Ignore No Opportunity: How I Found My Publisher

Hello all!  Today I am guest blogging over at the wonderful YA blog, All the Way YA.

Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll find there:

There are plenty of traditional routes towards getting published, and when I started shopping out my manuscript for The Order of the Key, Book 1 of my series, Keys and Guardians, I systematically went through all of them.

  • Cold query agents? Check!
  • Spend hundreds on an informative Writer’s Conference with the added benefit of pitching to various agents? Check (thanks to my day job’s Christmas bonus)!
  • Chatted with an agent I met? Check (Lesson: I’m awkward. My husband is MORE awkward.)!
  • Ask published writer buddy to hook a sister up? Check!
  • Cold submit directly to small presses? Checkity-check!

I was hitting brick walls left and right. Even when I got a step closer, pitches leading to partial manuscripts ended up leading to zilch. I wasn’t at it for very long, but I’ll admit that I was beginning to get discouraged. I’m an efficient organizer, which means that in six short months I managed to rack up an impressive number of rejections.

For the rest of the article, go visit the main post! 

Enjoy! And feel free to comment back here, if you have any feedback!

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Introducing Jacklyn Madison: Character Bloghop 2014

It’s time for a character-centric blog hop! Here you will get to meet the lead of my YA novel The Order of the Key. But first, a bit of an intro. 

I was tagged by the great and powerful Hannah Goodman. Hannah is the founder and editor of Sucker Literary, which features undiscovered and new YA authors and happens to employ me as a reader. You can find the blog post that tagged me here. In that post, she discussed her novel, My Summer Vacation, which was originally published in 2006 and went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. It is set to be re-released in September 2014.  Other books about her main character, Maddie, have been met with awards and praise. The final Maddie book in the series remains unpublished at this time but is looking forward to finding a home soon! For more info about Hannah, check her out on the web at hannahrgoodman.com.

This is what My Summer Vacation is all about:

My Summer VacationSixteen-year-old, Maddie Hickman is desperately seeking solace from her sophomore year of high school, a year of broken hearts, torn friendships, and family secrets revealed. Thanks to a position as a CIT (counselor-in-training) at Caleb’s Rock, a hippy, artsy-fartsy summer camp, as her mother calls it, solace has been found—or so she thinks. Maddie begins her summer at the pub shop writing short stories and poems, trying to recover from a terrible breakup with her first love and her family’s struggle with

her alcoholic sister. To maintain inner peace, Maddie swears off cute boys. Although

working alongside Noah, a fellow pub shop CIT, whose hot, nerd-boy looks and

ability to quote Shakespeare at just the right moment makes her swoon. Maddie decides a friendship with camper Zak is safe enough and can help her avoid the temptation of Noah, since Zak isn’t as cute and is a year younger. But when Zak asks her for kissing lessons so he can make the move on another girl, Maddie finds herself wondering if she should have sworn off not-so-cute boys, too.

Be sure to check it out!

*****

And now, without further ado, I’d like you to meet, my character. Care to answer a few questions, dear?

What is your name? Are you fictional/historical? Hi. The name’s Jacklyn. Jacklyn Madison. Or Jacks. Or Jackie. My friends, the ones who’ve known me forever, know me as Jacks. Your second question confuses me. Of course I’m not fictional. I do love to read about fictional heroes. I kinda wish I was one of them. At least the stakes wouldn’t be real then. Maybe, one day, I’ll be considered historical. You know…I kinda like that…

When and where is your story set? When? Now. Duh. I don’t have a time machine. Those aren’t real too, right? I mean, I just found out that having powers and monsters are real, so maybe? Anyway, my story is mostly set in my…um…friend…Kyp’s estate. Or, his mother’s Estate. Where she trains all of the people with powers like mine.

What should we know about you? Well, I guess the big one is that I’m a Key. Keys are humans with supernatural abilities. For one, my blood closes rifts between dimensions, and it also gives me some strengths that make it easier to battle the creatures that climb out through those dimensional rifts. And damn those things are ugly, creepy things…that want to eat you…Anyway, every Key gets their own set of talents. Mine are related to my body – and before you get gross and I have to club you over the head with a big stick, I mean super strength, super senses, super speed. Stuff like that.  Anyway, I came to the Estate with my Mom, my brother Morgan, and my sister Gana. They’re Guardians. While Keys have multiple powers, Guardians get singular powers to master.

It’s nice that I’m here with my family. Even if they are probably some of the very few people I trust in this place.

What is screwing up your life? Well, at first I was really excited to be the long lost member of The Order of the Key. First, I get to be a superhero, which I kinda always wished I could do. Second, I get to learn more about my father who died when I was young. And third, I get to spend more time with Kyp, the guy who found me, who happens to be pretty adorable, if not a bit of an arrogant know-it-all.

My problems, however, began when I realized that Kyp’s mother, Lavinia, the leader of The Order, has some upsetting views. Interesting fact: Keys can’t die unless a ritual is performed over them. Guardians can die like any other human being. So why does Lavinia use the Guardians to protect the Keys? My family is not expendable. And why is The Order run like a scary dictatorship? The minute I started to realize something is screwy, Kyp told me why he really wanted to find me – to recruit me for his mission. You see, Kyp is planning a little coup…one that will get me stuck in the middle of a family feud complete with subterfuge, stand offs, and murder.

What is your goal? At first, I just wanted to be a hero. Now I just want to stop Lavinia and keep the people I love alive.

What is the title of your book? I suppose The Order of the Key would be a good title.

So, when will the book be published? When will you get to hear my story? Unsure. The Order of the Key is currently making the agent rounds. The rest depends on when someone picks it up as an agent and when someone picks it up as a publisher. I’m gonna say when, not if, because it just feels better, self-esteem wise.

*****

And now, I will tag the following authors, who will be participating on their blogs on Monday, September 15th.

First up – Scarlett! You may remember her from when I guest blogged on her site recently.

Scarlett Van DijkScarlett Van Dijk was born in 1993 in Geelong, Victoria, before soon moving to South Australia. Her love of writing grew during her time at Wilderness  School, with her first novel, Sky Stone, begun at the age of fifteen. After graduating high school, Scarlett entered the University of South Australia studying the Bachelor of Medical Radiations (Medical Imaging) and will complete the degree this year (2014). While editing Sky Stone, Scarlett began writing the second book in the Sky Stone series, titled Guardian Core. Scarlett’s love for creative writing is accompanied by an interest in martial arts, reading, and desktop publishing. Learn more about Scarlett and her writing at www.scarlettvandijk.com.

Second, meet Kay Kauffman, she’ll introduce herself below. You can find her at her blog at suddenlytheyalldied.com. 

Kay Kauffman PicAs a girl, I dreamed of being swept off my feet by my one true love.  And at the age of 24, it finally happened…and he’s never let me forget it.  A mild-mannered secretary by day and a determined word-wrangler by night, I battle the twin evils of distraction and procrastination in order to write fantastical tales of wuv…twue wuv…with a few bad haiku thrown in for good measure.

I’ve been spinning yarns for more years than I care to admit and I’ve got the calluses and paper cuts to prove it.  My first novel, The Lokana Chronicles, is currently undergoing a major rewrite in advance of another round of queries.

I reside in the midst of an Iowa corn field with my hopelessly devoted husband and his mighty red pen; four crazy, cute kids; and an assortment of adorable kitties, chicks, and bunnies.

Third, meet the writer I once shared a writer’s workshop with, an author who can give a well-balanced critique, Ms. Kimberly A. McKenzie.Head Shot

Kimberly A. McKenzie was born in 1970 on Williams Air Force base in Arizona to Robert Klemm and Casandra McKenzie. She is single, divorced, and without any children of her own. Her decision to write under a pen name is due to the respect and love she has for her mother. The passion for writing has been with her life-long and she has been employed in the technical writing field across industries for ten years. Starting in poetry in her early twenties, Kimberly has written and published short stories and poems and two books and she believes that writing comes from life, those we know, and the ever-changing possibilities of the fiction writer’s imagination.

And last, but certainly not least, meet Julaina Kleist-Corwin.Julaina AA

Julaina Kleist-Corwin is editor for her anthology, Written Across the GenresShe teaches creative writing for the City of Dublin, California. She has won several first place awards in short story contests. Her work has been published in The California Writers Club Literary Review and Harlequin’s 2012 and 2013 Christmas anthologies and other collections. You can find her at her blog at www.timetowritenow.com, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JulainaC, or on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/jkleistc.

Each of them will be posting their own post in the blog hop on Monday, the 15th. Be sure to go visit them then!

 

Spring Into These Writing Links!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted something brand new that hasn’t been a rehash or a blog hop, but I’ve been a happily busy girl.  Between two publication notifications last month, the release of Volume 3 of Sucker Literary, entering contests and revising my novel, there has been a whole lot going on.

For today, here’s another link collection entry, complete with some that are very personal to my work.

– If you haven’t already, please check out my flash fiction, “Tunneling”.

– Sucker Literary, Volume 3 is out now!  For where to buy and behind the scenes info, check out Sucker’s website!

– I’ve decided to share my playlists for the books I’m working on with you.  So, here is The Order of The Key Playlist.  Feel free to check it out.  Some are songs whose messages inspire, some are perfect for the characters, some inspired random story ideas for no real reasons.  Some contain similar themes.  All are songs I listen to while brainstorming.  Enjoy.

– While we’re doing playlists, here are the playlists I’ve created for my other works in progress:
The Broken Hearts Club
Soul Sight
Legally Insane

This blog post, written by badass YA writer and my friend, Zoraida Cordova, discusses diversity in YA literature and is both funny and incredibly wise. My family, my dearest friends, are pretty much every color, culture, and  sexual orientation that exists.  It is very sad to watch someone celebrate wholeheartedly because they actually got some representation in literature.  This should be routine, not shocking.

– This is a great list of what makes your short story fail with a lit mag.

– This is a great little set of tips for how to co-author a book series. Ismael and I had plans to try something like this at some point in our careers (although that may have fallen by the wayside), so I’ve done some research into the process and this is an interesting view of it.  It also doesn’t hurt that it involves my favorite author, Kelley Armstrong, and her sometimes writing partner Melissa Marr.

– Though I’m not always a gigantic fan of Cassandra Clare (I have a love/hate relationship with her, for sure), this is a fantastic (if maybe a little overly-defensive) response to a constant internal debate I have – how much should your personal beliefs get in the way of your ability to draft real, compelling characters and plotlines. I think Cassandra comes up with a great explanation of this here, although it may be difficult to really understand if you have never read either of her Shadowhunter series’.

– Avoiding Twitter?  Here are some great things you can do with Twitter as a writer. And here’s part two of that article with more great ideas.

We’ve all heard plenty of writing advice.  Here’s why some of the old favorite bits of advice aren’t really that great.

– This is a great blog post on the best ways to classify your story when searching for agents and publishers.

I think that little collection of links redeems me for my absence, what do you think?  Don’t forget to come back at the end of the month, so I can elevator pitch my novels to you.  See you then!

Today is the day!

Sucker Literary Volume 3 will be released today!  The Sucker staff has worked very hard to produce a great volume of young adult short fiction for you readers and we’re all very excited for you to see what we’ve gathered.  There are several extremely talented writers on display here, so go ahead and purchase a copy.  You’ll love it!  See the official cover, book blurb, and book trailer below.

Here on our Goodreads link, you can find a place to purchase in your preferred format, which includes both print and digital options.

Image

Bullied and alone, Ainsley seeks refuge in the arms of a strange boy. Time is slipping away for overachieving Sadie Lin, but reigniting an old flame might help. Scarred by a pressuring ex, Alexandra finally faces the rain. “Pasty and chubby” Charlotte makes a public play for the “Tan and Smooth” king. The beautiful girl in the black, lacy push-up bra says that it’s time for Brenn to stop lying . . . at least to herself. A halfway house is no home for Dawn—or is it? How will Dana survive knowing everyone at school thinks she’s a monster, when they just may be right? JJ and her crush finally get a moment alone—at his girlfriend’s hottest party of the year. Sixteen-year old Sarah prepares for her first day of school by chaining up her Mamí in her bedroom. Alyssa’s life is a well-rehearsed ballet until a tragedy sends her hurtling towards a fall. Loving a boy is as simple as chemistry . . . unless that boy is an unstable element.

Eleven stories that delve into the depths of our experience—driven by fierce and untouched love that makes us seek, lose, fear, desire, long, reflect, survive, steal, protect, fall, and confess.

 

 

Check out the book trailer!

Get your copy today!

 

Sucker Literary Blog Hop!

ImageHi all!  Welcome to the next leg of Sucker Literary’s Blog Hop, being held in honor of the release of Volume 3 of Sucker Literary available tomorrow!  Image

I was tagged in this hop by the lovely Kacey Vanderkarr.  Kacey is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. Kacey is the president of the Flint Area Writers and the Social Media Director for Sucker Literary. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard, and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, and crazy cats. Reflection Pond is available in paperback and digital for Kindle and Nook. Antithesis and First Shift are available from Inkspell Publishing. “How to Fall”, a short story, will appear in the volume of Sucker Literary that we are here to promote.

You can follow Kacey at any of the links below: Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

As part of the blog hop, each of us are answering some questions on our current works in progress, while also telling you about the next three writers to post in the hop, and giving you a bit of information on what you can expect from them soon.  Please find my answers below, and please stay tuned to learn about the three awesome YA writers posting on their blogs next week!

1) What am I working on?

I never work on just one thing at a time, but my primary focus at the moment is my rewrite of The Order of the Key.  Order or OK as I like to call it in my notes to myself and my hubby/beta reader, is Book 1 of my Paranormal Romance Urban Fantasy series, Keys & Guardians.

The book begins when Jacklyn discovers that she is the long lost member of The Order of the Key, a group that hunts interdimensional creatures.  As she is trained by them, she becomes the prime weapon in a war between the group’s brutal leader, Lavinia, and her idealistic son, Kyp.

2) How does my work differ from other works in its genre?

Irreverence and reverence.  Jacklyn is a pop culture lover and she both mocks and loves the other heroes of her genre.  The story attempts to break genre walls and just be a good tale of a physically strong female character and her somewhat emotionally stunted male lead.  And by emotionally stunted, I don’t mean that he can’t say he loves her.  I mean that he’s a little crazy, a complete emotional mess.  In that way, the major flaws in the leads don’t show up often in leads.  Jacklyn, while staunchly independent and a physical powerhouse, is brash, prideful and green enough to cause a good majority of her own problems.  These are not your perfect super heroes – which would be the point.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because I have to? It’s not so much a choice as a compulsion.  I used to avoid writing anything with a romantic slant at all – they always felt cheesy to me.  The truth is, I’m a romantic at heart, but I knew how other people saw those types of story and so I didn’t feel like a “Serious Writer”™ if I was writing romance.  But I never ended up having much interest in writing stories without at least a thread of romance in it.  But that isn’t to say I only stick to one genre.  My romances play themselves out with backdrops of interdimensional monsters, imaginary friends and real world tragedy.  So romance is really the only common thread in my stories. Other than that, I use whatever genre best serves the purpose of the story.

4) How does my writing process work?

Ain’t that a can of worms?  Well, at any given time I’m shopping out a story, revising another, writing another, and outlining another.  So there’s much juggling.  But if we’re talking about a story from conception to submission?  My stories usually start as the germ of an idea for a theme or a character that comes to me unbidden at some random time (9 times out of ten, while I’m washing dishes or taking a shower).  After I write down that germ of an idea, I begin to brainstorm to find what kind of stories and plots will best serve that seed of an idea.  With copious amounts of music playing in the background, I then begin to build on those scraps in the form of an outline.  Even when I start writing, I continue brainstorming – if I come up with a new idea that would need to be mentioned earlier, I write in and make it cleaner in the rewrite.  Long pieces and short pieces differ here.  Short pieces go off to my beta reader/hubby immediately.  Longer pieces go to him chapter by chapter, so at times I am making corrections or edits in one chapter as I work on writing a future one.  I make all edits that I agree with and reread.  Most times, I end up with a full rewrite necessary.  Others, I end up simple needing to tweak (rare!).  Then, it’s time to tap some outside readers to look it over.  Based on that I make another round of changes – hopefully not a ton because that will likely require another rewrite.  And then, I start submitting it to places – usually around the time I start feeling like I’ll throw up if I read it again.  And then, once it’s gone, I usually end up finding more things to fix, which becomes the “If I get rejected…” silver lining.  And that is certainly the nature of the writing beast, isn’t it?

And now, check out the bloggers posting next week!  You’ll want to hear what they have to say!  

1Image) Kip Wilson has a Ph.D. in German Literature and a passion for books, languages, and travel. She lives in Boston with her cute Spanish husband and mischievous twins, and is hard at work on several projects for young adults. She blogs at http://www.kipwilsonwrites.com and tweets at https://twitter.com/kiperoo.

 

Image2) Sonja Thomas, a recovering CPA, is a writer for children of all ages. Raised in Central Florida and transplanted to DC for 11 years, she now calls Portland, OR home. To stay sane she dances, doodles and plays with furry, four-legged friends. Her young adult short story ‘Mirror Image’ will appear this summer in the UK anthology ‘Dark Heart’ Volume 2. Visit her blog at http://www.bysonjathomas.com/.

 

And, finally,

3) ChristinaMercer, author of Award-Winning Tween/Teen FantasyARROW OF THE MISTand its sequel ARMS OF ANU, writes fiction for children and young adults. She was a Semi-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, took Writer’s Best of Show at the SCBWI California North/Central Regional Conference, and won an Honorable Mention in the 21st Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Christina enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing visit www.christinamercer.com

Don’t forget to check out all of the above listed blogs next monday, and purchase Sucker Literary Volume 3, on sale tomorrow!

 

Sucker Literary Volume 3 Cover Reveal

This month Sucker Literary is taking over Pieces of the Puzzle!  Today, with an awesome cover reveal and at the end of the month, I’ll be taking part in a blog hop to promote it!  For those of you who don’t know, I was a member of the staff that worked on Volume 3 of Sucker Literary.  I am very proud to have had a role in this anthology; it has come together beautifully!  So check out the below information and be ready to buy up Sucker Literary Volume 3, available on April 15th.  

You can find the book trailer here!

Image

Bullied and alone, Ainsley seeks refuge in the arms of a strange boy. Time is slipping away for overachieving Sadie Lin, but reigniting an old flame might help.  Scarred by a pressuring ex, Alexandra finally faces the rain. “Pasty and chubby” Charlotte makes a public play for the “Tan and Smooth” king. The beautiful girl in the black, lacy push-up bra says that it’s time for Brenn to stop lying . . . at least to herself. A halfway house is no home for Dawn—or is it? How will Dana survive knowing everyone at school thinks she’s a monster, when they just may be right? JJ and her crush finally get a moment alone—at his girlfriend’s hottest party of the year. Sixteen-year old Sarah prepares for her first day of school by chaining up her Mamí in her bedroom. Alyssa’s life is a well-rehearsed ballet until a tragedy sends her hurtling towards a fall. Loving a boy is as simple as chemistry . . . unless that boy is an unstable element. Eleven stories that delve into the depths of our experience—driven by fierce and untouched love that makes us seek, lose, fear, desire, long, reflect, survive, steal, protect, fall, and confess.

Founding Editor: Hannah R. Goodman

Contributors:

The H8TE Lilliam Rivera

Valentine’s Day Claudia Classon

Halfway From Shelli Cornelison

Her Tree Boy Blaze Lina Branter

How To Fall Kacey Vanderkarr

If it Rains Kristina Wojtaszek

Black Lacy Kimberly Kreines

Superpower Mary Malhotra

The Chemistry of You and Me Evelyn Ehrlich

Just a Matter of Time Charity Tahmaseb

A Different Kind of Cute Hannah R. Goodman

Sucker Literary is a platform for established and emerging, hugely intelligent writers who have the grit and talent to create compelling, authentic young adult literature that both adults and teens can enjoy. We are a literary enterprise dedicated to showcasing and promoting undiscovered and established writers who write for young adults (this is not to be mistaken for young adult writers). We are not affiliated with any writer’s organization or program and welcome writers at any stage of their writing career/ journey.

www.suckerliterary.com

Twitter: @suckerlitmag

Sucker Literary Volume 3

Available April 15, 2014

Add it on Goodreads!

Marching On

Hi all!  This past month has involved a crazy string of rewrites and attempts to compile the complete submission packet I will be using for The Order of the Key.  I am hoping to start shopping it out to agents by June, so the next few months I’m going to be in prep mode.  That doesn’t mean you won’t continue to get regular offerings from me, just that they might be more revision and promotion related than anything else.  Or, that they might be collections of links like this one! Check out these great links, some of which are connected to me in some way, and some are here because I thought you might find them interesting.  Enjoy!

– Check out my review for Shards & Ashes, a collection of YA dystopian short stories, at G-Pop.net.

– I recently reconnected with an old high school friend who is also a fantasy writer, and the two of us have been trading emails, discussing all of the aspects of storytelling.  We’ve had a blast doing it, and hit upon a funny discovery – our blogs are like siblings. So, if you like my blog style, check out Louis Santiago’s blog here.

– I always say that writing has made me a weirdo.  Apparently, I am not alone in these thoughts.  Check out K.M. Weiland’s guest post at The Master’s Artist.

– Check out this great collection of 7 big whoppers writers make in their manuscript and read it before you begin any round of edits.  It will help you catch some oopsies.

– And here are some more mistakes that will help you come revision time, from the same blog.

– Not only is this article completely hilarious, but it’s informative too!  Check out 14 Questions You’re Too Afraid to Ask Literary Agents.

This is a nice checklist to have if it’s agent querying time for you.

– Are you a book writing bad ass?  Here’s seven reasons why writing that book makes you awesome.

– I’ll admit, I’m bad with a semi-colon.  I never know how to use it correctly, even though I intellectually understand where it should go; it never feels right.  I tend to subscribe to Kurt Vonnegut’s view, which eschews the use of them, as mentioned in the article I’m about to refer to you, which explains how you should use them, if you’re going to do so.

– What does your character want?  What do they need?  How do these things interact with each other?  This blog post said it way better than I could have.

– This is so relevant.  Working at Sucker Literary taught me so many things, and this blog, about what you can learn working for a lit mag, lays it all out in black and white.

– Speaking of Sucker, get ready for Sucker Literary Volume 3, which will be released on various platforms on April 15th.  So keep your eyes peeled!