Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Tamar Rydzinski

I’ve got another great one for you. Today’s INTERACTIVE interview features Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency. Details on the interactive part are at the bottom. Happy reading!

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

TR: I've been agenting for just over five years, though I was an assistant for a couple of years before that.

In college, I majored in English Lit and minored in business. During my junior year, my mother's friend, who's a well-established author, said to me, "You know, I think you would love being an agent." So she helped me get an internship at her agency (Curtis Brown) and I did love it! So when I graduated, I pursued a job in publishing. And am still incredibly grateful to my mom's friend.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

TR: My agenting philosophy is basically find books I love, work hard on them with the author, sell them. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I've had a few cases where I submitted one book, which didn't work, then went on to sell the second book.

I expect trust. I expect respect. I expect authors to realize that I am working hard and have many demands on my time. And I give the same in return.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

TR: I have some incredible projects coming up! BLOOD ON THE MOON by Jennifer Knight is being published by Running Press this summer. It's a great young adult story with werewolves and vampires and a girl stuck in the middle. I was drawn to this one because it had that quality to it where I just didn't want to stop turning the pages. Plus, I read it right after I finished the Twilight series and I was always team Jacob, and in this one, the werewolf gets the girl.

QUEEN OF GLASS by Sarah Maas is being published by Bloomsbury next winter. It's a young adult fantasy about a teenage girl who ends up in a competition to become the kingdom's top assassin. I was drawn to this because of the author's incredible imagination. I read this and was completely awed by the world building. How can you not love a book that turns Cinderella into an ass-kicking, magic-wielding princess? Oh, did I not mention this is a fairy tale retelling? It is. I love those!

And I just sold an incredible book to Tor: DELIA’S SHADOW by Jaime Lee Moyer. It's an historical fantasy that takes place during the San Francisco World's Fair in 1915 and has ghosts and a serial killer. And some truly amazing writing.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

TR: I don't represent picture or chapter books. I do an incredibly limited amount of practical nonfiction, though I do like cookbooks. I'm generally not the right agent for humor. And literary fiction would have to be very up-market to appeal to me as an agent.

I do love YA, middle grade, women's fiction of all kinds, narrative nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

TR: I know I have a tough name, but get it right! And check our agency guidelines. And make sure you read your query over and over looking for mistakes. If you don't have the patience to get your query letter right, it tells me that you don't have the patience to be a writer.

Also, please tell me about your book in the query letter. I can't know if I want to read it if you haven't told me anything about it.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

TR: I'm looking for a good hook with great writing. I know, that's what everyone says. But the truth is that I'm not looking for anything specific. Just something to fall in love with.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

TR: E-mail: Query letter and five sample pages. No attachments.

Thanks again, Ms. Rydzinski, for these wonderful responses. And cashew gallery (because you guys are a million times better than plain peanuts), doesn’t that line-up of forthcoming titles sound intriguing? (Okay, maybe not so much for you contemporary writers. But we fantasy and sci-fi folk are suitably excited.)

And now on to the main event! If you have questions for Ms. Rydzinski, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. She’ll pop in once this morning and once this afternoon to leave her answers. I’m cutting questions off a little early today (since Ms. Rydzinski has a meeting), so if you want to get a response, make sure you leave your comment before 3:00 p.m. EST (which is 12:00 noon PST).

Have at it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Yet Another Way in Which Querying Is a Lot Like Dating

I didn’t date much in high school--or rather, I didn’t date a lot of people. Honey Bear and I met the first day of my sophomore year (his senior year), and although it took a few months for a friendship and then a romance to develop, develop they did. By the end of that school year, we were talking every evening on the phone for hours at a stretch and going on group dates several times a month.

Which wasn’t exactly the blissful fantasy that TWILIGHT-reading teenagers might think it was. If you’re familiar with Mormon culture, you might already know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its young people to date nonexclusively in high school. Honey Bear and I were--and are--active Latter-day Saints who wanted to follow this counsel, so we both agreed to date around.

But that, as it turned out, was a lot easier said than done, at least for me.

As you might imagine, Honey Bear didn’t have a problem pulling this off. He just went on other group dates with other girls while I stayed home and played at writing novels. I did my part by asking other boys to the girls' choice dances, then waited, waited, waited for my other boy friends--note the space there, boy-space-friends--to ask me out.

But by and large, they never did. Any boy who knew me well enough to maybe want to ask me out also knew about Honey Bear and didn’t want to, I don’t know, invade his territory or something. Or maybe they just had no idea what he saw in me:) Either way, I didn’t date a lot of other boys in high school, and this, uh, caused me some emotional distress.

Then one day, when I was watching Little Women for what was probably the fifty-seventh time, little Amy March said something that struck me as particularly profound. “You don’t need scores of suitors,” she told her older sisters. “You need only one, if he’s the right one.”

Interestingly enough, the same is true of agents. As I’ve watched other writers land two or three--or six or seven--offers of representation over the last few months, I’ve thought back on those profound words. I don’t need scores of offers, or even scores of requests. I need only one, if it’s the right one.

Now I just have to find that one agent who’s willing to oblige… :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with an Agent: Jessie Cammack

Today’s interview features the eager and amazing Jessie Cammack of JABberwocky Literary Agency. Enjoy!

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

JC: I've been working at JABberwocky since fall 2009, and I started looking for my own clients a few months ago. I worked as a bookseller at Borders when I was in college, and then got an internship at The Overlook Press, a small and awesome publishing house. When I was leaving Overlook, one of the editors suggested that I might like working at an agency. I blindly followed her advice, and here I am!

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

JC: You know, I hadn't really thought about this before--and I'm not sure I've fleshed out a philosophy just yet. So far the most important thing to me is finding authors whose books I really love. Ideally, that relationship lasts a whole career--so it's important that there be a real connection there.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

JC: It's too early in my agenting to have anything coming out soon, but in general, what I'm really looking for is a well-told story. I know everyone says that, but it's true: if the writing is great, it can be about anything.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

JC: I'm looking for fantasy, science fiction (particularly YA science fiction), and literary fiction. I'm also fond of historical fiction. (Or--best of all--historical fantasy or historical science fiction!) YA variations of the above are welcome.

I'm not really interested in urban fantasy, horror, or romance (paranormal or otherwise). As far as nonfiction goes, I like histories and biographies, but not memoirs. We don't handle children's books.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

JC: I don't like queries that open with a rhetorical question. I know it's an easy hook, but I don't think it's effective. I also get bored with adjectival queries: I shouldn't need to be told that the prose is lyrical or that the action is exciting or that no one has ever written something like this before. I want to hear about the story!

KV: You only want to see the query letter in a writer’s initial contact, but several respected industry sites have advised writers to include a few sample pages with every query, whether the agent asked for them or not. So if a writer goes ahead and includes those pages, do you find that more assertive or obnoxious?

JC: I don't find it obnoxious, but it makes me think someone didn't read our submission guidelines ... or did read our submission guidelines, and decided to ignore them. Neither one is a good thing. I'd prefer to be blown away by a great, one-page query, and then be left on tenterhooks until the partial arrives.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

JC: I'd love to find a great, fresh take on traditional fantasy--I am very partial to fantasy that's sweeping and heavy on the world-building, but it's often either derivative, or trying too hard not to be derivative. I really like YA sf and fantasy, but a lot of the queries I get are really heavy on the romance. A move away from that would be nice.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

JC: Snail mail! E-mail queries go straight to the junk mail box.

KV: Your agency is closed to queries at the moment. I know JABberwocky opens and closes to queries several times throughout the year, so if someone is eager to contact you, when can they expect you to be taking queries again?

JC: We'll probably reopen sometime in the spring, but I can't say exactly when. It's completely dependent on workload, and that can be unpredictable. Sorry for not being able to be more specific.

Thank you, Ms. Cammack, for these great responses. We’re all looking forward to whenever you reopen to queries, hopefully sometime this spring! (And for those of you who can’t wait to query Ms. Cammack, definitely check JABberwocky’s website from time to time. They’re really good about keeping it up-to-date.)

Happy Friday, everyone, and have a great weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Writer's Creed

I am a writer, and because I am a writer, I will stick my butt in front of that computer, and I will write. I will spend more time writing than I spend blogging, surfing the Internet, and picking my nose combined. I am a writer, and I will write my manuscript.

I will read. I will read so many books my friends will stop asking librarians and independent bookstore owners what books they should read and start asking me. I will read so many books that if Ken Jennings ever challenged me to a duel on Jeopardy, I would totally own him in the “YA Literature” category.

I will revise, revise, revise. I will keep revising until I actually start to like it. Then I’ll revise a little more.

I will write an awesome query. I will not whine about how hard it is or use it as an excuse to not submit my work. I will become the best possible marketer for my manuscript.

I will query my book. I will research, research, research until I can list every agent who represents my genre in alphabetical order forward and backward. Then I’ll research a little more. And on those days I don’t want to query anyone, don’t want to take the risk, I will force myself to send that e-mail, and on those days I want to query every agent in the universe, I will force myself to wait. I will find the best possible advocate for my book. I will.

I will rise above rejection. I may cry a little and even throw my keyboard across the room, but I will not let it defeat me. I will send another query. I will write another book.

I will not compare myself to others. I. Will. Not. Compare. My journey is my journey, and I take ownership of that. When others succeed, I will rejoice with them, and when others fail, I will mourn. Even though we are competing for the same agents’ attention, for the same few spots on our favorite houses’ lists, I will not see them as competitors. I will see them as fellow writers. I will see them as friends.

I am a writer, but I am also a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter. I will let writing define one small part of my life, but I will not let it define the rest. Because if all I ever did was write, I would have nothing to write about.

I will live my life, and I will write my words, and they will make each other beautiful.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Brianne Mulligan

Well, today’s the day! So pleased to give you Brianne Mulligan of Movable Type Literary Group. As always, details on the interactive part are at the bottom. See you down there!

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

BM: I joined Movable Type in November 2010, but I’ve been in the publishing industry for almost six years. I started on the editorial side: first at Random House’s Doubleday Broadway imprint, then at Penguin’s Gotham Books, and most recently I was an editor with Razorbill, a division of Penguin Young Readers.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

BM: I’m an editorial agent first, meaning I work with my authors to develop the best possible version of their manuscript before we submit to publishers. Secondly, I’m a quality-over-quantity agent: my experience on the other side has made me hyper-aware of how important it is for an agent to maintain a reputation for quality submissions. Finally, I consider myself a career-long agent: I love brainstorming new ideas and being able to use the knowledge from my time as an editor to make the whole publication process less mystifying and more fulfilling for my clients.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

BM: It’s too soon for me to have books coming out that I’ve sold, but the clients I’ve signed so far have been terrific writers with great ideas--the perfect marriage of voice and concept. There are some excellent novels I acquired at Razorbill publishing soon, but I don’t want to risk leaving anyone out, so I’ll just say that you can’t go wrong with any book on Razorbill’s well-curated list.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

BM: I generally focus on the genres with which I have the most experience: high-concept young adult and middle grade fiction (by the way, Nathan Bransford has a great description of “high-concept” on his blog:; commercial nonfiction for adults (humor, narrative, pop culture, practical); and select commercial fiction (very select).

To be honest, juvenile fiction is where my heart is right now--there have been so many exciting innovations in the genre recently, it’s where many adult readers are coming for entertainment, and it’s one of the few growth areas of publishing.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

BM: Please be sure to read my submission guidelines before you query me. For fiction, I ask for the first ten pages of your manuscript in addition to a traditional query letter. That sample is invaluable. If I’m on the fence about a pitch, stellar writing can help tip the scales.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

BM: In general: an original concept, an ambitious plot, and a pace that proves you understand your audience (and the limits of their attention span!).

More specifically: I would love to see a grounded teen thriller with crossover potential (meaning: a good old-fashioned thriller without a paranormal angle) and a thoughtful middle-grade adventure (think: MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY). Although publishers are being extra selective about dystopian, I’m still excited about the genre and think there’s room to approach it in a fresh way. I believe everyone in the industry is growing a little tired of paranormal, but again, if it has a unique hook, I’m open to it. (I’m unlikely, however, to sign a vampire or fallen angel novel any time soon--sorry.)

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

BM: E-mail. I read everything on my iPad. Check out the submission guidelines on my Publishers Marketplace page:

Thanks again, Ms. Mulligan, for these insightful responses. I have a feeling a lot of you just added another agent to your lists--me included:)

And now on to the fun part. Just leave Ms. Mulligan your questions in the comments section below, and then she’ll pop in a few times throughout the day to answer them. We’ll wrap things up at 5:00 p.m. EST (which, of course, is 2:00 p.m. PST), just so Ms. Mulligan can enjoy her Friday night.

Have a fantastic weekend, and thanks for reading, everyone!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reading Roundup

I’ve read quite a few books since Christmas. My loved ones were under strict orders to get me MATCHED and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, and they didn’t disappoint. Then I made the mistake of requesting all the books I hadn’t wanted to request before Christmas right after Christmas, and they all came at once. So here’s a reading roundup of all the stuff I’ve read in the rough order I read it, with a few thoughts on each.

1. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins I thought this book was more than worthy of all the buzz it’s gotten. The only reason I didn’t officially recommend it is because the characters engage in some activities that I would never want, say, my kids to do, and I didn’t want somebody picking up the book on my recommendation and then coming back and saying, “But these kids drank beer! And they kissed a lot!” So the kids drink. And they kiss a lot. But other than that, ANNA was a great read.

2. BEHEMOTH by Scott Westerfeld I think I meant to recommend this book and just never got around to it. Like LEVIATHAN, the first book in the series (which I did recommend about this time last year), BEHEMOTH took some time to get going, but the world and characters were as lush and well-developed as I remembered.

3. THREE RIVERS RISING by Jame Richards I wrote a recommendation for this book last month, right after I finished it. In sum, I thought Ms. Richards nailed the flood itself, but I didn’t see the reason for the verse in this novel-in-verse.

4. TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson This is the latest in the acclaimed Wheel of Time series, a set of sprawling epic fantasies that manage to pay homage to J.R.R. Tolkien without completely plagiarizing him. Robert Jordan passed away before he finished it, so his wife commissioned Brandon Sanderson to do just that. I enjoyed TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, but probably not quite as much as THE GATHERING STORM, the previous book in the series and the first written by Sanderson. Only one more book to go!

5. THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew Kirby I picked up this book after reading Myrna’s recommendation and after remembering that the agent who sold it, Stephen Fraser, was one of the agents I interviewed last year. Although I kept waiting for the plot to develop into something bigger than it did, I enjoyed the world Mr. Kirby created and his cast of characters.

6. THE CANDIDATES by Inara Scott This is another one of those boarding-school-for-kids-with-superpowers kinds of books. I found it perfectly adequate. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you’ll probably like this one.

7. PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow Plain Kate is the daughter of a woodcarver, and her unearthly skill in that craft leads several of the townspeople to believe she is, in fact, a witch. The world, which reminded me of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, was both vivid and a little sickening. PLAIN KATE was beautiful in its prose, but haunting and slightly disturbing in some of its subject matter (which, again, is the only reason I didn’t recommend it).

8. DEAD BEAUTIFUL by Yvonne Woon And here we have another boarding-school-for-kids-with-weird-things-going-on book. I thought both the boarding school and the romance in this story were more fully fleshed out, but in spite of that (or maybe because of it), DEAD BEAUTIFUL felt too derivative for me, too Harry Potter meets Twilight (right down to some of the descriptions of the male lead).

9. THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff If someone ever makes this book into a movie, it better be Tim Burton. Ms. Yovanoff’s imagery and description were just so Burtonesque, but not in a bad way. That said, this was the only book of the ten I didn’t finish. Although the writing was quite good, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

10. MATCHED by Ally Condie Oh, the long-awaited MATCHED. I saved this one for last because I was so excited for it, and in some ways, it didn’t disappoint--but in other ways, it did. Honey Bear actually read this one first, and he didn’t like it much at all. I liked it more than he did, but I could sympathize with his major gripe: There’s not a lot of plot in this book. If you’re expecting things to happen, you should probably just read the SparkNotes and hunker down to wait for CROSSED.

Well, there you have it. Ten books in a little more than six weeks. I’m exhausted, but in a good way:)

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Query Update

Total queries: 50
Pending queries: 8
Non-responses: 1

I recorded my first non-response last week, on February first, exactly three months to the day from when I started querying. I’d long since given up on that particular query (the agent in question generally responds within a week if interested), but I don’t write it down as an official non-response until I hit the three-month mark. Because you never know when an agent might get back to you at an unexpected time.

Case in point: Last week, I actually recorded my first TWO non-responses, and unlike the first one, that second query had stayed with me. The agent was one I’d interviewed, and even though her agency employs a no-response-means-no policy, I really thought she’d at least send me one of those quick thank-you-for-the-look-but-no-thanks kind of notes. I followed up with her once, at the end of November, explaining that I thought my first query might have gone astray, but I never heard back on that one, either. I figured she was either swamped or uninterested or both.

Fast forward to mid-January. I finished Bob’s revision, and as I was sending out a few new queries, I noticed this agent’s name at the top of my query spreadsheet. Against my better judgment, I decided to give her one more try. I sent her one last query, logged the date in my spreadsheet, and resolved to move on after that. And I did. (Like I said, I marked the query down as a non-response last Tuesday.)

But when I opened up my inbox Friday morning, I found a surprise e-mail waiting for me from this agent. She thanked me for following up and apologized profusely for missing my earlier queries. Then she requested a hundred pages:)

I don’t have a rule for when I follow up and when I don’t. I know most people discourage you from following up on a query, ever, but I don’t think that’s as cut-and-dried as everybody makes it sound. If the agent claims or appears to respond to every query and you never hear back, chances are, the agent never got your e-mail. As long as you’re upfront about it--and as long as you’re professional--I don’t see a problem with sending the agent another note (provided you feel strongly about it).

Following up on requested manuscripts is even trickier. On the one hand, it’s really nerve-wracking to wait it out for weeks, and sometimes months, and most people agree that checking in with agents at the three- or four-month mark is an acceptable querying practice. Keep in mind, however, that when you follow up on requested material, you might as well be throwing up a white flag that says, “Please respond to me! No one else is interested in my manuscript, and I’m desperately hoping you are!”

Note: The previous paragraph does NOT apply if you receive an offer of representation. In that case, the ONLY thing to do is contact the agents who are still considering your manuscript in any way and inform them of the offer. Post haste.

In sum, the art of following up is definitely an art. Go with your gut. And best of luck to all the people down there in the query trenches with me. How’s it going for you?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview with an Agent: Nicole Resciniti

Well, I’ve got another great interview with another great agent to share with you today. This latest installment of “Interview with an Agent” features Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency. She reps some popular genres, so get ready to add another agent to your to-query lists!

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

NR: I've always been an avid reader (read: insatiable). Hooking up with Mary Sue was a blessing. I worked behind-the-scenes at the Seymour Agency with her, learning the ropes. Mary Sue is incredibly astute, and she's taught me a great deal. It takes a trained eye (and gut instinct and knowledge of the market) to determine if a story has the potential to sell.

After studying both the legal and craft sides of the industry, I received my accreditation from AAR this past year. I opened the Seymour Agency's Southwest Florida Office. I divide my time between here and NJ, allowing me to venture into NYC to pitch directly to the editors. Since becoming an agent, I've actively sought new, strong voices in a variety of genres.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

NR: My philosophy is simple, find work that I absolutely love and then do everything in my power to sell it. The key word here is "love." There is a lot of good material being circulated by a great many talented authors. When you consider the number of people globally and the resources available to these authors (books on craft, online readers, writing chapters) and the state of the market--good isn't good enough. Something has to be "great" in order to sell. When I find that perfect blend of voice and unique premise, that harmonious pacing that keeps me tearing through the manuscript…I fall in love.

As to the second half of this question, when working with a client, the relationship varies. It all depends on the author and what they want/need. I talk to some of my clients on a daily basis. We bounce around ideas, brainstorm, or I give updates on their submissions. With other clients, we speak far less frequently, or at intervals when they'll forward me a portion of their current WIP. Loyalty, trust, and communication are essential in an author-agent relationship (or any relationship for that matter). I'm very fortunate to have found great authors.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

NR: I have several projects that I'm very excited about. Jeff Gunning's golf guide [THE SMART GUIDE TO GOLF] is one I like to cite, because it's outside of what I normally rep--and I'd like to see more non-fiction projects.

For "coming soon" purposes, Shelley Galloway's HER SECOND CHANCE will be released next month by Harlequin. Shelley is a longtime client of Mary Sue. Shelley also writes as Shelley Shepard Grey. Whichever name she's using, she's wonderful to read.

What draws me to a project? My interests vary extensively, so the main draw for me is an author's voice. I recently signed two clients, Marisa Cleveland and Julie Ann Walker. Their voices are worlds apart. Marisa pens chick-lit YA, and Julie crafts rough-and-tough romantic suspense. In both cases, I would recognize their writing instantly. Their voices are that strong.

We provide a list of our published author's release dates (and appearances and signings) on our website. I've also incorporated a page for our pre-published authors at Creating buzz and establishing a literary presence prior to selling is important in helping a debut author launch their career.

Since I'm "new" too, I want to find unpublished authors. I want to grow our careers together.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

NR: I represent all genres except erotica and poetry. Romance is a huge portion of the market, so I'm always excited to see a romance query in my inbox. And I'm a sucker for HEAs. Sci-fi and fantasy intrigue me.

In any genre, the voice needs to stand out and the premise must be fresh. Everything--I mean everything--has already been done. What new twist does the author spin on the same tale?

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

NR: Pet peeves, hmm. Addressing it to another agent's name and mailing it to me. Sending screenplays or poems (which I don't rep). Or taking a wordy synopsis and pasting it into the body of the query.

One thing that isn't a pet peeve, but something I'd caution an author against is stating their inexperience. When you go on a job interview, you want to seem as qualified as possible. If you aren't necessarily qualified for that particular position, you would state the qualities you do possess that compensate for your inexperience. The same holds for a query letter. When an author says any of the following: "This is my first book," "I'm new to writing," "I've finally finished this project after working on it for ten years," OR any variation thereof, it immediately triggers a hesitation in my mind (because a selling author needs to have mastered their craft and be able to deliver a manuscript on deadline).

One of my clients, Amanda Carlson, has included a page on her website to help fellow authors with the query process. Check it out at Other good resources for querying can be found at or Lisa Collier Cool's HOW TO WRITE IRRESISTIBLE QUERY LETTERS is also a good pick.

My best advice is to start with a hook and make the rest of the query mirror the back cover of a book--with a really tight blurb and a sprinkling of info about an author's credits/accomplishments.

I request five sample pages included at the bottom of the query. Query letters can tell a lot, but nothing is more compelling than the actual pages. I always read the opening scene/pages (sometimes before I even read the actual query). When I reach the end of the sample, if I'm left wishing I could read more, I immediately request the partial. If the first pages don't grab me, I probably won't request more of the manuscript.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

NR: I'm always on the lookout for romance with a balance between action and sexual tension. I'd really like to find good historical romance. Thrillers/mysteries that provide more than a police procedural. The YA paranormal market is pretty saturated, so something without wings or fangs. I enjoy mysteries with humor.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

NR: The best way to query is by e-mail, I check my e-mails constantly whether I'm in the office, at home, or on the go. My phone is my best friend, and I--much to my husband's annoyance--check e-mails from my Droid.

The absolute worst part of my job is saying "no" to a submission. Often, if the manuscript requires editing (of the plot and GMC variety), I'll work with the author and review it again.

Not a question of yours, but a last thought…KEEP WRITING. Believe in yourself. Nobody said the path to publication would be easy, but once you get there, it will all be worth it. Join writing groups, polish your craft, and above all, don't quit!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ms. Resciniti, for these in-depth responses. I can already think of a few readers who are going to love them:)

Good luck to everyone who sends her a query, and have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

(Work-in-) Progress Report: Judy

Word count (to the nearest thousand): 2,000 (oh, yeah!)
Status: Writing the first draft
Attitude: Giddy

I’m giddy because I’m writing a first draft again, because I’m still excited about the last draft of my last project* (better known as Bob), and because I’m feeling like a renegade.

“Like a renegade?” you ask. “Please, Krista, do tell.”

All right, I will, but only if you come a little closer. And a little closer than that. Okay, you ready? Because I'm only going to 'fess up once.

I’m feeling like a renegade because I’m writing without an outline.

Can you believe it? I’m writing without an outline! Bob is only the second manuscript I’ve written WITH an outline, but outlining is such a natural extension of my personality that writing without one almost feels like cheating. I just had this story idea (YA again, of course), and I didn’t want to take the time to figure everything out. So I started writing instead. About three days ago.

We’ll see how long I last:)

I have no idea where I’m going with this idea. I’m not even sure what genre it is yet. (Should I try to tackle a contemporary, or should I add some thriller elements to entertain myself? Or should I just throw this silly real-world notion out the window and turn it into a good old urban fantasy?) I just know that I like writing it. I like writing something.

How about you? What are you working on right now, and how is it going?

*I did finish the revision I was working on, and now I’m just waiting to see what happens to it. That’s what querying mostly is, I think: waiting.