Queries were cleared out by 8:00 pm, 12/16/2012

Total Queries in the Inbox: 209

Manuscripts I Requested: 3

YA Fantasy
YA Sci Fi (something I haven't seen yet!)
Adult Women's Fiction

In my queries, there was a lot of YA and a lot of really long manuscripts.

The thing about long word counts is that manuscripts a little over 100k words don't necessarily scare me. Manuscripts that are 150k, 170k, or over 200k, those do scare me. I know there are some great manuscripts that are that long, but for every great one there are hundreds that need a lot of work.

If you have a really long manuscript, make sure you check your pacing. Go scene by scene. Get into each one late, get out early. Make sure each scene moves the plot forward in some way. Check the dialogue and cut any repetitions.

Then have a beta reader go through your manuscript with the same things in mind.

Then, if you still have a long manuscript go ahead and query. But maybe, and don't quote me on this, leave your word count out.

As of 6:00 pm I've finished reading this week's queries.

There were 193 queries in the inbox this week.

I'm seeing a lot of science fiction and a lot of ghost stories in my queries. I'm certainly not opposed to either, but I think it has to feel new and different.

I requested 4 manuscripts!

MG fantasy: query was a little vague but still caught my interest. Pages are good!
YA fantasy: sounds fabulous
Science Fiction: It's unclear if this was YA or adult, but either way it looks good.
YA contemporary: Sounds awesome.

So as you'll notice there are some clear patterns to my requests. Almost all of my requests could be explained with "great premise in the query and I love the pages."

On top of my wishlist:
More adult manuscripts. I could go for a good contemporary romance (and I'll even look at new adult contemporary romances). Or women's fiction! Or magical realism. Anything really. I'd love to find another great adult project.
As of 4:32 pm on Saturday, all of my queries have been answered. I had 246 queries in my inbox.

I requested 1 manuscript.

YA fantasy that sounds unique and amazing.

I regretfully passed on 2 manuscripts.

Another YA fantasy that had a really cool premise, but I just wasn't grabbed enough by the writing.
Adult romance with science fiction elements. Really cool premise, but I wasn't sucked into the voice in the first pages.

This is a new one for me, but--don't admit in your query that you don't actually read or enjoy books.

Along those lines, remember that the best way to present yourself is in a professional manner and as someone who will be lovely to work with. Agents want to represent good books, yes, but we also want to forge a great working relationship with our writers. Even if you are bitter, disillusioned, or desperate (It's a tough industry, I get it), try your best not to show it.
The third installment of Allison Pang's Abby Sinclair Series is out today.

A Trace of Moonlight

My favorite thing about this series is Abby. Her voice is amazing. I would follow her anywhere.

Also don't miss the launch party with Sandy Williams whose novel A Shattered Dark is out today!

We've had to postpone the launch party due to the power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, but next week, we'll party!

I was a little late with my queries and didn't get them finished up until 11:57 pm on Saturday 10/27.

I had 181 queries in my inbox.

A lot of historical queries this time--historical YA, historical adult, historical middle grade. It wasn't exactly more than other genres but more than I seem to typically get!

I requested 3 manuscripts.

MG part X-Files part Encyclopedia Brown with great writing.
YA Fantasy, Graceling meets Game of Thrones.
Adult historical romance with pirates!

I regretfully passed on 1 manuscript.

YA Thriller--It sounded interesting and the writing was good, but it just felt too similar to a few things on my list already.
Due to Hurricane Sandy, we're postponing this event. We'll party next week. Stay tuned.

 Tuesday is the launch day for Allison Pang's A Trace of Moonlight and Sandy Williams The Shattered Dark. These are both fabulous series so we're throwing a virtual launch party (7-8 pm) and giving away a copy of each book.

Make sure you're there!


It's 4 pm on Friday, 10/19/2012 and I've finished reading my queries.

I had 180 queries this week--a lot of fantasy in the inbox this week.

I requested 2 manuscripts

YA steampunk that sounds awesome.
Contemporary New Adult, clearly it sounds amazing.

I regretted but had to pass on 1 manuscripts.

YA fantasy. Great query and comp titles, but the writing just didn't seem there.

Now I know this seems a little light for me. I've been noticing lately that I think the quality of my queries has gone up. On one hand this is awesome. On the other it makes it a little harder for people querying me to stand out. Because the truth is I can't represent everything that I think is awesome--I can't even read everything that I think is awesome because I don't have the time.

Queries and reading requested material is barely 10% of what I do. And trust me, no one would want me for an agent if it was more than that. But that means I have to be selective with my time, and if the quality is going up it means I might have to be even more selective.

That means if you're querying, really make sure your first pages are stellar. That's what's going to make me need to read more--and probably other agents too.
Ingrid Paulson's debut novel, Valkyrie Rising, is out today.

When I first read this manuscript, Ingrid had an agent who was leaving agenting. He sent the manuscript to me, hoping I'd like it and would take it on. I loved it.

The top three things I loved about it:

1. The concept: it's an urban fantasy based in Norse mythology, something I hadn't seen before, and it was executed so well.

2. Ellie: She's a fabulous main character. She's sweet but also strong, and she steps up and comes into her own during the course of the manuscript.

3. The romance: It's one of the most swoonworthy romances, I've ever read. So realistic, so sweet, and so amazing. 

As of 2:35 pm, I've answered all my queries.

There were 166 queries in my inbox today.

Of those, I requested 1 manuscript.
A self published YA paranormal trilogy that I considered pre self publishing as well. The author has had success and wants an agent to help with her career.

I regretfully passed on 1 manuscript.
A really unique sounding fairytale retelling in a steampunk world. I'm still thinking about it. Someone will snatch it up--it's just not for me since I have a few fairytale retellings or original fairytales on my list. ***
-- This query stood out though and even though I didn't request it that's what you want. For your query to stand out.

This is where I'm going to encourage that if you're a querying writer, read a lot of queries. The more you read them the more you'll recognize what works and what doesn't. Read the queries on Queryshark, talk to other querying writers, see if authors who have recently sold their work have their query online (like this one).

To answer Lexa's question in the comments:

Thanks as always for the insights on the inner working of the agent's world. Interesting that you'd pass on something because you already rep someone whose works resemble it. Perhaps it's because those works haven't sold? It's something that never occurred to me.

Agents and editors never want too much of the same thing on their lists. Otherwise they compete with each other. Granted I can have more than one paranormal or urban fantasy series, but I try to acquire things that are different. So I have on my list Personal Demons (angels and demons), Valkyrie Rising (Norse Mythology), Anew and Awry (immortals and a take on a famous legend) and The Nightmare Affair (everything, but the main character is a nightmare). This works for me, but I wouldn't want to have four angel and demon books. I also probably shouldn't have a list full of paranormal YA.

Fairytales, original and retellings, have had a surge in popularity. On my list I have two that have come out, two that have been sold, one that a client is working on. It's already a solid list. So to take on another fairytale it would need to be very stand out and unique, but it would also need to be different than what I already have.

This is important because an agent's work doesn't end after the sale. There's a lot of work that goes into getting that book from sale to publication and then their publicity and the author's career after that debut novel.
Only 93 queries today! Another light week. As of 12:48 pm I am finished!

Today I requested 3 manuscripts.

YA contemporary with a really cool concept and a fun voice.
YA sci-fi. I recently told myself I wouldn't request anymore, but this one just sounded so good.
YA fantasy that sounds amazing.

I swear guys, I'm looking for more adult and MG. But probably 95% of my queries today were YA.

Trying to find an agent via querying is a little like trying to find someone via the internet to be your long distance boyfriend/girlfriend. Anyone who pays attention to pop culture knows that desperation can be a turn off when you're trying to get a date (stage 5 clinger, anyone?). It's also a little scary to agents.

And I get it. If you've written a book, you've put in a lot of hard work and the industry is tough to crack. It's hard to get agents' attentions and you're dealing with something that's really important to you. But when you query, try to turn all of your insecurities and fears off.

You've written a book--that's the art. Now you're querying--that's the business.

Your query is you selling your book. Think about what makes the book stand out, what makes the characters unique, what makes the plot compelling, where it would fit in the market, and then show that as you tell what the book is about.

Be professional and passionate and show off your awesome writing ability. Be confident about it.

Try to avoid: begging, threatening, pleading, oversharing (keep those personal TMI details and the number of rejections out of your query)

Remember your query is similar to what an agent is going to pitch to an editor and what a reader is going to see as the description on the book jacket. No one picked up The Lovely Bones and read that she was rejected everywhere, and no one would want me for an agent if I pitched books by *crying* and saying "If you don't read this, I'll die."

It only takes one yes. There are so many hugely successful authors out there who will tell you all of there horrible rejection stories. Yet here they are.
Today was a blissfully light day in the query realm. Only 87 queries in my inbox. Apparently everyone queried me last week. As of 3:44 pm, all queries have been answered.

I almost had hard time sending my form today. Several times I added a line at the bottom of the query to be helpful. We'll see if I regret that later.

I requested 3 manuscripts.

A MG SUPER 8-ISH MS!! (I'm super excited about this, I've wanted something in this genre for a while)
Upmarket Women's fiction with crossover appeal! For fans of Jodi Picoult!
Historical YA--the author likened it to fans of Laini Taylors Lips Touch Three Times, if that's true I'm sold

I regretfully passed on 2 manuscripts.

An adult women's fiction/revenge story that was pitched for fans of Emily Giffin. Loved the query, didn't love the tone of the pages.
A YA sci-fi that had a BSG feel in concept, but the pages needed some work. The voice didn't seem consistent.

My query thoughts this week are: Proofread

In one query this week someone related their main character to a well known popular main character of another series that I quite like. Only, they spelled that main character's name wrong, and not typo wrong, but they gave her a different but similar first name. This makes me wonder how similar those characters really are and if the author has actually read those novels. This is also a mistake that could have been easily fixable by googling the series.

I mentioned this to the fiercely talented Danielle Barthel who must listen to me complain about everything since she sits close to my desk, and she said: "It surprises me that people don't double check their queries."

And it surprises me too. You only have a few paragraphs and you've presumably spent a lot of time and put in a lot of emotional investment into your novel. Please proofread your query. Make sure any facts or names or titles that you're using are in fact accurate

And be careful what you say in emails...

This is more a general thought than just a query thought, but it happened twice! in the query box today--someone meant to forward my non-form response from last week to a friend with comments only replied to me by accident. In the email age we have all replied accidentally when we meant to forward something to someone else. These mistakes happen. I have made them myself. I've also learned it's best to not write things down that I wouldn't want to make their way into the wrong hands.

Today I also learned when someone accidentally replies to me and says nasty things about me to a friend, then requeries me separately, I will pass.
Disney*Hyperion is doing an awesome redesign the cover challenge for False Memory and to get people started, they're also showing what they did when trying to come up with the current cover and how they got the final one.

Check it out here.

This is where you should go to get them answered.

("This" means click on the link above. Don't ask them here.)

I finished all the queries this weekend. (I didn't do any queries that came in on Friday night, though, so if you sent something in late and haven't heard. That's why.)

I did find several manuscripts that I requested and am really excited to read. I would highlight them all below but it was a little of a whirlwind query weekend so I'm a little fuzzy on some of the details. I've gotten several emails with requested manuscripts though and have been downloading them to the ereader. It's very exciting.

In terms of feedback, my three most common responses were:

I'm confused by this query.
Hopefully I followed this up with a little bit of specific feedback. As a general rule, be careful about introducing too many things in your query. Leave the character's backstory out of. Don't mention the name of every character, just the main two or three. If it's a fantasy or historical don't throw out too many unfamiliar terms. Be concise. Use short sentences. Make it as easy to read as possible.

I'm just not grabbed. OR This isn't different/unique enough to stand out.
If you're writing a dead genre, there may be a problem with your concept, but it doesn't matter--you want your query to stand out to get requests. This means you need to make your character and your concept sound exciting. Most of my clients I find via the slush pile. Most of them wrote queries that made me sit up a little straight and lean into my computer as I read and I felt "I have to read this!" when I finished. Look at some of your favorite books and read the jacket copy, then use that as a model. Make your character stand out, use voice in your query, and be clear about the stakes. End on a cliffhanger if you can.

This isn't right for me. (or something along those lines)
Here's the thing. Reading is subjective and it's a matter of personal tastes. I don't read business books. I don't really find them interesting and I wouldn't pick one up off a shelf in a store, which means I wouldn't request one from my slush pile either. Now business books is a rather broad category, but there are other quirks that I have when it comes to what I like to read. Mermaid love stories or zombie memoirs--the manuscript could be awesome but it's just not for me.

If I thought the ms sounded awesome and I knew who to recommend it to, I made a recommendation. If I didn't, I didn't. (If you didn't get a recommendation, do your research. Querytracker.net and Agentquery.com make it easy).

One more note on this week's queries. I didn't say this often, but I did sometimes say it.
This just doesn't sound very commercial.
This is probably the toughest response I gave out and I did try to clarify why. Regardless, if you have a book that could be called "not commercial" you have an uphill road in front of you. Not only do you have to write an awesome query, but this is where comp titles are going to be so important.

On Comp Titles:
Think about what book buyers out there will want to buy your book. Don't choose a Faulkner as a comp title. Don't choose a book that only five people bought, but at the same time don't choose the Hunger Games either. Be realistic and stay in the right genre, and if you can't think of titles, think of authors.

For instance, recently I signed a new client for a YA contemporary, and she mentioned in her query that her manuscript would appeal to readers of Lauren Oliver, Courtney Summers, and Nina LaCour. I love all of these authors which means I was excited to read the manuscript, and then even more excited when I realized these comps were totally right.

My favorite response to my non-form response: lol

Thank you to everyone who tweeted or left a comment thanking me. I appreciate your appreciation and I'm glad this helped.

Thank you to everyone who didn't reply to my non form rejection.

Thank you to everyone who did reply to my request!

So I'm not done. I have 200 queries left--I've done over 250. The rest of you will have to wait until later.

(This goes to show the time difference that writing 1-2 lines takes)

In the mean time, I have lost count of what I've requested. There was at least one YA, one MG, and one adult.

Strangely enough I've seen a lot of New Adult, which is not a genre. It's an age group, and even then it's not really a thing. For the record, I don't believe in New Adult, because I can't go into a bookstore and ask a bookseller what a great New Adult book is. Or I could but they would have no idea what to recommend. Also, I can't call editors and say I have a New Adult book because most will say "a what?"

You're better off giving the genre--ie where will it be on a shelf in a store--and then say it has crossover potential.

I also got a lot of queries with male protagonists for YA. If you're writing this, know that you have to be able to write a relatively realistic guy and he has to be swoonworthy. Teen girls and Adult women who wish they were still teens reading this books need to love him. (And yest I include myself in the latter category, sort of).

That's all I have for now. You'll get another update later.
It's 12:31 and all the queries are finished.

I only had 89 queries this week!

I requested 5 manuscripts. (This is a little atypical--more than usual especially for the amount of queries!)

A YA Time Travel Thriller with a really great hook in the first few sentences of the query and good writing
An adult mystery romance with GREAT voice.
YA urban fantasy with a solid query and a really great opening. Finaled in the Amazon breakthrough novel contest.
Adult loose fable retelling. Great opening pages.
Adult historical romance. Love the concept. Pages are very promising.

I regretfully passed on 2 manuscripts.

A speculative YA. The concept was really interesting, but I didn't connect to the voice in the pages.
YA sci fi thriller that would probably get lumped into dystopian. The writing was good, but it I don't think it will stand out. I invited the writer to send me their next project if this one doesn't get them an agent.

What kind of queries did I see?

I say that I'm "not grabbed" a lot, but what does that mean really. Well here's my breakdown of why I passed on queries this week.

Not grabbed by the concept: It's just not for me. If this was a book in a store, I just wouldn't be the typical reader. (passed on 18 queries)

Not grabbed by the characters: They just feel flat. Nothing about them makes me want to read more. (passed on 20 queries)

Not grabbed because I feel like I've read this before: This is the dead genre category. The vampires, werewolves, dystopians, and mermaids. If the story feels done before, I'm usually not grabbed. (passed on 9 queries)

Not grabbed because this concept just doesn't seem right for today's market: This the opposite of the dead genre category. These are the queries that I pass because I don't think the project could sell because I don't know who would buy this book. Sometimes these queries also show that the writer might not reader commercial fiction or know what's marketable. (passed on 10 queries)

I also passed on queries because:

The project sounds too "message heavy": 2

The writing isn't quite up to publishing standards: 2

I have no idea what this book is about: 10

This query is too confusing so I don't know what this book is about: 7

This is too long (over 200K words): 2

This is too similar to a client project: 2

Starting NOW until I sit down to do my queries next Friday, you can query me and instead of a form rejection I will tell you exactly why I'm passing.

This will not be a critique of your query. It will most likely be one or two lines, similar to what I've said in this post.

This will also not be an opportunity to engage me in a conversation about what you can do to make your query better. By participating in this, you're promising not to reply to the email and ask me more questions or even send thanks and praise. I'll be working hard to get my queries down to zero and more emails and replies will be counter productive.

All you have to do is follow the submission guidelines. Send the query and your pages to QUERY(at)newleafliterary(dot)com and put QUERY--SUZIE--I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH in the subject line.

I give form rejections. Not just on queries but on requested material.

Form rejections for writers suck. I know that. After all feedback is how all writers improve and get better.

My form rejections are (hopefully) a polite way of saying, I just didn't fall in love with this for whatever reason. And I know that's not helpful. Because it doesn't provide feedback.

But here's the thing, writers need to get feedback from other writers via critique groups or beta readers.

Here's why:

Giving feedback is a time commitment. I know this. But I figured I'd also lay it out for everyone.

It doesn't take me long to read a manuscript. Recently I read a client manuscript, a contemporary YA with a speculative angle, (it's amazing). Since I knew I was going to be writing up notes, I read it twice. The first time, I read it straight through without making any notes. It took me just over two and a half hours.

Then, after thinking about the manuscript for a few days, I read it again, took notes, and put them together in the form of an email. I started at 11 am on a Saturday and I finished at 9:15 pm with one half hour break for dinner. So the reading for feedback took significantly longer.

Which means, I only have the time to give feedback to client manuscripts, or to requested manuscripts that have been particularly close calls for me--ones that I'd be happy to read again after revision, or ones where I'd like to see what else the writer does. Even then, there isn't always time to go into a lot of detail on manuscripts that are requested. My clients have to come first.

I've been asked why I don't just give one line of feedback with each form rejection. And that answer is a little more complicated. The truth is, a lot of the times, that one line isn't going to help much. Saying "I just didn't love the voice" or "the characters just didn't grab me" are pretty vague. And sometimes, by offering a line, I open up a dialogue.

Recently I tacked on a line at the end of a form rejection. The writer and I then had four different email exchanges over the next few weeks. The writer, encouraged by my response, asked a follow up question about what I said. I clarified. The writer asked another question, which I answered. And then another. I don't begrudge this exchange. In fact it was a pleasant exchange, but each email still took time, and time is unfortunately something I don't have a lot of.

So what does this mean for writers:

If your query is getting form rejections, there's something wrong with your query. (And possibly your first pages). Revise what you're sending out to agents and send again.

If your full manuscript has gotten a round of form rejections, it means you're writing a good query but that something in the manuscript isn't quite working. So revisit it.

This happens to agents, by the way. Sometimes we submit a manuscript to editors and it gets a round of rejections. And when this happens, I have my client and I both read the manuscript again and we revise. Then we submit again.
As of 7:11 pm, Friday, August 31st, I'm caught up on queries. I answered the 214 queries that were in my inbox. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

This was a strange group of queries. There are some exceptions, but there were a lot of queries that had me scratching my head. At the risk of preaching to the choir:

  • Make sure your query actually names your main character. (Don't just say, "This novel tells how the main character...")
  • Rather than paste in a paragraph excerpt, tell what the novel is about then paste your first pages in below the query.
  • I don't want to read your "best scene" in those 5-10 pages below the query. I want to read from the beginning just like an editor and a reader would.
  • Start with your main character and the book, not what inspired you or how much money you will make me

Of the 214 queries...

I regrettably passed on 2 manuscripts that sparked my interest at first

A contemporary YA with a really cool title sucked me into the premise, but the voice didn't grab me
A historical adult ms with romantic elements. I liked the query and the beginning a lot, but as I kept reading the pages it started to lose me. I didn't connect with the characters so I passed.

I requested 3 manuscripts

A YA epic fantasy that had a great query and a catchy voice
YA contemporary with a really good query, good pages, and an offer (already!)
MG historical with a really cool premise and great writing
I opened my email this weekend and found a question from a writer--one that a lot of people are probably asking.

I am a follower of your blog, an avid science fiction and fantasy reader, and a hoping-to-be-published-one-day-in-the-future writer, who has a question that I thought you might answer for me. I was wondering, if a writer is writing something that is currently popular, e.g. a vampire-human love story or a dystopian youth fantasy, should the writer just give-up on their manuscript now, because a currently selling trend is a dying tend by publishing standards? Or is it worthwhile to keep pursuing the idea, as long as the work is sufficiently different, i.e. it doesn't feature a sparkling, suicidal vampire or a media-driven teen death match? I ask, because I've been writing a young adult dystopian story, a story I had the idea for, long before The Hunger Games (although I will admit that I'm a Hunger Games fan), but I'm worried that by the time my manuscript is ready for me to query an agent, everybody will think dystopian is dead, and won't give my story a genuine chance. My story has no resemblance to The Hunger Games: no teenagers fighting to the death for entertainment, no reluctant heroine with the skills of a warrior, no sweet and gentle baker with a tender affection for our heroine, but, as with most dystopia, it does involve societal upheaval. I'm worried that given the latest interest in dystopian fantasy that I'm wasting my time with this story, and should, perhaps, pick-up another idea, one that's a little less 'now', and run with that idea instead. I thought this might be a good question for you to answer on your blog as I'm sure that I'm not the only writer wandering through the internet concerned that it's too late for her sub-genre of interest.

Now, this is a tough one. There are a lot of different ways to approach this.

Here are my thoughts.

On one hand, you never want to "write for the market." As a reader, the books that are coming out were typically sold between a year and two years earlier. Which means you're always going to be behind the curve and therefore at a disadvantage. (Unless of course you are a psychic and can predict what's next--in which case, I'd love if you could give me a call...) But seriously, if you look at the books that have become successful, they're books that came out at a time when they were the only thing out there.

I was teaching when Twilight first came out and I saw my students roll their eyes at the idea of a girl who falls in love with a vampire. That was so not cool...until other people read it and raved about it, and then they read the series as well as several other vampire series as well.

I also firmly believe you should write what you love and what you're passionate about. This industry is tough and if you don't love the writing, the business and the publicity and the ups and downs will absolutely drain you.

That said, there's a point where the art of writing and the business of publishing have to meet. And in the business Dead Genres do exist. (I think dystopian is already pretty dead). There are queries and manuscripts that I reject solely on the basis that it's paranormal or it's dystopian--because they're not selling.

So if you're writing a YA dystopian novel, where does that leave you?

I don't want to tell you to give up. If you love the novel you're writing, write it, finish it, gain the experience from the process. Even query it--write the query, revise it, send it out, make connections with agents. And then while you're querying, write something else--something different, something that will challenge you and make you better at your craft.

Do this because even if the manuscript doesn't get you an agent and/or doesn't get published, you will learn and you will become that much closer to the agent and/or the sale. And that will help you when your next manuscript is finished. Do this also because who knows, you might get lucky.

Here's why, just a few weeks ago, I requested a YA paranormal from my queries. It was literary in style and totally weird and different in comparison to what I'd seen out there. In the end I didn't offer representation, but I sent some notes on the ms (and also told the author that actually instead of doing those notes she might want to just set the ms aside and work on something else) and I said I was really interested in seeing her next project. (Agents don't lie when we say that and we don't say it to everyone.)

I have also taken on a few projects that I knew in my heart weren't "commercial." They weren't going to be an easy sell--in fact, I might not sell them at all. But I loved the manuscript and the writing, and I had faith in the author, that even if this first manuscript didn't sell, one of his/her next manuscripts would and that investment was worth it.

Another thing to keep in mind--dead genres don't say dead forever. If you can't sell that YA dystopian right now, that doesn't mean you won't be able to sell it down the road. I've told clients this. There is no shame in putting a manuscript aside, telling yourself "it isn't the right time for this one," and then planning to come back to it in a few years with a fresh perspective.

And I'd say this is good advice for everyone, no matter what you're writing--put everything you have into the manuscript you're working on. Query it, and then write something else. And keep doing that until you find an agent, until you sell your first book, and then beyond.

Be patient, it doesn't happen overnight for anyone.
You may have already heard, but on August 30th, an awesome event with five amazing authors is happening at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL (outside of Chicago).

5 Good Reasons to Read YA
Veronica Roth, Erica O'rourke, Dan Krokos, Susan Dennard, Leigh Bardugo

Here's what you haven't heard yet...


The Details:

Hello Readers!  We have a fantastic opportunity for you to be one of the first to read *Exclusive* SECRET CONTENT by each of these 5 awesome authors!  We have 240 booklets of *Exclusive* SECRET CONTENT that we want to give out to YOU.  Here's how to get it:

1. Purchase 2 or more books by the authors participating in this event through Anderson's Bookshop.  Here is a link to more information to the event: http://www.andersonsbookshop.com/events (scroll down to Thursday, August 30)

2. If you are ordering online and do not plan on attending the event, you can still receive one of the 240 booklets. All you have to do while processing your order through the Anderson's Bookshop website is include this message in the Comments section of your Order Check Out: "5 Good Reasons to Read YA – August 30 Event, I'd like my books signed!"

And that's it!

**Remember, you must order these books through Anderson's Bookshop where the event is being held, otherwise your purchase won't qualify.

There are only 240 booklets, and they will be provided ONLY to the first 240 purchases of 2 or more books from the event.  If you purchase only one book, you won't receive a booklet, but you will still get a signed copy from an awesome author!

Now…what is this *Exclusive* SECRET CONTENT you might ask?  Well, it's a secret!  But we can give you a few hints. The booklet includes:

- an alternate beginning scene

- the first printing of original poster + a must-read folktale

- an important scene from an alternate point-of-view

- the first 5 pages of the next book in a thrilling series

- 2 secret scenes from a trilogy

Can you guess which ones belong to which authors?

Be one of the first 240 people to order 2 books from this event to find out!

Happy Release Day to Nikki Loftin!

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is out in stores today.

Today's roundup is going to be a little different. I'm pressed for time and a little bored with saying some of the same old things. So...

As of 1:13 pm, Friday, August 17th, I'm caught up on queries. I answered the 127 queries (light week!) that were in my inbox.If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

I requested 1 manuscript. It was a YA horror with a really cool concept and excellent writing and (to my dismay, I mean, good for the author!) it already has an offer.

My best advice for everyone querying is to take your time and revise. I read a lot of queries that don't grab me. I've told you that. Here's one reason they don't--there's no voice to it. A lot of queries that I read are a little dry. They must list who the character is and what the book is about, but the tone of the book is missing, the personality of the character isn't there. That's what's going to make your query stand out--and I know it's easier to say "do this!" than to actually do it, but that's what revisions and input from other writers is for.

And her are some other random thoughts I had while reading queries. (My examples are inspired by real queries but not taken from them).

Where are the pages? If you have a great concept, that's awesome and part of the battle, but it doesn't mean you can write, which is why I want pages. If I can't see the writing how do I know if I want to read more?

Don't ask me terrible rhetorical questions! What would I do if the whole planet was suddenly attacked by giant slugs? Die. I would most likely die and then I wouldn't be reading any more queries.

Don't ask me if I ever anything. The answer is most likely "No" which isn't want you want any agent thinking when you're also asking, can I send you my novel. Have I ever drowned and come back to life? No. Have I ever killed the man I loved? No. Have I woken up in my apartment with a pile of vomit on the floor and no idea how it got there? Not any time I particularly want to remember.

Don't tell me to "Imagine..." I don't want to do the work for you. Make me imagine it by showing it in your query.

If your query doesn't have a character in it, it's a problem for me. I can't read a manuscript that has no character.

Please don't tell me you've been rejected everywhere or that I'm the 88th agent you've queried. That just isn't good "sales."

I'm just not sure I can do exotic hybrid were animals like half werewolf half unicorn. I don't know if the world is ready for that, but I'm probably not.

Your seven book series that's all complete and "ready for publication today" scares me. For two reasons. 

I can't read anything in Czech so I don't even know what this email says other than "query"

No, I do not want to go to your website and read your novel there. I know it's demanding but I want you to send me a query and your pages.

Your 398,238 word novel is just too long. I'm willing to make word count exceptions if the query and writing seem exception worthy but this is three or four books not one.

If you can't tell me your name because you don't trust me or if you're going to threaten me with legal action if I don't delete your query or if you want me to sign something so I don't steal your idea, we're probably not the right match.

One sentence about your book and two pages about you is not the best way to sell me your book.

This is a really exciting week for me. I have two books releasing this week!

False Memory by Dan Krokos is out tomrrow! A YA thriller set in Cleveland, False Memory features Miranda, a 17-year-old who finds herself in a mall with no memory. While trying to understand who she is, she discovers she's been genetically altered and trained to be a weapon of mass destruction, and she's about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder if she doesn't do something to stop it. 

It's an intensely awesome book with some sci fi elements.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long is out on Thursday, and it is as beautiful and romantic as that cover suggestions. A dark and romantic original fairy tale, The Treachery of Beautiful Things features Jenny, a 17-year-old girl whose brother was swallowed by the trees when she was younger. Now, she's lured into the trees where she finds a magical realm with stunning beauty and treacherous evils if she wants to get her brother back.

It's a lovely, lyrical, and beautifully written original fairy tale.

As of 2:36 pm, Friday, August 10th, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

This week there were 206 queries in my inbox!

Of those...

The most common genre this week--I saw a lot of YA this week

Why I rejected most queries--I'm not grabbed
Like the past few weeks, most of my rejections stem from not feeling grabbed. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE! What is it about your character and this concept that are going to lure me to the edge of my seat and want to know what happens next. I really need that shown in the query.

Queries I regrettably passed on--1

YA mystery--really great query, but I wasn't grabbed by the voice in the pages

I also passed on a few things this week, that specifically mentioned the POVs. I love a good alternating POV (Shiver, Gone Girl, need I say more?), but when a query tells me a manuscript is told from 7 POVs I get nervous. That's a lot of POVs and if we're looking at a straight forward plot with one main character--at least from the query--it seems like too much. Similarly if you're writing a YA novel and you're alternating between your main character and an adult, that's a really tough sell. Now the POV wasn't make or break. I wasn't grabbed by these ideas anyway, but something to think about when you're writing and working on your query. Even if you're writing the next Game of Thrones I probably don't need to know at the query stage that you've got

Manuscripts I requested--3

YA fantasy--awesome combination of weird, beautiful and literary. Reminds me of Leah Bobet's Above in style
YA sci fi--interesting query and great voice
YA mystery--great concept, really great voice
As of 2:14 pm, Friday, August 3rd, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

This week there were 159 queries in my inbox!

Of those...

The most common genre this week--I saw a lot of middle grade and a lot of paranormal romance (YA and adult) in my query inbox this week.

No matter the genre, it's important to convey somehow in the query that this project is unique from what's already out there. So if you have a middle grade novel about a kid who discover's he's a wizard and goes to a school for other wizards, you have to make sure you're emphasizing to plot and the character development that are unique rather than the elements of the story that are going to make me think "I've read this before..."

But this is especially important in genres that are "dead" or "dying." If I'm queried with a YA vampire romance or an angel romance, I'm very quick to think this isn't going to work. It's also what editors are going to quick to think when I try to pitch them. Which means, you need to be extra clever with your pitch. Emphasize what's new and different about your manuscript. (And by emphasize, I mean show. Don't just tell me it's different--that's not very convincing).

Why I rejected most queries--I'm not grabbed
Like the past few weeks, most of my rejections stem from not feeling grabbed. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE! What is it about your character and this concept that are going to lure me to the edge of my seat and want to know what happens next. I really need that shown in the query.

Queries I regrettably passed on--2

YA fantasy--the query was a little confusing, but it seemed like there might be a great premise in there, but as I read the pages, I realized the world building problems in the query also seem to be problematic in the pages
YA fantasy--great query, but the pages lack voice

Manuscripts I requested--3

Adult mystery/romance--really cool concept and great writing. I'm interested to see where this goes
Adult urban fantasy--a manuscript I previously requested. It's not been revised. Still a great premise!
Adult science fiction--writing (in the query and manuscript) that's completely swoonworthy. I actually sat up straighter and leaned into my computer after reading the first line.

Here's some insight into my process. If you've looked at the query updates, you can see I'm requesting about 10% (or a little more) based on the number of queries I'm getting. I think that's a lot because it's a lot to read. That means each week, in addition to client manuscripts, notes, emails, phone calls, and my ever growing to do list, I'm adding usually 2-3 manuscripts to my to read pile. This can be a lot of extra reading that ends up all being "outside of the office" work. (For instance, I read four manuscripts this past weekend--2 requested and 2 client ms). This volume is why I don't usually send personalized rejections with feedback. And I know that sucks. (more on this another time)

So back to the process, what happens if I love a requested ms?

Well, first I squee about it a little (or probably a lot). I talk about the ms in the office or if it's a weekend I email the new leaf crew with a lot of OMG and !!!

Then I email the author. I let them know I've finished the ms and loved it. And I request they send me a dreaded synopsis (I know it's terrible but it has its uses). Once I have a synopsis, I send the ms and synopsis to Joanna and/or the rest of the New Leaf crew and to discuss. This gives me time to look at the ms again, think about any editorial notes I have, and ultimately get the feedback and thoughts of other industry pros I love and respect. It's one of the things I love about working with Joanna, Kathleen, and Pouya (one of many, they're pretty awesome). We read each other's projects and we collaborate. We're really a team. And those extra sets of eyes help me do a better job and hopefully I help them too.

Now, I don't offer on everything I take to the team. And this is where agenting becomes a business. Because lets face it, when I'm reading queries and manuscripts, I'm in a dual mode. I'm partly being an agent and thinking about notes and submission lists and next steps (I can't seem to ever not think of this), but I'm also a reader who loves stories. Sometimes those things blend really well. Sometimes they don't.

And this is probably what I love least about publishing. The truth is I only have so much time and as a result, I can only work on so many manuscripts. I can't take on everything I love and I can't take on everything that I think I can sell. I have to take on manuscripts that I love, that I think I can sell, that don't compete with books already on my list, that are unique enough to stand out in the marketplace, etc. This is also why I'm looking for authors with lots of ideas and not just sequels. So we can build from that first book.

If the team meeting and discussion goes well, I'll call the author to chat. This still doesn't mean I'm going to offer. I'm thinking about it, but I want to know that the author and I have the same vision for the book, and a similar vision for the author's career. I want to know that we have working styles that will work well together.

The truth is that not everyone is the right fit. Publishing is a tough business, and the experience trying to get your book published is going to be 100x better if you're working with an agent who has the same vision for your book and a working style that compliments your own. (This is also better for me as an agent. I don't want to be fighting with an author over revisions before we get to the submission process. It's not going to be enjoyable for either of us).

During the phone call, I like to ask an author about themselves, their inspiration for the manuscript I love so much, their other manuscript ideas, and what they want out of their writing career. I also like to get an idea for how fast they write, what else they have on their plate, and what they want out of an agent. I also like to tell them up front what some of my ideas are for revisions. If it seems like we'll be a good fit, that's when I go ahead and offer representation.

Then I sit around and bite my nails (sometimes literally) while I wait to hear if the author is going to go with me or if someone else is going to snatch them away from me. (See we go through our own torturous waiting sometimes too...)
As of 12:03 pm, Friday, July 27th, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

This week there were 208 queries in my inbox!

Of those...

The most common genre this week--This week was pretty much a mishmash. I'm still seeing a lot of queries that are post-apocalyptic--either for adult or children's--and at this point, I think I'd need to see something really new in order for it to catch my eye.

Why I rejected most queries--I'm not grabbed
Like the past few weeks, most of my rejections stem from not feeling grabbed. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE! What is it about your character and this concept that are going to lure me to the edge of my seat and want to know what happens next. I really need that shown in the query.

Queries I regrettably passed on--2

YA Fantasy--really great query, but couldn't get into the voice of the pages.
YA Historical--time period and concept sounded interesting, but revolved around too many "issues"

Manuscripts I requested--5

YA sci fi--really well written.
MG adventure--the query has a concept that feels unique and the writing is very good
Contemporary Romance--simply put: I just got sucked into this one right away
Paranormal Romance--love the premise!
YA Contemporary--stellar pages.

What I'm really dying to find--

I'd love to find a great YA Contemporary that's got the character depth of Sarah Dessen or Before I Fall with a romance that's going to keep me awake at night.
I'd love to find something historical, adult or YA, that has the same sharp writing, cutting wit, and yearning romantic tension that I love so much in Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.

As of 5:09 pm (I know I was slow again today!), Friday, July 20th, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

And let me apologize to anyone who got two passes from me on the same project today. I'm not sure what happened, but google bounced back over 14 emails and then said "Hey Creeper, are you a spammer, don't send anymore emails today from this address." I had to send out the rest of the emails from my own address and I tried responding to the emails that bounceback. I don't think I doubled up on anyone, but if I did, my apologies.

This week there were 178 queries in my inbox!

Of those...

The most common genre this week--Well, this isn't a genre per say, but I got a lot of queries for a series. Queries for trilogies and for even longer series are a little scary for me. I've sold some trilogies and I like to read them--and series, but here's the thing: not every book can--or should--be a series.

As an author it's important to have ideas for your next book. Even if your next book isn't a series, your agent and editor are both going to be interested in growing your career and hopefully working on a number of books. But it's also important for you to go into querying with a heavy dose of realism.

If you have an awesome idea for a series, that's great. But if in your query, you tell me this is book one of a seven book series, I'm going to worry a little about your expectations. I know that JK Rowling did it, but let's face it, most other people don't.

In terms of selling yourself, I think the best way to pitch a series is to say your project has series potential.

Why I rejected most queries--I'm not grabbed
Like the past few weeks, most of my rejections stem from not feeling grabbed. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE!

There was also one query in particular that I passed on because of length. I've been missing contemporary Sarah Dessen style YA and as I read this query that's what I thought of. And then I saw the word count. It was long enough to be an entire series of books, not just one.

The wonderful thing about ebooks is that they really do change the rules a little about word count. You can do books with a shorter length or a longer length than in traditional print, and you can do serializations too.

But as an agent, when I'm looking at queries, I'm still looking first for books that I can love and have the option to sell traditionally. A novel that's hundreds of thousands of words too long severely limits my options. At least, that's my first thought.

My second thought on a very long word count is that it usually suggests that the manuscript needs work. Not always. I've read some long books that were awesome. But I've also read a lot of long books that felt long--and anything over 200k words suggests there are some pacing and storytelling issues.

Queries I regrettably passed on--1

YA Horror--really great query, but couldn't get into the voice of the pages.

Manuscripts I requested--1

YA fantasy/urban fantasy--really interesting premise that I haven't seen before and good writing.

Since a number of people have mentioned they like the query updates, here's one on my requested material.

The good news is fourth of July weekend really helped me get caught up. Right now I have 9 manuscripts in my requested queue. (This is way better than the 32 that were in there before fourth of July).

But the date range on the requested material in my email varies. Sometimes I read a manuscript and it requires some thought or maybe I want the chance to read it again. Once I've requested something I really want to give it the thought it deserves.

One question I hear is how often does a request turn into an offer of representation? The short answer is it depends. Sometimes I'll go weeks or even months and not offer on anything, and sometimes I offer on two projects in one week!

But here are some concrete numbers:

So far in 2012 I've offered on 6 manuscripts.

Of those

Every single one came to me through a query in my slush pile.

5 of these manuscripts was for a debut novel.

1 was by a writer I also met at a conference.

A current client had mentioned of those manuscripts to me, as a "wow I really liked this and think you will too."

1 was by an author who had previously submitted an earlier manuscript to me.

1 was referred to me through someone else in the industry.

As of 5:22 pm (I know I was slow today!), Friday, July 13th, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

(And remember to query the New Leaf query address).

This week there were 273 queries in my inbox!

Of those...

I got 6 bouncebacks saying my email wasn't accepted by the domain. (If you have an author site and your email goes through your site, make sure you can get your emails!)

The most common genre this week--This week felt like a mish-mash. Still a lot of fantasy and sci fi, but it was a good mix of adult, YA, and middle grade.

Why I rejected most queries--I'm not grabbed
Like the past few weeks, most of my rejections stem from not feeling grabbed. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE! 

But I also got a lot of queries this week that had really strange beginnings to them--a few times I wasn't even sure if it was a query and then a few other times it was just pages, no explanation. Remember you want to start with who your character is and what your book is about. Try to save personal stuff about yourself for the end of the query, and things like your inspiration and your passion for marketing yourself, that can wait until after the work has been requested. (Like, I probably don't need to know your age). Similarly, while the former English teacher in me is a big fan of theme, I don't need to know that in your query. The plot is much more important to me.

The beginning of your query is so important, because if I'm reading 273 queries on a Friday, you want to hook me not lose me.

Queries I regrettably passed on--2

YA Mythology--really cool query with personality in it and good pages, but...just not really my thing. * Passing on projects like this one are tough for me. It seems good--it could be great!--but based on the premise it's just not what I would pull off the shelf and in the end the writer should have an agent who feels differently.
MG/YA Fantasy--Really good writing in the pages, but it feels a little too much like too many stories I've already read. And it seemed to fall in between age groups.

Manuscripts I requested--5

YA Horror--intriguing premise in the query. KILLER pages. Sounds like just what I'm looking for.
Adult Women's Fiction--Fantastic query, high concept, and then excellent pages. Very exciting!
YA Literary Retelling--Standout writing, really interesting premise.
Adult Historical/Paranormal Romance--interesting concept, really intrigued by the writing.
YA Thriller--Great query, great concept, great pages. Win!

One More Parting Note

If you have a picture attached to your gmail account, make sure it's a picture you'd want an agent to see. All of my emails (and queries) are routed through google business which means if someone has google+ or a email picture, I see it when I read their query. I can't say I've every passed on something because of a picture, of course. But I've been awfully distracted by a few of the...more interesting? ones.
As of 1:48 pm, Friday, July 6th, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

(And remember to query the New Leaf query address).

This week there were 203 queries in my inbox(es)!

Of those...

I got 4 bouncebacks saying my email wasn't accepted by the domain. (If you have an author site and your email goes through your site, make sure you can get your emails!)

The most common genre this week--Fantasy. Lots of fantasy queries that seemed to stick out in my mind. Most of these seem to be high fantasy or fantasy that is set in a completely different world. I like that kind of fantasy a lot, but everyone querying should make sure that the proper nouns in the query (names and places) aren't too hard to pronounce or understand. It's hard for me to be interested in a character whose name is Thzorhtenke because it takes me too long to try to figure out how to say that in my mind and pulls my attention away from where it should be--the story.

Why I rejected most queries--I'm not grabbed
Like last week, most of my rejections stem from not feeling grabbed. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE! If you're querying, you want your query to really show why your character will stand out and grab people's attention, and you want your plot set up to force an agent to read to the end and then leave them on the edge of their seat going, "what, then what happens?"

Queries I regrettably passed on--1

Adult Vampire--loved the query, especially the first line, but the pages didn't grab me.

Be careful if you have a prologue that opens your story. First ask yourself if it's really necessary. If it is, examine how long it is, should it be shorter. And then reread it and make sure it makes sense next to your query and will still grab your reader.

Manuscripts I requested--2

Adult Steampunk Romance--love the premise and the author has done numerous e-originals and the pages are gripping. Sounds like just what I'm looking for.
YA Fantasy--pitched as Graceling meets Game of Thrones and the query actually sounds just like that! The voice in the pages is fabulous and I am beyond excited to read it. (*This is a really great example of how you can use what an agent says, pitch them the right project, and have them super excited to read).
As of 12:45 pm, Friday, June 29th, I'm caught up on queries. That means I have gotten the query inbox down to 0. If you queried me this week and didn't get a response, double check the submission guidelines and send off the query again.

(And I just put up the Auto Response so if you're querying anyone at New Leaf, you should now get the auto response).

This week there were 240 queries in my inbox(es)!

Of those...

I got 3 bouncebacks saying my email wasn't accepted by the domain. (If you have an author site and your email goes through your site, make sure you can get your emails!)

The most common genre this week--Science Fiction. I'm definitely getting a lot of sci fi queries right now, for both adult and YA projects, and even some middle grade (yay)!

Why I rejected most queries--What is your book about?
Most of the time I'm really rejected something because it just doesn't grab me. This doesn't mean it's bad, just that nothing stands out or really jumps out and says UNIQUE!

And this is true for today too, but as I went through my queries there were a high number that I rejected because I couldn't understand what the book was about. I got a high number of queries that talked just about the author and then started in with the pages or had no mention of a main character or the conflict. There were even a few that I couldn't tell what genre the story was either.

And for less extreme examples, there were a number of queries I got (usually fantasy/science fiction) that had a lot of names, terms, and backstory that cluttered the plot and left me confused.

Queries I regrettably passed on--3

YA Historical--I passed because of the werewolf element. If it had just been straight historical I would have requested
YA Contemporary--I passed despite really loving the voice in the pages because the concept sounded too much like something I'd read before.
Adventure MG--I really loved the concept but the pages didn't grab me.

Manuscripts I requested--4

Women's fiction--great concept and killer opening line
Adult urban fantasy--unique concept and amazing voice in the pages
Middle grade mystery--fun concept with great writing (in the query and pages) and a very engaging tone
YA sci-fi ish--this is the closest one to a referral. When I've looked at an author's previous manuscript and really liked it (even if I ended up passing) or when one of my colleagues has done the same, I always want to look at their next project.
2012 has been a big year for me--and an awesome one. The newest big/awesome piece of news was in PW Daily today. If you missed it, check it out here.

Joanna Volpe is our new fearless leader and our agency name is changing to New Leaf Literary and Media.

This is beyond awesome. We're still in the same office with the same phone numbers and working with the same clients, and we're really excited about all of the things we're going to be doing in this changing and growing industry.

But what does this mean if you're querying or if I've requested your manuscript?

Well, if you're querying, check out my updated submission guidelines, just below this post. I've updated them! (The big change is just the email address, but I've also updated what I'm looking for).

And if I requested your manuscript, don't worry, I still have it. I ported all my emails (not quite as fancy as it sounds) so they've all been sucked into my new New Leaf email address.
How to Query 

To see a pretty simple breakdown of what you need and how it's different for fiction, memoir, and non-fiction go here. For fiction and memoir, your manuscript must be complete and polished. Don't send unsolicited attachments of any kind. Be sure to include your full name, email address, mailing address, and telephone number in your query (and on your manuscript!). For fiction, include the word count (use the word count tool in your word processing program).

For well formated query examples, go here.

***I now accept only email queries. ***

Make sure you only query me when your manuscript is COMPLETE. (And by COMPLETE, I mean you've drafted, revised, and polished your manuscript). 

  • Send all email queries to QUERY(at)newleafliterary(dot)com Put "QUERY--SUZIE" in the subject line 
  • Please include your first 5-10 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email 
  • I do NOT open attachments Include all necessary contact information 
  • You will receive an Auto-response confirming receipt of your query 
  • You'll get an additional response from me within two weeks either requesting or letting you know it's not for me

Other Query Information:

  • You don't need to respond if I'm passing. I appreciate your thanks but I'm just doing my job
  • If I request your manuscript, when you send it to me, you'll receive a "confirmation of receipt email" which will tell you how about how many days it might take me to read the ms. Hopefully you'll hear before then, but if those days pass and you haven't heard, please feel free to check in (email only). 
  • Don't send me a synopsis--they're totally evil. 
  • Please DO contact me if I'm considering your work and you have received an offer from another agent or editor.

The fabulously talented Chelsea Fine's second novel in the Archers of Avalon Series is out today.

The first installment of the trilogy, Anew, is for sale as an ebook. It's only 99 cents on Amazon and BN.com so make sure to check it out.

Today is a very special day and one that has been a long time in the making.

When I was still an assistant, I got a query about a girl who thinks she has nine lives and her twin sister who doesn't even get to keep her one life because she has leukemia.

A little less than a month later, I finally had a chance to sit down with the manuscript on a train ride from NY to Philadelphia. And I loved it. The manuscript made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me sit in the train station for an extra twenty minutes while I turned pages until it was over. I wasn't willing to get in my car and drive home until I knew what happened.

When I read the last line, I knew this was a book that had changed my life.

I got second reads and everyone at my agency loved it as much as I did so I spoke to the author and offered representation. We did some revisions and went on submission.

It was the second book I sold.

It's a book I've read a number of times, through each revision. It's also a book that has quotes that I've typed up and taped to my wall. It's poignant and beautiful, funny and also heartbreaking.

And today it's a real book available in stores.

Happy Release Day to Sarah Wylie!

I'm a dog fan. 

Especially of this guy:

If you're a dog fan and a writer, check out Pens for Paws. The auction is going on right now and you can donate to win some great prizes, including a query critique from me!

I'm participating in this year's Crits for Water auction, as are a lot of wonderful other people, so you should definitely check it out.

More specifically, in just a few hours, my own donation will be up for auction. Starting at 12:01am, you can click HERE and bid. (The link isn't up right now, but it will be soon, so bookmark it).

If you win, I will read your full manuscript, write up a critique, and then spend 30 minutes on the phone discussing the manuscript and notes or answering whatever industry questions you have.

First, thank you to everyone who entered for your patience. These past few weeks have been wonderfully busy, especially with the Bologna Book Fair going on right now (so jealous that I'm in the office in NY!).

Also this was a tough one! As I read the entries, twice I though I had found my favorite only to be surprised when I read another story that topped it. I ended up reading four of the entries more than once in order to determine who should be the winner.

But without further delay, here are the results for the contest!

I wish I was watching this TV show!
Rachel Schieffelbein at 4:50 pm

Worst Camping Experience! (but also a great twist)
Michel King at 1:33 pm

Ending that Made me Laugh!
Tobi Summers at 10:07 am

Best Revenge
DK Whisman at 5:30 pm

Best Vampire Metaphor
Kayeleen Hamblin at 7:20 pm

Best Mosquito Story
brian_ohio at 2:47 pm

Best Story about a Writer
Nitish Raina at 2:09 pm

Best Voice AND Best Ending
kmz at 3:10 am

Best Paranormal
jaybird at 11:28 am

Best Description
Adam Gaylord at 7:34 pm

Best Personification of Death
Anami at 5:25 pm

Best Vampire and Runner Up

I know what you think of me—all your books and shows about vampires. You fear me—the evil undead hiding in the darkness—but you thirst for me as much as I thirst for you. In your forbidden dreams, you want to be my prey. You want me to trail my fingers along your skin, to feel your pulse beneath my tongue, and you want me to choose love over death.

For one breath, I will play the man who merely craves companionship—an illusion to be shattered by eternal truth: I am, and will always be, the predator.

And the winner is...


Ashley said...
It was the eternal stench of burnt pancakes that could raise even the most lax Waffle House cook from death that woke me up that Saturday morning. For the love of God, couldn’t I sleep in just this once? With midterms over with, spring break stretched before me with a fat promise of late nights and even later mornings---preferably stretching into the afternoons. Whatever evil had prompted Mom to manage breakfast this morning, he should’ve met Mr Pointy with a quick end through the heart, Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style. No, that would’ve been too polite.

Congratulations Ashley. I love the voice in this entry! Shoot me a quick email with your address, and I'll send you a copy of Balthazar by Claudia Gray!
Back when I read Evernight by the lovely and talented Claudia Gray, I was floored by how much I loved it. The world was complex and real, the plot was surprising, and the characters. Especially Balthazar.

And now, he has his own book.

For hundreds of years, the vampire Balthazar has been alone—without allies, without love.

When Balthazar agrees to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, he has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye’s newfound psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel, seductive master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Now Redgrave plans to use Skye’s powers for his own evil purposes.

Balthazar will do whatever it takes to stop Redgrave and exact his long-awaited revenge against his killer. As Skye and Balthazar stand together to fight him, they grow closer—first unwillingly, then undeniably. Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by her. . . .

In a story filled with forbidden love and dark suspense, one of the most beloved characters in Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight series will captivate readers with his battle to overcome his past and follow his heart.

This is a must read for every Evernight fan of course, but this is definitely a book that people who haven't read Evernight can still read.

Anyway, enough gushing...


I'm giving away an ARC of Balthazar to one lucky person!

Here's what you've have to do.

Write a story, one hundred words or fewer, using these words:


Bonus Points if your story is not actually about vampires.

Contest open internationally. It starts NOW, and runs through midnight Friday March 3rd. Post your entry in the comments section. Enter as many times as you want.

Cat Hellisen's debut novel When the Sea is Rising Red is out today.

And Allison Pang's second novel in her Abby Sinclair urban fantasy series, A Sliver of Shadow, also hits shelves today!