Monday, 31 December 2012

TMI Monday - Resolutions

Welcome to the final TMI Monday of 2012, in which I make 6 writing resolutions for 2013.

  • I will finish writing TRANSPARENCIES and at least 2 other manuscripts. I have one story simmering away in the back of my brain (it's been percolating for a while now), so I hope that will be the next one. Of course this depends on things. And stuff. But either way, 3 MSs WILL BE COMPLETED.
  • I'm going to stop taking on extra beta reading/projects when I don't have time to do them. I feel like I've upset a few people this year because they've asked me to read their manuscripts and I've taken ages about it (there are 4 I have yet to read and I've had them for MONTHS) but this is because I just haven't had time, not because I'm not really excited to read them. So there it is: I feel bad, they feel bad. And it will stop in 2013 - I will just say "I'm sorry, I don't have time right now, but I'll let you know as soon as I can!" Clean slate time, yo.
  • I will go to a writing con - hopefully World Fantasy Con in Brighton in October. Awkward Kat time, here we come!
  • I'm going to read more YA sci-fi (because that's where my heart lies) and broaden my reading horizons: I'm talking YA contemp, historical, thriller, mystery. These aren't my usual groove, but I do believe that being a well-rounded reader will make me a better writer.
  • I'm going to blog less frequently, but make what I blog about better, more relevant and not what's been written about a billion times before. Quality over quantity (I hope).
  • Lastly, and most importantly, I'm going to be the best CP I can possibly be to my awesome CP group, and I hope to continue making new writer friends and exchanging words and experiences with the brilliant writing community on twitter. In other words, I will continue to tweet like a nutter, swoon over my awesome CPs' manuscripts and go Darth Kat with my editorial lightsaber.
What resolutions are you making for your writing in 2013? 

Monday, 17 December 2012

TMI Monday: Kat's Christmas List

For this special mini-edition of the brain-splurge that is my regular Monday post, I will share a few things for the festive season...

  • I've been asked about short stories a few times recently. I haven't written many (3) and am certainly no expert, but I've had a couple of small successes with them in contests and one will be published in an anthology next year. So I thought I would share one of my stories with you guys - it's called GLIMMER, and is not at all festive. 
  • I have fulfilled all my CP obligations until the new year, and so I'm back to focusing entirely on my WIP, TRANSPARENCIES. I wrote a post about it if you'd like to know more. Hopefully the next few weeks will see the completion of the first draft, and it won't entirely suck. 
  • As the year's drawing to a close, I'll be posting my highlights of 2012. It's been a real year of change for me - in all good ways! So I'm looking to 2013 and hoping it will continue that way, and would love for you guys to tell me - what would you like to see more of on this blog in 2013? Another contest? Pitch workshop? More writing-related ramblings? Interviews? Other? Let me know what you would like to see, and I will put on my Santa hat and do my best to provide.
  • Finally, what festive post would be complete without a Christmas song? (OK, so this is the weirdest Christmas song of all time, but...)

Happy holidays, everyone! May yours be a happy and relaxing one ;-)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Interview with the Fabulously Fizzy Summer Heacock!

Summer Heacock, a.k.a. @FizzyGrrl, is the twitter writing community's darling - beloved by agents, editors and authors alike. And rightly so.

Her blog is here, and it is filled with writerly wit and general awesomeness.

Check out this vlog (my first!), in which I share a drink with Fizz and ask her a few important questions...

If you have questions of your own, the time to ask them is NOW. The place to ask them is IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW ;-)

TMI Monday - The Post-Apocalypse Edition

OK, so it was more of a holiday than an apocalypse. But it meant leaving my blog alone for 3 weeks, which was surprisingly difficult. [Looks earnest] I missed you guys. [Coughs awkwardly] So. Here's what's been happening.

(For anyone not familiar with TMI Monday, it's basically a weekly offloading of 6 things from my brain.)

  1. Where I went and what I saw (right).This is the Florida version of Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom, in case you were wondering, and the site of the most awkward Dr Who-related conversation I have ever managed to get trapped into. 
  2. I was put up for auction a few weeks ago (or at least my critiquing skills were) to raise funds for Sandy Relief. The auction was organised by the amazing Jen Malone, and I was honoured to take part. Also, my critique was won by someone whose work I'm really excited to read. *Happy bounce*
  3. I just went on the mother of all reading binges. For me, at least (slooow reader over here). Having loaded my e-reader FULL of awesome manuscripts for my hols and packed a few published novels, I managed to read a bunch of fantastic stories and cut my TBR list down to 4 manuscripts. OK, so that's a lie, but that's all I'm committing to reading over the next few weeks. Beyond that and completing a final line-edit for one of my CPs, I'm taking myself out of the reader pool for a while. It's time to WRITE again.
  4. TRANSPARENCIES, my current WIP, has been calling to me again. I've reached the halfway point with the first draft (reached it some time ago, to be honest) then hit the usual brick wall where I started to question everything. So I did the only thing that seems to work for me when that happens: I took a complete break from it. Cold turkey, no writing. And it was goooood. So now I have fresh eyes, I don't hate my WIP, and I'm ready to nail this thing. [Eye of the Tiger starts playing...]
  5. HOW THE HELL IS IT NEARLY CHRISTMAS?? I've realised with some horror that it's only 2 weeks away. Which means the following week I'll be doing a round-up of my year, and it only feels like a few months since I rounded up 2011. Eep, you guys. EEP.
  6. This was my holiday driving song. Thanks to Jani Grey all the way over in South Africa for introducing me to Chevelle, and providing a weird moment of international existential wondering while I was in the  States.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Interview with the Delightful Dahlia Adler!

Dahlia Adler is a contemporary YA and NA writer who is represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger. Dahlia is an Assistant Editor of mathematics, a Copy Editor of romance and a contributor to YA Misfits. She is also highly skilled at manuscript stalking.

Follow Dahlia on twitter if you aren't already, because she is definitely one of the most canny, smart and hilarious writer tweeps out there. You should also go ahead and check out Dahlia's blog, where she has more helpful tips, resources and information than you can shake a stick at. 

So naturally, I turned up at her house in New York late one night, knocked on the door, and asked her these questions... (Or, in fact, emailed her.)

It's no secret that YA contemporary is your baby. What is it about the genre that you love so much?

I'm a little obvious about that, huh? My love of YA contemporary is actually due to a couple of different factors, but the big one is this: I grew up with a pretty restrictive religious upbringing, which I guarantee probably looks nothing like you're picturing. I went to parties, had no curfew, definitely did not have overbearing parents or anything like that, but I just felt like I was missing out on "real life." In "real life," people went to public school and ate things like cheeseburgers and shrimp and wore bikinis and miniskirts. They're tiny little things, but the way some people read/write fantasy or sci-fi because they love alternate realities? That's what contemporary has always been for me in that way.

If you had to pick another genre to write, what would it be and why?

Part of that whole "religious upbringing" thing involved my studying a looooot of Old Testament, so I have a major fondness for biblical characters and I love coming up with story ideas revolving around them. If I thought I were remotely capable, I'd probably write historical epic fantasy biblical retellings.

Which parts of the writing process do you love/hate? 

Drafting is really hard for me because I've become such a perfectionist since CPs came into my life. I didn't use to have people reading along the way, and now I feel such pressure to have things be in ship shape before I subject my CPs to them. (Don't get me wrong - my CPs are incredible. This is my own insanity.) As such, I really both love it and hate it at the same time, because I find it to be such a struggle, but a rewarding struggle for sure. My favorite scenes to write are the ones that involve either kissing or fighting. Those make everything worth it!

You're mentoring in Pitch Wars at the moment, and I've seen the competition getting pretty fierce between writers AND mentors. How are you whittling down your submissions to just one?

Oh God, it is so hard. I've actually been passing on some of my top choices first, because those are the ones I've thought about the most. One thing I did was request quite a number of partials, because it's always challenging to know if the first pages hold up. Those have helped make my decision a lot, especially in cases where I felt the query wasn't an accurate representation of the story itself. There are also a few I think have a lot of promise but most likely won't be done in time for the end of Pitch Wars, and I'm hoping the authors will want to work with me on the side to polish those up!

I love reading the Perpetual WIPs section of your blog, which covers issues a lot of querying and agented writers wonder about. Will you, perchance, be adding a published writers' section sometime soon?

I hope to! I've actually spoken to a pre-pub writer about this, and at the time, I only had a handful of writer friends in this stage I felt comfortable asking, because obviously, these are pretty personal questions and people are fairly protective of their anonymity (for good reason). Now, awesomely enough, I have enough writer friends in this position that I'm hoping to do this at some point after Pitch Wars, maybe February or March 2013. It's more time consuming to compose than it looks!

What will your next writing project be? Will you be flying the flag for NA?

I've actually already flown the flag for NA! My very first queried ms was the first in an NA series. I stopped querying early but I finished the series for fun. Now I'm probably going to stick with straight-up YA for a while. My current WIP is contemporary YA, and nearly everything I've got on the backburner is as well, with the exception of one chick lit I'm 66K into and need to finish at some point, if only for myself!

Most importantly: When one of your novels is turned into a film or TV series, will you make a cameo appearance??

Definitely not - I am so not meant for camera! Oh, wait, do I get to touch the pretty actors? Then yes, yes I'll be there.


And with that, Dahlia Adler reinforces her eternal awesomeness with a flourish. Got any questions you would like to ask her? Comment at will!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Pat Esden's Hook, Line & Sinker Success Story!

Another Hook, Line & Sinker success story? HELLZ YES

I am so excited to announce that Pat Esden has signed with Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates! Pat's entry for MOONHILL got a lot of agenty attention in the contest, so I'm over the moon (and not at all surprised!) that she is now officially an agented author. 


Of course, I immediately asked Pat for the lowdown...

First of all, please tell us what MOONHILL is about.

MOONHILL is a YA contemporary gothic tale about Anie Freemont, a seventeen-year-old antique dealer. Anie’s never believed the stories her father told about their ancestral home, Moonhill. Mystical rings which eat souls, genies in jars . . . she figured the frightening tales were simply another of her antique-dealing papa’s eccentricities. That is, until he’s diagnosed with dementia and a court order forces her to take him back to Moonhill and the estranged family they fled when she was three years old.

All Anie wants is to help her father get stabilized so they can leave as fast as possible. But from the moment they arrive, she’s isolated from him by their family. She notices disturbing things too, including human-shaped shadows in Moonhill’s gallery and a witch’s pentagram under her bed. When her father turns violent and Anie discovers he’s not seeing a doctor like she was told, the deceit leads her to a decade-old mystery surrounding her mother’s death in Moonhill’s graveyard. A mystery she must unravel if she wants to help her father.

But to separate truth from tale, Anie will have to use all the tricks she learned while dealing antiques with Papa to outwit a family who prefers to keep her in the dark—and an entity which is far different than the Christian demon she first suspects. If she fails, Papa will end up institutionalized for life--and she may never escape Moonhill, unless it's in a body bag like her mother.

Who or what inspired you to write it?

It was Johnny Depp and our shared love for the old TV series Dark Shadows.

When I heard he was working with Tim Burton on a remake, it struck me that having fun and creating something you’ve always wanted to try was important to me as well. However, I didn’t have the desire to create a campy remake of Dark Shadows. I wanted to write a gothic novel which had an atmosphere reminiscent of the show and to that of the classic mid-century gothic novels written by Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt—but with an updated flare and sizzle to make it appealing to the modern teen reader. 

What made you decide to enter Hook, Line & Sinker?

In August I sent out queries to agents who had read previous manuscripts of mine and asked to look at future works, and to several who specifically liked gothic. While I was waiting to hear back from them, I was also working on an under seventy-five word pitch for Authoresses’ upcoming Baker’s Dozen contest. When I saw HLandS required a pitch that was under sixty words, I thought I couldn’t do it. But it was a challenge I couldn’t resist. Once I got the pitch where I wanted it, I was pretty much compelled to enter—and I had never queried any of the agents in the HLandS contest.

When Pooja made her offer of representation, how did The Call happen?

Like I said, I’d queried other manuscripts. I’d waited over a year to hear back from agents and up to nine months on several occasions. Pooja totally caught me off guard.  When the last round of the contest went live, she quickly requested fifty pages and a synopsis. A few hours later, I received an energetic request for a full. Less than twenty-four hours after that, she emailed me an offer of representation and asked if I’d like to chat on the phone. It was an amazing relief to receive the offer before “The Call”. It also made it easier to judge what a normal working relationship with Pooja would be like, instead of worrying about whether I get an offer or not.

What's next for you?

Pooja has several new clients, so I’m planning on working on a new project until she’s had a chance to go through MOONHILL and get back to me with revision suggestions.

Actually, I think learning to balance working on several projects at once is going to be my biggest writing challenge over the months to come.

Thank you so much for hosting the YA portion of the HLandS contest.  It was an amazing and life changing few weeks for me.


Brilliant answers, right?? Make sure you follow Pat for more news about MOONHILL!

On twitter: @PatEsden

People who leave comments are winners. FACT

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Debbie Causevic - Our First Hook, Line & Sinker Success Story!

I am so utterly THRILLED to be able to announce the first ever Hook, Line & Sinker success story! Debbie Causevic, who entered the contest with her fabulous YA urban fantasy/romance TUMBLING AFTER, is now represented by Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates!


Naturally, I wanted to get all the deets from Debbie, so I asked her a few questions...

First of all, please tell us what TUMBLING AFTER is about.

Tumbling After is the first book in a trilogy I am writing titled The Timebender's Curse, a YA urban fantasy/romance. In this first book, 15-year old Louie Weatherby is sent back in time due to a centuries-old curse upon her family. She arrives in 1860 Williamsburg, VA just months prior to the onset of the Civil War. As part of her curse, she is forced to play a role in ensuring that her precarious lineage continues down the haphazard path that ultimately leads to her own existence. During her foray in this disconcerted land, she falls wildly in love with Owen Hayes, a young farrier apprenticed to her family’s mortal enemy. 

Unfortunately, the Timebender responsible for cursing Louie’s family is forcing Louie to play a game she doesn't understand. What she does understand is that unless she consents to becoming a bigger pawn in the Timebender's wicked game, Louie will be parted from Owen as soon as she completes her task, never to see him again. She must ask herself how far she is willing to go to be with the love of her life, and how much she is willing to make others pay in order to do so.

What made you decide to enter Hook, Line & Sinker?

I’ve completed a handful of manuscripts but, at the point that I entered HL&S, I hadn't tried anything aside from straight querying. I decided I needed to break the pattern and become more proactive, so I committed to attending writers' conferences and entering whatever contests I could find online. As luck would have it, Hook, Line, and Sinker was the first step I took in that direction. I'm sure you can understand how completely surreal and awesome it felt not only to make it to Round 3, but also to have connected with Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron and Associates, who I have since signed with. These last few weeks have been just completely amazing and I am very thankful to HL&S for giving writers aspiring for publication such an opportunity.

Had you queried TUMBLING AFTER before the contest?

Yes, I completed the manuscript and began querying it in 2011. It generated some interest and I received two requests for partials that ultimately didn’t pan out. One of the agents took six full months deciding and actually offered more compliments than complaints in her rejection. Rather than starting to query again after her reply, I reread the manuscript and more clearly saw the areas that needed improvement. Ultimately, I think sitting on the book for so long while waiting was helpful. Having distanced myself from the writing of it, I was better able to fine tune the manuscript and come up with a stronger product. And as they say, all is well that ends well. I ended up with an agent who feels passionately about this manuscript, which is what I was hoping for all along.

When Pooja made her offer of representation, how did The Call happen?

Before the call, I knew that Pooja was fairly interested in the manuscript. She had requested the first 50 pages and, fairly soon thereafter, the complete manuscript. From what I had read online, I really liked her view on the industry, her progressiveness and her motivation, so I was hopeful. Regarding “the call”, she actually emailed me prior, stating that she'd like to offer me representation and asking to set up a time to talk. That worked out well because I got the jumping and screaming out of my system before having to sound coherent and sane. When we did speak, I liked her feedback on my manuscript and her proposed plan of action, and I felt that our partnership would be a good match. Needless to say, I signed with her shortly afterwards.

What's next for you?

Once I incorporate Pooja’s edits, she intends to submit the manuscript in January after the holidays are over and New York is fully back in action. In the meantime, my job is to build upon my platform as a writer—finally delving into the social media I have long avoided. I will also start work on book 3 of the trilogy, which allows me to resume one of my favorite activities in the world--writing fiction!


Isn't she just awesome??

You can get in touch with Debbie in lots of ways...

Email: debbie (at) debbiecausevic (dot) com
twitter: @dcausevic

And please share your comments below!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Megan Whitmer's YA Misfits Halloween Hop!

Please welcome YA Misfit MEGAN WHITMER to my blog!

Hey hey!

So let's just go ahead and get this out of the way, because I know it's all you're thinking about right now-- TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY! *curtsies*

Being born on Halloween guaranteed that I would always love this time of year. There's a lot to love about it, right? The absolutely perfect weather. The gorgeous fall colors. The cute clothes. Hot apple cider. Football. And of course- THIS HOLIDAY, with the pumpkins, ghosts, witches, scary movie marathons, and general creepiness. 

I love being scared. I love watching scary movies and reading scary books. I will go to any haunted house in the area. I am all about ghost tours and creepy urban legends. But try as I might, I can't seem to WRITE the scary stuff. I can come up with bad guys, sure. But SCARY? Keep you up at night, make you do a running leap from the doorway to your bed SCARY? Nope. This is basically the bane of my existence. (Well, this and the fact that I can't whistle, but whatever.)

I have a theory about why this is so difficult for me. When I develop characters, I like to think about why they are the way they are. For instance, in my book, Between, I spent a lot of time thinking about why Harper is so dependent on other people at first, why Seth is so overprotective, why Alexander is such a's important to me to have a really good understanding of who they are, deep down, even if those backstories never come into play in the actual manuscript. But when it comes to scary--to me, it's better if I have no idea why the villain is so terrifying. If I understand, then I'm able to predict his or her actions, and it's so much scarier if we have absolutely no idea what's coming next, don't you think? When we don't really know what the villain is capable of?

Those are the scariest villains to me--the ones where all you can be sure of is that they are EVIL and you may never know why. With that in mind, here are my top five scariest villains!

5. Pennywise, the sharp-toothed clown in Stephen King's IT. I'm sure a lot of you have seen the movie. But if you've never read the book, then you have absolutely no idea how completely terrifying that freaking clown really is.

(Photo: It, 1990, Warner Bros. Television)

4. Samara from The Ring. What I really love about Samara is the way you think you know why she's so awful, but in the end it doesn't even matter. There's no saving her. Also, the fact that she's a child gives her extra SUPER SCARY POINTS.

(Photo: The Ring, 2002, Dreamworks SKG)

3.  Jack Torrance from The Shining. The man is completely insane. And there was absolutely nothing anyone could do about it--no way to reason with him, no way to escape him, and all you knew was that he was hell-bent on killing his family. In that big freaky hotel. Surrounded by snow. With no way to escape. Good times.

(Photo: The Shining, 1980, Warner Bros. Pictures)

2. Damien from The Omen. Scariest kid EVER. And come on, he's the ANTICHRIST. So there's no need to try to understand why he's evil--he embodies evil. (Side note--1970s Damien is waaaaay creepier than remake Damien. He had a more innocent, sweet face...which made it even more horrible when he does the thing with the tricycle.)

(Photo: The Omen, 1976, 20th Century Fox)

1. Michael Myers. Here's what freaks me out about the bad guy in John Carpenter's Halloween: Dude NEVER RUNS. He just slowly, methodically walks after you. No matter which path you take, upstairs, downstairs, around a barn, in a car, WHATEVER--you turn around and there he is, WALKING.
And while I'm on the topic, can we all just agree to pretend that Halloween III: Season of the Witch was never made? Thanks.

(Photo: Halloween, 1978, Compass International Pictures)

There you have it--my top five creepers. What about you guys? What makes a villain most terrifying for you? What others would you add to this list?

Thanks for having me, Kat!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cornerstone Giveaway!

My good pal Misty Provencher recently unleashed the new covers for her fantabulous Cornerstone novels - here, check them out!

Awesome, right?!

To celebrate, I'm giving away some awesome goodies which Misty kindly sent over to me here in Wales. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to comment on the new covers in the comments box below! 

Here's what you could win:

  • Cornerstone bookmarks
  • A handmade (by Misty!) mantra bracelet
  • A Cornerstone key chain

If you tweet about this giveaway, you'll also be in with a shot at winning a special BONUS prize from Wales - just tag me (@el_kat) into your tweet!

The giveaway is open internationally, and I'll pick the winners at 3pm EDT this Sunday, 4th November!

Monday, 29 October 2012

TMI Monday - Liebster Style

After a slight hiatus from TMI Monday while Hook, Line & Sinker was in full swing, TMI returns with a twist! Thanks to Emilyann Girdner for tagging me with a Liebster Award. This means I have 11 questions to answer - which I shall do forthwith!

1. What is your favorite song?

What it is to Burn by Finch. Forever.

2. Cats or Dogs? Why?

Cats. I always had cats growing up, and I have my own agent of evil, Pilot the Cat, right now. I love that cats are so independent, and I never have to pick up Pilot's poo. He's very considerate that way.

3. What is your favorite book from childhood?

Pretty much everything by Roald Dahl. I remember saving up my pocket money to buy The Minpins in hardback when it first came out, and I still have that book now.

4. If you had to pick a different occupation, what would it be?

Well, I kind of already have, since I have a day job. I work in communications, which is basically a bit of IT, some editorial work, and a little PR.

5. Do you have a favorite flower?

I'm very fond of gladioli. And stock. And freesias. And roses. Basically anything that's pretty, and more so if it smells nice.

6. Mac or PC?

I work on a netbook most of the time. I've never used a Mac.

7. Who would you pick if you had the opportunity to interview a historical figure?

It would either be Jim Morrison or Oscar Wilde, and purely because I think they'd be entertaining. I'm not really into politics, so an opportunity to interview someone of that ilk would be wasted on me.

8. Do you believe in love at first sight?

No. I believe in making a really good first impression and building on that, but saying you love someone instantly makes as much sense as saying you love living in Poland if you've never been there.

9. What is your favorite genre of book and why?

I love light YA SF and fantasy, which is what I write. I don't find epic fantasy easy to connect with, and I really have to be in the mood for contemporary or historical.

10. What are you most proud of in life?

I think the fact that I'm making progress with my writing, and taking steps towards becoming a published author, are probably what I'm most proud of in that area of my life. 

11. What obstacle has been the toughest for you to overcome in your life?

My own propensity for faffing about. I am a magnificent procrastinator, and can magic up endless ways to distract myself from what I'm meant to be doing. 


So now I'm meant to tag 11 other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to answer 11 questions of my own making...but I'll just leave this as an open tag for anyone who would like to take part. Here are your questions:

1. What's your most interesting party trick?

2. Star Trek or Star Wars?

3. Which main character from a novel do you most identify with, and why?

4. What has changed for you in the last year?

5. If money was suddenly no object, what would be the first thing you would do?

6. What is your all time favourite film?

7. If you were put into the Hunger Games arena, what would your specialist skill be?

8. Would you rather have a miniature pony or a helper monkey?

9. What is your zombie apocalypse escape plan?

10. If you had to sing one song in front of the X Factor panel, what would it be?

11. What will your costume be this Halloween?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Secret Fourth Judge Revealed!

As those of you who followed the Hook, Line & Sinker contest will know, Dee, Summer and I had a secret 4th agent to help us when it came to making some of the calls in rounds 1 and 2 of the contest. What you didn't know until now is that our secret 4th judge was none other than amazing publishing intern, Brent Taylor!

Brent Taylor.
High School Senior.
Generally awesome.
Brent is a senior in high school, a wizard with words, an ex-gymnast, and probably one of the coolest people you will ever meet on twitter. Check out his blog and follow him on twitter. SERIOUSLY. 

After the excitement of the contest, I asked Brent a few questions...

You're an intern in publishing, along with a few other various titles - for those of us staring at you in awe, can you say a little bit about what that's like and what's involved?

I've been totally transformed by internships in publishing. I've learned so much about editing, pitching, and storytelling that I've been able to apply to my own writing. It's something that I get very sick of at times (especially during my senior year--I have so many other distractions) but at the end of the day really love. It takes me two to three weeks to read an average-sized novel. My email inbox, which used to be impeccably organized and maintained, now is a hazard zone. But the fabulous writers (like, AHEM, Kat Ellis) make all the digging and reading and analyzing worthwhile. I love seeing authors jump from A to B to Published.

As our secret fourth judge in Hook, Line & Sinker, you made some tough calls on entries the rest of us were flailing over. What was that like?

HARD. So many talented writers, so few spots. Quite a few were hard to decide on because of something I see very often in the slushpile: poor concept, great writing, and vice versa.

Did you have any favourites in the contest? 

I really quite like CHRONICITY's concept. Did anyone request that one? I definitely would have. I'm a sucker for time travel and the early 20th century.

What do you think makes a truly stellar pitch?

I think this is a question better suited for an experienced literary agent, but I will try to answer:

Something that is clear and concise and truly places the reader in the middle of the story.
A few months ago on Twitter someone I really like said something along the lines of, "Your query should read like prose. Re-read and write multiple times until you nail it."
You should definitely put your query through a grueling revision process, yes. But I don't necessarily think that queries should read like prose.
This is something that I struggle with in my essays for school. I spend all day sitting with math and science prodigies that can discuss character and plot to some degree, but when it comes to the actual writing and style, they can't articulate to you the difference between Fitzgerald and Twain and Hemingway. I get very pretentious (FORGIVE ME) and I feel bored and then I try to write simple essays with Super Complex Sentences and No Adverbs and with Many Semi-Colons and Lyrical Prose. The words are good, but the essays lack in terms of content. I haven't learned to balance the two yet, or maybe the two can't be balanced in simple essays. I think the same applies to queries. You should show that you're a good writer, but don't compromise trying to illustrate your literary talent for adequately describing your story.

What advice would you give to writers who are new to querying / contests?

Try very hard. Give it everything you've got. But don't overwork and exhaust yourself very early on, because this is a long process, and stamina is important if you're going to keep trying.

HUGE thanks to Brent for being our secret fourth judge in the contest, answering my questions, and just being all-round awesome!

Comments? Questions? They go in the box below :)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Happy Halloween! (Yes, I know it's early...)

So, I'm a few days early - but this is because Megan Whitmer is hopping onto my blog on 31st October - and she just happens to be so UTTERLY AWESOME that she gets to have her birthday on Halloween, too! (I applied, but was relegated to November 11th. Meh.)

With the spookfest looming, I thought I'd share my top 10 favourite spookalicious movies with you...

#1 - First spot goes to It. Yes, that movie. The one with Pennywise, the creepiest, freakiest clown haunting a storm gutter near you. Don't forget - "They ALL float down here!" *shudder*

#2 - Aliens is next up, not least because the scene where Bishop crawls into that narrow pipe which is potentially full of alien monsters is the stuff of my nightmares.

#3 - Paranormal Activity - SHE WATCHES HIM SLEEP. WHILE ROCKING BACK AND FORTH. In fact, any of the Paranormal Activity franchise freak me the freak out. So.

#4 - The Descent - underground freaks who eat human flesh hunt a group of women who have gone caving and end up trapped.

#5 - Creep - trapped inside The London Underground alone and at night, a young woman finds more than just rats waiting for her...

#6 - The Ring (Ringu) - the original Japanese version has a slight edge over the US remake for me. It managed to scare the crap out of me even while I was reading the subtitles. I think it's the jerky-movement filming and dark, creepy atmosphere of the film which had me like this: O_O especially at this scene (the one I think the remake did slightly better than the original)...

#7 - 28 Days Later. It's not the gore of this film that makes it scary, but the true-to-life aspect. Seeing the familiar landscape of London as a zombie-infested wasteland did something a little heart-racy to me.

#8 - Cube - think Saw, but even more of a mind-bender. It's a little gory, too, and I loved the rats-in-a-maze premise.

#9 - A Nightmare on Elm Street - this classic used to scare the bejeebus out of me as a kid (and no, I probably shouldn't have been allowed to watch it then!) It's the blade-hands that leave me in a cold sweat, and that creepy sing-song nursery rhyme which tells you Freddie's coming!

#10 - Last but not least, it's Silence of the Lambs. Even with all the murdery goings on in the film, it's still the barely contained psychopathic cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, who steals the show. "Hello, Clareeeeeece..."

What are your favourite spooky, creepy or downright scary movies? SHARE!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

That's all, folks!

Hook, Line & Sinker is DONE.

It has been an exciting, terrifying, brain-boggling couple of weeks, but we can now officially declare the Hook, Line and Sinker contest a SUCCESS! (And yes, over.) EVERY SINGLE ENTRY had at least one request, on all three blogs. *COMMENCES MAD CHEERING*

12 amazing agents made their comments and requests on the spectacular entries in all 3 categories – and much SQUEEing, panicking and even SIGNING ensued! Honestly, we couldn’t have hoped for a better calibre of submissions, and the participating agents showed the love across the board. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who took part: amazing agents, amazing writers, amazing secret fourth judge, and my amazing co-hosts. *MWAH*

Our secret fourth judge will be revealed in a couple of days in an interview where he will talk about pitching, choosing entries and his other general thoughts of awesomeness!

So now all that’s left is to declare it OPEN SEASON on the comments! This means that anyone can comment, whether it’s to add your constructive feedback on the entries, or for agents who weren’t a part of the #HLandS line-up to make their requests. Go ahead, don’t be shy now…

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hook, Line & Sinker: ROUND 3 IS ON!

Hook, Line, & Sinker entrants, you are a very talented group of writers and you made our decisions very tough!  While we couldn’t move everyone on to Round Three, we’ve done our best to give the participating agents what they’ve asked for and we’ll be watching for some fantastic matches to be made over the next few days.
No matter how far you made it in the contest, we hope you’ll gain something from being involved. Learn about the agents and see what they request, use the feedback on your hook & line, let the encouragement carry you forward, and make some new writer friends.
Congratulations to our finalists and good luck!

Middle Grade are posted on
Young Adult are posted on
Adult are posted on

* * * Reminders * * *
ONLY PARTICIPATING AGENTS MAY COMMENT IN THIS ROUND. We need to keep the posts clean so our awesome agents can easily read through the entries.
If you are another amazing agent who has happened upon this contest and would like to make requests, we welcome you to take a look. However, please wait until the contest closes at 7 PM EDT on Wednesday to make your requests.
If you want to tweet about the contest, use the hashtag #HLandS And be sure to follow @Fizzygrrl @el_kat @writeforapples

YA entry #1 - PIPER GIRL

Name: Carla Cullen
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word count: 75,000


In a modern twist on The Pied Piper, seventeen-year-old Marisa possesses the ability to charm animals with her silver flute. When crazed rats from a research lab infest her rundown neighborhood, she uses her music to capture the rodents. But after a powerful scientist learns Marisa’s powers also affect humans, she stands in danger of becoming his next lab rat.


The music flows through me, sweeter than a sugar rush, stronger than a caffeine high.


My phone chirps, rousing me out of a half sleep. I pick it up warily, wondering who’s calling after midnight. When I see the text icon, my heart speeds up.

It’s from Carlos: Are you awake? Meet me at the wall.

Going outside at this hour—in this neighborhood—is asking for trouble. But I rarely get time alone with Carlos. And there’s a chance he didn’t text his other friends. None of them have the guts to climb the wall.

I reach over to turn on my lamp, but nothing happens. My fan isn’t moving either. No wonder my back is plastered with sweat. The electricity’s out again.

I fumble around the edge of the mattress until I find my flashlight. When I twist it on, a few cockroaches skitter into the shadows. Big ones. By now, I’m used to them. I send Carlos a quick reply, then put on flip-flops and unbolt the door. Following the faint beam of my flashlight, I navigate the narrow stairwell to the ground floor.

Out on the street, a blast of hot, dry air hits me in the face, bringing with it the smell of smoke. But there’s no sign of a fire anywhere. If anything, our street is unusually quiet.

Luis, one of the neighborhood sentries, sits on a rusted lawn chair halfway down the block. When I approach, he looks up. “Evening, Marisa. Your boyfriend’s waiting for you at the wall.”

Warmth creeps into my cheeks. “Carlos isn’t my boyfriend.”

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.

YA entry #2 - IGNITE

Name: Natasha Hawkins
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word count: 65,000


Branded with PTSD after her grandma’s murder, seventeen-year-old Alison is desperate to find the killers and prove her sanity. With the help of a fire-wielding Watcher from a secret protection agency, Ali is led to a discharged scientist determined to eliminate supernatural abilities. When the agent learns Ali possesses a new power over Water, she’s next on his to-cure list.


Peeking beneath my eyelashes, my gaze falls on a dimpled smile illuminated by the moonlight, and I wonder if my rescuer is grinning because he thinks I thanked him for adjusting my hair or for saving my life.


Leg-over-leg, I cross the hand railings that keep visitors from falling over the edge, and white knuckle the wooden beam behind me. There’s no false sense of security now—only a blanket of black ocean thirty feet below taunting me:

Here lies Alison Summers. Devoted daughter. Sister. Dog-lover.

One slip and that will be chiseled into the headstone above my eternal resting place. That is, if someone finds my body. Not that I expect a superhero to swoop down and save me, but an easier way out of this nightmare would be nice.

A fishy aroma spikes the wind. It should remind me of the summers my family vacationed here, but instead I’m left with the urge to gag. All my inner organs feel like they are pounding violently against each other. At first, La Paz Beach was a logical place to run, but now at the dead end of this pier there’s no time to consider a better plan. They are hot on my heels. If only I knew who they were. My head whips toward heavy footfalls. But the thick marine layer makes it nearly impossible to see my hand in front of my face, let alone those who are trailing me.

My foot slips. I adjust my position on the damp ledge, and I grab the beam tighter. A tingle creeps inside me as I consider a crazy thought. I let go of one hand—just one—and a gasp escapes my trembling lips.

“Don’t jump.” The words are barely a whisper in my mind.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.


Name: Stacy Stokes
Genre: YA Supernatural Mystery
Word count: 62,000


After her BF destroys her reputation, Taylor’s wish to completely disappear becomes a reality. But instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase. Her journey plunges her back to the past, and as she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal she must face the truth about her life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable.


I had no idea what it meant, or how snow could fall when there wasn't a cloud in the sky, but one thing was clear: someone was listening to me after all.


I never noticed my pointy elbows. They were thorny things, jutting out from my sides like useless wings. I flattened them against my body. I didn’t want to give anyone yet another reason to avoid me.

It didn’t help.

A line of three girls made an unnecessary show of skirting past me, exchanging smirks with the subtlety of elephants. Once out of view I heard the hiss, hiss, hiss of heated whispers passing between them.

That was her, right? She’s the girl?

I fought the urge to spin around and shoot venom right back at them, but I didn’t want to waste my words on three girls I didn’t care about yesterday. Besides, Sunny was the one who caused this whole mess.

No one was at Sunny’s locker when I passed by. Without the swarm of bodies and hum of morning activity it looked like any other locker in any other hallway. The only sign that it meant something more was the key-scratched heart and initials I carved into the tan paint earlier that year.

I <3 J

My heart lurched. Had Sunny gotten to him, too?

The hallways seemed longer than they had before, twisting labyrinth-like between the classroom wings. Posters hung above archways, their edges curling into the hand painted block letters like they were ashamed of the drips and wrinkles in the imperfect writing announcing the upcoming spring formal. I straightened my shoulders. I would not be like the posters.

**Please remember, only participating agents should comment on these posts for the duration of the contest. Any other comments, including requests from agents who aren't participating in Hook, Line & Sinker, are welcome AFTER the contest closes at 7pm EDT on Wednesday.