Archive for April, 2011

You’ve poured your soul into a novel, revised till your brains are mushy, and now you’re ready to submit your work. But, where do you go from here? The next step is landing a literary agent to represent your novel.

In the simplest terms, a literary agent is someone who submits your novel to publishers. They do everything behind the scenes that helps you toward your career goals. They are essential and very hard to come by. Having said that, please know that if you have a well written, original, creative manuscript with commercial appeal then you will find success and an agent – period. They are looking for you as much as you are looking for them.

Now you need to identify which agents are right for your novel and that depends on your genre. A website like Agent Query can help you create a list of agents that might be interested in your work. Make your list of agencies, then go to their websites to make sure that they accept unsolicited submissions. If they do, you can write down what they accept (examples: query, sample pages, chapters, etc.) and all their other submission guidelines. I suggest creating an excel spreadsheet to keep track.

99.9% of the time, literary agents want to read the query letter before they request to read anything else. A query is a one page cover letter that tells the agent about you, your experience, and your book. If you’re stuck here then check out my article: How To Write Query Letters

If you’re a celebrity or a successful published author then the pitch process is a lock. But, what about if you’re not? Unfortunately, due to the current economy, the number of books getting published by new authors are rapidly dwindling. So what can you do to stand out in the ever growing slush pile? Create a strong writing platform. If you’re clueless on platforms then this article might help: Creating a Writing Platform      

This may sound exhausting, but no one ever claimed that it would be easy. The most important thing to remember is that this is your dream. Put everything you have into making it happen. Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Thanks for the comic, Write Strong!


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Don’t you love books? Lucky for us, they’re lots of great books coming out in 2011! I could list some amazing names for you like Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, but I’m sure you already know about those. Instead, I made a list of ten debut young adult fantasy authors that I’m personally excited about. The list order is based on release dates. 

Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney (Published: February 8, 2011)

Freak. That’s what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna’s own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Published: February 15, 2011)

First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (Published: February 22, 2011)

Eden didn’t expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.


So long, happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own.

And that’s only the beginning of the end.

Clarity by Kim Harrington (Published: March 1, 2011)

When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth?

This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

Enclave by Ann Aquirre (Published: April, 12, 2011)

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim (Published: May 17, 2011)

A fallen angel haunted by her past. Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers. Who will show her Mercy?

Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?

The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire (Published: May 24, 2011)

Since the age of fourteen, Emerson Cole has seen strange things – dead things – swooning Southern Belles, soldiers, and other eerie apparitions of the past. She’s tried everything to get rid of the visions: medication, counseling, asylums. Nothing’s worked.

So when Emerson’s well-meaning brother calls in yet another consultant from a mysterious organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to give it one last try.

Michael Weaver is no ordinary consultant. He’s barely older than she is; he listens like no one she’s ever met before; and he doesn’t make her feel the least bit crazy. As Emerson ventures deeper into the world of the Hourglass, she begins to learn the truth about her past, her future–and her very life.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (Published: May 31, 2011)

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

Hereafter by Tara Hudson (Published: June 7, 2011)

Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won’t want to miss.

Possess by Gretchen McNeil (Published: August 23, 2011)

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by the hunky son of the police officer who got her father killed, and by the eerie voices which she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Turns out the voices are demons–the Biblical kind, not the Buffy kind–and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them.

San Francisco’s senior exorcist and his newly assigned partner from the Vatican enlist Bridget’s help with increasingly bizarre and dangerous cases of demonic possession. But when one of Bridget’s oldest friends turns up dead in a ritualistic sacrifice that mirrors her father’s murder, Bridget realizes she can’t trust anyone. An interview with her father’s murderer reveals a link between Bridget and the Emim: a race of part-demons intent on raising their forefathers to the earth in human form. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the Emim’s plan before someone else close to her winds up dead, or worse–the human vessel for a Demon King.

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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No matter where you turn, someone has advice for you. They know just what you need to do to find the success you’re looking for. I tend to believe that the best advice comes from those who’ve made it in your field so I asked the bestsellers. Here’s some of the best writing advice we’ve received from our interviews with some of the biggest names in YA fantasy. You can find all their individual interviews here.

NYT Bestselling Author of Fallen & Torment, Lauren Kate:

“Finish your book. Even if you don’t think it’s ever going to become anything. Then, the next time, when you write your real book, you’ll know that you can finish.”

NYT Bestselling Author of Tithe, Curse Worker’s series & Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black:

“I have three pieces of writing advice, cobbled together from things people said to me over the years and from my own journey: (1) Read a lot and in a lot of different genres – read nonfiction, read mystery and fantasy and realism and romance, read thrillers and historicals and especially read in the genres you write. The more you read, the better you’ll write. (2) Write a lot and revise a lot too. It takes a ton of flawed drafts and a lot of practice before you get good. If you read my early writing, you would howl with laughter. Seriously – I read some aloud at a panel on juvenilia. It was so terrible that I could barely read it because I was laughing so hard. (3) Find a critique partner. Having someone who liked the same books that I liked and was there to tell me when my scene made no sense and pointed out when I missed deadlines got me to get serious and stay that way.”

NYT Bestselling Author of the Mortal Instruments & Internal Devices series, Cassandra Clare:

“I was once advised that once you’re done with a book, read the whole thing aloud to yourself. It takes a long time but it really lets you hear things like overused words, awkward sentence construction, and the like.”

NYT Bestselling Author of Nightshade, Andrea Cremer:

“To write what you love and what you want to know more about – writing is about passion and commitment, so you need to have a story, characters, and subject that you’re willing to devote yourself to completely.”

NYT Bestselling Author of the Demon Lexicon Trilogy, Sarah Rees Brennan:

“Oh, gosh. I’ve been very lucky – I’ve been given some amazing advice over the years. (Notably from Holly Black. I think she has magic powers: she can advise you on your book, your career, your writing habits, anything, and make everything a zillion times better. Holly Black for president!)

Some advice I’ve received or that I just think might be good advice for those trying to break into YA: To always write what you want to read, and not pay attention to trends. Real enthusiasm sets other people on fire too – and that creates trends. To think about what your characters want, and what they’re going to get. To read, a huge amount, and everything you can lay your hands on, in your genre and out. To find writers who write what you write, with what you feel is a similar sensibility – find out who their agents are (it’ll be in the back of their books) and submit to them!

And of course to always bear in mind the fact that Sarah Rees Brennan may be totally wrong. ;)”

International Bestseller, Robin Hobb:

“Write here, Right now.  Or Right here, Write now!  Whichever you prefer.  Don’t wait to be a writer.  Stop aspiring and just write.  There are stories in your heart that want to be written right now, your very own stories.  If you wait too long, they will either get stale to you, or they will change as you change and grow, and they will never be what they would have been if you had written them right away. If you mind boils with story ideas, start a file on your computer or in a spiral notebook (They still work just fine for me!) and jot those ideas down.  Leave plenty of space on the page so you can come back and add more to the skeleton as it comes to you.  But trap the idea on paper before it fades away.  Only you can write those stories; if you don’t write them, they die unborn.”

NYT Bestselling Author of the Blue Bloods series, Melissa de la Cruz:

“I think the best writing advice is to never give up–so many people told me never to stop trying–and to take your rejections well and don’t let them get you down. Keep knocking on that door until it opens. My advice to someone trying to break in to YA Fantasy is to truly think if the book you are writing is one that you are meant to write, that you LOVE. Right now YA fantasy is very popular, and it’s a crowded market. It will take a lot to catch a reader’s attention. I always advise not to chase the market. Be aware of the market, of course, but when you’re writing, you want to write something that you bring a lot of passion into–bring everything into that project, that’s what makes the difference I think.”

NYT Bestselling author of Paranormalcy, Kiersten White:

“My advice is simple and two part. One: Get critique partners. You cannot get your writing to the level it needs to be on your own. And two: EDIT. Seriously. Just, edit. No first draft is publishable. Probably no second or third draft is, either. Don’t ever, ever skimp on the editing because you’re too excited to get out there. You’ll never regret an extra month or two taken to really hone and polish your manuscript!”

Stacey O’Neale is a full-time writer and co-owner of the Young Adult Fantasy Guide. She’s had several articles and book reviews published, but spends most of her writing time on the revisions to her debut young adult fantasy novel. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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