Since I haven't posted since the summer and we are now in my FAVORITE SEASON and my FAVORITE MONTH, I thought I'd do a double whammy tonight.
On Saturday I went to the second annual Saugatuck Storyfest in Westport, CT, which is the town where I teach. The literary festival is run by two librarians and two teachers, and I'm OBSESSED. Seriously, I've paid money to go to BookCon, and this event was free and SO much more enjoyable in every sense of the word.
The keynote speaker was the one and only RL Stine, who wrote all of the Fear Street books that I worshiped as a kid. In honor of his speech, I'm counting down my top 5 retro reads!
1. The Secret Bedroom. This was the first RL Stine book that I ever read. I remember I was in 4th grade at the time, and I read it in one night, and then I didn't sleep for seven! I re-read it over the summer, and the scares hold up all of these years later.
2. Also by Stine, The Hitchhiker. One word: Piranhas!
3. Wait Till Helen Comes. This classic ghost story by Mary Downing Hahn is one that I still see students reading (and LOVING) in my classroom.
4. You can't have a spooky retro reads list without: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. This collection sparked my fascination with folklore and urban legends, and to this day I'm still haunted by the illustrations.
5. Just like you can't have a list without Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, you can't have a list without Stephen King. Carrie was the first King book I ever read, and it's one that I immediately had re-read again, and again, and again.
So what are YOUR favorite spooky reads??
So it's been a minute or two since I last posted, but I have news!
Abrams confirmed that my new title for my debut series will be called THE STITCHERS from the FRIGHT WATCH series! I couldn't be happier with the decision, and I think it absolutely sets the tone for my creepy books.
Being able to share the title definitely feels like a giant exhale! I'm now even more excited to see the cover and what the art team comes up with to bring this series to life.
For my first official post I thought I’d talk about my experiences querying. I’m well aware that there are a million blog posts out there about the querying process, and I’m by no means an expert. However, I was in the querying game for a long time, and my path towards publication wasn’t straight forward. As such, I’m happy to share any tips and tricks I learned along the way.
As you may know, I recently signed with my new agent, the lovely and amazing Kathleen Rushall from Andrea Brown Lit, which is a total dream come true. Kathleen is everything a writer could want in terms of representation, but it was a long, LONG time coming. In case you couldn’t tell by the title of this post, Kathleen is my THIRD agent. Counting Kathleen, I received seven offers total after about one month of querying. BUT! Before you go thinking this process was a cake walk, it took me TEN YEARS of active querying multiple manuscripts to land my first agent, whom ended up leaving the business after four months. It then took me another year to find my second agent, Amy Tipton, whom I was with for one year before she also left the business to form her freelance editing service, Feral Girl Books. Luckily, Abrams/Amulet had bought my debut in the meantime, so I was incredibly fortunate in that respect.
Still, I couldn’t believe it. I had to query AGAIN? I had to reopen my Querytracker subscription for the third time, write a whole new query letter, make a new list, polish my new manuscript… My anxiety was through the roof just thinking about it!
And the rejections! The REJECTIONS! It was enough to make me cry. A lot.
Because here’s the thing that every writer knows, no matter how long you’ve been in the game, or what stage of the business you’re in: querying sucks. At times it feels dehumanizing, and any agent whom says “it’s not personal” is full of it, because it is personal: deeply personal.
But it’s a must in this industry, once again, I got to work. These are the steps that I followed:
Step one: Be ruthless
And here’s something very personal about my own experiences with rejection: the book that Abrams bought was a book that just about every agent rejected - nobody wanted it when I was sending it out. While the rejections piled up, I wrote another novel, and subsequently queried it, and THAT new manuscript was the one that got me my first two agents. Want to hear the ironic part, though? The book that received more interest from agents was not the book that sold to publishers: the book that sold in a two book deal was the one that didn’t get any agent love. Maybe it was timing, or the revisions that I did on it, or a combo of both. The bottom line is that you NEVER KNOW, and a manuscript is never really dead: it just might not be the manuscript that gets you representation. So take heart, be patient, and write the next beautiful thing.
Hello and WELCOME to my shiny, new website! Keep checking this space for more information about my upcoming middle grade mystery series, The South Haven Mysteries, published by Abrams Amulet in Fall 2020 and Fall 2021!
I look forward to sharing insights from my (very) long publishing journey, as well as cover art, ARCs, and all things spooky middle grade!
Until then, happy reading and writing!