Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kickass Queries Series! # 12 - Emily R. King

It's baaaaaaaaack!!!

I know it's been a very long time since I've been active on this blog, and for an almost equally long time, I've wanted to change that. As a result, I've decided to bring back the Kickass Queries Series installments, wherein authors share the query that nabbed them their agents. It's fun, it's useful, and y'all seemed to really appreciate the last go-round, so it felt like the perfect way to ease back into the blogosphere.

Here today to kick off the brand new series is Emily R. King, who not only scored representation with Marlene Stringer at Stringer Literary Agency, but also recently sold her book to Skyscape for Publication in 2017:



 CONGRATULATIONS, EMILY!!!
Curious to know how Emily went about pitching her book? Well, you're in luck. Because not only has she shared the query, but she's also answered a few questions to help those who want to follow in her footsteps. Let's start with the query:

Pitch for YA fantasy, THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN:

Rajah Tarek claimed ninety-nine wives and countless courtesans before he came to Kali’s temple looking for his final queen. When she sees his gold carriage, she knows a benefactor has arrived. She knows he will pick the prettiest, strongest girl. And she knows with her plain looks and history of fevers it won’t be her.

She is mistaken.   
                                  
The rajah claims Kali, ripping her away from her simple life high in the mountains to his desert palace. But before she’s to wed him, Kali must defend her position as his final wife in an age-old rank tournament, battling to the death against young courtesans vying for her throne. In this competitive female hierarchy, sabotage rules. Kali’s only peace is found while in the company of her kind imperial guard. A man she’s forbidden to love.

When Kali’s fevers prove to be more than an illness, but a feared power, she agrees to aid a warlord and end the rajah’s tyranny. Her one chance of being alone with Rajah Tarek—and killing him—is on their wedding night. A wedding that will only take place if she sacrifices the love of an honorable man to end the reign of a monster and is crowned the hundredth queen.
Pitch for YA fantasy, THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN:
Rajah Tarek claimed ninety-nine wives and countless courtesans before he came to Kali’s temple
looking for his final queen. When she sees his gold carriage, she knows a benefactor has arrived.
She knows he will pick the prettiest, strongest girl. And she knows with her plain looks and
history of fevers it won’t be her.
She is mistaken.
The rajah claims Kali, ripping her away from her simple life high in the mountains to his desert
palace. But before she’s to wed him, Kali must defend her position as his final wife in an age-old
rank tournament, battling to the death against young courtesans vying for her throne. In this
competitive female hierarchy, sabotage rules. Kali’s only peace is found while in the company of
her kind imperial guard. A man she’s forbidden to love.
When Kali’s fevers prove to be more than an illness, but a feared power, she agrees to aid a
warlord and end the rajah’s tyranny. Her one chance of being alone with Rajah Tarek—and
killing him—is on their wedding night. A wedding that will only take place if she sacrifices the
love of an honorable man to end the reign of a monster and is crowned the hundredth queen

WOW, am I right? And here's what Emily had to say about her querying process:


G: How many manuscripts did you query prior to signing with your agent/publisher?

ERK: I queried four manuscripts before signing with my first agent; I signed with my second agent after querying one manuscript; and I was on submission with two manuscripts before signing with my publisher.

G: How long did it take to write your query/pitch, and what things/steps do you think were most important to make it agent/editor/contest-ready?

ERK: I suggest that writers compose their pitch before they draft. A pitch is a snapshot of the premise. The more specific yet concise a pitch is the stronger the manuscript will be. This is why I write the pitch before or while drafting. Catching a weak spot in my pitch has prevented larger revisions in my manuscript later. Also, writing a pitch while drafting helps fine-tune your story before your brain is bogged down by unnecessary details. After your manuscript is written, it can be a monumental task to condense thousands of words into an enticing 250-word pitch. In the drafting stage, the story isn’t as ingrained in your mind. You can more easily filter through what’s necessary and what’s clutter. 

G: Tell us about your query style – do you approach your entire list of prospectives at once, or query in small batches and revise in between?

ERK: First: Research, research, research! Utilize websites, social media, and your writer/author friends. Follow agents and editors on social media and introduce yourself to them at writer conferences. Visit literary agency/agent websites. Know who is currently open to submissions, what their guidelines are, and their feedback style. Write down everything you learn and form lists of ten or so agents. When your manuscript is ready, send the first ten queries. After a few requests/passes, send another ten queries. Query in small batches so that if you receive feedback for revisions you haven’t botched your opportunity with every agent in the land. Most agents are amenable to revisions, but only if they request them.

A query is your one shot to make a good first impression. So have a finished manuscript, study the agents you query, and be ready with another story to work on. Don’t wait for good fortune to come your way. Write. This will be hard, especially when you’re tempted to check your email constantly, but writing is the only true cure for querying anxiety. 

G: Now the fun part – what was “the call” like? How did you know your agent/editor was the right person to represent/publish your project?

ERK: Querying is like dating. Don’t look for a girlfriend/boyfriend, look for a spouse. For many reasons these agent/client partnerships, although well-intended, don’t always work out. Suffice to say, a year after signing with my first agent, we amicably parted ways. I reentered the query trenches with a manuscript no editor or agent had seen. Within a week, I got an offer from an agent who shared the same vision for my career. I had found my match.

This story has a happy ending, but some writers are still looking for theirs. I’ve been approached by writers who are unhappy with their agent, but terrified to “start over.” No writer should stay in a stagnant business partnership, risking their career because they’re afraid of querying again. To those of you in this situation—have every confidence in your writing. An agent offered you representation before and it can happen again!

G: If you could give one piece of advice to authors seeking publication, what would it be?

ERK: No matter where you are in your career, you are not alone. Every writer experiences rejection, disappointment, frustration, and makes missteps. If you love to write— and I mean LOVE—you will find a way to achieve your publishing goals.

Thank you, Emily, for your fantastic advice. I know I can't wait to see THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN on shelves (and anyone who feels the same can click the book's title and add it to their Goodreads shelf). Best of luck and thanks again for sharing your query! 
Rajah Tarek claimed ninety-nine wives and countless courtesans before he came to Kali’s temple
looking for his final queen. When she sees his gold carriage, she knows a benefactor has arrived.
She knows he will pick the prettiest, strongest girl. And she knows with her plain looks and
history of fevers it won’t be her.
She is mistaken.
The rajah claims Kali, ripping her away from her simple life high in the mountains to his desert
palace. But before she’s to wed him, Kali must defend her position as his final wife in an age-old
rank tournament, battling to the death against young courtesans vying for her throne. In this
competitive female hierarchy, sabotage rules. Kali’s only peace is found while in the company of
her kind imperial guard. A man she’s forbidden to love.
When Kali’s fevers prove to be more than an illness, but a feared power, she agrees to aid a
warlord and end the rajah’s tyranny. Her one chance of being alone with Rajah Tarek—and
killing him—is on their wedding night. A wedding that will only take place if she sacrifices the
love of an honorable man to end the reign of a monster and is crowned the hundredth queen.
Rajah Tarek claimed ninety-nine wives and countless courtesans before he came to Kali’s temple
looking for his final queen. When she sees his gold carriage, she knows a benefactor has arrived.
She knows he will pick the prettiest, strongest girl. And she knows with her plain looks and
history of fevers it won’t be her.
She is mistaken.
The rajah claims Kali, ripping her away from her simple life high in the mountains to his desert
palace. But before she’s to wed him, Kali must defend her position as his final wife in an age-old
rank tournament, battling to the death against young courtesans vying for her throne. In this
competitive female hierarchy, sabotage rules. Kali’s only peace is found while in the company of
her kind imperial guard. A man she’s forbidden to love.
When Kali’s fevers prove to be more than an illness, but a feared power, she agrees to aid a
warlord and end the rajah’s tyranny. Her one chance of being alone with Rajah Tarek—and
killing him—is on their wedding night. A wedding that will only take place if she sacrifices the
love of an honorable man to end the reign of a monster and is crowned the hundredth queen.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Deja vu Blogfest - Why I Write Teens Who Act Like Teens


Happy Deja vu Blogfest Weekend!

The post I've chosen to rehash for #dejavu2015 was originally posted in February, and is called An Open Letter to My Readers: Why I Write Teens Who Act Like Teens.

It's an honest, heartfelt post that rings true about my published novel (LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE) as well as my unpublished and soon-to-be-published books (BUSTED, coming from Sourcebooks, and a second YA contemporary from Simon Pulse). How do *you* feel about the depiction of teens in YA novels?

***
This post has been brewing for some time, but now that there are ARCs of LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE out in the world, a story that I'm very attached to and very proud of, I feel the need to finally say this out loud.

Look! A stack of LYM ARCs as seen in Chicago
at the ALA 2015  Mid-Winter Conference!

Let me start by saying this: I don't just write about teenagers. I also write for them.

Yes, I'm an adult who devours YA novels. Yes, I know a large percentage of the people who read YA novels are actually adults. But when I sit down to pour a story from my brain to the page, I'm not thinking about the other adults who will read it.

I bring this up because, as someone who does read a lot of YA, I also read a lot of reviews, blog posts, and tweets about YA novels.

And it's become increasingly bothersome to me that there are so many people who choose to read books about teenagers... and then complain when the characters act like teenagers.


Photo credit: movie-addicted
When I decided to write a novel set in high school, I wanted to draw on my own experience. In doing so:

I'm thinking about a girl who experienced total culture shock going from 8 years of city Catholic school to a public high school in a swanky small town where she didn't fit in. I'm recalling the cliques, the jocks, the "popular" kids and the "losers," - things that many are so quick to deem stereotypes, even though they existed and still do. I'm recalling the pain of being teased and called names. I'm thinking about how one look from a particular person could make my day. Or the way it would crush me when the one person I wished and hoped would notice me never even knew I was alive.

I'm remembering falling in love for the first time.

I'm thinking about new friendships being formed, old friendships falling apart.

About words I wish I'd said, words I wish I could take back.

I'm remembering having my heart broken.

In short, I'm thinking about the me that I used to be. And I'm thinking about the girls who are in high school now, living through all of it for the first time.

***

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite shows was My So-Called Life. There's a Twitter account, @MSCLQuotes, that tweets some of the shows best quotes. Like this one:

"Huge events take place on this earth every day. Earthquakes, hurricanes. Even glaciers move. So why couldn't he just look at me?"

Photo credit: towonderland
To me, this quote is the embodiment of a high school crush. Angsty, dramatic, all-consuming. She takes something commonplace, and puts it on the same level as something huge.

I would've fainted on the spot if Jared Leto looked at me like that when I was a teenager, and I'm only exaggerating a little.

Because when you're a teenager, you tend to feel everything, as Kelsey says in LYM, magnified in clear, sharp focus. (I touched on this subject once before, in a post titled The Big Impact of Smaller Things)



And it's natural that when you're driven by hormones and emotion, you're not always thinking straight. You tend to do and say stupid things. Make decisions you wouldn't necessarily make again. Let your passion get the better of you. Break the rules, or at least wonder what it's like to. Feel like you know everything and absolutely nothing, all at the same time. Test your limits. Cry. Say things you don't mean. Say things you *do* mean, but still regret. Try things you end up loving. Try things you end up hating. Pretend to love things you don't. Experiment with your appearance, among other things. Make snap judgments. Fall hard and fast. Get hurt.

Most important? YOU LEARN FROM ALL OF IT. Because you're figuring out who you are.

Later on, it might all seem silly. But in that moment, it's everything.

These are the things I strive to capture when I write a young adult book. So it boggles my mind when I see people citing immaturity or melodrama or "dumb teenage stuff" as the reason they didn't like a YA novel.

These are, by definition, books about teenagers. YOUNG adults, not actual adults. People who don't yet know that hindsight is twenty-twenty, because they're just learning how to adjust rear view mirrors - not analyzing their lives through them.

So, to me, reading a YA novel and then trashing it when the characters act their age is like ordering a banana milkshake and complaining that it tastes like banana.

If there are people out there who managed to get through high school avoiding all the drama, who were treated fairly by all and were a ray of sunshine to everyone in return, who never made a bad choice or let emotions or inexperience get the better of them, then I applaud you. Everyone has their own reality.

But that's not the high school I remember.

And so, dear readers and critics who've either read or are thinking about reading my novels, I sum up my post with this:

If you are looking for books about people who always make the best decisions, featuring sage adult brains in teenage bodies and teenage bodies in adult predicaments, then my novels are probably not for you. My characters are flawed, they make mistakes, they feel things with their whole, bleeding hearts. And I like them that way. I celebrate the "young" in "young adult." Many of my favorite authors do the same. And I think that if my novels make you feel something - even if it's annoyance at people who don't have it all figured out - then it means I've done something right.

If you agree, then I encourage you to read LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE. Review it. Share your thoughts with me. I'd love to hear from you. To those who already have - thank you, from the bottom of my still-seventeen heart.

Happy reading, everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

In Which I Have NEWS! ...And Celebrate With a Giveaway!


Hey, bloggy peeps!

It's been over a month since I've posted anything, and a good part of the reason for that is because I've been hard at work on my second book for Simon Pulse.

But while I was sitting in my office watching my word count on that manuscript slowly (PAINFULLY slowly) climb, something pretty awesome happened...


.... I SOLD ANOTHER BOOK!


Yay! My YA Contemporary, BUSTED, has been acquired by Annette Pollert at Sourcebooks, and I am thrilled.



I started drafting this novel while LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE was on sub, and it was ridiculous amounts of fun to write. I had a big smile on my face when I finished, and I hope you'll feel the same way if you read it.

At any rate, I am super grateful to be giving LYM a sibling. So grateful, in fact, that I've decided to run a Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway to celebrate. As you know, reviews are important to authors in so many ways, but I think these graphics break it down best:




So - here are the rules:

- Between now and 12/9/15 (which is LYM's half-birthday) read LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE (if you haven't already). Then post a review on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. 

- Leave the link to your review in the comments section of this post. Be sure to also leave your email address or Twitter handle, so I can notify you if you win.

The review does not have to be long - a few succinct, insightful sentences is fine. And it can definitely be a copied and pasted review that was previously only posted to Goodreads or your blog or website (as long as it's yours. No plagiarizing, obvs.)

YES - this contest is international! 

**An extra entry will be given to anyone who posts a review AND tweets about the contest. I'll even provide some pre-made tweets to make it easy**


Enter 's Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway to win awesome titles from  and !  

I entered 's Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway to celebrate her new deal with ! Details here: 

One winner will be announced on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 9th, and will receive:
- Any one Simon Teen title of your choice
- Any one Sourcebooks Fire title of your choice
- Signed LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE swag
- Saltwater taffy (in honor of one of my favorite scenes in LYM)

Thanks in advance for helping me celebrate, and I can't wait to share BUSTED with you!

*** CONGRATS TO NATALIE BLITT, WINNER OF THE CONTEST! The Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway is now closed, but new reviews are ALWAYS appreciated! ***

Thursday, September 10, 2015

LYM's Homecoming Launch Party!


Hi Everyone,

My last post talked about my July trip to Connecticut, and the death of my grandmother. It was a bittersweet thing to write, and I've been meaning to post a happier follow up, because the trip did have a highlight:



I had a "homecoming" launch party for Last Year's Mistake with friends, family, former co-workers, and even some new fans at the Fairfield University Book Store.

It was a great success, but I haven't had time to tell you about it, because of this little thing called Book 2 (not its real name) that's been taking up lots of my time. And then there's this other thing:


Which, of course, is not a "thing" at all. My little guy recently turned two, and I swear he has enough energy and to light a small country. So now that I actually have 5 minutes where I'm not writing and not wrangling a toddler, I thought I'd share some photos from Launch Number Two (Recap of LYM's release week and photos from Launch Number one can be found HERE).

*** Special shout out to my husband and party planner extraordinaire,*** who organized the refreshments, and surprised me by hiring a photographer to snap pictures of the event. It's something I never would've thought to do, but I'm so glad he did, because the night was a big blur.

And, as always, a huge thank you to everyone who came out to Fairfield that night, to everyone who has bought and/or read, and/or reviewed LYM, to everyone who took the time to cook or bake, and to everyone who continues to show love and support to me and my books.

You are so very appreciated.

If you want proof of how happy you make me, just take a look at the smile on my face in these pictures.







#WorkingMom

He has plans for that Sharpie. None of them good.

My parents rocked their "My Daughter Wrote" t-shirts....

And some of you might recognize the fabulous
Dahlia Adler, who came all the way from NYC <3 td="">




















"Never be ashamed to be yourself" is how I signed this book,
and many others. Kelsey's been there, so have I. We're all good enough.