February 22, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Posted in News, Publishing, teen fiction, Uncategorized, Writing, YA | 13 Comments

How does someone write a post like this? There are a million ways to try to convey the excitement. But I guess in the end the only way is the simple way, to just type out the words:

I am now represented by a literary agent. Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.


Now the above was my pathetic attempt to sound professional. I will now just tell you guys the story without any kind of pretense because you’ve known me too long to think I actually think like that.

I started my writing career with a story about a princess, locked away in a tower, waiting to be rescued. I was in second grade, and I added a few illustrations, folded the pieces of paper to open like a book, and proudly presented my novel to be read to everyone I could wrangle into listening. I never did get around to writing the “sequel” I had planned.

The Virginity Thief came after a few more attempts, some of which came with query attempts, as well.  I brought characters to life, killed some, weaved some good plots and some bad; all until I got Mari Abdo’s voice in my head and I just couldn’t get it out. I knew I needed a plot worthy of Mari, and VT was born when I was 18 years old.

I started querying VT mid-January. I got a lot of rejections and a few requests, but in the end it wasn’t a query that got me an agent. Special thanks goes to Karla Calalang for this. Natalie Fischer joined AbsoluteWrite just as my novel was in the end of revision stages and I was to start querying. She was interested in Karla’s work and also in the work of any friends whose names Karla thought to pass on. At the same time, I got Karla in on an interview with Natalie for TWFT (read the interview here). It was a great interview and I learned a lot about the woman who would eventually be my agent.

Natalie found herself at my blog. She read VT’s description and asked me for the first 50 pages. I was ecstatic, and even more ecstatic when she sent me an e-mail a week later asking for the full. A week more and she told me she loved my novel (what wonderful words!) but needed a second opinion from a fellow Sandra Dijkstra agent to fulfill the agency’s check and balance requirements. Those were the toughest 2 days in my writing history. If anyone knows me, they know I am the most impatient writer alive. But then she sent me editing suggestions and told me if all went well, she’d love to represent me. Within a week I sent in my edited version and, today, officially signed with the agency.

I want to thank all my amazing Twifty and Oldies friends. Without you guys I would never have made it this far. To those of you reading this post who have yet to join AW, do so. It really is a fabulous site where you’ll get to meet people that will be an immense help to your writing.

And also, put yourself out there. I would never have gotten interest from Natalie if I hadn’t approached her for an interview and made sure I had a manuscript “blurb” on my blog. Don’t be afraid to share your story idea at the query stage!

And with that I’ll end this post.

Just one more… SQUEE.



October 21, 2009 at 6:31 AM | Posted in Beta Reading, Editing, Publishing, Writing | 5 Comments

Publishing, it has been said, is not for the impatient. Writing a novel can take months or years, getting an agent or publisher just as long.

Unfortunately, I am the heir to the throne of impatience (right behind my mom – yes, I blame the genes). All it takes is a well-meaning question from a friend or relative – “How are things going with the book?” – and all my suppressed nervous energy jumps to the surface. The truth is, my novel is progressing quite well – just not in any way that’s easy to measure or describe to non-writers. They don’t care how many words you’ve trimmed or how much better a storyline fits together. They just want to know when they can buy it (even if it hasn’t gone out to editors yet).

As a writer, it’s easy for me to fall into a similar trap. After finishing my latest round of revisions, I was tempted to send them off without having my beta readers look them over – despite the fact that I had made some major changes to the tone of the ending. I managed to resist the urge, but it was enough to remind me that impatience isn’t just an unpleasant state of mind. When we let impatience get the better of us – by rushing revisions, skipping beta readers, or developing carpal tunnel syndrome by pressing “refresh” on our email 40 times a minute while waiting for responses from agents or editors – the quality of our work is what suffers the most.

So how can we best avoid falling into the traps of impatience? I’m not entirely sure yet (as you can tell from this post), and I suspect different techniques will work better for different people. One thing that helps me is having another creative endeavor I can turn to when I start becoming impatient with my primary project – something that is not necessarily intended for publication and lacks the same kind of self-imposed urgency. Another is to read back through my work and remind myself of how much better it has become because of the time I have invested in revising it.

What about you? Do you suffer from writing related impatience? What do you do to avoid falling into its traps?


Interview with Lisa Mantchev, author of EYES LIKE STARS

September 21, 2009 at 8:52 PM | Posted in Authors, Interviews, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice, YA | 1 Comment

Recently I got the opportunity to interview Lisa Mantchev, whose AMAZING YA fantasy, EYES LIKE STARS, came out a few months ago. I thought I’d share our short conversation with you guys. :)

KB: Describe your novel in twenty words or less.

LM: Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives in a magical theater with all the characters from every play ever written. 

KB:  Where did you get the idea for EYES LIKE STARS?

LM: ELS started life as a short story entitled “All Her World’s A Stage” and THAT started with Bertie’s full name… it just popped into my head one day as I was writing something else entirely. 

KB: It’s a GREAT name. :) Do you usually try to follow an outline or are you a “pantser”?

LM: A little of both… I outline, and then wander all over the place as I work through a first draft. Some of my favorite scenes were never part of “the plan”… like the Tango Scene. That was inspired by a season past of So You Think You Can Dance, something I was watching in the evenings to decompress after a day of putting down new words. 

KB: Haha, awesome! (That was one of my favorite scenes, actually.) There are so many fun, quirky characters in ESL – I particularly love Ophelia and her obsession with drowning. :) Did you set out to create this cast or did they kind of tackle you and demand to be in your book? (Maybe that’s just me…)

LM: The Players just showed up… the fairies, Ophelia, and Ariel all arrived as-is, with their personality quirks and in full costume, ready to go. Nate turned up in a revision, when the Sea Goddess/scrimshaw plotline was added in. 

KB: I am SO glad Nate found his way into the cast. *hugs Nate* Can you tell us the story of that first call from both your agent and editor?

LM: Would it be bad to admit it’s been so long that I can only remember bits and pieces of those calls? I remember my pulse thudding in my ears, and taking lots of notes, and trying to not sound like a raving idiot (which I might have managed… I’ve blocked that part of it out!) I remember asking Jean Feiwel what her favorite scene was, and she liked the Tango Scene the best (hooray!) The thing that clinched it for my agent was the musical number “What Will Become Of Us,” which was originally a little bit longer with even more bad poetry. *L* 

KB: Do you listen to music while you write?

LM: Depends on the day… some days I need absolute quite to get words down, other days I’m listening to everything from techno dance music to the soundtracks to Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo. I have friends that will verify that I have Really Awful taste in pop music. ;) 

KB: Oh, so do I. *wince* Can you give us a teensy weensy summary of PERCHANCE TO DREAM, or is it very tightly under wraps right now? (The fangirl in me hopes for a small peek…)

 Anything I could say about Perchance To Dream is a spoiler for Eyes Like Stars, so I’m waiting for the Official Book Jacket Copy to share anything about book 2. Sorry!! 

KB: Dang it. *pouts* Oh well. I guess I can wait for next year. :D Last but not least – what is your favorite flavor of jelly bean?

LM: Tangerine Jelly Bellies. My mom always put those in my Easter basket (mixed with Lemon and Lemon-Lime… that combination always makes me think of springtime.)

Thanks again for the interview, Lisa, and for your awesome book!!!


Learn more about Lisa and the players of the Theatre Illuminata at


If You Can’t Type Anything Nice, Don’t Type Anything At All

August 30, 2009 at 12:40 AM | Posted in Agents, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice | 9 Comments

Aw, yes.  You thought you outgrew the Golden Rule when you hit puberty, but alas, it shall continue to haunt you.  I promise.

But let us not focus on what you “say” so much as what you “type.”  Not  in your manuscript.  This is a little more professional.  A little more “if you want to get published” driven.  A little more frightening, if you want the truth.

Answer honestly.

Have you every REALLY thought about what you write on the internet?

No, no.  I’m not here to give you the parental “child molester” speech, though that is certainly something to consider, I promise.  Instead, I want you to think in a business-like way.  Have you posted anything stupid, mean, compromising, or embarrassing online?  Don’t lie.  You have.  We all have.   It happens.  But I’m here to tell you why it is best to watch carefully what you say.

Let’s look at this from the “you want to get published” perspective, shall we?

We’re teens.  We’re vibrant and lively.  Most every author on this blog writes in a thread on AW.  Its casual.  Its fun.  But if you aren’t careful, it can get potentially dangerous.  People can often forget they are in a public forum rather than a chatroom.  People say things and talk about things that, in truth, aren’t a good idea to advertise to the rest of the world.

Let me just tel you, from experience, that agents and editors DO google you.

My agent found me on AW.  My agent follows my blog.  My agent is probably reading this post RIGHT NOW!  And I’m fine with that.  Lucky for me, I haven’t said anything TOO ridiculous online, but I’ll admit that even I’ve forgotten that my posts were insanely public.

Here’s a few things NOT to do on a public forum:

1. Complain about query rejections from specific agents.   Other agents might see this and look down on your insulting of a fellow agent.  And it just isn’t tactful.

2. Post negative book reviews on your blog.  If you hate the book, don’t talk about it.  You might wind up with the same agent/editor/publishing house as that author, and wouldn’t that be upsetting?  Or worse, you might MEET the author you trashed.  Karma is a bitch, remember?

3. Just don’t be unprofessional.  Post casual things, sure, but don’t talk about getting drunk or doing crazy things that potential colleges/agents/employers might frown on.  This applies for things other than writing, obviously.

I’m not saying write intensely perfect and/or grammatically correct posts on forums like AW.  I’m all for freedom of speech!  But be mindful.  Anytime you post, think of an agent you are querying or may query soon.  Would they frown on you if they read that post?  Is it mean?  Would it hurt the feelings of someone you may become connected with?

All just a bit of advice.  Like I said, agents are googling their authors.  A lot of them.  What will they find out about you?

Scary, right?


Getting “The Call”

August 13, 2009 at 10:20 AM | Posted in Agents, Authors, Life, Publishing, Queries, Writing Advice, YA | 11 Comments
Me signing the agency contract

Me signing the agency contract

For some strange reason, blogging about getting an agent is much harder than just talking about it. I think I have this idea that when I blog I must sound professional – whereas when I’m gushing in real life I can say something along the lines of, “OHMYGOSH she is so cool and I’m signing the contract right now and it’s freaking got my name on it and HOLY COW she’s got some really cool ideas for revisions and I just finished them and we’re doing one more round of edits and then I think we’re going to be submitting to editors EEK!!!”

I fail at professionalism.

*takes a deep breath*

*tries again*

I got my first offer of representation on July 16, while I was vacationing with my family in North Carolina. A week and a half later, I had three offers from three fabulous agents – which was quite possibly the most surreal experience on the planet. However, I really felt an instant connection with Michelle, who was funny and friendly and had a vision for the book that blew my mind. So, on July 27, I officially signed with Michelle Andelman at Lynn Franklin Associates.

And that, my friends, is the short version of that story.

To get the long version, you’d have to sift through two years’ worth of journal entries; many a six a.m. writing session; and several hysterical conversations with friends in which I repeated over and over, “I SUCK! I SUCK!” You would have to flip through two writing notebooks full of character charts and plot notes, many half-finished novels, and more than one terrifying moment when I thought, “Maybe it’s true – maybe I can’t do it.

You want the truth? You want the whole story? I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I could finish a book, or write something I was proud of, or get an agent. And even now that I have an agent who’s taking a chance on my work, there are still a lot of things I don’t know.

There is nothing wrong with not knowing. Nothing wrong with saying, “I’m not sure I like this. Maybe I don’t want to be a professional writer. I still haven’t decided yet. I don’t know if this is the genre for me…”

But there is something terribly, devastatingly wrong with telling yourself “There’s no way in hell.”

Your first book may not be published. Or even your second book. Or your third. Or your fourth. But I’m one of those annoyingly optimistic people who believes that there’s a way. There is always a way.

Feel free to question. Feel free to change your mind. But don’t ever, ever give up.

And good luck. :)



Query letter for CITY OF SHADOWS:

In a society that breeds perfect people, seventeen-year-old Dax is defective. In other words, he’s illegal, and his life depends on his ability to be invisible. But Dax has heard rumors of a place where “defects” aren’t killed for their freckles, mismatched eyes, or mental disabilities.

They call it the Promised Land.

Serenity Faire’s family calls it dangerous – a threat to national security. That’s why they allow Dax to live when he is caught stealing, forcing him instead to help them find this city that has eluded the government for centuries. Their search leads them through the tunnels of Washington D.C.’s abandoned subways, into the heart of an America that was lost years ago. But in this forgotten world, Dax and Serenity uncover their own secret – a romance even more illegal than Dax’s freckles. Their relationship has consequences that echo through the White House, drawing the attention of the oppressive ruling family and threatening both their friends and family in the city and the Promised Land. Because the only thing worse than a defect who is allowed to live is a defect who is allowed to love.

CITY OF SHADOWS is a dystopian YA with the gritty urban feel of Neal Shusterman’s UNWIND and the forbidden romance of a futuristic ROMEO & JULIET. It is complete at 82,000 words.

(Bio/ contact info)


Kristin Otts

The Network: Kind of like the Matrix, but not

July 22, 2009 at 10:16 PM | Posted in Agents, Authors, Life, Publishing, Queries, Writing Advice, YA | 5 Comments

Networking. It is by far the scariest word in the publishing world. Query? Oh yeah – the word “query” makes amateur novelists break into a cold sweat. Speak the name of a writer’s dream agent and she gets inevitable goosebumps. But nothing compares to the dreaded N word.

I was terrified of this “networking” concept mostly because I had no clue what it meant. I had a vague idea that it involved stalking well-known writers, sending them candy and pink paper hearts, and begging them to be my friend. This idea appealed to my inner fangirl, but not my sense of dignity, so I eventually decided against it.

Instead, I started a blog.

At first it was a bit of a joke. “Right – because the world really wants to read about a college kid’s journey to publication.” And at first, no one really did. A comment here, a comment there – mostly from long-time friends or family members. I shrugged it off and decided that my original assessment was correct. Nobody cared.

And then an extraordinary thing happened. I stopped caring too. At least, I stopped caring about the popularity of my blog, and I started paying more attention to other things. Like the other amateur writers blogging their way through the publication process. Like the talented teens who were pounding out their first query letter for a fabulous fantasy novel. Like the debut authors hosting contests on their websites. I started talking with these amazing people. I started commenting on their websites, celebrating their victories with them, promoting their books.

And they returned the favor. My blog suddenly had readers. I had friends helping to edit my manuscript, giving me agent advice, asking about the status of my WIPs. In short – I was networking.

The internet has made the world a very small place. Nowadays you don’t necessarily have to go to conferences or live in New York City to make contacts in the publishing industry. Sometimes it’s as simple as reviewing a debut author’s book, or offering to critique a friend’s manuscript, or editing a new writer’s query letter. Sometimes it’s simply about looking beyond yourself and asking what you can offer the world. You might be surprised what you receive in return.


Interview with Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments

June 23, 2009 at 1:50 PM | Posted in Agents, Interviews, Publishing, Queries, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice, YA | 7 Comments
Tags: ,
The Mortal Instruments trilogy

The Mortal Instruments trilogy

Recently TWFT got the opportunity to talk with Cassandra Clare, the bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments trilogy (City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass.) Since I’m a big fan (*ZOMGthesebooksaresofreakingawesomeSQUEE!*) I was way excited to do this interview. Thanks so much for your time, Cassandra!

KB: What are your five most loved novels of all time?

CC: I don’t have favorites! That’s a big rule with me. Five novels I love: Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett, Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey, Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

KB: What are you working on right now?

CC: Right now I’m working on The Clockwork Angel, the first in the Infernal Devices series, which is a series of prequels to the Mortal Instruments. It’s set in Victorian-Era London. There’s more here: (and I want to show off the pretty website.)

KB: How has the popularity of the Mortal Instruments series changed your life as a writer and/or regular person?

CC: It’s allowed me to be a full-time writer for the moment, which was always my dream.

KB: Have you ever had a moment of doubt in your writing career – a moment when you were afraid you would never be published or felt like giving up? If so, how did you overcome it?

CC: I have doubts all the time. I might be having one right now. I think everyone does. I think you have to think about your work in some ways separate from your goals for publication. You just have to focus on the book, or short story, or project, as an independent entity without thinking about where it might end up, so to speak.

KB: Can you tell us about the first story you ever wrote (that wasn’t for a school assignment)?

CC: When I was about 13, I wrote a 1,000 page romantic epic called The Beautiful Cassandra based on the story Jane Austen wrote about her sister when she was twelve. (You can read it here. The Jane Austen story I mean, not my novel. ) It was terrible, but boy did I have fun writing it (and my friends had fun reading it.)

KB: If you could choose one fictional character (other than your own) to have a five minute conversation with, who would it be and what would you say to them?

CC: I’d rather have a five minute conversation with an author. I’d ask Raymond Chandler what really happens in The Big Sleep. Although I suppose it’s possible he never actually knew.

KB: What tips do you have for dealing with the wait for queries?

CC: I am the last person to ask because I only ever queried one agent and I got a reply the next day. I know, that really makes me sound like a tool, but I was very lucky.

KB: What was your querying process like?

CC: I met my agent through one of his existing clients, who had read City of Bones and recommended it to him. He suggested I query him, so I did. I knew I was interested in having him represent me anyway because his client list was impressive and I liked that he only repped kids/YA.

KB: How do you deal with writers block?

CC: I think sheer terror. I’m afraid of what my publisher might do to me if I miss my deadline.

KB: What is your ideal writing atmosphere?

CC: Writing in a big room, lots of comfortable chairs, with other writers around, also working on their projects and filling the room with a feeling of creativity at work.

KB: And TWFT’s token ridiculous interview question – What is your favorite flavor of jelly bean?

CC: Cinnamon.

Thanks again for answering our burning questions, Cassandra!
Check out Cassandra Clare’s bestselling Mortal Instruments trilogy for some kick-ass angel warriors, fantastic world-building, and plenty of romance.

The Journey to Agenthood (Agentdom? Agentedness?)

May 28, 2009 at 9:03 AM | Posted in Agents, Authors, Editing, Life, Publishing, Queries, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice, YA | 14 Comments

Okay, so I was asked by a few of my fellow Twifties to type up a post about my experience over the past few weeks. When I asked what to write about, they told me just to write a story, so that’s what I’m going to do. Here’s my story for any who might be interested.

Here’s the short version: I got an agent!

But, come on, let’s face it—no one wants the short version in these matters, now do they? So let’s get on with the story, shall we?

Let me start by saying that this did not just happen over night. I didn’t just write a novel and suddenly get an agent, as many might believe when learning that I’m just a few months shy of eighteen. On the contrary, I’ve been writing for many, many years. Since I’ve been able to spell, I’ve been writing stories. I wrote my first full novel at ten, which I later realized was a Harry Potter rip off. I wrote another at thirteen (also a Harry Potter rip off), and there were several unfinished manuscripts littering that path along the way. But let’s fast forward, shall we? Kids are cute and all, but you’re not reading this to learn about my childhood. So, at sixteen, I wrote my first non-rip off novel, A Face In the Crowd. It was contemporary YA, and I was so proud of it when I finished. For that novel, I started doing research about publishing. I learned about the dreaded query letter, I discovered that to be published by a big house you need this elusive thing called an agent, and I found a little website called AbsoluteWrite that helped me along the way.

I sent out a few poorly written queries for A Face in the Crowd, but not that many. Each and every response was a rejection—not a single request. So I quit and decided to revise my query letter to try again later. In the mean time, I started a new project called The Duff. I posted a few of my sample chapters on AbsoluteWrite, and the response was fantastic. So much helpful criticism! And I was quickly falling in love with my main characters, and I had others telling me they loved them too. This support pushed me to write more. Looking back and rereading, I realize that A Face in the Crowd, while not bad, is not up to par. Perhaps I’ll revise and rewrite in a few years, but I’m not planning on it yet. Besides, Lauren Myracle claims to have written five novels before getting her debut, Kissing Kate published, so I’m very happy I didn’t get discouraged back then.

Anyway, I finished The Duff, which, in case someone missed the memo, stands for designated ugly, fat friend (horrible, right? Seriously, I know guys who use this term!), and I quickly sent it off to three fantastic beta readers I found on AbsoluteWrite, as well as forcing two of my best friends to read it. Most of the feedback I got was positive, but they did have a lot of construction, and I spent about a month editing everything before I started to query. This time, my query letter was better. I had lots of help from AbsoluteWrite members in polishing it. Believe me, without them it never would have gotten out of the slushpile. Just thinking of my early drafts makes me want to cry and hide under a chair. But once I felt confident in it, and in my manuscript, I started to send to agents.

To say my querying experience was, um, interesting, might be an understatement. I began to send out queries in early, early April. I sent out seventeen in total. But I hardly got any responses. I waited and waited, but not even a rejection popped into my constantly checked inbox. I was starting to think my queries weren’t sending properly, and I was so worried! Then I got the first response—a request for the partial! But don’t get excited just yet. That’s not the end of my story, kids. While waiting to hear back about the partial, I received 3 rejections. Then another request from an agent I hadn’t even sent sample pages to. I was feeling good! Feeling great, in fact! Two requests!

Then, the very next day, the same agent asked to see my full manuscript, so I was very, very upbeat…until the weekend. The day after sending off my full, I was rejected by the first agent, who didn’t connect with my main character based on the partial I’d sent. I was heartbroken, but I tried not to show it. So when I had an email on Monday from the agent with the full, I was sure she was rejecting me, too. I just knew it.

Well, you see, I’m a writer. Not a psychic.

Let me sum up what would likely turn out to be a rambling fit of giddiness by saying that I got a phone call the next afternoon with an offer of representation. From a great agent, at a great agency, who DID connect with my main character.

Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer. For a slight bit of perspective on The Duff, I’ll say that I started the first draft on January 6, 2009 and was offered representation on May 12, 2009. Coincidently, May 12 is the birthday of one of my best friends who read, and loved, The Duff, so that was a present to both of us. But I can’t help thinking of all those unanswered queries. At last count, 12 still hadn’t been replied to. Now, I almost look at it as fate. Only a few agents seemed to receive my query, and one of them happened to be the right one. I never thought I’d be grateful for a server malfunction (which is what I’m chalking this up to), but stranger things have happened, I guess. So you want to know how the story ends? Honestly, it hasn’t yet. I signed the contract and just finished up some revisions on The Duff, though nothing major. Actually, my agent didn’t want me to cut anything, which was a relief, but also a surprise. The revisions were just added scenes and extended subplots, really, and I sent the new version to her this weekend. I’m waiting on her reactions to the new version now. Once it’s approved, we’re off to a quick polish edit, then she wants to start submitting to editors.

But I have plenty to occupy me while I wait. My high school graduation is this Friday (May 29), and I’m working on a new project, The Outcast Society. I leave for college this fall, and I’m excited to say that I’ve been accepted into the Honors Program at Ithaca College in New York, where I’ll be majoring in Writing. I plan to work my way up and get my PhD so that I can teach Creative Writing or Literature on a college level, like a lot of modern novelists do. So, anyway, that’s my story as it stands so far. I’m not published yet. It will be two years before that happens, but I’m a step closer than I ever expected to be. Like I said, this didn’t just happen over night. There were a lot of hills to climb, and still more ahead, but I’m getting there. Just remember, all of you aspiring writers, that for every million “No’s” you get, there is a “Yes!” waiting out there for you.

Best of luck!

~Blind Writer (Kody Mekell Keplinger)


Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Bianca knows she’s the Duff (the designated ugly, fat friend).  So when Wesley, a notorious womanizer, approaches her at a party, she knows he wants to score with one—or both—of her hot friends.  God, the man-whore’s arrogance really pisses her off!  But Bianca needs to escape from some personal drama, like her mom’s abandonment and her dad’s denial, and a steamy fling with Wesley seems like the perfect distraction.  Bianca makes it clear she’s only using Wesley, as if he cares.  He’ll sleep with anything that moves after all.  Unfortunately, the enemies-with-benefits plan totally backfires.

When her mom files for divorce and her father stumbles into a downward spiral of drinking and depression, Wesley proves to be a surprisingly good listener, and Bianca finds out that his family is pretty screwed up, too.  As sickening as it sounds, she has to admit that she and Wesley are a lot alike.  Soon she becomes jealous of the pretty girls he flirts with and his cocky grin begins to grow on her.  Suddenly Bianca realizes—with absolute horror—that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated.

THE DUFF, my contemporary YA novel, is complete at 53,000 words.  The manuscript is available upon request.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kody Mekell Keplinger

Do it for Love

April 25, 2009 at 10:06 AM | Posted in Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice | 8 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Time for a pop quiz. Everyone get out your pencils – no peeking at your neighbor’s paper.

Which of the following is a good, healthy, sustainable reason to write a novel?
A. To get an agent and get published
B. To learn more about my craft and enjoy creating a story while I do

What would you be willing to give up in order to get a book deal?
A. A social life, my dignity, and my first born child
B. Time and the occasional TV show

Do you have at least three hobbies that are unrelated to writing?
A. No
B. Of course!

If I could tell you with certainty that you would never be published, would you continue to write for fun?
A. …I’m never going to be published? (bursts into tears and burns keyboard)
B. Well, I wouldn’t like it, but I enjoy writing too much to stop

Now obviously there is some middle ground between these options, but if you picked mostly As, we need to have a little talk. Publication is a worthy goal and a great motivator when accompanied by a love of writing – but that love for your story and the process has to be there first. Why? Because after you get that fabulous book deal, your editor will still want to work with you on revisions and your agent will expect you to write another book (you might even be contractually obliged to write another one). If you don’t enjoy the steps you have to take to get to the finished project, life as a published author won’t be a lot of fun. If you are putting aside all hobbies and friends until you get published, you might as well be putting them aside permanently.

My advice (and it’s hard for me to do this myself sometimes) is to step back and really think about why you write and what you want to get out of it. If writing is no longer enjoyable because you are constantly comparing your work (or work ethic) to that of your peers, or because you don’t have an agent, or because you are worried you won’t be published before age 20 – stop. Stop comparing, stop looking for an agent, stop obsessing about publication. Take a day to write something completely unrelated to the almost-query-ready WIP. Pen some fanfiction and have fun doing it. Allow yourself to type without critiquing every word. Tell yourself that if you never get published, it will be okay – no one will think any less of you as a writer or a person. Because that’s the truth.

If you aren’t writing for love first and foremost, why bother doing it at all?

Food for thought,

For Realz?!

April 22, 2009 at 4:27 PM | Posted in Agents, Queries | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , ,



Dere Sir/Madam Agent,
(mis. jorgeeeson, mister smiteh, ms. honnnson, Tara),

i hav been rightin mi latest novel 4 a while now, & i think u want to rep my novle becuz it is da bomb. best thing wirtten since ever, even beter then herry petter. do not miz out on dis oportunitee now becuz some1 will rep me if u donot hury.

i haz no prior righting exprienzze in publizhgin but i haz submited to megazeens b4 & the editor told me 2 keep workin becuz i would make it fo sho. i hav pured my hart & sole in2 this work, & u will enjoi it immenzely. as will da rest of the world, itz an ezcapez from the hustle & bustle of evryday life to a new world.

in this story, my MC whoz name iz Mary Sue (nicknamed Suzie-Mare) falls for this guy named Gary Stu (but ppl call him Stuewy) exceptzz hes not a good person. but she luvz him nywyaz. so this is a probeml, u c? this book haz evrythign – drma , love, mystri, intriga. it showz that nothiing is as it seems. readers will find that nothing will every ben the same after readin dis book.

itz a spinoff/fanfic of da most populer series these days, a nd i expect to rite a seriz of ten bookz, about 15K each. I only except chekz from mager bnakz, & u need to call me bak by 2nite, & sell it too scholzatic or rendemhoose by nxt wek.

yous welcum.

-da nxt JoK eRowling.

PS i wantz a 10 figure deel for book 1 alonez.
PPS get bak 2 me asap so i canz start righting dis

So, that’s my latest query letter. Care to share any feedback on it?

Yes, this is for realz.

No, I’m actually kidding. Over at kt literary, (they rep Maureen Johnson!) there’s a contest of sorts going on, in relation to Queryday on Twitter. Come up with the worst query letter you can, break all the rules, and you just might win a copy of Josie Bloss’s Band Geeked Out. In addition, some of the other queries in the comments are really amusing.

Pop by here to check it out! Best of luck ;)


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