Archive for the ‘Queries’ Category

For Part Two covering a summary of the fantastic SCBWI Oklahoma Fall conference held earlier this month all about agents, we move on to the Agent Panel and the Query Letter Panel with our agents in attendance:

Natalie Lakosil from the Bradford Literary Agency

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Emily Mitchell from the Wernick & Pratt Agency

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Danielle Smith from the Foreward Literary Agency

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For the Agent Panel, the agents were asked a series of questions by our moderator, Helen Newton, our new Assistant Regional Advisor. Here are a few of them and the agents’ overall responses. You may find some of their answers surprising.

Question 1: Do you visit an author’s web presence?

Natalie and Danielle both said that they did and that having a web presence was important. Emily labeled herself the Luddite of the group and said it was less important to her, but that an author should feel comfortable with it.

A word of caution was mentioned about what you post online, especially regarding negative experiences of submissions and attitudes towards agents. One of the panel members received a submission from a writer who had blasted her online. Needless to say that was a pass. It was also recommended that you NOT discuss details of your submission process online. Similar to Fight Club, the first rule of Sub Club is you don’t talk about it outside of your group of writer friends…and then only in private.

Question 2: Does an agent ever have something to do with promotion?

No. They don’t.

What?

That’s right. They don’t help you set up book signings or plan out your book promotion.

Are you kidding? We really need to learn how to do that stuff on our own?

Not completely. The in-house publicist should help you with that. As budgets for marketing and publicity have notoriously been on the decline, it would benefit you to learn some basics. However, you won’t be entirely alone. Your agent can work as a go-between with the publicist or help you navigate the crazy world of promotions, but that doesn’t actually fall under their job description. The level to which they provide this help may depend on their own comfort level with PR. Just as some agents are more editorial than others, some agents enjoy or have more experience with the PR side of things than others. That is definitely something to consider when selecting an agent for representation.

Am I the only one totally surprised by this?

Now I understand why you may want to hire a publicist as well. So interesting.

Question 3: What if you don’t like a work by a client, what do you recommend?

Emily stated that she didn’t have to love everything a client produced, but she did have to think each was sellable. If not, then maybe the author should fix it or shelve it. Either way, it would be time for a discussion. Her advisory role kicks in during those situations.

Danielle had a similar response and added that she would ask the writer what else they had to offer.

Natalie stated that it’s a mistake to think everything you write is publishable or you’re a failure.

That is something we should all keep in mind.

Let’s move on to the Query Letter Panel.

Here are some great suggestions made by the agents after our moderator, Helen, read aloud from the anonymous letters submitted for scrutiny:

  • Too much detail. This was the main complaint. So many query letters were filled with extraneous details of either the story or of the writer’s background.

Emily suggested that you pitch yourself smartly.

Danielle boiled this down to a formula that her fellow Foreword Literary agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, came up with: “the hook, the book, and the cook”. Get the reader’s interest with the hook, tell them a little bit more in the next paragraph with the book, but leave them wanting to read more, and finish with a brief paragraph about you with relevant facts about your writing experience and publishing credits.

  • Lot of plot, not a lot of action. Writers spent too much time explaining plot instead of giving the overall view of the action of the story. The agents suggested studying the flap copy of many books to get the feel for how to write a better query.
  • Don’t include market research for FICTION. I think that’s self-explanatory.
  • Don’t include word count near the beginning. If your word count is on the large side, seeing this right away might stop an agent from reading on further. Your goal is always to get them to want to read more. If they are enticed by the hook and book description, they may overlook a word-heavy manuscript and still request more.
  • Include personal connection. If you’ve met the agent, make sure to mention this in the introduction. And don’t lie and say that you’ve met the agent when you haven’t; it’s very unprofessional.

So many great ideas came out of that panel!

It was fantastic. I hope everyone learned something new. I know I did.

Xmas in July post headerA quick post today to encourage everyone to stop by the two blogs hosting the Christmas in July Pitch contest, Ruth Lauren Stevens and Michelle Krys. If you’d like to read my entry, here’s the link directly to it here. Please save your comments on the contest site until the 20th. Only agents are allowed to comment for the next two days. Instead, show your support by posting comments here or by following the Twitter hashtag #XmasinJuly. I’ll try to keep everyone updated on how I’m doing as much as possible. Thanks!

First, I just wanted say, WOW! I’ve gained 50 new followers since the beginning of the year and that’s pretty damn good for me.

“HELLO, NEW FOLLOWERS! YOU ARE AWESOME!”

For those of you who’ve been following for awhile, you’re just flat out amazing, but you already know that.

Enough with the flagrant flattery, I have some pretty great news to share…

As some of you may recall, I mentioned back in May that our local SCBWI chapter has a fantastic event coming up this fall. We are hosting an Agents’ Day on October 5th that will knock your socks off. Registration is now open to non-members as of July 1st – that means now!

Not only will you hear from three wonderful agents who are actively acquiring at this event and have one of the three critique the first 250 words of your manuscript, but you’ll also hear from some of the finest literary ladies with amazing talents who work right here in Oklahoma.

Here’s the Unbelievable lineup:

Keynote speaker Hannah Harrison

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Hannah will share her journey that brought her a two-book deal to write and illustrate picture books for a major publisher.

Special Guest Speaker Gwendolyn Hooks

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Gwen is the author of  seventeen easy readers. She will discuss her latest picture book sale success about the inspirational story of Vivien Thomas, the Man Who Saved the Blue Babies.

The three agents joining us for the day are:

Natalie Fischer Lakosil from the Bradford Agency

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Natatlie is interested in representing picture books through YA.

Danielle Smith from the Foreward Agency

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Danielle is interested in representing picture books, chapter books, and early/middle readers.

Ann Behar from the Scovil Galen Gosh Agency had a last minute scheduling conflict and has been replaced by:

Emily Mitchell from the Wernick & Pratt Agency

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Emily is interested in representing picture books through YA.

If that weren’t enough, the agents will also critique submitted query letters by attendees in a panel discussion. This is another spectacular presentation put on by our SCBWI Oklahoma chapter and you don’t want t miss it. Registration is limited to 90 people and over 50 spots have already been filled, so act soon! Visit the SCBWI OK website for details and online registration.

photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. httpwww.flickr.comphotossahlgoodeIt’s been a busy week here at the Lawson hacienda. I had the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play at the Philbrook Museum thanks to a generous gesture on the part of fellow blogger Paula at stuffitellmysister. She gave me the tickets when she couldn’t use them. So thoughtful!

It was also Autism Awareness Night at the Tulsa Drillers baseball game. Much to my parents’ dismay, the Drillers beat their fave home team, The Springfield Cardinals. There was such a good turn out for the game – so many autism families participated!

Our family had a great time.

Trevor too involved in watching the game to pose for a picture.

Trevor too involved in watching the game to pose for a picture.

Me and the daughter.

Me and the daughter.

View of downtown Tulsa from stadium.

View of downtown Tulsa from stadium.

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Husband photo bombs pic with me and Trevor.

Husband photo bombs pic with me and Trevor.

Almost good! Foul ball.

Almost good! Foul ball.

Trevor loves baseball and can actually sit through a couple of hours of watching the game before he gets restless and is ready to go home. We all enjoyed getting out as a family in a fun, accepting environment. The kids got to go down on the field before the game and the announcer talked about signs and symptoms of autism throughout the evening. The more education out there the better. That’s why the Autism Center of Tulsa is such a great organization and why our family supports them every year during their autism walk fundraiser. Movie Night at Circle Cinema is coming later this month and in July there is the fabulous family fun night swim party. For any other families with autism in the area looking for opportunities to socialize, make sure to sign up!

Believe it or not, there was actual goal progress made on top of everything else. Hell , yeah! Overall a pretty great week.

Here are my #writemotivation goals for June:

1. Submit Museum Crashers (MG mystery) to editor who requested the full. Getting closer to the end – trying not to rush it. I’m really excited about submitting this one!

2. Submit Institutionalized (YA contemporary) to five more literary agents. I’ve submitted to three agents and received an immediate rejection from one. I’m researching specifics on three more to submit to this month.

3. Work on first draft of Pretty Vacant (YA contemporary). No progress on this one.

4. Read at least five books – review one on the blog. I’ve just finished my second book, Hereafter by Tara Hudson. It’s hereafter-200the first in her Hereafter trilogy. Fantastic book. She recently spoke at our June SCBWI schmooze and I really enjoyed meeting her. There may be more news to post about this meeting, soon. Stay tuned!

5. Work on outlining new blog project idea. I made some headway with this by starting my new series of posts, “Inspiring Stories”. More still to do, though.

6. Exercise 3 times each week. Still making good progress on this and still feeling crippled with pain every day from overworked, whiny muscles. (Tell me this gets easier!)

7. Finish critique of friend’s manuscript. No progress on this one, either. Will do better this week!

Nothing overwhelming me so far. It feels good to be back out there submitting to agents – even with the rejections. How are all of you doing with your goals?

Quote of the day:

“In waiting for the glorious moment of that first book contract, writers must have giant reservoirs of patience. Yet they must persevere because they don’t know the destiny that is being worked out for them. They creep humbly along the ground, without the spacious aerial vision of their lives that would show them the destiny in store for them.”

- Ron Chernow

Here’s to creeping humbly and having massive reservoirs of patience! Have a great week, and keep writing!

First of all, I must say that I have been absent from my blogging duties after being knocked down by one nasty summer head cold/sinus infection thing. Why do I always seemed to get the WORST colds in the summer? I wouldn’t know exactly what is was because I don’t like to bother my doctor for things like colds, flus, arms falling off, etc. – only real medical emergencies. I was actually in danger of being dragged into my lovely physician’s office for some serious care as this sickness held on way past it’s welcome – over a week of miserable leaky/stuffy head pain and sleepless nights. (This very whiny writer is ever so glad she married a nurse who loves to take care of her when he isn’t taking care of critically ill patients at the hospital. I’m like a vacation after taking care of actual sick people all day.) Maybe he was being sarcastic…

Anyway, now that I can feed and bathe myself (was that going too far?), a long overdue series of posts has been promised about knowledge tidbits gleaned from THE AMAZING SCBWI conference.

So here we go with post NUMBER ONE. Oh! It’s so exciting!

Speaking of which, THE NUMBER ONE complaint I heard from almost every editor and agent who spoke at the SCBWI LA conference was that writers are sending out their manuscripts too early.

Author and Editor Deborah Halverson echoed this when she reported her findings on the survey of the market:

“Of the unsolicited manuscripts, editors are wading through too many not ready to be submitted.”

I must admit that I myself, am a recovering premature querier.

That’s right! When I first started out on this writer’s journey, the minute I wrote the words, “The End” on my very first novel,  I couldn’t wait to get that newly minted manuscript hot off the printer, into an envelope, and out to the mailbox to be discovered – remember when we mailed queries? If not, don’t tell me. The only thing I discovered was how fast I could receive form rejection letters. Even by snail mail, you can get them pretty damn fast.

When Newberry Award Winner Clare Vanderpool gave her keynote address, she said it took her 16 years to get her first book published. SIXTEEN YEARS!  I’m a little over halfway there, but I still wanted to cry. Then she talked about how during those years, while she was writing her book, Moon Over Manifest, whenever and wherever she could – even at stoplights -  she was also studying her craft, practicing it. She learned that you have to put in the miles. She said one of the major factors for her success was joining a critique group. Sometimes we think what we write is good and it’s not and vice versa. That it’s important to know that what we’re putting out is what we intend.

You should know this before you start submitting your manuscript. You should know if your story flows well and makes sense to unbiased, knowledgeable peers before you blow your one chance with that dream editor or agent. Submit your best, your most polished work. How will you know if this is your best work unless you slow down and put in the time? Unless you get a second or third opinion? Whenever you finish a draft, put it away. Sit with it a few days before you start revising. Re-read it. Revise it. Revise it again. Have trusted readers read it. Revise it again. My good friend Anna Myers says she’d let someone see her first draft as soon as let them see her dirty underwear. You sure as hell don’t want an editor or agent to see your dirty drawers, do you? You know I’m not one for ironing, but I’d probably even iron my underwear before I’d send it to an agent.

Josh Adams of Adams Literary gave this advice to new writers during the Agent Panel: “Do everything you can to be ready, to be polished. There’s such a rush to be published. Do your research. It’s important to find your voice and the voice of an agent who will be an advocate for you.”

There is no hurry. Everyone is waiting for your best.

The only reason I can see for someone to be in a rush is if they are trying to catch a marketing trend and this is another major fallacy that writers should avoid. I will address this in the next post. Until then, keep practicing your craft!

I woke extremely early this morning, knowing the results of the Christmas in July contest would be posted today. I still had about an hour to kill before the anticipated hour arrived and then, BOOM! It was up! My eyes scurried down the winners on both blog sites…

I didn’t make it.

Again.

I waited for the stabbing pain of sadness to hit me square in the chest, but it never did. Instead, a more subtle shift in mood passed over me, more like mild disappointment. Maybe I was starting to develop that thicker hide of skin required of writers in order to survive the querying and critiquing process. That’s about the time I noticed that I had received an honorable mention. One of the hosts, Ruth Lauren Stevens, explained how difficult making the final cuts had been and said of the honorable mentions,”I don’t know if it helps but I want all the people on the list to know that I wavered A LOT over this first set of mentions.” I was in this first set of ten she was talking about.

That was nice and it took some of the sting out of losing. I made sure to thank the hosts for the honorable mention and went about my day. I then got a response from both of them that made me start to feel even better and really look at my honorable mention and how well I’d done in a different light.

Here they are:

Did you get that?

Great query. Great! Query!

Someone had finally said I had a great query!

My. Query. Had. Improved. FINALLY!

Holy crap! Then I started to think about the number of entries. There had been 356. Only 30 entries were chosen. An additional 41 received an honorable mention. Even if I hadn’t made the cut, I’d done better than 300+ entrants. That is quite an accomplishment. Then I started getting congratulations tweets from other writers on my honorable mention and saw several posts congratulating the winners AND the honorable mentions. I thought, hey! That’s me!

A fellow honorable mentioner(?) pointed out that it was fate. She said that if we were involved in this contest as winners, we wouldn’t be actively submitting to agents and might miss an even better opportunity. Getting this close and not winning would only light a fire under our butts and encourage us to get out there and start submitting even harder while the others were hung up in the contest.

Perhaps.

It is a more positive way of looking at the situation, I admit. It also explains how I feel at the end of this day; completely charged up and ready to hit the querying trail. I no longer fear/despise/loathe the query. Bring on the submissions! Butt fire lit!

As a bonus for following me, and because I’ve had some requests to do so, I’m posting my query that doesn’t suck here. It’s quite a difference from the last time I posted one. Enjoy!

CHRISTMAS IN JULY CONTEST ENTRY:

Dear Agents:

The life Sara Peterson knows ends when she climbs the ladder to her sister’s bedroom and witnesses an unimaginable scene. She finds herself exiled from home, surrounded by deviants and sociopaths, while trying to convince those in charge that she’s not crazy.

Sara is admitted to Whispering Sands treatment center as an alcoholic runaway to protect a secret that’s not her own. She’s a straight talker but no believes her when she says she doesn’t need to be there. It’s like a convicted felon claiming they’re innocent. Abandoned in the middle of a strange, violent world with too many bizarre rules to learn and assigned a suicidal roomie who wants to rip everybody’s face off, Sara must find a way out. Never a rule breaker on the outside, she can’t stop breaking rules on the inside, especially when she meets Matt, the only one she trusts with the real reason she’s there. Stolen moments with Matt in secret places are Sara’s only refuge from the craziness and may save her dwindling sanity. Even if Sara does manage to escape her hopeless situation, her future is uncertain. One thing she does know, she can never go back home.

INSTITUTIONALIZED; I’M NOT CRAZY is a young adult novel complete at 86,000 words. I have worked in the mental health field directly with adolescents in psychiatric facilities similar to the one described in my book. This manuscript won first place in the YA category in the 2012 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. annual contest. I am also an active member of the Oklahoma SCBWI. Thank you for taking the time to consider my book. I look forward to hearing from you.

First 500 Words:

That last rum and Coke was a big mistake. I gripped the aluminum ladder. The world swirled around me. I burped and the sickly sweet smell made me gag. Mom would be so proud. I giggled at the thought, letting loose with one hand and swaying a little.

“Damn it, Sara, hold on with both hands up there,” Dylan called from below.

“Shhh,” I held a finger up to my lips and looked down at my date. “I got this.” I adjusted the plastic crown that slid to the side of my head. I smoothed down the fly-away toile of the dress I borrowed from my sister Sam, straightened my shoulders, and started climbing. Man, is this thing wobbly. I started giggling again. I tried to choke it off, but ended up snorting instead. That only made me laugh harder.

“C’mon! You’re gonna wake up your parents.”

I sighed. Dylan was getting tiresome. He’d been awesome at the Spring Fling dance. He’d told me that I was beautiful and the kissing – oh, my God. I could’ve done that all night. My heel slipped on the metal rung.

“Ahhh!” I hugged the cold metal. It felt soothing on my cheek. Everything was spinning.

“Shit!” Dylan said. “Are you all right?”

“Mmm, hmm.” I clung to the flimsy ladder, still swaying. “Gimme a minute.” Looking up, I could see my sister’s light was on. She’d called me freaking out. I didn’t know why. So, I was out after curfew. No one else had noticed.

“C’mon, Sara,” Dylan said. “Do I need to come get you down?”

“I’m alllllll riiiight.” The spinning had slowed. Still there was no way I was gonna make it up any further with my heels on.

“Look out below!” I kicked off my obnoxious shoes.

“Nice.” Dylan mumbled.

I laughed and then started climbing again. He was so serious. I hadn’t noticed earlier. I’d been focused on other things. Like how strong his hands were when he’d held me and how I felt all tingly when he kissed me right on the dance floor – in front of everyone. And me just a sophomore. So surreal.

I made it to the top. I hitched up my dress, swung my leg over the railing, and climbed onto the deck. When I stood up, I knocked into the ladder. I caught it just before it banged against the house. Dylan swore below. I muffled a laugh.

The rough wood prickled my bare feet. I maneuvered between deck chairs to avoid the squeaky boards. I crept up to Sam’s window. It would be fun to scare her. She was always jumping out at me from behind closet doors or around corners. Now it was her turn. I stifled more giggles. She’d left her window cracked. For someone so perfect, she was pretty good at this sneaking around stuff. I could just see through a part in her curtain.

I peeked in and froze. My dad was there. Shit!

Have an excellent weekend. Good Luck to those who made the cut! And to those who didn’t, keep on revising, we’ll get there!

Valerie

Header image and thumbnail photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sahlgoode/

Welcome to another edition of  “How are we doing with our goals?”  It’s the beginning of week two. Are we crying in our beer, yet? Scarfing down the New York Super Fudge Chunk by the pints? Hopefully not. We at the #writemotivation gang are well-known for our supportive nature, and I am more than willing to share some of my ice cream. (Thankfully, I am not at the beer-swilling stage.) And so far, it’s been just a one pint week. (Of ice cream.) I made it into the first stage of yet another frantic contest. I know, I know, right after I just finished with one. The last one had positives and negatives; I didn’t get a request from the agent, but I did win a critique of my first 30 pages. Not a bad secondary prize. After receiving some great feedback, I reworked my query for the bazillionth time. I think that was the lucky number. In this latest contest, my freshly scrubbed query (plus the first 500 words of my manuscript) will be up against 300+ other entries and only 30 will be accepted to continue to the ultimate agent fighting round. We won’t find out our fates until Friday. I may be up to two pints by then. (Maybe not just of ice cream.)

Wheee! So exciting this writer’s life. Actually there’s been a lot of anxiety-driven humor quipped about in the Twitter feed today. Glad to know it wasn’t just me. #xmasinjuly was even trending for awhile today the movement was so intense. Feel free to check out the action any time this week. Friday should be especially exciting.

For those of you who missed this opportunity, remember, there is another contest coming up next week with

better stock up, it’s gonna be a long month.

Entangle Publishing. See this earlier post here for details. Also, our very own#writemotivation leader, K. T. Hanna, just celebrated her one year blogiversary and is offering an opportunity to win a query critique with her agent Judith Engracia of the Liz Dawson Literary Agency. You have through Tuesday to enter. See K.T.’s blog post here for details.

On to the GOALS!!!!

1.Write full rough draft of new WIP. Barely started, but at least I did get started so let’s say “Eh, not bad. Not great, but not bad.” on this one.
2. Continue to submit current YA project out to agents. YES! YES! YES! Sent out five brand new, fully researched submissions. “Rock star!”
3. Keep up with my blog posts, commenting on blogs, etc., but also keep a limit on this time so that my writing comes first. Dead modem helped me limit my time better than I would have on my own. I was shaking like street hustling junkie by end of the third day. This will continue to be a challenge. We’ll say. “You squeaked by with a pass this week, Lawson.”
4. Exercise three times a week. Done and done! A hearty “You can do it!”here. I may be freakin’ sore all over, but I have plenty written in my exercise journal for the past week and this week is already looking good. Just someone tell me when the aching muscles subsides and I can have more ice cream. Please?

Hope you all are having a fantastic time wrestling with your goals. Hang in there!

In an effort to keep everyone informed of online querying opportunities that I come across, I wanted to make sure you all know about an upcoming event that two YA writers are hosting – a great contest called Christmas in July where you may earn the opportunity to share your query and the first 500 words of your completed novel with ten, yes TEN, participating agents. The contest opens this Monday morning at 6am EST, so dust off your queries and first pages, give them a fresh polish, and enter them into this most excellent contest. (I’d hoped to give everyone a little more notice than two days, but my modem died and I’ve been without internet service for a few days. Ack! So glad I got it back in time to enter on Monday!) See Ruth Lauren Stevens and Michelle Krys respective blog sites for more details. You can also follow the action on Twitter at #XmasinJuly. Good luck to all!

So no sooner do I open my big mouth and say how shiny my query is than I turn around and get a chance to prove it (or not). Daisy Carter is giving writers a chance to have their queries critiqued, all in preparation for a pitch contest with her very own agent, Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. The window is closing fast, so stop by her blog by midnight tonight if you are interested.

Here is my query open for all to critique:

Dear Fabulous Agent of My Dreams:

(I enjoyed meeting you/I chose submit to you paragraph goes here…)

 

Second born. Second place. Sara has been competing with her sister for attention all her life. Being perfect and never breaking the rules hasn’t made a difference. Frustrated, Sara sneaks out to attend the school dance. When she stumbles home drunk and tries to climb in through her sister’s window, she can’t believe what she’s seeing until it’s too late. Reality is forever altered. She runs away.

Lured back by her mother whom Sara hopes she can trust, she finds herself drugged and admitted to Whispering Sands Treatment Center as an out-of-control alcoholic runaway. Sara knows better; her parents are hiding her away to keep a secret that is not her own. She can hardly admit it to herself, so why tell someone else? She does tell the staff that she’s not crazy, but that’s like a convicted felon claiming she’s innocent.

Surrounded by the psychologically unbalanced and assigned a suicidal roomie who wants to rip everybody’s face off, Sara must find a way out. Hope comes from the baddest bitch on the unit. She tells Sara how to work the system, how to break the rules and pretend to be a sociopath on the road to recovery – she just wants a few favors in return. Her only refuge is with Matt, a boy who’s just as lost as she is. The stolen moments she finds with him after hours, in hidden spaces, might save the dwindling grip she has on her sanity.

INSTITUTIONALIZED; I’M NOT CRAZY is a young adult novel complete at 86,000 words. I have worked in the mental health field directly with adolescents in psychiatric facilities similar to the one described in my book. This manuscript won first place in the YA category in the 2012 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. annual contest. I am also an active member of the Oklahoma SCBWI. Thank you for taking the time to consider my book. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Valerie Lawson

As some of you may know, I participated in the Cupid’s Literary Connection Surprise Agent Invasion Contest. The details of which are here in this previous post. Well, the contest has officially ended and I was indeed struck by Cupid’s arrow a few times – such a giddy feeling! The contest as a whole was so much fun. It was also incredibly intense and nerve-wracking as well. I met some fantastic new writer friends. We bonded over on Twitter where we totally obsessed about what agents would stop by, WHEN agents would stop by, would the current agent browsing through the list pick our entry (please, please,PLEASE!!!) We really knew how to obsess. But the best thing we did was offer up support and congratulations to each other when an agent made a request – and there were many requests! There were a total of 86 requests made by 12 agents and 1 editor who stopped by for surprise invasions during the three week period that our entries were posted. Not bad! I’d definitely call that a huge success.

I learned some valuable things about my writing from the agent comments on my entry, mostly that they loved my first page and that I apparently lack the ability to write tight, clear queries. (I kind of already knew that part; I loathe the query.) It was a good thing my writing was strong enough on the first page for a few agents to over-look my atrocious query. As I am always looking for ways to improve my craft, I decided that I should suck it up and dispense with the query-loathing and master the damned thing. Several writing friends have already sent me in the direction of their favorite query sites and given me helpful tips, but I am always open to hearing more from others who excel in this area.

In the column of even more exciting news, hot on the heels of her vastly successful Surprise Agent Invasion Contest, our lovely, hard-working Cupid has a new contest starting May 3rd called “The Writer’s Voice”. She is patterning it after the hit show “The Voice”. Entries will be picked based on their queries and first pages and then a few select coaches will get involved to help the chosen candidates improve their entries for the final round where agents will pick their favorites and request to see their manuscripts. One major change in this contest is that you do have to have a blog to enter. Check out the details if you are interested in entering. It should be another amazing contest.

For me, I plan on watching this one and cheering on the hopeful competitors. I still have one agent reviewing my manuscript and once I brush up my query skills, I will start submitting. I may have a few more agents requesting soon. Who knows. Good luck to the new competitors!