Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist!!

Hey everyone! It's that time again! Pitch Wars is here and I'm psyched as hell to be a mentor!

Confused about what Pitch Wars is? Check it out here!

And now for my wishlist. Keep in mind, if you think I'd like something but I don't specifically mention it on this list, send it! It doesn't hurt to send to me, and I look over every entry very carefully. If you submit to me, I'll definitely give it my whole time and consideration!


1. I know the query game like my own left foot. We'll work together and hone yours to disturbingly awesome sharpness.

2. I'm enthusiastic! I USE A LOT OF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will always get a quick response from me - I choose projects I'm enthusiastic about and you'll get the brunt of my undying love.

3. I'm cool and you're cool. Clearly we're a match made in heaven.

Also, thanks for choosing me! I mean, wow. I am honored. Have a kiss from a fabulous long-haired man whom I do not know the name or origin of.


1. YA/Sci-Fi

This is the biggest want on my list. Space, futuristic technology, cool robots, aliens - anything that is Sci-Fi with teens is right up my alley. I'm not too keen on time travel, however, and I'm generally burnt out on the clone concept. Other than that, give me. I am making grabby hands at my screen but you just can't see them. Alas.

2. YA/Historical

It's a commonly known fact I'm a huge history nerd. I love Europe and have a particular fondness for Asia. If your Historical has Fantasy, then double the YES factor from me. I've been dying for a good Historical Fantasy forever.

3. YA/Horror/Thriller

As you may know, my debut novel is a thriller, and there's quite a few agents raring for those, so I'd love to work on a project with creepy elements like kidnapping, stalking, murder, suicide. Anything that pushes the boundaries of YA and takes us on a ride into the darker side is also right up my alley.

3.5 YA/Contemporary

I'm a huge fan of contemporary in YA, however I generally prefer darker contemporary stories. If yours is a light romance, I'll probably not like it. 

3.75 YA/Fantasy

I've been dying to read a good Fantasy. High Fantasy is a special love of mine, but regular fantasy quenches the thirst as well.

4. In General

Don't be afraid to submit to me! I like wit, spunk, and projects that aren't afraid to tackle hard subjects. Sarcasm is a five star plus. Tortured romance is a five star plus. Literary elements are a five star plus. Magical realism is a huge plus. If in doubt, check my goodreads shelf (link on the sidebar!) to see if your project might be something I'd like!

I Do Not Want:

1. YA/Contemporary with a focus on romance
2. YA retellings of fairy tales
3. YA Paranormal or Urban Fantasy

And now for the list of awesome agents who will be judging this contest!!

1.       LouiseFury  Bent Agency
2.       SuzieTownsend  New Leaf Literary
3.       NicoleResciniti - The Seymour Agency
5.       SarahLaPolla  Bradford Literary Agency
9.       QuinlanLee - Adams Literary
14.   LanaPopovic and Natasha Alexis - Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
16.   EvanGregorgy - Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency

Friday, August 9, 2013

Candid thoughts and toothpaste faces

Hello friends! It has been a while. おひさしぶりですね!!

I just put toothpaste on my face to ward off zits. A nice woman at the grocery store told me it helps, so I'm trying it out. She was very candid and I think she inspired me to be a little candid.

So here are some very candid facts I wish I knew as I was working towards becoming an author;
A. There are no rules. The only writing rule is to write. Put as many ‘theys’ and ‘ands’ as you want in a sentence. Use every adverb in the world if you want. Do not sacrifice your wonderful natural voice because some poop king told you not to type the letters ‘ly’ too much. 
B. The first book you write will not be the one that sells. (realistically!) Write many books. Love them all equally. Each of them helps you get better, and if you do snag an agent/publishing deal with one, you can always revamp the old ones and try to sell them, too, so it’s not like you’re dumping them forever. Don’t re-write a book that is your baby to death and choke the life out of the possibility of writing something new, exploring something new, and becoming better. If you do not change you will not improve. If you do not improve you will not advance (in the industry). It’s that simple.   
C. You will get rejected. But if you focus on the fact they’re not rejecting you for YOU, but that agents/editors are rejecting you because it is a BUSINESS, it’s much easier to swallow. It’s a business. Let that become your mantra. No one hates you. No one hates your work. They just don’t think they can sell it and they need to put food on the table as well because they are humans and sometimes, when we get excited about our art, we forget that. 
D. Thanks! You are beautiful! Keep going! I have to wash this toothpaste off so hopefully when I blush I won't smell like burning mint. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Queries are like cupcakes!! cuppppcakesssss!!!

Hey guys! Long time no blog. Can I say that? Is 'blog' a legitimate verb now? It should be.


Let's get into it with that one word. QUERIES. KWERE RIES.

Back when I was querying, I didn't think I'd write queries for my projects once I was represented. This is a lie. Query-writing is the number one most important tool I've cultivated. Writing a query ahead of a project helps to outline where the story is going, what the stakes are, and who the characters will be. It forces you to think like you did in the querying trenches - how to capture the attention of people with a story in less than two paragraphs.

Even now, I get a lot of people asking for help with their queries. I thought I'd breakdown my process for how I see/write queries.

Basically, queries to me are like cupcakes.

I know, you're like YUM WOW BEST ANALOGY EVER. Hopefully. Otherwise you're just staring at the screen like; 'this chick's crazy/obsessed with food'. Both are true. Alas.

picture credit! Her blog is incredibly drool-worthy! go check it out~  

(Keep in mind, the following is just how I do queries. It doesn't work for everyone, and your wonderful way is probably different, and that is amazing. I just thought it would be fun to share how I do mine!)

First up! The most important part of the query, in my opinion, the hook.

The hook is a lot like the cupcakey body of the cupcake. It sets the tone of the query, shows how blindingly good I am at being catchy (pft), and gives the reader an idea of the plot all in one or two sentences. It's best to be dramatic with the hook. Don't be afraid of being melodramatic. In fact, this is the one area of my query where I let myself be dramatic and maybe a little weepy.

Let's say I'm hypothetically writing a YA Fantasy inspired by A Game of Thrones/Legend of Korra. (^_~)☆

What I want is to zoom in on the hooky conflict. I need to make it about the main character's struggle, first and foremost. So!

Yura is the first Darkest Burn mage born in a century.

And the world wants to kill her. 

Tahdahhh! Conflict. We know the story is about mages, about a girl who's a certain type of mage, and that because of that, her world wants her dead.

Now, we need to elaborate. WHY does the world want to kill her? Let's get into that right away so the reader isn't confused. Let's call that the frosting. The frosting is the best part, right? It's the whole reason you eat the cupcake in the first place! You can actually eat it by itself. That's how good it is.

King Nalhalbet of Serko nearly conquered the world with his army of Darkest Burn mages. To stop him, King Farlin of Ral committed genocide against the Darkest Burns. With mage-types passed through bloodlines, the world rested easy - the Darkest Burn power could be abused by kings no longer. But magic found a way; it birthed Yura.

There. The world is fleshed in a little. We now know why they'd want to kill poor Yura. We could probably do without naming the countries each King is a part of, so maybe I'll take out the 'of Serko' and 'of Ral' later if need be, but I feel it adds to the flavor of the world, and shows the warring countries aspect. Let's bring our main character back in and combine her WITH the world. Her actions in it. It's all still frosting, mind. Make it delicious.

When Yura's kidnapped by slavers her magic spirals out of control, killing the slavers, fellow slaves, and the mage-hunting knights assigned to assassinate her. One knight survives - Kahn, bastard of the King of Ral. Determined to complete his assignment and avenge the loss of his comrades, he travels with a guilt-wracked Yura and the old mage Vendal. Vendal takes Yura under his wing, teaches her to control her powers, and leads her to a safe haven in the capital of Lekk, where people flatter, manipulate, and backstab to make her power their own.

This is more set-up, specifically what happens in the book, and who else is involved in Yura's journey. Arguably I could shorten and combine a lot of this with the MAIN conflict, which is below. The MAIN conflict acts as the cupcake wrapper, keeping the cupcake in place and making it appealing. It's essentially the last chance you have to draw the reader into the story and leave them hanging, leave them wanting to read more. So make it good!  

But a greater threat lurks; the King of Ral reanimates the corpses of the long-dead Darkest Burns in an effort to make another invincible army. They regenerate. They overrun villages and make their way to the capital of Lekk. And the only thing that can destroy them permanently is true Darkest Burn magic - Yura's magic. 

If she can't master it, Lekk will perish. If she can't control it, she'll kill innocents again.

Darkest Burns will consume the world again. 

In my personal opinion, I've done better MAIN conflicts, but I do like those last couple lines. Finally, we get to the sprinkles of the cupcake - the summarizing paragraph.

The Darkest Burning is a 78k word YA/Fantasy, pitched as A Game of Thrones meets Legend of Korra. Thank you for your time.

Overall, the query is rather average. I've never done a fantasy YA query before, so this was my first try! It's a lot harder than, say, contemporary, which has a straightforward plot without a lot of world building, since we already live in that world! Although, any cupcake is a good cupcake, I think, and this one is no exception.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 was cool and also cats

This morning someone launched fireworks in my ear to wake me up and I sat up and realized; NEW YEAR.


As I was calmly considering the meaning of time and the universe, I hit my cranium on the headboard and it jostled my thoughts about into a more acceptable frame of mind i.e. Not Insane.

2012 has been an incredible year.

I wrote three books. One of them got me represented by a fantastic agent who supports me and guides me in all the right ways. May 11th, my agent called me out of the blue and offered rep. The rest is history.

By June, we were on sub.

I am lucky and incredibly lucky and so freaking lucky and grateful that my submission time was relatively painless. I missed a whole world of horrible anguish. I got my share of kind rejections and static silence, and through it all my writing friends supported me.

Sometimes, before I became represented, I woke up with stress nightmares. Querying for three years took its toll, and only after I'd signed with my agent did the nightmares stop. My faith in myself, my work, and my agent became a driving force in my life. If the book got picked up, great. If it didn't, okay, fine, I can write an even better one! Just knowing there was someone in my corner (Hi Jessica!!) gave me the confidence to forge forward. And that's true to this day.

August 25th, Jessica let me know we had an offer. From a fantastic, mind-blowingly awesome editor and house.

I can't describe the moment. I should be able to, since I'm a writer. The closest thing I've got is the feeling you have when the roller coaster goes down too fast and your stomach lifts off your intestines and the little hollow floods with suspense. And then the coaster sits flat and everything gets back in place and you're so grateful for it, for feeling full and right again.

I talked to Sharyn and I knew. I knew the book belonged to her, and us, but most of all she got it. PRETENDING TO BE ERICA had not only found a good home, but the right home.

I did a lot of silly crying.

Because feeling right, seeing things become right, that's the best feeling in the world.

A few days after that I turned twenty-two and halloween and thanksgiving and christmas. I was a judge in PitchWars and got to read so many amazing manuscripts. I went on my first blind date (!!!), which is insane because I hate dates and am ridiculously shy, but hey, I DID IT. I became friends with lots more writers. I saw writer friends become better and faster and happier and sadder. The world gets so big the less you see, gets so small the more you see, and it's pretty and momentary but always there under the surface, like a tidepool.

When there's a lot of water, a lot of things, we can't see it. When there's a little water, we can see.

And now New Years.

I think most of all, what I learned this year is that living is scary. But fun.

Most of all, I learned that dreams really do come true. I was a cynic and I still am but holy shit. Life schooled me this year. It slapped me in the face and said "how dare you underestimate me". And that's made this year my best one so far.

I can do anything!

So can you!

Isn't that scary.

It's not about the journey, or the end. It's not about who you are or who you'll become. It's about finding what makes you happy. Happiest. And going for it really hard. All or nothing.

Because right now, you are all. And you are nothing.

Thank you. yes. you.

If you're scared, hold my hand. I'll be here for you if you need it.

Let's go.