It's Happening! It's FINALLY Happening!
I have some Big News. Plus, writing links & resources.
For writing-related news and resources, scroll down.
It’s been a long road…
Back in 2015 I had an agent and we were revising a middle grade novel I’d written. Right before going out on submission to editors at all the major publishers, my agent quit agenting. So I was back to the query trenches.
The self-doubt didn’t hit right away, but it came a while later, after a pile of rejections. I finally shelved the middle grade novel and started working on a YA contemporary. And when I couldn’t get an agent with that one, I wrote a YA paranormal suspense.
Over the past year and a half, I sent out 90 queries for my YA paranormal suspense novel. I participated in almost every Twitter pitch contest. I revised and re-revised my query letter and opening chapters.
I also started writing another novel. Because that’s all you can do in this business… just keep writing.
Recently I entered #MoodPitch on Twitter with the mood board above and the following pitch:
When Natalie does a midnight ritual with the witchy guy from school, she doesn’t really think it’ll help find her missing friend.
But the ritual is real. And Natalie walks away a different person. Literally.
ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS X THE CRAFT
I got a “like” from agent Ali Lake of Janklow & Nesbit. I queried her, and she requested a full. A few weeks later, I heard back: she’d read my book and “enjoyed it immensely.” She wanted to chat with me on Zoom.
When I read those words, I honestly started shaking. It was happening. It was finally happening. I reached out to the other three agents who had my full manuscript, but after my Zoom call with Ali, I knew I wanted her to represent me. She understands my book, and she has a great vision for how to make it better.
And so, I am deeply, deeply excited to announce:
We will be working on my YA paranormal suspense novel over the summer and hope to go on submission with it in the fall.
What I learned over 90 queries
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the pandemic has been a really rough time for querying writers. If you are giving up after only 30 queries, think again!
Still, I realize now that my original query letter and first 10 pages could have been better.
When I was first querying and getting lots of form rejections, I revised my query and first chapter. At one point I had two different versions of Chapter 1, and I sent them both out to see which got more interest. I also had a one-on-one meeting with an agent through The Manuscript Academy, who gave me some very helpful feedback on my submission package.
And finally, more than a year into querying, I started getting more manuscript requests — nine in total. When Ali offered me representation, I had three other agents currently considering my manuscript. That’s a really good position to be in. I can only assume my submission package was much stronger than it was when I first started querying.
The changes I made during 1.5 years of querying…
I have shared with my paid subscribers the changes I made to my query letter and opening pages as well as the final version of my query letter. If you’re curious, sign up for a paid subscription for only $5 a month! You’ll also get immediate access to Cultivating a Regular Writing Routine and Getting Started on Your Novel. And there’s no commitment — cancel any time!
Want to write a novel?
It’s not to late to sign up for Getting Started on Your Novel!
Do you have a great idea for a story but feel overwhelmed by the task of writing a whole novel? Starting a book-length project can be daunting. That’s why I’m offering a virtual course called Getting Started on Your Novel. The first lesson is available NOW!
Based on my popular in-person workshop at The Writers Center in Bethesda, I have created a do-it-on-your-own-time course in which you will:
generate ideas for your novel
write beginning scenes
flesh out the plot and setting
get to know the characters and their motivations
learn about story structure, conflict, world-building, and other craft topics
By the end of the five lessons you will have the beginning chapter(s) of your novel and a good sense of where you’re going next.
Getting Started on Your Novel is available to paid subscribers only. It’s $5/month to subscribe, and the course runs from now until June 25, which means you will get the entire course for only $10. Cancel your subscription at any time, no questions asked.
By signing up you will also have access to the entire course of Cultivating a Regular Writing Practice. Not a bad deal!
Hoping to start a regular writing this summer? Take my virtual course Cultivating a Regular Writing Practice! This series of do-it-on-your-own-time lessons will help you create a writing routine that works for you and keeps you writing regularly for the long-term. All four lessons are available now for paid subscribers.
The Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award deadline is May 29. This award is for unpublished and unrepresented writers with an adult novel in any genre.
Check out Write Hive’s FREE online writing conference June 10-12. The conference gathers authors, editors and industry professionals from all over the world for three full days of panels, presentations, and workshops aimed at writers of all genres and levels of experience.
My friend Lish McBride has a new book out, and though I haven’t read it yet, it’s getting GREAT reviews. A Little Too Familiar is Lish’s first adult novel and is described as “an uncanny romance.” I’m sure it is just as funny and quirky as her YA novels. It’s a comedic fantasy romance with witches, shifters, rogue ferrets, and a baby phoenix named Dammit. Sounds like perfect summer reading to me, and only $5.99 on Kindle!
If you haven’t checked out Ashley Broadwater yet, you really should. Her A Bunch of Paid Writing Opportunities newsletter is jam-packed with writing jobs and pitch calls that pay. Her newsletters are great if you’re hoping to make writing your side hustle.
Did you know there are some top-notch indie publishers to whom you can submit… without having an agent? Here are just a few. Make sure your manuscript is TRULY ready, and be sure to do your research before you query!
North Star Editions (check out their kidlit imprints Flux and Jellyfish)
Page Street Publishing (is distributed by MacMillion)
Holiday House (books for young readers)
Persea Books (adult literary books)
Submit your fiction, poetry, nonfiction, or art to Epiphany Literary Journal for only $5, and get a free digital subscription to the journal. This is a great deal, especially if you’ve been meaning to read more literary magazines. Deadline for submissions is June 1.
Write On Con, an online conference for kidlit writers is now open for registration. The conference will be held July 15-17.
And there’s also WOWCON, WriteMentor’s online conference for kidlit writers, coming up September 24 - 26.
The querying trenches are rough right now, and Twitter pitch parties ain’t what they used to be, but still, as I always say, it doesn’t hurt to try. So mark your calendar for these upcoming spring Twitter pitch parties. And be sure to read my article 13 Things to Know About Twitter Pitch Events.
May 26 (8am - 8pm): #Flippit — What started as a joke is now a real thing. Literary agents pitch to authors and we writers get to be the ones to click “like.”
June 1 (8am—8pm EST): #CanLitPit — twitter pitch party just for Canadians
June 23 (8am—8pm EST): #PitchDis — Twitter pitch event to showcase pitches from the disabled community
June 30 ( TIME BST): #KidLitPit - Twitter pitch event for picture books, middle grade, and YA.
Finally! After years of virtual conferences, we’re starting to see some in-person ones. (Be sure to take a COVID test before you go!) Check out these upcoming summer conferences:
Chesapeake Writers’ Conference: June 19-25 at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. A week of craft talks, lectures, panel discussions, readings, and daily workshops in fiction, poetry, songwriting, or creative nonfiction.
Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference: August 18-21 in Franklin, Tennessee. This conferences brings together forensic experts, writers, and fans of crime and thriller literature. They also offer discounts and scholarships.
For more writing conferences, check out this list.
NYC Midnight hosts a range of storytelling challenges throughout the year. I have done several of these and always been pleasantly surprised by what I come up with when the pressure is on. Not gonna lie, these challenges are pricey, but they’re a lot of fun. Upcoming challenge:
This year the Writing Day Workshop “How to Get Published” Conferences will be held virtually. I attended one of these conferences in person a few years ago in Philadelphia, and I thought it was fantastic. I can’t vouch for the virtual version, but there are some benefits: recorded classes, no travel expenses, attend in your comfy pants. Plus, you can sign up for Zoom pitch sessions with agents for $29 a piece. Check out the upcoming conferences (and remember, anyone can attend from anywhere; just keep the time zone in mind).
Chicago Writing Workshop: June 10-11, 2022