OMG this week just got even more exciting (this week is exciting, right?) because we have our second Cupid Connection Interview!!
Please help me welcome our latest literary connection to the blog...
C: First things first, what is your sweet of choice?
Anything with caramel. Caromello bars and Ghirardelli milk chocolate caramel squares are my go to choices.
C: How long have you been writing?
I began seriously writing in the beginning of 2010.
C: How long did it take you to write LOVESENSE?
I drafted LOVESENSE last November during NaNoWriMo. I'm a pantser, so all I really knew was that she could read love in photographs. Everything else (such as love literally stinking) came while drafting or through lots and lots of revisions.
C: How many did you query with this novel?
I sent out 18 queries total and entered 6 contests (with 24 other agents) over the course of 17 days before I received my first offer of representation. Signing so quickly is still a rush. I was expecting to be in the query trenches for quite a while.
C: What made you decide to enter the contest?
Besides the fact that Cupid’s Literary Connection makes great matches you mean? One of my CP's was helping with the contest and told me to enter. I'll pretty much do anything that girl tells me to do:)
C: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I’m picking two. I thrive during that the fast messy, anything goes, write crap all day long drafting phase. (Just writing that sentence is getting me pumped for NaNo). Reading through that first draft and finding the story in revisions is crazy fun too.
C: What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
Line Edits. I read the entire MS backwards, one sentence at a time. Self-inflicted torture at its finest.
(For real? *passes out*)
C: If you could only pick up three things from the grocery store, what would
Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Trader Joe's Peanut Butter filled Pretzels
Honeycrisp Apples-hands down the best apple I have ever eaten
C: What advice do you have for other writers?
Total newbie here, but I'll put in my 2 cents.
Find a critique group, attend writing conferences, and recognize that
you’re going to write a little bit different than everyone else. (I’m
a pantser, but I tried to fit myself into a plotter and it didn’t
accomplish anything good-but it did give me a complex for a few
months.) Embrace your writing style, keep putting that butt in the
chair, and don’t give up.
C: What did you do to celebrate your offer?
I screamed and jumped up and down and checked the email 50 times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. My 6 year-old thought I had a Secret Agent, so we did a lot of singing that song, Secret, Agent Man… I called my husband and all my CP’s breathless with the news. My heart rate stayed elevated that entire day—I was that happy.
On a side note I had been making a batch of whole wheat bread and I
totally forgot about it for two hours. When I finished adding the
flour and beating it back down so they could rise they cooked up to
some of the best bread I'd ever made.
C: Tell us a little about your success story:
Always an avid reader (some might call my obsessive) I dreamed of
having my name in print, of being a published author, but it wasn’t
until 2010 when my best friend called and told me she was writing a
book that I felt this yearning to pick up my pen again and write. We
were cluesless CP’s that first year, but we kept each other going. In
2011 we attended the week long Writers and Illustrators for Young
Readers conference. I’d never even heard of a query until that week
and realized I knew a whole lot less about craft than I had thought.
After that conference I came away with an awesome critique group (yay
Plum Critters!) and the realization that I needed to finish the
manuscript I’d been toiling through for a year and a half. Six weeks
later my rough draft done, I celebrated having written an entire
novel, and shelved the manuscript.
I know NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone, but for me, I found my groove in
the world of fast messy drafting, pumping out LOVESENSE in 30 days and
then revising it to death, sending to CP’s, move revision rounds, beta
readers, and that final polish took me 10 months (2 of which I set it
aside and drafted another novel).
For some reason the online contests seemed less scary than
querying-even though they’re public-so I entered all the contests I
could find. Thanks to your CAGI contest, I received three requests and
also had a judge suggest I query an agent she reads for. In the
meantime I was waiting on a 50 page critique I'd won on Writerly
Rejects and was busy sending out a few queries every other day.
My first offer of representation game 16 days after I’d sent my first
query. Talk about complete shock. I’d been preparing myself for at
least a year in the query trenches. I informed everyone else with my
partials, fulls, and queries and then waited knowing I could sign with
my first offer and be a very happy girl. We had “The Call,” some
really kind passes that thrilled me, and another offer during the next
And then something crazy happened. My second offer was from a Julia
Weber, a new agent (since Jan. 2012) and she’s not even based in the
US, but as we emailed back and forth that day and the next I couldn’t
believe how much I liked her, how open she was, and how comfortable we
were together. Still, I didn’t think I’d sign with her, but we set up
a time to talk. When she asked if Skype was okay, I thought, “Oh man,
then she’ll see me.” We were talking at 6 am my time. I moved it back
to 6:15 so I could put on clothes (good idea, right?) and*hopefully*
force my contacts to stick to my eyeballs.
We had a great conversation and I asked a lot of hard questions
because I wanted to make sure she could actually sell my manuscript
and understood the US market. She tackled all of my questions. I got
that gut feeling (the one that had been tickling me the day before). I
knew I had found my agent.
Oh my! I totally just got chills! Simply awesome!
Now we get to hear from this super awesome agent, Julia! Check out her info here and don't forget to follow her twitter!
C: First things first, what is your sweet of choice?
Pretty much anything covered in chocolate. I’d live on Kinder chocolate if I could. Oh, and poppy seed cake... I’d KILL for poppy seed cake. *licks lips*
C: At what point during a MS can you usually tell you are going to offer?
I usually get the first nagging feeling about half way through the manuscript. But I really try to contain myself till the end. There’s still a lot that can happen in the second half after all.
C: How can you tell?
I get all excited and MUST know how it continues.... which means I can’t put it down and even keep reading while walking home from the tram stop (possibly resulting in me walking past my house —yes that’s happened)!
C: What is the first thing you will do after finishing a MS you are going to offer on?
Drink a cup of coffee and think it all over once more. What is it that I like so much about the story/characters? How much work will it need? Do I have any spontaneous comments/suggestions?
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?
It’s usually fast and easy. The second I find myself looking for reasons NOT to offer on a MS, I know it’s going to be a no. Hesitance is never a good sign.
C: Do YOU like to do anything to celebrate before/after MAKING "The Call"?
Apart from trying to get my heartbeat back down to normal, you mean? Swivel in my swivel chair for a few minutes. Yes, I am *that* cool. Ahem.
C: Do you have any advice for a writer who just received "The Call"?
Squeal. Do a happy dance. Then sleep on it.
C: What kind of things can you forgive in a MS when considering offering? What things must already be in good shape?
If it’s fixable quite easily, it’s okay. I don’t mind a few typos or smaller tweaks regarding plot and characters. As long as I know how to fix something that doesn’t really work, I can work with it. What I need to already be in great shape is the voice, writing style and the overall concept. Small tweaks are fine. A full rewrite? Not so much.
C: If you could only grab three things from the grocery store, what would they be?
Chocolate, coffee and a pain of chocolat... or three.
C: What made you request the full on LOVESENSE?
I loved the premise right from the start. I mean a girl who can smell a relationship merely by looking at a picture of the couple? C’mon... What’s not to love about that? I just *had* to know what happened next.
C: What made you offer on LOVESENSE?
Simple. I couldn’t come up with a single reason why I shouldn’t offer representation. The premise, the characters, the voice. I just loved it all.
C: What is the most common reason you will NOT upgrade a partial to a full?
If I don’t really want to know what happens next. This doesn’t mean the manuscript isn’t good enough — sometimes it just means that I already know it’s not quite right for me. Some subgenres or topics just don’t draw me in enough. The query and first three chapters usually give me a pretty much good idea if the manuscript is my cup of tea or not. It’s a highly subjective decision. Another agent might absolutely love it.
C: What is your biggest advice for writers seeking agents?
Join social media like Twitter and follow (and interact with) as many agents, editors and other writers as possible. They all offer a wealth of tips and advice regarding writing, querying and the publishing industry. Agents often discuss queries and manuscripts they’ve actually received and share what (didn’t) work for them. They also tend to share what kind of stories they are seeking. That way, writers cannot only see who might be interested in their story but also get a sense of the agents’ personalities and see who might be a good fit personality-wise.
C: What is your favorite part of being a literary agent?
I love queries (that follow the guidelines), I really do! Whenever a new query pops up in my inbox, I’m exhilarated by the prospect of finding a manuscript that makes me tingle all over. There’s nothing better than finding a gem in the slushpile. I also love the creative part of the job; to work on manuscripts and to discuss characters and storylines with my authors. The absolute best part of the job are the authors though. I’m still building my list as I only started out at the beginning of this year but the writers I’ve signed so far? They’re FABULOUS. #TeamWeberFTW :)
C: Anything specific you are seeking right now?
Strong contemporary YA. It can be funny, it can be heartbreaking. All I want is to be hooked from start to finish. I’m also looking for Women’s Fiction, Romance and psychological thrillers.
C: Now please tell us something super weird about yourself. :)
I stuck my head between two steps when I was 4. Couldn't get it back out. My parents had to disassemble the stairs. I’m a right-handed left-handed, hate the sound a pencil makes on paper and always (and I mean always) have random numbers flying around in my head. Oh, and my favourite pizza topping is a combination of pineapple and black olives.
Right-handed and left-handed? Flying numbers? I like Julia even more! LOL Great advice! Everyone go do exactly what you were just told to do.
Thanks to Robin and Julia for the interview!
And thanks again readers for stopping by!