Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Query Meets Agent

So, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my query letter. For those of you who are not writers, my query letter is what I sent to agents to see if they would be interested in reading my manuscript. Here's a blog that describes the enormity of the query letter and the tiny odds of landing an agent.

I certainly don't feel like a query pro, but you have asked and so you shall recieve. It took me several attempts to reach the query letter below and even it has been torn to shreds by writer critiques before. I know I've broken a few query faux pas(too long, it's a series, etc) but in the end it interested MY AGENT (still can't believe I can say that) and brought in 7 manuscript requests.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent,
(Personalized note) I hope to interest you in the first novel of my young adult science fiction series, THE APOLLO ACADEMY.
Seventeen-year-old Aurora Titon hates attention. As heiress to mega-corporation, Titon Technologies, she should be accustomed to the spotlight, but that couldn’t be farther from the case. When she is told she has been accepted into the Apollo Academy as their first female pilot astronaut, she’s terrified. Not only because she’ll eventually be responsible for flying a shuttle out of the Earth’s atmosphere at over twenty thousand miles an hour, but because of all of the attention she’ll receive training for it.
Getting accepted has been her only goal; she’s never even considered what would happen after. No matter what, she’ll just have to deal with the attention. All she’s ever wanted to do is attend the Academy, where astronauts are trained for the sole purpose of finding sources of raw materials and places to one day colonize, where students fly supersonic jets, and undergo demanding class loads, and intense physical training.
Striving to make peace with all of the unwanted attention, attend class, and prove that she belongs, she tries to connect with her peers, and soon finds herself torn between two boys who have issues of their own. Zane, the emotionally challenged genius orphan, and Sky, the academy’s over-bearing-know-it-all flight instructor.
Zane has secrets to keep, and the last thing he needs to do is get involved in Aurora’s very public life, but he just can’t seem to stay away from her. Will she unknowingly expose his deepest secret-a genetic anomaly that could get him kicked out of the academy? 
When Aurora finds herself in a series of unfortunate but potentially deadly coincidences, Zane and Skye suspect foul play. With everyone else willing to believe that Aurora’s death dive toward the earth from fifty-five thousand feet is only an aircraft maintenance problem, they are forced to work together.
Who’s behind her “accidents?” TerraUnited, a group that openly and violently opposes the alteration of space? Frontier Solutions, a Titon Technologies business rival?  Or a fellow student?
The journey to discover just how deep the plot goes reveals that things are far from what they seem. In the end a fellow cadet is arrested, a lover’s secret is revealed, and the social ramifications are wide spread.  And this is only the first semester of training…
As a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and as a female pilot, I used these experiences to create THE APOLLO ACADEMY, a 83,000-word novel that’s full of adventure, romance, and spiked with aviation.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Resources for Queriers: QueryShark Blog, Writer’s Digest has tons of free information & paid services, Brenda Drake is always hosting fantastic contests/critiques, join a writing group, Twitter (follow agents and hash tags like #askagent, etc)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beautiful Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the Beautiful Blogger and Incredible Reader award by the super fabulous, Rachel Horwitz. Now, I get to tell you lovely readers seven unique things about myself before passing this award onto two more awesome bloggers.

Ok, so about me:
1.)    I used to be a child model. My mom would take me to NYC every summer. I’ve been in a few bigger magazines: Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, and Lily & Vernon. I also appeared on the Our Home Show (with Mark Summers)
2.)    I was flying airplanes before I received my driver’s license. I started flying at 13 and now have all of my pilot’s licenses.  Technically I have my private, commercial, instrument, multi, and complex aircraft ratings. But for those of you who know what that means, I can fly passengers in any plane (single and multi engine) that weighs less than 12,500lbs in sunny or dark cloudy weather.
3.)    Along that same note, my husband and I like to go up to our local airport on the weekend to just watch airplanes take off and land. We bring food, drinks, and the 3yo.
4.)    I think my horoscope personality traits fit me perfectly.
Traits- Neat, Dresses up for the occasion, Slight perfectionist, Bossy at times, Plans ahead, Attention to detail.
Dislikes- Noise, Confusion, Sloppiness, Pressured decisions, Being rushed, Criticism

5.)    I own an insane number of shoes and books.
6.)    I’m 28 years old and I’ve already lived in 25 different homes. My current house is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place, 4 years.
7.)    I am 1/16 Native American, but I pretend it’s the biggest part of my heritage.
Now, I bestow this amazing award on two of my favorite critique partners, Dee and Melissa.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Have an Agent!!!

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve landed the most fabulous agent, Brittany Howard with the Corvisiero Literary Agency. I'll actually be represented by not only Brittany,  but Marisa Corvisiero as well! (Double score!)
When I first started writing The Apollo Academy, my only  desire was to write an inspiring story about a young girl with a passion for aviation.  After all, I was a devoted reader with flying experience.  But it certainly wasn’t as easy as it sounded at the time and I need to thank the people who have helped me get this far. Most of all, I need to thank my husband. He not only encouraged me to just sit down in front of a blank screen to write, but he also read the first few awful drafts. Secondly, I need to thank my first beta readers, Megan Sorenson and Ashley Carlson.  Without their support and kind words I may have never gotten past my first draft. So thank you for believing in me before I ever really believed in myself.
Now moving on to what you're really hear to read about:
I started querying The Apollo Academy in late February 2012. Knowing all that I know now, I can look back and say that I started too soon. As more of a newbie to the whole publishing process, I had no idea how to write an effective query letter or really even understand what a query was. As bad as this sounds, I still wouldn't change a thing. My first attempts to snag a literary agent taught me a lot in a short period of time. I’ve always tended to learn things the hard way and it took those early query rejections to teach me a few valuable lessons. It was after these rejections that I discovered the QueryShark blog, Writer’s Digest free tutorials, writing contests/critiques, writer friends, and most of all, Twitter.
By March/April I had a query letter that worked. I received 3 requests for the manuscript, but ultimately all 3 were rejected. “I love the concept, but this isn’t quite right for me…” It’s rejections like these that really make a writer question what’s wrong, what’s not working. Without feedback, I had no choice but to contemplate every possible change I could make to get the manuscript stronger/more likeable. I implemented a few revisions and early June I began querying again.
June 6th, 2012 I sent a query to the Corvisiero Literary Agency
June 30th, 2012 Brittany emails and asks for the first 50pgs of The Apollo Academy
August 6th, 2012 Brittany emails and says she’s enjoying the story so far and wants to see the full manuscript. By this point, I’m an extremely patient person. (Ok, so that’s a stretch, but I was prepared for a long wait.)
August 8th, 2012 at 1:02 AM Brittany emails. I’m shocked by her quick response and hesitant to even read the email. But when I started reading she was saying things like “I love your book,” “I couldn’t stop reading,” etc.  She wanted to talk about representation and that I should tell everyone else who had my manuscript that I had an offer!!!
Same day- I emailed the other agents who had my manuscript saying that if they were still interested in my manuscript that they needed to get back to me by August 16th.  (This is standard for the industry. I'll post another blog about this for my writer friends. And a quick thanks to Dee who kept me sane during this whole week) Cue tons of responses!!! It was absolutely insane. Agents were asking to see the full manuscript, scheduling phone calls to offer representation, while a few were passing with compliments. After months of waiting, I was now receiving instant responses.
All of the agents I spoke with this past week were great, BUT I knew the second I hung up the phone with Brittany that she was the one I wanted to work with. She completely blew me away with how well she knew MY  characters, how she could describe how she felt while reading certain parts of MY story, and how she could articulate the areas of the story that could be stronger. Needless to say, I’m over the moon!