Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Writer Spotlight - MarcyKate Connolly!!

For one of my first two spotlights I chose MarcyKate, and as you'll learn, she's done a lot of writing! I chose her for this because of the fact she's been SO CLOSE and had so many successes but is still seeking for that representation. 

When I started reading her entry for the spotlight I immediately recognized her title, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG, from a contest a few months back. I remembered seeing it do well and was actually quite shocked to see it in my inbox. 

She's been sought out by agents on her website before even finishing her ms, she's had a huge request rate, her beta readers have been up through the night reading her stories, other writers have tracked her down to say they love her work, but she's also received rejection after rejection. And we all know how much those rejections on full requests hurt. I loved when she said:

"It's incredible how many agents have seen my work cross
their desk and given it serious consideration. But at the same time
it's worse, because the hopes and the expectations are exponentially
higher when you get a lot of requests. There's a much longer distance
to fall before you hit bottom again and you'll only pick up speed on
the way down."

I know that feeling, and I'm sure a lot of you do, too. Even though MarcyKate has reached such high levels and fallen so many times, she refuses to give up and keeps writing. She doesn't let the bad days jade her and, as you'll see, she's determined to keep doing what she loves--writing. I think she's a wonderful example of a great writer who portrays perseverance and hard work. 

I started by asking her some questions and then her query and first page are below. She'd love to hear some of your advice! (She will also receive a detailed query critique from me via email.)

When did you start writing? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing seriously for about 4 years. I started my first novel in 2008, though I’ve dabbled with short stories and poetry since I was a kid. I got the idea for my first novel 
(about fairies in the subway) from my 2-hour commute back and forth to Boston every day.

What category/genre do you like to write?

YA fantasy and science fiction, with an occasional MG idea.

How many books have you written? Tell us a bit about them.

I’ve completed 5 novels (listed below in the order they were written) and have a few others in 
various states of incompletion and disarray:

GLOW, Contemporary Fantasy. When Lily Emerson is drawn into a world hidden in the subway tunnels of Boston, she must come to terms with her newfound siren magic, her love for cursed faerie Ben, and the army of crows hunting her. With a deadline on her life about to expire, she's separated from her allies and only one thing remains on which she can rely: her 

THE GHOST WRITER, YA Ghost Story. Ever since seventeen-year-old Tessa James moved to Manchester, NH, she's done her damnedest to ignore the rumors of ghosts in the theatre next door, even when letters in a foreign language—and her own handwriting—appear on her nightstand. But when the accidents begin, Tessa discovers the letters are pieces of a diary and the tale of Ava Dubois, a runaway millgirl turned rising starlet, begins to unravel. Now she’s on a mission to make the letters stop—because each entry gets a little more real than the last, not to mention the rising body count. If Tessa doesn’t checkmate her ghosts, she just might be next.

THE CRYSTAL BOOK, MG Fantasy. When 12-year-old Solan helps a dying woman on the docks of Atlantis, she gives him and his twin sister, Flora, two blue crystals and a world of mystery to unravel.  Soon their parents are abducted in the middle of the night under suspicion of helping a Sybil outsider – the very woman Solan rescued and hid.  On the run from Atlantean guards, Flora and Solan search for the fabled Crystal Book sought by the Sybil hoping to save their parents and prevent a cataclysmic event from sealing Atlantis off from the human world forever.

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG, YA Science Fiction. When seventeen-year-old Maggie Lyons learns she's a cyborg—and that her parents had everything to do with it—she runs away, accidentally kidnapping her nerdy neighbor in the process. Terrified of what could happen if the wrong people discover her condition, she launches a cross-country hunt for her Maker—the only one who can make her human again. But when she meets others like her, she finds out there's a lot more to be afraid of than winding up under a microscope.

MONSTROUS, YA Fantasy. (Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm from the viewpoint of the monster as a teenage girl.) Kymera, part girl, part-beast, only knows Father, the forest, and her mission—to rescue the girls of Bryre from the wizard stealing them. But when she meets a human boy during her midnight visits to the city and Father’s plans go horribly awry, Kymera is forced to ask who’s the real monster--the wizard, her father, or worse, herself?

Partially completed WIPs:

THE DEVIL IN THE DRAWING ROOM, YA Historical Fantasy. A Victorian-era comedy of manners with the Devil in the details.

MY SO-CALLED BIONIC LIFE, YA Science Fiction. Book 2 in Teenage Cyborg series.
GIRL, REBOOTED, YA Science Fiction. Book 3 in Teenage Cyborg series.

Do you outline or write from the hip?

I like hide in my writing cave and let my pugs keep my feet warm while I plot my story-world domination. Scrivener has been a true blessing for that! Also, I rarely write scenes in chronological order, so having a detailed outline allows me to jump around and write whatever interests me on a given day. I’ve found it’s a wonderful way to keep writer’s block at 

When do you find time to write?

I don’t sleep. Ever. I also have a long commute on a train so I get at least an hour of writing time from that even when I have busy days.

Have you had anything published or other credentials?

Yes, my futuristic YA short story “Connected” was recently published in the Spring Fevers Anthology by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. The anthology is free on Smashwords and $0.99 on Amazon  and features a whole slew of awesome authors :)

Do you have a favorite book/author?

Oh dear. Way too many to name. There are the classics I’ve always loved (Terry Brooks, Douglas Adams, Poe, Austen, Shakespeare, etc), but there are just so many brilliant people writing in YA nowadays that I honestly don’t think I could choose.

What's your favorite music to listen to while writing? And writing snack food favorite?

Favorite music varies depending on the project. Each novel has its own soundtrack that sets the tone and pulls me into their world. Favorite writing snack food is tough, but I think I’d have to say frozen Cadbury Creme Eggs. I use them as a reward for reaching my daily goal  whenever they’re in season.

Who's your favorite hero? Heroine? Couple in literature?

Favorite couple: Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I’m a sucker for a well-earned love. More recently, I really enjoyed the way the relationship between Katniss and Peeta was developed (that was a well-earned one, too) so that’s a close second.

Anyone you want to give a shout out too?

The writing community over at AgentQueryConnect.com and especially my awesome online critique group based there. They’re a fantastic group of writers and they don’t cut me any slack, which is very much appreciated and has vastly improved my writing!
Also, pretty much anyone who has commented on my query/first page/pitch in any of the contests over the past year (there’s WAY too many to name individually, but you know who you are). The support and enthusiasm people have shown me and my work, as well as the critical feedback, have all be invaluable. You guys RULE. :)

Please include your query for critique:

82,000 words
YA Fantasy

Dear Awesome Agent,

Most people remember their first crush, first kiss, and first day of school. Kymera remembers none of that.

But she’ll never forget her first breath.

When Father recreates her from the parts of her broken body, the wings of a raven, the tail of serpent, and a cat’s razor-sharp vision, he gives her life without memories or pain. But not without a mission.

Kymera knows who murdered her. The same wizard in the city of Bryre who is killing off the girls of the countryside one by one. He’s monstrous and Father created a monster to stop him.

Kymera sneaks into Bryre each night, rescuing the captive girls and doing her best to avoid the city’s human inhabitants. Then one night she meets Ren, the king’s page boy, and her resolve weakens. Her nightly missions take on a dual purpose—save the other girls and steal a few moments with the boy who has yet to see her without her cloak.

As she lingers each night, Kymera begins to overhear things: a snide remark about Father, rumors of a hideous beast, and whisperings of a black market dealing solely in live, human goods. Ever since that first breath, she’s known exactly who she is, but now she’s forced to ask: who’s the real monster here—the wizard, her father, or worse, herself?

MONSTROUS, a YA fantasy complete at 82,000 words, is Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm told from the viewpoint of the monster as a teenage girl. I have a MS in Arts Administration from Boston University and as the former marketing director of a professional theatre, I can actively promote my work. My futuristic YA short story “Connected” was recently published in the Spring Fevers Anthology by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. 

First 250:


I will never forget my first breath. Gasping. Heaving. Delicious.

When I opened my eyes, the colors of the world swarmed me, filling up all space with hues and objects for which I had no name.

Three seconds later, I passed out from sensory overload, or at least that is what Father says. He fixed me up and when I woke the second time, the world became a more comprehensible place. The object hovering over me was a face, the circles within it were eyes, and the warm, wet drips leaking from them were tears.

The crease across the bottom that widened under my gaze was a smile.

“You’re alive,” Father said.

Even now, hours later, he mutters it still.


I lean back against the willow and hold out my arms, studying them under the waning sunlight. The thin red lines marking the sections of my body have faded to nearly nothing. All that remains are the many shades of my flesh and the tiny metal bolts fastening joint to wing, tail to spine, and neck to shoulder.

Father, his silvery hair flapping in the summer breeze, lays out logs and strange metal pipes in the field. They will be used for my training. He has not told me what I am training for, only that he will when I am ready. He waves when he notices me watching.

I am sure I will be ready soon. Father is astonished at my progress. Yesterday, I mastered walking within one hour, running in two, and now I can even jump to the lowest branch of the willow with ease. Father says his biggest coup is my speech. He managed to preserve that part of my brain so I talk just as I did when I was human. Before.

You can also find MarcyKate here:

Twitter: @marcykate

Thanks for reading everyone and thanks for the spotlight MarcyKate! 

Please offer your critique on her query and first page in the comments! 

(To read Brandi's spotlight click here!)  


  1. Your story seems amazing, and gives me hope too (hopefully). And all right, I was planning to read your first sentence to see how your writing is, and I ended up reading the whole thing. You are close, keep going!

  2. This sounds awesome. I love both the query and the first 250, which is entirely unhelpful critique-wise, I know. I've seen Cyborg around the internet here and there, and love the idea of both it and this new MS! Good luck!

    1. Never underestimate the power of a well-placed compliment - it's always appreciated! Thank you!

  3. I'll take a stab at a few things. Just to say first, saw your query long time ago on AQC and I think it looks fascinating.

    Here are my nitpicky comments.

    I'd prefer to NOT see the participle phrase and would rewrite. Kymera sneaks into Bryre each night to rescue the captive girls.

    I also think you can delete this: and doing her best to avoid the city’s human inhabitants. We already know she's sneaking, so I don't think you need that part.

    I'd also combine a few other things. One night she meets Ren, the king’s page boy, and her nightly missions take on a dual purpose—save the other girls and steal... I'd take out the resolve part--don't think it's necessary.

    Love the first 250. The only thing I'd change is silvery to silver in the day 2 part. It feels smoother to me that way.

    Good luck with the querying.

    1. Nitpicks are my favorite :) These are great catches - thank you so much!

  4. I love your query, the premise, your writing. Everything sounds fantastic, and I am here rooting for you. Like SC_Author said, you are so close and should continue fighting.

    When I read your query, though, I was surprised to find out she remembers who murdered her. You opened with "most people remember their first crush, first kiss, and first day of school. Kymera remembers none of that." And then you mentioned that she remembers her "first breath," which gave me a sense of new life. This girl got a chance to have a new life. A life without memories, without pain.

    I suggest, then, that you perhaps rephrase things to say that there's one thing that still lingered with her, a glimpse of her previous self: the memory of her murderer.

    Sorry if I misread your query. If I did, then ignore me. Best of luck! :)

    1. That's very interesting and good to know that part could be read that way. I specifically phrased that line as "Kymera knows who murdered her" because she doesn't remember, her father tells her. I'll have to think of ways to work that tidbit in without being overly wordy - thank you!

  5. Hi MarcyKate!

    I'm not a fantasy reader, but your query drew me right in, and I LOVE your first page! You do a fabulous job of weaving in the world-building seamlessly and so I feel both grounded and intrigued. Super job!

  6. Hi MarcyKate.
    First off: I'm right there with you, girl. Your story sounds an awful lot like mine, but we just have to remember it happens when it's supposed to (as frustrating as that is).

    I've also seen your cyborg post previously and remember it as sounding awesome. I'm rooting for you and know it's only a matter of time before you are published!

    I loved the first 250 you have posted here and wouldn't change anything. I only have a couple suggestions for the query.
    I think I'd combine the first two paragraphs, and then take the 4th and switch it with the 3rd. I want to know that she was murdered before you say that Father put her back together. Also, you said she knows her mission so that should be followed by the paragraph that describes it.Other than those little changes, I think it's very clear and sounds like an awesome premise.

    Can't wait to read your success story in the coming weeks. :)