0

The Simple Synopsis

I’ve never heard of anyone (other than agents) who feels the way I do about a synopsis. I haven’t always felt this way. I used to think they were busywork from agents who wanted to cut down on their number of submissions. (This isn’t the case.) But I love the synopsis. If you don’t have one for your novel, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

A synopsis is an amazing device that can not only help you get an agent but aid in every stage of your book’s life. Before you write it, a synopsis can iron out your plot and ensure your pacing works. During your drafting, it can keep you on track. After the novel is polished, the synopsis shows agents you know the ins and outs of a novel.

What’s the purpose of a synopsis…

A synopsis will show agents and editors that you know how to plot and execute an effective character arc. It can showcase voice, give the clever twists, and guarantee that the agent or editor isn’t wasting their time by reading the full manuscript.

This is scary! I know. Even putting this truth out there is difficult. Putting a book out in the world in any way is difficult. But reality is that a synopsis can actually help you feel more secure about what you’re submitting, because it’s forcing you to analyze and know your plot, characters, and world well enough to prove that it’s working. If it is working, awesome! If it’s not working, it lets you fix it before you burn through your list of agents.

When to write the synopsis…

If you’re a pantster, it’s best to start your synopsis after the first draft. For you, the fun of the writing is in not knowing where things are going to go and letting the characters lead you down the path with them. And that’s fun! I’ve written like this and sometimes still do.

If you’re an outliner, it’s best to nail down your synopsis once you’ve finished the outline. For you, the synopsis is only going to tighten things and make sure your outline is succinct before proceeding. It’ll give you one more assurance you’re on the right path.

How to write the synopsis…

Always use present tense.

Use transitions to smooth over the missing stuff. (After many failed attempts…)

Leave out subplots if you possibly can.

Minimize secondary characters.

Keep it to one page, single spaced, with normal paragraph indents.

Have a header with your last name / TITLE. Add a page number to the header if you can’t manage to get it to one page.

Have Synopsis, TITLE centered at the top, then leave one space, and begin with the paragraphs.

The names of characters are in ALL CAPS the first, and only the first, time we see their name.

The most effective synopsis will showcase the plot, goals and motivations of the characters, include some voice, the theme, and tone, and of course the unique parts of your world.

For Voice, write the synopsis as if you were the main character giving a summary of the ‘high points’ to a friend you meet while waiting for a subway. You have a couple of minutes to rattle off the major events, the surprises, and the wrap up.

The tone will be dictated by the specific words you use to make the narrative feel a certain way.

As the plot and characters unfold, the theme should be self-evident by what the character’s goals and motivations are, the way the conflict and plot push them to change, and by the feeling we’re left with at the end. How has this journey made us question the world around us and/or ourselves?

The character arc should be plain. How did they change throughout the novel? What did they learn, how did their moral premise shift and allow them to overcome the villain at the climax? This will come as tidbits of perspective throughout the synopsis.

The world and it’s uniqueness should be included with minimal telling. Try and show the world as you show the forward movement of the plot. For instance, when ZinZin picks up her wand and blasts a hole right through the toe of the Headmaster’s shoe, but it fizzled before she could steal his nail to make her stew. This tells us character, plot, and world all in one.

Lastly, the plot. I’m going to use a simple five paragraph essay to showcase the easiest way to format a synopsis.

For the plot structure, see the following post:

Plot and Structure . . . Scientific Formula or Witches Brew?

And how your novel might align a little–or a lot–differently:

Plot Mash Up: The Four Act Structure, The Twelve Point Outline & the Quest

Translate the following paragraphs to what happens in your novel. They might not line up perfectly. Writing is all about smudging and manipulating, and that’s fine. Maybe you’ve taken a trope and turned it on its head. Maybe you’ve stretched the key incident out or put it sooner. So long as you have a reason, great. This is a very basic outline.

Paragraph One, The Inciting Incident and Upping of Stakes:

Introduce main character (hero/heroine), their main flaw, the enabling circumstances, the opponent. The hero as an ordinary person in this world who shows hero potential. The life-changing or inciting incident near the beginning. (by 10%) The lock in, or something terrible that ups the stakes just before Act 2.

Paragraph Two, The Key Incident and Introduction of Ally:

The MC reacts to the life-changing event and seeks out an ally or is brought out by the ally. Ally must be established with a basic modus operandi that will qualify them to be the most well-suited person to help MC out of their predicament. They make a plan, usu the MC’s not so great plan that sounds great but will ultimately fail because they think that they can remain the same and overcome their problem as they are. (We all want to be good enough now—but we aren’t.) The MC struggles to hold onto flaw or not recognize it while still trying to react to the inciting, life-changing event. The MC and ally must have a confrontation.

Paragraph Three, the Midpoint:

Your main character recognizes their main flaw. This is sometimes referred to as the the Moral Premise, where the protagonist stops working from a false moral premise and starts working from a true moral premise. In other words, they figure it out and can now work toward a realistic goal.

Paragraph Four, The Climax:

After recovering from the previous debacle, the main character now fully allies with ally and prepares for the final battle/confrontation with opponent/antagonist. Of course, the opponents are rallying as well, so the stakes are increased because there are more bad guys doing more bad stuff. By the end, it appears that failure is inevitable. We must see the resolution of the main flaw and how it allows the hero to confront the antagonist and win. Or lose if this is a cautionary tale.

Paragraph Five, The Wrap Up & New Equilibrium:

This is where we see the transformed hero in contrast to the beginning. They reach a new ‘normal’ where they probably didn’t get everything they wanted, but they have what they need and often something better. And because I’m a hopeless romantic, hopefully they get their HEA as well.

Always tell the ending.

I see a lot of synopses, and a good one can make all the difference in getting a request.  I know this isn’t easy. If you need more help, you can always contact me for more synopsis help on my editorial services page.

Best of luck to everyone!

0

SOMNIA ONLINE by K.T. Hanna…Happy Release! (Last Week)

Discover the class you were born to play.

Wren, a seasoned healer, is dismayed when Somnia Online automatically assigns her character, Murmur, to the Enchanter class. Determined to overcome the unexpected setback, she assembles her guild, intent on the coveted #1 spot. Twelve keys stand between her and victory, but finding them is only part of the puzzle.

Armed with telepathic abilities, Murmur rises to the challenge. However, old rivals have followed her to Somnia Online desperate for revenge. Intricate quest lines become more dangerous as NPCs absorb powerful artifacts, and Murmur begins to wonder just what sort of AI controls the world.

Murmur questions her sanity as the real and virtual worlds mesh together. Everyone is keeping secrets from her, even the AI, and Murmur’s determined to uncover them.

Available through Amazon

Excerpt:

A skeleton shambled to the left, its bones creaking softly as it jangled about. Straight ahead was a spider with ridiculously long legs, and off to the right was a cluster of so mething she couldn’t make out. All of the mobs she could see were yellow, probably at least level three. But if she didn’t try, she’d never know.

Feeling reckless , she cast minor suffocation and pulled the skeleton toward her. The fact that the spell manag ed to convince an undead creature it was being strangled was quite amazing. It let out a cackle and jangled over to her as she backed up, hoping to let a third tick hit before it reached her. This time her spell was hitting for five and four. A slight incr ease was at least something. The skeleton flailed a wooden staff in the air and Murmur hoped against hope her hit points would outlast it.

Then it was upon her, three ticks of her Damage Over Time down. The thing was tall and gangly and she realized these skeletons had to be locus , too. Even its empty sockets glowed, like some type of magic possessed it. Considering it was a walking skeleton, that probably wasn’t far from the truth. It swung at her, and barely missed when she managed to dodge. She could fee l the heaviness of her body, and the unwillingness with which it made the movement. That was probably her one dodge for the next twenty. She’d better make it count.

Killing a skeleton was far more difficult than a beetle. For one thing, it was already bloo dy dead. That blasted staff hurt too, though not as much as the pincer claws had. It made Murmur wonder if locus could bruise. Finally, after what seemed like an age, she managed to hack its skull off. She leaned forward and looted the mob. It had twelve c opper on it. Maybe skeletons were a good idea for a while with or without her quest. Not only that, the staff it had been wielding was hers as well.

“Score,” she muttered to herself, aware she was probably grinning like a loon. Sure, her staff skills were n’t up to par but she was sure it wouldn’t take too long. It’s not like melee did most of her damage or anything.

 

Author Bio:

K.T. Hanna

KT Hanna has such a love for words, a single one can spark entire worlds.
Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically designed to kill you.
KT creates science-fiction, fantasy, and LitRPG like it’s going out of style, with a dash of horror for fun! She freelance edits for Chimera Editing, plays computer games, and chases her daughter, husband, corgis, cats, and snake.

No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, Chipotle, and sarcasm.

K.T. can be found in the following places:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Patreon
Amazon

1

Plot Mash Up: The Four Act Structure, The Twelve Point Outline & the Quest

During a discussion with a client, I decided to take a stand and say something that might be unpopular.

Do not use a screenplay formula to write a novel unless you account for the difference in medium.

While the general plot points of a screenplay are extremely useful, the page numbers and pacing of a movie are inherently different than a novel.

0

The Modern Query Letter

The publishing industry shifts and changes constantly. What worked for a query letter even ten years ago isn’t what agents currently prefer. I’ve hosted many query webinars, worked with hundreds of agents, and there’s a standard method for queries in the industry today that gets the most important information to the agent first.

It’s simple, clean, and requires you to be a minimalist.

They don’t want to scroll the email down. The following is a conglomeration of what I’ve learned over the years.

I’ll try to keep this updated as things change. There are still a few agents out there who might want a different format. You can easily research them and see at the following haunts…

Publisher’s Marketplace | Manuscript Wishlist | Twitter Lists like this one… | Writer’s Digest New Agent Alerts

 

GENERAL ADVICE…

Send what’s asked for and only what’s asked for. Only the number of pages, only the first pages, a synopsis if they ask for it, not your favorite chapter, etc.

Send to the query email. Do not use the agent’s business or contact email unless it’s the incredibly rare occasion that they are the same. But make sure.

Use at least a medium size font in the email. If snail mail, 12 pt, Times New Roman. Business letter format. The last thing they need is to go blind.

You don’t have to tell them what their submission requirements are. (i.e. As per your submission requirements, I’ve included the first ten pages below.) They know and will assume you followed their instructions.

Do not ever send cc’d or bcc’d emails to agents. They have filters that will bounce you into their spam.

Keep the word count as low as possible. 300 words max.

 

THE SUBJECT LINE…

Most agencies will have a specific format for the subject line. Follow it.

If there isn’t one, put in, “Query MANUSCRIPT TITLE”

EXAMPLE:

Query BEST BOOK EVER

If you don’t follow the guidelines they’ve set up, they most likely have filters that will send your email to spam. Just like they have filters that send your email to their inbox if they include the word ‘Query.’ And spell it right. Just double check. We’re human.

 

ADDRESS THE AGENT…

Use ‘Dear’ and their name. Keep it simple. Their eyes will skip over this quickly if it’s the correct spelling, and they’ll be glad you didn’t try anything fancy.

If you misspell their name, it’ll most likely be a pass.

If you don’t know their name, you shouldn’t be querying them. NEVER put any general address, such as ‘To Whom it May Concern,’ or ‘Dear Agent.’

If they introduce themselves on their website as Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. then use this when querying. Otherwise, first name is usually best. Use their first name or last name. If using the last name, use Mr., Ms. for women unless you are sure they’re married, and be sensitive of agents who identify with the gender pronoun ‘they.’

EXAMPLE:
Dear Heather,

 

PERSONALIZE AND INTRODUCE YOUR BOOK…

This is the title paragraph. The first sentence (or two if you have space) should contain why you’re querying this agent. Something as personal as possible without being creepy. Do not be proud of stalking them. Agents know it happens, but be sensitive to their personal space and be professional. This sentence is quite possibly the beginning of a lifelong, professional relationship. Don’t bullshit your way there.

Some good examples to use are:
~ they represent an author your work is similar to
~ they represent a novel close enough, yet varied enough, to your novel
~ they requested your work at a conference or workshop or webinar (In this case, there is usually also something they’ve asked you to include in the subject line of the email. Don’t forget these. They’ll lift you out of the slush.)

If you have had personal contact with the agent, it’s good to mention it.

When discussing your book, don’t say you hope or you might. Be confident. I think you’ll like…

The second part of this paragraph should be your book, the title in all caps, the genre, age category, word count.

EXAMPLE:
Thank you for the wonderful class you gave for us at Random Writing Event. While my manuscript isn’t straight from  your wishlist, it does include some fringe sci-fi I think you’ll enjoy. BEST BOOK TITLE EVER is a(n) Age Category Genre, complete at ??,000 words.

Caveat…if your word count is very high, don’t include it. (But they might know…)

 

THE HOOK…

There’s an option here to set apart a hook or tagline, strapline, endline, whatever you want to call it. If you have a great one you think will catch agents’ attention, let it stand out as its own paragraph here. Use caution doing this. If the tagline is outstanding, sometimes it’ll get an agent to just skip down to the pages and start to read. This could also be the last sentence of the title paragraph, especially if you’re short on space or you know the agent doesn’t want to scroll the email down.

EXAMPLE:

Best friends make the deadliest enemies.

Winning will make you famous. Losing will earn you certain death. (Hunger Games)

Some people have started using comparable titles here instead. If you do decide to use comps, make sure you’re being specific and realistic. The comps should be recent, published within the last two years. They should add clarity to a comparable setting, style, or fan base.

 

INTRODUCE THE MAIN CHARACTER AND INCITING INCIDENT…

Make sure this section is from the MC’s perspective. Don’t talk about what their father or sister or best friend did that made them this way. Keep it centered on the MC. If this is a middle grade or young adult query, it’s helpful to state their age. Not an absolute though. Nothing in writing ever is.

Tell us about the main character’s unique yet normal-for-them daily life. DO NOT include backstory. Then give us the inciting incident and how the balance is upset. (They’ll try to maintain the status quo but will be unable, which will have a domino effect as they try to rectify their life and only make things snowball to the key incident.)

THE KEY INCIDENT THAT FORCES THE HERO TO MAKE A CHOICE, WITH STAKES EITHER WAY…

This paragraph should mention some of the dominoes that fall as a result of the inciting incident, but not more than a sentence here. What we need is the thing that happens that sends the hero on their journey, and what is going to happen if they decide not to go–stakes!

If your novel is a dual POV, you can make the second paragraph from the other main character’s perspective, so the query shifts in the same way the novel does. This would be a second paragraph that would introduce the second MC and their inciting incident, then wrap up with a third paragraph that brings the two story lines together. Or you can just have a brief intro of MC number two and then a weaving of the story lines to get the stakes for everyone.

For some examples of these paragraphs, see my post here. It says it’s about pitches, because that’s what your query is. Just take the pitch and add relevant details until you reach your word count. Not the other way around.

 

YOUR BIOGRAPHICAL PARAGRAPH…

If you don’t have anything writing related to share, agents will tell you over and over to just skip this part.

If you’re part of a writing group, if you have education that influences your work, if your day job informs your writing, then include it.

Most agents will indulge your for one sentence, but if you include information not relevant over one sentence, you’re risking rejection. This is a professional, business letter. If you were sending a proposal to a bank asking for a loan to start a new business, would you discuss your puppy and your nice home in the hills of Montana where you raise chickens? I hope not.

Every word you make them read that’s not vital to your story or specific to a writing career is another word that keeps them from your sample pages.

And if they like those sample pages, they’re going to use your links that you’ve provided in the signature to turn the tables and check you out. They’ll find out from your website or Twitter or Facebook links that you love to weave bracelets and are obsessive about retweeting cat pictures.

MY OWN EXAMPLE…

I’m currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing and manage queries for Secret Agent at The Best Agency. For three years I was Managing Director of Pitch Wars and #PitMad. Previously an editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, US, I now freelance edit. I have a BS in Biochemistry, am a member of SCBWI, and teach regularly at writing conferences as well as attend them to continue improving my craft.

 

NOW PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, ADD YOUR INFORMATION, AND END GRACIOUSLY…

Dear Heather,

Thank you for the wonderful class you gave for us at Random Writing Event. While my manuscript isn’t straight from  your wishlist, it does include some fringe sci-fi I think you’ll enjoy. BEST BOOK TITLE EVER is a(n) Age Category Genre, complete at ??,000 words.

Maxwell Jarvis,works at a children’s hospital and does research in his spare time. He’s hoping to cure all disease with his revolutionary formula. He’s sabotaged by the pharmaceutical company who makes their billions from the sick kids.

What nobody else knows…Max is dying, too. Unless he stops them and finishes his work within the week, his funding will run out, and the living producers of his cures will die–only weeks before himself.

I’m the Managing Director of Pitch Wars, Pitch Madness, and #PitMad. Previously an editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, US, I now freelance edit and intern for Secret Agent at The Amazing Agency. I have a BS in Biochemistry, am a member of SCBWI, and teach regularly at writing conferences as well as attend them to continue improving my craft.

Thank you for taking the time to read!

Heather

Heather Cashman
@HeatherCashman
www.heathercashman.com
heathercashman@email.com
add your phone number

 

Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Happy querying!

0

ASSASSIN OF TRUTHS by Brenda Drake…Happy Release Day and Giveaway!

Assassins of Truth_500

Assassin of Truths (Library Jumper’s #3)
By Brenda Drake
Published by: Entangled Teen
Publication date: February 6th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance

The gateways linking the great libraries of the world don’t require a library card, but they do harbor incredible dangers.

And it’s not your normal bump-in-the- night kind. The threats Gia Kearns faces are the kind with sharp teeth and knifelike claws. The kind that include an evil wizard hell-bent on taking her down.

Gia can end his devious plan, but only if she recovers seven keys hidden throughout the world’s most beautiful libraries. And then figures out exactly what to do with them.

The last thing she needs is a distraction in the form of falling in love. But when an impossible evil is unleashed, love might be the only thing left to help Gia save the world.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

I didn’t want to kill the girl, so I hesitated to throw another globe at her. Squaring my shoulders, I got ready for her attack. When the girl got close enough, I threw a kick to her gut and slammed my fist against her jaw. She stumbled back against the frozen railing. It broke free, and she fell over the side, landing on a table below. Her body was half on and half off the table, her neck bent at an odd angle and the bones underneath pushed against her skin.

Is she dead?

A shimmery light left the girl’s body and flew to me, smacking my chest. I took a step back, expecting to turn into a human Popsicle, but nothing happened, only a chill that rushed across my skin and quickly ended.

“You killed her,” Veronique yelled as she stepped up on a chair and onto a table. She charged the length of it, heading for me.

I dropped to my knees and flipped through the pages of the gateway book. My heart galloped like a thousand racehorses on steroids. I needed to escape.

Where do I go? I can’t lead her to the others. I stopped on the photograph of the Boston Athenæum. Home? To Nana. Afton. No. Veronique knew where Nana Kearns lived. I couldn’t risk going there. I tossed over more pages.

Just then, Veronique pulled herself up onto the balcony and let loose another fire globe. The flames licked the air and smoke trailed it like a comet. The fire grazed my cheek, pulling a sharp gasp from my chest.

Her breaths were loud—panting. The sound of a siren drew nearer. We’d have company soon.

A feral look on her face, Veronique plucked a dagger from her shoulder sheath. A velvet bag, weighed down by something heavy inside, was tied around her waist.

The other Chiavi? I had to get them. I grasped the strap of my messenger bag.

“You can’t win, Gia. You’re weak. Unskilled. A sniveling child.”

“I beat your ass, and I took care of your friends.” Meaning the three Sentinels lying dead on the floor below us. I forced my eyes to stay on hers, acting brave, though their deaths were like an overweight barbell on my conscience.

Her step forward caused me to step back. “That was dumb luck,” she said. “This will take skill.”

She ran for me. I drew my sword and swung at her. She ducked, the blade barely missing her. Before I could get another swing in, she tackled me, our bodies smacking into the bookcase, my sword knocked from my hand.

A satisfied look crossed Veronique’s face right before she stabbed my upper arm with her dagger, her blade cutting across my cheek. A horrified scream rattled my throat. My knees buckled and thudded against the floor.

“Shit!” The pain shocked me. I wanted to roll into a ball on the floor, to have this end.

She’s going to kill me. I’m going to die.

Fear gripped me.

Then anger.

Fight, Gia! The voice in my head was strong and forceful. It pushed me. Pushed me to my feet.

Pushed me to take action.

About Brenda Drake…

Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

AssasinsofTruthDate

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1

Pitch Wars 2017 Blog Hop–Wishlist for McKelle George and Me, co-mentors!

Mentors:

Heather Cashman and McKelle George

McKelle: So, I was never a Pitch Wars mentee, but I did enter my book (now about to debut with HarperCollins) in one of the Pitch Madness contests, and it was the rush of attention from agents during that time that ultimately got me my agent now. I love the community of Pitch Wars, the hustle of so many hopefuls working hard on their craft. I love the way it really does feel a little like putting on armor and chest-bumping each other before going into the fray.

Heather: I was never a Pitch Wars mentee either. I did enter one year, was rejected and didn’t hear a peep from any of the mentors. I didn’t immerse myself in the community at all, because back then, I didn’t have Twitter. Determined to find out why I wasn’t chosen or why my queries weren’t getting full requests, I applied for a few jobs in the publishing community. Over the years, I became Managing Director of Pitch Wars, ended up becoming an agent intern, and finally an editor with Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. I fell in love with editing and Pitch Wars. I’ve seen and helped mentees get agented, get book deals, find amazing CPs, and felt the support and encouragement of literally thousands of Pitch Wars contestants. I love you guys!

Today we are truly honored to be able to participate as co-mentors this year, and so, without further ado—

The real reason you’re here (ie, not to hear us blather):

CATEGORY

YA

yay

(Ha ha, get it? Because yaay is like a YA sandwich?)

GENRES (basic)

  • contemporary
  • magical realism (think A.S. King and Andrew Smith more than Leslye Walton)
  • historical
  • high concept/speculative*

[*Speculative, IF high concept (examples: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Every Day by David Levithan, The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich, The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness) –> in other words, portal or magic fantasy will be harder sell, but we do like books that seem to defy genre because they’re based on one “what if?”-type idea.]

GENRES (more specific)

  • LGBT
  • Alternate history/history with a modern spin (example: My Lady Jane; And I Darken)
  • Unconventional love stories
  • Diversity (I’m particularly interested in characters who struggle with dualities of nature and/or culture; characters who straddle two different worlds)
  • Villain origin stories
  • Faith/religion
  • Gothic in the vein of Penny Dreadful or Crimson Peak

 THINGS WE LIKE

Semi-recent contemporary books we’ve loved:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
  • You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Garber
  • Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
  • Rainbow Rowell books

Warning: We do love contemporary books, but I (McKelle) been subbed a lot of them recently, so we’re really looking for something gritty, real, fearless, and unapologetic about its story.

If you’re an artist WE WOULD LOVE to see ways we can integrate your art with your manuscript.

Magical realism books we love:

  • Anything by A.S. King
  • The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
  • Whimsical and family-centered books, like Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman
  • Magical realism/mental illness blends: like Andrew Smith, or Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes, or Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Again, if you’re an artist WE WOULD LOVE to see ways we can integrate your art with your manuscript.

Historical books we love (including alternate history!):

  • Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier
  • Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  • Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • And I Darken/Now I Rise by Kiersten White
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Sidebar: (McKelle) I’m feeling the history right now, guys. My own debut is set in the 1920s. If you have a historical novel, I AM A REALLY GOOD BET. Bonus if it has: gangsters, LGBT characters, girls who misbehave and make history.

anyway.jpg

SPECULATIVE/HIGH CONCEPT

We don’t want to mislead those with high fantasy books, but there are a lot of unique, rich, political, awesome books we wouldn’t want to miss out on by banning the genre. So!

Here’s an idea of what we do like:

Fantasy and sci-fi books/trilogies we’ve recently enjoyed (things they have in common: a bit darker, complex and mature in plot, not overly romance-heavy, unique brand of “magic”):

  • The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Raven Cycle and Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Seriously, write me the YA version of this book, and I’m sold.)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
  • Any books by Victoria Scwab
  • The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

Fantasy and sci-fi books/trilogies that we can completely understand why people love, and are totally great books, but we tried and just really not to our taste so if your book is more along this vein, we might not be the best bet:

  • The Red Queen,  by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Throne of Glass,  by Sarah J. Maas
  • Snow Like Ashes,  by Sara Raasch
  • City of Bones,  by Cassandra Clare
  • Cinder,  by Marissa Meyer
  • The Selection, by Kiera Cass

EXCEPTIONS

Do you have a sci-fi/fantasy/horror book that you think I would just love [for example: (Heather really loves Maas’s books, so we STILL might be a good choice after all, never say never], even though we’re not strictly looking for that genre? Can you submit them to me anyway?

Yes!

Like we said, what we’d really love to find is something that no one has ever done before, so please send to us!

 

CURRENT NON-BOOK OBSESSIONS THAT SPEAK TO MCKELLE’S TASTE:

Hamilton (the musical)

Peaky Blinders

Poldark

Saga (the comic series)

Monstress (graphic novel)

THINGS THAT HEATHER LIKES TO REVISIT:

Dragon Song, Dragon Singer, Dragon Drums by Anne McCaffery
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Jane Austen’s Complete Works
Yes, I’m a classics junkie.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Harry Potter Series, books 1-6. I’ve never re-read 7.
The New Testament 

Whew. And now, if you still think you have a book that would mesh well with our tastes and specialties, a little about us:

PROFESSIONALLY

McKelle: I was formally an acquisitions editor with Jolly Fish Press, a small press publishing house, and now work as a contract editor with Flux Publishing. Some of my recent titles and projects include: JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert, SEEKING MANSFIELD by Kate Watson, WELCOME HOME, an anthology curated by Eric Smith, and NOTHING BUT SKY by Amy Trueblood. I also have experience working as an assistant at A+B Literary Agency, and an editorial intern at the Friend, a children’s magazine.

I’m a young adult author, and my debut, SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE, comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Sept. 19, 2017—it’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, set in Prohibition-era New York. I’m represented by Katie Grimm, of Don Congdon Associates.

10658601_10152447544131048_8739454300765989034_o

Heather: I’m Managing Director of Pitch Madness, Pitch Wars, and #PitMad (and occasionally #PitMatch). I was an editor with Cornerstones Literary Consultancy as well as a Pitch Wars Mentor for two years. I’ve helped agented authors prepare manuscripts for submission, as well as helped unagented authors land agents.

heather

PERSONALLY

McKelle: I live in downtown Salt Lake City with a huge white German Shepherd. If I’m not editing or writing, I’m working at the Salt Lake City Public Library, which I humbly consider one of the best libraries in the world.

I love the theater (even though I have no talent for it myself), and traveling. I have two other talents besides books, and those are: eating, and doodling. I got my associates in Illustration, and if I hadn’t become a writer, I would have been an illustrator, with a focus on character design and graphic novel work. I’m definitely out of practice, but I still love it. (Do mentees get a drawing of their mc? Why yes, even if they don’t want it.)

Heather: In my spare time I love marathon TV, kayaking, bicycling, and cooking. And eating. I love to eat good and interesting and new types of food. Especially if it’s a recipe by Paul Hollywood.

EDITING STYLE

We’re thorough—in addition to two eyes and opinions on your ms, you will get an edit letter, a phone call (if you want one), in-document comments, and then probably line edits—and occasionally we will suggest things that might fix the problem areas we see, but we like hearing your solutions even more. We like a good brainstorming session. If we choose your manuscript, we guarantee there was something about it we couldn’t pass up. We will celebrate and make sure you know the ways your book is beautiful and unique—however, if your book is pretty fresh off the friends-and-family feedback glow, we’d still love to see it, just, you know, brace yourself for slightly tougher treatment.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

36.

37.

38.

39.

40.

41.

42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48.

49.

50.

51.

52.

53.

54.

55.

56.

57.

58.

59.

60.

61.

62.

63.

64.

65.

66.

67.

68.

69.

70.

71.

72.

73.

74.

75.

76.

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.