Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting the Call: Kate Evangelista

Everyone who has ever looked, or plans to look, for an agent should read this story. Getting the call is not the end of the road. I really want to thank Kate for sharing her tough experience. I'm glad she's found where she belongs, and hope she will come back in October for the release of her second novel.
The Call – A Break-Up and a Triumph

When I decided writing was my career of choice, I had naïve (some might even say fantastical) ideas about the publishing industry. I had it all plotted out: write a book, edit it, submit, get an agent, get published. Five easy steps, right? I see many of you shaking your heads. I was totally wrong and I’m not afraid to admit it.

A year and a mountain of rejection letters later, I finally got “The Call.” That one phone call every budding writer waits for like a girl with a crush on a boy. In less than thirty minutes, my life changed. I got an agent! I had already accomplished four out of my five steps. I was feeling good about myself.

Little did I know that I would become one of those horror stories I’d read along the way to getting an agent.

Almost another year and five rejections from editors later, I got another call.

One of the things you want from an agent: a champion of your work no matter how low you feel about it.

During this fated call, I made the decision of maybe stopping the submission and maybe moving on to another novel to submit. My agent readily agreed. This was the second red flag, the first being I had a hard time getting in touch with said agent.

Still the naïve writer I was, I decided to pitch a novel I had been thinking of writing. Agent gets really excited about this novel and says it will sell easily. This enthusiasm propelled me into writing said novel in a month. In the meantime, I submitted another novel to keep said agent busy.

When I finished writing my third novel, I hurriedly edited it then submitted to my agent. The reply was a very long email that basically said the second novel I had sent was crap with concerns that since I wrote third novel in only a month it would be crap too. I quickly realized agent had not read third novel and had already judged its worth based on my other two works.

Another thing you want from an agent: Someone who will encourage you to do better and that your book will get published. Basically, someone who doesn’t give up.

This didn’t happen. Instead I was put down when I was already feeling low.

So, having once gotten out of an abusive relationship, I recognized the signs and fired said agent. The next email after the firing added insult to injury in that agent finally read third novel and said it was my strongest writing yet. What was I to make of that?

Like any girl fresh from a break up, I was determined to prove myself. I revamped my query letters and submitted to agents and smaller presses. I got the most Full and Partial requests in my writing life during this trying time.

Vindication wasn’t far. I knew it in my bones.

I also gave the universe a deadline. I said if I didn’t get an agent or a publishing contract by the end of the year, I would boldly plunge into self-publishing.

It works to give the universe a deadline because a month later, I signed my first book contract, which produced Taste, my debut novel released last April 30, 2012.

I’d since signed three more contracts after that: two of which are for YA trilogies and one for a companion novel to Taste. The first of one of the trilogies comes out this October. To date (since breaking up with my agent) I have one book out and seven more on the way, three different publishers in all.

The biggest lesson learned? My naïve views of publishing were just that. There are so many roads to a writing career. Just because you don’t have an agent doesn’t mean you won’t get published. And just because you have an agent means you will get published.

I found my vindication, and I’m living my bliss.

“The Call” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. If you get your dream agent, I’m happy for you and wish your writing career the best. If you don’t have an agent yet, it’s not the end of the world. Go for smaller presses. They take care of their writers better, instead of getting into a Big House and being just one of many mid-list writers who can get dropped without a second thought.

At the end of the day I write because I want the stories in my head to be read. It doesn’t matter what road it takes to get to the readers so long as it gets there.

Taste Blurb:

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff AcademyPhoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Author Bio:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Author Website:
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste: 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Little Pep for Your Salt!

Don't you just love the title of this post? I do! Come on...admit're totally smiling right now ;)
Now that I got that little grin on your face...
I wanted to share a little pep talk with y'all. I actually wrote this for a close group of friends when all of us were struggling to get back on the writing train. I was reading it again today and thought--What if someone else really needs to hear this? So I will share this overly peppy (and slightly amended) pep talk with all you awesome writers out there! Time to clean those slates of ours. Wipe away the old, broken promises we made when it comes to our writing.
Come on now!
Clean slates everyone! Clean slates!
*gives one last scribble, crazed laugh, then wipes clean*
There. Ahh...fresh.
Now...How dare you? Oh yes. You! How dare you let those wicked lies fill your head?
I mean those evil haters that whisper failure into your ears. You know the words.
"You started this years ago and you haven't finished."
"You're never going to be published."
"Nobody is reading it. Nobody likes it."
"You're wasting your time."
"You should be doing something else."
"Ugh, you're still chasing that dream?"
"I love you but maybe it's time you..."
"I believe in you but..."
Or worse! The things we say to ourselves are sometimes more horrible! I've heard them..I KNOW.
"I suck."
"I'll never be as good as..."
"I'm never gonna get a deal. I'm never gonna finish. I'm wasting my time."
"I can't get it right."
"Omg! I have to rewrite again? I should just give up."
See what I mean? We're just awful to ourselves. So quit it! What kind of talk is that? Huh? Chin up, shoulders square. (move hips side to side heh heh) Now shake. Shake says I! Just feel that negativity roll right off.
Haha this sounds like a bad workout instructional :D
Now see, it's all gone.
Now listen close: You are master, ruler, captain, etc...of words. You make them come like nobody else. Oh yes. When letters see you settling in to write they just scramble toward you. They practically beg for you to turn them into something fantastic. "Me! Pick me! Use me!"
Oh yes. You hear them? They're calling you now. You are incredibly gifted. Talent can't be bought or taught...and you are TALENTED. Genius is what you are. Brilliant! Must I say it again? Okey dokey...YOU ROCK! Like boulders in a great typhoon. Or maybe like spuds on blue soil.  Yeah...umm.
Oh you rock! Just like the robin in that song.
Now repeat after me: I am the bomb. I am a sexy, naughty little writer who is uber talented. I am going to do this. I will keep writing until I finish--and I will finish--and it will be amazing. I know my story is worth telling. Worth reading. And people will love it! I will let any bad things slip through my ears because they are evil and wretched and not true. I am going to write. I am going to work toward my word count this week knowing I have people in my corner who are rooting me on. And I will...above all...LOVE WHAT I DO.
Now don't you feel special?
I hope so. if not, we're going to have to have a chat, you and I.
Well, I hope this has been sufficiently perky for y'all. Until next time!
Happy Writing!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting the Call: MarcyKate Connolly

Believing in ourselves can be the hardest part of being a writer. The lack of validation from legitimate sources can be a killer. I got a chance to read a couple of chapters of MarcyKate's Monstrous and the voice blew me away. She may not have know it, but I think everyone else knew this book stood out from the crowd. Once again, you have to keep up your courage because it's persistence and talent that pays off. I want to wish MarcyKate the best of luck with her submission process. I'm doing a happy dance for her, too!

First, thanks so much for inviting me to do this guest post, Michelle!

Like many other writers, I’ve spent several years in the query trenches, writing, re-writing, and submitting, all in the hopes of finding that one agent who loves my work. I’ve had more than my share of highs and lows. The 3rd novel I queried came particularly close, garnering a large amount of requests, but in the end, no offers. So when it came time to query MONSTROUS (my 7th book, but 4th I’d decided to query), I had reached a point where I was paralyzed by fear.

I was absolutely (and foolishly) terrified to send out this book. I was scared to send it to my crit partners. Then once they approved, I was afraid to send it to agents. I was even nervous to enter it into blog contests (which normally I love to do!). MONSTROUS is hands down the weirdest and most challenging book I’ve written to date and I was very emotionally invested in it. The thought of it coming close and not being good enough to get an agent yet again stalled my forward momentum, despite my full awareness that I was being a complete ninny.

Then came the Writers Voice Contest in May (hosted by the lovely foursome of Brenda DrakeCupidKrista Van Dolzer, and Monica BW). I got up the nerve to enter and was shocked and thrilled that 3 of the judges wanted my weird little book to be on their team. By the time the contest ended and the agents had voted, I had several requests for MONSTROUS.

This was exactly the push I needed to start sending out queries. I began researching agents on my list who I thought would be a good fit with renewed gusto, but still held back a little. I queried in fits and starts and only when I was in a Go Big or Go Home frame of mind. I’d send them out late at night before I could think better of it and usually woke up the next morning thinking I was crazy to have done that. This was not my normal querying process by any means! Usually I’d send out 5-10 at a time to a range of agents so I didn’t burn through my top picks before perfecting my query. But this time, I felt confident my query and first pages were good (it was just the rest of the book I worried about!) and I ended up querying only my A-list. I was blown away by the response – I only sent out 20 queries, but my request rate was about 70%. Including the ones from contests, I had 18 requests for MONSTROUS.

But, of course, I was still getting rejections – it’s inevitable. About 6 weeks after I sent out the first batch of queries, I got an email response from an agent as I was walking home from the train station. I nearly fell over when I saw the preview of the message on my phone read “Would you be available to chat this week?” I kept telling myself she probably wanted major revisions and that she wasn’t calling to offer. But it was an offer! And she was lovely and she was excited about my book and I was pretty much on cloud nine! After I talked to Agent #1, I nudged everyone else reading my book (8 at the time) and all the outstanding queries (another 5 or so). A couple got back to me bowing out, others with requests.

One of those requests happened to be from a particular agent who I’d long considered to be someone I’d give my right arm to work with, so I was over the moon that she wanted to read MONSTROUS! I sent the manuscript off right away and she got back to me later that night to let me know how much she was enjoying it so far. She finished reading within 24 hours and emailed again, gushing about my book (!), to arrange a phone call.

That was about the time my head exploded.

Fortunately, I managed to pull myself together for our call a couple days later! Agent #2’s enthusiasm for her work, her clients’ books, and MY book completely blew me away. Add to that the fact that her suggestions for revisions were spot on and she was easy to talk to, and I had a feeling she was going to be the right agent for me.

The happy dancing officially reached epic levels (to the point where the excessive flailing was scaring my dogs)!

But I still had several agents reading and wanted to be sure I gave everyone who was interested serious consideration. You really don’t know how you’ll click with an agent until you talk to them. Out of those agents, I received another offer and had another Call with Agent #3. She was as excited about MONSTROUS as the other agents, her clients loved her just as much, and her sales record was stellar. She was even easy to talk to. I could tell she’d be a great advocate for my book.

Then came the hard part – I had to make a decision. All three agents were awesome. I felt certain they’d all work hard to sell MONSTROUS and they were all interested in helping me build a career. It was both wonderful and terrible because I’d have to say no to two of them and there’s nothing I like less than disappointing people (especially nice, awesome people).

But when it came right down to it, I kept coming back to Agent #2. I felt like we really clicked over email and the phone, and she’d made a point of keeping in contact over the course of that week. Not only did I like her ideas for revision just a little more than the others, but her level of enthusiasm was higher and I believed that would translate over during the submission process to editors. When I finally emailed Suzie Townsend to tell her I was delighted to officially accept her offer of representation, part of me was terrified it was all just a dream and she’d email back “Just kidding!”  Fortunately, that was NOT the case J We’ve been working together for the past few weeks preparing to go out on submission and she’s been absolutely fantastic!  

BIO: MarcyKate Connolly is a writer and arts administrator who lives in New England with her husband and pugs. She’s also a coffee addict, voracious reader, and recurring commuter. She blogs at her website and the From the Write Angle group blog, and volunteers as a moderator at Her work is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media. Her short story “Connected” was recently published in the Spring Fevers anthology by Elephants Bookshelf Press.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting the Call: Suzanne van Rooyen

This week's author has a ton on her plate. Suzanne has broken into writing by heading in more than one direction, providing more proof that a boatload of talent with determination and perseverance are the key. Very cool cover, Suzanne, and a big congrats on the agent offer! I hope you'll come back again and share more details for the December release.

My journey to publication has been a bit of a whirlwind. I've always written, but never really thought of being a writer in terms of career. It was only in 2010 when I began writing Dragon's Teeth that I had any inclination of trying to publish.

What started out as a short story grew into a novel for NaNoWriMo 2010 and after another two months of daily writing, became Dragon's Teeth. I submitted my manuscript on a whim to Divertir Publishing, wanting to take the first step towards being a real writer. I expected a rejection, I hoped for some feedback, I never ever expected a publishing contract.

My almost year long journey from signing the contract to seeing my book in print taught me so much about the writing industry and about myself as I writer. I owe a huge amount of thanks to Elizabeth Harvey (my editor) and Ken Tupper (publisher) for investing in my story. It was the publication of Dragon's Teeth that made me realise that what I really wanted to be was a writer, because that's who I've always been: a storyteller.

In the wake of Dragon's Teeth, I joined the online writing community Scribophile where I continued to learn about writing as a craft and about the industry. I started following author and agent blogs, I discovered Duotrope and the world of writing no longer seemed like a magical, far away realm but something real that I could be a part of. In the past year, I've had fifteen short stories published and have gradually been stepping up the ladder towards pro paying markets.

I've also been writing, a lot! Being a musician, I understand the importance of practice; the dedication, discipline and perseverance it takes to perfect an art. I write every day, even if I only manage a couple hundred words.

After Dragon's Teeth, I wrote two other novels. Obscura Burning pretty much wrote itself in a lightning bolt of inspiration that had me abandon everything else for the two weeks it took to write out the first draft. A YA science fiction novel, Obscura Burning is about a troubled boy who finds himself tossed along the space-time continuum in the wake of tragedy. I queried agents for this novel but the feedback, while consistently positive, made me realise that my very dark and edgy novel was going to be a tricky sell for traditional publishing. I turned instead to indie publishers and within a few weeks had an offer of publication from Etopia Press. Obscura Burning is now tentatively scheduled for release December 7. 

The other novel was Daughter of the Nether, a YA mythpunk story set in a post-apocalyptic world. I entered this manuscript into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award earlier this year and never expected to end up a semi-finalist. My journey with this novel is far from over but after four months of consistent querying, I just had an offer of representation! My head's still spinning about that!

Putting my journey into a few paragraphs, makes it all sound fairly easy, but it definitely was not. The hours spent writing, the hours spent curled up in a ball of self-doubt as the rejections rolled in, the hours spent editing, revising, staring at a blank page – writing really isn't for the faint of heart, but determination and patience can pay off. It was Einstein who said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.” And any writer can attest to that!

Bio: Suzanne van Rooyen is a South African speculative fiction author currently residing in the snowy wastes of Finland. She is the author of Dragon's Teeth (Divertir Publishing, 2011) and Obscura Burning (Etopia Press, December 2012). Her short fiction has appeared in Golden Visions Magazine, Earthbound Fiction, Niteblade and several others. Although she has a Master's degree in music, she prefers writing strange tales and conjuring weird worlds, and playing in the snow with her shiba inu.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting the Call: Calista Taylor

You never know what the future will bring as Calista Taylor found out. She took a tough situation and went her own way with her steampunk writing, not only getting published, but also self-publishing, and starting her own business. Anyone in need of book covers can rely on her expertise. Congratulations to her for having her non-fiction steampunk book released next month and check out her available steampunk fiction.  

I’ll admit, my path regarding agents hasn’t exactly been a straight forward one.  I never got “the call”, but rather an email from the woman who would soon be my agent and would represent my steampunk romance and mystery, Viridis.  Unfortunately, soon after signing, the agency dissolved—not exactly what you want to hear when you’ve finally managed to land an agent.  Luckily, my agent and several others formed their own agency, and I was brought along.  Again, another unfortunate turn of events occurred six months in when the new agency decided to drop adult fiction and stick with YA and stories for a younger audience.  Part way through submissions, I found myself agentless.  Not exactly a fun situation, and I was forced to shelve that book and the second I had written in the series.
About a month later, I blogged about making a leather corset to wear to a steampunk convention.  Low and behold, an agent read it and thought he could really sell a steampunk craft book and wanted to know if I’d be interested.  Amazingly enough, without ever having to query, I found myself with a new agent, though this time it was for a genre I’d never even considered—non-fiction.  That book ending up selling, and will be available in the next month under the title, Steampunk Your Wardrobe.

In the end, with the market turning favorably towards ebooks, I decided to dust off my steampunk fiction series, and self-published it myself.  I’ll admit, it’s been a pretty amazing ride, and with my next book, Jack—A Grim Reaper Romance, I ended up half-heartedly querying a dozen agents before deciding to self-publish it myself.  Even better, and completely unexpected, was the cover design business that got started when I self-published my first series. 

Publishing can certainly be a rough and rocky road, but I’ve learned that there are many paths, and one seldom travels in a straight line.

 You can find Calista and her fiction books at her cover creation site. Her very cool steampunk craft book is on Amazon

Friday, August 3, 2012

Getting the Call: Me, Michelle Hauck

Here’s a surprising turn of events, this week’s Getting the Call post is my own story. I started this series of posts at a low point in my journey. It was a time when the rejection letters piled up, and I needed a jolt of inspiration. Perhaps, somehow, I hoped reading about others’ success might rub off or maybe reveal a clue to a hidden secret. They were intended to lift my spirits and the spirits of other people, not that I believed other people would ever come to this blog. But you did.
When I started querying my first manuscript I had no clue. I didn’t know the rules of writing, of how to write a query letter, or of what made a good story. To give you some idea of the awfulness, the manuscript, an epic fantasy, was 167,000 words. My cheeks heat up just thinking of everything I did wrong. It was a flop, a disaster. I began doing research by reading agent blogs. I got help on my letter from other writers. The results didn’t improve. I ended up with three requests out of somewhere around seventy letters sent. All three were swiftly followed by rejection and, in one case, even worse news. The agent with my partial had passed away. I felt terrible.
I did the unthinkable; I shelved my baby. You read the words of other writers about how they trunked their first manuscript, but I never thought it would happen to me. It did. By now I knew Heartsouls would never work in its current state. It lacked conflict, and the characters ran wild instead of adhering to the plot. There wasn’t a nice clean stand alone ending. It needed a total rewrite. Instead I started a new story.
In this second story, another epic fantasy, I did everything right or so I thought. I kept to the plot. I understood query letters, or at least the idea of how they should work. I didn’t rush off to query my first draft. To my eternal good fortune, I found Agent Query Connect where other writers with a clue share their experience. I took advantage of the critiquing marathon for Speculative Fiction writers to improve my skill at editing and get some feedback on Kindar’s Cure. I collected a double handful of beta readers and spent months editing before sending out a query letter. Guess what happened? Kindar got three requests. Oh, it did get personalized comments. In fact, it got more of these than requests. ‘I love your concept, but …’ There was always a ‘but’.
All my research and careful preparation and I got the exactly same number of requests. Three became a taboo number. I was cursed. Those rejections kept coming in and they hurt big time. Even I noticed that I didn’t laugh or joke as much as I used to. The revise and resubmit Kindar got came back another ‘no thanks, not for me, but good luck with finding someone else to represent you’. Then the third and last full came back as a form rejection. No words of advice, just a form rejection. A few weeks later that agent left the business. Oh, God, it was happening again!
But this time there was a difference. I knew Kindar was a good story. I knew it was well written. Give up? Heck no!
I began to submit straight to publishers. And hey, a lot of them didn’t want query letters. Right away I got a request for a full. My kids thought I was nuts, running around the house in a victory lap at seven in the morning. I got other requests mixed among the rejections. My numbers were higher. I ran a percent of requests to submissions over twenty percent. Partials went to fulls overnight in one case. Still the rejections overshadowed everything else. And guess what? The requests became stuck at three. There it was again. The number of doom. Time went by and I immersed myself in my work in progress, refusing to think about Kindar.
In June a different publisher opened their submissions. Low and behold, I got another request. I did it! I passed the cursed number three to become four!
I didn’t lose the habit of checking my email like a junkie. One Sunday night, pretty late, I gave my mail one last look. The first publisher to request, Divertir, showed up in the inbox along with some more innocent letters. Crap. Do I open it first and get the bad new over, or do I save it for last and hope a little longer? I opened it first. It was short. Ah, rejection for sure. They’d been awfully busy but they wanted to let me know they’d like to publish Kindar’s Cure. What? I read it again. Then again. It kept saying the same thing! There was no victory lap. I sat there in total shock. ‘Uh, husband, they say they want to publish.” Husband wasn’t impressed. He took bad new harder than I did; he wouldn’t allow himself to get excited anymore. I don’t think he’ll believe it until the book is in his hands.
Several weeks later, I find that I’m agreeing with my husband. This good news didn’t happen to me. But it did! Divertir gave me a tentative release date and everything. I have an editor. Me, an editor. It doesn’t seem real. In fact, to be perfectly truthful, it’s been a little scary. It’s a leap whether it’s signing with an agent or accepting a publisher. You’re signing over something you created and putting it in strange hands.
The connections I made through this blog series were invaluable. I followed Terri Bruce’s and other writer’s advice before signing. I had the contract looked over by a friend who knows his stuff. I asked lots of questions. I think Divertir will be a good fit for me. They are a small place, but that makes me comfortable. They listen to what their authors think and work with the authors to make their visions came to life. I won’t get lost in a crowd there.    
I used to think getting an agent or publisher was the ultimate goal, the end all. Getting the Call would be the happy ending to the story. It’s much more. It’s a new beginning to a whole other story.    

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Congratulations to Terri Bruce!

In place of a Getting the Call post today, I'm excited to have a Happy Release Day post for Terri Bruce! Her novel, Hereafter, is out! She'll be back soon with a report of her very emotional feelings at this big day. I know that Terri went through a lot trying to bring this moment about, including a ton of work with a very short window to her release date. You can read her Getting the Call story here. And she will be enjoying a Meet the Author chat tonight at Eternal Press' web site and asks that everyone join her at 7:00EST. Check it out as there will be door prizes and who doesn't like free. I'll be ordering my copy of Hereafter and sending her a photo for her wall.


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