How Kat Nabbed her Agent Beth

IT HAS HAPPENED AGAIN!!!! Some of the best news you can get is when you hear something amazing happening to one of your writing friends! If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that at RT 2016, I got to meet some new writer friends whom I absolutely adore with all my oomph! One of those writers was KAT!!! And, yup, you guessed it… KAT IS NOW SIGNED WITH BETH PHELAN OF THE BENT AGENCY!!!! How amazing is that?? (If you want to read about how Kat got her agent, I shall direct you to this link here!)

She is hilarious, guys! Super fun and friendly in the best way possible! You know how you meet someone and you instantly have Good Vibes about them? Yup, this was Kat! (And her cousin, Axie–hi, Axie!!!) In addition to being a cool person, she also writes AMAZING AMAZING stories! And the cherry on top? OMG ANOTHER BIG BANG FAN!!!!!!! Sooooooo, you know, that pretty much sealed the deal: Kat is cool.

 

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Kat has wonderfully agreed to do a little interview for me regarding how she got her agent!! Without further ado… Here it is!!!

 

1.Kaaaaaaat!!!! Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you became a writer, and what you write!!

I was born on a brisk November evening in the western suburbs of Boston…

But, seriously. I’ve been writing practically since I was born. My sister would write stories and I’d illustrate them. Then sometimes, my cousin and I would write stories together (actually the same story over and over where we invented a time machine and went back to the time of the dinosaurs).

And then I started to write Mossflower/Redwall fan fiction because who doesn’t like mice living in an abbey eating all the food they eat. I also wrote books about horses because I wanted to be a horse jockey.

Anyway…what was I talking about? Oh yea, my writing.

My current MS is based on Korean mythology of the gumiho: a nine-tailed fox that has lived for over a thousand years and can shift into a beautiful woman. She must devour the livers of men to continue to live forever. So, you know a feel-good rom-com 😉

Anyway, my MC is a gumiho who is conflicted between her need to kill to survive and her desire to be loved. This all comes to a head when her secret is revealed to a human boy who is the opposite of her personality wise. He’s carefree and fun-loving and doesn’t take anything seriously. This kind of clashes with her need to control everything in her life. So, they fall in love and people get hurt because of her secret. It’s very very angsty.

 

2.What is your favorite part about writing? 

There are A LOT of things I love about writing.

Writing is my therapy. It helps me to get the crazy out of my head so I am not kept up at night. I’m a generally anxious person, so if I can purge my mind of the millions of thoughts then it helps and writing is a very direct way for me to do that. I used to keep a dream journal, and that thing is cuckoo crazy-town. But also, potentially good fodder for future stories, who knows.

Writing is also something that I’ve loved since I was a child. It’s a way that my sister and I “played.” If there was a story that I loved I would get sad when it ended. So my sister would solve that by writing more stories based on that story. She pretty much wrote 7-year-old fanfic for me. Hahaha. So writing has always been something in my family and has been a way for my sister and I to express ourselves. It’s funny because she actually has a book coming out this year and I am so stoked for her. I’m going to bake a cake with her book cover on it.

And finally, my current journey of writing brought me one of my new loves: writing community. People like ERIN! Wheeee! I absolutely adore the writers I’ve met. I obviously idolize my hero authors that are making the stories I’ve always read. But meeting and learning about aspiring authors and people who are in the trenches with me is inspiring! I love to hear other people’s ideas and stories. I love brainstorming. I love fangirling. I love knowing that people with a shared dream can come together and support each other through all the crazy that is publishing. It’s so thrilling to be accepted into a world like this.

 

3.What’s your daily writing routine like? 

Okay, I’ll only tell you this if you don’t tell my boss…

I sometimes write at work (hides under desk!)

The reason being that I’m a pantser at heart. When I get an idea I HAVE to write it down in its entirety and it just pulls me into a scene. I can’t plot and think things through until I have words on a page.

So, some days I’ll probably write half of the day and be actively in front of the computer typing away like a madwoman. I’ve had some 5,000 word days like that. Then there could potentially be days or weeks of no words because I just don’t have the inspiration. Those days I use for revisions. For me, revisions are a slower and more thoughtful time. I’ll definitely think through everything and actually set aside time for those. Usually at night because I’m a night owl. And almost always on my couch even though I have a whole office I’ve set up.

I like to write with music playing. I don’t want to make myself sound too nerdy, but I listen to K-pop. Not because my book is in Korea, but because I love it. And also because I can’t necessarily listen to music with English lyrics because it’ll distract me. In the same vein, I’ll have K-Dramas playing in the background sometimes when I write. For Gumiho, I rewatched all of School 2013 because I adore that show and the actors and I love the atmosphere of it.

 

4.Did you know that this book was The One? 

Because a wizard came down from the mountain and bestowed upon me the ancient prophecy that my WiP was THE ONE. Also, because my book was born on the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year.

But seriously, it’s actually because I was TERRIFIED to write this book. Just was sooo concerned it would be too much for people to take (because I use Korean setting, culture and words and I don’t necessarily define everything). But despite that I still felt like I HAD to write it. So, I just wrote it piece by piece thinking if it became too much I’d set it aside. And suddenly I had a full book with characters I couldn’t let go of and I had to share it because I loved it that much.

 

5.What was the hardest part about querying? 

The hardest part was to GET myself to query this time around. I queried about 2.5 years ago. It was a sad time in my life. I was not prepared for querying or for the industry in general.

I wrote a book that wasn’t that good. I mean, I still like it, but it will never ever see the light of day in its current form. But that book means something big to me. It’s the first book that I really revised. I got my first Critique Partners with that book. I got a whole critique group with that book. I went to my first conference with it and I pitched agents for the first time with that book (one of whom was Beth! Symmetry!)

So anyway, I queried that book. That querying process took about a year from start to finish. The reason being that everyone rejected it. And rejections sometimes take awhile to roll in.I finally went back and looked at my abysmal stats for this book:

 

– Slush queried = 34 agents

– Conference queried = 4 agents

– Average Response time = 39 days

– Fastest response time = 0 days

– slowest response time = 388 days

– requests = 3 partials

– rejections = 23

– CNR = 15

 

Don’t you FEEL BAD FOR ME?! Just kidding. I actually think this is a mild round of rejections. But for me, I was devastated. Really thought I’d at least get more requests. I have theories for why not, but I won’t bore you guys with them. The lesson is that I didn’t do well in this querying round. I had very low interest in my MS. And I worried that it was because I am a bad writer. It was a very sad time for me.

I gave up a little bit. Not completely, but enough that I wallowed for too long and got insane writer’s block. I tried to start 2 different WiPs that I could not finish for the life of me. And I started to just sink deeper into a hole of writing depression.

I’m not saying this to make anyone feel bad for me. I’m saying this because I think this can happen all too often. I think that I am not the only one that took my first rejections badly. And I hope that my initial failure might be helpful for someone else going out into the query trenches.

Anyway, because of this I DID NOT want to query my current MS. I loved it so much! Way more than I loved my last MS and I would have been really sad if no one liked it.

I tried to dip my toes in my submitting it to a couple of competitions and mentorship programs. And I got rejected from ALL of them. Not a good feeling. I don’t necessarily consider myself an award-winning writer, but it still stung as all rejections do in something so personal like writing.

However, the story obviously ends happily. Just keep reading!

 

6.What was getting The Call like? 

Surreal. You know that moment when you go on a really good first date and you just keep smiling because you really like this guy/girl but then you think, “Oh no! I look like a crazy person, they’ll think I’m insane!”

That was me on The Call. I got the email for the call on a Thursday and was so flustered that I asked to have the call on Friday instead. Because I was so certain I needed to compile a list of questions (which I did).

Then the call happened and I had set up my desk so carefully that you’d think I was the most organized person in the universe (hint: I’m not). I had a notebook, THREE pens (why did I need three?!), my list of questions and a separate sheet of loose-leaf paper (you know, in case my notebook spontaneously combusted).

The agent started out with talking to me about DVPit and a conference we’d previously met at. It was nice, a bit of small talk to get the nerves out and it worked. I really liked that because it made me feel like it wasn’t all business all the time. It was a more organic and easy conversation. Of course, it shifted into the conversation about my MS. This was nerve wracking and wonderful at the same time.

Again, going back to the date analogy. It’s like when you’re sitting on a date and the other person suddenly goes, “You know, I think you’re so pretty and smart, and the way that you told that joke was really spot on, I laughed so hard.” It’s just fun-times compliment city and I basked in it hard core. Of course, then they go into the notes they have on revisions. That doesn’t have a date analogy, because I’ve never been on one where the guy goes “Well, could you have picked a nicer cardigan maybe?” And if anyone has, I’d tell them to leave that date immediately. But for The Call, it’s important to know what parts of the MS the agent thinks might need tweaking.

I loved talking about the revisions because I’m a glutton for punishment, haha. No, I’m actually just a realist and I know that any MS isn’t perfect and could probably use a little polishing before sub (Ahhhh! Sub!!!)

Anyway, by the end I was just super happy. Stoked about what the future had to hold. And then I stressed out about sending the “I got an offer” emails to other agents.

 

7.How did you know your agent was The One? 

Because a wizard…oh wait, I already said this one.

Okay, for real, it’s because of many factors. It helped that she was always on my list, like since I queried my first MS a million years ago. I also met her at that first fated conference I went to two years ago, so I knew she was cool people.

Finally, it was probably the call. There were things she said about my work and about my book that really clicked with me. What I liked were the things she said that were critical. Not saying that she said my book was bad, but that it definitely still needed some revisions (which I knew). And she didn’t sugar coat it, she just told me exactly what level of revisions she wanted for my work and allowed me to brainstorm with her for like 45 minutes on the ideas she brought up. It felt like we were already working together and it felt so comfortable and real and dynamic. I could totally see that being our agent/author relationship for years to come.

There were other factors (boring things like sales or career history or her MSWL, etc) but the biggies were my ability to click with her as an agent on the phone. (Not to say I didn’t click on my other call, I just had a gut feeling about Beth from jump).

 

8.What advice do you have for writers in the query trenches? 

Do NOT give up! I really really mean this. If I had given up after my first query fail, I wouldn’t be here. If I had given up after the next WiP went nowhere, I wouldn’t be here. If I had given up after the next next WiP went nowhere, I wouldn’t be here. If I had given up when I lost a bunch of competitions/didn’t get mentorships with my current MS, I wouldn’t be here. It is definitely true when they say it only takes one. And I KNOW how frustrating that is, how you want to scream because you think “But I can’t even GET one!” Trust me, it can happen. You can get a dozen, a hundred, a thousand rejections and then just get one, and it’ll wipe the slate clean.

This beginning of our journey is hard because we feel like we’re alone. After you get an agent and then (hopefully) an editor, you have an industry professional to fight beside you. It’s amazing. But when you’re just starting out you feel like you’re floundering without anyone to guide you. This is where CP’s and mentors ARE INVALUABLE. Get Critique partners! Get Critique Groups. I have amazing CPs and beta readers. They’re my cheerleaders. They make me smile even when I feel like crying. They send me crazy GIFs (this is akin to sending any other person chocolate and wine. Actually, I’d also like to receive wine). Anyway, my message is that you are NEVER alone, not if you don’t want to be. So go out there and make friends and let them be the ones who pick you up if you feel like falling down.

Publishing can be like a snowball rolling downhill. You start as a tiny little snowflake and then you pick up knowledge and friends along the way. And then you’re a giant snow ball rolling through down, destroying mailboxes and all small creatures that stand in your way! Wait…where was I going with this?

 

Thanks so so much to Kat for doing this interview!!!! And as a tribute to Kat (and because I really really really can’t resist) here is a Big Bang video!!!

 

 

In Which Awesome Katy Talks About Getting Her New Agent

Remember how I mentioned that good things come in three?? WELL HERE IT IS PEOPLE!!! HERE IS THE THIRD GOOD THING!!!!!!! My beautiful friend and CP, Katy, IS NOW AGENTED!!!!!!!!! She is signed with the amazing Alexandra Machinist of ICM!!!!

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. I love Katy and her work and I’m so so excited that she is now agented!! (OMG GUYS!!! THREE, THREE, OF MY BEAUTIFUL WRITER FRIENDS ARE NOW AGENTED!!!!!) I met Katy through some mutual CPs and I’m SOOOOO glad that we did!! Katy is genuinely such a cool and chill person with such a great personality. Plus she cracks me up with her jokes. And also, she has the best laugh ever! Oh! And, she is the best Sorting Hat ever (Yes! After a life of House-Ambiguity, I’m in Gryffindor!) and she is so wise (not joking, guys!) I’m so grateful and amazed that I get to call her my friend!!!!!!

Kay!!! Onwards and upwards! Here are the wonderful answers Katy imparted upon us!!!!

 

1.Hi, Katy!!!! Tell us a little bit about your beautiful self, what you write, and how you came to be a writer!!!

Is it very telling that I left this question until last when answering these? I am very bad at talking about myself, but here goes — I grew up in LA, now live in the Bay Area where I consume an unreasonable amount of coffee and spend way to much money at all the local independent bookstores here (shout out to Books Inc, Pegasus Books, and Laurel Bookstore!)

I have been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil (or sit at a computer, actually). I used to play elaborate pretend-games with my sister (think Sailor Moon but with unicorns, and also magic school?) and then I would go into my parent’s home office and continue our adventures in story form. I now write YA fantasy (more on that in a second), so my taste in stories hasn’t changed too much. I still love magic, adventure, and impossible things, but I’m now more interested in the people who inhabit those stories. I love characters who do the unexpected, whose capacity for love (or for evil!) surprise even themselves. I love stories where the choices start out hard, and only get harder. And the great thing about fantasy and sci-fi is that there’s so much opportunity to change and raise the stakes for your characters. 

 

2.What is your favorite part about writing?

I love a lot of things about writing, but process-wise I definitely enjoy revising more than I like drafting. My internal editor is such a burden while I’m writing a first draft. There’s this great Ira Glass clip that pops up on the internet every so often, about how beginning to create art can be so challenging because your taste is so much more sophisticated and fine-tuned than your talent. I definitely feel the pain of that most acutely while I’m drafting, when what I’m putting on the page isn’t close enough to my vision to satisfy that internal critic. It’s only later, going back through a draft, that I’m able to really dig in and find the gems that reflect what I want the story to really be, and chip away until I find it.

 

3.How many books did you write before you got your agent?

This was the first book that I completed, revised, and actually queried. Before this, I had written thousands of words of stories as a kid (as mentioned), lots of fanfiction as an adolescent, and a couple half-finished manuscripts here and there. But this was the first one that actually came together, and that I was serious enough about to actually finish, revise (and revise again…and again…and again) and start querying.

 

4.Did you know this book was The One?

I remember at one point telling my sister (during my first or second draft) that I was finally writing the book I had always wanted to write. So in a sense I think I did know that there was something special, or at least I knew that I loved this book enough to push through all the difficulties and challenges that come with writing. And I think that was really the key — it wasn’t that there was anything particularly trendy, or hook-y, or whatever with this project, it was just that I loved the characters and the story so much I was willing to do whatever it took to bring them to life.

 

 

5.How did you know Alexandra was The One?

It was two main things. The first was that, believe it or not, I pitched this book as an adult fantasy. And the first thing Alexandra said to me when we talked was “I love this — and I think it’s YA.” We had a long discussion about it, and everything she said made so much sense and I realized that I really did want to be writing YA (I read mostly YA, all of my CPs write YA, all of my prospective future projects were YA). So when we hung up I had this moment of realizing that she had seen something about this book that I hadn’t, and that she was totally, 100% right about it. It also made it clear that she loved my writing enough to really put in all the work it would take to get this book where it needed to be.

The second thing was that in talking to her, and a couple of her clients, I saw how amazing she was at her job. When an agent talks to you on the phone, she’s really trying to sell you on working with her, the same way she’d try to sell an editor on buying your book. And I could tell right away that she was amazing at it. She was so charming, smart, and funny, and underneath all that I could tell that she was a TOTAL BADASS who would fight like hell for her authors.

6.How did you celebrate signing with your agent?

Haha, unfortunately nothing too exciting. I had just gotten back from Yallwest in LA and I’m getting ready to leave on another trip this weekend, so I took it easy. I hung out with my sister and caught up on Jane the Virgin. I did buy this fancy bottle of wine a few weeks ago in Napa with the intention of drinking it when I officially signed, so I still have that to look forward to!

 

7.What was the hardest part about querying? 

Writing the dang thing! I wrote and re-wrote it probably around 20 times — no exaggeration. To be honest, I actually really enjoyed the query process itself. I mean, obviously there’s a lot of waiting, and rejections can be disheartening, but regardless of the outcome, querying this project meant taking a HUGE step forward in my writing career. Rejections and requests alike both made the whole thing feel more real, and I learned a lot from the whole experience. 

 

8.What advice do you have for writing slugging it in the query trenches?

Ok, so first the nitty-gritty advice: you can never do too much research. I started researching agents loooooooong before I had anything remotely queryable, so by the time I did have a finished, polished manuscript, I already knew a ton about the agents I wanted to query, about publishing in general, and about the process itself (it is not always 100% super straight forward! Many strange –sometimes wonderful– things can happen in the query trenches!)

And my other piece of advice, especially for those querying a book for the first time, is to remember that the fact that you’re querying means you’ve already done a LOT of hard work (you WROTE A BOOK), that you’re brave for putting yourself out there, and that you’re taking a real, concrete step toward your goals. So regardless of how many rejections and requests you get, you should be proud for taking yourself and your work seriously.

 

Thank you so so much to Katy for answering these questions for me!!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am for Katy and Alexandra!!!! NOW EVERYONE PLEASE GO CONGRATULATE KATY!!!!!!! *PARTY PARTY*!!!!!

Interview with Mic On Getting Her Agent!!!

So, you know how they say good things come in three?? First, Janella signed with her agent, and now OMG MY TALENTED AND AMAZING FRIEND MIC SIGNED WITH HER AGENT, THE WONDERFUL HEATHER FLAHERTY FROM THE BENT AGENCY!!!

How crazy is this guys? Not just one of my friends getting an agent, but TWO!!!! Two of my seriously talented friends have agents (and this is no surprise considering how hard they’ve worked and how amazing they are!) (Okay, so I know this are only two good things, but who knows!!!!! Maybe someone else is signing as we speak! More good things are sure to come!)

Anyways, Mic, who is a wonderful human being and friend and is always up for the best and worst of flailing about books and authors, answered a few questions for me!!! Well, here goes!!!

 

1.So, Mic!!! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a writer and what you write!

Hi Erin 🙂 Thank you so much for having me! I’m a born and raised New Yorker–so I walk fast, take immense pride in my subway knowledge, and can’t sleep in silence. I’m a fangirl of all things Disney, Broadway, and books. Oh, and Food Network. I also really like penguins. I’m happiest at a concert, by the water, or with tea.

I just kind of fell into writing. When I was little, I used to make up stories my best friend and I would act out. We called it The Imagination Game–and to this day I still suck at naming stuff. Then a little thing called High School Musical happened when I was 10 and… I started writing fanfiction. I wish I could say I started with Harry Potter fanfiction, but it was HSM. I carried around a binder all through middle school and wrote during class and all the boys would ask me what I was writing. I don’t remember what I said. I probably lied. Eventually, I stopped writing fanfic and started wondering if I could maybe write my own stuff. Now, I write YA and bounce between contemporary and fantasy mostly, but am musing on a sci-fi idea right now.

 

2.Did you know this book was The One? 

Maybe. I’m not sure exactly. I definitely felt like it was something special and I loved working on it. Everything kind of feels like The One when I’m writing, though. It kind of has to for me, in order to push through the days when all the words suck or a scene isn’t working.

 

3.What’s your favorite part about writing? 

I really love voice. I love building it and uncovering all its quirks. I especially love when I’m editing in the later stages and read a scene and immediately know, “My character wouldn’t say this, that’s why this doesn’t sound right/is boring.” Voice and character for me are what tend to hook me when I’m reading, and it’s definitely what hooks me when writing, too. I also love funny or awkward character dynamics, especially when characters who are opposites or enemies have to work together. As much as I love characters being adorable together and getting along, there’s also something wonderful about different kinds of relationships.

 

4.What was the hardest part about querying? 

Hmm… maybe staying confident? There are definitely days that are dark and horrible, and then other days that are euphoric. The waiting is also hard, but publishing is one long waiting game, and querying is the first taste of it.

 

5.How did you know that you found the right agent? 

Oh man, beware: Gushing Ahead. I felt so right about Heather the moment she emailed me back telling me she’d move some stuff around so we could have our call, despite my timeline being inconvenient for her. Right away I felt like she cared if she was going to make me a priority before even speaking to me. I felt so comfortable emailing back and forth with her from the beginning, which put me at ease before our call. Then when we finally spoke she was so spot on about little details in my manuscript and we eventually just started talking about other things. At some point during the call I just kind of knew I was going to sign with her, and it was the best feeling in the world.

 

6.How did you celebrate getting an agent?

I bought myself a bunch of books? I didn’t actually really do anything, which now sounds so horrible! But I had a biopsych exam the day we announced, so was kind of in class while my phone went insane and the Twitter app actually died on me. All the outpouring of love and support I got was kind of already the best celebration.

But back to those books I mentioned! Emery Lord was here for her launch event, so I bought myself ALL of her books! I figured I’d earned it, plus I love her, so I knew a signed collection was a good investment. Heather actually got notes to me just a few days after accepting, so I got right back into editing like nothing had happened. Heather’s notes and ideas actually made me fall back in love with my manuscript and see new sides to it, and that too, was its own wonderful celebration.

 

7.What advice do you have for writers digging it in the query trenches? 

FIND YOUR PEOPLE! Seriously, find the people who love you and your words and just cling to them for dear life. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have the Pitch Wars group, my CPs, and friends cheering me on and boosting my confidence whenever I felt low. Also, I know it’s hard, but write something new. It’ll make you feel better to know you have something else going on and you are capable of more words (and you ARE capable of more words). Know that agents are not out there to crush your dreams. Don’t read too much into form responses. Try to stay positive, do things that make you happy, take time away from stalking your inbox. It’s hard, but love yourself, and your time will come.

Thanks so much, Mic, for doing this!!! I hope you guys enjoyed this!!! NOW EVERYONE PLEASE CONGRATULATE MIC ON HER NEW AGENT!!!!!!

INTERVIEW WITH MY BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED AND AMAZING CP JANELLA WHO RECENTLY GOT AGENTED!!!!!!!!!

DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS??? Because I feel like I’ve been screaming/yelling/crying/fangirling about it for days!!!!!! Well, if ya haven’t heard yet, guess what… MY BEAUTIFUL AND MAGICAL AND LOVELY AND AMAZING AND TALENTED CP Janella signed with her agent!!!! The amazing Thao Le!!!!!!!

(Sorry for all the shouting, but I’m super excited and also, I’ve been watching Parks and Recreation like a maniac and seemed to have imbibed some of Leslie Knope’s energy–and perhaps also some of Craig’s…)

 

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Seriously guys, Janella is such an amazing person who has been nothing but friendly and supportive since I met her (and is also super hilarious–bonus!) She was one of my very first writing buddies EVER and I’m so lucky and grateful that we met and that she lets me read her work! She works crazy hard on her holy-crow-so-amazing books and I’m so happy for her because it is 1000000010% deserved!!! I’m just so incredibly amazed that I can call her my friend!

Anyways, read it about how she got her agent here in this amazing post Janella wrote!!!! But onwards!!! Since Janella is soooooo amazing and such, I thought it would be super cool if we did a little interview with her and guess what?? SHE SAID YES!!!! Haaaaaa, I’ve rambled quite enough, so let’s get to the real good stuff!!

 

1. Soooo, Janella, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write!!! 😀 

Oh boy, you hit me with the hard one first. Okay, basics then: I recently graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, I’m deeply in love with the color red, and I’m a Massachusetts native (which means I most definitely run on Dunkin). YA books pretty much saved me when I was in junior high and throughout high school. When my love for writing grew, I just knew without hesitation that those were the books I wanted to write. YA was always it for me when it came to my publishing studies and my writing pursuits. More specifically, most of my stories and ideas are geared toward the speculative side, because I just can’t resist throwing in elements of magic and impossibility into my writing. I also have a few ideas in other genres simmering in the back of my head that I hope to write one day! We’ll see (:

2. When did you start writing? (Rumor has it you started out writing some fan fiction?? *raises eyebrows*)

The rumors are true! I feel like I’ve always been imagining and coming up with stories all my life, but writing truly became my obsession when fanfiction entered my life. Harry Potter fanfiction, to be exact—and a tribute to my other love, Veronica Mars, as well. I was always a Marauders Era kind of girl, which meant that Jily was my leading OTP, and also that I had the power to make Peter Pettigrew just conveniently disappear from the page…

I was around 12 years old when I started writing and posting, and to receive reviews and encouragement (as well as the occasional life-hating troll remarks) always kept me writing more and coming up with new stories. Aside from fanfiction, I was also heavily reading YA at the time, so most of my earlier attempts at original novels just read as very familiar to what was already out there, and thus, were rightfully abandoned. But I owe so much to fanfiction because of how it really began my writing journey—and I also owe a lot to those failed projects as well because while they fizzled out, they helped me challenge myself to find my own voice and branch out my own original ideas away from what was already out there.

3. What’s your daily writing routine like? 

Because I’m still in the midst of job-hunting (fondly known as the Tenth Circle of Hell), I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of time devoted to writing right now. The schedule varies, but I usually spend most of the morning writing and coffee-guzzling, take a non-writerly break in the middle, and then return to writing later in the afternoon and until evening. But even when I’m not in front of my computer or notes, I’m constantly daydreaming and brainstorming until it feels like I’m never ever fully away from my writing.

4. How many books did you write before you got an agent?

I’ve completed just one other book before writing “the book” that got me my agent.

5. What was the hardest part about querying?

For me personally, it’s how little control you have in the process—and I know this applies to every step in trying to get published. But with querying, it can be especially soul-sucking at times. Although the writer has the control over when it comes to the act of sending the queries and how to react from the responses, there is no control over the whens or the whys. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself having a bad day…and then getting two rejections in a row can make it even worse. Some people may love your story, but just not love it enough. It can instill a lot of doubt in yourself when there are so many things you can’t control, but you just have to keep chugging along despite the obstacles. Hope for the best, but also be prepared for the bad because it’s all part of the package that is the journey to publication.

6. How did you know you found the right agent? 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Thao! No exaggeration. Even back in the early stages of my publishing research, Thao was constantly at the top of my list, and I always seemed to gravitate toward her when it came to narrowing down which agents I felt I could really vibe well with. Her social media presence and personality are stellar, her clients are wonderful, and every time I glanced at her MSWL, I was always floored that the sort of stories she was looking for corresponded with the ones I dreamed of/already had plans for writing. I thought I’d blown it when I queried her with my first novel and was later rejected—but when I queried her with my second novel, thinking it a better fit, I was shocked that she showed interest in seeing it. I feel like I knew all along I would’ve loved to work with her, but I didn’t really know just how much until we finally had The Call. Her approach, vision, and editorial notes for my story all told me that we would make a great match, and I feel so lucky to have her with me now on my writing journey.

7. How did you celebrate signing with an agent?

Lots of crying and trying to convince myself that it all wasn’t some hysterical dream my brain had cooked up. Then later, when I finally composed myself and was convinced that everything that had just happened was real, I celebrated with wine, chicken nuggets, and kdramas.

8. What’s your advice for writers out there slogging it in the query trenches?

For querying writers, start a new project! This really saved my sanity when I was going mad from all the lows and the waiting. You really just need something to keep your imagination up and running, and to distract you from checking your inbox a million times a day. There is no better cure for this than throwing yourself into another story and feeling that writer’s high again. And hey, when you do get that call from the agent and he/she asks if you have any other projects in your arsenal, you can tell them all about the fabulous new manuscript already in the works 😉

But my biggest piece of advice for any writer—querying or not—is to hang in there and always write for yourself. Don’t write against a clock, don’t write to get an agent, don’t write for the hope of becoming super rich and famous. Ambition is a fantastic quality to have and can really keep you afloat in this sort of industry—but when you start to approach writing as just a means to an end, then that’s a red flag. I went into the query trenches accepting that this book may not be The Book. It’s not a fun thought, but it’s realistic. And in the end, what mattered most to me was that I truly loved writing it, and had given it everything I had because it meant so much to me. You may not always get exactly what you want in return when you enter those trenches, but it’s okay. We all fail—before, after, and during—but there are also rewards to those downs if you’re willing to see them. Just love your manuscripts and your writing selflessly, and you’ll always find the strength to try again and keep getting back up.

 

EEEEEE!!!! Everyone give a big round of applause to Janella for these lovely (and freakin’ inspiring) answers!!!! Thank you so much, Juju Bear for answering these questions for me!!!!!! YOU’RE THE BEST!!!!!

Thanks for reading everyone and putting up with my incessant rambling and one too many exclamation points!!! NOW EVERYONE GO CONGRATULATE JANELLA!!!!!! ❤

When There’s Just Not Enough Time

Wow, it’s been ages since my last post!!! To be honest, I haven’t been blogging as much because I haven’t really felt like it. I mean, I have a ton of topics in mind, but every time I go to write a blog post, I feel like I could be using the time to keep revising my Faerie Story.

But, I do have a lot of posts that I want to write and I will get to it eventually 😀

Today I want to talk about time constraints with writing. My original goal for revising Draft 3 of Faerie Story was to be done by the end of December. And while I thought that was a reasonable goal at the time, it turns out it isn’t going to work. I haven’t talked about it much, but I got a new job about two months ago and since then I’ve had very little time for writing (and everything else). I’m working about 30 hours a week now, which is still considered part-time, but having only worked about 17 hours a week at my last job, I’ve found that it is a real time-sucker. Which is super disappointing. I mean, I really am liking my job and I looooooove having money to spend on books and whatnot, but it really has made finding time to write really difficult.

Another reason why my goal won’t be working is, well, because it turns out I’m (once again) rewriting my story. This doesn’t bother me too much because I’m loving the changes I’m making to my story and I know it’s going to be stronger for it, but that does mean that it’s taking a lot longer to get through this draft than I had initially thought, which is why I had to revise my goal.

Because of these two factors, revising has been very slow going. There really is nothing wrong with that, but I’m used to working on my story a lot more and now that I can’t, I’m frustrated that I’m not making as much progress as I would like. I’m about a fifth of the way through revising my novel (?) and it feels like I’ve been revising forever. I’m also annoyed with myself because I feel like a lot of the time I’m not utilizing all the time I could be with my writing. How many hours do I spend checking social media (Twitter and Instagram in particular seem to be my downfall)? How many hours do I waste

And another thing about revising that I’m struggling with: It’s stop and go. I’m used to drafting where you pound out words no matter how bad they are and just go, go, go and don’t look back. Revising on the other hand, require a lot more finesse than just simply tapping away on that keyboard. Sometimes you have to rewrite an entire chapter (or an entire story in my case). Sometimes it takes you two days to write a new chapter, compared to the 3K you could pound out during drafting. Sometimes you only have to tweak a few words and–tada! Your work here is done (hahaha, that scenario is, extremely rare for me, by the way :)). Other times, you have to stop and brainstorm because it turns you got a great new idea you want to implement or maybe you’re really stuck because that idea you thought was really great isn’t working out on paper. But the point is, revising takes a lot more thinking and a lot more mulling than drafting does.

But one thing I really, truly believe in is that there is no such thing is “I don’t have time” for something. Okay, there are some exceptions, but for the most part, when someone (*ahem*, I) says that, it usually means that they’re not really willing to make the time to do whatever it is. Example: I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have time to go to the gym. Is that completely true? No, I could definitely make time to go to the gym everyday if I really wanted to. But the thing is, my priority usually falls to writing. So instead of going to the gym, I’ve been using that time to write. It’s not really that I don’t have time, it’s that I’d rather do something else during that time. It’s the same thing even if I wasn’t writing. Maybe I say I don’t have time to go to the gym because I really just want to stay home and watch tv. Maybe I say I don’t have time because I don’t really want to go to the gym (ummm.. might be a little guilty of this). But like I said, I know I could be utilizing my time better and really focusing on writing when writing is supposed to be happening. So I question the days when I say to myself that I didn’t have time to write. Is that really true or did I not really want to write because: I was tired, I was sleepy, I didn’t really feel like writing that day.

So long story short, I want to share some tips/things that I want to try to utilize my time better and overall be more productive during the times that I am writing!

1.Wake up earlier in the day/ Start writing first thing in the morning. 

This one might be a hard one because many days I have to get up early (around 6am or so) to get to work on time. However, I know that if I made an effort to wake up earlier, even just ten, fifteen minutes, I could use that time to write.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I have a much better time, motivation-wise, with writing, is if I start early in the day–in fact, as early as possible. I feel like my head is in the story and I’m much more likely to stay in the story throughout the day and be ready to write when I do have some time. In contrast, the later I start in the day with writing, the harder it seems to be. So knowing this, I want to try and make it my goal and write first thing in the morning.

However, challenges I’ll have with this is that I won’t have much time in the mornings (usually) to get much revising in. Since revising does require me to do a lot of rereading and analyzing, I find that I don’t get much actual writing done in ten minutes time, but it won’t hurt to try, right?

2. Active Daydreaming.

Some days, work can be really busy and I won’t have time to think about my story. However, some slow days, I could be utilizing some downtime when, say, I’m folding laundry or something, to brainstorm and daydream. Daydreaming, I found can be really helpful. I like to visualize what I’m going to write that day and it helps because: 1. It helps my head stay in the story and 2. It (usually) makes it easier when I’m actually writing/revising that scene I thought about.

Brainstorming during downtime can also be very useful. If I have a plot inconsistencies, or if I’m trying to work out plot problems and figuring things out, why not do that when I have some time at work? Brainstorming can take a lot of time and work/brain power, so utilize all the time you have for brainstorming whether that be in the car when you’re driving (although be careful not to get too distracted!) or making dinner or walking your dog.

3. Less time on the Internet and Social Media. 

Let’s face, I really love social media and the internet, but I find myself spending waaaaaay too much time on these suckers. I know I do this a lot when my writing is dragging or when I don’t feel like writing. This is another hard one, but I really do want to focus on not using the internet to waste my writing time and I really want to focus on writing when I’m writing (instead of getting distracted and doing other things).

4. Make Goals.

During my lovely writers’ retreat to Colorado a few weeks ago (post to come!), we had a big poster board where we wrote down all our goals for that day and I loved doing that! I think it’s very useful to have a solid goal that you’re shooting for. It gives you something (somewhat) tangible to work with and there is an awesome sense of satisfaction of being able to meet your goal and check that off the list!

A challenge I’ve had with this is that I find it really hard to make goals for revising. Sometimes I make a goal, “Revise 1 chapter”, but find that it just isn’t going to work because it’s taking a lot longer than I had thought. At times like those, it can be really disappointing to have not met your goal. But hey! As long as you were productive and really worked that day, it’s okay! Revise your goal and keep up the good work! But really be honest with yourself: Did you not meet your goal because you were procrastinating and spending too much time on social media? Or did you truly work hard and focus on your story, but just wasn’t enough time to finish that chapter?

5. Utilize every minute you have. 

I have a tendency to say “I’m not going to write right now because I don’t have enough time to get really get into my story.”And it’s true! I tend to a do a lot better when I have a lot of time and can really focus on my story for long periods of time rather than short bursts. However, with a job and other errands to run, you might not have a long period of time to write. And I’d much rather get something done in ten minutes than nothing at all the entire day.

6. Don’t Make Excuses.

I am a real pro at this. I say “I’m too tired to write,”or, “I’ll write right after watching this show.”Maybe sometimes you really are too tired to write, maybe sometimes you need a little break with an episode of Friends. But just be aware when you truly need this versus when you’re making excuses and procrastinating because you don’t really want to write.

All right! There they are! What are your guys’ tips on utilizing time well? I’d love to hear if you have any!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRIENDS

Hi!

[Edit: I originally wrote this post months ago and never really got around to posting it, but I was talking to Maddy about this today and she totally said I should post it, so yay!!! Everyone thank Maddy now!!! (That is, if you like the post, if you don’t… I guess don’t thank her?) 😀 ]

As if you already didn’t know but… I am a HUGE Friends fanatic. Seriously, I have watched the entire show (that’s right, all ten seasons!)–I don’t even know how many times–a lot! Probably an obscene amount! It is (obviously) one of my favorite shows ever and I am super obsessed and crazy about it! In fact, I have a great deal amount of confidence that I could do very well in a Friends trivia game 😉 (Anyone want to join me?? 😀 😀 )

I bought the DVDs this past year–best decision ever! And I have been having so much fun going through the show again! As convenient as Netflix is, unfortunately, they only play the twenty-two minute, syndicated version (Pft! I have no idea why! I get very rageful about this, so I’ll stop here!), which the main reason I was prompted into buying the DVD set.

Lately, I’ve been watching the episodes with the commentary! There are about three of them per season and it features the three executive producers of Friends: David Crane, Kevin Bright, and Marta Kauffman. You may know, but David Crane and Marta Kauffman are the creators/writers of the show and Kevin Bright directed many of the episodes.

They have been so, so fun to listen to! Though writing for a sitcom and writing for a novel are two completely different things, I feel like I’m learning so much! It seems as though writing, whatever medium you might be going through, is really hard.

I think Friends has amazing writing on their show. I am constantly in awe of the stories they tell and how they make the simplest things absolutely hilarious! So I was very interested to see what the commentary would hold for me in that respect.

And like I said, I feel like I learned so much! I don’t think it necessary applies to writing directly itself, but I come out feeling very reassured and very inspired. The three of them talk about a number of things in an episode such as how the cameras had to be placed, how sometimes the actors couldn’t get through some of the lines because of how funny they were, how the set was designed, how some parts or episodes were hard to write, etc.

I loved seeing the struggles! David and Marta in particular would talk about a lot of writing challenges they had during the course of the ten season run! They were things that I had never thought about, like how in some episodes they would have to “stall” because the main story didn’t start until midway through. Or how sometimes they wondered if Joey was too stupid. Or how they had to start making the show shorter because of increased ad times (I know, so sad) and in turn, had to cut some of the jokes that wouldn’t further the story along. They always pay a lot of attention to the characters as well–not only making sure they stay true to who they are, but also so that the characters never come off too badly/in a bad light.

They talk about how they revise and rewrite constantly (something I’m sure authors are well-versed in). And they continue to rewrite throughout the filming process as well, gauging the audience’s reaction to see whether a joke was funny or came across the clearly. I also love when they talk about how hard to write some of the episodes or scenes were. It really soothes me to know that writing, no matter what it is, is really difficult.

In some of the bigger episodes, such as The One with the Proposal, they talk about how the emotional aspects of the story are just as important as getting the funny across. They explain how they knew they wanted to end the season with a proposal, but then they had the challenge of coming up with a funny way to do it with enough twists so that the audience would be interested through the entire episode. And as you know if you’ve watched the episode, there’s a great twist at the end! Friends, I think, has some of the best twists ever that I’ve seen in a sitcom and I love that they didn’t take the obvious way out, but really really tried to be fresh and new! They really do catch you off guard without completely throwing you off the map!

Anyways, I just think it’s so interesting to listen to these writers and how Friends worked. I could probably go on and on about this and bore everyone, but I’ll stop (for now :))! Ugh, I only wish they had more episodes with commentary–I’m dying to know all about my favorite episodes and ask them questions about EVERYTHING.

This is pretty much just a rambling post where I talk about my love of Friends, so sorry that it’s so long and virtually pointless!! But, I thought I would end with some clips of Friends that I think are hilarious! There are waaaaay too many favorite scenes to pick from, but here are some of them!

I really love how quirky this one is! I think it’s both very Phoebe and Chandler!

So hilarious! I love how at the end Jennifer Aniston is totally covering her face with her hand to mask her laughter! There are so many good jokes here!

 

LDStorymakers 2015 Recap: Part 2

Hello!

Because I’m apparently way too long-winded, I split up my LDStorymakers into two posts! Here’s Part 1 if you missed it! :)) And here’s the rest of it here!

Courtney Alameda (Author of Shutter)

photo 5

Courtney Alameda waving to us! Isn’t she adorable??

I ended up going to two of Courtney Alameda’s classes! She is a great presenter and so so cute! She is super peppy and full of energy, which is always great to have during a presentation–especially during a long day! The first of her classes that I went to was called Amateurs Borrow, Professionals Steal, which basically talks about how every artist, whether that person is a writer, singer, painter–whatever–steals.

Everyone has inspirations and things that have influenced you whether or not you are aware of it! In essence, it was a presentation on the topic of No Original Thought. Courtney used a lot of examples from literature including JRR Tolkein, JK Rowling, and William Shakespeare and she did a really great job of explaining her own influences/inspirations as well, like… How her book (Shutter) draws on the myth of Dracula, how she has always loved horror stories (she’s read Stephen King from a young age), how she loves Lara Croft and loves video games! I totally agree with the concept that there is No Original Thought and I thought Courtney’s presentation was a great one explaining this idea as well as adding on her own thoughts to it. She also encouraged everyone to think about what their influences might be, which got me thinking… And I’m still thinking about what my influences must be and I think I’ll actually devote an entire post to this, because I do think it’s a really interesting subject.

The second class I went to was a class of verbs called Verb-Fu (like kung fu, get it? Haha!) Although I liked her class a lot, there were things that I didn’t necessarily agree with–mainly because of my own personal preference when it come to writing, as I tend to like description. I still loved the class though and I find myself thinking about her class when I’m writing! She talked a lot about how specific use of verbs can really add a kick to your writing! For example, using She sprinted vs. She ran very quickly (okay, that’s a bad example, but you get the point!) And lots of stuff like that that can really enhance your writing. After taking Courtney’s classes, I’m definitely going to read her book! (I actually went to a Fierce Reads book event, which included Courtney, last week and I got to talk to her and get my book signed! :)))

Author Chat with Jennifer Nielsen, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and J. Scott Savage

photo 2 Left to Right: James Dashner, J. Scott Savage, Brandon Mull, and Jennifer Nielsen with moderator Sarah Eden.

OMG! This was one of the best panels I have gone to! It was so hilarious and it was clear that the authors were great friends with each other (James Dashner and J. Scott Savage are actually best friends!) And as funny as it was, it got pretty real too. James Dashner talked about how it was his friends that got him through the hard times during publishing–when he wanted to give up and stop writing. J. Scott Savage talked about how his series got cancelled, how his numbers were as great as he wanted them to be–and it was such a relief to hear published authors–published authors–and James Dashner people!–talking about how hard things are sometimes and how he pretty much wanted to give up; the times when they thought they were never make it–and I just find that super inspirational, that even the people who are super successful go through the doubts and fears as everyone else.

Anyways, those were the highlights of the conference–my favorite parts and the classes that I enjoyed the most! I hoped this was somewhat informative, but I’m guessing it was just me blabbing more than anything, but…

Thanks if you read! 😀