Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting the Call: Clara Kensie

Wow! Just wow! That's all I can say after reading Clara's call story. You're gonna love it and be inspired.

Blurb: Part One in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Sarah Spencer has a secret: her real name is Tessa Carson, and to stay alive, she can tell no one the truth about her psychically gifted family and the danger they are running from. As the new girl in the latest of countless schools, she also runs from her attraction to Tristan Walker—after all, she can’t even tell him her real name. But Tristan won’t be put off by a few secrets. Not even dangerous ones that might rip Tessa from his arms before they even kiss…

When I started querying RUN TO YOU, I sent my carefully-prepared query letter to a handful of agents. I’d worked hard on those query letters: I took an online workshop on queries. I asked my RWA chapter, Chicago-North, for feedback. I researched each agent and learned their submission guidelines. I personalized every letter, specifying why I was querying that particular agent. Each letter took me hours to get just right, and then my finger would hover over the SEND button even longer, until I gathered the courage to press it.

A few days into my query process, I sat at the computer to send out a couple more. Procrastinating because of nerves, I checked Twitter. Laura Bradford, a knowledgeable and hilarious agent who was on my dream list, had just completed a ten-tweet story about why she doesn’t like cupcakes. The ratio of frosting to cake is ridiculous. And how do you eat a cupcake without getting frosting all over your face? What do you do when you’re done and left holding a messy, oily wrapper?

See? I told you: hilarious. Without thinking, I dashed off a query to her, saying I completely agree with her feelings about cupcakes. I plopped in the paragraphs about my manuscript, and closed it by saying I was now going to go eat a piece of cake, properly, with a fork. Then I hit SEND.

And then I panicked.

What had I done? I’d written and sent that query letter in less than a minute. Why would I talk about cupcakes in my query letter? I hadn’t even checked it for typos! Could anyone be more unprofessional? I’d just blown my chances with my dream agent because I’d been impulsive for the first time in my life.


A couple weeks after the cupcake-query fiasco, I got an offer of representation from another agent. Woohoo! The next morning, a Friday, I woke up super-early to alert the couple of other agents I’d queried that I had an offer. When I opened my email, the very first message was from Laura Bradford, requesting a partial.

I hadn’t blown it after all!

Laura stated that her reading period is six to eight weeks, so I replied, explaining that I’d gotten an offer the night before, and if she was still interested, would she please expedite her consideration of my manuscript?

She responded quickly, saying that she was leaving for a conference within the hour, but if I could get my full manuscript to her before she leaves, she would read it at the conference.

I got the manuscript to her within ten minutes.

Then I waited. Occasionally, I distracted myself by checking Twitter.

Now, if you follow Laura on Twitter, you know that she tweets a lot (that’s one of the things I love about her). A few hours after I sent her my full, she tweeted that she had a few manuscripts to read that weekend during a conference, including an emergency full. I wondered if she was talking about my full.

A little after that, she tweeted that she always appreciates when authors fill out the Properties section of Word documents with their name and the manuscript’s title, so it appears correctly on her e-reader. I had filled out the Properties section of my manuscript, and again, I wondered if she was talking about me.

The next day, I had an eye doctor appointment to get my eyes tested for glaucoma. That’s the test where they dilute your eyes and everything is bright and blurry for a few hours. In the waiting room, I checked Twitter on my phone… and saw that Laura had tweeted, “The manuscript I’m reading just got way too gushy.”

This time I knew she was talking about my manuscript. I knew it. I even knew which scene she was talking about. If there had been a desk in the eye doctor’s waiting room, I would have banged my head on it. I wanted to tweet, “Wait! I can revise it! I can take the gush out, I swear!!!”

The eye doctor called me in then, and sheepishly, dejectedly, I shuffled into the exam room. He put those dumb drops in my eyes, effectively blinding me for the next three-to-four hours.

Longest three-to-four hours of my life.

Eventually, my vision cleared enough in one eye that if I squinted and held my phone an inch from my nose, I could check Twitter. To my delight, Laura had tweeted a few more times about the too-gushy manuscript, including this one: “I’m think I’m going to dream about this manuscript tonight. That’s a good thing.”

Oh my God oh my God oh my God!!

On Monday morning, Laura emailed me that she really liked my manuscript and would like to talk about it. We set up a phone appointment for that afternoon. We chatted. She told me what she liked about my manuscript and what she didn’t (I was correct about which scene she thought was too gushy). She was super-cool, and I was a big, tongue-tied dork. But despite my supreme dorkiness, she offered representation!

I wanted to accept right there, but I had to be cool and professional. I still had the offer from the other agent, and I liked and respected her, too. I had to make a decision. But come on. It’s Laura Bradford. She’s a rock star. She called out my manuscript on Twitter for being too gushy. I knew she would push me to make my manuscript the best it could be. There was no decision to make. I am so proud to call Laura my agent.

The gushy scene was the first thing I revised in my manuscript, and thanks to Laura, that manuscript is now a book. The esteemed Natashya Wilson at Harlequin Teen bought it, and RUN TO YOU is Harlequin Teen’s very first serial, beginning February 1, 2014 with three weekly releases, followed by the sequel in June.


Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is the author of romantic paranormal thrillers for young adults. Her first book, RUN TO YOU, a three-part serial from Harlequin TEEN, begins February 1 2014 with weekly releases. The sequel, also a three-part serial, begins June 1 2014.
Her favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross. 

Find RUN TO YOU at your favorite e-tailers, including:

Find Clara online:


  1. Thanks for having me on your blog, Michelle! I loved sharing my call story with your subscribers!! xoxo

  2. Super post. I loved what I saw of the very early version of this book and I can't wait to see the final version. *so happy for you!*

  3. What an awesome story! Just goes to show that being impulsive works sometimes!

  4. Love this story. And it's so funny how many details I'd forgotten or missed. Has it really been that long? I CAN'T wait for your book to be out in the world. It's going to knock people's socks off!

  5. Loved this post!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!

  6. Thanks, everyone! I'm glad you all liked my call story! Laura is an awesome agent and I'm so lucky to have her. :-)

  7. What an awesome story! Hmm. Now where can I get a piece of cake?