How Writers Made It BIG: Veronica Roth


I get really excited and anxious when I write these. My hope is that it inspires you to finish your manuscript just as much as it inspires me.

On that note, here's how Veronica Roth made it BIG!!!





For Roth, once choice transformed her.

It started at a writer's conference in Muncie, Indiana--the middle of freaking no where. 

Here, was the beginning of the beginning for Roth. She signed up for a pitch session with agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf Literary Agency

Volpe requested a partial. Roth made revisions. And eventually the manuscript was turned down--BUT the manuscript that Roth submitted wasn't Divergent. Nope.

In response to the rejection, Roth wrote a new book, polished it, and submitted it to Volpe yet again. 

Then she waited, and waited, until at last: she received a phone call. 

"Okay, so you know how, while you're querying, you spend a lot of time refreshing your inbox and irrationally convincing yourself that every unknown number that calls you is an agent who will tell you that all your dreams have come true? Well, sometimes that unknown number IS actually an agent, calling to tell you that she lost power, which is why she couldn't send you an email, and PS, she's offering you representation," said Roth on her blog.

That was Divergent. Yup! Roth had submitted 56,000 words, a little less than 200 pages, and Volpe loved it. Together they worked on reversions where Roth added 49,000 more words, clocking in at a total of 105,000 words. 

During four days of submission, Roth received another phone call. This time Harper Collins wanted her book, along with the series.

Roth's response: "Okay. I'm going to cry a little now." Roth has loved Harper Collins since she was a toddler, and she never imagined being published by a company as big as this one. 

And that is how twenty-one year old (at the time) Veronica Roth made it big. 

Now she has a deal with Summit Entertainment and has a movie series, along with the complete Trilogy making New York Times best seller list. 

"It's been amazing. It's obviously not what I was expecting when I was in my rubber ducky pajamas writing this first book on Winter break. It's been definitely kind of transformative. It's definitely changed me as a writer, and it's been really exciting," said Roth in an interview.








Rejections:

Honestly, I'm not sure what how many rejections Veronica received. I don't think she received any from Divergent. From all that I've read, it seems that the only rejection she received was from her first book.

Why Divergent worked for Roth:

Besides the obvious relationship she had with Volpe, Roth had a great idea for a book and she put it into action. Many critiques say it's a mix between The Maze Runner and The Hungers Games, which is probably why it has so much hype. I'd say: great writing and great timing. 

Where are they now:

It seems that after writing Divergent, Roth also focused on Four. Not the number, but the actual book. I haven't read Four, but according to wiki,
 "Four is a collection of five e-Book short stories from the Divergent trilogy, told from Tobias Eaton's (Four) perspective, and written by Veronica Roth."
But, Roth has also been up to a multitude of things since the books and movies. To find out more, fill free to creep on her blog: veronicarothbooks.com 

Advice from Roth:

"Stop going back and reading it out loud! Don't reread at all, if it's keeping you from writing. Just push forward through the idea until you reach the end, and then work to revise it—but you'll never know how to fix the idea if you are never able to execute it."


That's it for today's post!

Till next time, blog world. 

And remember: Once choice can transform you. 


The Writing Life (Take Two!)


Coming into this life, I expected it to be easy, somewhat.

But clearly, I was fooled.






It's been almost a year since I began blogging and almost four years since I began writing seriously. (You know, with the hopes of being published someday.)

And it's not even about wanting to get published--that's a simple perk of being a writer--it's about connecting with other writers, with readers. It's about living in a world where people understand you. A world where when you say, "I think I have carpal tunnel," they don't look at you like you're crazy. It's about being invested in a community, like this one, where other writers welcome you with GIF hugs and emojis.  A world where they send you so many emails about their book that you think it's spam. But mostly, a world where they not only want to be invested in you, but in your characters, in your writing.....that's the best feeling.

So here I stand with a heart full of words and a mind filled with stuff about writing. Like I said before, I will either succeed or fail miserably in this realm. But for us, for me, for my words, I believe that I will make it far in this life someday. I might even own my own literary agency . . . ha . . . now would be the time for me to come off that high horse.

But if, and when I do publish my first book through some hardcore agent who believes in me, I want to remember you, all of you who read this.

I propose that the first fifteen people who email me with the sentence, "we are a community" will receive a signed, hard-back book from yours truly. That's a promise. Maybe that doesn't mean much to you, but it means everything to me. You all are my people--we're a community--and I want to give back.

Till then, I'll be working hard on this third book with community in mind. I'll be looking into Carpal Tunnel because, yeah, this pain is real. And I'll be diving deep into this writer's life with high hopes.

Look forward to the next post because I'm going to continue the series, "How Writer's Made It Big!" This time, we'll be looking into how Veronica Roth corrupted 2014 with her Divergent series. You don't want to miss this one!

Email: blewis@mnu.edu

Till next time blog world,

OH, and somehow I managed to make it on a cover of a magazine. Who would have thunk it?


How Writers Made It BIG: A series


Ladies and Gents, I am more than thrilled to introduce to you the series: How Writer's Made It Big.
Within these series, you can read the stories on how a few of America's favorite author's hit the best selling list like Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, John Green, ect.

I look forward to sharing their stories with you, and the first story I'll be telling is the one of the beloved Stephenie Meyer.
Like her or not, this woman is a genius.






It started with a dream. A literal one. One about a lion falling in love with a lamb, a vampire falling in love with a human.

"Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn't done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering,” Meyer said.


Quickly after, Meyer developed a plot for this dream she had, and three months later, she finished the novel we know as Twilight.

Like most of us, Meyer was quite naive about the publishing process. She thought, and I quote, "I thought it worked like this: you printed a copy of your novel, wrapped it up in brown paper, and sent it off to a publishing house."

But knowing what we know now, the publishing process doesn't quite work that way. Eventually, Meyer subscribed to Writer's Market and found a few literary agencies and publishing houses that she liked. She then sent out a total of FIFTEEN query letters, receiving a few rejections along the way, and then getting picked up by literary agent, Jodi Reamer, a month later.

Together, Reamer and Meyer worked on Twilight for two weeks before sending it to Megan Tingley (of Megan Tingley Books, of Little, Brown and Company ) and then, well, the rest is all history--no, seriously.
In six months, Meyer dreamt, wrote, and published Twilight.
Within one month it was number five on the New York Time's Bestseller list, and within a year, Twilight was named one of Publisher Weekly's best children books of '05.
In the next three years, she completed and published the series, becoming the best selling book of 2008 and 2009.

Today, her books have been translated into 37 different languages.

It's crazy when you consider the time line of things. It's hard for me to even wrap my head around the idea of becoming a best selling author in one year. What the heck?!




Rejections: 

I'm not sure how many total rejections Meyer received for Twilight, other than the two she mentioned on her web page. According to the good ol' wiki, she got rejected 14 times. Which means that all of her agents, except for one lucky one, wanted to take on her project.

Why Twilight worked for Meyer:

Twilight worked because it was the purple cow of the industry. I mean, hello: vampires who sparkle in the sunlight instead of die, and a teenage girl who devotes her life to someone who wants to kill her. That's pretty strange if I say so myself, but people want strange--better than that, they want strange romances!

Where are they now: 

As of October of this year, Meyer is on a new project: The Storytellers--New creative voices of the Twilight series. Meyer is teaming up with filmmakers and producing short films on a broad number of characters from the Twilight saga.

She is also wanting to know which characters we want to see in film! So hit her up on her social media:
Twitter
FickleFish
Facebook

How can we learn from Meyer?

Well, how can we not? If you have a dream--one that you are so completely in love with--don't run from it, run with it.
Because within a year, you could write and publish that dream novel.



Till next time blog world,

Stay tuned for more from this series!

Throwing The Manuscript Away

Not literally. I didn't have it printed yet.
But virtually, yes . . . yes I did.

Below, I've inserted a clear visual of what sort of happened . . . .








Now, allow me to let you in on a few things that led to the fall...

1.) That one book I told ya'll I was working on (you know the one that was going to be a series?) I probably haven't worked on that since April.

2.)  I managed to get two new jobs.

3.) I fell in love . . . ha, just kidding.

4.) I've been watching a lot of TV shows on Netflix. (Supernatural, Scandal...)

5.) And also, I have two nephews. That's enough to make me quit just about anything.

I'd like to believe that it was a mixture of these things that made me realize that what I was writing wasn't appealing to me.

In fact, I kept asking myself, "What if no one likes this? Who am I trying to portray...and really, Britney, do you think that's a good idea?"

I know I can be hard on myself--I am truly my own worst enemy--but if I'm psyched about a book idea, I take it and run until it's finished.

So this summer when I began a new manuscript for a different story, I was pumped . . . at first. It happened slowly, and then all at once, like a rush of water. Then I wasn't excited about it anymore.

I couldn't write.

Naturally, I thought it was writer's block. But after a few months of letting it sit, I quickly realized that it wasn't that. This manuscript was more like a diary, so it was easier to write. I wrote about 30,000 words total--20,000 shy from a novella.

I had a game plan--I wanted to get it finished--but, I wasn't in love with it.

There was no spark.

The characters made me smile, but the story-line was saddening.

So I deleted it. Crazy, right?

Okay, okay. I didn't actually "delete" the story, I still have the rough outline. But, from that outline, I found a story within a story, still allowing me to use the characters I love.

Basically, what I'm getting at here is that there are benefits from starting over. Obviously, starting over from scratch is a bit drastic, but if it works, it works--and it worked for me.

Maybe you could benefit from deleting your manuscript, too? As Hemingway once said, "The first draft of anything is...." fill in the blank.

(Hint: a four letter word that rhymes with kick...)

I hope all is well.

Ha, till next time blog world!

Over and out.





Querying Jenny Bent


AKA, the mystery woman behind my personalized rejection letter....


                                       (Photo from: http://www.thebentagency.com/agent_jenny_bent.php)


So here's the need-to-know about Jenny Bent!

She is a literary agent and the founder of the Bent Agency. She represents commercial adult fiction, YA, middle grade, memoirs, and selective narrative non fiction. Jenny specifically wants a novel that will speak to the heart--we're talking raw emotion, ya'll. Ideally, she wants a book that will make her laugh and cry, or do both at the same time.


Have you queried Jenny Bent? How did it work out?

I have queried The Bent Agency. I actually sent Jenny a query on September 14th of this year! Unfortunately, it did not work out for me, but that is okay. I still believe in this agency, and the agent profiles seem to be quite legit! I suggest everyone checking them out! (Here's the link!)




What was the response time?

The response time was incredibly fast! I sent my query on September 14th, and she responded five days later, on September 19th. I was actually in the middle of my Marketing class when I got the notification on my phone. Honestly, I thought the response was a good one until I got to the end of it, but I was so in shock I didn't have any room left to be upset. Haha, thank you, Jenny!



Would you ever query her again?

If I write a novel that is to her liking, I would be more than willing to query her again. She's on the top of my list, and I'm kind of curious to know if this was a personalized rejection or not.

How can I query Jenny Bent?

You can contact Jenny by emailing her at queries@thebentagency.com
However, I highly suggest that you check out the submission guidelines first.

Bonus:

Follow Jenny on twitter and check out her blog. There's some neat stuff on there.

Also, if you're curious to know what that rejection letter looked like, follow this link to an old blog post! Click Here!

Well, that's all for this blog post. As always, let me know what your experiences are with these agents! Good luck with the queries!

Till next time blog world!

Cough Medicine, Writer's Block, and A Silver Lining


So, it's one am my time, I'm doped up on cough medicine, and I can't sleep.

My Current State of Confusion...


I can't stop thinking about writing.

I guess I've never questioned myself this much before.

The theme for my new manuscript keeps changing, and I can't figure out who my characters are anymore, or who they're supposed to be. It's like questioning my own identity.

Where do I go from here? Do I just pick up the pieces and move on, am I experiencing writer's block or side effects from this cough medicine?

And should I be querying my other manuscript while I'm writing? What do I do at a time like this besides wait?

I feel like I'm always waiting--waiting on words, waiting on feedback, waiting on agents, waiting for this commercial to end....

And I can't stop thinking about that movie I just watched (for like the millionth time,) A Silver Lining's Playbook. If you like crazy people, love stories, football, and writing, this movie is for you, hands down.

Well anyway, one of the main characters, Tiffany, goes off on one of her crazy moments...inserts gif...


And sometimes I feel that way after I write, like somehow my own words are betraying me by not giving me anything else to say . . . like they're judging me. It seems irreversible.

It's like, how the heck am I supposed to finish this chapter if my brain doesn't work the way I want it to?

Why are my main characters so complicated, and why is the word excelsior still stuck in my head?

And now, I'm going wayy too deep. I think that night time medicine is setting in.

On a more serious note, does anyone have any advice about writer's block? Is this normal, the way I feel?
And seriously, check out this movie, or even the book, it's my favorite.

Till next time, ya'll!

Happy Writing Days!

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn't Stop Reading




While in the writing process, I find it hard to finish--or even pick up--a book. (I have this fear of accidentally imitating someone else's work.)

That's the last thing I want to do. No one deserves to be plagiarized.

But at the same time, one of the best ways to improve your writing skill is to read.

Note the difference: Reading is observing, and you gain so much knowledge in the process.

My goal for today's post is to give you THREE reasons why you shouldn't stop reading while you're working on your manuscript.





1.  INSIGHT: If you're into writing YA novels like I am, the first noticeable difference is the voice of the  main character. Unlike other genres, young adults are on two extreme scales: completely mainstream or not mainstream at all (i.e hipsters, trendsetters, ect.) And if you've grown past your young adult years, there's a slight chance that you've already forgotten what that "version" of yourself sounds like. Even I, in my early, early, twenties, forget what I sound like. This is where the reading process comes in. Honestly, reading anything that's been published in the last six years is still quiet relevant to that YA group today. It's important to take note on today's slang and phrases because there are some words that aren't used anymore. Like: "All that and a bag of chips" and "Talk to the hand" are overused phases that were relevant in the 20th century, not so much in the 21st.

2. VISION: Where do you get your story ideas? I get mine from songs, dreams, reality, and books! I noticed that certain scenes in books have the power to spark an entire manuscript. Getting insight from many different books helps with the story-flowing process. Sometimes it's a never-ending stream of words, and sometimes it's just a simple idea. Eiter way, it's something. So pick up an intriguing book that really gets the juices flowing.

3. ACTION: I've noticed that whenever I pick up a good book, I get so motivated to finish my own book that I never get a chance to finish the page I'm on. Truth: reading a bestseller sparks motivation! I'm living proof of that, and so are the many books scattered across my desk with dog ears in them. Even self-help books get me excited to finish my own. I always get that sense of urgency: Who knows, I could be writing that next top-charter?!?! 
I'm telling you, reading books guarentee's a bestseller . . . . . ha, totally kidding.


But don't knock the reading process. Without it, you may gain less insight, lack a clear vision, and become unmotivated.

Books are the trendsetters, so challenge yourself to be just that.



Till Next Time Blog World!

Purple Cow, Say What?



You're probably asking:"What is this purple cow you speak of? Britney, are you alright? Have you lost your marbles...?"
And I'd probably respond like so: "No. At least not completely."


Guys, purple cow is an actual thing!!!

It's a marketing concept by Seth Godin that states, "companies must build things worth noticing right into their products or services. "

He says that a product that isn't somehow remarkable--like a purple cow--is unlikely to sell, regardless of how awesome it is, or how much advertising it has.

Seriously, who wants a regular cow when you can have a PURPLE one?

Think: IKEA, Starbucks, Smart Cars.... these are the purple cows of the industry. When you think IKEA, you think beautifully-crafted, cheap, DIY furniture; when you think Starbucks, you think of a comfortable hangout place with coffee; when you think Smart Cars, you think of how such a product is selling. It's so small...

How is this useful for writers?

For one, as an author, each and every one of us is going to have to market our own product, in this case, books. Even the very best publishing agency doesn't market an author's book as best as an author him/herself.
Secondly, if we're wanting to sell anything or catch the eye's of an agent, we need to be purple cows! We gotta give them a good reason to gawk at our writing like it's gold.

No one wants something that's been over done. The market wants clean, fresh ideas that will last. They want something that set the trends, they want something that people are going to copy--and trust me, if people enjoy it, they're going to want to reproduce it.


So when you sit in front of your manuscript today, I challenge you to color outside the box of norms. Be different. Be creative. Make that first sentence, first paragraph, and entire book count. Be that extrordinary part of yourself.
Make people want to copy you!
Because if they are....you must be doing something right.



Phew...sure glad that marketing class paid off....


Till Next Time Blog World,

Successful Query Examples

Do you ever stop and think: Man, if I had a few successful queries or book descriptions to look at, life would be easier.

Or maybe it's: I just don't feel like going to a bookstore and reading book descriptions. Actually, I don't feel like moving at all. 

Well, this is for you. No moving involved. Everything is here in one place.

Today's blog post features top chart books and their book descriptions. Maybe you'll be inspired when it comes to your own query.

*Note: these are not the actual queries. But they may help you create your own query. 




1.) If I Stay: In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.
         
Version two:   Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
                             I open my eyes wide now.
                             I sit up as much as I can.
                             And I listen.
                             Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
Nifty Link: Here!

2.) DIVERGENTIn Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Version two: “One choice can transform you.”
In Divergent, Beatrice faces a choice that will change her life forever. She can choose any of the five factions to live in… forever. It will determine who her friends are. Who she will marry. What job she will have. What skills she will learn. What philosophy she will model her life around. What virtue she will pursue far beyond any other. Her choice of faction will shape the rest of her life.


Cool Link: Here!


3.) Thirteen Reasons WhyClay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Extra Cool Link: Here!


I hope this helps!

Until next time blog world!



AQC: This is for you . . .




I've had this blog for about seven months now, and I haven't overlooked the fact that the community from Agent Query Connect happens to be the top supporters for my blog.

That's freaking amazing!

And I'm all about giving back because I wouldn't know as much as I do now without you--each one of you.

So, drum roll please because some great stuff is about to happen.

I, Britney, solemnly swear to critique FIVE member's queries from AQC. Whether it's a quick look to check for minor grammar mistakes, help because you've never written a query before, or just support from someone who's been apart of the AQC community for a couple years, then I am here for you!
I know that I haven't been as active in the community as much as I would like--especially since I'm not writing a query anymore--but I wanted to express to you all that I most certainly haven't forgotten.

So here's what you need to do:

Simply be the first five viewers to email me on AQC with the title: QueryReview! Add the link to your query as well!

Along with that, share the link of my blog by posting it on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr to get the word out. I'm a total advocate for writers supporting writers (and I will follow your blog by the way!)

I'm excited to look at everyone's queries! You have a total of 48 hours before the offer expires!
Don't forget to share the link and the love!

Go, Go, Go!!!!


Here's the link to my blog: http://britneylewisbooks.blogspot.com/

Writing Styles




This GIF, in a nutshell, is how I'd describe my writing style. 






Obviously, the older I get and the more experience I gain, my writing style differs. That's just life.

It's no secret, I want to be as original as I can. There's this "stuff" that has been created in me, and then it is somehow used to create the sentences I pour into my pages. I think that "stuff" is apart of everyone, and that's what makes them different, unique. Because I am such an emotional person, my writing tends to lean toward the emotional side. My goal is to paint a visual picture of "feelings" with words. I want the reader to feel every moment that the character feels. To me, they need to connect on that level--whether that be depression, falling in love, anxiety, or fear.  I believe that if there is no initial connection, I'd lose the reader.

When it comes to influences, I'm very inspired by other author's writing styles. With my new manuscript, I've been feeling really influenced by Ernest Hemingway (which you've probably noticed if you follow me on twitter.) If you've read anything from him, you'd see that his writing is somewhat direct and to the point. (Almost polar opposite from me.) At the same time, though, he can be very detailed with particular moments and scenes. It is truly the simpleness that gets me.

I'm also inspired by music and song lyrics. There are so many songs when I'm just like, "I want my book to portray this exact song. Ah!!!"
I want to somehow write the tempo and the chords in without actually writing it in.
I don't know, songs just touch me in this indescribable way, and I want my reader to experience the same feeling, too.

If I'm referring back to the GIF I used above, that's how I want to feel after I write a sentence in my book...
Not kidding.
If I'm not feeling the sentence, I'll cut it and rewrite it. I want each sentence to make me feel like that GIF--even if I am asking a lot from myself, it's completely worth it. Every sentence is meaningful, and it comes together to create this outstanding story, and I want it all to be beautiful...

Like I've said in my bio: "My words will tug away the strings of your heart." 

Till next time blog world, 

Hasta la vista! 


A Heartfelt Rejection

It twas bittersweet . . .




Rejections, they suck, but I'm at the point in my life where a rejection is just a rejection. Each one will get me one step closer to my dream. 

Anyway, as you all know, I've been querying. Last Sunday (six days ago,) I queried this agency. (I'll most likely do a review on this agent sometime soon. It was a fast reply!)
The agent that I queried was the founder of that agency, and she is such an amazing woman. 

Within five days, I received a response, and it was unlike any rejection I'd ever received. I'd honestly, for a second, thought it was good news! When I realized that she was passing on my manuscript, I wasn't even upset. She had personalized my rejection letter, and that was enough to keep me on cloud nine for the rest of the evening. 

Here's what she said:

Dear Britney, 

Thanks so much for being in touch. I'm flattered that you thought of me for this, but it just didn't strike a chord. I do admire the quality of the writing and the execution and I'm sorry it wasn't a fit for me.

Here's what I read:


 I admire the quality of the writing and the execution.


How could I be upset by that? The fast reply, the words. My heart is completely filled right now. An agent--an amazing agent that I highly respect--liked my writing. She liked it, and that was enough for me.

*heartfelt sigh, and happy tears. Refer to the gif as needed.


That's all, folks.

Till next time blog world.

How I Research Agents


Because I love me some Johnny Depp


It's #blogpostmonday and I'm having a hard time figuring out what the people want to read about.

Honestly, I have no clue. I'm just a basic 20 year old in my third year of college, studying theories, and still trying to figure out how to pass a math class.

So I don't have much, I'll tell ya that.

But what I realized--in terms of what people want to read--is that my audience is very interested in the self-help section. And after I sent out another query yesterday, I was inspired to write a post on the process I go through once I have a finished query.

So here it is, folks, my process on sending out queries and researching agents in three simple steps.

Step One: Where the heck do I find agents?

I know I'm still young--especially for a writer--but I've been looking up information on agents for a very, very long time. So it doesn't surprise me when agency's like Andrea Brown Literary Agency or New Leaf Literacy pop into my head randomly.
I know one thing that helped me when I first got started was Agent Query. They have an entire agent section. All you have to do is know the genre of your book.
Another website that helps tremendously is Literary Rambles. This blog is literally heaven sent, and I will continuously swear by it. Everything I've ever wanted to know about an agent is right there, making research that much easier. (Don't get me wrong, doing your own research is plausible, but this...this website...is like mixing chocolate, pecans, and carmel together.)

Step Two: There are too many options. Which agent do I CHOOSE???? HELP!

Even after you've looked up agents in your genre, there are still a plethora to choose from. But here's how I choose: If I don't like their bio, I'll move on to the next one. Simple.
Some people might say: Well, Britney, you're never going to get published if you don't give everyone a fair chance.
And I say--you're completely wrong. Well, actually, you might be right.
However, I'm firmly against settling for less. I want an agent who's going to be absolutely crazy about my manuscript and about me. (Ha, it's almost like dating.) I'd rather query all the right agents and have them say no, than query all the wrong agents and have them say yes. (I'm not sure that made sense.)
Basically, choosing an agent is almost the same process that agents go through when choosing a query. If an agent makes it through half a query and they don't like it, they'll send a rejection. Likewise, if I'm halfway through an agent's bio, and my eyes burn, and I feel like I'll die if I read another sentence (that was dramatic,) then I'll pass.
Trust in your gut, people!

Step Three: How does the research tie into all of this?

Aha! Research is key!
Agents loooovvveeeee personalized queries. They think, "man, this writer just read my soul. I wonder what that manuscript looks like?"
Now, that is just my theory, but the point is that it makes the agent look. How can your query stand out amongst the pile of queries? What do you have that makes you better than the rest? (It's basic marketing skills. Be the purple cows of the world.)

For example, after I've stalked an agent, and I'm ready to personalize my query, the first paragraph would probably look a lot like this:

Dear so and so, 


For most sixteen-year-olds, pregnancy is a fate worse than death. For Joni Reid, it might be the only thing that saves her life. THE WILLOW TREE is a YA contemporary novel complete at about 65,000 words. After researching you and your interests, I knew that my manuscript might be to your liking. It’s an emotional high, a contemporary, and a bit more on the serious side. However, you mentioned you liked extremes and stories that make you feel more alive. I hope this is a good fit for you.

Step Four: Wait, I thought you said there were only three steps....?


Ha, for me, the final step is usually pressing send. 




I hope that this is helpful. Remember, if you have any questions about anything revolving this, I would love to answer them. 

Good luck,

Until next time blog world. 

Happy Query Days! 






Querying Suzie Townsend

At this point in the writing stage, I've had my fair share of querying many agents, including Suzie Townsend.


What makes Suzie Awesome?



(Photo Credit: http://newleafliterary.com/agents)
Suzie Townsend is an agent at New Leaf Literary. You may know her as the agent that helped make Cora Carmack's dream of hitting the New York Times bestseller list a reality with the book, Losing It. Or, you may know her through her Coworker, Joanna Volpe, who grabbed Veronica Roth, writer of the Divergent series.

According to Publisher's Market, she represents adult and children's fiction. She is looking to build her client list--which is awesome for all you unagented writers--and she likes women's fiction, romance, fantasy, crime, all things YA, and I believe she's looking for the next bestselling middle grade project. 

Have you queried Suzie Townsend? How did it work out?

I have, indeed. In 2013, I queried her with my first manuscript, The Collectors, and earlier this year I queried her with my latest novel (but the unpolished version :/ ) The Willow Tree. 
And, unfortunately, it did not work out for me. But that's okay! The point of this post is to shed light on this awesome agent, and maybe . . . just maybe the cards will be in your favor? (wink, wink.)

What was the response time?

The response time was incredibly fast. First off, as soon as you submit, you receive an email letting you know that your query has been submitted. And within the next two weeks, I was sent a form rejection letting me know that my project wasn't the one for her. This happened on both occasions. 

Would you ever query her again?

That depends. I don't think I'm writing anything that fits what she's looking for--besides YA. Plus, I don't want to waste her time, nor do I want to waste my time. However, if I were writing something she was interested in, I would definitely re-query her. Especially if I'm looking for a speedy reply. 

How can I query Suzie Townsend?

You can query Suzie by sending the first five pages of your COMPLETED AND POLISHED manuscript and your finished query to query (at) newleafliterary (dot) com. Make sure to put Query in the subject line, while also adding the agent's name: Query: Suzie Townsend.

Bonus:

Before querying, I would definitely check out Suzie's blog, Confessions. There's so much useful information about her, the agency, and her coworkers. You know, the best way to an agent's heart is through their blogs! 

Ha, Till next time bog world. 

Good luck and Happy Query Days. 

My Place

A late Throwback Thursday Edition. 

I blog a lot about writing. Yet, none of you have actually seen any of my pieces. I'm not able to do that yet--you know, copyright stuff--so today I'm sharing the closest thing to it, and English Paper of mine.
Not just any ol' paper, though, but a creative essay. 
I wrote it about a year ago, and it's one of my favorite homework assignments so far. 
I hope you Enjoy it! 



My Place
            No one knew it—not even the creators—but this white, four-door, Ford Taurus had become my sanctuary.
            The interior of the car carries all of my prayers, safely tucking them inside its cracks like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. My heart has been splattered across the grey, suede seats, leaving parts of me in every crevice.
            The best thing about my car, though, is the freedom it grants my imagination. While I drive, my mind spirals out of control. It rushes to a place within me, a place unlike any other. As Carl Sagan once said, “Imagination will carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”
            One would find my imaginative place, in the deepest, greenest forest amongst a clearing. Inside, the sweet smell of lilies, dandelions, and daises sting my nostrils. The field is filled with endless, blossoming flowers, and the rabbits play in them, resting frequently as they hop with their loved ones. The clearing is no bigger than a football field in length, but the tall trees around it give the false appearance of a perfect circle. An outsider would think of it as a globe, separating the external world from the internal world completely. 
            The air is thinner here, and the wind blows softly, tangling the ends of my hair from time to time, cooling me off when my body temperature rises from wonder. I am distracted often—there’s a wide variety of life creeping around my clearing, and I strive to see it all because the more I see, the more I know, and the more I know, the more I feel like I’m apart of them.  
            In the center of the clearing lies a small creek. The water doesn’t flow any higher than my ankles, and it’s about as wide as an old row boat—from front to back—filled with many rocks—different shapes and sizes. The atmosphere is louder near the creek. Mosquitos fly about, frogs croak with fierce, and locusts sing their highest, humming perfect notes in order to find their soul mates.
            In the distance, toward the end of the clearing, is an old, wooden house. The wooden pieces and logs that once held it together are now falling apart. They are chipped and worn at the edges and sides, and termites have claimed a permanent home inside of them. The glass windows are discolored and have all been broken. The entire shack leans to one side, holding onto the little confidence it has left. If it weren’t for the thick trumpet vines holding it together, the bruised house would have long dissolved into the earth by now.  Though the house is a part of my secret place, I don’t dare go near it—some things are better left untouched.
            As the sun glistens the grass and sparkles the water—filling the creek with endless, rapturing diamonds—I am reminded of the Prayer of Peace by St. Frances, “Lord make me an instrument of thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is error, the truth; where there is doubt, the faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.” It’s these sweet moments, in my place, where I feel so much of God’s glory—where I feel so much love.
But in my infinitesimal place, through the thick trees, he is there, and he is what makes this clearing so much better than it already is. He doesn’t know how great he is, but he’s here, in my place, as glorious as God could create him to be.
He sits on the ground, across the creek, and I jog faintly toward him, squishing my tiny toes through the soft grass, and splashing my feet through the cool water.
When I make it over, I sit next to him and study the gratitude written in the lines of his solemn, pale face. His blue eyes lock onto my brown ones, and they squint momentarily as the sun rays bounce off his short eyelashes. His lips fall slightly parted below his narrow nose, and nothing, not even a whisper, slips from his tongue. He’s a brave one, I can see it in his brows, and I pray to carry the same badge as he does—I hope to be a warrior someday, too. But in our stillness—in my sacred place—he continues without a word, leading my imagination further than my heart can wander, leading me across stretches of the world that my feet could never fathom going. 
Still at rest, I study him as he studies me—I’ve never seen him so close before. His dirty blonde hair, long and curly, rests a bit past his shoulders, and he smiles at me with his eyes. I wonder what he’s thinking; I wonder what’s going through that silent mind of his. There’s this passage in Looking for Alaska, by John Green, that says, “Just remember that sometimes the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.” For a moment, before I could contemplate reality, I hoped he wasn’t thinking of me that way; I hoped he wasn’t thinking of me in a way that couldn’t uphold possible human standards; I hoped he wasn’t thinking of me and realizing that I wasn’t who he thought I would be. Worse than that, I found myself thinking of him in the same way that I had thought of my secret place—fictional. It was possible that we both had high expectations for each other, but I hoped we were more than that; I hoped we could grow into something wonderful because in my consecrated place anything was possible—there were no limits.  
            Now, whenever I drive, I take my time. Life is too short to ignore the beauty inside of me because in my meadow, my little clearing, I come alive. It isn’t a place of regret, disappointment, or sadness; my place isn’t a place where hope is without light. My place is absolute, and I can run without borders; I can be whoever I want to be because I am free here—no judgments, no filters. My place is full of restless thoughts, harmonic birds with enduring tunes and delicate winds that help the lilies grow. My place is like a dream, but better. It’s the same place that lullabies are made of; it’s a place where people run to escape reality. My place isn’t a place that disguises actuality. My place is different than any other—it’s within me.   
(c) 2014 Britney Lewis


What Happens After The Agent?

What happens after an agent has offered you representation? Complete bliss, of course. I'm kidding. Sort of . . . You see, on...