. If you don’t have an agent yet, it’s not the end of the world. Go for smaller presses. They take care of their writers better, instead of getting into a Big House and being just one of many mid-list writers who can get dropped without a second thought.

At the end of the day I write because I want the stories in my head to be read. It doesn’t matter what road it takes to get to the readers so long as it gets there.

Taste Blurb:

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Author Bio:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Author Website:
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste: 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Terri Bruce's Post on Her Release Day and a Chance to Win a Free Ebook

Update: The winner of the ebook is Sherry Fundin. Please send me your email and Terri Bruce will get you that copy of Hereafter.

Free Copy of Hereafter:

To get your free electronic copy of Hereafter in the format of your choice, leave a comment on this post and be a follower of the blog. A random winner will be chosen on Labor Day. 

Release Day or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Anti-Climaxes

My odyssey to publishing was just that—an odyssey. There are so many twists and turns and it was an epic voyage of many years. So many times during the eight-month process of querying (for just THIS novel) for an agent/publisher for Hereafter I wanted to give up—and probably would have if I hadn’t had a wonderful support group of friends, family, and peers.

So, how did I feel on Release Day—the day in which all my years of hard work paid off, all my hopes and dreams finally came to fruition, my day of vindication, my day of triumph?

Um…yeah. Not so much with the vindication and triumph. More like ARGH, when I wasn’t bursting into random tears.

How can that be, you ask? Shouldn’t Wednesday, August 1st go down in history as one of the happiest days of my life?

Well, the “argh” feelings came from the fact that my book wasn’t actually available on release day. I made a very rookie mistake, here—one I won’t make again—when I told everyone that August 1st was my release day. See, August 1st was the publisher’s release day—meaning it’s the day they “make it available” to the world by uploading the files to the various distributor catalogs. They send the print book files to the printer and upload the book information to the various distributor catalogs that retailers purchase books from (Baker and Taylor and Ingram’s). However, that is not the same as the book actually being released to the public. The various distributors, and then the retailers, have to process that uploaded information, update their catalogs, and make the information available on their retail pages. So on August 1st, my book wasn’t actually anywhere for sale—it was wandering around the in the ether, a series of digital dots and dashes wading from one place to the next.

The fastest update is the Amazon Kindle store, since the publisher can upload the file directly to them, but it takes Amazon up to 48 hours to update its catalog and website. So the earliest the book I had been touting to family and friends (and tenuous acquaintances, my dentist, my hair dresser, my doctor, and random strangers on the street) for months as being available for purchase on August 1st was available was Friday, August 3rd (and that was only in Kindle version). So release day was spent answering quite a few text messages, instant messages, emails, and tweets that said, “I can’t find your book! Where is it?!” ARGH!

In fact, as of the writing of this blog post (written two weeks before it will actually be posted), my book is still not available anywhere else, and I have yet to hold a physical, hard copy of my book in my hands—which is the big moment every author dreams of and is usually marked as the one in which it finally hits you that this is real, that this is, indeed, happening.

As for the random tears? Well, to understand that, you need to understand a little bit of history. My mother was one of four children—she was the youngest and the only girl. Her eldest brother, my Uncle Nelson, was the first—and only—person to go to college (until my generation when almost all of us “kids” went on to post-secondary education), which was a very big deal. On my dad’s side of the family, my father and his two siblings were the first to go to college. There was a push for my sister and I to achieve academically, to also go onto college, but there was also a somewhat buried current of hostility to my always having my nose “stuck in a book.” There was a strange push-pull, as if being highly educated and literate was in some subtle way strange, alienating, and foreign. My Uncle Nelson, however, was a bibliophile of the highest order, and he supported my sister’s and my love of books—books as gifts, fascinating stories of the lives of great writers (he read memoirs and biographies like nobody’s business), wondrous insights into the writing of some of the greatest works of literature. He always had some new book he was reading, some new author he had discovered, some new used bookshop he had found.

My mother supported my book habit—though money was always tight, I don’t remember her ever denying my request for a book. I wrote stories growing up—copious, copious amounts of stories—that at first I wrote out long hand. My handwriting being God-awful, I wanted to learn to type. She let me “borrow” her electric typewriter the summer before 9th grade for just that purpose. I taught myself to type and starting banging out stories faster than ever—serialized novels that I would pass out to friends at school. She didn’t get her typewriter back until I graduated high school and went off to college.

My grandmother—a solid, plain-spoken woman who had dropped out of school in the eighth grade and who was the person who tweaked me most about having my nose “stuck in a book”—was a fond, indulgent, protective woman who was proud of pretty much anything I did, though she always acted like it was no big deal despite looking “tinkled pink” whenever I showed off my latest accomplishment. She was my greatest cheerleader, my greatest supporter.

On release day, these are the three people I should have been sharing my accomplishment with. These are the people who would have been proudest, who would have been jumping up and down and screaming the loudest. Unfortunately, my Uncle Nelson passed away at the beginning of 2009, my mother passed away at the beginning of 2010, and my grandmother passed away at the end of 2010. The absence of their voices in my cheering section was deafening, and the healing—though not quite healed—wound of their passing was ripped open afresh. All the sense of loss I thought I had managed to pack away burst free once more, a crushing, overwhelming wave. On the way to work, I burst into tears— great, heaving sobs that blinded me so that I nearly ran off the road. All day, I was on tenterhooks, tense and over-wound—the congratulations of my coworkers almost physically painful because they threatened to set off the tears again. In a way, the “argh” of the day was my saving grace. The frustration of not having the book overwhelmed the sorrow, pushing it to the back of my mind.

Needless to say, by the end of the day I was wrung out, limp like a dishrag, emotionally drained. At 7:00 pm I was required to participate in a virtual “release day” party held by the publisher. By this point, I wasn’t really sure what I was celebrating—“release day” seemed to be just one more inching, anti-climatic step toward some vast, formless goal of “being a published author,” which was starting to seem more and more like an amorphous state of being, or possibly a state of mind, than an actual, concrete thing with a finite start and finish.

Then…several friends showed up at the virtual party, to cheer me on. In that moment, as I saw one after the other “walk through the door” of that chat room (thank you Paul, Teresa, Danielle, & E.F.), something happened. Despite the fact that my “greatest” supporters were no longer with me, I was not alone in the world. Not by a long shot. So many people—some of whom I don’t even know that well, “just” internet friends who I’ve never met in “real life”—had replaced the “old guard” of my cheering section, and were supporting me just as strongly, just as loudly, just as unflaggingly. Yes, there were some voices that “should” have been there that day, and yes, I was mad at the universe and the unfairness of it that they were missing this moment, but life offers no guarantees, and a part of me knew I needed to let go of what I had lost in order to better focus on what I currently have. In the end, most of what I felt on my release day had so very little to with my book or being published, and instead, was about who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going—which made it one of the most important days of my life. Thank you—to everyone—who has helped me get to this point.

By Terri Bruce
Why let a little thing like dying get in the way of a good time?

Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex...well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.

This sounds suspiciously like hell to Irene, so she prepares to strike out for the Great Beyond. The only problem is that, while this side has exorcism, ghost repellents, and soul devouring demons, the other side has three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment. If only there was a third option…

About the Author:

Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats.

Contact Details
Twitter: @_TerriBruce

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two Movie Reviews for the Price of One

We went to see Expendables 2 last night. It was like being plunked down in front of a giant version of my children’s video games. Arms, legs, heads, whole bodies kept disappearing into a shower of red gore. Every shred of logic flew out the window in favor of making bigger and more impressive action scenes. Old rusted hulks of cars, sitting for twenty years, still exploded. The only thing that didn’t explode was the good guys’ plane after it crashed into a mountain. Three car loads of goons miraculously turned into about a million opportunities to kill bad guys. They must have had unlimited funds because one scene started with a couple of humvees; a zip line run later they had airboats. The airboats broke down into jetskis that ran straight onto a seaplane. Why not just head straight for the seaplane. I guess they weren’t in a hurry to get away after all.
I can’t help comparing all this to the Bourne Legacy we saw last weekend. The Bourne movie chose smarts. It forced me to think in order to keep up with what was happening. They gave deference to logic over brawn but still had fun action scenes and chases.
Expendables had former action stars putting on a show and flashy one-liners that took me back to the eighties. Bourne had deep characters, in an involved plot, and government conspiracies. I can’t say it had much humor or as much sense of fun.
I guess the choice depends on your mood on any given day. Myself, I can't wait for Skyfall and Bond, James Bond.     

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting the Call: MarcyKate Connolly

Believing in ourselves can be the hardest part of being a writer. The lack of validation from legitimate sources can be a killer. I got a chance to read a couple of chapters of MarcyKate's Monstrous and the voice blew me away. She may not have know it, but I think everyone else knew this book stood out from the crowd. Once again, you have to keep up your courage because it's persistence and talent that pays off. I want to wish MarcyKate the best of luck with her submission process. I'm doing a happy dance for her, too!

 © Cheryl Colombo 2012

First, thanks so much for inviting me to do this guest post, Michelle!

Like many other writers, I’ve spent several years in the query trenches, writing, re-writing, and submitting, all in the hopes of finding that one agent who loves my work. I’ve had more than my share of highs and lows. The 3rd novel I queried came particularly close, garnering a large amount of requests, but in the end, no offers. So when it came time to query MONSTROUS (my 7th book, but 4th I’d decided to query), I had reached a point where I was paralyzed by fear.

I was absolutely (and foolishly) terrified to send out this book. I was scared to send it to my crit partners. Then once they approved, I was afraid to send it to agents. I was even nervous to enter it into blog contests (which normally I love to do!). MONSTROUS is hands down the weirdest and most challenging book I’ve written to date and I was very emotionally invested in it. The thought of it coming close and not being good enough to get an agent yet again stalled my forward momentum, despite my full awareness that I was being a complete ninny.

Then came the Writers Voice Contest in May (hosted by the lovely foursome of Brenda Drake, Cupid, Krista Van Dolzer, and Monica BW). I got up the nerve to enter and was shocked and thrilled that 3 of the judges wanted my weird little book to be on their team. By the time the contest ended and the agents had voted, I had several requests for MONSTROUS.

This was exactly the push I needed to start sending out queries. I began researching agents on my list who I thought would be a good fit with renewed gusto, but still held back a little. I queried in fits and starts and only when I was in a Go Big or Go Home frame of mind. I’d send them out late at night before I could think better of it and usually woke up the next morning thinking I was crazy to have done that. This was not my normal querying process by any means! Usually I’d send out 5-10 at a time to a range of agents so I didn’t burn through my top picks before perfecting my query. But this time, I felt confident my query and first pages were good (it was just the rest of the book I worried about!) and I ended up querying only my A-list. I was blown away by the response – I only sent out 20 queries, but my request rate was about 70%. Including the ones from contests, I had 18 requests for MONSTROUS.

But, of course, I was still getting rejections – it’s inevitable. About 6 weeks after I sent out the first batch of queries, I got an email response from an agent as I was walking home from the train station. I nearly fell over when I saw the preview of the message on my phone read “Would you be available to chat this week?” I kept telling myself she probably wanted major revisions and that she wasn’t calling to offer. But it was an offer! And she was lovely and she was excited about my book and I was pretty much on cloud nine! After I talked to Agent #1, I nudged everyone else reading my book (8 at the time) and all the outstanding queries (another 5 or so). A couple got back to me bowing out, others with requests.

One of those requests happened to be from a particular agent who I’d long considered to be someone I’d give my right arm to work with, so I was over the moon that she wanted to read MONSTROUS! I sent the manuscript off right away and she got back to me later that night to let me know how much she was enjoying it so far. She finished reading within 24 hours and emailed again, gushing about my book (!), to arrange a phone call.

That was about the time my head exploded.

Fortunately, I managed to pull myself together for our call a couple days later! Agent #2’s enthusiasm for her work, her clients’ books, and MY book completely blew me away. Add to that the fact that her suggestions for revisions were spot on and she was easy to talk to, and I had a feeling she was going to be the right agent for me.

The happy dancing officially reached epic levels (to the point where the excessive flailing was scaring my dogs)!

But I still had several agents reading and wanted to be sure I gave everyone who was interested serious consideration. You really don’t know how you’ll click with an agent until you talk to them. Out of those agents, I received another offer and had another Call with Agent #3. She was as excited about MONSTROUS as the other agents, her clients loved her just as much, and her sales record was stellar. She was even easy to talk to. I could tell she’d be a great advocate for my book.

Then came the hard part – I had to make a decision. All three agents were awesome. I felt certain they’d all work hard to sell MONSTROUS and they were all interested in helping me build a career. It was both wonderful and terrible because I’d have to say no to two of them and there’s nothing I like less than disappointing people (especially nice, awesome people).

But when it came right down to it, I kept coming back to Agent #2. I felt like we really clicked over email and the phone, and she’d made a point of keeping in contact over the course of that week. Not only did I like her ideas for revision just a little more than the others, but her level of enthusiasm was higher and I believed that would translate over during the submission process to editors. When I finally emailed Suzie Townsend to tell her I was delighted to officially accept her offer of representation, part of me was terrified it was all just a dream and she’d email back “Just kidding!”  Fortunately, that was NOT the case J We’ve been working together for the past few weeks preparing to go out on submission and she’s been absolutely fantastic!  

BIO: MarcyKate Connolly is a writer and arts administrator who lives in New England with her husband and pugs. She’s also a coffee addict, voracious reader, and recurring commuter. She blogs at her website and the From the Write Angle group blog, and volunteers as a moderator at Her work is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media. Her short story “Connected” was recently published in the Spring Fevers anthology by Elephants Bookshelf Press.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

I've Been Slashed by a Big Black Cat!

My query for Dodge the Sun has been hacked by the amazing YA writer, Mindy McGinnis. (You can read her Getting the Call story here.) Mindy or Big Black Cat as she's known around AQC slashes query letters every Saturday, and I'm this week's victim volunteer. There's nothing harder then getting your query perfect and so much rests on their three or four short paragraphs. Read her comment to me on her blog: Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire. She had some great suggestions for my query and clarified exactly where I need to tinker. Off to tweak.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting the Call: Suzanne van Rooyen

This week's author has a ton on her plate. Suzanne has broken into writing by heading in more than one direction, providing more proof that a boatload of talent with determination and perseverance are the key. Very cool cover, Suzanne, and a big congrats on the agent offer! I hope you'll come back again and share more details for the December release.

My journey to publication has been a bit of a whirlwind. I've always written, but never really thought of being a writer in terms of career. It was only in 2010 when I began writing Dragon's Teeth that I had any inclination of trying to publish.

What started out as a short story grew into a novel for NaNoWriMo 2010 and after another two months of daily writing, became Dragon's Teeth. I submitted my manuscript on a whim to Divertir Publishing, wanting to take the first step towards being a real writer. I expected a rejection, I hoped for some feedback, I never ever expected a publishing contract.

My almost year long journey from signing the contract to seeing my book in print taught me so much about the writing industry and about myself as I writer. I owe a huge amount of thanks to Elizabeth Harvey (my editor) and Ken Tupper (publisher) for investing in my story. It was the publication of Dragon's Teeth that made me realise that what I really wanted to be was a writer, because that's who I've always been: a storyteller.

In the wake of Dragon's Teeth, I joined the online writing community Scribophile where I continued to learn about writing as a craft and about the industry. I started following author and agent blogs, I discovered Duotrope and the world of writing no longer seemed like a magical, far away realm but something real that I could be a part of. In the past year, I've had fifteen short stories published and have gradually been stepping up the ladder towards pro paying markets.

I've also been writing, a lot! Being a musician, I understand the importance of practice; the dedication, discipline and perseverance it takes to perfect an art. I write every day, even if I only manage a couple hundred words.

After Dragon's Teeth, I wrote two other novels. Obscura Burning pretty much wrote itself in a lightning bolt of inspiration that had me abandon everything else for the two weeks it took to write out the first draft. A YA science fiction novel, Obscura Burning is about a troubled boy who finds himself tossed along the space-time continuum in the wake of tragedy. I queried agents for this novel but the feedback, while consistently positive, made me realise that my very dark and edgy novel was going to be a tricky sell for traditional publishing. I turned instead to indie publishers and within a few weeks had an offer of publication from Etopia Press. Obscura Burning is now tentatively scheduled for release December 7. 

The other novel was Daughter of the Nether, a YA mythpunk story set in a post-apocalyptic world. I entered this manuscript into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award earlier this year and never expected to end up a semi-finalist. My journey with this novel is far from over but after four months of consistent querying, I just had an offer of representation! My head's still spinning about that!

Putting my journey into a few paragraphs, makes it all sound fairly easy, but it definitely was not. The hours spent writing, the hours spent curled up in a ball of self-doubt as the rejections rolled in, the hours spent editing, revising, staring at a blank page – writing really isn't for the faint of heart, but determination and patience can pay off. It was Einstein who said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.” And any writer can attest to that!

Bio: Suzanne van Rooyen is a South African speculative fiction author currently residing in the snowy wastes of Finland. She is the author of Dragon's Teeth (Divertir Publishing, 2011) and Obscura Burning (Etopia Press, December 2012). Her short fiction has appeared in Golden Visions Magazine, Earthbound Fiction, Niteblade and several others. Although she has a Master's degree in music, she prefers writing strange tales and conjuring weird worlds, and playing in the snow with her shiba inu.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Mystery of the Writing Process

Everyone has their own methods of writing, their own inspiration and strategies that work for them. I always find it interesting to compare notes and see the different ways of going about it.
Last week, I finished my current work in process a young adult fantasy set in a post apocalypse world called Dodge the Sun. It was a long time in coming as it took close to a year to write. All you writers know that finished is not an accurate term. What I actually finished is the first draft or the writing stage. Next will come the editing or rewriting stage, though I’ve been doing some of that in the Speculative Fiction Critique Marathon over the last eleven weeks. I’ve got a whole chapter to add in the middle, dealing with motivation and some missing odds and ends to make clear. Then it will go to beta readers and critique partners for more feedback. As you can figure out, this is a lengthy process. I’m not a writer than can produce a first draft in a month, but plod along at about a chapter a week. Even for me, a year to finish a first draft was a long time.
Dodge the Sun all started last summer with a single idea that evolved. I was editing my epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, which is schedule to be published in March 2013. It had been a few months since I wrote anything and I was afraid to get out of practice so I decided to try a short story. An idea had been bumping around in my head. A few years before I had bought a cheap ankle bracelet at a water park. I’m not one to wear a lot of jewelry, but it was summer and sort of made me feel less like an ‘old lady’ as my kids call me. I began to imagine what if a girl was held prisoner by an anklet with magic properties.
That’s all I had: a girl and an ankle bracelet that controlled her. I started to make a short story out of it and it grew. She lived in a post apocalypse world where a star had exploded and brought radiation to earth. She wasn’t a slave as I originally intended but lovingly protected even as the truth was kept from her. That short story ended up being published, for no money, in an online magazine. It was my first published piece.
Some months later, I thought I had Kindar’s Cure completely done, and I needed a new project. What if—what if I expanded this short story and made it full length. I took the ending of the short story and made it the inciting incident to kick off the rest of the plot. I wrote a couple of more chapters and expanded on the opening component of the short. Then I switched to a middle grade story with a lot of humor about hamsters in a classroom. Another beta read came in for Kindar’s Cure so I spent a month revising it. I went back and revised some chapters of an even older finished story. And so it went all fall and spring, working on this and that, not settling on anything.
In late spring, I decided that was a stupid approach. What worked best for me was concentration on one project at a time. Kindar was out there being read by small publishers. There was nothing more I could do for it. It was time to put aside the other projects and concentrated on Dodge the Sun. Life continued to happen as when Anna’s trip to Japan kept me too jittery to write for three weeks. Progress was still slow, but there was progress. As a pantser instead of an outliner or plotter, it took me a while to figure out the ending and the wrap up chapters, but it happened at last.
I can draw a big sigh and know I’ve got that first draft on file. And one great thing about taking so much time, it doesn’t need nearly as much editing. The plot holes are smaller, the writing is neater. I can do the editing, get the reads from friends, and then start on the scary journey of showing it to agents. I have to say that this main character has become my favorite character. She really grew on me. This long process full of side trips also taught me the writing process that works best for me. Soon, the whole writing process will begin over again with a new idea. Until then, it’s time to let the new ideas percolate.
What works for you? Do you stick with one story at a time? Do you write fast or slow?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting the Call: Calista Taylor

You never know what the future will bring as Calista Taylor found out. She took a tough situation and went her own way with her steampunk writing, not only getting published, but also self-publishing, and starting her own business. Anyone in need of book covers can rely on her expertise. Congratulations to her for having her non-fiction steampunk book released next month and check out her available steampunk fiction.  

I’ll admit, my path regarding agents hasn’t exactly been a straight forward one.  I never got “the call”, but rather an email from the woman who would soon be my agent and would represent my steampunk romance and mystery, Viridis.  Unfortunately, soon after signing, the agency dissolved—not exactly what you want to hear when you’ve finally managed to land an agent.  Luckily, my agent and several others formed their own agency, and I was brought along.  Again, another unfortunate turn of events occurred six months in when the new agency decided to drop adult fiction and stick with YA and stories for a younger audience.  Part way through submissions, I found myself agentless.  Not exactly a fun situation, and I was forced to shelve that book and the second I had written in the series.
About a month later, I blogged about making a leather corset to wear to a steampunk convention.  Low and behold, an agent read it and thought he could really sell a steampunk craft book and wanted to know if I’d be interested.  Amazingly enough, without ever having to query, I found myself with a new agent, though this time it was for a genre I’d never even considered—non-fiction.  That book ending up selling, and will be available in the next month under the title, Steampunk Your Wardrobe.

In the end, with the market turning favorably towards ebooks, I decided to dust off my steampunk fiction series, and self-published it myself.  I’ll admit, it’s been a pretty amazing ride, and with my next book, Jack—A Grim Reaper Romance, I ended up half-heartedly querying a dozen agents before deciding to self-publish it myself.  Even better, and completely unexpected, was the cover design business that got started when I self-published my first series. 

Publishing can certainly be a rough and rocky road, but I’ve learned that there are many paths, and one seldom travels in a straight line.

 You can find Calista and her fiction books at her cover creation site. Her very cool steampunk craft book is on Amazon

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Crap in a sack, Stephanie Diaz tagged me in a new game and I had the misfortune to see it. Okay, so maybe I was proud to be included. 


If you are tagged, do a search for the word "look" in your work in progress. Copy that paragraph, along with surrounding paragraphs, to your blog, to keep the game afloat. Don't forget to tag others. 

"Look" shows up in the first paragraph of my WIP, Dodge the Sun:

The anklet jangled up and down against Little Bit’s leg with every other step. An itch she couldn’t scratch at the moment. The basket, filled with a heaping pile of laundry, occupied one hand while the other gripped the railing. She climbed the wooden stair which wound in a spiral around the outside of the tower. The wicker handle of the laundry basket balanced against her right hip, digging in with each stride. The staircase creaked and shifted. She shuddered and kept her eyes fixed on each tread, careful not to look at the height of the drop through the gaps.
Ralph promised again and again to block in the open spaces, but his promises flitted around like blueflies, impossible to pin down. He worked on his own leisurely time schedule, and no amount of pleading on her part moved him to improve the stairs.
Movement down in the garden caught her attention—Tabitha was bent over, doing the weeding. The yard of short-cut meadow grass containing the outbuildings, the trout pond, the empty coney hatch, and the garden spread out before her. Why did the tower have to be so high? Little Bit gulped, feeling dizzy. She fixed her gaze back on the climb and plodded on.
At last, she reached a square landing of wooden planks built against the upper entrance. Hidden from prying eyes by the tower, she set down the basket. She squatted to hike her cotton skirt embroidered with clover and their purple blossoms up to her knees. A wink of gold glittered in the morning sun. The chain of delicate gold links clasped around her ankle mocked her with its fragile appearance. Little Bit reached for the anklet, then chewed her lip. Like a sore tooth, she couldn’t resist probing it.
She squared her shoulders before taking an end of the chain in either hand. Her fingers began to burn with a strange heat. The sting like a thousand nettles increased with each pulse of her heart. She continued to pull despite the rising pain. 
I'll tag: Angie Sandro, Calista Taylor, and Jean Oram. Sneaky but they are most likely to see this because Cali has a guest post tomorrow.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Getting the Call: Me, Michelle Hauck

Here’s a surprising turn of events, this week’s Getting the Call post is my own story. I started this series of posts at a low point in my journey. It was a time when the rejection letters piled up, and I needed a jolt of inspiration. Perhaps, somehow, I hoped reading about others’ success might rub off or maybe reveal a clue to a hidden secret. They were intended to lift my spirits and the spirits of other people, not that I believed other people would ever come to this blog. But you did.
When I started querying my first manuscript I had no clue. I didn’t know the rules of writing, of how to write a query letter, or of what made a good story. To give you some idea of the awfulness, the manuscript, an epic fantasy, was 167,000 words. My cheeks heat up just thinking of everything I did wrong. It was a flop, a disaster. I began doing research by reading agent blogs. I got help on my letter from other writers. The results didn’t improve. I ended up with three requests out of somewhere around seventy letters sent. All three were swiftly followed by rejection and, in one case, even worse news. The agent with my partial had passed away. I felt terrible.
I did the unthinkable; I shelved my baby. You read the words of other writers about how they trunked their first manuscript, but I never thought it would happen to me. It did. By now I knew Heartsouls would never work in its current state. It lacked conflict, and the characters ran wild instead of adhering to the plot. There wasn’t a nice clean stand alone ending. It needed a total rewrite. Instead I started a new story.
In this second story, another epic fantasy, I did everything right or so I thought. I kept to the plot. I understood query letters, or at least the idea of how they should work. I didn’t rush off to query my first draft. To my eternal good fortune, I found Agent Query Connect where other writers with a clue share their experience. I took advantage of the critiquing marathon for Speculative Fiction writers to improve my skill at editing and get some feedback on Kindar’s Cure. I collected a double handful of beta readers and spent months editing before sending out a query letter. Guess what happened? Kindar got three requests. Oh, it did get personalized comments. In fact, it got more of these than requests. ‘I love your concept, but …’ There was always a ‘but’.
All my research and careful preparation and I got the exactly same number of requests. Three became a taboo number. I was cursed. Those rejections kept coming in and they hurt big time. Even I noticed that I didn’t laugh or joke as much as I used to. The revise and resubmit Kindar got came back another ‘no thanks, not for me, but good luck with finding someone else to represent you’. Then the third and last full came back as a form rejection. No words of advice, just a form rejection. A few weeks later that agent left the business. Oh, God, it was happening again!
But this time there was a difference. I knew Kindar was a good story. I knew it was well written. Give up? Heck no!
I began to submit straight to publishers. And hey, a lot of them didn’t want query letters. Right away I got a request for a full. My kids thought I was nuts, running around the house in a victory lap at seven in the morning. I got other requests mixed among the rejections. My numbers were higher. I ran a percent of requests to submissions over twenty percent. Partials went to fulls overnight in one case. Still the rejections overshadowed everything else. And guess what? The requests became stuck at three. There it was again. The number of doom. Time went by and I immersed myself in my work in progress, refusing to think about Kindar.
In June a different publisher opened their submissions. Low and behold, I got another request. I did it! I passed the cursed number three to become four!
I didn’t lose the habit of checking my email like a junkie. One Sunday night, pretty late, I gave my mail one last look. The first publisher to request, Divertir, showed up in the inbox along with some more innocent letters. Crap. Do I open it first and get the bad new over, or do I save it for last and hope a little longer? I opened it first. It was short. Ah, rejection for sure. They’d been awfully busy but they wanted to let me know they’d like to publish Kindar’s Cure. What? I read it again. Then again. It kept saying the same thing! There was no victory lap. I sat there in total shock. ‘Uh, husband, they say they want to publish.” Husband wasn’t impressed. He took bad new harder than I did; he wouldn’t allow himself to get excited anymore. I don’t think he’ll believe it until the book is in his hands.
Several weeks later, I find that I’m agreeing with my husband. This good news didn’t happen to me. But it did! Divertir gave me a tentative release date and everything. I have an editor. Me, an editor. It doesn’t seem real. In fact, to be perfectly truthful, it’s been a little scary. It’s a leap whether it’s signing with an agent or accepting a publisher. You’re signing over something you created and putting it in strange hands.
The connections I made through this blog series were invaluable. I followed Terri Bruce’s and other writer’s advice before signing. I had the contract looked over by a friend who knows his stuff. I asked lots of questions. I think Divertir will be a good fit for me. They are a small place, but that makes me comfortable. They listen to what their authors think and work with the authors to make their visions came to life. I won’t get lost in a crowd there.    
I used to think getting an agent or publisher was the ultimate goal, the end all. Getting the Call would be the happy ending to the story. It’s much more. It’s a new beginning to a whole other story.    

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Congratulations to Terri Bruce!

In place of a Getting the Call post today, I'm excited to have a Happy Release Day post for Terri Bruce! Her novel, Hereafter, is out! She'll be back soon with a report of her very emotional feelings at this big day. I know that Terri went through a lot trying to bring this moment about, including a ton of work with a very short window to her release date. You can read her Getting the Call story here. And she will be enjoying a Meet the Author chat tonight at Eternal Press' web site and asks that everyone join her at 7:00EST. Check it out as there will be door prizes and who doesn't like free. I'll be ordering my copy of Hereafter and sending her a photo for her wall.