Friday, December 16, 2011

OMG, you guys! The awesome Lauren MacLeod is my agent now!!

Okay, so I guess some of you are wondering if you've read this correctly—well, you did! But maybe a few noticed that a while ago I removed the “represented by” from my bio and I was only a YA fiction writer—period. So yeah, I parted ways with my former agent—who I still think is great, just not the perfect fit for me—and after that, I spent the few weeks getting dizzy on the query-go-round.

And now, after a week of tough decisions between offers of representation, I get to announce that I couldn’t be HAPPIER! Because I think Lauren is AWESOME! I love her editorial suggestions and I loved talking to her clients, who by the way ADORE her! (I mean this, because I asked three of them to tell me Lauren’s weaknesses and they said she was just perfect!). I think I’m SO lucky!

So guys, meet my agent!! (I’m stoked! Can’t you tell?) I’m now represented by Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency!! =D

(Wheeeee! Isn't she amazing?)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Agent-Judged Contest with Carrie Pestritto--Winner Announced!

Hey GUYS!!
We have a winner!!

And she is KRISTIN LENZ with The Art of Holding On and Letting Go!!

Congrats, Kristin!! YAY!
I'll email you shortly with details about your prize!

AND that's not all! Ms. Pestritto would like to invite Holly L'Oiseau and Jessica Schley to query her! (I'll also email you shortly with details--so wait for my email first!)  =D

Thank you, guys, for participating, and I had so much fun reading your entries!


ETA: Sorry, guys, but a wrong version of this post went live for 3 minutes. Sorry for the inconvenience!! This is the right post!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Agent-Judged Contest with Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Literary!

The contest is now CLOSED.  Thanks for participating!! :)

The day of the contest with Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Literary Agency is here, you guys!!!!

Time to post your pitches and your first page. GOOD LUCK.

Before posting, though, please read the rules carefully:

1) The contest will close as soon as 50 people enter.

2) Post your one-sentence pitch and your first page (250 words or less!!) on the comment section of this post. 

3) The contest is for finished YA fiction and non-fiction.

4) This is only for unagented writers.

5) Since I’m doing this to help, you don’t need to be a follower, but I’d love it if you are. And I’d love it if you’d also follow me on Twitter.  

6) Please, try to spread the word. :)

What should you post below?

-Your Name
-Title of your book
-Word-count of your manuscript
-The one-sentence pitch
- Your first page (250 words). No more than 250, and please don’t stop mid sentence.
-Your email

If you’re a bit lost: I’m pasting a few links so you can read more about writing short pitches.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Interview with Agent Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Literary AND Contest Announcement!!

Hey, guys! I'm excited to post this interview with agent Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Literary Agency. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)

Carrie Pestritto joined Prospect Agency in 2011 after working as an assistant at Writers House. With a B.A. in English from Amherst College, she has experienced all sides of the publishing industry, having worked as a ghostwriter, freelance writer, and in the editorial acquisitions department of the Greenwood Publishing Group. As an agent, she loves the thrill of finding new authors with strong, unique voices and working closely with her clients to develop their ideas and manuscripts. (Link.)

Now the interview! 

Hi Monica, I'm really excited to be talking with you today.  Thanks for having me on your blog.

Thank YOU for being here! ;)

1) How and why did you decide to become a literary agent?

I always loving reading and writing, but when I was in college, I wasn't really sure what I wanted (or could) do with an English degree.  I explored all the different facets of the publishing industry; I interned at publishing houses, literary agencies, and magazines, worked as both a ghostwriter and freelance writer, and finally ended up working as an
assistant at Writers House.  I realized that I truly enjoyed agenting and met with Emily Sylvan Kim, the president of Prospect Agency, and found a home there!

2) From your web page we know you represent mature YA fiction. Can you give some examples of published YA books that you loved? And also by reading your bio, I guess you prefer literary YA, like THE BOOK THIEF instead of TWILIGHT, right?

At the moment, I am actively seeking non-fiction YA.  I love Adeline Yen Mah's CHINESE CINDERELLA: THE TRUE STORY OF AN UNWANTED DAUGHTER, Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos's SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD: A STORY OF MAGIC,
SPICE, SLAVERY, FREEDOM, AND SCIENCE, and Leanna Renee Hieber's DARKER STILL, as well as classic YA novels like Diana  Wynne Jones' HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE.  When it comes to fiction, I do prefer literary YA, but I also do like reading more commercial YA occasionally.  Books like Cecily von Ziegesar's GOSSIP GIRL can be great, fun reads.  They are often my guilty pleasure reading books!

3) What do you want to see more in your query inbox? And what are the fiction genres you definitely wouldn't represent?

I would like to see books with really unusual premises, where you either become completely immersed in the character's mindset or are brought into a world that you knew nothing about.  I enjoy reading books about details in history, religion/mythology, film, relationships, nature, music, archaeology...anything that can capture my imagination and teach me something new.

I'm not really the right agent for heavy science fiction or fantasy, children's books, middle grade YA, or romance.

UPDATE! (February 2013) 
Carrie is now actively looking for great girl teen fiction. For more details go here

4) What part of the editorial process with your clients do you like the most?

I really love working with my authors to cultivate their manuscripts and polish the general idea or concept of their story to make it the best it can be.  Working with authors and feeling like I am contributing in some way to their creation is a wonderful experience.

5) Can you tell us why writers would be thrilled to have you as their agent?

I am very passionate about books and once I sign clients, I work with them to fine tune their manuscripts and do everything I can to help them develop and grow their careers as authors.  I am pretty open and easygoing when it
comes to revisions, as well, although I am a perfectionist.  I love bouncing ideas back and forth, and am always willing to be a sounding board, discuss different thoughts, and try different options for revising.

6) Where do you hope to be in five years from now?

I am already doing what I love, so in five years, I hope to be working with more great authors and helping more amazing books get published.  I also hope that in five years, I am living in an apartment that allows pets so that I can get a dog! I love dogs and miss being able to have one of my own!

7) Is there anything else you'd like to say?

Publishing truly is a very subjective industry, so don't get discouraged by rejection!  If you really want to be an author and see your work in print, keep working on your writing and submitting to different agent; eventually
you will find an agent who believes in your work as much as you do.

And now the 4Fs.  (Fast Five For Fun!)

1) Guilty pleasure?   (That has nothing to do with books??)

I am a big walker, which drives some of my friends crazy (they just want to take the subway or a cab), so one thing I love doing when I have free time is just walking around the city and exploring different neighborhoods.

2) Some random and funny fact about you that we probably don't know?

When was younger, I used to figure skate and perform with a synchronized figure skating team.  We performed in shows every year and would do "on ice" shows, like The Nutcracker.

3) Professional food spiller or spick-and-span lady?

Sooo spick-and-span!  Sometimes when I get busy, I let things get a little messy around my apartment, but I can't take it after a while.  I have to have everything neat and organized.

4) If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Right now, I would not say no to a trip to Italy!  I have been to Venice, but never to Rome or the more coastal cities like Positano.

5) What makes you laugh?

I laugh at pretty much everything.  I feel like I most often laugh out loud at the way funny way people phrase things.  They're not trying to be silly on purpose, but it will strike me that way.  For instance, I was with a friend when one of the ASPCA pet neutering/spaying trucks drove by and he said, "It's like an ice cream truck...but for bad things."  That had me bent over double on the sidewalk with tears coming out of my eyes.

Thank you so much for doing this interview on Love YA!

Thank you, I had so much fun doing this!

More info you might like to know if you want to query Ms. Pestritto:
-Click here for the Prospect Literary Agency Submission guidelines. Please note that they have a submission online form.

Now, about the contest with agent Carrie Pestritto!!
1) It will open at 10:00 a.m. EST, on Nov. 16th, and it will close as soon as 50 people enter the contest. (Don’t post your pitches under this post.)

2) Polish your one-sentence pitch and your first page (250 words). There will be one winner and s/he will get a partial request.

3) The contest will be for finished YA manuscripts (non-fiction and fiction). Please read the interview to know what Ms. Pestritto is looking for.

4) This is only for unagented writers only.

5) Since I’m doing this to help writers, you don’t need to be a blog follower, but I’d love it if you are. And I’d love it if you’d follow me on Twitter too ;)

6) Please, spread the word. I’m not going to haunt you if you don’t, but it’d make me REALLY happy if lots of people had the chance to enter.

What should you post next week?

-Your Name
-Title of your book
-Word-count of your manuscript
-The one-sentence pitch
-Your first page (250 words). No more than 250, and please don’t stop mid sentence.
-Your email

If you’re a bit lost: I’m pasting a few links so you can read more about writing short pitches.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Showing with Thoughts

I’ve betaed a lot of mss lately, and I keep finding this one thing in common in some of them: There’s room for more “showing with thoughts.” To make myself clear, take a look at this rough example that I wrote:

"The noise of breaking glass reaches my ears and the anti-theft alarm goes off. I clutch the sheets tightly and my heart races. Footsteps creak on the floorboards downstairs, and while I climb down the bed to reach the phone and dial 911, a shiver runs down my spine"

Here I’m not *telling* that the MC is afraid, right? With the heart racing and the shiver, I’m *showing* it, right? Right. But then why I don’t like this example of showing?

1) Because I think shivers running down spines and hearts drumming are becoming clichés. Just as jaws setting, nostrils flaring, and teeth clenching. (But hey, that doesn’t mean I don’t use them sometimes, lol!)

2) Because I have no idea what the MC is thinking. And I usually LOVE to be in the MC’s head.

If you do it right, you can show feelings (scared, sad, etc) with thoughts. But without making the character think something like, “Omigosh, I’m so scared.”

Okay so if I want to show scared, I might make the character think: 
“Where the hell did I leave my taser?” Or, “If I hide under the bed, would the killer see me?”

Or maybe I want to show angry
“I imagine my knuckles crunching against his nose, and I have to bite my lip not to smile.”

Well, I’m sure you get what I’m trying to say now, right?
I hope this post helped someone in some way!!

So how do you like to show feelings?


Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm BAAAAACK!!! :D And something about the Baker's Dozen Agent Auction.

Hey guys! So finally, I'm back from my blog hiatus. I'm so happy to see you again, and see what's been going on in the blogosphere while I was gone.

I had a great time on my vacay--in case you were wondering--and when I came back, I finished my YA Fantasy!!! 

Now it's in the hands of three lovely betas, and I'm biting my nails to nubbins. Really. I mean, I get sooo nervous knowing that my friends are reading my ms. Eek. Anyway, I'm still wondering if I need a couple of more readers. So in case you know a good beta with experience who is open to reading now, let me know, please! Thanks.

On another note, I wanted to say that I'm really excited that The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction is about to begin! I mean, you know I got my agent there, and I think it's a WONDERFUL opportunity for writers.

People are emailing or DMing me a lot asking about the auction, and I've told them something like this:

1) Be FAST. Last year, the contest filled up in a minute, I think. Maybe this year it will in seconds, who knows. So be there and email your entry right on time.
2) Polish your entry until it shines! And something else about this:

If some of you, my followers, are posting your YA entries on your blogs for your friends to give you suggestions, I wanna help, too! So, if you want, paste your links on the comments section of this post and I'll stop by your blog. I'll comment on the first, I don't know, 10? 15? links. I mean, maybe not many people are doing this blog thing, but in case I get many requests, I know somewhere along the way my brain might get fried (or my kids will want to eat, lol) and I'll have to stop. Still. I'll do my best! :)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blog Hiatus

Hey friends!!

So you know that I live in the Southern Hemisphere, right? Well, I do. And it's almost spring here, and the kids will have their spring vacation. Also there are some national holidays, and guess what? I'm taking a vacation, too!! =0)

I'll be away for some time, without internet, and without being able to stop by and make comments on blogs. I will miss you, guys!

But I'll see you again in October, okay?
Maybe I'll have another agent-judged contest then, or some beta reading contest. But either way, I'LL BE BACK in about a month.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Agent-Judged Contest with Vickie Motter: WINNERS!!

First of all, thank you guys for participating. I think selecting the winners must have been soooo difficult, since there were many great entries!

So, without further ado, the lucky winners agent Vickie Motter chose are:

Jackie Felger, Breathe for Me.
Congrats, Jackie! You’ve won a query critique and a partial request. Email coming shortly with details.

Melissa Armstrong, Evergreen.
Congrats, Melissa! You’ve won a 5-page critique and a partial request. Email coming shortly with details.

AND, that’s NOT all!! Another entry piqued Ms. Motter’s interest and she requested a partial!

3) So, Congrats, Tamara Felsinger, because Vickie Motter wants to read a partial of Prince of City Nights and your query! Email coming shortly with details. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with Lena Coakley, author of WITCHLANDERS!!

So guys, please give a great applause to Lena Coakley since her book, WITHCLANDERS, hits the shelves today! I had the pleasure of reading an ARC, and I just LOVED it! That's why I asked her if she wanted to do an interview on my blog, and omg, she said, YES!! :D 

Lena was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She got interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director.  She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.  Witchlanders is her debut novel.

Now, a little bit about her book, which by the way got a starred review from Kirkus!

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?
But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—
Are about him.
If you liked the synopsis, click on the picture to go to Amazon and buy the book! ;)


1) Could you tell us a bit of how you wrote WITCHLANDERS? (Like, did you outline first? How long did you take? How many drafts? etc.)

When I started WITCHLANDERS, I didn’t know as much about plot as I do now, so I wasn’t terribly successful at making outlines. I tried, but mostly I wrote the first draft by feeling my way along, scene by scene.  That’s the long route, I can tell you!  I outlined again at the beginning of every major revision, and every time I think I understood more about drama, about what makes a story.  WITCHLANDERS was where I learned to write.  No matter how many writing books you read, there is nothing like actually writing a novel to teach you how it’s done. 

I’m afraid to actually count how many drafts are on my computer, but I honestly think it is probably close to a hundred.  There are certainly enough cut scenes to make two other books.  That’s not an exaggeration.  I’m a big believer in cutting deep when revising.  In fact, I think the difference between a good writer who is published and a good writer who is not published is often the willingness to be ruthless during the revision process.

I'm not surprised. I mean, when I read WITCHLANDERS, I could tell all the dedication you had put into it :)
2) How many novels have you written?

In my experience, authors often have one to three “trunk novels,” novels that they wrote before their first published book, but that are now languishing in a trunk because they didn’t really work.  (I have it on good authority that one of my favorite authors, Kelley Armstrong, has a dystopian trunk novel hidden away somewhere.  I would PAY to see that!)

If a published author doesn’t have trunk novels, it means that their first novel probably took at least six years because, while they didn’t really know what they were doing, they just couldn’t give up on that first project.  I’m in that category.  WITCHLANDERS was the first novel I completed, but it took me ten years to finish.

I honestly don’t think that one method is better than the other.  In fact, sometimes putting a novel aside and starting another one is absolutely the thing to do.  Aspiring authors can get very burned out revising and revising that first project.  It’s devastating to come to terms with the fact that, after all that work, it might not be the book that is going to get them published, but sometimes it just isn’t.  Of course, if anyone had told me that with WITCHLANDERS I wouldn’t have listened.  I was a dog with a bone!  So any aspiring authors reading this will have to decide if they want to do what I say or do what I did!

That's an inspiring answer!
3) Was it with WITCHLANDERS that you landed your agent?

Yes.  Landing my agent, Steven Malk of Writers House, was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.  He did two years of exclusive revisions with me on WITCHLANDERS before offering me a contract.  I am still in awe of his patience.  That first-time-authors-don’t-know-what-they’re-doing thing?  He totally got that.  I was literally making progress by writing a scene and throwing it out, writing a scene and throwing it out.  I was afraid he’d retire or forget who I was before I finished! I have wonderful beta readers, but his critiques took the book to a whole new level. 

4) How long did it take to get the book deal since you started writing seriously?

It depends on what you mean by writing seriously.  Writing WITCHLANDERS wasn’t just where I learned to write, it was where I learned to be a writer.  Ten years ago when this book began, I had a lot of trouble getting to my desk—I had a lot of resistance.  It must have taken me at least three years to figure out how to have the discipline to be productive.  I’m going to say ten years, but learning to write seriously was a gradual process.

I'm so glad you never gave up! 
Now a couple of questions just for fun.
- Guilty pleasure? (That has nothing to do with books.)

Oh, I adore going out to lunch, and I do it far too often.  I don’t need to go with friends, either; I’m perfectly happy to sit in a restaurant by myself. Ummm.  I’m actually doing it right now as I right this!

- Can you tell us something fun about you that we probably don't know?

When I was in High School, I sang in a backup choir for Barry Manilo.  I even got to sing at Radio City Music Hall!
That's lovely!

Thanks so much!! I'm really excited about this interview! <3

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Monica!!!

PS: I'll post the winners (from the contest with agent Vickie Motter) this week.