Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September #IWSG: Wait For It...(Getting the CALL!!)

First Wed of Every Month

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

I apologize for being MIA last month. My crazy summer ended in a trip to Mackinac Island then off to a new job as an elementary school librarian to getting the most important phone call of my writing career!!! 

Wait for it...

A few weeks ago an agent emailed me (I assumed another lovely rejection) to tell me how much they loved my story. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this before, but usually they end with a "but it just isn't a good fit for my list right now." Instead, she ended with the words, "I'd like to set up a phone call with you." 

I almost fainted. I most certainly cried. Probably screamed in excitement. Danced around the room a few times. Passed out in my writing chair.

Yes, it was THE CALL. I am now represented by Britt Siess at Martin Literary Management!!!! Britt is kind and knowledgeable and professional and personal! And I'm super excited about her vision for my book and my writing career.

Here's the timeline: 

I started writing this book in November during NANO. I slogged through December and January with tons of self doubt swirling around me, like an endless demon fog with sharp teeth ready to devour every shred of my self confidence. I finally convinced myself to continue in February to the shouting of my critique partner, "FINISH THE BOOK!" After bribing myself with coffee and more coffee, I  exchanged the final draft with my CP in March. I entered my middle-grade murder mystery in a contest at the end of April. Won Runner-Up in said contest!!! 

Confidence boost!!

In June, I entered the fierce competition of Query Kombat and found myself on Michelle Hauck's team. I lost the battle in round one, but became a host save and made it to the agent round. My MG entry THE INK AND PAPER SOCIETY nicknamed "I Can Keep a Secret" got the second highest number of agent requests! However, this summer has been slow, searing hot, and full of crickets. Britt was not one of the requesting agents from Query Kombat. I queried a few agents in July, but then stopped. Seriously, I barely queried this manuscript. Not wanting more rejections (because I freaking LOVE this story!!!!), I enjoyed the rest of my summer. I had queried another agent at her agency, and she kindly referred me to Britt! 

I'm over the moon at attaining my long-time dream of securing literary representation! How's your month going? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July #IWSG: Summer and My Great Expectations

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Co-Hosts: Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

My ultimate writing goals stay the same: agent + book deal + bestseller list. Ha. A girl can dream. Last month I landed in the agent round of Query Kombat. I am pleased to say my middle grade mystery got the second highest amount of requests!! Now I wait. Always waiting. 

This week I am on vacation in the great cheese state of Wisconsin, visiting family and enjoying the great outdoors. Yes, you can actually step outside here and not get your face melted off. Oh, how I've missed my home state---in the summer. Not so much in the winter! 

I hope everyone has lofty writing goals and great expectations! Have a fantastic rest of summer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June #IWSG: The Art of War or Battle of the Nerves

First Wed of Every Month

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

After last month's celebratory dance (winning runner-up in RevPit), I changed into camo gear and entered Query Kombat. Out of 400 entries, my new MG mystery was chosen for Michelle Hauck's team! But battling a middle-grade fantasy entry this past week turned brutal. I lost. 

Plot Twist

Drum Roll

Wait for it!

In a Host Save, Michelle snatched my entry from the rubble of lost dreams littered across the battle field. My new story enters the agent round (30 agents, people!!) starting Thursday!! Agents make requests in secret for four days.

*Locates paper bag*

*Passes out*

I'll just be hiding in a cave for the next week. 

Seriously, that is all, folks. After this nail-biting stress, I need a vacation.

P.S. I love naming characters. Titles of books? Not so easy. For my new mystery, I've tossed around three different titles. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May #IWSG: Time for a Happy Dance

First Wed of Every Month

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month!

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring brings out the editor in me. But as writers know, editing is re-writing. So, I guess I am writing! 


I spent the entirety of April editing my NaNo project. After ignoring my family for thirty days, I typed THE END. I finished just in time to enter my new middle-grade mystery into #RevPit. Revise and Resub is an online contest hosted by eleven professional editors who choose winners from about one hundred entrants each. The top winner gets to work with an editor for five weeks. The runner-up gets several critiques on a smaller scale. In a writer's world full of disappointment and rejection, it's nice to get good news!

Drum roll...

My new story staring a kick-butt, twelve-year-old girl solving a crime in Door County, Wisconsin, won RUNNER-UP!!! 

And that's all I can say about my book. The rest is top secret. I'd tell you, but, you know...

I don't usually talk about my submission journey. But I felt like shouting my latest victory to the world. Even small victories and accomplishments can push us to keep writing and moving forward. My shiny, new MG mystery is almost ready to sub to agents. My other middle-grade mystery Link Lakowski and the Dead House remains on sub with agents and a few editors from a different contest. But I am confident it will find its home very soon in the book world.

The submission phase is tedious, depressing, and not for everyone. Get yourself a CP or two. Read Story Genius, The First Five Pages, The Emotions Thesaurus, and EVERYTHING on K.M. Weiland's blog. Do it now. 

Fun Facts: 

I am a native of the great cheese state of Wisconsin--the setting for my new book.
My mystery is filled with more secrets than a teenage girl's diary.
My family didn't disown me this past month.

Anyone else enter #RevPit? Entering any contests this spring or summer? 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April #IWSG: Rainy Days and Zoo Trips

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: 
When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

This past month brought tons of rain, a snow day, and the flu. I love rain. Don't even talk to me about the other two incidences. 

I don't have to dig deep these days. The faucet in my writerly brain overfloweth. My CP and I are on a roll. Almost finished with our initial exchange-two-chapters-at-a-time method, I'm anxious to dig deeper. If you fail at digging a tunnel to the heart of your story or you're stuck in the muddy middle, I suggest reading K.M. Weiland's blog posts (talk about a gold mine!) and the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

I'm keeping this post short this month due to flu bug crawling its way into our home. I can't wait to hear how you guys dig deep and keep writing strong! 

We did manage a day outing during Easter break. I highly recommend the free St. Louis Zoo. The penguin exhibit and the sea lion tunnel are worth the traffic jams. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March #IWSG: March Madness (aka editing like crazy) Month

First Wed of Every Month

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal / finish a story?

Happy March Madness! 

I'm super excited to co-host today! My CP is a drill sergeant. Just kidding. But she keeps me moving on my WIP. When I finish two chapters and send them to her, I critique hers and get ready to send a few more. We go back and forth until we get through the entire manuscript this way. Then we will exchange the whole manuscript for a final walk-through. Along the way, I take breaks. Sometimes I hang out with this guy Oliver. And, yes, that is a kitty bow tie.

But mostly, after a long week of editing or writing, I take my youngest downtown to get ice cream while I get a coffee drink. Then we snoop around, checking out the local museums and attractions. One place she loves to visit is the Hannibal History Museum. They sponsor the local Steampunk festival each year. In the back room, they have about twenty dioramas. Each one displays a scene from Mark Twain's book Tom Sawyer. It's a frightening experience especially with the lights turned low. And when you press a button, you hear a lady's voice reading from the book. Not creepy at all.  

When I finish editing a manuscript, I clean my entire house. Yay me. How about you? How do you celebrate each step along the way? 

P.S. I apologize to my WordPress friends. In order for my avatar with a link to my blog to show up in your comment feed, do I need to create a Wordpress/Gravatar account? Not sure why it won't show up like on other blogs. Is there any other way to do this without having to get a WordPress account? Any thoughts? 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February #IWSG: Murder, Anyone?

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?
Co-Hosts: Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia,Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

I write mostly upper middle-grade/young adult mysteries and fantasy with 12-14 year old protagonists. 

I have always loved mysteries: murder mysteries, art heists, stolen artifacts. It doesn't matter whether the mysteries are geared for kids or adults or anyone in between. I LOVE all forms of mysteries: books, movies, TV series. 

Any good story/TV show will incorporate a heavy dose of mystery and intrigue. In reading/writing mysteries, I love the set-up, the devious deed, the red-herrings, the suspect list, the plot twists, the motives, the means, the opportunity, and the big reveal. 

My favorite mystery writer for kids is Robin Stevens. Her Muder Most Unladylike series feature kid detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong who solve murders in the English countryside at a boarding school known as Deepdean. They also solved one aboard the Orient Express, and in her most recent novel, they solved a double murder at Cambridge University. 

My favorite fantasy series staring paranormal investigators would be none other than the Lockwood & Co. books by Jonathan Stroud.

What keeps me turning the pages of a good mystery is my personal hunt for the murderer or the art thief or the villain, trying to solve the case before the main character does.

What is your favorite genre and why? 

September #IWSG: Wait For It...(Getting the CALL!!)

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of t...