I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing my first successful literary connection. It's from our January contest, Love Triangle, where we had 25 entries and super agents Vickie Motter and John Cusick.
Vickie Motter has signed Taryn Albright--entry #14: BEGGING TO BREATHE!!!!!! Woooooooot!!!!!! Seriously, so excited about this. Loved the sample of BEGGING TO BREATHE, so I'm not surprised by this news at all! To celebrate I've interviewed both Vickie and Taryn!
C: First things first, what is your sweet of choice?
T: Hmm, tough one. All things chocolate, of course. OH. CHEESECAKE. Particularly white chocolate raspberry.
C: How long have you been writing?
T: Since I was like five. Seriously since senior year of high school...so around 2 years.
C: How long did it take you to write BEGGING TO BREATHE?
T: Erm...2 weeks :) And another week of revising. I really didn't expect it to get an agent.
C: Um, that's crazy awesome! How many did you query with this novel?
T: Just 15. I intended to query more, but Vickie's offer surprised me.
C: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
T: Drafting! I lose my mind and write non stop for a very short period and then wake up to the real world.
C: What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
T: Revising. Ew. But I have to learn to like it!
C: If you could only pick up three things from the grocery store, what would they be?
T: Pineapple, milk, aaaaand grilled chicken. That's a really weird answer.
C: What advice do you have for other writers?
T: Have fun with what you're writing! Enter contests! Get a really great critique group/support group.
C: What did you do to celebrate your offer?
T: Well, I was actually at a swim meet when I got Vickie's email, so after dancing around the pool deck about ten times I had to swim my races (they went well; I won one and got 2nd in the other), we drove back to school, then I fell asleep. Actually I haven't really celebrated yet. I'll get on that once swimming and school calm down!
C: Chocolate or roses for Taryn on Valentine's Day? :)
T: Chocolate. I hate flowers. They're so pointless!!!
C: Tell us a little about your success story:
T: Um, well, I actually entered your contest because I'm attending a conference this summer where John Cusick will be in attendance. I had no plans to query Vickie because she struck me as more of a paranormal/urban fantasy agent (the only two genres I don't write), so basically I wouldn't have gotten her offer without you :)
C: First things first, what is your sweet of choice?
C: At what point during a MS can you usually tell you are going to offer?
V: I usually know by 50 pages in if I'm going to finish reading the ms, and depending on plot and execution, an offer or request for revisions follow.
C: How can you tell?
V: A combination of voice, plot and character. I'm already connecting with the characters by 50pages in, and the plot is already rolling. There's nothing that irritates me more than an ms with fabulous voice with no plot, or the writing disintegrates after the first few awesome pages.
C: What is the first thing you will do after finishing a MS you are going to offer on?
V: I sit back in my chair and start jotting notes either on my Kindle or on a notepad. I concentrate on the things I hate about the ms, the things that need to be fixed. I'm forcing my editor brain to overrule my reader brain. If I had a OMG I LOVE THIS reaction, those are my instincts telling me it rocks. If the edits outweigh the awesome, it'll usually be revisions, but if I can't shut up the awesome, I know I need to have it.
C: Do you ever offer on a MS that you had to take time to decide on first? Or is it typically a fast and easy love?
V: If I have to take too much time, I'll ask for revisions. I also do this to ensure the writer and I work well together and the writer is able to take critiques and implement them in awesome ways. It's the fast and easy love I'm always looking for, but I never underestimate the slow love either--the mss with good writing, characters, and plot, and I can't stop reading, but I have to finish reading before I realize I've read the whole thing. It sounds weird, but it works.
C: Do YOU like to do anything to celebrate before/after MAKING "The Call"?
V: After the call I usually lean back in my desk chair, crack my knuckles, pet my bald cat, and say "That sucker is mine!" In other words, no, not really. I don't celebrate until we sign. Getting my hopes up leads to a lot of nerves. And when I hear those sweet words, "Yes, I'll sign with you!" I dance harder than Snoopy, with about as much variation.
C: Do you have any advice for a writer who just received "The Call"?
V: Rub it in everyone's faces. Well, your best bud's. But remember to stay calm (after running down the street screaming like a banshee). You're entitled to your celebrating, but don't forget that work is still to be done, like telling the other agents and tearing your hair out nervously waiting for more offers to come in.
C: What kind of things can you forgive in a MS when considering offering? What things must already be in good shape?
V: I can forgive a lot, as long as it isn't too much of too many things. Like if the character and voice is solid, I might be willing to work on plot. If the plot is amazingly solid but the character might be a little weak, I might be willing overlook that. Grammar, dialogue, and a unique concept are absolute musts. Those things really can't be taught.
C: If you could only grab three things from the grocery store, what would they be?
V: Peanut butter, pineapple, and pita bread. Incidentally, also the things I take on long road trips.
C: What made you request the partial on BEGGING TO BREATHE?
V: The idea of a murder mystery staged within 24 hours in a closed environment like a swim meet... it just intrigued me. And I immediately connected with Tessa, the main character who, in the first 250 words, reflects on how killing someone isn't nearly as cool as she thought it would be. What's not to like about that?
C: What made you offer on BEGGING TO BREATHE?
V: The main character, Tessa, she turns out to be totally screwed up, and badass, and hilarious, all the way through the novel. And the murder mystery is revealed in such a timely, awesome fashion--that's plot for you. I originally only requested 100 pages and when I got to the end of those, I screamed at my Kindle "NOOOO!" That's when I knew I'd most likely offer. I was stalking my email waiting for Taryn to send the full ms--that's clue number 2 that I wanted it so badly. Then I sat down and read it without hesitation. That's love, babe.
C: What is the most common reason you will not upgrade a partial to a full?
V: Partials are usually the ones that I have reservations on for some reason. I hate to say it, but Begging to Breathe's word count was lower than I usually consider--generally it's difficult to get a full character and plot arch in (as in-depth as I like) in 50k. Ya, was I wrong. I do enjoy eating my words though; I'm not so arrogant I can't not admit that.
C: What is your biggest advice for writers seeking agents?
V: Stalk agents. Nicely.
Take criticism and seek it. Humbly.
Never give up. Keep a bottle of wine on hand.
C: What is your favorite part of being a literary agent?
V: That complete and total high I get when I find an amazing manuscript and I think "I know something no one else knows" or "I have discovered this, this is mine, no one else knows of it's existence, ha!" It's a very Columbus sort of mentality--and yes I'll fight off the competition to get it.
C: What is your favorite novel?
V: Hahahaha. That's mean.
If anyone actually wants to know the answer, check out my blog. I have a rather eccentric list of favorites.
C: Anything specific you are seeking right now?
V: YA scifi (the actual kind, like with space ships), romance, and high fantasy (the actual kind, with royals and dragons and far, far away lands)
Adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy.
C: Roses or chocolate for Vickie on Valentine's Day?
V: Sugar-free chocolate pie with strawberries. Which I'll make myself. Uh... ya I might be romantically and cane sugar challenged. Also, I never fully learned to appreciate the giving of dead flowers.
C: Please tell us something super weird about yourself.
V: I'm afraid of technology. Yet the idea of having Twitter on the go is seriously making me want a fancy phone.
A huge THANKS to these two fabulous ladies for the interview and participating in my very first contest ever, Love Triangle! I can already imagine them working together and eating PINEAPPLE. Ha!
Thanks for reading!!