Tuesday, October 28, 2014



Are you guys excited? BECAUSE WE ARE!!

Below this post, you'll find the thirteen Minions I picked for my team! 

You can head over to SC's and Mike's blogs as well. (But don't worry, Minions will take no prisoners!) 

Sorry everyone, but no commenting, cheerleading, etc. Only agents will be able to comment.



CHEER OVER ON TWITTER! We're going to be under the hashtag #NoQS and we will be having FUN. So vent, be nervous, cheer each other on, and hold hands over Twitter. One of the best parts of contests is seeing how the writer's community gathers and supports each other.

I'll be looking for all my Minions there. Don't disappoint me. 

For the next two days, agents will have fun ways to request in the contest.

They can SCREAM for a full request.
They can SHRIEK for a 50 page request.
They can SHIVER for a 10 page request.

And agents can make as many requests as they want! So go wild! We have some awesome talent for you to peruse.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!! Hope you all get a ton of frighteningly amazing requests!

And remember: Minions Rule!

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Genre: MG Humorous Contemporary
Word Count: 30,000

My Main Character’s Most Fearsome Obstacle:

I thought my worst fear was being covered in cold, limp spaghetti, but I’d gladly swim in an Olympic-sized pool of the stuff to escape the nightmare that is this zombie sitcom. Eating brains and eyeballs is nothing compared to dealing with a demonic director, a humiliating stage dad, and a rabid, rival kid star. Being undead is killing me.


When Marty Ruckers' dad loses his job as a high school drama teacher, the extremely squeamish sixth-grader auditions for a Crunchy Clowns cereal commercial to help pay the bills.  Instead, as if by some cruel cosmic joke, he's tapped for a starring role in the new zombie sitcom, Z Street.

With foreclosure on his family's home looming, Marty reluctantly takes the gig. Now the kid who can't swallow soggy cereal has to train himself to stomach intestines without hurling every take. But Marty has headaches bigger than scrambled brains for breakfast, including an obnoxious stage dad, a drill sergeant director, and a rival veteran kid actor, who sabotages all Marty's scenes. Marty's not sure he can adjust to life as a big star. In fact, being undead just might kill him.

NoQS Minion 2: POPCORN BRAIN, MG Contemporary

Genre: MG Contemporary
Word Count: 40,000

My Main Character’s Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Dodging the local scum, feeling queasy around girls, combating his teacher and her nasty breath—Royal can handle them all. But seeing his father’s self-destructive behavior and now questioning his own sanity, Royal fears if he doesn’t do something to prove his worth, something big, he will continue the legacy his dad has set. And not the good one of Royal’s earlier childhood which fills him with hope when he has nothing to eat, but the dark one that sucked his family into ruin.

Royal is scared to death he’ll become a loser.


Royal Crown knows he can get a bit … overzealous. Who can blame him? With numbers bouncing through his brain like a supercomputer, the boy is anything but calm. And when you factor in negligent parents who drag him from one run-down home to the next—acting “normal” isn’t always in the equation.

After moving yet again, Royal lands in Mrs. Snyder’s 5th grade class—a place brain cells go to die. Unable to see past Royal’s genius antics, Mrs. Snyder labels him as another troublemaker from a dysfunctional family and, with threats of suspension, steamrolls his mother into placing him on behavioral medication.

Humiliated that he has to take “the zombie pill” and eager to prove his worth, Royal enters Number Force, a national online math tournament, and blasts his way through the rankings. Yet, as the pressure mounts and the title dangles just within his reach, Royal discovers that playing the game is only part of his battle. Facing cheating accusations, elimination, and discrimination, Royal must decide to accept his lot in life and surrender quietly … or step up and fight back.


Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 75,000

My Main Character’s Most Fearsome Obstacle

Keira’s most fearsome obstacle is her own memory. She’s not sure she wants to find out who she used to be. If she really did kill three sorcerers, she’s content to live without her lost memories. But if she’s innocent, maybe she can clear her name and stop the real murderer before they kill again. It’s a big maybe, though, and nobody but her boyfriend Lochlan understands the real repercussions of her decision. He and Keira realize that if she gets her memories back, she might remember murdering Lochlan’s parents, and she can’t live with that.

Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Keira would trade her soul for a coffee IV. She hasn’t slept in ages, thanks to her constant nightmares. If only the dreams of blood-filled canals and burned villages were the stuff of adolescent fears, she’d be fine. But they’re memories of a forgotten past, and she might never be okay again.

Things only get worse when she stumbles across an oddly familiar book of spells in her attic and it opens a portal that pulls her into Fian, a world where time stands still under a powerful but unstable curse. Stranded, she can only sit back and watch as the curse literally tears the world – and her only hope of ever returning to Connecticut – apart.

After almost being sold into slavery with her only friend – a dog turned cute sorcerer, Lochlan – Keira escapes and learns the truth she’s been seeking: her identity, and the real reason behind her nightmares. She’s the princess of Edamar, missing for over fifty years. Unfortunately, she has little time to revel in her impeccable genes and lack of wrinkles. Turns out she’s also the suspect in the deaths of three people, and the most hated person in all of Fian.

But Keira knows she didn’t commit those murders, even if she did run away years ago. There must be another explanation for why she abandoned everyone she ever loved. With Lochlan’s help, it’s up to her to unlock her memories and shatter the curse before the land of Fian falls away into nothingness.

NoQS Minion 4: WIRED FOR WALL STREET, Women's Fiction

Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 100,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Adelaide Taggart’s terrified of the spotlight. That’s a big problem because she was born into a family of Mummers who live and die to strut down Broad Street on New Year’s – in the spotlight. In order to avoid exile from South Philly, every January 1st, she downs whiskey for courage, steps into a sequined costume that would make Mardi Gras masters jealous and tries to parade like she means it. And every year, while her family and friends party it up, Adelaide prays to the glitter gods that she won’t puke at the judges stand. 


South Philly: Home to cheesesteaks, big hair, and Adelaide Taggart – a feisty electrician who’s known as the best cat burglar in town. Trouble is her small-time gig won’t cover her big-time family medical bills. Adelaide needs cash fast and so she bluffs her way into a job at the richest investment bank in Philadelphia. After all, like Willie Sutton said, that’s where the money is.

When Adelaide lands her first deal with a Swiss conglomerate she thinks she’s made it – until she discovers the company in Geneva is a front. Even worse, her boss is willing to pay her $4 million to look the other way. Before Adelaide even decides if she’ll take it or leave it, the FBI comes knocking on her door.

Desperate for a way out, and stuck in Switzerland, Adelaide discovers the evidence she needs to clear her name is sitting in a vault as secure as Fort Knox and she can’t break in on her own. Enter Rusty Lang, Adelaide’s old partner. If any team can hack a world-class security perimeter, it’s them. As electricians they’ve built half a dozen but getting caught in Geneva means landing six feet under. Fear has both their heads spinning. Add in the sparks between them and neither one can think straight. And while no self respecting woman from South Philly would ever turn herself in, being behind bars beats an early grave and it’s time to weigh her options.   

NoQS Minion 5: CROSSING BRIELLE, YA Urban Fantasy

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 64,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Cross and Brielle's most fearsome obstacle is family. Abandoned at her slayer camp as a child, Cross has never known a real family until visiting Brielle's world. Brielle loves her family with all of herself and she'd do anything to protect them, even keeping the effects of her fantasy a secret. Discovering her dad faked his death so he could complete his evil plan of species annihilation broke not only Brielle, but Cross' heart too. But if they work together to survive his betrayal, they can build a new family joining both worlds forever.


Sixteen-year-old bookworm Brielle daydreams a fantasy world to escape life after her dad's death. As her doppelganger, Cross, she's killed deadly creatures and even the occasional Hoover vacuum. But when unexplained bruises appear on her body, she's terrified the fantasy isn't just in her mind.

Cross tries to hide strange visions of her other life as Brielle: nerdy teen girl living in a colorful world of dull happiness. Being a klutz won't cost Cross her job, but another vision will. Her shrink says it's her way of coping with slaying the humanoid beings known as moths and butterflies, but Cross has experienced enough to see through the lie.

After waking up in each other's' worlds, Brielle and Cross realize they're one in the same. Unsure what else to do, they live one another’s lives. Soon they’re tangled in a mystery involving the mythical bridge between their parallel universes and a handsome butterfly Cross was charged to kill.

The more they discover, the more it becomes clear: someone wants them both dead—and the butterfly is the only one who knows why. Now they must find out who’s trying to destroy them before the bridge comes crashing down.

CROSSING BRIELLE is a YA urban fantasy told in dual POV. It's complete at 64,000 words.

NoQS Minion 6: THE GIRLFRIEND REQUEST, YA Contemporary

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 69,000 

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle: Emma’s most fearsome obstacle is herself. Her fear of opening up causes her to weave a web of subterfuge and deceit that nearly costs her the very thing she values most—her best friend. And it doesn't help that it's totally embarrassing in the process. Being sixteen can sure be a nightmare sometimes, Freddy Krueger’s got nothing on high school. 


Sixteen-year-old Emma has been best friends with Eli since she moved to their neighborhood ten years ago. But she’s tired of being cast in the role of the girl next door. Determined to push their relationship beyond the friend zone, Emma creates a fake online profile in the hope of luring Eli in and writing her own happily ever after.  With one click, she takes destiny into her own hands. 

When Eli takes the bait, Emma decides to reel him in by convincing super sweet college guy Jake to pretend to date her. After all, you always want what you can’t have. But when Emma’s cover is blown, she finds herself facing a decision she never thought possible.  Eli’s actually got feelings for her – the real her – and so does Jake. All Emma wanted was her first kiss with the guy of her dreams, but now she's no longer sure who he is. 

Emma must search her heart to find out if she trusts that Eli wasn't just swayed by the new, shiny girl she showed him through the fake profile, or decide if it’s time she wrote a different ending to her fairytale, one without the boy next door.

NoQS Minion 7: THE WHITE LEHUA, YA Mystery

Genre: YA Mystery
Word Count: 75,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Dr. Stephanie Hanley, M.D., MFCC
New Patient Survey
Patient Name: Claire Wells
Age: 16

What is your greatest fear?
It would probably save time if I said dead people, or funerals, or cops showing up in the middle of the night. But what scares the hell out of me is bugs. Not spiders or whatever. Sure, we’ve got spiders on the island. Spiders as big as your head. But I’m taking about bugs in your code. You know, syntax stuff the compiler won’t catch. And your program will run fine. For a while. But then it will become unpredictable. Unstable. And you’ll have to debug it, which is hard, because the code looks alright. Think bugs aren’t scary? Ask the guys at NASA about the Mars Climate Rover.


Half-Hawaiian teen Claire Wells spends each summer in the tiny town of Na’Alehu on the southern-most tip of the Big Island. To a tourist, it's paradise.  But for Claire, it means even more. The visits bring her close to her archaeologist grandfather, a professor of Polynesian studies and a master storyteller.

During the rainy season, power outages are common at Hale Moana, their remote, hilltop home. But this time, her grandfather heads out to start the backup generator and doesn’t come back.

When his body is found the next day, floating in Kealakekua Bay, the police say it’s an accident. Claire is convinced otherwise while the rest of the town is convinced she’s crazy.

From a chance encounter at the local diner, Claire stumbles upon her grandfather’s investigation of a mysterious academic research group known as the Cook Monument Foundation. All those years spent as the only girl in Linux Users’ Group finally pay off and Claire puts her hacker skills to work.  Breaking into The Foundation’s computer system, she learns the researchers’ real project is murder.

As Claire pieces the clues together, she unearths the cult behind the group, a bizarre sect dedicated to an ancient ritual of immortality. And just when Claire thinks it can't get any darker, she realizes the groups wants her own blood to complete their human sacrifice.

But it's not all grim. Claire gets a little help from sexy smartass, Sam L’ia, a tough Hawaiian who pledges to protect her. Together, they race to follow up on the clues her grandfather left behind. If they can’t find a way to stop the Foundation, they won’t live long enough to go on a real date.

NoQS Minion 8: THE TROLL DIARIES, MG Fantasy

Genre: Upper MG Fantasy
Word Count: 51,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle: 
River's most fearsome obstacle? Basically the entire forest, because everything in it is trying to kill, eat, maim, or generally annoy him... except for the mushrooms. He has to survive a vengeful troll cousin who would like him dead, fanged fairies that want him turned to stone, hungry goblins that love troll-on-a-stick, and giant Venus Firefly traps that will eat anyone and everything they can get their toothy petals around. And then there’s the massive sleeping dragon that could destroy them all.

Twelve-year-old River is a veggie-loving troll whom some have even dared to call… symmetrical. He spends his days dodging rabid forest gnomes, avoiding the deadly sunlight (because really, who wants to turn to stone?), and trying not to disappoint his father, the mighty bone-bread-loving Troll King.

When fairies threaten the troll border, River is entrusted with a dangerous spy mission, finally giving him the chance to make his father proud. Too bad he gets caught in a fairy trap. By a fairy girl. Instead of a slow death, she gives River the painful truth at the point of a sparkly dagger: he isn’t a troll. He’s a fairy. Unfortunately, that places him at the top of his family’s dinner menu (and he thought being a misfit was bad).

River finds unexpected acceptance in the fairy kingdom, along with a heritage of magic. Still, part of him longs for home, and he searches out the fairies’ secrets, becoming the spy his father always wanted. When he discovers the source of their wealth and magic—a dragon hidden deep beneath the kingdom—he faces a difficult decision: betray his new friends in order to help his family and please his father, or turn his back on the only family he’s ever known and keep from everyone his knowledge of the fiery beast that could obliterate them.  

NoQS Minion 9: POISON APPLES, YA cont with Magical Realism

Genre: YA contemporary with magical realism
Word count: 68,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

For Bianca Snow, the truth is the Grand Canyon of obstacles—terrifying, and almost impossible to avoid. Snow can’t let her classmates notice the animals that follow her everywhere—school included. It’s not like Doctor DoLittle got a date to the prom. 


Sixteen-year old Bianca Snow has a hot boyfriend, a thriving social life and a pesky habit of attracting wildlife that’s poised to ruin everything. The clusters of animals that follow her everywhere might be cute in animation—in high school, they’re humiliating. 

When an affectionate family of opossums overtly trails Snow during a class camping trip, her embarrassed boyfriend dumps her and her social status plunges. Vowing to escape the social exile that follows, Snow enters the high school talent show, sure her beautiful singing voice can distract the school—and her ex—from her less conventional talent. But when the show brings her close to Will DeMarche, a kind and handsome cello-playing senior, Snow wishes her voice could win Will instead.

Then Will’s youngest brother goes missing. If Snow keeps quiet, she can win the talent show and her old life back. Or she can ask the animals to find the little boy, and prove to the school—and Will—she’s exactly the freak they imagine.  

NoQS Minion 10: LIFE AFTER REDBY, Adult Thriller/Horror

Genre: Adult Thriller/Horror
Word Count: 74,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Cassandra's most fearsome obstacle is overcoming her insanity.  It is, initially, what she wants most in the world, but when she discovers that being sane means losing the voices in her head, the cost becomes too high.  Besides, her best friends would never forgive her if she off'ed them a second time.


You die.

You get back up.

You do it all over again.

In the town of Redby, zombies weren't the enemy. They were just one step in a never-ending cycle. Die, become a zombie, get a needle full of nanotech and live to die once more.  Immortality.  Or the next worse thing, at least.  But that was how life went in Redby, otherwise known as Zombie Hell on Earth.

Now Redby is no more.  The unfortunate participants in the zombie experiment are free and mortal again.  Including Cassandra Saratores, former soldier turned zombie hunter (and sometimes zombie).  After a decade spent in Redby, caught in the endless cycle of death and resurrection, Cass is scarred inside and out.  Now she spends her days trapped in a mental hospital, reminiscing on life as one of the undead.

Ten years in Hell changes a person.

When news arrives that Almesa, the company responsible for the zombie virus and its cure, isn't as dead as they were rumored to be, Cass has to make a choice: Remain in the hospital and work toward a normal life, or suck it up and reclaim her mantle of the last zombie hunter?  If Almesa's plans succeed, the world is going to need as many hunters as it can get.


Genre: MG Light Sci-Fi
Word Count: 75,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Despite spending most of her time hanging out with video game addicts and online villains, Jane's biggest fear has always been her parents. Oh, they're not cruel or hateful, or anything like that. But they won't rest until they see their daughter change from a shy, ordinary girl to... something extraordinary. When Jane was a child, they terrorized her with blue hair dye, live exotic animals and unwanted piano lessons. As a teenager, they're taking her out of her comfortable private school and throwing her into the horrors of public school. And that's plenty scary.


Fifteen-year-old Jane Hale has two hundred and eighty three days left to do something extraordinary, or she’ll need to find herself a new set of parents. She doesn't have to save the world or anything, mind you, but if she doesn't give the Hales at least one interesting story to share with their relatives, they’re cutting their losses and trading her in for a less-boring daughter.

Luckily for Jane, "interesting" is what her new friend Billy does best. He’s an awkward hug away from admitting he’s her boyfriend; unfortunately, he’s also addicted to a virtual reality world that’s being terrorized by a villain run amok. It’s simple, really; all Jane has to do is infiltrate the virtual world as Billy's spy, to help him apprehend the fiend. In exchange, Billy promises a much-needed new identity.

Things get considerably less simple when Jane fails in her task . . . and accidentally starts a virtual war in the process. She needs Billy’s help to set things straight, which is rather inconvenient, as he’s managed to disappear from both worlds when things are at their worst. Desperate, Jane must go offline, teaming up with the hated villain on an international mission to bring Billy home. Along the way, they discover a chilling secret about the virtual world she’s come to love. 

And she’ll have just one chance to rescue her boyfriend, save her world, and figure out if being ordinary is really so bad after all. 

NoQS Minion 12: DEAD INDEED, MG Horror Mystery

Genre: MG Horror Mystery
Word Count: 51,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:
Tiffany Hart is afraid of pretty much everything—hence ‘the clapper’ for her bedroom lights. But at school she has it all together; the looks, the clothes, the grades. And as long as she keeps faking it, she’s going to nail the seventh grade presidential elections.

Then the ghosts appear.

Half crazy and totally sleep-deprived, she commits social suicide by enlisting the help of the school outcast. As if ghosts and unpopularity weren’t scary enough, the two kids find themselves behind an old orphanage where a demonic headmistress guards thirty tiny graves.

Freakiest. Chica. Ever.


Tiffany Hart expected seventh grade to be the year she became popular, not a ghost-seer.

She’s determined to be class president at any cost until a near death experience bestows Tiffany with a gift she doesn’t want. Now three small spirit children cling to her, disrupting everything she holds sacred (like her Michael Jackson mugs and sleeping,) and making her look like a freak show in front of her classmates. The only person who can help is her neighbor and the weirdest boy at school, Justin Henderson, a.k.a. The Casper Kid.

Justin has seen ghosts since he was nine, a creepy claim that has earned him the privilege of eating lunch by himself for years. When his long-time crush, Tiffany, begs his help with her ghoulish problem, he’s there in the click of an electromagnetic field detector.

But nothing’s ever as easy as it is on Scooby Doo.

Tiffany and Justin begin to unravel a mystery filled with murder, orphans, plagues, and skeletons that leads them to a backyard burial ground. The only thing standing between Tiffany and normalcy is the dark-hearted apparition who guards the graves and isn’t afraid of hurting children, dead or alive. In order to survive they must face their own demons first. For Tiffany, it’s her pride. For Justin, it’s far more literal.

NoQS Minion 13: SEABOUND, YA Fantasy

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 65,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

Zoe is trapped on an ocean liner being hunted by killers, which doesn't make sleeping at night any easier. But worse, somehow, is the fact that even if she survives, she'll always be in danger, because she'll always be someone her society treats as worthless. She's a poor servant girl from an ethnic minority (her secret attraction to girls doesn't help, either), and she’ll never be able to break out of those confines. 

Sixteen-year-old Zoe is washing dishes aboard the magic-powered ocean liner she calls home when the sickness hits. Within a day, the passengers and crew are dying of a mysterious plague, and the ship is stranded. 

Zoe thinks she's the only survivor--until she discovers the voyage's VIP passenger healthy and holed up in a cabin. Princess Savanna is scared of herself and everything else on the dying ship, thanks to unstable magical powers that force her to absorb others' fear. Those powers could kill Zoe if they spiral out of control, but she can't dwell on it as she helps her very important companion avoid infection. It's what any good servant would do, but the closer they get, the less distinctions like "servant" and "royal" seem to matter.

Until they find out the sickness wasn’t an accident. The people behind the attack are still on board, and they're creeping through the ship deck by deck, murdering the victims to steal the magic from their bodies. The one they want most is the princess rumored to be overflowing with power, and anyone who tries to stop them is a target. Especially an expendable dishwasher girl. 

If Zoe wants to make it out alive, she'll have to choose between herself and the girl she's starting to love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Getting the Call with Heather Van Fleet

For everyone suffering through the doubt and disappointment of not making an internet contest, hold your chin up. Keep pushing on. Hold the faith. Here's some words of wisdom for you from Heather.

Three years ago, if someone would've told me I'd be writing this blog post, then I probably would've laughed in their faces before calling them insane. I mean, seriously. I was Heather: The two-spaces-after-a-period, girl. The girl who didn't believe in the power of awesome dialogue. The girl who head hopped and wrote in first person present tense, with two points of view that sounded IDENTICAL to one another. *GASP* I know. I. Know.

But now, here I sit at my kitchen table, typing this blog through my happy tears, wanting nothing more than to hug my past self. And this is exactly what'd I'd say, too...

You'll get better, just keep writing. Don't stop, no matter the icky hand you're dealt. No matter if you've encountered three failed publishing houses (one in which stole all your royalties from your debut book.) Your skin will thicken over time, and those bad reviews are just opinions. People WILL buy your books. People WILL fan girl over Jack and Mason and David. Those three nights a week Starbucks trips and the 25 extra pounds you've put on? It'll all be worth it in the end, too, so quit your crying. Quit thinking you've failed because your first book didn't draw the agent love like you'd hoped. Quit saying you're going to give up because the fifty million Twitter contests you entered never went in your favor. And lastly, that idea in your head? The one about the single daddy and the half-Filipino girl? Put it aside, finish it later. Because THAT will be your book.

Through all of my crazy ups and downs, my heartbreak and tears, too, I am ridiculously ecstatic to announce that I. Have. An agent. A fabulous agent at that.

The agent that I accepted the offer from was actually not my first offer. In fact, my first offer was sent to me on September 22nd by a very nice agent with whom I'd submitted to over the summer. I was super happy with her. She said all the right things on the phone, was extremely professional and made me feel like I'd be a very welcome part of their literary home. I was set to say yes, had emailed a lot of other authors repped by her, too. All of which had very positive things to say. But I knew I had quite a few queries out still, (even a couple of fulls) so I did what was right: told her I'd like two weeks to think it over. That way I could contact the other agents first to be courteous.

So imagine my surprise when I sent off those emails and immediately had some responses. A few were very nice step asides, and then there were four of them that said they would definitely like to read the full and would get back to me by my date. I nodded to myself, and said 'Hey, that's cool."  But I was honestly thinking I had my mind made up already.

But then it happened. A week and a half later I received an email from an agent...one of my DREAM agents, mind you. I'd been following her for months now on Twitter, always thinking to myself "Now this lady knows her stuff." I admired her deeply, her work ethics, and her straight forwardness. Heck, as far as amazing goes, she was that, and then some. She'd had my full for a month and a half already, (give or take a few days) so I was ready for the big R. *shivers* Heck, at first I didn't even want to open her email because my four year old had just used black nail polish to decorate her My Little Ponies and the mess. Was. Horrific. But then I said, "Eh, why not add a little more yuck to my day all at once and open it? Get it over with so to speak."

So I did.

And then I blinked. Fifty times in a row. (well, kinda, sorta...) Because right there in the very email I was sure said thanks, but no thanks, was something entirely different. She said she loved my new adult story, and wanted to see if I'd like to be represented by DLG

Needless to say the fingernail polish was long forgotten because heck, nothing at this point could bring me down. Seriously. Two agents wanted ME? Was I dreaming? I mean, I had to be. But, like all things in publishing, I had to wait until my given due date to email my Y-E-S because I still hadn't heard from the other two agents reading my full.

I figured I 'd be okay waiting, because heck...I'd been waiting for so long as it was. I had a book releasing, too, and blog tours to prepare for. Not to mention a 13 year wedding anniversary to celebrate, and books to review for my blog. I could totally handle this. Totally.

But, hey...reality and thoughts are two entirely different things, lemme tell ya. Heck, if it weren't for some very important writerly friends in my life, I probably would've gone insane during my wait. But I didn't. And I made it. And the day I hit send on that acceptance email to Stacey Donaghy of DLG Literary I knew that wait had definitely been worth it.

Publishing is hard. (Possibly harder than child birth and parenting, but that debate is still being had) But now I can breathe knowing I finally have someone in my corner to support me; that loves my work like I do.

There are four people I need to credit first for giving me the strength to get through this whole process.

1. The amazing Katrina Emmel. My CP. My friend. My confidant. The one person who helped me pretty The Imperfect Try up enough to garner agent attention at all. She's amazing, and one of THE best things that's ever happened to me.

2. Karen Bynum is quite possibly the best cheerleader in the world. She's been with me since the beginning. Heck, she's the one who encouraged me to find an agent in the first place. (Even if she never outright said so.) She's a girl who can make even the darkest days seem sunny.

3. Angela McPherson. One of my first authorly friends. She's IS the best friend a girl can have, even though she lives so terribly far away.

4. Finally, Kathleen Palm. Gah!! I have't known her for too long, but dang it, she's amazing. Always making me laugh through my tears. Always giving me Twitter hugs and sending me happy thoughts. I love this girl. SO much.

Okay, enough with the mush. I'm done crying. I'm, in fact, ready to party!!! (In my sweats, with my adult beverage in hand, of course.) 

Because I'm officially agented.

By Stacey Donaghy.

Holy. Crap.


Young adult and new adult author Heather Van Fleet lives in a small town on the Iowa/Illinois border. She’s a wife to her hubby and high school sweet heart, Chris, as well as a mom to her three little girls, Kelsey, Emma and Bella. When she’s not obsessing over her fictional book characters, cooking dinner, or running around chasing her crazy kiddos, you can usually find her with her head stuck in her Kindle, sucking down White Chocolate Mochas like they're water.


Website: www.heathervanfleet.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

NoQS Michelle's Minions

It's always tough to limit yourself. It's going to come down to subjective opinion. Often, the entries I picked struck a cord with me. 

So many entries were fantastic, yet not quite right for me. Some might have been darker than I prefer. Some might have been too serious. I'm sad I can only take thirteen.

That is why contests are more for meeting people and learning about writing than just getting before agents.

Hugs to all of you, and I hope no one goes away too disappointed. Everyone is a winner for putting your work out there and facing down the fear of rejection. The greatest fear is not trying. 

You're all honorary Michelle's Minions!

Be sure to check Mike's blog and SC's blog for their picks. 

So it's time to celebrate my official minions! Dance. Congratulate. Be happy for others, knowing they also support you.

In no particular order:

Crossing Brielle
The White Lehua
Life After Redby
Popcorn Brain
I'm Not a Zombie But I Play One on TV
Princess Not So Charming
Dead Indeed
The Girlfriend Request
Wired for Wall Street
The Troll Diaries
The Girl Who Was Ordinary, Until She Wasn't
Poison Apples

New minions, keep an eye on your inbox. Mentors will be contacting you through the email you used to enter the contest. If that's not your actual email because a friend mailed yours in, you'd better let me know. Each entry will get one mentor assigned to them.

Please return your revised entry using the same format to the contest email by midnight on October 25th.  We need that time to swat down unruly formatting and create the posts before the agent round. Please do not be late. We will go live without you.

Come back on October 28th to see the agents Shriek, Scream and Shiver! 

Commas with Interjections and Direct Address

Commas. Just when you think you've found where they all belong, there's another rule to confuse things.

Most people seem to know about using commas in a list (the Oxford comma), or including commas before conjunctions (or, but, and, so, if) connecting two independent clauses. But you also need commas when your sentence directly addresses someone or contains an interjection.

Some examples.

"Look out for that giant boulder, Rodger!"
"Rodger, look out for that giant boulder!"

Assuming the speaker took the time to say all this, they are directly addressing the soon-to-be-squished Rodger. A comma is needed before or after his name depending on the location of the name. Also notice that the people or person being addressed don't have to be called by name. A comma is still required even if the object isn't named.

"Everyone, look out for that giant boulder!"
"Look out for the giant boulder, everyone!"

"I love you, my little squishy face."
Butt head, that's my toe you're standing on." 

"Rodger never gets squished by boulders at home."

Conversely, here the speaker is only talking about Rodger, not to him, so no commas are needed.

"Geez, Mom, you're embarrassing me."

This sentence has two reasons for commas. First, you have an interjection that requires a comma and second this sentence is addressing someone. When the person being addressed is in the center of a sentence, they are offset by commas.

"Cool beans, Rodger, on becoming the next Flat Stanley."

An interjection is an add-on to the front, middle, or end of a sentence used to exclaim, protest, or command. Depending on how strong the exclaimation, it may or may not be its own sentence.

"Gee, that's swell."
"Hooray! That's swell!"
"Shit, Rodger was squished by a boulder."
"Oh, it got my toe too!"
"Ow! It got my toe too!"
"Being flat may be useful, but it's hard to kiss that way, isn't it?"
"Yes, I'm going to Rodger's funeral."
"Rodger should have listened to me, right?"
"Indeed, that was a bad day for Rodger."
"Well, he's at peace now."

Interjections can be a great way to break up your sentence structure and avoid monotony. Addressing characters in your sentences can help avoid confusion when multiple speakers are involved. Just remember the commas!

Now for the fun! Got any examples of your own? Keep them PG, please.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Query Questions with Jen Karsbaek

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.


Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.

While you're waiting on the results for Nightmare on Query Street, what better substitute than an interview with one of the agents? Jen Karsbaek is here from the newly renamed Fuse Literary Agency

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
We typically close to queries in December, but otherwise have at it! If things are busy when you query it may take me a bit longer to get to you, but if you wait you’re just going to be further down the list when I do get back to queries.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
I generally look at the sample pages, but if a query is particularly weak and/or is not strong and not in a genre I typically represent I will skip the sample pages.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
My assistant primarily helps me prioritize full manuscripts and gives a second eye for editing, I currently look at all of my queries myself.

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?
The sample pages should start where your story starts. If you feel the manuscript is better served by starting the sample pages after the prologue that should probably tell you something about your prologue.

Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?
If I see a query that I think someone else in my agency would like I will tell the writer to query that other agent. You can always query more than one Fuse agent, as long as you only query one at a time.

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?
Word count is not necessarily a red flag, but I do want to see it. Not including the genre of your work usually is a red flag, though. Often it makes it appear that you don’t know what the genre is.

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?
There’s a decent chance your title will get changed, but you should still sweat it. A really good (or really bad) title will sometimes have me skipping straight to your query from my query box.

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?
Those are totally fine in an email signature. Great, even, because if I am considering offering representation then you’ve given me more of the information I need to make that decision. Honestly, I think you can even include one or two links in the last line of your bio in your query “I blog about XYZ at www.myblog.com.”

If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested?
Only if the material was requested.

 What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?
Whether or not you have publishing credits I want your bio to tell me why you are the person to write this book.
Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
I am fairly editorial, although I like to start with things that are relatively polished to begin with.

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
A fresh story with flappers, preferably set in Chicago; an amazing book club read; books with GLBTQ characters.


Jen Karsbaek joined first Larsen Pomada Literary Agency, then Fuse Literary Agency in 2013.
Jen is aggressively looking to build her list with women’s fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, historical fiction, and literary fiction. She looks for books with particularly well-developed characters and strong authorial voice. In historical in particular she is interested in books that bring the setting to life and maintain balance between historical accuracy and strong plot choices. She is also interested in mystery, fantasy, and occasionally romance approaches to any of the genres listed above. She is not looking for YA or anything that is primarily fantasy, romance, or science fiction.