I’m so happy with the trailer for my upcoming middle-grade fantasy novel, Grace’s Ghosts! It releases three weeks from today, but you can already preorder it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound!
Let me know what you think of the video in the comments.
Great news! I am now represented by Jessica Reino at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.
If you’re a writer, or know writers, you probably know that the journey find a literary agent can be a long one. It was for me. Querying is a pain in the behind, but all of the hard work and rejection was worth it. I can’t wait to share the action-packed, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking middle-grade contemporary fantasy I wrote with the world. And Jessica is going to help me do that!
If you’re reading this and you are considering querying a book, you might want to know a bit about the process. I thought I’d share my experience with you all. Maybe it will help someone out there. Here are my tips for querying authors.
- Twitter is your friend! Really! I was never a huge fan of Twitter until I discovered the Twitter Writing Community. Authors, aspiring authors, agents, and editors all come together on the platform and really support one another. Agents will post with the tag #MSWL, which stands for manuscript wish list. Say you’ve written a sci-fi romance about mermaids in space. (I mean, hey, maybe it’s a thing!) You’d type “#MSWL mermaids space” into the Twitter search bar. And maybe, if you were lucky, you’d find an agent who posted a tweet that says, “I need mermaid romance set in space in my inbox ASAP!” You might have just found your perfect agent. Someone who is looking for exactly what you’ve written. My own agent posted something on her profile saying she was an invisible illness advocate. The protagonist of my latest book has an invisible illness so Jessica moved to the top of my list of agents to query.
- Personalize your query! Especially if you’ve found an agent begging for space mermaids on Twitter. Tell the agent why you picked them out of the sea of literary agents. It can only help you to do your research. I made sure to let Jessica know exactly why I was querying her.
- Don’t let the
mugglesrejections get you down! Your book isn’t for everyone. It’s not for every reader and it’s not for every agent. That’s okay. Even when it makes you feel like the world’s worst writer. Even when it makes you want to quit. You’ll get through it. I got so many rejections with my last book. I had to rewrite that thing a half-dozen times before I found a publisher. All of that hard work taught me to be a better writer. And when I queried my latest book, I only had a handful of rejections before finding the right agent. I truly believe that is because I learned from my mistakes. Every step of the process is teaching you something in the long run, even when it stings.
- QueryTracker is amazing! I’m not being paid to say this. I’m telling you this because it’s one of the best tools out there. If you’re planning to query a manuscript any time soon, do yourself a favor and head over to querytracker.net. This website lets you see statistics on agents. For example, you could look up an agent and find out that they only request a full manuscript about once every sixth months and haven’t made any offers in the past two years. Or that another agent doesn’t send rejection emails. Or that another is super fast and provides personalized feedback. You get the idea. You can also look at the current log of queries each agent has, and see where your query sits in line. So maybe you queried on September 5th. You can look and see that the agent has responded to everyone who queried before September 3rd, so you will probably hear back soon. Or that they’ve skipped you and responded a bunch of people who queried after you. It’s also great for just keeping track of all of those queries. You don’t want to forget and query the same agent twice!
- Be sure your book and query letter are ready before you begin. Find another writer to swap queries with. Get beta readers and critique partners to read your book before you query it. Maybe hire an editor if you’re struggling to find honest beta readers. Don’t send a first draft. And probably not a second draft, either. You don’t want to blow your shot because your manuscript just isn’t ready yet.
- Query a handful of agents at a time. This goes hand in hand with number five. You don’t want to send your query to all of your dream agents only to realize that you sent it out full of errors. Or that the manuscript needs a lot of work. Send your queries out in batches. That way, you can use any feedback you may receive to your advantage in your future queries.
I hope this helps! If you have any query tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below! Happy querying!
Back in December, I participated in #PitMad, a pitching contest on Twitter for authors. For those who aren’t familiar, authors tweet out pitches for their books. Agents and editors then favorite the pitches that they are interested in reading, and authors email them part of their manuscript. Then they wait, hoping that they hear back soon.
I pitched Grace’s Ghosts and got several requests. I sent off my query letter and partial manuscript to most of the people who requested it. And then, I waited. There’s a lot of waiting in publishing. After reading my initial query, a handful wanted to read the whole manuscript.
One of these was an editor at a small press called Immortal Works. After reading my entire manuscript, the editor emailed me with some feedback. She liked my story, but thought it needed a few tweaks. In publishing, this is called a “revise and resubmit.” It’s not a guarantee that a publisher will offer a contract if you make the changes, but it is a great sign. I made the requested edits, and soon thereafter, the editor told me she was going to take it to her board to recommend publication! Again, the book could be shot down at this stage, but I was pretty excited!
Two weeks ago today, I was getting ready to take my daughter to dance. On the way out the door, I checked my email on my phone. There was an email from the editor. I could tell from the preview line that it was good news. They were offering to publish my book! I let out a happy scream, jumped up and down, and hugged my confused kids. When I was able to verbally express what was going on, they screamed and hopped around the room with me.
The release date is not set as of now, but I will keep you updated. I can’t wait to share more news about my book with you all!
I don’t know how often some well meaning friend or acquaintance will say to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!”
How do I write, homeschool three kids- two with special medical needs, one with autism, take care of my home, and cook from scratch for allergies, all while living with chronic illness?
The answer is simple.
I don’t “do it all” every day.
Some days, my house is a mess.
Sometimes, I go a week without writing anything.
Sometimes, my kids don’t get the world’s healthiest dinner.
Sometimes I look at my 5 year old and wonder when he last had a bath.
I can’t do it all.
I can’t do everything well all the time.
I pick what’s most important at the moment. Usually, my kids win. But sometimes, the house has to get cleaned and I know that they’ll learn plenty if I send them outside with a magnifying glass and a jar and tell them to look for bugs.
Sometimes, the pain from my autoimmune disorder is just too much and we lay in bed and watch Bill Nye the Science Guy together.
But, I think when I leave this world, my headstone will read, “Mama Tried.”
And that’s really all any of us can do.
I am not perfect.
I drink too much coffee.
Sometimes, I swear.
Sometimes, I yell at my sweet kids.
Sometimes, I forget to call a friend back for a month.
But I’m trying.
And I know that all my mama friends are trying just as hard.
I know that we live in a picture perfect Instagram/Facebook/Twitter world, but let’s be real. My life doesn’t look exactly like my Instagram feed. I don’t take pictures of the pile of dishes that needs to be washed and add a pretty filter and put it on the internet. I don’t blog about when my ten year old acts entitled or my five year old hits his siblings.
Maybe I should, though. Maybe we should all be more honest with one another.
So here I am, telling you honestly: I can’t do everything. I am not Wonder Woman or Super Mom. I have laundry that needs washing and boxes in my garage from when I moved. In March. I have so many projects I want to work on, but I can’t, because there isn’t enough time in a day. And that’s okay.
I think I write for kids because there is a certain authenticity that we can have with children that is harder to accomplish with adults. Kids are not carrying the baggage adults carry. Kids don’t need to pretend that their little hearts are not soft in order to make it through their days. When you are a child, your heart and mind are more willing to soak up all of the goodness books can pour out. I think this is why children’s literature sticks with us throughout our adult lives and is why, years later, our hearts can be healed by simple words.
I don’t know about you, but with all of the sadness in the world right now, I need some healing. I need to be able to believe in the goodness of mankind. I need to be able to remember the happy days of my youth. I need to be able to believe that, as a nation, Americans can do better. I mourn for the people of Orlando. For the families of the victims. For their friends. For our nation as we sit here trying make sense of madness. I pray for change that is long overdue and answers that no one seems to have.
I’ve put together a list of quotes from children’s literature that give me hope. My desire is that they will bring you some hope as well.
And If I may add some words of my own- In “Nellie Nova Takes Flight,” Amelia Earhart has these words of wisdom for Nellie and Niles:
Children’s books continued to bring me joy and wisdom into my adulthood. It really is why I write them. I hope and pray that I can inspire kids in the way I have been inspired.
Today, I hope that you leave this post with your spirit renewed. Our world can often be filled with so much tragedy. but let’s not overlook the good. Let us never forget to BE the good.
I pray for this nation. That we learn to love one another and that we can make the changes needed to overcome hate and fear.
I am so excited for my Dallas-area book tour! I love Dallas! My family and I spend nearly six years living in the area. I am happy to announce the schedule for my tour. Other events may be added. I will be sure to update this post if that happens.
Thursday 3/3 1:30 PM- Private Event for a Homeschool Group
Friday 3/4 3:30- Private Event at an Elementary School
Saturday 3/5 8:00 AM-12:00 noon- Chestnut Square Farmer’s Market, McKinney TX Public Event!
Monday 3/7 2:3o PM Robert Muller School for Ethical Living, Fairview, TX Public Event!
Tuesday 3/8 11:oo AM. Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Frisco, TX Public Event!
Come on out, listen to me read and speak a bit about the book, the process of writing a book and girls in STEM!
This is absolutely one of my favorite parts of being an author. I LOVE to meet young readers and interact with them. I am ecstatic that I get to go back to one of my favorite places in the world to share “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” with the community.
I hope to see you in North Texas!
I have been doing a lot of book events and it is so much fun. I absolutely love meeting young readers and hearing what they have to say. Today, I did a reading and presentation about writing at St. Michael School in Cary, NC. I met kids in the 3rd and 4th grades and I was really impressed with these kids. They had a lot of great questions!
I have events coming up in NC and TX. Events I have done or have scheduled range from homeschool groups to schools to science centers. These speaking engagements are quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of being an author. Upcoming public events include:
Academy for the Performing Arts, Apex, NC Feb 25th at 6:00pm
Robert Muller Center for Ethical Living, Fairview, TX- March 7th at 2:30 pm
Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Frisco, TX- March 8th at 11:00 am.
I also have several private events coming up in NC and TX at homeschool groups and schools.
It’s great to be with young readers and see them react to my story. I love talking with them before and after these events. At many of these events, I give a quick talk about writing or world-changing women. It is great to be able to connect with kids and hear their thoughts on these subjects. I hear a lot of people complain about “kids today,” but I have met so many bright, engaged kids. I think the young people of this generation are amazing!
If you are interested in hosting a reading at your school, homeschool group, or any other venue, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am local to Raleigh, NC, but I am open to travel.
After a few weeks on the market, reviews for my book, “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” have started to accumulate on Amazon. I am so happy that it’s been well-received!
“This book is rich with empowerment and keeps you hooked throughout the whole story with it’s quirky adventures. There is never a dull moment in the Nova family!”
“Nellie Nova is a character who exemplifies what it means to be an intelligent young person. Such a wonderful story. Well written, keeps your child engaged throughout”
“This entire book and story line is an attention grabber.”
“Stephenie Wilson Peterson tells an amazing story that’s just great for kids. In a world full of male protagonists, story for our daughters that really tells them, “you, too, can do anything you set your mind to” is a great thing! I would absolutely recommend this to anyone.”
“I read this aloud to my 6 year old son, and he was intrigued the entire time. He enjoyed the suspense of the unknown, and I agree the storyline was engaging. I appreciate an author that ties in history with fiction – It’s inspirational.
I am so happy to hear that people are enjoying my book!
If you hadn’t had a chance to do so, check it out!