Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chantele Sedgwick on Querying & Rejections

Hello Everyone! Chantele Sedgwick is here to do a guest post today. I am so extremely grateful to her for taking the time to share this message with us. It is something we all need to hear and understand. I've learned so much from her already - she was the one who helped me enter into the writing world instead of being a closet writer - and I still continue to learn from her all the time! So here she is!

I'm so happy to be at Leigh's blog today! I'm always so nervous about guest posting, but I need to just relax about it and hope you'll like me... Haha. :)

Leigh wanted me to talk a little bit about querying today. Mostly, how to keep going when all you seem to get are rejections. I've gotten 300+ rejections so far in my writing career. And I know I haven't been rejected as much as some people, but I feel like I can actually share a few things about it with you.

Let me first start out by saying this to those who are querying or who are getting ready to query.

You WILL get rejected. Everyone gets rejected. Whether you're querying your first book to agents, or you already have an agent and he or she is shopping your book to editors. Even if you've sold a book already, your editor or other editors may not like what you write next and reject your next book or proposal. Every author has their story about how they got published. Most people just see the publishers marketplace announcements for huge six figure deals and think the author lucked out. Which, sometimes they do. But most authors have gone through several books, been rejected numerous times and have major setbacks before landing that deal. You never know the full story from those announcements, so don't let those get you down. There's always rejection involved. For every author. At every stage.

Rejection is hard. It messes with your already shaky confidence. It makes you feel like you're writing isn't worth a thing. It's emotionally draining at times. But I've found it also makes you stronger.

Getting all those rejections while I was agent hunting made me realize how bad I wanted to get my book out there. It made me work hard and pushed me to study and hone my craft to make my writing better. Rejections made me reach out to people I never thought I'd be friends with and I've put myself out there by going to writers conferences, online conferences, anything to help my writing grow.

In other words: Rejection has made me the writer I am today.

I'm not saying the road has been easy. It definitely hasn't. There have been so many times I've almost given up. Before I got my first agent, I'd already queried two books and was on my third. I got two full rejections in one day, so it was obviously a rough day. I decided to send out one last query, telling myself it would be the last query I'd send, and I got a call from that agent two days later offering representation.

When my book didn't sell and after my agent and I parted ways a few months later, I told myself I was done. But I sent two queries to small publishers and had two offers within the week. Which led me to my first real book deal.

I still wanted an agent though. Even after signing with my small publisher, I wanted something bigger. So, I wrote more books. Queried two more, and when they didn't get any bites, I told myself I was done. Again. But obviously I'm a very stubborn creature and that didn't happen. I wrote another book. Queried it and got picked up by the fabulous agent I have now. She sold my book last year and I couldn't be happier with where my career is going.

But it's taken 7 years to get to this point. It's been a long time. But I'm so happy with what I've learned along my journey and I know I still have a long way to go.

Publishing is subjective. Agents and editors all want different things. Fifty of them may hate your book, but one might absolutely love it.
Timing is everything. Trends come and go, and sometimes you miss your chance. But most trends come back around, so don't ever think you've written a book for nothing. Hang on to it. It may get picked up later, it may not. But either way, you've worked hard and have grown as a writer because of it.

What I'm trying to say, is this. Don't give up. When rejection gets you down, just think of all the writers who have been in the same place you have. We've all been there. It's hard. It's frustrating, but there are so many other writers out there cheering you on. Be brave. Be strong. Be determined. All of your hard work isn't for nothing. If you love writing and can't imagine your life without it, your time will come. And I'll be cheering for you when it does.

A little more about Chantele:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Prepping for Accountability!

Starting in June, I will change my posting days from Wednesdays to Mondays. Mostly this is for an accountability tracker that I’m sure will help me through the summer. I will call it my Monday Milestones, where I will record how many days I wrote the past week, how many words I added to my MS, how many fabulous moments I had, and how many moments of frustration I overcame! (Got to keep it positive, right?) And I better include how many days I got to read, because that’s just good for the soul! I got the idea for Jessie Humphries blog where she shares her “bullet points.” Mine's a little different, but that was where I got my inspiration – thank you Jessie! If you’d like to join me by sharing your own milestones, I’d love it! First day will be Monday, June 2nd!
Monday Milestones:

___  Days spent writing, plotting, or developing characters!
 ___  Words written.
___  Moments of euphoria.
___  Moments of frustration overcome.
___  Days spent reading a good book!

 Also, I will share some awesome books that I've had the chance to read lately. I'm finally figuring out how to fit more into my schedule. I just finished reading Fate Intended...
And they are both UBER FANTASTIC! I would highly recommend them!
I am currently in the middle of reading Not Your Average Happy Ending, which is all kinds of awesome,
and next on my list is Dreams of Gods & Monsters, which I have been waiting for FOR-EV-ER! I'm so excited for this book!
So tell me, what are you reading? What do you do to keep yourself accountable for your writing?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pathways & Perseverence!

It's a simple thing to compare the choices we make to the paths we take. We hear it all the time. What we choose will affect the path we're on. YES! There's no getting around it. That's a simple truth, and that is where my mind has been as of late. 

My writing has pretty much come to a stand still. I took on more hours at work, signed my kids up for more classes, am going to school full-time, doing books for our farm, as well as trying to fulfill church callings and other things. Am I unique in my hectic schedule? NO! Sometimes I feel like I am, but in truth - I'm NOT! You all have busy lives that you work around and you all amaze me! You inspire me!
So, here's what I've shared with some friends at the writing conference, and I will share it with you now. My truth... my kids are young and I am not willing to sacrifice my time with them. Being a writer, or pursuing any dream, is about sacrifice. These years are too important to me, and I don't want to give them up.

From the time I get home, I am making dinner, helping with homework, running kids to practices and lessons, playing with them, pretending I intend to clean the house, doing laundry, bathing children, and getting them in bed. (I'm sure this sounds familiar!) Then it's homework time. This used to be my "writing" time, but has now turned into homework time. 

Eventually I'm out of hours, unless of course I don't sleep, which I've already cut back on some of that too. What an interesting book I could write during my delirium though! HA! Might be interesting!

So, my job isn't to make excuses here. But, in order to make a schedule you need to know your priorities. My kids will always be at the top of my priority list, and unfortunately, I can't afford not to have school toward the top too.

What I've come to realize...
My time will come! One day I will have more time to write, and I will write my heart out! And I won't have regrets!

Does that mean I should quit, even just for now?
I'm going to strap on my little mouse helmet and get me some cheese!!! There are still choices to make. Still important decisions that can help me along my way. Here are a goals that are helping me:
  1. Set small, achievable, goals.
  2. Hit a daily limit! Even if it's only 500 words a day, at least I'm moving forward!
  3. Reevaluate priorities. There are other places I can sacrifice that won't take away from time with my children.
Will it work? YES - if I stick with it! The path is never easy, but it's not supposed to be! The rewards would be so much less enjoyable if we didn't have to work hard for it! So keep it up to all of you who have finally made it! And never give up, to all of those who are still climbing that mountain! I don't think the climb ever stops. We just keep reaching different lookout points along the journey!
 What are some things you do to help you stay organized, and keep moving forward?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kimberly Afe & The Headhunters Race

Happy Wednesday, Everyone! It looks like I am getting back to my once-a-week blogging schedule! It feels good! And I am super excited to share a great interview and fantastic book by Kimberly Afe, with you today! I am so excited about this book, and I think you will be too! I just got mine delivered from Amazon, and once you read the blurb, I think you'll know exactly why I had to rush and get it!
Sixteen-year-old Avene was sentenced to prison at thirteen for a crime she didn't commit. Now she has a chance to win her freedom back – if she enters the Headhunters Race. Second prize isn't so bad either, an upgrade to the Leisure Prison if you make it to the finish line. To win either prize, Avene and the other prisoners must navigate one hundred and fifty miles of dense forest, desert, and worst of all, cannibal territory.

With a mechanical collar timed to strangle the prisoners if they're not back in nine days, Avene allies herself with seventeen-year-old McCoy, another prisoner that insists on helping her at every turn and a boy she's trying hard not to fall for. Together they battle nature, other prisoners, and the timed death collars to win the coveted prize. But when Avene is tested with one deadly conflict after another, she realizes there is more at stake than winning her freedom – first she has to survive.
 Um... AWESOME, right? And the cover is pretty fantastic too!

So, after checking this out, I invited Kimberly over for an interview and she graciously agreed.

1.      Describe yourself in 40 words or less!

Happy, grateful, appreciative, lover of things (family, friends, my dog, people, writers, nature, coffee, C├ęsar salad, desserts, great commercials, books, fun– this part would go way over 40 words), believer, seeker, hopeful, goofy, playful, quiet, (loud to hubby), housework avoider.

I know that’s probably not exactly the way you were expecting me to describe myself. :)

I LOVE IT! And I totally avoid housework too!

2.      Tell us a little bit about your journey into publishing The Headhunters Race. What challenges did you have to overcome?

            The idea came to me in the summer of 2011.  I brainstormed the entire story with my son over a dinner of spicy spaghetti.  We worked out the entire novel:  the characters and their motivations, the world, and the details of the race as I frantically wrote it all down. Once I was finished, I sent many, many queries (over about a two-year period) and entered it into some popular contests but dystopian was overdone by that time.  Querying dystopian was a big challenge. When I kept receiving rejections based on a saturated dystopian market, I mulled over the idea of going indie and finally decided to go for it.  Dystopian is what I write and I have more than one dystopian novel written.  Deciding whether to go indie was the hardest part of the process because the other parts of it, like cover design, editing, formatting, and how to even get started was fairly easy since so many fabulous writers provide info about it on their blogs and are willing to help.

I'm glad you went for it. I remember when people thought that dystopian was overdone, but I love dystopian novels. And I know a lot of indie authors who are extremely successful because their books rock! I am so excited about yours. It is so cool that you worked through your story with your son! That's AWESOME!
3.      Where did you get your inspiration from in writing Headhunters?

The idea was born on June 26, 2011 after a Zelda game commercial inspired me.  The commercial was brilliant and I thought why can't they make a movie that cool?  And then I thought, why don't I write a cool adventure myself!  So I did. :)

Good for you!!! There are so many forms of inspiration out there! We just need to remember to GO FOR IT!

4.      What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter, pantser? Do you have a specific time and place that you write, or do you fit it in whenever you can? Etc.

I think I’m a hybrid of both.  I’ve figured out that I go back and forth. Sometimes I plot it all out, sometimes not.  I like to get the main ideas down at least and sometimes I just get antsy to start writing when I’ve got enough to get me started.  I mostly write on the weekends because my brain is refreshed from the normal work week and sometimes I can get a cup of coffee and go for it on a weeknight.

Sounds like a good plan. I love knowing how other people make it work. 
5.      What is your favorite thought or quote?

            I don’t have a favorite one – there are so many I love and can relate to.  I like this one a lot though: 

                Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. - Brian Littrell
 Good choice! I'm a big fan of thoughts like this!
6.      What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

                To keep focus on your dream, because YOU are the one that will MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Well said!

7.      If you could have any super power, what would it be, and why?

                This is a good one!  Breathe under water!  I can think of lots of benefits to this one. :)

OH man! That would definitely be a good one! It's horrible, but my mind goes straight to all the pranks I could play on people! Not exactly "super power" etiquette, but it would be fun!

8.      What is one “MUST DO” that is on your bucket list, but has nothing to do with writing?

            Go on a road trip around the United States for 1 year!  There are so many awesome places I’d love to see around our beautiful country.

Very good idea! There are a lot of great places here! I'm trying to add some to my bucket list and take my kids! Like Mt. Rushmore!!! 
Thank you so much, Leigh, for having me on your blog!

Thank you for being here, Kimberly! It has been a real pleasure!

Author Bio:

Kimberly is the mother of two awesome kids, wife of the nicest man in the world, and her dog's best friend. She works by day and writes middle grade and young adult science fiction and fantasy novels in her spare time. She lives with her family in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

Website     Goodreads     Twitter     Facebook     Blog   Amazon

So, show Kimberly some comment love and tell us... what ONE super power would you wish for, if you could? (Or maybe you have a secret one, that you want to tell us about!)