Monday, July 28, 2014

An important tip to keep in mind while BETA READING



A few years ago, one writer I knew sent me a few chapters to beta read. I happily did. And for a number of reasons, I thought one of the scenes wasn’t there yet. Before telling her what wasn't working for me, though, I told this writer I thought her MS would be stronger if she nixed that scene. And THEN I named all the problems I saw in the scene. 

Big mistake. 

She got a little upset. And she was like, really, Mónica? Really? You think I HAVE to nix that scene? But I don’t WANT to nix that scene! Oh, no! Oh, no!
I think she may have had a panic attack.

I tried to backpedal. I said I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant the scene wasn’t working for me. And I spent like 5 emails trying to make it right and explain myself. Meanwhile, I realized why exactly I had screwed up: 
I had given a suggestion first, and then I had told her the reasons I thought her scene wasn’t working. In the end, she didn’t nix the scene. She just fixed it.

So that day, I learned this:  You ALWAYS have to give your objective thoughts first. And then, give the suggestions. But be extra careful to make it clear that they are just that: SUGGESTIONS.

So instead of saying: “I think it’d be nice to nix that chapter, because I didn’t connect with your MC there.”

Say: “I didn’t connect with your MC in this chapter [name all the reasons why. Such as: I think your MC sounded whiny in these paragraphs, OR these sentences make your MC sound too rational so the voice isn’t working for me, etc]. But I have a few suggestions that might help you fix that, like: 1) You could nix those sentences. 2) you can change them *this* and *that* way. 3) etc, etc. [You get the idea!] Or you can have your own brilliant ideas that are better than mine to fix those problems."

And (this has little to do with the post, but...) don't forget to be nice! Always start with a compliment... when you start with compliments, people are usually more receptive.  =) 

<3
Mónica

Monday, June 30, 2014

We have our second The Writer's Voice 2014 #TeamMonica FTW SUCCESS STORY!


Guess WHAT??? My Team has had a SECOND The Writer's Voice success story this year! I'm so excited to announce that Ashley Turcotte has signed with Lisa Jane Weller of Broadland Literary! :)

This is her story in her own words:

I think most writers have a rock bottom moment. A point when they’re sure that even though they’ve worked so hard and grown so much, no amount of work will ever be enough. No amount of growth will ever make them great.

That moment for me was a little under three months ago. There were actually three days in the beginning of April when I was convinced I’d never write anything again. (Silly, right? As if I could actually stop.)

But I believe I needed those three days. Because when “writer” was removed from my identity, I felt empty. Lost. Useless. I’d ripped a great big hole in myself. And it forced me to admit just how much writing means to me. So I left those three days more determined than I’d ever been in my life. I would succeed, no matter how long it took, no matter how much heartbreak I had to suffer through. I’d never let myself give up again.

Ten days later, I saw the announcement for The Writer’s Voice. I was an alternate in the contest last year (yay Team Krista!) and knew how awesome it would be. And my MG fantasy, Tearless, hadn’t been in any contests yet. So to prove to myself that I truly wasn’t giving up, exactly one month from the day I determined I was no longer a writer, I entered.

Thank goodness I did! When Mónica picked me, I felt this crazy rush of joy and adrenaline and validation, all rolled into one. If Mónica could be that excited and enthusiastic about my words, then I had to be doing something right after all. And working with her to make my entry as perfect as we could make it was so much fun. (Seriously, Mónica, you’re the best. <3)

By the end of the contest, I had two requests. I ecstatically sent them off and prepared myself for the long wait. (I once had a full request out for 10 days shy of a whole year. I know all about waiting.) But that wasn’t the case this time. Only six days after I’d sent her a partial, one of the agents upgraded to a full. All of a week later, I got my favorite email I’ve gotten in my life. She loved Tearless. She wanted to set up a Skype chat so we could discuss representation. 

Less than three months after I’d decided to give up forever, I signed with Lisa Jane Weller of Broadland Literary (one of the ninja agents in the contest). I’m so excited to be working with her! We have so many fantastic plans for my books, and I pretty much adore her.

Time elapsed: 4 years, 8 months, and 6 days. Manuscripts: 4. Rejections: 218. Identity crises: 1.

But I got there. And I’ve never been happier in my life.  


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stacey Lee's AMAZING cover reveal!

Hey! Did you see Stacey Lee's cover reveal yesterday on YA Highway? I absolutely love it and I wanted to post about it today because she is my CP and BFF and I'm so very proud of her and her book, UNDER A PAINTED SKY (G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 2015). 
*jumps up and down*

 Here's the jacket copy: (You'll LOVE this book, I know you will!!!!)

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life.
With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush.

Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn
out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

An unforgettable story of friendship and sacrifice—perfect for fans of Code Name Verity.


Oh, OHHH!! And here's the Goodreads link so you can add it! And Facebook!! And Tumblr!!AND TWITTER!!!
Can you tell how excited I am???


Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys.  She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul.  A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall.  After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain.  She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We have our first The Writer's Voice 2014 #TeamMonica FTW SUCCESS STORY!



I'm THRILLED to announce that Lisa Koosis, a member of my team on The Writer's Voice 2014, has signed with agent Brianne Johnson from Writers House! =) I'm so proud of you, Lisa! (And stay tuned, because there will be more good news for #TeamMonicaFTW soon!)

Here's her story in her own words:

I guess maybe I should start off with a confession: I entered the Writer’s Voice contest because I needed a deadline. I’d spent the prior six or seven months struggling through revisions of Resurrecting Sunshine (here’s where I skip the long portion of the story which involves tons of rejection, a smattering of encouraging feedback, a deal with my significant other, a writing conference, a lovely editor requesting revisions and…well, you get the idea) and I was finding myself stuck in the pits we writers know so well--indecision, self-doubt, procrastination, hopelessness--and I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.

What I needed, I realized, was a deadline. Something concrete. Something to force me to make choices and commit to changes rather than being all wishy-washy.

Then one day on Twitter, I saw a post about The Writer’s Voice, a contest I’d been in once before (with a different manuscript). I’d been picked by Krista for her team that year (thank you, Krista!), and it had been a great experience. (For the record, I came away that time without a single agent request.)  This, I thought, would be just the deadline I needed to crank through the last of my revisions, and in addition would make a great trial run for the changes I’d made to Resurrecting Sunshine.

I was thrilled when Monica picked me for her team, and my pitch went through a number of much-needed revisions until Monica and I both declared it ready. Still, I knew better than to pin too much hope on the contest. After all, I’d been doing this writing thing for a LONG time and had gotten nowhere.  (But more on that later.)

Much to my surprise, on agent day, I ended up with nine requests. Nine! And all from amazing agents. I couldn’t believe it.

One of those agents was Brianne Johnson from Writers House. She had asked specifically for the first 50 pages, so that’s what I sent. About 24 hours later, she requested the full manuscript. A day and a half after that, I came back from walking my dog to find an email with the subject: time to talk this afternoon?

I think I stopped breathing. What did that mean? Was this The Call? The call I’d never imagined would happen to me?

Indeed it was.  After over seven years of submitting and almost 200 queries (190 to be exact, not including like a zillion contest entries), spanning four separate manuscripts, I’d pretty much given up hope of ever taking that next step. And now, not only had I gotten The Call, but it was from an amazing agent, who really got my book and whose enthusiasm just vibrated over the phone line. 

When I hung up after having this unbelievable thing happen, with nobody else home to tell and my significant other unreachable, I danced with the dog and gave her way too many treats.

Within the week I received a second offer of representation, so I had the opportunity (also a bit of a curse) to choose from two fantastic agents, who both loved my book. It simply wasn’t possible to make a bad decision.

Ultimately I did make a choice, and I am incredibly, ridiculously, over-the-moon happy to be able to say I am now represented by Brianne Johnson of Writers House.  So thank you, The Writer’s Voice, and thank you, Monica (and all the other coaches, and the agents who generously give their time to participate) for giving writers this venue to get their work out there and for helping me to find my dream agent.