Friday, February 27, 2015

Mini-Contest Coming

Not much information yet, but I have a mini-contest coming in March. So far five six agents are signed up. Looks like the submission will be March 16th. Stop by for all the details on Monday.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Getting the Call with Wade Albert White

Success stories for MG writers continues this week. Congrats to Wade! He was our MG Grand Champion from Query Kombat last year and I couldn't be happier to share his story! I won't hold you up. Get to reading this hilarious story from Wade! 

Once upon a time dinosaurs roamed the Earth. None of them wrote a novel for me, so I yet again found myself picking up their slack (don’t even get me started on the whole “a giant asteroid killed us and that’s why we can’t mow your lawn” excuse).

Although I made several attempts at writing a book over the years, and even sold a few short stories, it wasn’t until April of 2013 that I sat down to my computer with real purpose. That purpose was to defeat XCOM: Enemy Unknown. After finishing the game, I figured, hey, why not write a novel too. You know, since I was already sitting there.

About that same time, I came across a contest called “The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction,” run by the Authoress. The entry deadline was in November, over half a year away. I decided I was going to enter, because there’s nothing quite like setting a fire under your feet to make you type faster (SIDE NOTE: setting an actual fire under your feet does not make you type faster, but it does broaden your vocabulary considerably).

Long story slightly less long, I completed the novel (three drafts) and made the entry deadline (happy face). Even better, my entry was accepted into the contest (happy face with exclamation mark!). And on auction day it received multiple bids (exclamation point bonanza!!!).

Then all but one of the agents passed on it (sad face with ampersand). The one agent remained silent, so I began querying.

Five months and seventy plus query letters later…

In May of 2014 I came across another contest called Query Kombat. By this time I had received several requests for the full manuscript, but since I had no idea whether or not they would lead to anything (and since that one MSFV agent was still running silent), I decided to enter. Much to my surprise, I got in, won the Middle Grade category (!), and walked away with several more requests for material (happy face again!).

Shortly after the contest I also received an email from an agency I had queried through regular channels. They really liked the writing and the overall premise, but felt the manuscript needed more work. After a very pleasant phone call and several pages of revise and resubmit notes, I set to work.

Another eight weeks of gut-wrenching editing later...

I sat in the glaring brilliance of my revision (until I adjusted the brightness level on my monitor because, wow, was it ever high).

I sent the revision off to the agency and also to two QK agents who had requested the full manuscript in the meantime. A week later I had an offer of representation (from one of the QK agents). A few days later I had three more offers (including the other QK agent, the silent MSFV agent who requested the revision once I informed her of its existence, and the agency that had issued the R&R).

Holy revisions, Batman, I was on fire!

(please see the aforementioned remark regarding being on fire to appreciate the full implications)

At the risk of mixing both metaphors and comic book universes, my spider senses were definitely tingling (although I hear they have an ointment for that now).

This was the point where panic set in. Or nervousness. Or whatever. We set up phone calls. I may have rambled (= I definitely rambled). All of the agents were fantastic. More than fantastic. Each in their own way, and each with slightly different thoughts about how to proceed and what parts of the novel still needed tweaking, but I could easily envision myself working with any one of them.

So at this point I tried to figure out how I might be able to work with four agents at the same time. You’re allowed to do that, right? I mean, how could I possibly choose?

In the end though, for me it came down to this: everyone was super enthusiastic about the novel, but specifically about this revision. The revision that I had done based on notes. Notes I’d received from one of the four offering agencies. Revisions that had helped me take a book that was receiving interested but polite passes to one that was now in demand. All of the offers were tempting, no question, but in the end I just couldn’t pass on what in my mind had already proven itself to be a winning combination.

So in October of 2014 I officially signed with the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency and couldn’t be happier (although the contract explicitly states that they won’t be mowing my lawn either *sigh*).


Wade hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, land of wild blueberries and Duck Tolling Retrievers. He teaches ancient Hebrew, dabbles in animation, and spends the rest of his time as a stay-at-home dad. It is also possible he has set a new record as the slowest 10K runner. Ever. He owns one pretend cat and one real one and they get along fabulously. He has been writing speculative fiction for over thirteen years and is now represented by Elizabeth Kaplan of the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency.

If he could only bring three series to read on deserted island, it would be the three Hs: Harry Potter, Hellboy, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Oh, and just for the record, Firefly should have had a seven season run. No question.

You can follow Wade on twitter @wadealbertwhite or check out his website. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Query Questions with Jackie Lindert

Note: Jackie is no longer an agent. 

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.

The series continues with the very gracious Jackie Lindert, Literary Assistant from New Leaf Literary

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
Not really. Time of year doesn’t really come into play as much one might think. Our whole office somehow manages to be super human—balancing projects, current clients, and queries every day. Query away!

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?

One? No. A ton? Maybe. But if the hook grabs me, I’ll forget any typos—though proofreading your queries to prevent the need to “look past” the errors would be an excellent idea.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?

There could be a diamond in that rough! I always look at the sample pages. The stronger the query, the better, but sometimes queries are just not a writer’s strength.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?

I am an assistant, currently. I do go through the agents’ queries at New Leaf, but they look at everything that comes in, too. I just help with the reading of all those manuscripts. Suzie Townsend, who is a rockstar, will tell you it’s beneficial to have eager assistants get the first view of your query—we tend to be more forgiving and likely to fear that we’re missing some hidden gem of a writer, and if we tell an agent, “Omg I love this manuscript. You have to read it!” they take our opinions very seriously.

Do you keep a maybe pile of queries and go back to them for a second look?

Not really. I’ll either request the full manuscript or pass when I’m going through them.

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?

I’d say it depends on the project. I leave that to the writer, who knows their work best, to decide if it should be included.

How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query?

Here’s the thing: I love comp titles. Give me books, movies, TV shows, or elements from any of them—I love it! Another thing: If you don’t include comps, and I love the query/sample pages, I’ll forget you didn’t include comps. J

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?

In-house, we know each other well enough to know pretty quickly if there is someone better for a project, so we trade queries if it’s in the best interest of the author. A couple of the agents have also passed queries along to agent friends outside of New Leaf as well.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?

I’m not a fan of chit-chat, personally. That’s not to be confused with telling me about yourself. I do want to know about the author, but lines like, “How are you?” “Is your cat feeling better (I saw you tweeted that he was sick)?” range from unnecessary to creepy. We can get to know each other and chit chat further down the line.

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?

If the query jumps right into the story, as long as it’s clear what I’m looking at, I don’t need that to be repeated. Example: “the spaceship was spinning wildly out of control. Who let a 16 year old fly this thing, anyway?” Doesn’t need to be followed up with “YA Sci-fi”. A lot of people follow a formula that includes this info, so it’s really ok either way. If it isn’t obvious, though, I’d definitely want a writer to include what genre it is.

Word count is a plus, but again, not vital. I’ll see the numbers if I request the full manuscript. As you can maybe tell by now, I don’t have much of a “red flag” attitude.

Writers hear a lot about limiting the number of named characters in a query. Do you feel keeping named characters to a certain number makes for a clearer query?

I do. That’s great advice. If I’m confused about who is who before I even start reading sample pages, that’s a bad sign.

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?

Don’t sweat it. Don’t get me wrong, a clever, funny, or unique title might grab my attention, but I would never judge a manuscript based on title alone, and that’s always something that can be discussed between author and agent. Same with character names.

I can’t see a publisher changing a title or character names without getting approval from the author (this is why contracts are important!).

How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?

I don’t receive many of my own queries yet, but New Leaf agents get a couple hundred, collectively. They’ll request 1-3 (each) of those every week, on average. There are always some weeks that are better than others in terms of request rates.

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?

If your story or your writing blows me away, it makes no difference (except I’ll be sad I can’t tweet at you). However, readers care—they want to see and communicate with authors. It’s a great way to gain a following. We recommend picking a social platform that best suits an author and what they want their image as a professional to be, and working on that. Sometimes, it’s just not in the cards, though, which is still fine, in my book.

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?

If your blog has an impressive following, or you have a website that shows you’ve been featured in smaller publications, or just shows off you and your hobbies, that’s great! Include your Twitter handle, too—that’s what signatures are for now, right? Let me creep on your Twitter to get a sense of who you are beyond what I get from your query. Just make sure you haven’t tweeted something like, “All agents are lame.” 

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

For me, I’d say only if material was requested, and even then, only if the changes are significant. If you are making changes after I’ve requested your work, let me know right away so I don’t take the time to read the non-updated draft. I’ll read it when you’re finished.

 What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?

Show your personality. What are your hobbies? Do you have a family? A day job? Where are you from? A few lines about who you are is important to me. If you’re funny, sweet, or talented, show me that. I’m considering entering into a long-term relationship with you—who are you? Humanize yourself.

What does ‘just not right mean for me’ mean to you?

If I say that, I mean that either the themes or the characters in your manuscript didn’t fit my taste. Publishing is a very subjective industry, which can be disappointing, but it means there is always a possibility that it’s exactly someone else’s jam.

What themes are you sick of seeing?

Damsels in distress. Correction: Damsels in distress who need a man to rescue them. Other than that, I don’t rule anything out if the voice feels fresh and different.

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?

Yes. I wanted to work in editorial, originally, until I found out some agencies are taking on those roles (woo!). I’m lucky to be at New Leaf where everyone is careful and thorough. We all make sure submissions go out in the best possible shape.

What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve seen in a query?

Hmm. Someone once prefaced their query by mentioning they hoped God would smite me if I passed on their query. That person is not my client, so obviously I live in a state of constant fear, but so far, so good.

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?

I’m not good at being specific. I just want to be wow’d. Floor me with excellent writing. The three areas I’m looking to build my own list in are YA (all subgenres), adult upmarket fiction, and literary MG.

What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 

My movie tastes are totally different from my book tastes, so I’ll stick with books!

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelseon
MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold
GRACELING by Kristin Cashore
RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

And probably plenty more that I’m forgetting about. 

Jackie earned her degree in English in her home state of Wisconsin. After college, she trekked to Colorado to attend the Denver Publishing Institute, eventually landing an internship in NYC with New Leaf Literary & Media. Following the internship, she found a job with the publishing house formerly known as Penguin Group as a Subsidiary Rights assistant. One year later she finds herself back at New Leaf as an assistant handling client care, mailings, and best of all, reading manuscripts.

Fun Facts: She grew up in the Water Park Capital of the World and has a cat named Humphrey Bogart.
Follow her on twitter or  pinterest!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting the Call with Kendra Young

Whoo for MG writers! I love it when good things happen to nice people! I had the honor of reading part of Oliver's Ghost Machine during Pitchwars and it has such an outstanding voice. It caught the eye of many mentors. Best of luck on submission, Kendra, and hoping for more great things down the line!

Like most writers I always imagined what it would be like to get that blessed email from an agent asking if they'd like to set up a time to talk. But never in all my daydreams did I once see myself waiting on meatloaf to finish baking when the email came. Not my savory rosemary chicken with balsamic vinegar drizzle that makes mouths water, or even my ooey gooey lasagna that drips cheese from one end of the table to another.
Nope. My story involves meatloaf.
But before I go into exactly what happened while I was waiting on my meatloaf, I suppose I should back up and tell you a bit about the manuscript that caught my agent’s eye.
First, I should probably tell you that Oliver's Ghost Machine wasn't my first completed manuscript. I began querying my first manuscript, A Girl Called Graye, in December 2013. I sent out over 60 queries for Graye’s story and garnered a few full requests, but no offers of representation. In the meantime, I finished Oliver’s story and started polishing it up. I can honestly say I didn’t feel the agony some writers do when I switched my querying attention from Graye’s story to Oliver’s. In fact, it was quite the opposite. While I loved Graye’s story (and still do) I knew Oliver’s story was the stronger of the two manuscripts and was anxious to see how it would fare in the query trenches.
I began querying Oliver’s story in May 2014, about the same time I discovered online writing contests. Each contest I entered resulted in some level of revision to Oliver’s story and query letter. Requests began to pour in, followed by waves of rejection. And then there was this one agent who kept catching my eye, but I always seemed to get interrupted every time I’d try to query her. One evening I decided I wasn’t moving from my desk until I’d queried this particular agent.
A quick review of her online interviews led me to Michelle’s blog, where agent wonderful mentioned historical fantasies and family secrets at the top of her submission wish list. Of course, this bit of personalization went straight into my query letter.
The very next day I received her request for the full. I hooted, or fist pumped, or something, and happily sent it off.
Eleven days later I was cooking meatloaf for dinner. It needed a few more minutes, so I decided to check my email and there it was. Taylor Haggerty had finished reading and wanted to talk! TO ME.
I screamed so loudly my husband and daughter thought I'd been injured and came running into the living room. They said it was when my second scream split the sound barrier that they suspected what might be going on.
The fact that I was half-hyperventilating while holding up my laptop saying, "Agent! Wants TALK!" or something like that might have also clued them in a bit.
A few more emails exchanged and we set up the time for the following day. I can honestly say I wasn't prepared for how enthusiastic she was about my work. She also answered almost all of my questions before I asked them.
Then came the worst part. Notifying all the other agents who had my manuscript or who had been recently queried--and waiting
No matter how many grueling questions I asked myself about the other possible agents, I kept circling back to Taylor. She was everything I'd hoped to find in an agent. Enthusiastic, great industry connections both with editors and other agents, a well-respected agency, and she was open to my other works--all the ingredients I'd hoped for to create a career-long agent/writer relationship. Did I mention her enthusiasm? It was all I could do not to email the other agents and say, "Thanks for considering, but I really feel like Taylor is the best fit for me and my work." I didn't do it, but I really wanted to (and there are a couple of critique partners and Pitch Wars mentors who can testify to this, since they were the ones who talked me off that particular ledge). Anyway, you already know how this part of the story ends, since I'm now represented by Taylor Haggerty of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency, so I'll stop babbling now!

Kendra lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband, Tim, who’s responsible for making her believe all her writing dreams will come true, and their amazing daughters, Savannah and Tabitha. Fueled by caffeine and a macabre sense of humor, her love of all things abnormal comes out in her writing. If it has fangs or goes bump in the night, she’s writing about it.

By day, Kendra teaches seventh grade science in an urban middle school where she shares her love of writing and dreaming “big dreams” with her students. She’s even been known to dress in costume for “Interview with a Dead Scientist Day.” Characters and costumes with a touch of creepy—it’s all the same right?

Kendra is represented by Taylor Haggerty of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.
You can follow Kendra’s writing adventures on her blog, AccidentalWriter, or on Twitter @KendraLYoung.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Valuable Links: Blog Blitz

Here's a great helping hand for your blog from DL Hammons. Want to get your blog visited by a ton of new people? Join this group.

The Blog Blitz picks someone almost every week to visit and blitz, leaving a blizzard of comments.

You'll have to wait for your turn and visit the other blogs being blitzed, but who knows you may find valuable sources of information or entertainment. Plus it's just plain fun to gang up on a blog and leave a hundred comments.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting the Call with Marty Mayberry

I remember Marty's entry from last year's Sun versus Snow so clearly! The voice knocked my socks off and I'm so glad this story will go to submission. Congrats again, Marty! There's nothing like the joy of helping a writer on their way.

Thank you for inviting me to share my Call, Michelle!

I was ecstatic when Michelle chose TWIST OF FATE, my historical fantasy, for 2014’s Sun vs Snow contest. Michelle is not only an excellent author (check out KINDER’S CURE), she’s an educator/mom/wife, and she spends tons of time supporting the writing community.

In Sun vs Snow, I got some requests, but no offers. I sent out some queries. In fact, my CURRENT agent rejected my manuscript.

In June, I participated in a Twitter pitch contest. Thanks for hosting, Dan Koboldt! Here’s my tweet:

HF #SFFpit Toss a NYC socialite into a Pompeii arena w/a sword in her hand, add a gladiator, and steam erupts in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.

One of my CPs RT’d my tweet, and her agent asked for the MS. I was so excited I leaped around my living room. I’d heard great things about this agent. You could pretty much say she was a dream agent. But she’d rejected the MS in January, so her request presented a dilemma. Should I remind her she’d passed? Or send it anyway? I didn’t want to begin what I hoped would be a lasting relationship without being honest, so I told her. Fortunately, she still wanted to see the full.

She loved it. Well, most of it. You see, my main character, Pandia, is a goddess, the daughter of Zeus. I’m afraid she was a little too indulged. In fact, she was way more excited about fashion and her mani-pedi that she should’ve been.

The agent asked if I was interested in an exclusive revision (not an R&R). She offered to go through TWIST OF FATE and make detailed suggestions. Assuming I agreed with her ideas, we’d revise until the MS was where she thought it could be. In exchange for her incredible input, I’d withdraw all outstanding queries/partials/fulls (OMG!), and she’d have dibs on the end result.

By the time we began the revision in December, I was querying two other books. But, I’d also done some revising of TWIST OF FATE on my own (sadly, I had to remove most of the references to Pandia’s lovely nails). I sent my agent this version. We made more changes, and she emailed asking if we could chat. Eeeek!

My agent is the best. Instead of me trying to get my book out there all by myself, it’s us, a team. During our call, she told me she loved TWIST OF FATE. You’ve got to adore someone who gets your work. I tried to sound intelligent on the phone although I believe I came across like I’d lost my mind. I stuttered. I fumbled with my words, spitting out what had to be total glop in reply to her questions. Somehow, she saw through all that to the real me.

Since I still had fulls and partials out with my other manuscripts, I notified those agents of my offer of rep. I got plenty of well-wishes, but already knew in my heart what my decision would be.
I’m thrilled to announce I’m represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency.
Here are the stats for those who like that stuff:

2 offers of rep

TWIST OF FATE (adult historical fantasy): 58 queries; 5 fulls, 10 partials
100 KISSES (young adult contemporary romance): 60 queries, 7 fulls, 9 partials
PHOENIX RISING (young adult sci-fi thriller): 55 queries, 4 fulls, 2 partials


Marty Mayberry writes whatever strikes her fancy, from young adult science fiction to adult historical fantasy. When she’s not flinging her main characters into impossible situations, she works at an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist. She has a BA in International Affairs in German and an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She and her husband live in Maine with their three grown children, three neurotic cats, and a geriatric chocolate lab. Give her a powdery white beach to take long walks on, an ancient ruin to explore, or a Boston Bruins game, and her life’s complete.

Find her at:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Editing Tips

Homophones. Homophones. They should be called tricksters. They can trip up the best writer.

Among the homophones, the one I see most often (beside there, they're and their and your and you're) with repeated mistakes in manuscripts involves the words reign and rein. These seem to get mistaken in common expressions.

Reign- is the time of rule of a king, queen or other ruler. Dominating power or influence.

Rein- are the strips of leather used to guide a horse. Used when talking about getting control.

(Also their easy to follow twin Rain- is water falling from the sky.)

On to the common expressions.

Let chaos reign.   Verb. Meaning to let it rule. Let it be in charge. Dominate. 

The reign of Queen Elizabeth the second is long. Noun. Time of rule.

Take the reins and drive.  Noun. Meaning to steer. To guide. As reins are used in guiding a horse. 

Rein in your troubles and smile.  Verb. Meaning to control. 

Now your turn. Which ones are right?

I hope the sun's rein is long and glorious today.

Rein in your awkward tendencies.

It shall rain on your parade.

It happened during the reign of my father.

Reign up your horse and stop for the night.

Did you spot the mistakes? The first and last sentence are wrong.

Hope this helps clear up some common mistakes with reign and rein.   

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Getting the Call with Aria Glazki

The importance of twitter! It really can't be understated. Thanks Aria Glazki for reinforcing how important social media can be toward your dream! And isn't that an awesome avatar. What a great drawing! 

A couple of years ago, in my initial attempts to establish a digital presence and a writer's platform, I had no idea what I was doing. Want proof? I wasn't planning on joining Twitter. I'd created a website, and a Facebook page, but back then I thought of Twitter as filled exclusively with self-involved posts about lattes or manicures and the like — people seeking validation rather than providing valuable content. And Twitter still is that, for those who choose to use it that way, but, as I hope you know, it can be so much more, especially went it comes to the vibrant writing community. Lucky for me, a friend pointed out how necessary Twitter is for anyone wanting a professional virtual presence. 

Lucky, I say, because without Twitter I would never have made the many wonderful connections in the writing world I now have, and I would never have heard of the various Twitter pitch parties (and other contests like Pitch Madness or Nightmare on Query Street), one of which was directly responsible for my very first publishing contract, with Swoon Romance. It all started about six months after I joined Twitter with #AdPit, a pitch party exclusively for Adult manuscripts. At the time, I was hoping for some interest from agents. In fact, in my naiveté, I didn't even know publishers also participated in pitch parties. But all of the requests I received that day were from publishers, and I was open to going that route. So off I sent the requested materials and prepared to wait. Since I had queried (and been rejected) before, I knew to expect a while before a response. 

I continued on with my plans, looking into other contests and researching more agents to query, but three weeks later, there in my inbox was a response from Swoon Romance. And not just a response, but an offer. So in my case, I didn't get a call. Georgia and I actually didn't speak on the phone for the first time until nearly a month later. In some ways, it was better this way, since I didn't end up making a stuttering fool of myself over the phone. I had a chance to process, to write out (and re-write) my questions, and to remind myself that this wasn't yet a done deal. First I had to contact the other publishers who had my full, and meanwhile I sent Georgia my first set of questions. I received another offer fairly quickly, which is of course both a lovely and nerve-wracking place to be as a writer. Suddenly I was comparing deal points, deciding what mattered most to me and on what I may be willing to compromise, and emailing back and forth with both publishers. (Without exaggeration, I was probably saved by the fact that I could express myself in writing rather than extemporaneous speech — no matter how prepared I may be for a phone call, I always forget something or am distracted by an unforeseen tangent. Email is so much easier.) 

 Ultimately, Swoon Romance's offer was a better fit for me and for Mending Heartstrings, and I accepted two weeks later. Still, I didn't celebrate — yet. Nothing was signed, and I'm just superstitious enough that I don't like to jinx things. First came a three-hour conversation with Georgia and then detailed contract negotiations. It wasn't until the paperwork was signed, nearly three months after the initial offer, that I let myself truly believe and finally celebrate that I'd received my very first publishing deal.

Aria’s writing story started when her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked! Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, earned her degree in Creative Writing (as well as in French and Russian literatures), and been published in a few collections. Her novel Mending Heartstrings released December 2014 from Swoon Romance. Though her first kiss technically came from a bear cub, and no fairytale transformation followed, Aria still believes magic can happen when the right people come together – if they don’t get in their own way, that is. Other than all things literary, Aria loves spending time with her family, including her two unbearably adorable nieces. She also dabbles in painting, dancing, playing violin, and, given the opportunity, Epicureanism.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sun versus Snow Critique Workshop

Welcome to the after party! Sun versus Snow is over but new contests are coming!

I know many people didn't make the entry window for Sun versus Snow. And many more didn't get picked because we were limited to thirty. So Amy Trueblood and I want to offer an opportunity to get some feedback on your contest entry before the new ones begin.

All you need is a query/35 word pitch and first 250 words... and a blog. Your manuscript can be unfinished because there are no agents here. This is simply to polish up your work for future contests. Anyone can enter.

All you need to do is post your entry on your blog. Take the url link from your post and add it to the linky list below. (Click on the button in the post, not in the comments.) Use the list to critique the five people above and below your listing. If you are number 6 then you would feedback numbers 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11 on the list. Please leave constructive criticism, but also say what you like about the entry. Don't worry if it's not your genre, just do your best to give your thoughts.

If your entry falls at the beginning or ending of the linky list, wait for the list to close and then give feedback to the other end of the list. For example if you are number 1, you would critique 2 through 6 then the last five links at the very end of the list once the hop closes. 

You are welcome to update your entry with revisions. The linky list will remain open through February 21st. After that time, you may not join. 

If you fail to critique the five entries above and below your spot, well... that's sad and I'm sure karma will know.

Of course you may also get super enthused and critique more than ten. Feel free to jump around and help out as much as you can!

Need more critiques? Advertise your willingness to give to get feedback on twitter under the hashtag #sunvssnow

I will try to visit some entries and leave super honest feedback on whether I would or wouldn't pick it for a contest.

Now here's an example of formatting:


Genre: YA epic fantasy
Word Count: 90,000

Query or 35 word pitch:

(Include all of your query, even the bio and greetings/closings. Do try to keep it within 250-350 words. Put space between the paragraphs and single space.)

First 250 words:

(Put space between paragraphs and single space. Play it like a real contest and stick to the 250 word limit. Don't end in the middle of a sentence.)

Now let's see how many people we can get to play along! Let the fun begin!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sun versus Snow 2015 Agent Round



Our agents will soon be busy making their selections from the thirty-two entries! Please head over to Amy’s blog at Chasing The Crazies to find out how Team Sun is doing. And scroll down to find Team Snow!

Remember again that contests are subjective. What tickles one person’s fancy, may do nothing for another. No matter what, keep querying!

Before Team Snow covers Team Sun like a big, white, fluffy blanket, here are some guidelines!

There is no commenting in this round, except for agents. Sorry, but no cheerleading as this may lead to an unconscious bias.

But we are happy to see and retweet your thoughts and cheers over on twitter under the #sunvssnow tag! That’s the place to hang out and have fun!

I’d better be seeing my Team Snow members there. Get out your pompoms! This Frosty team is going to stick together and celebrate with each other! Ain’t no melting this blizzard of a celebration!

Also Amy and I will be tweeting when an agent makes an appearance! For the fastest notice, keep an eye on twitter—or both eyes.

Agents will consider entries at both the blogs, regardless of whether they are Sun or Snow fans. Only the phrasing of the agent’s request will let you know whether they’re on the side of SNOW (YAY!) or SUN (huh?).

Amy and I are hoping the agents go crazy with the requests! There is amazing talent here on both teams!

Good luck to all! Get your boots and hats and scarfs tightened! It's going to be an ice bucket experience of fun!


Genre: MG Contemporary
Word Count: 47,000

My Main Character would prefer to live in:

Considering Karma met her enemy at the swimming pool on a sunny day, she’d rather risk frostbite than spend time in the sun being burned by the insults of a new girl. Plus, this isn’t scientifically proven, but heat makes your hair grow faster and having a mustache is enough for Karma. The heat of the sun might cause her to sprout a full on beard. No question. Karma prefers snow.

Dear Agent,
Things a normal sixth-grader should worry about: new clothes, new shoes, new classes, but not a new mustache. Karma Khullar freaks out when she discovers exactly seventeen hairs above her lip. Facial hair, peach fuzz, whatever it’s called—it’s obviously a horrible disease or mutation.
Karma’s best friend, Sara, is more interested in nail polish and fashion magazines than calming Karma down. Especially when a sparkly new girl arrives in town. Not only does the new girl whisk Sara away, she points out Karma’s mustache in front of a group of boys who nickname her 'Stache Attack.
Starting school best-friendless and with a nickname is only the beginning of Karma’s troubles. Newly stay-at-home Daddy is now in charge of things like packing Karma a tiffin full of dal and curries for lunch, which is one more thing to add to the list of insults hurled her way. Karma’s convinced there’s a cloud of bad karma hanging over her family. It’s the only way to explain why she’s mutating into the bearded lady. Not to mention how her brother ignores anyone and everyone but his guitar. And her Mom is too busy spending all her time at her new job to notice any of it.
Karma takes matters into her own hands and sets out to learn more about her Sikh heritage and how to break the karma curse. Things backfire quickly when her Study Buddy idea pairs her with her enemy, the new girl. Just when Karma’s had enough, she forms a plan to turn her bad karma on its head, ‘Stache Style.
It’s Are You ThereGodIt’s Me, Margaret—the Bollywood version.


Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 40,000

My Main Character would prefer to live in:

I’m Kuji, a young, black squirrel trainee with the Ninja Squirrels of the Hundred Acre Wood. We’re a secret force protecting the Wood and its inhabitants. Warm, sunny weather is fine if one enjoys frolicking about the Wood. But, Ninja Squirrels don’t frolic, we protect. If we’re frolicking, it’s probably as cover while on patrol. I prefer snow. Nothing is more awesome than the Hundred Acre Wood covered in a blanket of fresh snow. It’s also a challenge because when it’s your job to protect the Wood while maintaining complete secrecy, erasing your every footprint in the snow is essential.


Dear Agent of Sun or Snow,

For most young black squirrels, it’s a dream assignment. For Kuji, his appointment as a trainee with the Ninja Squirrels of the Hundred Acre Wood knocks him off balance, like trying to grip a thin tree limb in a thunderstorm. He's afraid he can't live up to the standards of the elite force responsible for protecting the Wood and its inhabitants.

Kuji discovers the assignment to the Wood fits him like bark on a tree, but his arrival also triggers an increase in attacks by the Hundred Acre Wood’s greatest enemy, the Arachne. The legendary sensei of the Ninja Squirrels claims this increase is because of Kuji’s destiny to be the kami, the ninth member who will bind the Ninja Squirrels and someday become their leader.

Being the kami means more work and responsibility—things Kuji doesn’t welcome in the least. Plus, he risks losing being just one of the squirrels, his favorite thing about being a member of the team. Oh well, nothing like a little extra pressure to test a newbie. He either accepts the kami role or sits back and watches the eight-legged freaks suck all the goodness from the Wood, while the Ninja Squirrels drift apart and leave the Wood vulnerable to the Arachne.