by Brandy Colbert
Theo is better now.
She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.
Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
I’m not usually a goal setter but early in 2013, I found myself sitting on a newly rewritten (and mercilessly polished) novel and a fairly decent query letter. And what was I doing with my #amwriting time?
Rewriting yet another novel.
Because I like to rewrite—it’s comfortable and familiar. In my writing world, I AM IN CONTROL.
And because querying is very scary.
After some serious internal and external debate, I decided it was time to get serious about getting published. My plan for accomplishing this goal was:
1. Attend some of the events hosted by the writing organizations, of which I was already a member.
2. Connect with and support other writers/authors.
3. Attend a conference.
4. Get back in the query trenches.
There’s a wonderful writing organization right here in Richmond called James River Writers. I registered for their Fall Conference as soon as registration opened and signed up for an appointment to meet with one of the literary agents on the list. Then I started reading everything I could about pitching to an agent at a conference and I wrote a really horrible elevator pitch.
Then my dear friend, Deb Dudley, encouraged me (like the two-handed shove kind of encouragement) to enter Brenda Drake’s #PitchMadness Contest. So with Deb’s help, along with my CP and some friends at YAwriters, I wrote a better one-line pitch and I entered. I received several agent requests as a result of this contest but what’s important to my agent story is that I gained CONFIDENCE.
This newfound confidence did not stop me from checking my inbox every three seconds, however. Nor did it calm my elevator-pitch anxiety because now the conference (and my agent appointment) was only a couple of weeks away. And the stakes were higher—because there had been a change in the agent lineup.
Now I had an appointment with an agent who had recently joined my DREAM AGENCY, and who was actively acquiring YA clients!
When I sat down in front of Beth Phelan, I was a nervous wreck. But I remembered to say my name (yay!) and I remembered to congratulate her on her new position at The Bent Agency (double yay!). Then I told her the title of my book.
And that’s where she stopped me.
She said that SOMEONE had already told her about my project and she was hoping that the Elle Blair on her appointment list was the Elle who’d written the novel.
How freaking awesome is that, right?
So I was stunned, but maybe a little more relaxed and I blabbered some more and Beth asked questions (which I managed to answer) and then our time was up and she handed me her business card and asked for the FULL.
I sent it, she read it and then I got THE CALL!!!
After I hung up, I took a picture of my phone and texted it to a few of my writing friends. And then I galloped up and down the hallway like a circus pony until my throat was raw from screaming.
I’m telling you people: It. Was. AWESOME!!!
Now, is anyone curious about the mysterious SOMEONE who told Beth about my manuscript before I did?
Good because this is my favorite part of the story.
About a week before the conference, I attended a book-signing event in Richmond called Teen’13. I bought a contemporary YA book by an author I’d never heard of—simply because the cover was beautiful and when I read the blurb, it sounded like my kind of story. While The Author signed her book for me, we talked about writing. She asked about my project and I rambled on about my experience with #PitchMadness and my upcoming agent appointment at the JRW Conference. And when I asked if she would allow me to practice my elevator pitch on her, she said yes.
At the time, I didn’t know that Erica Orloff was a multi-published author and a JRW Board Member, folks. I didn’t know she would be having dinner with the conference faculty the night before the event. And never in a million years could I have guessed that she would be so impressed by my premise and my enthusiasm for my project that she would tell Beth about me!
All I knew was that she was gracious and lovely and so very easy to talk to.
So remember to CONNECT WITH AND SUPPORT OTHER WRITERS/AUTHORS my friends. Because you never know!
Thanks for stopping by!
A couple of weeks ago, my lovely friend, Kristi Tuck Austin, wrote a post about her upcoming participation in The Blog Tour. When I tweeted to tell her I couldn’t wait to read her answers, she asked if I wanted to join in. Please visit Kristi’s website to read about her writing process. It’s a fascinating post with some amazing novel research video of the interiors of two big-city drain tunnels and the Paris catacombs.
And now, my turn for the Q&A:
1) What am I working on?
I am writing the first draft of my fifth novel and I’m amazed that the process hasn’t gotten any easier (more on that in question 4). The manuscript is a contemporary YA, with just a little hint of magical realism, that my agent and I refer to as the HTR (Head Trauma Romance).
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’ve been complimented on my ability to write a believable teen voice. Once, a contest judge commented that she would not be surprised to learn that I was, in fact, a teenager myself.
There’s a pretty good chance I’m old enough to be that judge’s mother.
I think (I hope) that it is my experience as the parent of teenagers that makes my work stand out. I love my relationship with my kids: the good, the bad and the dramatic. And I LOVE writing about these relationships from both sides of the proverbial fence.
3) Why do I write what I do?
My obsession with young adult fiction started about five years ago, as an effort to spark my son’s interest in reading. I challenged him to a reading race; then I devoured the entire Harry Potter series in the same amount of time it took him to read the first book.
And I was HOOKED.
The writing transition was just as easy.
4) How does my writing process work?
I’m a pantser. I get a flash of an idea: sometimes it’s an entire scene; sometimes it’s just an image of the main character. Then I sit down at my computer and write to see what’s going to happen. If all goes well, the next scene starts to form in my thoughts as I’m winding up the current one. If not, I go back and read one or two chapters to see if I took a wrong turn somewhere in the The Pantser Maze. If that doesn’t work, I get up and move around. Walking and showering are an integral part of my writing process.
My current WIP has been a bit of a struggle and just recently, I figured out why. My rewriting and polishing skills have gotten quite the workout over the last two years but I forgot how to first draft! I totally forgot that I used to start with dialogue and maybe a few notes in parenthesis to remind myself that the character needs an internal thought here or needs to move there. I forgot to take my own favorite advice (which I kind of borrowed from the movie SHREK): Novels are like onions. They’re written in layers. I write dialogue first; then I go back and answer all those questions that start with W.
Next Week on the Blog Tour:
Phil Stamper is a public relations and social media professional from Washington, DC. Growing up, Phil was an only child in a small farming village in Ohio. While it could be seen as a boring lifestyle to some, he kept himself entertained through playing the piano and writing stories that stretched his imagination. As a winner of the Project REUTSway 2013 competition, his short story PRODIGY will be published as part of REUTS Publications‘ upcoming anthology.
You can visit Phil at: philstamper.com
Trinity Doyle is a graphic designer who writes realistic young adult fiction. She grew up trapped in the suburbs with terrible phone service and could be found reading in the family car in order to avoid her crazy brothers. She is currently working on two young adult novels.
Check out Trinity’s blog at: trinitydoyle.com
Don’t forget the hashtag!
Use the #MyWritingProcess hashtag on Twitter to find other stops along the tour.
Thanks for stopping by,
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One day, my awesome critique partner and I were walking (to keep our bottoms ends from spreading) and talking about writing (because, duh). I was struggling to come up with an analogy for all of my many first-draft pantser problems and my amazing CP said this:
“It’s like a maze.”
And I said, “Yes! It’s exactly like a maze.”
The Impossible Knife of Memory
by Laurie Halse Anderson
For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.
Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?
A few years ago—back when I first realized that one day I would need to write a query letter—an agent (whose name I don’t remember) said something (in an article I can’t find) that really stuck with me.
(Yeah, I pretty much suck at this blogging thing.)
One query in particular made the agent question whether the writer had ever actually read a book. She went on to say that she wished it was a requirement for querying writers, not only to read in their genre, but also to purchase a book every once and a while.
Writers should support the industry they wish to become a part of.
I was already doing the reading part but not so much the purchasing. So that day, I decided to commit to buying at least one book a month.
This month I bought two. And because recently, I’ve become curious about book marketing—and because I was inspired by this post on /r/YAwriter’s—I’d like to tell you why I bought them.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, I’d love to know what your last book purchase was and why you bought it.
My February purchases are:
THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katia Millay
I read about this one on Goodreads last year, purchased the e-version and read it twice. Last fall, it came out in paperback (Here’s the story of the novel’s journey from self-pub to traditional-pub) and I’ve been dying to read the print copy!
I five-star love this book.
THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina
Meg Medina is a local author. I’ve been interested in this book for a while because it has elements of magical realism (which I LOVE). Last year, I attended a SCBWI event with Ms. Medina, where I bought and she signed: YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS (an awesome book with a growing list of awards). Now I’m even more anxious to read this one.
What inspired your latest book purchase—was it recommended by a friend or book reviewer? Was it a must-have sequel or a book by one of your favorite authors? Did you fall for yet another pretty cover?
Thanks so much for stopping by!
I read YA because it brings back memories. And sometimes, it helps me to understand the teenagers who live in my house. I read YA because the authors are brilliant. They tell stories that make me laugh and break my heart. They show me the world from a different perspective.