Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting the Call: Stephanie Diaz

I’m glad to bring you another success story of a friend I made in last year’s Speculative Fiction Marathon.  (This year’s marathon starts next week, June 4th. See my post on the SFSM.) Usually the phrase it never rains but it pours refers to negative events. For Stephanie it meant amazing things. I can’t wait to hear more from her as she undergoes the submission process. 

I got the email on a Tuesday. I was sitting in my acting class at San Diego State University, taking notes on my laptop and watching my fellow classmates perform theatrical pieces when I noticed the little red “1” at the bottom of the screen. Distraction led me to skim the email without noticing who it was from.

My reaction: double-take → shock → audible squeal that no one noticed, because the class was getting rowdy.

An agent had finished my manuscript, and wanted to know when a good time might be to chat, once she finished wiping the tears from her eyes. Yes, my YA sci-fi had made her cry.

Questions tumbled through my mind. Would this be the call, or just one of those “let's discuss revisions over the phone, but I won't actually make an offer yet” kind of deals? See, this wasn't going to be my  first time speaking with an agent on the phone. Two months prior, an agent had called me out of the blue one afternoon after reading part of my manuscript to discuss its failings and what I could do to improve it. I will be forever grateful for that call, as it led me to revise and turn my novel into the manuscript that landed me an agent. But when another call loomed on the horizon, I didn't want to get my hopes up.

I emailed the agent back with my availability. I pulled up several blog posts and forums about getting The Call, just in case. The next day, I tried to ignore my cell phone. We hadn't actually scheduled a time, so the agent could've called at any second. For a couple solid hours, I was a tangle of nervousness and second guesses. Around lunchtime, I decided to go to the library to take my mind off the call.

I was turning right at the light for the library when my phone rang. I pulled into the parking lot as quickly as I could, cursing the car that almost blocked me, and managed to answer in the nick of time.

For the next twenty-odd minutes, I sat in my car with a door open (it was hot in that parking lot), a giddy smile plastered on my face. The agent loved my ms (which I had sent her a week and a half prior) and offered representation.

Back at home, emails were sent to other agents reading my ms or query, letting them know they had a week to get back to me. I spent the next several days in a daze, pinching myself occasionally. This was the third ms I'd queried over the course of six years. Only a day before I received the email requesting The Call, I'd been ready to give up on this manuscript and move onto the next.

Things got even more surreal when I received a second email in which an agent wanted a call. That Friday morning, I spoke with two agents from the same agency on the phone and listened as they gushed about my ms and tried to convince me to say “yes” to them right then and there. But there were still five others reading, and I had to give them time to finish.

Another offer came the following Monday, and I started pulling my hair out. A fourth came Tuesday evening. Wednesday, I spoke to the fourth agent on the phone, then took an hour to watch a new episode of Glee and figure out which agent I should pick.

I kept coming back to the second agent who'd offered: Alison Fargis of Stonesong. From the minute I started chatting with her and her fellow agent, Emmanuelle Morgen, I knew I wanted it to work with her. She had missed a subway stop and almost forgotten to pick her son up at school trying to finish my ms. Her clients praised her. She and I had the same vision for my story. Most of all, out of all four agents, I could tell she wanted it the most. She was truly fighting for me.

So I picked her. :)
BIO: Stephanie Diaz is 19. Born and raised in sunny San Diego, she currently studies film production at San Diego State University, but spends most of her time making novels out of stories in her head. She enjoys rainy days and afternoons spent wearing PJs and sipping wild berry tea. Someday, she would like to hike the trail to Mount Doom. Her work is represented by Alison Fargis of Stonesong.

Find Stephanie's blog here and her twitter here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Throwback Thursday!!

**Come take a peek at the past...our very own D.F. Matthew's first post**

Recently I was waltzing down the aisles at my local bookstore (yes I said waltzing) and I actually took a moment to truly look at what was available to read. I was stunned to realize how bland the selections before me actually were. Seriously. How uninspired the books felt.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You make your way into your favorite bookstore. You’re greeted at the door with the aroma of overpriced yet delicious coffee and baked goods; the sight of aisles upon aisles of books waiting to be chosen like pound puppies sends your heart a flutter, and the store owner’s offers of a foot massage. Okay, aside from the last part, you are in a slice of heaven right now. You come across your favorite section; check what actually lines the shelves. Am I wrong? About ninety percent is the same book told in a different voice. Even in a category like Sci-fi/ fantasy you’re hard pressed to find many new ideas. Dragons, orcs, trolls, wyverns, oh this one has the fabled golden dragon, wait, I just read that one.
Where did all the imagination go?...(Continue reading HERE)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Getting the Call: Phoenix Sullivan

This writer has helped me out so many times that I couldn’t wait to get her post. Phoenix Sullivan has picked apart query letters for myself and dozens of others. She’s even applied her talents to assist with the dreaded synopsis. Her version is still the one I use for my synopsis. On her blog, she pays it forward every day with self-publishing strategies. Phoenix has carved her own path, and she can be her own boss.

Like many of you, I pinned a lot of hope on getting "The Call." Two manuscripts and 300 queries later the phone still hadn't rung.

One of those manuscripts, Spoil of War, had been taken to the editorial board at two separate publishers. Two agents sent revision letters for it that, unfortunately, would have turned the story into something it was not.

SECTOR C got 12 passes on the requested full, with most of those agents saying there was nothing they would change about the story and that they fully expected it to sell. Pretty much everyone praised the writing and the voice in each manuscript. I figured Spoil of War, cross-genre with some controversial subject matter and a nod to the sensibilities of the 1980s, might be a tough sell.

SECTOR C, though, was high concept and I hoped it would be highly commercial. In another time, another economy, the consensus seemed to be, it would have been picked up quickly. But non-apocalyptic, near-future science fiction wasn't commanding a large enough market to take a chance on it. A smaller, digital-first press would probably have picked it up, but the idea of low royalties with little to no advance and the low sales associated with many small publishers didn't impress me.

When "The Call" finally came, it was more of a "Wake-Up Call" or "A Call To Action." I could closet these two stories and attempt the query-go-round with my next yet-to-be-written manuscript ... or I could self-publish them and see where that could lead. Self-publishing successes were just beginning to make the news, and it was becoming clear the new generation of self-publishing was not the vanity publishing of the past but a new beast entirely. It wouldn't be easy -- but I do dearly love a challenge.

That was "The Call" I answered.

And a challenge it clearly was. Marketing an ebook has as much to do with luck as perseverance and knowledge of the techniques. I published Spoil of War: An Arthurian Saga in April 2011. SECTOR C followed in September. Neither started with a huge splash. After a major publicity hiccup in August, Spoil of War found its audience on iTunes, where it's consistently been in the Top 3 in Historical Fantasy in the UK and AU stores and in the Top 10 in the US since December. And despite a rough start on Amazon, it's currently the #1 Arthurian Fantasy based on popularity and is featured on the front page of Amazon's Science Fiction & Fantasy storefront.

SECTOR C keeps bouncing up the rankings only to fall back then bounce back up again. In January, it was the #2 bestselling Medical Thriller on Amazon. Twice it's been featured as the representative title for Science Fiction on the Kindle E-books landing page on Amazon. In April, it climbed up to #84 on the Top 100 bestsellers chart storewide and made Amazon's Movers & Shakers list. A pretty good showing for a little book nobody wanted.

In December, I also published Vet Tech Tales: Confessions of an Animal Junkie, a novella-length volume of essays about my early experiences of becoming a veterinary technician. In its present form, it's too short for a traditional publisher to care about, and I would have had to wait until I completed at least 3 times as many essays/chapters to even begin querying it. As it is, the first volume, at 99 cents, is selling while I'm writing the next. In fact, just this last week it was on several Top 100 Bestseller lists, including #1 Veterinary Medicine, #97 Science, #24 Animal Care & Pets, and #56 Home & Garden. 

I'm not getting rich off of my books, but I'm pretty happy with the supplemental income they're providing. I don't have to sell nearly the number of ebooks on my own that I'd have to sell through a traditional publisher to make the same amount of money. And, because I'm offering my books free through Amazon and/or iTunes periodically, I can still get the books into thousands of readers' hands and, hopefully, in front of their eyes. Being able to get that level of distribution along with high royalties for what I sell is pretty sweet.

While I'm not (yet) in the league of those who've sold tens of thousands of their books online, I'm confident I've made more so far than I would have going with a digital-first or small publisher. I tend to be very open on my writing/e-publishing blog about what I've made, so I don't mind sharing my sales figures with you here.

·         I made about $2000 in 2011 and am right at $11,000 earned so far in 2012. (The learning curve for online marketing was, for me, a long one – I got better at it in December.)
·         I've sold 8675 copies of my books in total.
·         620 copies have been borrowed through Amazon Prime, meaning Amazon has paid me between $1.50 and 2.50 per each borrow (the amount varies month to month).
·         I've given away 69,860 copies of my books through Amazon and iTunes.

If the right deal with a large traditional house were offered, I'm pretty sure I'd take it (although "right" is getting harder and harder to negotiate). But I'm not going to go hunting it down. And the right house won't be a digital-first press or a small imprint. Not because I'm arrogant, but because I've seen too many good books not get the push they need to get the sales they deserve. I would willingly work with someone who can take my sales to the next level, but most of the small publishers I've seen haven't learned how to sell their ebooks on Amazon or iTunes or Barnes & Noble. And if you can't sell well in those venues you really can't compete.

When I think about querying again, I have only to remember an author friend of mine who snagged a well-respected agent nearly a year-and-a-half ago. The author made agent-requested revisions and the agent shopped the manuscript but was unable to sell it. This was the author's second agent (the first retired) and the second manuscript the author couldn't sell. The agent refused to shop a third manuscript the author had completed because the agent didn't think the non-US locale would be marketable. So the author is now polishing a fourth manuscript to try again. Although agented, this author is no further along in their career than they were 6 years ago.

I've beta-read for this author. The writing is wonderful. It's their timing and luck that need improvement.

Sometimes, it's up to us to make our own luck.

What I've learned from my friend's experience, my own experiences and others' is that "The Call" isn't the same for everyone -- and the results can vary widely. For many, "The Call" simply never comes. A few authors will hit that home run we all want; others will happily settle for a $3000 advance and a book that doesn't earn out. And others still will heed a "Wake-Up Call" of their own and self-publish -- with the same variance in results. There are self-published books that can't sell 10 copies a month and those that sell 10,000.

Who really knows ahead of time which books will break out? The best any of us can do is study the market and follow our heart.

And maybe throw a bit of salt over our shoulder while we tuck that 4-leaf clover behind our ear…

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Throwback Thursday!!

**One of Michelle's very first piece of advice....come take a look!**

Descriptive setting has none of the excitement of an action scene, none of the glamour of dialogue.But too little description and the reader can get lost, unable to figure out what’s happening.Too much of it and the reader is yawning.Who hasn’t skimmed over paragraphs of description of countryside and weather to get to the good stuff?I do it all the time.
So it’s no surprise, descriptive setting is my least favorite type of writing.It’s usually way down on the list of priorities.Plus, avoiding passive writing and lazy ‘was/were’ sentences is always a challenge for me.Much easier to write ‘the forest was full of tall evergreen trees’ then to craft it into an entertaining sentence like ‘evergreen trees rose tall and straight along the road creating a dense screen’.Leaving out the descriptive setting, however, is a missed opportunity.There are three potential ways for this type of writing to increase the wow of your story....(Continue reading HERE)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting the Call: Ruth Cardello

This fantastic lady’s success story makes me truly envious. Who wouldn’t love to have writing be their full time job? It certainly proves that in this day and age there are so many ways to achieve the dream. Be sure to check out Ruth Cardello’s One Month Promotional Challenge at AQC, where she shares tips on getting yourself and your work out there. It's really worth a look.

A little over a year ago, I had just about given up that my book, Maid for the Billionaire, would ever find a home.  I had written it as a category romance, but the lines I had written it for passed on it.  Each pass said about the same thing, “Good writing, but it’s not what we are looking for right now.  Do you have anything else?”
Maid for the Billionaire was the first book in a series I intended to write, but when it wasn’t selling – I wasn’t sure if I should continue the series or start a new one.

A self-published author came to our local romance writer’s group and discussed how her rejections had been the best thing that could have happened to her.  After hearing her story, I thought – why not?  It’s free and might provide me with the feedback I needed from readers. 

I put my first book up for free and held my breath.

I never dreamed that it would be as well received as it has been or that self-publishing would bring so many wonderful people into my life.  Within months, over 200,000 people had downloaded it and my reviews were mostly positive – creating a good base of readers for the release of my second book.

Self-published authors don’t get “the call.”  We don’t usually have agents or contracts.  It’s difficult to feel published -- difficult to know when to celebrate.  For me, the moment I celebrate is when my second book cleared $100,000 in the first six months. 

After some soul searching, I finally left my day job to write full-time.  My third book, Bedding the Billionaire, is expected to be released mid-July.  The best part of writing full-time? More time with my children. I write every day from 8-3 then I close my laptop and am simply MOM.   No more waking up at 5 am to write before the kids wake up.  No more sacrificing my own sleep to find time to write after everyone has gone to bed.  Weekends are time for family, friends and relaxing again.  I couldn’t be happier.

There is an ongoing debate in many circles regarding the best route to publication.  The only thing I’m sure of is that change is ongoing and inevitable.  What this will all look like a year from now, five years from now – I have no idea, but I pray I’m still a part of it.

You can find more about Ruth Cardello at her website or at Facebook under Author Ruth Cardello.  Check out this link to find her on Amazon.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Foreshadowing, as defined by, means “to show or indicate beforehand; prefigure.”

Foreshadowing allows for the writer to turn rather innocuous or unimportant details into something that carries significance at the end of the work because of the way they move the story along and/or affect the characters. Two things are key: Atmosphere and symbolism. Atmosphere allows the reader to get a feel of the mood, what emotions they should feel for the character and what sort of importance this place or overall mood has on the character itself.

Foreshadowing often works hand-in-hand with the symbolic meanings of things, people or events according to that characters universe; or with the characters own desires and fears, as a way for the writer to “tell the future” of that event or character without spoiling the journey.

But in order to foreshadow future events, you must first have a plan. A set up. Like building a house, you must have a foundation before you can begin on anything else. With foreshadowing, your foundation is what you want to foreshadow. Do you want to foreshadow a death? A character having to face a fear? A character having to do something in order to reach his goal? Or maybe you want to foreshadow a big revelation that throws everything off track?

A good film that shows a form of simple foreshadowing and a character overcoming his obstacle to continue his journey, is Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. In it, the main character’s son is afraid of spiders and won’t squish one on his bedroom window with a rolled up magazine. Later on in the film, the main character and his daughter are trapped in the mausoleum where they had to search for a key to solve the mystery of the mansion. When the door closes, trapping them inside with zombies that have come alive, wanting the key back, the son must open the door. Only problem is, big spiders crawl out of the door and he doesn’t want to get near them. In order to save his father and sister from the zombies, he has to face his fear of spiders and open the door.

Whatever it is, you must scatter clues early in the manuscript in order for any future events concerning those clues to have any sort of impact. In her blog post about foreshadowing, blogger Debz Hobbs-Wyatt says: “…Don’t draw the reader’s attention to something, some aspect of a character’s personality, like a phobia of spiders, if you don’t draw on it later.”

It might take a few drafts, but, if done subtly, foreshadowing also allows you to reveal things about a character, using bits and pieces of backstory to foreshadow reactions and fears that may lead to certain decisions and actions later in the novel.

Foreshadowing can incite many emotions but there are three chief emotion “types” of foreshadowing:

1. Doubt/ Dread: The foreshadowing that incites doubt or dread, like any scene in the novel, should fit with the character and situation. This type should be foreboding, incite worry for the character.

An example of that type of foreshadowing is shown in Suzanne Collins’s YA dystopian fantasy, The Hunger Games, when Katniss tells her little sister, Primrose, that she won’t be picked for the Reaping and sent to die in the Hunger Games, where children are forced to kill each other for the entertainment of the public. The reader feels Katniss’s dread about Prim being chosen for the Games—but this foreshadows Prim’s name being chosen and Katniss’s choice to go in her place.

2. Excitement/Anticipation: This type is the kind of foreshadowing that makes people curious as to how things connect, how this symbol, event, or character, associates with the rest of the story. Most often, this foreshadowing is used to indirectly suggest an outcome for a character or event.

An example of this type of foreshadowing occurs early in Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy, The Wheel of Time, in book one The Eye of the World. In it, Moiraine, an Aes Sedai—a magician who can wield the One Power—tells Egwene, an innkeeper's daughter from the village of Emond`s Field who can wield the One Power, that she “…may go far. Perhaps even the Amyrlin Seat one day, if you study hard and work hard.” The Amyrlin Seat, while also being a chair where the head of the Aes Sedai sits, is also the title given to them, likened to a king or queen. Much later in the series, just as Moiraine said, Egwene does become leader of the Aes Sedai order.

3. Surprise/Shock: This type of foreshadowing often comes with a huge revelation or an event that the character didn’t expect. With a reader, the foreshadowing specifically for that moment will often come during the second time reading the novel as they see what led up to the climax, what clues they were given by the writer to try and piece together the character’s journey.

An example of this is in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third novel in the Harry Potter series. For this example, I’ll only be using the events from the film adaptation as it’s been a while since I’ve read the novel and do not currently have it on hand. In both the novel and the film, Hermione seems to be taking two classes at the same time and managing to be present for each. Ron and Harry can’t figure out how she can be in two places at one time. It’s revealed near the end of the film, that Hermione has been using a Time Turner—a device that allows the user to go back in time—in order to take two classes in the same time slot. Using the Time Turner, Harry and Hermione travel back to save a supposedly “dangerous” Hippogriff, named Buckbeak, from being slaughtered. Using Buckbeak’s ability to fly, the pair are also able to retrieve Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, from Azkaban.

Earlier in the film, the event that foreshadows the use of the Time Turner itself, is when Harry, Hermione and Ron visit Hagrid and, somehow, end up being hit with thrown snail shells. When the Time Turner is used, Harry uses these shells (in much the same manner as before) to get the attention of his “alternate timeline” self, thus changing the outcome of many events.

Have you noticed examples of foreshadowing in the books you’ve been reading? If so, what are some of the types you've seen?

- HC

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!


God I praise you,
thank you for sending
me an angel..
From the heavens
above, to take care
of me.

... I love her so dearly,
she means the world
to me.

Having her by my side,
I feel invincible !!

Nothing can ever
come between us,
we're inseparable !!

I'm overwhelmed
with her love..

I love her so much !!

Nothing I wouldn't do
to hold her forever.

She's changed my
life for the better.
And on this special day,
called mother's day..

I want the world to know,
how much I love her...

I'll do anything for her !!

We're two hearts
that beat as one.

I'll shadow her every

Mom I love you with
all my heart !!

I thank the heavens above..

For the greatest mom of all.

Happy mothers day mommy.

Written by: Poet Shi
April 24 2012

The Words Of A Child
To His Mother:

Being loved by my mommy
means so much to me.

She's my ray of hope,
that's why I love her so
A gift from above,
brought down from the

To love and take care
of me.

Truly blessed it is I,
to have you for a mother.

From that very second,
I was in your belly..

I was frighten of my new
surroundings, but just
the sound of your voice
made it all better.

I remember when you
would sing me lullabies,
and put me to sleep..

Such a blessing for me.

As I waited in anticipation,
until that day that we meet.

I remember that burst of
energy, when I first was

When I open my eyes
with caution, to this
beautiful person..

I would call my mother.

Written by: Poet Shi

Friday, May 11, 2012

Write from the Heart: Just a Reminder...

Just a reminder for all you talented writers out there. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU.

Anything worth doing, is worth doing all the way. Put your all into it. It may be the best thing you've ever written. It may be the worst. But at least you'll have written it with every ounce of your heart. Don't be afraid to try something new or think outside the box. Sometimes you just need to say, "Screw the rules!"

Write with joy. Write with passion. Write with your heart.

And write on.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Throwback Thursday!!

**It's that time again! Take a gander at another blast from the past**

Lingering. Lovely word isn’t it? It rolls off the tongue, overflowing with a certain strange…nostalgia. And that’s partly what lingering does.
Imagine your hero or heroine standing before a mirror, dressed in a well-cut suit or a beautiful dress or even in armour. Now if you wanted to give this moment impact you would use lingering—it lets you pause, almost freeze-frame the moment in the book. To capture it.
Lingering employs two concepts. One I like to call “tiny details” and the other is character arc. Character arc is the way the character is in the story—their viewpoint—and, as the story progresses, how that viewpoint changes.
Tiny details in a novel are like moments in life you remember in retrospect. Like, for example, how hot one summer was, how that coffee stain on the carpet never really went away. Basically, tiny details are the little, specific things that make moments memorable.
How do you apply these two concepts to our hero-at-a-mirror example? Easy....(Continue reading HERE)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting the Call: Mindy McGinnis

You might know this writer as the moderator Big Black Cat from AQC. Not only does Mindy McGinnis have an amazing debut YA novel coming out in 2013, but she … wait for it … critiques query letters on her blog! I can’t think of a better way to help fellow writers and pay forward the success she richly earned.  Thanks for sharing your story, Mindy.

I started querying when SASE was a byword in the querying world, and a hopeful writer set aside part of their income to pay for postage. So when I got an email from Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary looking for a good time to schedule The Call, it was truly a surreal moment. 

As a long-time member and newly minted moderator of the AgentQuery Connect forum, I knew exactly where to get my information to prepare for the call. I had my laptop fired up and my browser on this thread, my questions at the ready. It's as indispensable as oxygen when that moment comes for the aspiring writer.

My palms were sweaty and I think the butterflies in my stomach had butterflies in their stomachs when Adriann answered the phone. She talked first, telling me how much she lovedNOT A DROP TO DRINK, which I lapped up like a kitten in a swimming pool filled with cream. After that, she told me a little about the background of her agency, and what they had to offer me.

Then it was my turn, and I ticked off the questions. What changes, if any, did she foresee for DRINK? What houses did she think it would fit in best, and what was her approach as an agent to them? What was her revision process like, and how heavy-handed or light on the reins was she in it? 

Adriann had all the right answers, and after we'd exchanged the business side of things we had a little side-talk about how great The X Files was in its heydey, and what books we were reading at the moment. Even though I had another offer of representation, I knew right away that Adriann was the one for me.

Hey, she likes the X Files.

Bio: Mindy McGinnis is a YA librarian and writer repped by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. Her debut YA novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK will be available from Katherine Tegen/ Harper Collins, Fall 2013. Mindy blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, and serves as a moderator on the writing forum AgentQuery Connect. She also contributes to the group blogs From the Write AngleThe Lucky 13sBook Pregnant and Friday the Thirteeners.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Throwback Thursday!!

**Here's another post from the early days. Enjoy!**

I still receive a lot of questions on exactly what vanity presses are, how to avoid them, and why you should. Vanity presses are something every writer should be aware of, so here, I'll cover what they are, how to spot them, how they work, and why you should avoid them.

First and foremost, Vanity Presses are SCAM ARTISTS. Nothing hurts me more than seeing innocent aspiring authors taken for their money and work by people who know how to prey on the desperate and the uninformed. If you never read anything from me, PLEASE READ THIS POST. And if you know anyone who has asked you about Vanity Presses, or who has been approached by one, before they answer a single email from these so called publishers, tell them to STOP. Tell them to stop right there, and SEND THEM HERE.

So here's how it works. You've completed your novel, and after months or years of hard work, you're looking for the perfect publisher. Or perhaps you've sent your manuscript out and the rejections have started coming in. Then, one day you receive an email from a publishing company saying they would like to publish you. Your heart soars. All your hard work is about to pay off, and all dreams are about to come true. All you have to do is answer that email, give them the list of things they ask for, and it's done. Best of all, they're not asking for much. A bio, a photo, a list of family members who want to buy your novel, and x amount of dollars. Easy, right?....(Continue reading HERE)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting the Call: Lori Sjoberg

Last summer, I participated in a grand speculative fiction marathon of critiquing chapters on AQC. (If you’re interested look here, then apply to become a member of the Speculative Fiction forum.) We post a chapter a week starting in June and running through August. It’s a marathon indeed and super helpful! (Really, I advise everyone who writes a form of fantasy to check it out.) Anyway, there was a lot of great work posted during the marathon, but I remember one lady’s work stood out.
Lori Sjoberg has such an easy flow to her writing. Her effortless style was a joy to read. And her characters popped from the page. I’m happy to say that her first book will be released, hopefully if things go as planned, this December!   

I’ve had my fair share of rejection on the path to publication. For my paranormal romance, Grave Intentions, I queried fifty-eight agents and editors, received twenty-seven form rejections, twenty no responses, four requests for partials, and seven requests for full manuscripts. The one that hurt the most was from an agent who requested the partial and then the full, and then declined to offer representation about six weeks later. The letdown was so crushing I thought about giving up. I probably would have, if not for the kind words of encouragement from my husband, my friends, and my fellow writers.
Still, the rejection stung. I stopped querying and focused my efforts on tightening my manuscript and joining a new critique group. In the meantime, I had a number of outstanding submissions, (one with an agent, and three with editors) so I sent follow-up emails to all four.
Much to my surprise, I received an immediate response from the editor at Kensington. He said he was in the process of reading my manuscript, enjoying it so far, and would let me know when he finished. So I waited. And waited. (Actually, it wasn’t that long, but it seemed like FOREVER.) About a week later, I had a mild coronary when he sent another email. After a couple deep breaths, I clicked on the message.
To paraphrase, he liked my story but didn’t like the ending. He offered some suggestions, and asked me to let him know if I was open to the drastic revision.
Of course, my initial reaction was a resounding “Hell, no!”  How could he possibly ask me to change the ending? I worked hard on that ending! I LOVED that ending!
Following my husband’s advice, I thought about it over the weekend. I reread the editor’s email another thirty or forty times, and came to realize he actually wasn’t asking me to change the ending, just the way I reached the story’s conclusion.
Okay. I could work with that.
It took the better part of an afternoon, but I created a rough outline for an alternate ending that maintained the integrity of the story. Whew. I emailed the editor back, letting him know I was open to a revision, and that I’d love to talk with him about my ideas.
The next day he responded, wanting to know a good time to call.
Two days later, I’m waiting by the phone for his call. I let it ring twice – didn’t want to appear too eager, you know– and then picked up.
Much to my dismay, he didn’t sound very receptive to my idea for the alternate ending. So I kept talking, about how the scene would play out, how it would tie in with events from previous chapters, and how it would bookend the opening scene and showcase the character arcs of the hero and heroine. And the more I talked, the more enthusiastic he sounded.
When I finally finished talking (rambling), he asked me if I was working on anything else. I told him about the sequel featuring one of the secondary characters from Grave Intentions. His response was something along the lines of, “Well then. In that case, I’d like to offer a two-book deal.”
Cue heart palpitations. And the urge to squeal like a little girl.
So I guess the moral of the story is to keep an open mind when an agent or editor recommends a revision. You may not always agree, but sometimes it works out for the best. Now that it’s written, I have to agree with my editor. The new ending is much stronger than the original.

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