Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Release Day!

So by now, you probably know the story. I was adamant about the fact that New Adult was not a thing. Then I read Cora Carmack's Losing It and changed my mind.

After that I read a lot of New Adult. In fact I read just about whatever I could get my hands on. I loved it! But because I read so much of it, sometimes the stories started to feel a little similar. I got a lot of submissions (which was a good thing!) but after a six months to a year, I started wondering if this was it, if I could find more NA that I really loved, or if I had about all the NA clients that I needed.

Then I got a query from Renita Pizzitola. And I was reminded what I love about NA so much.

Just a Little Crush by Renita Pizzitola is a beautifully authentic college story. It reminded me of how it felt to think that I had everything together, that I knew exactly what I wanted out of life only to find out that it was the things I was wrong about--and the hot mess mistakes--that worked out best in the end.

So.

Happy release day to Renita!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Ask Me Anything: How Literal was I...

Okay, here's the question:
I remember Suzie always states that she keeps reading a manuscript if the first line catches her, then the second, the third, and so on. I don't know if I should take this literally, but if you come across a line that needs work, do you stop there even if you were interested in what was before? Are you willing to forgive that single line (or lines) and keep going?
This is a good question. I do say this a lot. I wasn't the first agent to say it. I heard it from a wiser more experienced agent on a panel back when I was a baby agent.

So here are my thoughts.

You do have to take that literally...to a point. For the first 25-50 pages or more until I'm hooked, each line really has to grab and hold onto me.

Once I'm hooked, I can overlook things and keep reading.

Now, here's the thing. When you mention a "line that needs work" though, it makes me think we might be talking about different things.

When I mention that the first line catches me, I'm not talking mechanics. I'm talking voice and storytelling.

Have you seen this?

I started reading that manuscript on a Sunday afternoon. I could not stop. Even though the manuscript turned out to be 168k words. It had some issues. I gave some notes. There was probably a typo or two. But the voice and the storytelling had me by the end of the first chapter. There was no way I was going to stop reading.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Example Query: Renita Pizzitola

Here's another example query for you to feast your eyes on. Renita queried me with her NA manuscript The Unity of Opposites in October last year.

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES is a New Adult Contemporary Romance complete at 70,000 words.

When nineteen-year-old Brinley Monroe runs into Ryder Briggs--an insanely desirable, tattooed bad boy and the other half of her disastrous first kiss--she knows she’s in trouble. Since that humiliating day four years ago, when she experienced a moment of Ryder-induced-bliss followed by nose-diving into a swimming pool, she’s hated him...every delectable square inch. Now in college, her past has reappeared and, by the looks of it, still hasn’t grown into his ego.

Despite their scorching chemistry, a guy like Ryder is the last thing Brinley needs in her life. As the product of a teen mom, who now loves vodka more than her own daughter, Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life. But while spending time with Ryder, she discovers there is more to him than the image he broadcasts. Though complete opposites, they share the same fear--repeating their parents’ mistakes. And as Ryder's desire not to hurt her drives him away, her trust in him draws them back together.

But when Ryder’s involvement in a campus-wide scandal comes to light, the only person to pay is Brinley. As much as she wanted to believe otherwise, learning from her past means leaving people from it out of her future. Now, in order to protect her, Ryder must fix the mess he’s caused then do what he should have done from day one. Walk away.

I am a romance author currently published through Lyrical Press. (YA Paranormal Romance series--October 2012 and September 2013, and an Adult Urban Fantasy Romance--March 2013). I appreciate your time and consideration and sincerely hope to hear from you in the near future.

 Here's what caught my eye:

The Title. Now, we actually changed it--more on this later--but I loved the title. It automatically intrigued me. (Maybe I always go for people who are my opposite, I don't know).

That first paragraph gives a great set up. I love that Brinley and Ryder have a history and that it's humiliating for her. A disastrous first kiss followed by a nose-dive into a swimming pool--and it's made her hate him? That feels so very authentic. I still have a high school kiss that makes me cringe whenever I think of it. And if I ran into that guy now, oh I wouldn't be a fan.

But what really gets me with that paragraph is that Ryder "still hasn't grown into his ego." This is such a great example of voice and characterization in a query. It's a little detail, worded in a way that reflects exactly something that Brinley would say and it tells me so much about her and about the book.

The second paragraph sets up more conflicts. This is a book that is a romance but each of the characters have their own conflicts going on as well. Brinley's relationship with her mom comes into play here. More than that though, I also love that "Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life." This tells me that she's a strong character, she might have history and family issues like all of us, but they're not going to get the best of her.

And of course the tease of a campus wide scandal really got me too, but what I liked about the ending is that this feels like a romance that's more than just a will they/won't they--it sounds like a relationship story, something that requires working through every day conflicts and struggles. It feels so real and authentic to the college experience.

Of course Renita is a fabulous writer so when I started reading her pages I was totally hooked. And I wasn't the only one. 

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES and two companion novels sold at auction to Random House Flirt. We changed the name to Just a Little Crush and now it comes out October 21st. That's almost 12 months to the day that Renita queried me!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

If you're missing summer, this is the book you should curl up with this weekend.


It's the best one yet.

Wishlists -- New Leaf Style

Recently on tumblr someone asked me if the NL team had their wishlists somewhere online. I have mine on the blog and try to keep it current-ish, but I thought updating all of our wishlists and posting them would be a great way to kick off the fall.

So here they are--click on our names to be directed to the wishlist!

Mackenzie Brady

Kathleen Ortiz

Suzie Townsend

Joanna Volpe

Happy Fall!

Friday, August 22, 2014

So tell me...Can You Handle the Truth?

Apparently I don't hold up well under peer pressure....

It's August, I am about to head out for vacation, and I'm excited to come back in September and finish 2014 with a bang.

So you asked for it.



What am I talking about?

I always hear from writers that they want to know what an agent is really thinking when they click to send a form rejection.

If you fall into that category, this is your chance.

When I'm back from vacation, I will respond to the queries I receive in complete honesty. I will either request your manuscript or I will pass and tell you exactly why.

No form rejection.

Now, this isn't a critique. Please don't expect that. I would never again see the light of day.

This is just an honest response to your query, but if you've been getting a lot of form rejections, this might tell you why. (hopefully it'll be at least a little helpful?)

You may see something as simple as "Not bad, but just not for me." or "I don't represent legal thrillers." or "Mermaids creep me out." OR you may see something like "I don't understand your plot" or "I stopped reading when you mentioned that the mailman was a vampire space zombie who has come to deliver a message of PAIN. Because come on...seriously?"

So, if you want the truth, query me for the next week (so right now until 11:59 pm EST on Saturday 8/30) and follow the directions very carefully.

Directions:
  • Queries must be submitted to Query(at)newleafliterary(dot)com. 
  • All queries entered must have this in the subject line: QUERY SUZIE - I can handle the truth
  • If it does not have this in the subject line, it will be considered a regular query only.
  • Queries must be in the body of the email. NO attachments!
  • Queries should include the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email below your query. 
  • One query per writer please. (Don't think you can trick me with different email addresses either)
I will make an announcement when I have responded to all the queries. I'll be aiming to have them all answered by Sunday 9/7.


Further Guidelines:
  • Yes, if you've already been rejected by me (or someone else at New Leaf) you may resubmit your query. But revise your query first. Don't say "You already rejected me..." Treat it like you've never queried her before.
  • Your queries will NOT be posted on this or any other blog. I will reply to you via your e-mail, only.  (Make sure your email doesn't require me to fill out some form to prove I'm not a spammer--I'm not going to go that above and beyond to get back to you).
  • You must treat this as an actual query process, which means you need to have a complete manuscript. If I do request your manuscript, I don't want to find out there isn't one!
Okay, ready go!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Multiple Offers of Representation

Recently on tumblr someone asked what they should do if they're in the lucky position that more than one agent offers on their manuscript.

First I'm going to say that's awesome.

Next, I'm actually going to defer to a brilliant post written by the fabulously talented MarcyKate Connolly who found herself in that exact position when she queried her forthcoming novel, Monstrous.

Here's what she says.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

Jennifer Ryan's third novel in The McBride's series is out today!


Here's a confession: I don't actually rep this book. I recently started working with Jennifer but this book came before me. 

But I love it. I'm a huge fan of Jennifer's books. Swoony cowboys and romantic suspense, sign me up. This is a perfect novel to dive into while you dig your toes in the sand. Trust me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

Lori M Lee's debut novel, The Gates of Thread and Stone is out today!


I love this book so much. It has it all: beautiful writing, page-turning suspense, a strong and smart heroine, a swoony love interest, and a creepy and magical fantasy world.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Series Closer!

At midnight tonight, the Prep School Confidential series will be complete.

Kara Taylor's fabulous third novel, Deadly Little Sins, will be available!


Anne Dowling is pretty much my literary best friend and it's been so wonderful to watch her throw herself in harm's way and sweet talk her way out of trouble and of course fall in love a little. 

If you haven't read this series, you should.




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Querying

Okay, here's today's question:

The feedback I've been getting from my Query, runs something like this: Really interesting. No thank-you. I'm not sure if that is polite-speak for it sucks, or, simply not their thing. So, how to get a foot in the publishing door: A) Pound harder; B) Open a window (i.e. write a different genre/category book entirely); C) Quit: it's too hard.
Here are my thoughts:

This is most likely a form rejection.

This could mean:

A. Your query does suck (sorry, it happens, they're hard!)

B. Your concept is overdone (ie the genre is dead)

C. You're not querying the right people (hey I get a lot of queries from screenwriters so this happens)

What you should do:

1. Have some critique partners/beta readers/friends who write (etc) read your query. Get some feedback. Figure out if it's your query or if it's your book.

I'm going to say that if you've gotten 0 requests it's your query. If you had a good query, a few agents (especially new agents or agents who really love a genre) will request.

2. If it's your query, revise accordingly. You want your query to make people sit up and say "Oooh and then what happens?"

3. After you've resent your queries, start working on something else that's completely different.

4. Never quit. :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Example Query: Kara Taylor

I have another query that worked to show you. This one is the query the fabulously talented Kara Taylor sent me a little over four years ago.
Dear Ms. Townsend,

Seventeen-year-old Maggie’s job selling hot dogs at the beach is the epitome of unsexy, but it’s not like she wants to hook up with a guy wearing something a few inches shy of a Speedo anyway. Then she realizes Andy, the head lifeguard, isn’t visiting her three times a day because he forgot ketchup. Maggie finds out there’s more to him than his gorgeous abs, and their summer fling turns into a real relationship.

Then Casey, Andy's ex, calls to tell him her birth control failed.

It doesn’t help that Casey has graduated from pushing Maggie on the playground and making fun of her absent father to leaving Andy’s old love notes in her locker. But Maggie’s done with Casey’s bitchcraft. She won’t let her ruin Andy’s pre-med plans or the only relationship that’s felt real to her since her family dissolved.

The only way to coax Casey into choosing adoption is to earn her trust, even if it means opening up to the girl who knows how to hit Maggie where it hurts. But her plan backfires when she starts to empathize with an unborn baby more than the idiots who made it. Even worse, finding out the real reason Casey is willing to trade her ballet slippers for stretch marks reveals something within Maggie that terrifies her: sympathy for her worst enemy, and the realization she might not be so different from her after all.

SILVER MEDAL is a contemporary young adult novel complete at 62,000 words. I chose to query you because I too fear I may never love my future children as much as I love my dogs. I have included the first ten pages of the manuscript, hoping you will like to read more. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I received this query at a time when no one wanted contemporary YA--back in 2010. (That's when everyone was buying paranormal and dystopian). But I couldn't resist requesting this.

Contemporary stories can sometimes seem hard to write queries for. If they aren't plot heavy stories with really high stakes it can seem daunting to try to make it sound exciting. Here's what I love about this one though.

The twist on stories I've read before. This isn't a high school pregnancy story from the POV of the pregnant teen. It's about the new girlfriend of the teen dad.

It's more than just a romance. Sure there's a romantic element, but there's a lot more to this story. If the main character is empathizing with the baby and realizing that she has more in common with her high school enemy than she though--there's a deeper story there. I love that.

I also love the writing and the voice here. There's potential for humor and a flawed protagonist who makes mistakes but will figure it all out by the end (my favorite kind).

Now the title of this manuscript changed, and I didn't sell it. (Contemporary was a tough sell then remember). But it got us working together and since then, Kara has written three contemporary mystery novels and a TV pilot. And she has a lot more coming down the pipeline. And I still love this book and Maggie, it's wonderfully flawed and hilarious heroine.

1_29_PrepSchoolConfi#8BF92DWICKEDLITTLESECRETSCoverDeadly Little Sins (FINAL COVER)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

Kelly Fiore's second novel, the fabulous Just Like the Movies, is out today!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Ask Me Anything: How Many is Too Many

Here's the question:
I've heard many people say that an agent rejection doesn't mean your manuscript is bad - it's just not a fit for that agent - but how many rejections does it take before a writer should start to reconsider their manuscript and either rewrite or abandon?
This is a good question.

What you've heard is true. And agent rejection doesn't necessarily mean your manuscript is bad. The same with editor rejections. We've all heard the great stories about books that are super successful and got a lot of passes.

But you're right to start thinking that perhaps a certain number means a pattern.

The tricky thing is that there is no set number.

When I go on submission I send to a group of editors. If they all pass, I look at their reasons. If there are similar reasons, then I'll revise with the author and then submit to new editors. Then we might do the same thing again. The whole time, I tell the author to keep writing something else.

You want to do something similar with queries.

Query 10 agents. If you don't get requests, revise your query and first pages. Then query 10 more. If you get requests but then passes, have a beta reader read and send you some notes. Then revise your manuscript. Then query more agents, etc.

All the while, work on something else.

If you don't get an agent and you exhaust your query options and you feel like it's time to put this manuscript in the trunk, hopefully you've already got a new something else that's ready or almost ready to be queried.

This is a long process. I know that sucks, but you're in it for the long haul.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Example Query: Lori M Lee

It's been a while since I shared a client query, but if you're looking for a good example, I have one for you. This one was written by my fabulous client, Lori M Lee.

A few weeks ago, Lisa Desrochers sent you some pages from my YA cyberpunk fantasy HARBINGER, and I was thrilled to hear you were interested in taking a look. I'm honored to have Lisa's referral, and I hope you'll enjoy the story. I wasn't sure how many of my pages Lisa sent you or what I should send now, so I figured I would just submit what's listed in your submission guidelines. 
People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta. Like the rest of the citizens, seventeen-year-old Kai pretends not to notice. With her own survival to worry about, she doesn't have much concern to spare. But when her brother vanishes, Kai will do whatever it takes to find him, including using the ability she promised her brother to keep secret—Kai can see and manipulate the threads of time. 
With the help of an annoying and distracting friend—distracting because he's beautiful, and annoying because he knows it—Kai discovers a secret war between Ninurta's governor and a rebel named the Black Rider. The Rider has been kidnapping Ninurtans and transforming them into cybernetically enhanced soldiers called Golems. 
Kai sets out to find the Rider and discovers a shocking secret: the Rider is actually the Harbinger of Famine. And Kai? Not as human as she thought. Now, Kai will have to face down the Harbinger and uncover the link between herself and the secret war before her brother gets sent for dehumanization. 
Equal parts sci fi and fantasy, HARBINGER is complete at 75,000 words. An excerpt from HARBINGER also won first place in the San Francisco RWA Heart-to-Heart contest in the YA category, and Adam Wilson at Harlequin Teen expressed interest in seeing the full manuscript. He informed me that while he recently moved to Simon&Schuster, he would still like to see the manuscript and wants to forward it to Harlequin Teen. 
I included the first chapter below. Thank you so much for your interest, and I'm very much looking forward to hearing from you.
This is interesting because there's a referral in the first line. It's important that if you use a referral that it's a real referral though. Every once in a while I get a query with a referral from one of my clients--and the client has no idea who the author is. So don't lie--you might get caught.

Lori's referral was in fact true and I was very happy to receive her query.

What I love about this query is that it's a really great example for a fantasy novel--or any novel with a lot of worldbuilding. Rather than start with her main character, Lori starts with a problem in a way that grounds me in the world: People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta.

This query is predominantly about Kai. I get a strong sense of her personality and who she is in this world (and what she can do!) in a very quick span. Obviously this is a fantasy world, but it's Kai and her missing brother that I'm most interested in.

Now the title of this novel changed and in revisions it became much more of a straight fantasy, but it's now called Gates of Thread and Stone and will be released in August!


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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?