Preliminary Thoughts on Marketing for Chasing Fae

After posting my big news, I really didn’t know what to post next. I’ve got two more days until my big anniversary post, and everything I was thinking of seemed anticlimactic. Maybe on Sunday, I will go back to a post about fantasy writing, or maybe not. I may ride this out a little bit and switch back to fantasy writing posts on Saturdays.

So today, I thought I would share some of the thoughts that I’ve come up with today on how I want to begin marketing for Chasing Fae. I would really love for writers and readers alike to comment their opinions and any ideas that you have for places and people I should reach out to. Please please please share! All of the input I can get is very valued.

Email Newsletter for Chasing Fae

I desperately need to create an email newsletter. I know that it is one of the best ways to connect with fans and share up-to-date news about your books and your writing life. I have just never been able to find the right time or the right way to go about it. The last time I tried to create a newsletter, I started a really cool template on MailChimp. I really liked that platform, but when I went to send a test email to myself, I realized my home address was printed at the bottom of the newsletter. I was a bit horrified, so I tried to turn that off. It turns out that because of international spam law, a mailing address has to be printed. I thought about using my William and Mary PO box, but I haven’t made a solid decision about that yet. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Revamping My Facebook Profiles

Fluff About Fantasy currently has a Facebook page, and frankly, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic at the moment. I want to spend some time making some unique posts on that platform outside of posting links to every Fluff About Fantasy post. Closer to the release date, I’d like to host a live video Q&A session! I’ve never done one before, and I would love to try it out. I’m also toying with the idea of creating a Facebook author profile that focuses on my work as an author and/or a Facebook group specifically for Chasing Fae. I don’t know if I need all that just on Facebook, but I think each type of Facebook profile has its own merits.

Who To Reach Out To In Anticipation Of The Book Release

I have a lot of people to reach out to!

I’ve spoken briefly to my high school back home so far about promotion for my book, and they are excited about my work! I’m really happy to be able to share this with my former classmates and the current student body. I haven’t reached out to the right people at my college yet, but it is only day one. These will be my first places to promote my book through newsletters, any public announcements, and hopefully, communicating with librarians to potentially house my book.

Regional newspapers would be a good place to send a press release to if I can find the courage to make the connection. I’m looking at three cities right now: Charlotte, Williamsburg, and Richmond (the biggest city close to me). I also want to find websites and magazines devoted to young adult books and/or the fantasy genre who may have a place for me to submit a guest post with my bio or welcome authors to promote their work. Still working on that research! If you have any good names or websites, please comment below!

That’s the bulk of what I have so far. Thank you so much for all your support in this journey so far. I can’t believe I’m finally kicking off the publishing journey! I’m going to have so much to share with you over the next coming months, so stay tuned!

Happy writing, everyone!

The Biggest News Of All Time

Setting it up big here with the title, huh?

I am so happy to announce that New Degree Press is going to be publishing my fantasy novel, Chasing Fae, in July 2020!!!

This is absolutely huge, and to be honest, several hours later it still hasn’t set in yet. I’ve been working on this book for two years now, and my dreams are finally coming to fruition. And don’t worry: I will still be working on my history book through the Book Creator Program and release that book later in the year after this one.

Let me walk you through how this came about.

The Beginning

So, I have been working with New Degree Press for a while in partnership with the Book Creator Program. In late November, I was sitting in on a seminar with Professor Koester about the process of hybrid publishing. I was intrigued when I realized that using their pre-sale model (which uses the sales from preorders to generate the cost of publishing the book and has a 99% success rate) while retaining full rights and full creative control of the novel sounded like a great deal. It seemed like a viable option outside of traditional publishing that didn’t fall into the vanity publishing category, which I would NEVER want to enter into.

Out of curiosity, I messaged Professor Koester after the seminar and asked him if New Degree Press took outside submissions. To my surprise, not only did they read submissions from authors outside the program, but he could introduce me to the head of the publishing board the next week and get the process started. I was kind of taken aback! I hadn’t expected things to move so quickly, especially right before exams. But I decided to take the ride and see where this went.

The Conversation

I set some time aside during my exam week for a video chat with the head of the publishing board at New Degree Press, Brian Bies. We talked about the publishing process a bit and what my goals were for my book and my vision. I really felt listened to. He treated me with respect and answered all of my questions. And I asked a lot of questions. I think somewhere in the ballpark of 20-25. None of my questions phased him; he answered all of them completely and with plenty of detail. I felt like a professional rather than the confused young writer that I think I am.

I decided that I needed to submit to them. I just needed to try. I knew only about 8% of submissions would make it to publication, but I needed to try.

The Submission

I went home for Christmas break and dove into revisions. I wanted to make a few revisions from my original manuscript sent to literary agents because I had some new ideas to improve the novel. I revised heavily for about a week. Then I sent off the draft to be read at the end of December.

Then came the waiting. I waited for almost four weeks until…..

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I’m going to have a fantastic “how did you find out your book was going to be published?” story.

That morning, I woke up groggy and just not feeling well. I had a bad headache, congestion, and a slight fever. I was thinking “Really? On the second day of classes? I hate the cold.” I rested as much as I could during the morning, missing my German class, so that I could go to my first Field School in Material Culture class in the afternoon. This was a class that only met once a week, so I didn’t want to miss one right off the bat! Getting sick at the beginning of the semester sucks because I feel like teachers may think you’re trying to skip out. I’m not! I’m a good student! I just don’t function while ill.

Anyway, I went to this class, and I snuck a peek at the messaging platform that I was communication with New Degree Press on. To my surprise, I had messages! After I quickly scrolled up to the top of the thread, and I realized what it said: New Degree Press green-lit Chasing Fae for publication this summer.

It didn’t hit me. It didn’t hit me at all initially. I couldn’t think, and I couldn’t process this information. And then I had to wait THREE HOURS for my class to be over in order to communicate to other people what happened!!!

When I got out of class, I called my family and my friends, and I told them what I had learned. I posted the announcement all over social media. And suddenly, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t stop smiling. Love was pouring in from everywhere, and I just did my best to absorb it all.

This is REAL now. Chasing Fae is going to be in print and in people’s hands. I cannot wait to share this book with the world. And I want to thank every single person reading this post right now for being involved in my journey. For listening to what I’ve shared about my book, coming to my website to learn and be invested in the journey, and thanks in advance for checking out my book when it releases!

Subscribe to Fluff About Fantasy to keep up with all the latest news about Chasing Fae!

Drawing Inspiration From Real Life

Every story that I have ever started has drawn upon inspiration from my world, whether that be my family, my friends, or events that have happened in my life. The first book I ever wrote was actually about a fictional version of my family and their adventures in a strange, slightly fantastical land (but cut me some slack, I was only ten). Big moments and important people in my life do eventually manifest themselves as book characters, albeit with some significant modifications. Today, I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces of Chasing Fae that have been created from significant elements of my life.

Grace

Grace is a strong, independent woman who has found herself in a situation that she has no idea how to remedy. She is taking care of her mother and their home by working full time, and she’s planning this grand adventure to find out how her older brother died. She has this indomitable stubbornness that just radiates throughout everything she does. She’s honestly my favorite character that I have ever written.

Grace started out as the person that I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to take charge of my own life and stand up for everything I believed in with confidence. When I started Chasing Fae midway through my senior year, I was still very much hiding in the shadows. I had a lot to say, but no real way to say it without feeling shut out from my peers. I never seemed to say or do the right things, so there was a long period of time that I just stopped trying. Grace wouldn’t have stopped trying. She said what she thought without any care for the consequences, and although she does have an introverted side to her, she had no problem being bold when necessary.

But as I continued to develop and work on Grace, she took on a whole new life. She was a living, breathing character with rough edges and an emotional side that I had never anticipated her having. Her sadness manifests as anger and frustration, and when she keeps it tampered down for so long, she is bound to break. That emotional rawness that’s hiding behind this stubborn surface is something that I really admire about this character. I’m very proud to have written her into existence.

Leo

Leo is Grace’s older brother who has just died at the beginning of the book. I’ve touched a lot on where the inspiration for him came from in Sibling Bonds, but I want to dive in a bit more into what the character means to me.

The friend who acted as an older brother to me has been in and out of my life over the last year and a half, and it hasn’t been the prettiest. Every time I try to walk away and let it go, there is always that emotional side that ties me to answer one more text, send one more message. There’s this love and appreciation that just seems to override my instincts sometimes, to my benefit or detriment depending on the situation. I know that he is anxious to read the book when it does finally get published, and I do wonder sometimes how he will view the character, whether he will see any of his past self in him.

Leo, for me, is the closure that I needed. It is very critical that he is dead initially. Grace and Leo’s relationship has had its ups and downs, luckily more ups than otherwise. But she takes away this purely good, strong, and loving memory of him that she carries with her throughout the trilogy. In the first book, she’s chasing his memory, chasing whatever brought around his death. But readers are going to see her really connect with that grief and be able to open up as a person eventually.

The Upper Realm

The Three Realms was actually my first real attempt at worldbuilding, and the universe definitely has taken on a life of its own.

I’m going to focus on the Upper Realm because of its depth and richness in detail. I spent nearly four months on the Upper Realm alone as I was formulating my ideas about where the book was going to go. The Twelve Houses are based off of the twelve signs of the zodiac; I’m a intermittent fan of reading my horoscope and attributing zodiac traits to book characters. I never saw myself creating any less than twelve. Once the idea was there, it stuck, and I couldn’t do anything else. I liked the idea of incorporating opposing elements to create this perfect balance. Those elements became incorporated into the main alliances as well. Elemental magic has always been one of my favorite types of magic to read about in a fantasy novel, so I wanted to incorporate as much of that as possible.

The logical ones came first: Fire, Water, Wind (as a substitute for air), and Earth. Then light and darkness followed by day and evening, sun and moon. Then I was up to ten. I had to think for a while about what the last two elements would be. I finally came up with peace and war because I wanted to create two societies that would truly represent the balance. The House of Peace would not possess a standing army and would focus on education and the arts. It would be a universal trading partner. The House of War would be situated in a place with natural defenses (the mountains and the river) and be primarily cut off from the other eleven Houses. They would be entirely self-sufficient in a desire not to rely on anyone for assistance, and their soldiers would be the strongest in all the Realms.

The Upper Realm is what made me realize how much I LOVE worldbuilding.

I’d love to hear about what elements from your story draw from your experiences in real life. Please share in the comments below!

Fluff About Fantasy: Official Announcements

Hey everybody! I am aware that my presence on this site has been someone lax lately. I promise I’ve got a lot of reasons big and small of why my life has been so busy, and today’s post is about making all of those announcements as well as some new changes to the site!

Announcement #1: Scaling Back

I am so passionate about Fluff About Fantasy that it has been absolutely killing me not to be able to write two posts a week as I did last semester. But to give you an idea of how this semester is going, I’m taking essentially three history classes and two languages, including starting an entire new language (German). Now while I love all of these classes, the reading load and the work load is nearly double what it was last year. I feel like I’m moving forward towards my academic goals with fantastic speed, but it means my time has dramatically shifted.

Because of this, I’m going to officially cut down to one post a week on Saturdays. This way, I can put out a clear and interesting post of decent length out to my readers without placing too much stress on myself. I want to put out information that you all are going to want to read and want to use in your writing endeavors.

I hope I won’t lose any of my readership by scaling back! I’m still looking to expand and grow; it’s just going to take a little more time than I thought.

Announcement #2: My Departure From The Pantheon

Today, I officially left the writing project, All in The Pantheon. I have loved writing for Aphrodite for the last six months, and the people at the Pantheon are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life. But my time has become too short, and I have had little to no time for my own writing pursuits like Chasing Fae or Fluff About Fantasy or my new upcoming book (see Announcement #3). I had to make some tough choices about what activities to cut out of my overcommitted life, and unfortunately, this was one of the things that had to go.

It was so tough having to leave. My last couple days with them were fantastic; I got so many well wishes from everyone. My friend, Nikki (who writes for Nike) did not want to let me leave at all. I love her so much; she’s always been one of my favorite people at the Pantheon. But she also made me super emotional! My friend, Ashley, (who writes for Nyx) adopted me through their #AdoptAMortal initiative on Twitter before I had even announced my official departure! It was super exciting and made me feel a lot better about whether I would still hear from these fantastic writers. I got added to a new group chat with some of the writers so I could keep in touch, and I’m still on the unofficial Discord chat.

If you haven’t started reading the amazing stories at All in the Pantheon, you should head over there now! My stories will still remain up for a while, so catch them while you can!

Announcement #3: Book Creator News

The Book Creator program that I’ve enrolled myself in is going fantastic so far! I’ve loved learning from Professor Koester and the other young writers taking part in the program. I’m still in the researching and interviewing phase for now, but I’m starting to get really excited about the writing process. I’m looking right now at a potential July 2020 release through this program. Stay tuned for more news!

Announcement #4: Other Social Media Accounts

I’m working on expanding my social media presence across multiple platforms to gain more traffic. I would appreciate it if you would all help spread the word!

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

That’s all for now, my friends! Look forward to a new post about writing next Saturday!

A New Project: The Book Creators Program

Over the next year, I’m going to be embarking on a new writing journey that I am so excited to share with you all. Last month, I joined the Book Creators Program, an open source program created by Professor Koester of Georgetown University to guide student and young professionals to write and publish a nonfiction book. I ran into this opportunity on a flyer in the cafeteria, and being the writer soul that I am, I couldn’t resist signing up.

Over the course of the next 5 months, I’ll be working on researching, interviewing, and creating content for an approximately 25,000 word first draft of a nonfiction book that parallels something that’s either important to me in my life or to what I want my future career to be. I will have the opportunity to work with a developmental editor as I begin writing and focusing my book. Around February, I’ll have the opportunity to work with New Degree Press, a hybrid publishing option that helps authors set up a presale campaign to pay for the production of the book. I’ll work with an editing team, a marketing team, and learn all sorts of valuable publication information. And if all goes well, I’ll have a published book in my hand by July 2020 and for sale on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Reading the information packet is an absolute whirlwind. I can’t even fathom how all of these pieces come together in such a specific period of time, though I imagine it takes longer for some writers. I’ve had my first two class sessions with the professor and a large group of writers, and I think he’s absolutely brilliant. To come with a project to motivate young writers to create and actually publish something early in their professional career with minimal cost to the author is really special. I’m excited to get started.

The idea I’m working on right now is tentatively titled Bringing History Home. It is going to explore this concept of personalizing history.

Historians are always searching for ways to bring history to the people, ways to make people care about the past and its impact on the future. But in my experience, it always appears that they are trying to accommodate some denominator that will hit the largest amount of people the same way. I want to take a look at what it means to bring history down to the individual and touch each person in a way that fascinates them. So far, I want to investigate interactive and living museums, such as Colonial Williamsburg; history through the arts, like the smash success that is Hamilton; and discovering history through genealogy. I’ve got a lot of ideas that are simmering, and it’s exciting.

Writing Book #2 of my fantasy series, querying for book #1 (and hopefully participating in Pitch Wars!), and writing this at the same time definitely seems like I’m staring up at a massive hill with no real knowledge of how to get to the top. But I’m up for the challenge. I love all of these projects, and I know that with hard work, I am absolutely ready.

I’m an author. That’s just what we do.

Writer’s Block

I’m tired, folks.

No more so than usual, but this week, I feel like I need to just lay around in bed for a week and recuperate. Unfortunately, there is much to do. I’m preparing to go back to school which means packing. And cleaning. And frankly, I’m not very good at either.

I’ve been trying to write for several days now. All kinds of projects to work on: Aphrodite and Apollo’s storyline must go on, I have a few more queries I would like to send out, and I should be working on character building for the sequel to Chasing Fae. And of course, there should have been a blog post on Wednesday.

But it has finally happened where my creative juices have temporarily run dry.

I have a couple pieces in the works to boost the blog’s traffic and visibility in the writing world, but I am begging to hear from you. You, readers, are the ones who drive much of what I write on this blog. If you want to see more interesting things from this blog, please comment below with the following:

  • Any information you would like to hear about any stage of the writing process
  • Topics you’re curious about regarding Chasing Fae
  • Tips about the querying process
  • The continuation of the Author Platform series

The Three Realms: Rules of Magic

Previously, in my worldbuilding series, I talked to you about the importance of building rules and structure for your magic system. I thought it might be a great addition if I was to show off how magic works in my own world. I absolutely love the way this system works, and I hope you do too.

Introduction

Magic power in the Three Realms comes from the energy in a Fae or demon’s soul. A magic user feeds the spells with his or her willpower. While the magic that is present in the general world is inexhaustible, the magic present in an individual person is exhaustible. It can usually be recharged with rest, sleep, or certain potions if exhausted. If used up too quickly or too strongly, the magic user will fall into an unconscious state, whether temporary or in extreme cases, permanent. If magic continues to be used to the limit consistently, death is inevitable.

Limits of Magic

Fae are born with a certain small number of inherent magical gifts, or specific types of magic that they have a greater affinity for. This type is called inherent magic. However, noble Fae are born with a greater number of inherent gifts because of their bloodline.

Fae can also learn other types of magic that they do not have a natural affinity for. However, it takes years and years of study to perfect their talents, and even then, some people cannot achieve other types of magic effectively. There are a handful of mages who have power nearly equal to that of a noble Fae because of their propensity to learn. They spend their whole lives studying and usually teaching magic.

Some spells are limited by the time they can be cast. An example of this is a spell that depends on the position of the sun or moon.

Casting A Spell

Casting a spell requires up to three distinct pieces. The first and most general one is intent. The intention of the spell must be focused on intently in order for it to work. In the beginning, Fae must focus for an extended period of time to get a spell to work. More advanced magic users only need a few seconds. The second one is the correct wording. Some spells require a recitation of words coupled with the intent to complete it. This usually starts out as a verbal command and then eventually, with time and practice, can become a non-verbal command. The third one is the correct materials. Certain protection spells or soul-seeking magic must occur at specific times with specific items handy. This can consist of anything from ordinary plants to magical artifacts. These items can usually be obtained from magical craftsmen or magical merchants. However, occasionally, it takes a far rarer type of item that can only be found in certain geographic locations or in certain centers.

Some spells can be stored in charms or amulets for later use.

Some spells require long drawn out rituals, usually ones involving elements of nature (sun, moon, ocean, etc.).

Two or more magic users can combine their power to amplify a spell. However, it is extremely taxing on the both of them and usually not worth the energy loss. It is only used in dire situations.

A mage’s powers often grows stronger over time with age. The level of power in a Fae is measured by:

  1. Presence of noble blood.
  2. Number of inherent gifts.
  3. Education.
  4. Execution of non-inherent magic.

Types of Magic: Levels and Tiers

My magic system is broken up into three levels, each with five tiers. At each tier, you step up the strength of each type of magic. At each level, you also increase the strength. Using this method offered me a clear path of seeing how strong an individual character was, how others measured up against one another. It’s been incredibly useful. I have tables and everything. I started typing those, but they would make this article about twenty pages long. Let me know if you’d like to see that in a PDF in the comments below!

Here are the types of magic that exist in the Three Realms:

  • Animation Magic: The ability to bring in animate objects to life
  • Disintegration Magic: The ability to disintegrate matter
  • Elemental Magic: The ability to control or manipulate the elements of nature (water, fire, wind, earth).
  • Absorption Magic: The ability to absorb energy and convert it into something else like physical strength.
  • Augmentation Magic: The ability to enhance or weaken someone else’s powers.
  • Conversion Magic: The ability to absorb one form of energy and convert it into another form of energy.
  • Energy Manipulation Magic: The ability to manipulate another person’s powers into something else.
  • Force Field Generation Magic: The ability to project powerful fields of manipulated energy that often act as shields.
  • Negation Magic: The ability to mute the powers of another person.
  • Sacrificial Magic: The ability to draw power from the death of another.
  • Sensing Magic: The ability to sense or recognize magical power.
  • Sourcing Magic: The ability to draw magical power from energy sources.
  • Flight Magic: The ability to levitate oneself or to fly.
  • Forensic Magic: The ability to backtrace a spell for the purpose of tracking down people who commit crimes.
  • Glamour Magic: The ability to disguise oneself.
  • Healing Magic: The ability to heal or heal from any injury.
  • Illusion Magic: The ability to disguise something as something else.
  • Divination: The ability to foresee or foretell future events.
  • Invisibility: The ability to be invisible.
  • Shapeshifting Magic: The ability to turn one’s form into that of an animal.
  • Gravity Magic: The ability to manipulate gravity and its effects.
  • Light Magic: The ability to generate or extinguish light.
  • Quantum Tunneling Magic: The ability to move through walls.
  • Medium Magic: The ability to see and communicate with the dead.
  • Necromancy: the ability to reanimate and/or control the dead.
  • Poison Magic: The ability to work with poisons more adeptly and/or possess poisonous abilities.
  • Possession Magic: The ability to occupy, dominate, and/or control another person from within.
  • Psionic Magic: The ability to communicate or perceive beyond the five physical senses, including empathetic magic, memory manipulation, mind control, telekinesis, and telepathy.
  • Sound Manipulation Magic: The ability to alter sound.
  • Durability Magic: The ability to have a higher resistance to injury than an average person.
  • Reflex Amplification Magic: The ability react faster than an average person.
  • Senses Magic: The magnified ability to see, hear, feel, smell, and/or taste.
  • Speed Magic: The ability to move faster than an average person.
  • Strength Magic: The ability to have more strength than an average person.
  • Water Breathing Magic: The ability to breathe underwater.
  • Herb Magic: The propensity for discovering/working with various herbs.
  • Plant Magic: The propensity for discovering/working with various plants.
  • Weapons Amplification Magic: The ability to strengthen the impact, defense abilities, and durability or weapons.

Wow, that’s a mouthful, huh? It’s fairly complex, but I really enjoy the way it all fits together. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Happy writing!

The Write Track Podcast: Episode #7 (And Some Advice About Podcasts)

Hello everybody! First, I want to make an exciting announcement. Today, episode #7 of the Write Track Podcast released today on which I am a guest panelist. In this episode, two other fantastic authors and I discuss YA as a genre along with the host, Valencia Stokes, along with its strengths and biggest criticisms. This was such a fantastic experience; I had a great time recording this with these ladies. Listening back to it, I sound pretty professional. Blows my mind. I’d appreciate it if everyone would give it a listen. Click this link to take you to the website! This podcast is also available on Spotify and iTunes.

This brings up a great topic that I’d like to briefly touch on today, which is how to conduct yourself during a podcast. Doing a podcast was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Surprisingly, it was really easy to get into it and communicate effectively. Here are my top three best tips that I can provide for doing a speaking engagement like this.

  1. Prepare. – Now in this instance, I was lucky enough to receive a list of questions that would be asked beforehand. That gave me the opportunity to make some notes about how I wanted to answer each of the questions that I could have with me during recording. If that is the case for your podcast, I would highly recommend making some notes. It’s a great guide even though you will absolutely go off on a tangent. Don’t be afraid of it. If you don’t get a list of questions, make some notes about the topic in general so you will feel less blindsided.
  2. Make sure your audio is set up. – No matter what recording platform you are using, all of them will use some kind of audio settings. If you’re recording over your laptop or phone, take some time beforehand to make sure your microphone and speakers are in good working order. Be prepared to fiddle with it if something goes wrong during recording. My speakers suddenly cut out, and the audio I was listening to dropped to a whisper. I had to hold my phone up to hear for a couple questions before I spoke. Luckily, I got it fixed, and everything went smoothly from there. Which brings me to my next point…
  3. Don’t be afraid to adapt. – The conversation is going to flow in a lot of unexpected directions even if there is a loose outline in place. That’s the beauty of a podcast. Expect to come up with things on the fly. But if you’re invited to a podcast, you know your stuff. You know your topic. You just have to talk. Let it flow. Play off of what someone else has said. Take an opposing point. Make yourself be heard.

Thank you for reading today. Check out the podcast, and happy writing!

My First Publication

I am so pleased to announce that I am officially published in the historical field. The World War I Centennial website is currently being archived by the US Government for future research and therefore counts as a professional publication. I am absolutely ecstatic. To be published in my field at my age is a huge deal, and I’m incredibly proud of this piece. Please enjoy!

https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/6411-cornell-university-tompkins-county-ny-had-outsize-wwi-role.html

Chesapeake Writing Workshop: A Day to Remember

Credits for this image to Booking.com (https://www.booking.com/hotel/us/crystal-gateway-marriott.html).

Yesterday, I attended the Chesapeake Writing Workshop in Arlington, VA. This was my very first writing conference, and it was such a whirlwind! I had the opportunity to interact with other writers in the area, get some feedback on my first ten pages, and pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time. I’ve got a lot to tell you about, so let me get started right away.

Arrival

I actually missed the first train to Crystal City.

I was in the Foggy Bottom metro station waiting for the blue line train to come at 8:36 am. An orange line train was stuck on the track because of a holdup at the next station over. I was getting nervous because I wanted to get to the hotel with enough time to check in and get oriented. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I watch a blue line train pull into the opposite track. Turns out, I had been looking at the wrong side.

Typical of me to get turned around, to be honest.

The doors closed before I could hop on, so I had to wait for the 8:48 am train. Luckily, I made it to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in plenty of time. I got my nametag and a folder with a copy of the day’s schedule before setting off to the first talk I wanted to see.

The first lecture I attended was about middle grade and young adult books. It was there that I truly understood how versatile the YA genre truly is; people from mid elementary age all the way up to adulthood read young adult novels. You have the ability to cater to a wide audience with YA that I think is very genre-unique. I only got to stay in about twenty minutes though because at 10 am, it was time for my 10 page critique.

Ten Page Critique

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into my critique. I wanted to keep my expectations reasonable, but I also wanted to believe that I was ready for querying. In my heart, I was ready. But was the book ready?

I met with Moe Shalabi, a Palestinian-American author and former junior literary agent at Talcott Notch Literary. As soon as I sat down, the first words out of his mouth were how he loved the story, loved the characters, and needed to know more. I have to say, I was floored. I just filled up with excitement, wanting to hear more of what he had to say. His evaluation of my work was incredibly helpful. He pointed out some details to elaborate on: ways to bring the world to life more, a few points about fleshing out the characters sooner, and some points about verb tense in flashbacks. He also said something to me that I will never forget, something that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

He told me that I had a natural talent for writing.

In that moment, I felt like I was on the right path in my life. This was the idea, this was the story, this was the one that was going to get me where I’d always wanted to be ever since I was 11 writing my first novel.

Published.

It was such an honor to hear that, and I’m quite humbled by it. I couldn’t wait to get home and make those edits. I knew they were going to make my work stronger.

My First Pitch

Of course, then I had to turn around and pitch half an hour later! I spent about ten minutes riding out the high of my critique before I buckled down and drilled my pitch out loud several times. I wanted to make sure I could deliver my summary confidently and clearly.

At 10:50 am, I walked over to Stephanie Kehr, a junior agent for C.Y.L.E Literary. She was my one and only pitch for the day. I liked what I had read about her, and I was hoping that I could make a good impression. After introducing myself, I sat down and launched directly into my pitch. For the first time, I delivered something verbal clearly and concisely with no waver on my voice and without my face turning bright red. It went off without a hitch.

She asked me if I happened to have a sample chapter with me. Although the conference had said you shouldn’t need to hand over anything to the agent you’re pitching to, I had thought ahead. I had seen on Stephanie’s website that for in person pitches, she liked to see a sample chapter, so I had one on hand. She glanced over the first page and told me it seemed like good writing. She handed me her business card and asked me to submit materials to her: my first three chapters, a synopsis, and platform numbers.

I was ecstatic. Especially because she’s currently closed to submissions. To make it over that hurdle means the world to me even if that’s where my book stops with her.

Somehow after all that, I still had almost five minutes left in my ten minute pitch time. I felt incredibly awkward, so I tried to start up a conversation. She gave me some good advice for debut writers and young writers in particular, and we talked briefly about YA as a genre and its versatility. I thanked her for her time and walked out of that room beaming.

Afternoon Lecture: Author Platform

After lunch and a sit-in on a live agent critique of authors’ first pages (never got to mine), I went to my favorite lecture of the day on building an author platform. This is probably my favorite subject, and as most of you know, I’ve been doing a lot of work on building that up over the last six months. But I really wanted to know what more I could be doing to improve my visibility.

A couple takeaways for me:

  • I really need to start working on an email newsletter. I’ve attempted to start one a few times, but due to international spam law (that’s a thing!), I have to leave a mailing address at the bottom of the newsletter. Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, I probably could use my mailbox at my college. That would be a physical mailing address I have access to, but if something malicious were to occur, I can’t be tracked to my dorm room or my home address. I need to look more into that.
  • I want to do more guest posts for others. Preferably fantasy leaning or writing blogs that would help boost traffic onto my website. I think I’m doing a fairly good job of writing about fantasy writing, so why not share it with more people?

Aftermath

After the conference, I worked into the late evening on editing my first ten pages according to my critique. I pulled all of my query materials together, and last night, I sent out the first batch of query submissions: the six that I originally selected plus Stephanie Kehr from the conference. I had a little send off call with my mom, sister, and boyfriend where I sent off the emails/online forms with them on the call with me. My dad was unfortunately traveling, so he didn’t get to join me. Next time though for sure! I’ve forbid him from traveling during the next submission round xD.

Now comes the waiting game.

How long will that be?!

Note: I want to especially thank my father for paying my way for this conference. It was an invaluable experience that I will never forget. I made steps in my writing career today because of him, and I just want to say thank you.