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.


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

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