I have been writing for a long time. Heck, I've wanted to be a writer since middle school. I've been writing ever since.
The very first book I wrote took ten years. It's a mess. You've never heard of it. It's shelved on a floppy disk (remember those?) among other places, but was never revisited.
Then, during my time in Oxford, I was inspired to write School of Deaths. It took me a year to write, and then I began trying for agents. In publishing, if you want your book published with the big publishers, distributed widely, and making money, you need an agent. The "Big Five" publishers (all subdivisions of just five companies) only take manuscripts from agents, and even then it's not always a guarantee of publication, much less success. Yet agents are the first gatekeepers in the business.
Getting an agent involves writing a query letter. This is a single page long- a blurb about your book, a paragraph about similar books in the marketplace, and a paragraph about you. It's an email you send out and know you'll probably never hear back from. Some agents ask for just this, some for your first five pages. Most agents receive hundreds of email queries a DAY. Of those they receive, they might request pages from 5%, and of those pages, maybe request a full manuscript from an even smaller number. And it's not just based on the quality of your writing. It's based on a lot of subjective factors, like the agent's preferences, if they think they can sell it, does it conflict with other clients they have, and so on. In short, getting an agent is very, very difficult. It feels a bit like falling through mid-air, and trying to catch (and hold onto) a single raindrop.
After a year of querying, and 130 rejections, I gave up trying to find an agent for School of Deaths. Instead I began querying small presses. 30 queries of publishers later, MuseItUp said yes.
Small press is a form of traditional publishing in between the big guys and self publishing. In a way, it's sort of like the minor league baseball league. Minor leaguers are pros, and paid to play ball, and some are amazing, but you've never heard of them. They're all hoping to make it into the majors, but to do so they need that scout. With writing, you need an agent.
After Scythe Wielder's Secret I wrote a sci fi thriller and re-entered the querying phase. Months passed. Nada. I've since decided to rework the project.
Then, I had an idea for a book. A series. The ideas kept coming and coming. It was without a doubt the best thing I'd written. I decided, yet again, to plunge back into querying. Querying is a SLOW process, I'll add. Some agents have an AVERAGE response time of 115 days. That's just to hear back, even if it's a no. And if they request pages or your full manuscript, you have to wait months upon months.
I began querying in January. I queried and queried. I became active in the Manuscript Academy, which gave me a lot of opportunities to work with pros. I had skype sessions with agents and not only pitched my book, but got help rewriting my query. I was in a workshop to help revamp my first page, and ended up a part of a writing community that's still wonderfully supportive today. And I worked with editors from St Martins and Tor (two imprints of the "Big 5" publishers) to rewrite the beginning completely. On the advice of an agent, I began "requerying" - contacting agents who said no months ago or who never responded. I was hopeful, but still not sure. I was ready to enter PitchWars when everything took off.
First I got an offer from an agent. I then had to let my outstanding (hadn't heard from them yet) requeries know. Within hours, I had six more full requests. I eventually got a second offer and it came down to an insane day of phone conversations, nerves, and difficult decisions. After talking to the two agents, however, I knew the original offer was the agent I wanted to stick with.
This is only one stage in a longer journey. However, this is a huge step for me and my career as an author.
Well, looks like it's another #Pimpmybio time, since I'll be trying PitchWars 2017. I'll talk a little about my newest project and myself. If you're curious about Pitch Wars go here, and be sure to look at other hopeful mentee’s blogs here. The "Pimp My Bio" idea helps prospective mentors meet their mentees with some gifs. So, without further ado, let's dive in...
I am a fantasy author. My YA Fantasy trilogy The Scythe Wielder's Secret was pubbed by a small press a few years ago, and is a story about overcoming sexism, set in a war between Deaths (Grim Reapers) and Dragons. Did I mention that I love dragons!
A LOT has changed since my entry last year...
For starters, I'm now a full-time author, and a full-time stay-at-home dad for my son, who's now one. My son is the best kid ever- and guess what he's already addicted to (for real)... BOOKS!
My current manuscript is an Adult High Fantasy.
What keeps me writing? What motivates me when I'm unsure? Sometimes, just looking at what people have said about my writing thus far...
Please welcome fellow author Katie L. Carroll who has an exciting new Cover and a new novel!
by Katie L. Carroll (katielcarroll.com)
Cover Illustration by Susan Tait Porcaro (susantaitporcaro.com)
Coming October 2017!
PIRATE ISLAND blurb:
A thrice cursed island, a legendary pirate treasure, and one not-so-brave boy. What could possibly go wrong?
For centuries, the whereabouts of Captain William Kiddâs lost pirate treasure has remained a mystery. When Billyâs best friend, Andy, proposes they look for it on nearby Pirate Island, Billy thinks itâs just another one of their crazy adventures. Itâs usually Billy who ends up in trouble as a result, but he goes along for the rideâ¦like always. The more he delves into the life and death of Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound. Billyânope, call him Williamâbecomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name. He even believes heâs possessed by Kiddâs restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island. And what they find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.
About the Author:
Katie L. Carroll always says she began writing at a very sad time her life after her sister Kylene unexpectedly passed away. The truth is Katie has been writing her whole life, and it was only after Kyleneâs death that she realized she wanted to pursue writing for kids and teens as a career. Since then writing has taken her to many wonderful places, real and imagined. She has had many jobs in her lifetime, including newspaper deliverer, hardware store cashier, physical therapy assistant, and puzzle magazine editor. She works from her home in Connecticut that is filled with the love and laughter of her sons and husband.
I am thrilled and honored to be part of this year's Writers for Hope auction to support victims of sexual abuse. The annual auction includes many writing and publishing related items, all with a starting bid of ten dollars, and 100% of the profits go to RAINN the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Donors range from bestsellers like James Patterson and Saaba Tahir to publishers and agents. I am items 10 and 68, but please check out the full auction! https://www.writersforhope.com/2017auctionitems
Today, I want to feature fellow author Debbie Manber Kupfer to talk about her newest release: Umbrae!
Step into the Shadows of Umbrae ...
Miri’s world at P.A.W.S. in St. Louis is falling apart. First, Danny is accused of stealing her opapa’s charm. But before he can defend himself, he mysteriously disappears. Miri seeks Josh for help and advice, but he too has gone missing.
Then Lilith has a vision – Miri dragged away by wolves. Miri needs answers, answers that she feels sure are hidden in the blank pages of the book of Argentum.
With the help of Lilith, she travels to the ancient city of Safed. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.
Available on Amazon
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It's February, a month often associated with love, and in MythicMondays, I mentioned the story of Cupid's most famous love affair.
Psyche was a mortal who was so beautiful, people started worshiping her as a goddess of love. Jealous, Venus sent her son Cupid to force her to fall in love with a monster. Cupid accidentally scratched his leg with his arrow, falling in love with Psyche himself.
Psyche's father consulted an oracle, and decided to sacrifice her, to avoid the wrath of Venus. Cupid convinced the west wind, Zephyr, to abduct Psyche for him, saving her from being sacrificed. She awoke in a magnificent palace. Every night Cupid visited her, but remained hidden in shadow and darkness, since he wanted her to love him for himself and not because he's a god.
Psyche fell in love with Cupid, but she became terribly homesick. Unable to refuse her anything, Cupid granted her a visit with her sisters. Zephyr brought Psyche's evil sisters to the palace. Jealous of her opulent life, they convinced her she's been loving a monster. Under their advisement Psyche used a lamp to illuminate Cupid while he slept and find out the truth of her sisters words. She startles him awake. Angry that she didn't trust him, he cast her out of the palace and returned to Olympus.
Psyche wandered the world, suffering from love sickness. She went to Venus and begged her to intervene and convince Cupid to return to her. Venus doesn't believe that Psyche is good enough for her son, so she sends her to complete impossible tasks to earn her blessing. Psyche meets every challenge, determined to win back Cupids love.
Cupid, upon watching his loved one struggle to win back his love, saves her from the disastrous last task in the underworld that nearly takes her soul. He begs Jupiter, King of the Gods, for help. Jupiter grants Psyche immortality, and a great wedding for Psyche and Cupid is held in the heavens, with all gods present. Their love became a symbol for the first "soulmates" for artists and writers for the rest of time.
I enjoy working with him, but there are a few difficulties.
For starters, he really likes to throw his weight around. Once he gets on a roll, there's no stopping him. He also drops the ball a lot. I try to pick up the slack, and the ball, and everything else.
The new boss sleeps on the job, and even makes a mess in the office. He's lately got me confused with one of my fellow co-workers ("Mama") and can really throw a fit if we don't listen to his ideas, and sometimes even if we do.
I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season. This is my son's first Christmas (pictured below) and we are thankful for him and for all of our readers.