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My dear friend and amazing CP, Lizzy Charles, has a book coming out! Lizzy has worked so hard on this and I know she’s super excited to finally be able to share it with you all. I’m so proud of her. I know you came here to check out the pretty cover (and it’s gorgeous) so I’ll get right to it.  Here it is!

 

Lizzy

 

School is out and Lucy is ready for the perfect summer: lazy days at the pool, invitations to the most exclusive parties, and romantic dates with her hot new boyfriend. That is, until she lands in trouble one too many times and her parents issue the ultimate punishment: a summer job. Suddenly, the summer can’t end fast enough.

To make matters worse, the job is painting houses with Justin, the most popular, egotistical guy in school. Spending all summer with Justin might be other girls’ dreams, but definitely not Lucy’s. After all, Justin is cocky, annoying, and a jerk. So what if he’s the most beautiful jerk Lucy’s ever seen? Or that his grin makes her forget she’s mad at the world? Or that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to Justin than Lucy realizes. Only one thing is certain: it won’t be the summer she wanted, but it might be exactly the one she needs.

 

And here’s a little bit about the author, Lizzy!

 

LizzyCharles

When Lizzy Charles isn’t scrambling to raise her two spunky toddlers or caring for premature and sick babies as a neonatal intensive care nurse, she’s in a quiet corner writing or snuggled up with a novel and a few squares of dark chocolate. Black tea keeps her constant and she loves guacamole. She married her high school sweet heart, a heart-melting musician, so it’s no surprise she’s fallen in love with writing contemporary YA romance novels.

 

So go add Effortless with You to your to-be-read lists on Goodreads, like Lizzy on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her blog. You know you want to.

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If you haven’t read my story of how I got my agent, you should go do that first. You can find it here.

I have more exciting news to share! I can officially announce my two book deal with Spencer Hill Contemporary. THE HIT LIST is going to be published in March 2014! People are actually going to read it and I am beyond happy that I’m getting a chance to share it with all of you.

Remember that mention of a small press offer that led to my signing with my awesome agent, Nicole Resciniti? Yeah, this is that offer.

I first spoke with Danielle Ellison at the end of February. I’d entered the twitter pitch party following Pitch Wars. She requested my query and the first 20 pages of THE HIT LIST. Soon after, she upgraded to a full. And then an awesome email landed in my inbox. Danielle wanted to talk with me about my story.

By the time our scheduled chat time rolled around, I had convinced myself that she wanted an R&R and this call would be no big deal. I’d even considered the possible things that she might want changed and how I could change them. She was lovely on the phone and I was a nervous wreck trying not to be awkward. Part way through the conversation, she offered. And honestly, I don’t really remember what happened after that because I was too busy trying not to freak out or scare her away.

Fast forward to after I signed with Nicole.

Another awesome email landed in my inbox, this time from Nicole. Danielle had read another one of my manuscripts and wanted to offer a two book deal. A TWO BOOK DEAL.

 

PM Listing

 

Cue freak out.

I still can’t believe people are as much in love with THE HIT LIST as I am. It’s finally starting to feel real now that everything is official, but I feel like I don’t deserve any of this. I’m just so happy my dreams are coming true.

I’m ridiculously excited to get to work with Danielle and the fabulous team over at Spencer Hill Contemporary and I’m so thankful for my wonderful agent, Nicole.

And beyond everything else, I can’t wait to be able to hold my book in my hands and hear what you guys think about it. March 2014 will be epic.

I Have An Agent!!!

Guys. I have crazy news. I have an agent!

For those of you who are just going to scroll through the post to find who I signed with, I give you the news now.

I am represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency!

For those curious about how I signed with my agent, keep reading.

I have two contests to thank for landing me my agent: Pitch Wars and PitchMAS. I know first hand that contests can be frustrating, bring out all your insecurities about your work, and make very sane people slightly neurotic. They can also be incredibly exciting and rewarding.

I was querying my manuscript, BROKEN, when news of Pitch Wars broke. I was so strung out on contests by this point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself through another one. And I certainly didn’t want to enter with BROKEN, the manuscript that had run its course in contests already. It didn’t help that one of my top mentor picks had already beta’d BROKEN for me. Granted, it had changed based off her earlier suggestions, but I knew my chances of getting picked would be slim.

Then it occurred to me that I had another shiny new manuscript that had never been in a contest and I had never queried. A contest would be a perfect way to gauge interest in my concept and the overall potential of the story before I started sending off queries. I set to work writing a query, completing edits, and polishing those first five pages. On the first day of submissions, I sent it off to my top three mentors.

More waiting. This waiting was excruciating because I stalked the Twitter feed and followed along with all the vague tweets from mentors. This was how I heard of another contest, PitchMAS, and while I had no intentions of entering because Pitch Wars fried my brain, I checked out the blog posts for entry requirements out of curiosity.

By the time PitchMAS rolled around, I was pretty sure there was no way I would get picked for Pitch Wars. I couldn’t stand to look at Twitter anymore as the mentors made their picks. I didn’t want to enter anymore contests because I didn’t think I could take it. I still had requests and queries out with BROKEN. I would just wait and see where those went and maybe query THE HIT LIST a few months later when I’d recovered from Pitch Wars. And then my friend and wise beyond her years CP, Kate, told me this: If you don’t enter PitchMAS, you won’t get any requests. If you do enter PitchMAS, the worst that can happen is you don’t get any requests. But you’ll probably get requests.

Who am I to argue with that logic?

Two hours before the contest opened to submissions, I wrote my pitch. I submitted my entry the second the contest window opened and I went to bed, knowing agents could start requesting the next morning and that I would be at work, unable to stalk. I was on pins and needles all the next day while my CPs texted me updates. When I got home from work, I saw the aftermath. I didn’t get one request. I got six.

Nicole was one of the agents who requested my partial from PitchMAS. Within a week, she had upgraded to a full and was then emailing me to ask if I would be interested in doing some edits. A freaking R&R. I was ecstatic. So was my CP, Lizzy, who happened to be at the coffee shop with me when I got the email. We both screamed. People looked at us like we were crazy. It was great.

I was already deep into edits when the Pitch Wars mentees were announced a week or so later. I was picked as an alternate by two amazing mentors: Dahlia Adler and Monica B.W. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Dahlia offered to beta THE HIT LIST and I gladly accepted. With my CP’s and Dahlia’s feedback, I finally finished my R&R and sent it off. In the meantime, my Pitch Wars entry went up on one of the alternate blogs and I got a request. I did the Pitch Wars Twitter Pitch and got a couple more requests. I sent out a handful of queries to get THE HIT LIST out into the world and landed a few requests there too.

A month of no news passed before an email landed in my inbox that ended in a small press offer.

I couldn’t believe it. Someone wanted to buy my book. It was an amazing feeling. I nudged all the agents who had requests. In the end, I accepted representation from Nicole and I couldn’t be happier.

None of this would have happened without my awesome writer friends and this amazing community. But a few deserve some extra thanks for helping me out along the way. Without Kate, Lizzy, Delia, Amanda, and Brandi, my writing wouldn’t be nearly as strong as it is. Kate and Lizzy: you’ve both kept me sane through this entire process and I love you both for it. Without contests, I might not have found the perfect agent for me. I owe a lot to Brenda Drake for organizing Pitch Wars (and countless other contests I’ve met writers through or learned from) and to Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya for organizing PitchMAS and connecting me with Nicole. And to my awesome mentor Dahlia for picking me out of the slush pile and making THE HIT LIST better in the process. I’ve come a long way in the last year and I couldn’t be more excited to see where the next year takes me.

And for those of you who love stats, I’ve included mine below for THE HIT LIST.

Queries sent: 12

Partials: 6 (6 from contests)

Fulls: 6 (4 from contests)

R&Rs: 1

Thank you to everyone who has helped me on this journey. I hope you stick around to see what comes next. I love you all!

Why I Outline

There is no one right way to write a novel. Some people plot every single detail. They know everything that will happen and there are no surprises. Others have a list of five or ten (or however many) plot points they want to hit and go from there. Still others have a basic concept and just go for it. Whether you’re a panster or a plotter or somewhere in between, it’s important to figure out what works best for you and your story. Your type might change from story to story, you might find the perfect method on your first attempt and stick with that for your career, or if you’re like me, you might try one way, find that you’re terrible at it, and adjust your style.

The first draft of my first ever manuscript took me around two years to complete (and another two years to edit). I went into it having a vague idea of what it would be about, but nothing concrete. Just a couple plot points I wanted to happen along the way. I didn’t write every day and I took several month long breaks at a time because I had no idea where it was going. It felt a lot like stumbling around in a dark cave trying to find that one tunnel that would lead to the exit, only to find it never existed in the first place. The story didn’t make sense and the world building was terrible. Because of that, I overhauled the thing five times and it changed completely from draft to draft. To this day, I don’t really know what’s going on with it. I trunked it about a year ago and couldn’t be happier.

Instead of forcing it and becoming more frustrated with myself, I moved on to a new manuscript. I plotted, I outlined, I wrote down everything I could before I even started the draft. There were still surprises along the way and sometimes those surprises took me in a different direction for a while, but it was easier to steer myself back on course. And it worked. I wrote the first draft in three weeks and it wasn’t a complete mess.

This experience taught me one of the most valuable lessons for my writing. I now keep a list of everything I want to happen in every chapter and those lists are copied onto the note cards in Scrivener to look at while I draft. Some points are really detailed, including character quotes, and some are just a few words. I have to leave some wiggle room for myself because I can’t predict everything my characters will do before I start a manuscript. But it’s a hell of a lot less wiggle room than just winging it.

To all of you panster writers out there, you are amazing. I don’t know how you do it, but it takes incredible talent to make everything come together in the end. And while I would love to be able to do that, I’ll stick to outlining and what works for me.

For those of you who have only tried one way, I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, even if it’s just for a little while. You might find something useful and your writing will thank you for it.

For those of you who have real lives and don’t stalk Twitter all day, you might not know that I’m participating in a brand new writing challenge. It’s called Write a Novel with Cupid (#WanWc on Twitter), and it takes place over the next few months. More details can be found on Cupid’s blog here, along with links to the rest of Cupid’s Quiver. Basically, we’ll be writing a new manuscript, starting at 0 words and ending at 50k (or more), by the end of January. Then we’ll spend some time editing/revising those manuscripts.

I’m so excited for this new manuscript. It was supposed to be my NaNo novel. I had the idea during a long drive and I was so excited to start it, but I was in the middle of writing The Hit List. I put it on hold and patiently waited for November, knowing I’d be able to write it then.

But when November came, it was like all that motivation left. It probably didn’t help that I moved three hours away to a new apartment. Moving is the devil and should be avoided, if possible. I tried writing, but everything I wrote sucked and I deleted it.

Then I realized WHY everything sucked.

I work a very stressful job with a high incidence of burnout. And the month before NaNo had been especially trying. I was exhausted all the time, I didn’t want to do anything when I had free time, I didn’t want to write and when I forced myself to, the words were awful. It didn’t help that I was trying to write a dark manuscript for NaNo and that I’m querying a dark manuscript. Even with all that and knowing that I was overly stressed, it took me over a month to realize I was burnt out.

I took five days off work and I took a two week hiatus from writing. Instead, I did some critiquing for a CP and I played around with a plot for a completely different manuscript, a happier manuscript. And I started to decompress. Things calmed down at work and I wanted to write again.

And then Pitch Wars and WanWc started. This is the first time The Hit List has been in a contest and I’m full of all the crazy nerves and doubts I had when I first started to submit Broken. And with the help of Cupid’s WanWc, I’m so excited for this manuscript again. I have so many ideas for it and I cranked out the first 2k words in one sitting. I’m so happy to be writing dark stuff again because I love it. But really, I’m just grateful to be writing again period.

What did I learn from all this? I need to start listening to myself more. I need to take breaks. I need to identify when I’m reaching burn out before it happens. And I need to come up for air between the darkness.

With that, I leave you with a little blurb about my new manuscript and the opening lines so far. Good luck to the rest of Cupid’s Quiver and to everyone else forming their own groups for #WanWc!

Pitch:

After years of being bullied, seventeen year old Sydney makes a suicide pact with her best friend and takes a handful of pills. Three days later, she wakes up on the Fourth Floor, the highest intensity mental health floor at North Memorial Hospital. When the lines of her reality blur and she struggles to maintain a grip on her sanity, only another patient can ground her. But he has a secret of his own, a secret that could send her into the deepest corner of her mind, far out of touch with reality. Permanently.

Excerpt:

Today is November sixteenth, the most important day of my life. It’s been circled on my calendar for weeks because I was worried I would forget. But really, how can you forget the day you plan to kill yourself?

My awesome CP, Brandi, tagged me in her blog post. Here’s some info on my WIPs. Since I’m somewhat in between manuscripts at the moment, I’ll be answering questions for two, the one I entered in Pitch Wars and the one I just started on Thanksgiving. And let’s face it. I totally needed this distraction during all the Pitch Wars madness (If you haven’t heard about Pitch Wars yet you can check out #PitchWars on Twitter or head over to Brenda Drake’s blog here). Here we go!

What is the working title of your book?

The Hit List (THL) and Shifting Gears (SG).

Where did the idea come from for your book?

THL: I was a dancer for 12 years growing up and I’ve wanted to incorporate it into a manuscript for awhile now. It just fit with the rest of the plot. As for the sex game part, it came from a conversation I had with a friend my senior year of high school.

SG: My best friend growing up was big into cars. She was a huge inspiration for my MC, Carli. And I think I watched Fast Five that week when I had the idea.

What genre does your book fall under?

Both fall under YA Contemporary.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I honestly haven’t given this a whole lot of thought. Can I say Ian Somerhalder even though he totally doesn’t fit any of my characters? He’s hot. I’m going with it.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh geez. One sentence?

THL: Finding out she’s required to dance with Luke after she was raped by her last partner is the least of Sadie’s problems when she discovers she’s at the top of The Hit List, a blog-based sex game.

SG: When Carli’s dad is framed for stealing cars and goes to prison, she must pay back his $100k debt in two weeks or he’ll be murdered there, and then they’ll come after her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Fingers crossed for agent!

How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

THL: 4 weeks

SG: I started on Thanksgiving and I only have one chapter so far. I’ve been distracted with querying a different manuscript, running a final edit on THL, and Pitch Wars.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I am terrible at this. Which is unfortunate, but there it is. So I’m comparing to movies instead.

THL: Cruel Intentions meets Center Stage

SG: I don’t have comps for this one yet. It’s still too new and can change too much.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I feel like I’ve kind of answered this already. Oh well.

THL: Dancing. I’ve loved it since I was little and I’ll love it till I die. Simple as that.

SG: My best friend from high school.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

THL: ALL THE KISSES! Plus a sassy roommate, heartbreak, did I mention kissing?

SG: It’s all about an underground street racing circuit set in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. Cuban influence, hot guys, fast cars. Need I say more?

TAG TIME!

@KateBrauning aka Kate Brauning, because I love her and she inflates my ego. She’s also a wicked CP, in a good way.

@AlphaDelia aka Delia Moran, my cheerleader, supplying me with cupcakes and whipped cream vodka. Also another super fab CP.

@LizzyFroehle aka Lizzy Froehle, pitch writing extraordinaire, also freaking fantastic CP.

I’m sensing a theme here…

Have fun!

GUTGAA Meet and Greet!

Deana Barnhart

Some of you reading this post may already know some of this information about me. But I’m writing this for the Meet and Greet for GUTGAA. GUTGAA stands for Gearing Up To Get An Agent and is taking place over the next 6 weeks. It’s seriously awesome and if you’re a writer, you should participate. If you want more details and a full schedule of events (including details of an agent pitch session), check out Deana Barnhart’s blog.

Where do you write? I switch between the couch and the chair in my living room, depending on my mood.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? I’m sitting in my writing space right now! Since I’m sitting sideways on the couch, the coffee table is next to me. And my phone and an empty Cherry Coke.

Favorite time to write? I love writing after the sun goes down. I used to not be able to write at all when the sun was out. It’s pyschological, I’m sure. Now that I get up at 4am, I can’t stay up until 2am writing. So, I write when after work, usually around 4pm. But on Fridays and Saturdays, I’m still up till 2am writing.

Drink of choice while writing? Water or Diet Pepsi.

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? I have to be listening to a certain kind of music. I have playlists for all my WIPs because I can’t write without music. But if I don’t have my playlist going, I spend more time looking for the perfect music for a scene than actually writing the scene.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? My current WIP, The Hit List, is about a dance school in Los Angeles. I was a dancer for 12 years, so it was only a matter of time before I wrote about one. But I started plotting this when So You Think You Can Dance came back this year. And the sex game plot came from a conversation I had with a friend my senior year of high school. No, you don’t want to know.

What’s your most valuable writing tip? Never give up. It seems so easy, but it’s not. Sometimes the difference between being published and unpublished is perseverance.

I hope you all enjoy GUTGAA this year! Check it out if you haven’t signed up already!