Monday, September 19, 2016

I Have an Agent! My Story and a Giveaway

Once upon a time, I got bored and wrote a book. (Okay, it wasn't quite as simple as that, but that's the gist of it). It turned into quite a good book. I loved it very much and wanted to share it with people.

Because, you know, that's what you do with art. You create it, refine it, and then you share it.

Thus began my search for an agent. Which, I was sure, would be quick and painless.

*cue maniacal laughter*

Fast forward three years, a hundred-or-so rejection letters, one brutally honest (read: endearing, crass, brilliant and now friends forever) writing group, and I'd been thoroughly humbled. Then I had my second manuscript accepted for publication by a smaller press called Evernight Teen. This publisher did not require me to have an agent before submitting to them. Although I had a very pleasant experience working with them and I loved the way my debut, Emerald Bound, turned out, I still wanted an agent.

My third manuscript was a YA contemporary suspense totally unrelated to Emerald Bound. It's called Windfall, and it's about a girl who wins the lottery on her eighteenth birthday, only to find herself caught in a major corporate scandal in which the lottery was rigged and she's the pawn in someone else's life or death game.

I started querying this manuscript to agents at the end of February, 2016. In May, I entered a contest hosted by author Michelle Hauck called Query Kombat. I made it in (HUGE thank you to Michelle, for picking me for her team) and, during the month of June, got some fantastic feedback on my query and opening page. I made it through several rounds of the contest and received eight requests by agents wanting to see more material. This was the highest number of requests on my team.

One of those requesting agents was Uwe Stender, the founder of TriadaUS. I sent the material to him, along with the other agents, and then waited.

I worked on another writing project. I enjoyed summer. I went on vacation with my family. I sent out more queries. I got my kids started back at school.

By mid-August, I'd heard back from a couple of the other requesting agents with either rejections or requests for more material, but hadn't heard back from Uwe. Since Triada is well-known for its quick response time (their query guidelines state that if they don't respond within two weeks then they didn't receive your query), I decided to follow up to make sure he'd received the material I'd sent him. He responded right away that it must have slipped through the cracks and that he'd take a look soon. I am *so* glad I followed up!

Two weeks later, he emailed and said that he'd passed it along to one of his agent assistants, Mallory Brown, who wanted to see the whole thing. Five days after that, Mallory emailed me with an offer of representation! She listed all the things she loved about Windfall and all the ways she'd connected to the story! After talking with her on the phone and hearing her enthusiasm, I was convinced she was the right agent for me and the perfect person to pitch my book to editors.

And now it's official!

I'm thrilled to announce that I've joined #TeamTriada and am rep'd by Mallory Brown!

*Commence freaking-awesome mildly embarrassing happy-dancing*

Of course, news this big requires a celebration. Since I did things a little backward and already have a book out, I'm going to celebrate with a giveaway! Up for grabs is an Emerald Bound prize pack, including a signed copy of the book, a metal Shepherd's-hook bookmark with emerald charm, and a custom-made Emerald Bound key chain.

(Emerald Bound is a dark YA retelling of The Princess and the Pea, in which the pea is an enchanted, life-sucking emerald. Use the rafflecoptor below to enter. The giveaway will be live for two weeks.)

For those who are interested, here are my query stats for Windfall:

Queries sent out: 79
Partial requests: 10
Full requests: 4
Rejections: 46
No response: 33

Just as a side note, the bulk of those 79 queries were sent out before Query Kombat. I had a much higher request rate on the queries I sent after incorporating feedback from the competition. If you ever have the chance to enter Query Kombat, or even stalk the entries and read through the feedback they're getting, DO IT!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go finish my happy dance.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Read Local Campaign

I have exciting news! I've teamed up with over a dozen Young Adult authors in my region to start a Read Local campaign for our area, which includes Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana (TIOKI for short). The campaign launches September 1st, and will be live for the entire 2016-2017 school year. Take a look at all of the amazing books on our list!

Anyone can participate in the challenge--you don't have to live in one of these five states, or even be a teenager. (Sure, they're all YA books. But YA books are the best, no matter how old you are--can I get an Amen?) And the best part? Once you read all the books on the list, you can enter to win your choice of a $25 iTunes gift card, or movie tickets. We'll have three drawings, spread over the course of the year. Entries are cumulative, so if you get your entry in before the first drawing, you'll be entered into all three drawings!

Classrooms in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana can also work together to complete the challenge, then enter to win an author visit for their class. Go here for more information.

I'm so excited to share all these books with you. Happy reading!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Author Interview with Nicky Peacock

Today I'm happy to welcome author Nicky Peacock to my blog. Nicky is a fellow Evernight Teen author and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

Hi, Nicky! 
Tell us about the book(s) you're currently promoting. 
The Battle of the Undead series is a vampires VS zombies urban fantasy. Lots of action, lots of drama and a hint of lost love. It's a trilogy with two books available now: Bad Blood and Bad Timing and the third, Bad Karma due out soon. There's a free prequel read available called Traitors' Gate which can be found here: it can be read at any point in the series. 

What was your publishing journey like--how did you get to where you are now?
I did what most wannabe authors do...I managed to produce half written books and send 3 chapter synopsis packs to publishers and agents. I'd then get back bland rejections (if any thing) I kept trying and failing and trying again. It was quite depressing. But then I found the anthology market. Publishers looking for themed short stories are more open to new writers, and if you're giving them what they want they are more likely to accept your work. Before I knew it, I had over 30 short stories published. So when it came to sell my novellas, it was an easier pitch to the publisher, as I'd already been published, had experience working with editors and a fan base of readers who like my work. 

Who's your favorite character you've ever written and why?
This is a difficult question, it's like asking a mother to pick a favorite child. Hmmmm...I've spent the most recent amount of time with a character called Mouse. She's the heroine in my new book, Lost in Wonderland which kicks off a new series with Evernight Teen called The Twisted and the Brave. She shares a lot of qualities with me along with one of my worst fears, being lost.  

What's on your to-read shelf? 
So much it's starting to worry me. My book shelf is behind my bed and is laboring under with the mountain of books I want to read, so much so, if there's an earthquake in the UK I'll probably be crushed in my sleep by them! I think the authors I most want to read most right now are: Kresley Cole, Richard Laymon and also Kim Harrison. 

Did you learn anything fun or strange while writing or researching for your book?
LOL, I learnt both something fun and something strange about myself as a writer. The fun fact is that, although I do plot my books, I seem to be an almost unconscious plotter too. There were scenes that I had included in Bad Blood that seemed to fit perfectly with Traitor's Gate, even though I hadn't planned it that way. The strange thing was that I'm not happy just working on one manuscript at a time. Whilst finishing Bad Timing, I started writing Lost in Wonderland, and even though it should have been difficult to write two together, it actually made my process easier. If I was blocked on one I just switched to write the other. It really kept my writing momentum going.

What do you do when you're not writing?
I'm always writing! Like many authors I still have to work full time to pay the bills and between that, promoting my books and having a semi-normal social life, there's not much time left for anything else. I exercise as much as I can. I play badminton, do yoga and have a cross trainer at my house. I'm also a bit of a TV addict too. 

Any advice for aspiring authors?
Join a writers' group. Having like minded people around you is essential to keep you going through all the ups and downs of trying to get published. Also, spend time looking into the anthology market - it's a secret trap door to getting published :)

And, just for fun, when the zombies rise up, what is your plan of action?
Become one of them! LOL, just kidding. I'm not a prepper, but I actually do have a plan. There's a garden center near my house that has lots of plants, food and very high walls. All my family and friends know it and, if the worse happens, we all know to meet there. I think the key to survival in a zombie situation is food, shelter and people you can trust. 

Thanks you for having me your site, Teresa!
Nicky Peacock
The Battle of the Undead far.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Evernight Teen Birthday Bash and Giveaway

I'm so excited to be participating in this birthday BLOG HOP for Evernight Teen's 3rd BIRTHDAY. It's their birthday, but they're giving out the presents with a Grand Prize of a $100 Amazon gift certificate!

Evernight Teen books feature fresh teen fiction that is raw, gritty and real. Whether paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi or suspense, Evernight Teen's books are about real issues and pack a strong emotional punch. You'll find cutting edge fiction that today's young adults can relate to and will keep you turning the pages long into the night.

I feel so lucky to be an Evernight Teen author! Here's a teaser from my book, Emerald Bound.

Book Blurb:
A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairy tale.

Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate. 

Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.

If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend.

A part of me died long ago. It was the part of me that feels and it was Calista's fault. 
What happened tonight was nothing new—innocent victims welcomed into our home, not knowing they would never leave. I learned long ago I could not help them, so I stopped trying.
But this time something was different. This time I was awake, burning with a gut-wrenching guilt, as the next victims slept downstairs. This time I knew the victims. And they didn’t deserve what was coming.
It had always been hard for me to make friends. I’d been called loner, loser, outcast, and freak. Even still, I remembered Maggie offering to show me around when I first transferred to their school. Through her, I met Kate and Piper. The three of them were always nice to me, while other kids kept their distance and spread rumors behind my back. I told myself I didn’t care—I wasn’t like them.
But being a loner was lonely.
So tonight when I saw Maggie and her friends here, something inside me snapped. Or, perhaps it was the dead piece of me coming back to life. Now I cared desperately about what was happening in the room below mine.
But there was still nothing I could do.
Calista usually lured in victims from out of town to avoid arousing suspicion. Pregnant ones were a particular favorite—easy prey, she called them. But Maggie and her friends came here all on their own. The opportunity was too good for Calista to pass up.
Everyone thought Calista was my mother, but she wasn’t.
Back in my day, almost four centuries ago, Calista had an alternate method of luring in victims. She and her husband, Theodore, advertised for hired help with their inn. The number of parents willing to sell their daughters into a life of servitude in exchange for a forgiven debt or a clean slate was staggering.
My father was one of them.
By the time my mother found out what he’d done, it was too late. There was no escape. I was bound.
My story was well known in this land, whispered as a bedtime tale to ease children into sleep. But, just like any other story passed down through time by rumors and idle gossip, the fragment that survived was woefully incomplete. It began something like this:
There is rumored to have been (once upon a time, of course) a princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses.
That much was true, though in actuality it was only one mattress, not twenty. The pea was also real, though most would call it a precious stone—an emerald, to be precise.
The gem that sealed my fate was now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Calista was furious when she found it missing. She thought I’d stolen it until she remembered my limits. The identity of the true thief remains unknown.
Even though the emerald is no longer in our possession, we are still bound to it, as it is bound to us. Admirers of the opulent necklace where it rests don’t understand it. Like me, the gem is a prisoner, struggling against its fate.
Even now, centuries later, I don’t understand all the details of what happened to me that night. But it began with a troubled slumber on a bed of enchanted emeralds.


Be sure to visit each stop on the BLOG HOP for more chances to WIN the GRAND PRIZE of a $100 Amazon Gift Card. You'll receive bonus entries for commenting on each blog!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Spanish Castle and the sequel to Emerald Bound

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited along on one of my husband’s business trips to Madrid, Spain. During our time there, we took a day trip to Segovia, a little town that has managed to retain its medieval charm. Cobblestone streets, a spectacular Gothic cathedral, an aqueduct, and an authentic castle were the city’s crowning jewels. 

We stayed overnight in an old Spanish monastery that had been converted into a luxury hotel. Every time we walked through the halls to our room, I had the desire to start singing Gregorian chants. The acoustics were amazing! 

But I’m getting side-tracked. 

My husband and I toured the Alcazar of Segovia, Spain’s most famous castle. We were told that the Disney castle was actually inspired by it. Here are a few pictures:

Stunning, right? Well, during our tour, I found my mind spinning from everything I was seeing. When I stepped into that castle, I was no longer a tourist. I was an author, literally stepping onto the scene of my next book. It was thrilling.

I’ve had the Emerald Bound sequel outlined for a while, and a large part of the book is going to take place in Scandinavia in the 1600’s. In a castle. 

So when I found myself in an actual castle from the same time period, plot lines began forming in my head. I saw action scenes playing out in front of me, and everyday scenes happening in the courtyard. We went to the armory and I got up-close looks at the weapons of the time. We walked through the throne room where the king and queen sat to welcome visitors and bestow judgements. We even climbed the 156 crooked and misshapen ancient steps up to the tower where I found further inspiration for a scene I’d been stuck on in my outline.

The sequel to Emerald Bound is definitely taking shape and I am so, so excited to move from the plotting phase to the writing phase. If any of you figures out how to bend time, I'd love a few extra hours in each day so I can get it done faster!