Interview with Suzanne Cass

Interview with Suzanne Cass

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Suzanne’s Path to Publication

Today I chat with the delightful Suzanne Cass, a fellow Australian Author, who shares with us her path to publication. Her novel ‘Glass Clouds’ was released on the 30th April this year.

Suzanne Cass has always had a fascination with the tough resilience of people who live in our amazing red-dirt outback country. Much of her adolescence was spent working as a jillaroo in the Snowy Mountains, forming her love of enigmatic, outback heroes in wild, passionate, dangerous stories. She lives in Perth with her wonderful husband and two gorgeous sons. When not writing about the characters that inhabit her head, Suzanne can be found prowling the beaches with her border collie. Her debut novel, Island Redemption won the Romance Writers of Australia award for best unpublished romance novel of 2016.

 

  • How long have you been writing for?

This is a really hard question to answer. I’ve actually been writing for most of my life. I still have the gorgeous little books I used to write way back when I was in grade one, complete with hand-drawn illustrations. I wrote off and on throughout my twenties and even submitted a manuscript to (back then) Mills and Boon. Obviously it was a big fat rejection. But I only got really serious around 10 years ago when I started my first rural romance.

  

  • How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?

From the time I got serious about writing it’s taken me 10 years to become a published author. It took me 4 years to write my first real book. I’d always had this story inside me, needing to be told. And I agonized over it, every word had to be perfect, every sentence perfect, every paragraph perfect. But it actually wasn’t perfect and it was only after I started subbing it to publishers (and receiving rejections) I decided to work on my craft, by doing courses and learning everything I could about writing. I wrote more books and I became a better writer, until I eventually found the confidence to publish my debut novel in May 2017.   

 

  • Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?

I think I might be a really boring writer. I have a little nook in the spare bedroom where I have a desk and a chair. I did buy myself a nice new, ergonomic chair as a bit of a reward after I won the Emerald, but otherwise my desk is fairly simple. Because sitting is supposedly the new smoking I now have a cardboard box on my desk that I can use as a raiser, so I can stand and type. On Instagram there are all these wonderful pictures of other authors writing in café’s and I think it looks so romantic, I should do that. But I never seem to get my act together. Tomorrow I’ll go and sit in a café. I will, I promise.

 

  • Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?

I’m a somewhere-in-betweener. I do a rough outline, using the snowflake method (a few pages at most, a paragraph for each chapter). Then I flesh out the outline as I write, and add in chapters, or move scenes around as I need to. I also do an in-depth character interview to make sure I understand my character’s motivations before I start writing.

 

  • What is your favourite part of the writing process?

This is an interesting question, because I think my most favourite part and my most hated part of writing are one and the same thing. It’s those first couple of minutes, when you sit down at your desk in the morning with your cup of tea and tasty snack and open your computer to your WIP and type those first few words of the day. I love the feeling of potential and hope and autonomy. But it can also be the scariest part of the day (and being a procrastinator I’m always finding things to put it off) because if the ideas aren’t flowing and you’re just sitting staring at the screen, that’s when all the doubts start to overwhelm you.

 

  • What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?

While Plot and setting are both really important, my stories tend to be character driven. For an author, getting to know your characters is a little like making new friends. You have to like and understand each one (if you don’t then it will show through in your writing) to get to know them intimately, to be able to make them come alive on the page and resonate with readers. I have a 100 question interview that I ask my two main characters, so I understand them in minute detail before I start to write.

 

  • Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):

Being an indie author, I need to spend nearly as much time marketing and promoting my books as I do actually writing them. I am getting faster at writing. From 4 years for my first, I can now write a book in less than 6 months. This process includes 3 months for the first draft, then 3 months for re-writes and editing (with help from my critique partners and beta readers) As an indie author a big part of the publishing side is formatting the final manuscript (Scrivener is my savior when it comes to formatting) creating a cover design and then uploading the files on all the different formats. This can be quite time consuming. I’m still on a very steep learning curve with the marketing thing and it can take up to half my day and really eats into my writing time.

 

  • How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):

I’m aiming to write, and publish, 3-4 books per year. (I can hear you doing the sums in your head, if I only write a book every 6 months, how am I going to publish 3-4 books a year. Hmmm, I’m going to have to up my game. A lot.)

  

  • Can you explain the process you took to become independently published?

It took me 4 years to actually finish that first rural romance book. (yep, procrastination is my friend) Then I discovered RWAus, which is such an amazing organization that changed my writing life, and I started writing my second book (this one only took me a year to write) and also began to enter some of the RWA competitions. Over the course of the next 4 years I finaled in some of the competitions, until eventually I won the Emerald Award in 2016. A the same I was also subbing my books out to publishers and agents in Australia. I kept getting rejections (lots of rejections). Most of the rejection letters said the writing was strong and the characters believable, but for whatever reason, my book just didn’t fit into their list/particular genre/marketing sphere. Disillusioned by the traditional publishing path, I started to look into self-publishing. And what I learnt about becoming an indie author really excited me. So in May 2017 I took the plunge and self-published the book that won the RWA Emerald Award. I self-published my second book six months later in early December and my third book is due out in April. My fourth book due to be published around August will be that very first rural romance that took me 4 years to write.

 

  • How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?

Although every author holds out hope that they will be plucked from the hundreds of manuscripts in the slush pile, I’m a pragmatist and never really believed it would happen. So I’d already steeled myself for the rejections. Of course they still hurt, and when I got the first couple I was down on myself and my writing for weeks. But then I remembered how many world-renowned authors (like Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King) received tens, if not hundreds of rejections before getting published and so you just keep going and keep believing in yourself.   

 

  • What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?

The big surprise for me was how much marketing and promotion (including social media) I had to do as an indie author, and how much time this takes up. It’s not just an hour here and there, it is literally half my day, sometimes more.

 

  • Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?

Probably the one big thing that helped me to really believe in myself was winning the RWA Emerald Award (for best unpublished novel of 2016) It gave me the confidence to believe I really could write. That my stories were good enough to be published.

 

  • Is there anything you wish you could do differently?

It might sound like I keep harping on about this, but as an indie author I didn’t realise initially how important marketing my books would be. I was under the illusion that I could just write, put my books out there and people would be knocking my door down to buy them. Nope, it doesn’t happen like that. I wish I’d researched marketing and promotion well before I first published, so my first books were released with a bang, rather than a whimper.

 

  • Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing? 

This is another hard question. (You’re good at getting right down to the nitty-gritty, Maddison) Probably the old, Show, Don’t Tell, technique is something that’s really important to do in all your writing. Early on, as an aspiring writer, I learned about this and now my books and my characters are so much stronger because of it. I’m a volunteer judge for some of the RWA competitions and a lot of the entries I see from aspiring writers are really lacking in this field.

 

  • Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?

Just keep writing. If you want to be an author, you have to have more than one book to sell. One book is not enough, you need a backlist to prop you up. Don’t sit back on your laurels when you’ve finished that first book. While you’re subbing your book to publishers and agents, keep writing. Keep building that backlist.

 

  • What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?

I’m still in the middle of building my author platform, still learning what works and what doesn’t. Some of the OWLS (online courses) offered by RWAus really helped me in this area. I created my WordPress website after I did an OWL and then I did another course on Branding, which was immensely helpful. There was a third OWL on how to create a newsletter and start collating an email list through MailChimp. The only real advice I can give other writers is that it’s a slow process and takes a lot of work, time and commitment to build a readership. I’m still in the fledgling phase, but it is nice to see my numbers growing, slowly but surely. I keep hearing over and over again that an email list is a must for any author, so that’s what I’m concentrating on at the moment.

 

  • What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?

It’s all about editing and re-writing for the next few months. I probably won’t start any new manuscripts for at least 2 – 3 months yet. This week, I’m doing my final proof read of Glass Clouds, so I can upload the final file for pre-order, ready for the big release on 30thApril. Then I’ll immediately start to edit (structural edits first, then line edits) my fourth book, ready for release in early August. As I want to put a link for a pre-order for this book into Glass Clouds, I need to have a cover ready for the fourth book, even before I’ve finished the edits on the actual manuscript. I’ve also signed up to do an online course on self-publishing and marketing, to see if I can find out how the really successful indie authors do it. As you can see, I’m usually working on more than one book at a time, still improving my craft and learning about the minefield of marketing all at the same time.

 

  • How can people connect with you?

Probably the two best places to connect with me, are either at my website:

http://www.suzannecass.com/contact/

Or come on over and chat on my author facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/suzannecassauthor/

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

Thanks so much for this opportunity, Maddison, you’re doing a great thing here on this blog, by broadening awareness on all the different pathways we take towards publication. Keep writing everyone. And keep smiling.

It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on my blog, Suzanne, and thank you so much for sharing your journey with us all! It was really fascinating reading about your Path to Publication and I know it will help other authors out there to gain an insight into publishing.

‘Glass Clouds’

Charlize Brewer is spending time in France to recuperate from both the physical and mental scars of a tragic crash that ended her career as a mounted police officer. Her search for a quiet life is shattered when a dangerously attractive stranger appears in her garden covered in blood.

Counter-terrorism agent, Jean-Luc Munulo, is being chased by thugs from a people-smuggling cartel. He disappears back over the wall and Charlize believes it’s the last she’ll ever see of him. But when Charlize becomes an unwitting target of the cartel, she’s forced to go on the run with Jean-Luc as he tries to stay one step ahead of the murderous gang.

During a shoot-out, Jean-Luc is wounded and taken hostage by the leader of the smuggling ring. As her past comes back to haunt her, will Charlize be able to overcome the insidious voices in her head to keep them both alive?

Suzanne can be found on the following platforms:

Website address:http://www.suzannecass.com
Facebook link:https://www.facebook.com/suzannecassauthor/
Twitter link:https://twitter.com/SusieCass1
Instagram link:https://www.instagram.com/suzanne.cass/
Pinterest link:https://www.pinterest.com.au/suzanne_cass/
Goodreads link:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4842221.Suzanne_Cass

Interview with Rachel Pudelek

Interview with Rachel Pudelek

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Rachel’s Path to Publication

Today I chat with the lovely Rachel Pudelek, the debut author of ‘Freyja’s Daughter’, who shares with us her path to publication. Her debut ‘Freyja’s Daughter’ is scheduled for release on May 22, 2018

Rachel Pudelek is a dog-hugger and tree-lover. Growing up with three sisters sparked her passion for both women’s history and women’s advocacy, which led to her career as a birth doula and childbirth educator. These days she channels those passions into writing fiction. When she’s not writing, Rachel enjoys hiking, attempting to grow her own food, or reading.

 

Rachel lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, a cat named Lucifer, and two well-fed guinea pigs.

Hi Rachel, I’m so excited to have you on my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your ‘Path to Publication’ experience with us all. I know so many of my readers will love to hear about how you went from an aspiring author to a published one, and many will gather inspiration from the journey!

 

  • How long have you been writing for?

I started to write toward publication the summer of 2009. My best friend and I made a pact while hiking a mountain that we’d stop dabbling with writing and actually try to get published. As soon as I came down from that mountain I got to work.

  • How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?

I started my first book in 2009 and sold my debut in 2017, so eight years.

  • Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?

I normally write from home. If there’s too much activity going on in the house I’ll write from a cubicle desk at the library. As far as writing rituals, whenever I’m editing I have special “editing suckers” that I treat myself to for accomplishing my least favorite task in the writing process.

  • Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?

Definitely somewhere in between. I create an outline before starting a book and then pants the rest.

  • What is your favourite part of the writing process?

I think it’s amazing that I get to create worlds and beings in those worlds and then share them with the real world. That’s my favorite part.

  • What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?

For a novel to be great each of these elements must be done well. But I think when I’m reading a book, if there’s a character I can really get behind, the setting and plot aren’t as important for me to still enjoy the book.

  • Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):

I sit on my book ideas while I’m working on other books. I let it build itself while it waits its turn. Once I have enough elements to evolve my idea into a book, I take about a week to outline the story. If I’m not interrupted with edits for other projects, I can usually write a full length novel in 2-3 months. Then I let it sit a week or more while I work on something else. I come back to it with fresh eyes and begin the task of editing for story structure, character development, etc. Once that’s done I send it out to beta readers. Based on their feedback I adjust and do another round of fine-tune editing. I then send it to my Kindle and read it like a book; this way I catch different issues and can fix them. It’s polishing. I then send the book to my agent who reads it and sends me an editorial letter. I take a couple weeks to revise based on her notes. Once I’m done I send it back to her, all sparkly, and she prepares to take it on submission. 🙂

 

  • How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):

Around two full length books a year, or more. It depends on the genre and market and what other books I have to finish edits for. This year I’m aiming to write two full length novels and a couple novellas.

  • How did you get your agent, or your publishing contract (if applicable)?

My path to publication story is long and crazy; so much so that I’ll be talking about it on the Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire podcast in July. But the short version is that I started querying my first manuscript in 2010 and in early 2013 the second manuscript I’d written garnered multiple offers of representation from agents. I signed with one of them, but after a couple of years we parted ways. I then contacted Jacqueline Flynn who had been one of the agents who’d originally offered to rep me. We chatted a lot and bounced new book ideas around. She loved my idea for Freyja’s Daughter and signed me on the agreement that I’d write it for her to sell. Jacqueline took Freyja’s Daughter on submission and within two months editors were contacting her to let her know they were taking the manuscript to acquisitions. We got the offer for publication three months after going on submission

  • How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?

The very first rejection stung the worst. After that, I started getting used to it. I mean, they weren’t fun, but I also knew they weren’t personal. I hated the waiting more than the actual rejections. The ones that hurt were the “so close” rejections when agents said they didn’t know why they were passing, or how they were on the fence about offering. I coped by querying more agents and writing more books. 🙂

 

  • Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:

Oh, gosh. My answer reveals a lot about the type of person I am. I knew there were a couple editors taking the manuscript to acquisitions. So I had a feeling the offer was coming. And my agent rarely just calls me out of the blue. So I was working at my library job when I got the call. I looked at my phone and told myself I’d wait till break to call her back. On break I listened to her message telling me to call her back as soon as possible, and I knew her call was to tell me I’d gotten an offer. But I also knew that her saying those words would make me cry. And I didn’t want to cry at work. So I shook in excitement while I processed books and waited to call her on my way home. Turns out, when she told me I didn’t cry at all. I was all business, wanting to know the contract details and our next steps. I think I’d waited so long for one of my books to sell that it took a while to actually sink in. 

 

  • What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?

That agents and editors don’t just look for a well-written book. There’s a whole lot of factors they have to think of when considering a book. I can’t tell you how many agents and editors have told me they loved my manuscript (I’ve written more than a few), but couldn’t sign it because some element in it isn’t selling well at the moment. Or that they already have a similar title in the pipeline.

  • Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?

I didn’t quit. Seriously, not quitting is huge. Also, I was open to learning and adjusting.  

  • Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?

Persistence is key; persistence to never stop learning the craft of writing, to always push yourself forward, to never quitting.

  • Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?

Find a critique partner at your level of writing or higher, and take their notes into consideration. And know that this business is a business, those rejections aren’t personal.

  • What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?

It starts with connecting to other writers, supporting one another, and eventually that blooms into a community of authors and then a community of readers.

  • What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?

Freyja’s Daughter (Wild Women 1) releases May 22nd, so I’m busy preparing for that. I’m also working on Lilith’s Children (Wild Women 2) and I have a couple other projects with my agent, one of which is a twisty paranormal YA that I’m super excited about.

  • How can people connect with you?

I am all over the internet. They can follow me on my social media pages or send me a message via my website.

They can connect with me through my website: http://rachelpudelek.com/contact-me

I can also be found on FB: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelP/

Or Twitter:  https://twitter.com/rachelpud    And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachel_pud/

  • Anything else you want to add?

If your path to publication is a long one, it does not mean you write horribly or that you should give up. The very first time an editor took a manuscript of mine to acquisitions was in 2012. Since then my work has had multiple offers of representation from agents and has been taken to acquisitions. And still, it took eight years to get published. Every path is different. As long as you’re walking yours with confidence and perseverance, you’ll eventually make it.

Thank you so much Rachel for sharing your Path to Publication with us! What an awesome journey, with many more adventures to come. Good luck with your release of ‘Freya’s Daughter’ – can’t wait to have a read 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of  Rachel’s awesome book ‘Freyja’s Daughter’, it’s scheduled for release on May 22, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

‘Freyja’s Daughter’

Faline Frey is a bounty-hunter, more comfortable relying on perp files and handcuffs than using her huldra powers to take down a suspect. No sense in catching the unwanted attention of her local Hunter authority, a group of holy soldiers born to police the supernatural and keep Wild Women—huldras, mermaids, succubi, rusalki and harpies—in check.

All that changes the night she heads out for a date, hoping to get lucky. Instead, she gets screwed.

Now her sister is missing, along with Wild Women from all over the country. The Hunters are on her tail and the one person offering to help is her ex-lover, Officer David Garcia, who has just enough ties to the supernatural world to hang her with.

To unite her enemies against their common foe, Faline will need to convince the Wild Women to do the one thing she fears most—exhume their power buried deep beneath centuries of oppression. That is, if she can keep them from killing each other.

About Rachel:

Rachel Pudelek is a dog-hugger and tree-lover. Growing up with three sisters sparked her passion for both women’s history and women’s advocacy, which led to her career as a birth doula and childbirth educator. These days she channels those passions into writing fiction. When she’s not writing, Rachel enjoys hiking, attempting to grow her own food, or reading.

Rachel lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, a cat named Lucifer, and two well-fed guinea pigs. FREYJA’S DAUGHTER is her debut novel.

Negeen can be found on the following platforms:

Website address:http://rachelpudelek.com/
Facebook link:https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelP/
Twitter link:https://twitter.com/rachelpud
Instagram link:https://www.instagram.com/rachel_pud/
Goodreads link:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17238794.Rachel_Pudelek
Buy link for your latest or soon to be released book:http://smarturl.it/FreyjaAmz

Samantha Heuwagen’s Successful Query Letter

Samantha Heuwagen’s Successful Query Letter

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Samantha I’m so excited to welcome you to my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your querying experience with us. Also a very big thanks, for sharing your successful query letter, that got you that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better!

Thank you so much for having me! If I can help in anyway, I’m more than happy to do it! I know the process was extremely soul crushing for me. If someone can learn a new way to go about the query process, that’s great!

So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:


 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

I’ve been known to be a very quick writer (thanks grad school!). So the process took about a few hours and then I let it sit so I could come back to edit––so maybe a few days? I knew what I wanted to say and what agents/editors look for, so it wasn’t hard to put the pieces together … or so I thought.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

I went through a few drafts of it––I think about three different versions. As I learned about the process, by failing miserably, it grew. In the end I wasn’t seeing any movement. I would get a partial request and some full, but they always ended in rejection. It wasn’t until I hired my editor, Hannah Bauman (https://btleditorial.com/), to help me sort it out that I got a little more feedback and along with that, some hope.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

My first partial was pretty quick, maybe a month? A few months later, I was given two full requests, but nothing happened with any of those.

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

I want to say 5 partial requests and 3 full requests throughout the process.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

If you could see me right now, I’m laughing. Not just, ha ha ha, but a big belly laugh with tears. Of course I was rejected. I want to say I was rejected almost 200 times, maybe even more. After the first 50, I stopped counting. It happens and it’s a part of the deal. You want to be a creative and write? You’re going to have to face the pain of rejection, no matter how bitter it tastes.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

I used excel mostly. I wasn’t very good at tracking it at first because it never crossed my mind to do it––sad now that I think about it. But in the end I got smart and started tracking. You should do it, because you want those records, even if it’s to burn it all later.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

My goal in every sitting was ten, but that doesn’t mean I found ten people to query. Sometimes it was one, others more. I went after the agents and editors I knew I wanted to work with and would be a good fit.

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I wanted to be represented by someone who was as passionate about changing stereotypes of mental health and women, especially women of color. I looked for individuals who had that quality and wanted to change the world through writing.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

I did to the best of my ability. I’ll be honest, sometimes I got lazy, but if I connected with an agent online or at a conference, I’d make sure you say hi and make sure they knew it was me.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

I got an email from Trifecta, actually. I never check my email between teaching and heading to the office to do therapy, but something about that time and day, I checked. I sat in my car, still parked mind you, and looked around asking if this was real life. I then called my mom and partner who didn’t pick up their phones. Luckily, I was able to get ahold of dear friends who facetimed me to celebrate. It was surreal.

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

I had a lot and I won’t bore you with the details, but I made sure it was legit by running it by my lawyer and team. You have to be smart, even if it’s your dream come true, you never know.

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

I wish I focused more on the marketing part of life. I understand a lot of that is my responsibility no matter if you’re working with a big press or small, but I wish I would have asked for a business plan or something to get a better idea of what they could offer me. Though I’ll admit, I like the freedom to do it alone, but again, it’s hard work and sometimes I just want to be the writer! I like to think I’m learning valuable skills no matter what happens with the book or beyond.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

Self care. Take care of yourself during this process and get ready to work. If you feel like burn out is around the corner, stop and take a step back. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

Thank you so much and good luck to everyone in the trenches. It’s not easy, but it does get better no matter what the outcome. Believe in yourself and you’re half way there!

 

Samantha’s editor at Trifecta Publishing, Diana Ballew, has kindly offered her perspective on what it was about Samantha’s query that got her attention, and ultimately led to her publishing deal. Here’s what she had to say:

Samantha did an excellent job with her query letter. The first paragraph contained the information I was looking for: Given your interest in multicultural fiction, the “own voices” theme, and strong female characters, I think my novel is a great fit for your list.

Indeed, I was looking for multicultural fiction with an especially strong female character in a futuristic setting. Reading further, I knew that no matter how good her attached manuscript pages might be, there was an issue with her word count—over 120,000 words, and we didn’t publish books over 100,000 words. Still, I began reading, and I really like her attached pages. I asked Samantha to consider revising and resubmitting her manuscript. She was very professional about it and took the job to task. She completed the revisions and resubmitted the manuscript within a timely manner, and I was delighted to see the book fell right under that 100,000-word mark, and that Dawn Among the Stars was now considerably tighter, a much better read, and a perfect fit for Trifecta Publishing House.

Diana Ballew
Director of Acquisitions
Project Manager
TrifectaPublishingHouse

 

 

Thank you so much Samantha (and Diana too) for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Samantha’s fabulous debut novel ‘Dawn Among the Stars’, it’s scheduled for release on May 21st, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

 

Dawn Among The Stars Blurb:

Set against the backdrop of intergalactic politics and war, Dawn Among the Stars follows the stories of three Humans as they struggle to understand the universe on a cosmic scale.

Kayin has a rough start when the Shielders, a potential alien ally for Earth, come out of hiding and into the public consciousness. Not only does their very existence cause her trouble, her panic attacks threaten to derail her everyday life. Can she overcome her mental health issues or will she be swallowed up in a political mess?

As for Henry Rickner, he wishes he could take back all of his mistakes in life, starting with his choice to leave Kayin.  Yet he finds himself within the chaos of war as he tries to reunite with those he holds dear.

Melissa Pebbles only has one goal: to keep her family safe during the attack. She will do anything to make sure she and her family make it through whatever challenges are thrown their way. While Melissa fights to keep her family alive, she learns that family is more than just blood.

Can these three work with the Shielders to save Earth or will they lose the only home they’ve ever known?

** Dawn Among The Stars is NOW available for pre-order – just visit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CSDC77N/ref **

About Samantha:

Samantha Heuwagen works as a Marriage and Family Therapist and specializes in Sex.

Therapy in Atlanta, GA. She is a graduate of Mercer University School of Medicine where she earned her second Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her first Master’s degree is in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of South Florida where she first realized her passion for sex education. She is a certified sexologist with the American College of Sexologists. When she isn’t working with clients, she teaches at Kennesaw State University sharing her knowledge about sex and feminism. Her debut novel, Dawn Among the Stars, the first in a multi-part series, releases May 21st, 2018 through Trifecta Publishing.


Samantha can be found on the following platforms:

Website address:SamanthaHeuwagen.com
Facebook link:https://www.facebook.com/groups/609493369396318/
Twitter link:https://twitter.com/Sheuwagen
Instagram link:https://www.instagram.com/samantha_heuwagen/
Pinterest link:https://www.pinterest.com/heuwagens/
Goodreads link:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17727060.Samantha_Heuwagen?from_search=true

Lissa Linden’s Successful Query Letter

Lissa Linden’s Successful Query Letter

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Lissa it’s wonderful to welcome you to my blog, and thank you for taking part in sharing your querying experience with us. It’s so helpful to be able to actually read the query letter that got you that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better!

Thanks for having me! Querying can feel like such a slog, so I’m happy to share some of my experience. I hope it makes the journey a little smoother for some of your readers!

 

So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:

 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

Oh gosh, I’m not even sure. I probably wrote it over the course of a few days. I tend to be way too general when I first draft a query, so I do like to sit on it for a bit before revising to clarify the conflict and stakes.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

I didn’t, but I would have if I hadn’t had any bites from the requests in the initial query round. One of my requests was from a publisher’s Twitter pitch contest and I held off on querying further until I’d heard back from that submission.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

I sent the queries at the end of May and received the first partial request at the start of July, but I’d entered #CarinaPitch in June and received a full request from that, too. The submission was sent with the same query letter, but it was originally requested from a 140 character pitch. There are so many paths in publishing, but I have yet to encounter one that didn’t require a solid query letter!

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

I received two partial requests – both of which eventually upgraded to fulls – and one full request from the Twitter pitch party.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

Oh, yes. Many. This was the third manuscript I’d queried, and it might sound odd, but I was grateful for rejections. To me, the worst part of querying was always the waiting – the lack of response and never knowing if that meant that it was a rejection, or if my email was still in the queue somewhere. So, I supposed you could say I coped by crossing agents off my list and deciding who to add for the next round of queries.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

I used an Excel spreadsheet to track queries. I would make note of the agent and agency, what I sent and the date, and whether any further materials were requested. I also had a column for rejections. It was a well-used column.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

With this book, I started with an initial list of eleven agents. The idea was that I would sent a new query out whenever I received a pass on one.

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I used resources like Manuscriptwishlist.com and checked the #MSWL hashtag on Twitter, but supplemented this with my previous query experience. I may not have landed an agent with my other manuscripts, but I did gain some insight into agents I would be particularly interested in working with, so they were priority queries this time around.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

Honestly, I didn’t personalize this query to the same extent I had with previous manuscripts. I did, however, make sure each query was personally addressed, and that I’d spelled the names right.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

This is where things get a little less linear in my query journey. Remember that #CarinaPitch Twitter event I mentioned? Well, I spoke with my editor before my agent. I received an offer of publication on ONE MATCH FIRE while I was contemplating an R&R for one agent, and before my agent requested the full. This was a week of calls that I can sum up as, “Way more stressful than I’d anticipated.”

 

  • Did you have multiple offers for either representation or publication, and if so, how did you decide who you were going to accept?

I did. In one week, I spoke to an agent about doing an R&R, an editor who wanted to acquire the manuscript, and an agent who offered representation when nudged about the publication offer. Oh, and yes, the R&R agent offered representation at that point, too.

There was a lot of balancing and weighing of thoughts and emotions.

Ultimately, though, my decision came down to who seemed to “get” my book the most. When I spoke with Laura, she zeroed in on the things I loved most about the manuscript as the things she loved most about it. Her view of romance as an empowering genre really echoed my own feelings, too, not to mention she was so well-versed on the genre and had worked with the offering publisher before. I ended the call feeling more grounded than I had during that entire whirlwind week, and I took that as a good sign!

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

I asked about representing subsequent works, as well as other genres. I also asked to speak with/email existing clients, as well as how she would assist me given that I already had an offer on the manuscript, but the last question I asked was the most pertinent for me: what was her ideal outcome from this phone call? I wanted to be sure we were on the same page moving forward.

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

Honestly, I probably should have asked a lot more questions about the submission process when it comes to selling future projects, but it wasn’t on my mind at the time.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

Be specific with regard to stakes for your characters. You want your query to be clear about why your manuscript is special – what makes it different from the one before yours in the slush, and how it stands apart from the query that will come next.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

I honestly wasn’t sure that this query letter worked. I’d sent out so few queries, and had a reasonably small return rate. But then much of it ended up as my back cover copy. So, I’m going to take that to mean it was indeed as effective as I’d hoped it would be!

  • What does your Agent, Laura Zats, have to say about what exactly was it in your query letter that got her attention?

Here’s what my agent, Laura Zats had to say:

“When it comes to romance, voice is, to me, the most important thing. Since it’s a genre with tropes, pacing and plot often feels like a vehicle for the characters and the feeling of the book. So the problem with a romance query is this: how, without quoting my own book, can I show an agent/editor that this book is sexy and voice-y, while still following the rule of The Three Questions (who’s your MC, what do they want, and what’s standing in their way/how are they going to get it?) The key, which Lissa perfectly executed, is in keeping it simple. First paragraph is about the heroine (with a little nod at the end to her meeting the hero), the second paragraph is for the hero (with a little nod to the heroine), and the third is about the Problem–now that they’ve found one another, what are they going to do? Keeping this formula standard allowed Lissa to add little hints that pointed towards the voice without getting lost in it, which means I could read in-between the lines to figure out exactly what this book is beyond the simple facts of the plot. We feel that Amy is interested in being in charge, that she has something to prove, but is also running from what she told herself she wanted. We know that Paul, because he can’t believe his luck, is less interested in being in control, but we also know he’s on a ticking clock. Telling us this right before we hear about celibacy tells us exactly what’s going to happen–this book is going to be full of sexual tension and unspoken words. Adding in the fire/combustion imagery means that when these two give in, it’ll be intense. And intense is exactly what I’m looking for in a book that has a quiet setting. That dichotomy is my weakness, and so I was SOLD.”

 

Lissa, thanks so much for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Lissa’s debut novel ‘One Match Fire’, which is available now, click on the pic below for more info.


ONE MATCH FIRE:

A sexy, summer camp-set reunion romance from debut author Lissa Linden

When Amy left her beloved summer camp, heartbroken and ashamed, she swore she’d never return. Twelve years later, she’s desperate to unearth the person she was before turning into a workaholic. When her old camp advertises for a new director, Amy leaps at the chance to start over—only to find herself face-to-face with the very guy who broke her heart.

Paul hasn’t forgotten kissing Amy beneath a shooting star, or how she bolted from camp without saying goodbye. When she shows up to take the job he never thought he’d leave, Paul can hardly believe his luck. Amy is now a woman with killer curves and a sexual appetite to match. With serious vibes between them, and him nearly dead from the celibacy of life at camp, they strike a deal for a few days of sexy fun in the wilderness.

But when feelings that started long ago enter the mix and it becomes clear Amy will only trust him with her body—not her heart—Paul desperately wants to break through the armor she’s built to protect herself. And although Amy knows there’s something special about the way she reacts to Paul, something beyond skin on skin, the stakes are high enough to scare her.

With a past like theirs, they’ll either ignite a future…or burn out for good.

 

About Lissa:

Lissa Linden writes contemporary romance about women she’d like to hang out with, and the men who can keep up with them. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, traveling, or reading about traveling. Luckily, her husband is completely on board with spontaneously booking trips to say, eastern Europe. A proud history and languages nerd, Lissa is fluent in Shakespearean insults and dirty jokes through the ages.

 

Lisa can be found on the following platforms:

Website address:https://lissalinden.com/
Twitter link:https://twitter.com/Lissa_Linden
Goodreads link:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17470446.Lissa_Linden
Buy link for your latest or soon to be released book:https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781488097041_one-match-fire.html

Interview with Sharon Wray

Interview with Sharon Wray

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Sharon’s Path to Publication

Today I chat with the lovely Sharon Wray, the debut author of ‘Every Deep Desire’, who shares with us her path to publication. Her debut ‘Every Deep Desire’ was released March 6 2018!

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.

Hi Sharon, I’m so excited to have you on my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your ‘Path to Publication’ experience with us all. I know so many of my readers will love to hear about how you went from an aspiring author to a published one, and many will gather inspiration from the journey!

Thanks so much, Maddison, for inviting me to your blog today! I can’t wait to get started. 🙂

  • How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing since I was in middle school, but I never considered myself a writer until I was an adult.

  • How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?

It took me 8 full manuscripts, 2 partial manuscripts, and 12 years to sell my Deadly Force series. It then took another 2 years before my debut book Every Deep Desire hit the bookshelves. .

  • Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?

I usually write at home. I have a small desk in the kitchen and then I move around between the couch, my bed, and then back to my desk. Sometimes, if I simply can’t get out of my own head, I go to a nearby coffee shop. The problem is that I live in a busy, congested area outside of Washington, DC and the coffee shops—and outlets—are often full. But if I can get there early, I can usually snag a seat in the corner.

As far as prewriting rituals, I do have a few. I scan my email and texts and make sure I don’t have anything to do for my editor or kids or husband (My main priorities, lol). Then I look at a few news sites, make a cup of coffee, check my to-do list so I don’t miss any appointments, and then sit down and write.

  • Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?

I am an in-between writer. I like to have an outline with all of the turning points and major scenes worked out. I’d like it to be more detailed, but it never works out that way. So I use my general outline and move forward, constantly readjusting between the turning points to make sure I’m not off track.

  • What is your favourite part of the writing process?

I hate the first draft because I find it so stressful. I much prefer to edit a page than face a blank one!

  • What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?

Characters are the most important because they’re the most interesting and drive all the action.

  • Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):

It takes me nine months to write a novel, with the first 6 weeks or so doing all the background outlining work. The rest is drafting, changing things around, editing, and polishing and submitting. Every book is different, though. Some take longer to draft and others longer to edit.

I’ve written two full novels so far and am on my third. I’d say on average it takes me anywhere from 8-12 months to write the first draft.

  • How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):

It takes me about nine months to finish a book, then another few months with my editor in revisions. I’d like to pick up the pace but right now I’m just a very slow writer.

  • How did you get your agent, or your publishing contract (if applicable)?

I’ll try and keep this short! It took me six years of querying, writing, learning, entering contests, and finishing manuscripts to get my agent. She’d already rejected me a number of times but had left the door open. So every time I had a new manuscript, I sent it to her. I guess you could say I bugged her until she finally signed me. LOL

            It took another six years of writing and rewriting until I sold. It all started with a tweet I sent about another author (a nice tweet!). Her editor saw it, contacted my agent, asked to see my current manuscript, and we decided to send it to her as well as other editors. We went on submission on a partial and the book went to auction about six weeks later.

  • How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?

I had many, many years of learning how to deal with rejection. After a while, I was so used to it that I turned it into a game. Every time I got rejected, I went out to lunch with a girlfriend. Sometimes, we’d even order a split of champagne! I was rewarding myself for trying and for not giving up.

  • Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:

We’d been out on submission for about six weeks when my agents (I have two in the same agency—it’s an unusual-yet-wonderful mentoring situation) asked to talk on Skype. I knew there were still two editors who hadn’t responded, but all of the other ones had passed. When my agents told me that two editors were interested, I was stunned and when the shock wore off I was so excited there aren’t words to describe it. I eventually went with Sourcebooks and my amazing editor Deb Werksman. She helped me craft the book into something I’m so proud of and that I hope readers will love.

  • What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?

1.To expect the unexpected.

2. Keep your eyes on your own journey and don’t compare yourself to others.

3. Even the smallest thing like a tweet can change your life.

  • Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?

I stayed active in the writing community and I never gave up.

  • Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?

Everything that Stephen King says in his book “On Writing”. It’s filled with brilliant insights about what it’s like to be a writer.

  • Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?

This is from Winston Churchill. “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” In the case of writers, the enemy is our own self-doubt

  • What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?

When building a platform, do what you love. Talk and write about things you are passionate about –besides writing—and engage on platforms you’re comfortable with. And DON’T compare yourself to other authors. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

  • What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?

I’m working on book 2 in the Deadly Force Series titled One Dark Wish. It should release in January 2018.

  • How can people connect with you?

Through my website and on most social media platforms. Although I hate to admit this, but when I’m under deadline I may not check in with SM for days. So please be patient with me!

They can connect with me through my website: www.sharonwray.com

I can also be found on FB: https://www.facebook.com/Sharon-Wray-Author-644867762246756/timeline/?ref=hl

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharonbwray    And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sbwray/

  • Anything else you want to add?

Thank you so much for hosting me today. I’ve enjoyed getting to know your readers!

Thank you so much Sharon for sharing your Path to Publication with us! What an awesome journey, with many more adventures to come. Good luck on your release of ‘Every Deep Desire’ – can’t wait to have a read 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Sharon’s awesome book ‘Every Deep Desire’, was released on March 6th, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

‘Every Deep Desire’

He’s taking it all back
His honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves

Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But his wife Juliet must never know the truth behind what he’s done…or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.

It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it’s not just her heart that’s in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined…

About Sharon:

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.

Sharon can be found on the following platforms:

Website address:ww.sharonwray.com
Facebook link:https://www.facebook.com/Sharon-Wray-Author-644867762246756/timeline/?ref=hl
Twitter link:https://twitter.com/sharonbwray
Instagram link:https://www.instagram.com/sbwray/
Goodreads link:https://www.instagram.com/sbwray/
Buy link for your latest or soon to be released book:Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Every-Deep-Desire-Deadly-Force/dp/1492655600/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/every-deep-desire-sharon-wray/1126633208?ean=9781492655602

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/every-deep-desire/id1295142828?mt=11

 

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