Monday, 26 November 2012

Pitch Wars - Welcome to the dark side!

It's time to strap on your handgun, don your cross and sharpen your blades - it's submission time for Pitch Wars!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick three mentors to submit your completed MS to.  Your secret mission if you are a YA or NA writer is to submit to me...

If you are a YA or NA writer...congratulations.  Here's your war're going to need it...  Read on for more information on what I want, who I am and why I should be your mentor:

So, you've decided to continue?  Be warned, this path is not for the faint hearted.  Your mentor is looking for a manuscript that has a spark of something different, something unique, something that no one else has.  She doesn't expect a perfect manuscript.  She doesn't expect flawless technique.  But she craves that extra something that sends tingles down her spine and lifts the hair on the back of her neck.  She is looking for something truly unusual and unique.

If you think you've got a manuscript that no one else has, then join me - if you dare - down the path to Pitch Wars mentoring...

So who am I, what am I looking for specifically, and why should I be your mentor?

**Amended to add: Don't forget, I'm all up for thrillers, mysteries, Sherlock Holmes style work, action and adventure**

Fiona is looking for Young Adult and New Adult authors with a gripping tale to tell that verges on the dark side.  Brownie points go to those manuscripts that can send a shiver up her spine.  The specific genre doesn't really matter (she'll take anything from steampunk to sci-fi, Gothic to contemporary)...what's really important is what makes the book tick.

The author that grabs Fiona's heart will be a dark and wondrous soul.  Fiona loves anything with dark, gritty elements and disturbing, unsettling or just plain weird overtones.  Think freak shows, gargoyles, midnight shadows and rattling bones.  She has a penchant for horror and creepy mysteries, but won't say no to something that's equally delicious but not in those particular genres.

Although open to any genre, she does prefer work with an underlying creepy air that permeates the pages.  Give her something that has got its freak on and you might just win her over.

The only genre Fiona is not particularly interested in is ROMANCE.  Unless you have a dark, Gothic style romance or something so damn different it would blow her away, you're best to send your light and fluffies elsewhere.

So, if you have a dark side...welcome aboard...

Why should you choose me as your mentor?

Fiona McLaren is represented by the Corvisiero Literary Agency for her YA contemporary novel. She also enjoys writing YA Gothic horror and dark fantasy. She interns with Holloway Literary Agency, scanning the slush for hidden gems and reviewing any full mss sent her way. She also works as a freelance writer, ghost writing for a variety of clients, and has over three hundred publications under her belt - including articles, short scripts, historical fiction novels, children's books and short stories.

She loves to edit - character arc, plot arc, line edit, conceptual...whatever it takes.  She believes that critiquing is a teamwork operation and that staying true to the author's vision is as important as making the book as commercially ready as it can be.  Critiquing with Fiona is all about communication.

You can get to know Fiona better as @BookOmnivore on Twitter. See you on the Pitch Wars hashtag! 

Pssst....if you can find the hidden link on this post, you might just be able to find out a few handy tips for querying Fiona...

Submissions start today (11/26) ! The cut off time to get your applications (query & first five pages of manuscript) in is 8AM EST on December 5.

Send your applications to Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches' categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they've signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their category. For additional information about this contest go HERE ( ·

This is open to finished manuscripts only.

You may only enter one manuscript.

Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for:
Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Fiona McLaren: SUPER AWESOME TITLE)
Name: Your Name
Genre: The genre of your manuscript
Word Count: The word count of your manuscript
Query letter here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph. First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches. Check back soon for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There's over a dozen!

Today all the coaches are posting bios/wish lists on their blogs. So before choosing your top 3 picks, check all the coaches' posts in your category before deciding which coach to submit. To jump from blog to blog, just click on our pictures below.  (Then, because you know you should, come back and submit to me!).

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Agent Most Awesome - Jamie Bodnar Drowley

So, this is one of the things I know all you writerly types out there are itching to get your little mittens on – Agent Interview details. I, like you, know just HOW keen writers are to hoover up any morsel of information about agents that they can in order to hone their submissions to get the best chance of snagging representation. Well, in the spirit of passing it forward, I have interviewed the FANTABULOUS agent JAMIE BODNAR DROWLEY of the equally fantabulous Corvisiero Literary agency.

But wait! That's not all! Not only am I interviewing this rock-star lady as an agent, I'm also interviewing her as a writer, because believe it or not this agent knows the game from both sides of the fence! Wow. So, without further ado... WAIT! One more thing...just because I can...I've added a special little bit at the end about why you should put Jamie right to top of your query wish lift. First, the agent questions:

1. What made you decide to become an agent?

It is important for me to not only be a writer but to also learn and have a full understanding of the industry as a whole. I want to be able to offer feedback and advice to aspiring writers. My goal is to help others achieve their dreams of becoming a published author.

2. Why did you choose to apprentice at the Corvisiero Literary Agency?

I met Marisa through some writing workshops and was immediately drawn to her expertise as well as her kindness. I also had the opportunity to meet face to face with Michelle Johnson. I was able to have a wonderful discussion with Michelle and noted her obvious professionalism. I knew instantly that this was the right fit for me.

3. What is the first thing you notice about a submission?

If the author has done their homework, meaning, they took the time to see who I am, what I am looking for, and to see if I would be a good match for their work. It may seem like a small detail but whether or not an author has followed the query guidelines quickly stands out. Believe it or not, you can tell a lot by an author’s query.

4. Any pet peeves on queries or submissions?

Not really. The query process is nerve wrecking. I get it. I want the author to succeed and to have a chance to have their work looked at. I overlook nerves and always try to look at each author for their potential

5. What are your favourite books of all time?

Harry Potter! I still have hopes that my letter to Hogwarts was just lost in the mail and should be arriving very soon. Such an amazing series!

6. Any guilty pleasure reads?

I loved the first few Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris ;-) I’m a big fan of the Sherriff of Area 5

7. Name three things you would love to see in your inbox...

I would love to see a MG series that is adventurous with a unique voice that makes me laugh. A truly romantic story: one that will take my breath away. I would also love to see something with a new and modern twists on old fairy tales.

8. What is the most common flaw you see in new manuscripts?

When the author tells the story rather than showing it. I think that is what JKRowling did so well in HP. I felt that I was physically in that world when I read them.

9. Who is your ideal author type to represent?

I don’t know if I have an ideal. I have to say that I really LOVE my clients that I am currently representing.

Now, the writer questions:

1. Okay, so the one we're all dying to know...what is you book called and what is the storyline?

It is about a seventeen year old who struggles to understand her past and deal with the present once she learns the truth of who she really is. It is a really amazing coming of age story with elements of humor, action, love, friendships, and magic.

2. Where did you get your inspiration from for the book?

I wanted to write something that really shows what is in my heart and puts my interests on display. I have a lot of elements in this first book that are dear to me. I think my own wit and personality come out in several of the characters (I’m not sure if I should say which ones ). I also wanted to write something that wasn’t specific to a certain age group. I wanted my audience to be broad. My critique groups range in age from 11 – 70, male and female.

3. Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Wow! That’s hard. I have put so much heart in soul into the book that I love all the characters, even the antagonist. But if I had to choose, it would be Jinx. It has to be Jinx. She is funny, vulnerable, feisty, and beautiful inside and out.

4. How long did it take you to write?

It is a planned series, so it took a few years.

5. Are you an outliner or a pantster?

Pantster! Definitely. Which makes writing a synopsis challenging.

6. What are your favourite pieces of writing advice?

Write about what interests you and don’t let people discourage you. This is a very subjective business. What may not work for one person may be exactly what someone else is looking for. It is also important to attend conferences, meet other writers, share you work with beta readers and have your work critiqued by a non-biased audience.

7. How do you find balancing being a writer and being an agent – do you find it helps you represent your clients better as you know both sides of the industry?

I think so. I am eager to give advice to the writer so that they have a direction to move forward in rather than just rejecting them without feedback.

8. If you could have written any book (other than your own) which one would you have liked it to be?

Order of the Phoenix. JKRowling.

Now onto the extra stuff, because I did promise, right? Indeedy I did. So, I've rounded up a few of Jamie's clients to find out just why she makes such a brilliant agent and why she should be right at the top of your Christmas wish list. Here's what they've got to say:

Jessika Fleck: "I am so very thrilled (an understatement because there really are no words!) that it was Jamie's hands my manuscript eventually fell into! From the first amazing-shocking-exhilarating phone call when she offered me representation, her enthusiasm has been infectious and unwavering. It's a beautiful thing to find an agent who believes in your work as much as you do and I consider myself a *lucky girl* to have so much support, knowledge, and passion in my corner. I really can't say enough--I love my agent!"

You can find Jessika and learn more about her awesome witchy/ghostly novel THE CURSE here:

Jenny Morris: "From the moment Kelley and I accepted Jamie's offer of representation she has made me feel like I'm part of a family. Her excitement about our book and even the things I'm working on as solo projects makes me giddy. I know she wants me to succeed and that we'll have a long writer/agent partnership. And I can already tell she's going to be one of my biggest cheerleaders, which is exactly what I wanted in an agent."

To find out more about Jenny's work (including awesome YA Contemporary ALREADY THERE) visit here:

Kelley Lynn: "Jamie makes me feel like my work is her number one priority, even though she has so many other things she's doing as well: author, orthodontist, veteran, mom and wife. When she read our collaboration project, she connected with it on the level we always hoped our agent would. She is an advocate for us, another person in our corner, not only for this project, but for the many projects that are to come."

Find out more about Kelley and her awesome YA Fantasy FRACTION OF STONE here:


Fiona McLaren (that'd be me!): "Jamie is the most enthusiastic, personable and wonderful person you could hope to meet. She has a razor sharp eye for editing and really cares about helping her clients follow their vision and making their novels the best they can be. She is a true champion of her clients and is especially good at making new writers feel right at home. I could not be prouder to call her my agent (which is why you will hear me trumpeting it from every mountain top!). I will say it loud and proud - I love my agent!"

In adult and YA fiction, Jamie is seeking fantasy, mystery, romance, paranormal, historical, mystery, contemporary, horror, light sci-fi and thrillers.

In MG, she loves stories that make her laugh and are imaginative with a clear voice. She loves strong characters with distinct voices and unique story lines that stay with her long after she is finished reading.

To see Jamie's submission guidelines and tastes, visit her page on the Corvisiero Literary Agency website:

Pitch Wars!


We're extremely excited to announce an upcoming event where agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.

Here's the deets...

* The teams will consist of 1 agented author or industry intern or editor (coaches) and 1 aspiring author.

* November 26: The coaches (listed on the linky below) will post on their blogs what genre/category they want to coach. They'll be very specific genres. Aspiring writers will hop around and decide which coaches best fit their manuscripts.

* November 26 through December 5 at 8PM EST: Aspiring writers will submit 3 "applications" to their top choices for coaches to the contest email ( That means, participants will send three separate emails to the contest email addressing each with one of their three top choices for coach.

* December 5 through December 10: Coaches will read the applications and pick teammates.The coaches don't have to pick from their applications. If a coach passes on an application, it is then up for grabs and another coach, if they haven't connected to their applicants, can snatch it after notifying the applicant and if the applicant chooses the coach.

* December 12: Teams will be announced. On the announcement post there will be instructions on how the winners must send their work.

* December 12 through January 16: Each coach will read their teammate's manuscript and give general notes on any issues they find. The coach will help their teammate get his or her pitches ready for the agent round.

* Note: The material for the agent round will be a 3 sentence pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. Coaches will read manuscripts and query letters only once and give notes. It is up to the writer to use the notes from their coaches to get the manuscript and query letter in as best shape as they can to send to requesting agents. The coaches will critique the three sentence pitch and first 250 words. The coaches will read them as many times as they deem necessary. In no way will writers expect the coaches to read the manuscript and query letter more than once or the pitches more than twice.

* January 20: Coaches will submit shined pitches to the contest email.

* January 23 and 24: Agents will read and make requests on the pitches they like (it is likely that not all participants will get requests).

* January 25: We'll announce the team with the most requests and who will take home the winning prizes (an amazon gift card for each).

* This is open to finished manuscripts only.

* You may only enter one manuscript.

* Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)

Name: Your Name

Genre: The genre of your manuscript

Word Count: The word count of your manuscript

Query letter here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.


REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.

Our mentors ...
Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thanksgiving Blog Hop

Today, I was catching up on one of my favourite blogs - Brenda Drake.  She has this beautiful post that talks about Thanksgiving.  Now, I'm not American and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here.  Which is a real shame, because the sentiments are wonderful.
So, depsite my lack of Thanksgiving experience, I am going to join in on the blog hop, where the ethos is to post the things you are thankful for in your life.  I hope you will all go to Brenda's site and join the blog hop.  Gratitude is a wonderful gift.
So, what is my thankful thought for today?

I am thankful for the lovely Brenda Drake, without whom I would never have found my wonderful agent.  I entered one of Brenda's competition and found the agent of my dreams.  All because one person decided she wanted to pay it forward and help other writers where she could.  Now she's passing on the gift of gratitude and spreading the word through the web.  I've never met her but already I know she is a wonderful person.
So, Brenda, if you're, I am thankful for you.  :)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Next Big Thing!

Thanks to two very lovely people - authors K. Latham and author Kelley Harvey - I have been invited to take part in The Next Big Thing blog hop!

So, without further ado:

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the working title of your book?  STARTING WITH AMBER

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? It came from chatting with my partner at the time about what things would really upset a person emotionally. We agreed the abduction of a child would be one of those things. From there, the book just started to grow.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Contemporary YA

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? What a tough question. I suppose I'd say a younger version of the actress that played
Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Lossie. As for Seth...that's a tough one...maybe a younger Josh Harnett.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? When sixteen year old Seth Goldman's child star sister is abducted from their family home, the resulting media feeding frenzy throws everyone's life out of kilter and Seth must decide whether the family secrets are worth the price of his sister's life.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'm repped by the amazing Jamie Bodnar Drowley and Marisa Corvisero of the Corvisiero Agency.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Hmm, about four weeks for the first draft.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Perhaps slightly outside the genre, but My Sister My Love by Joyce Carol Oates, or Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book? The main inspiration for my book came from my then partner and good friend, Savvas. His personal circumstances regarding his own son really touched my heart and he was a great point of reference for the more emotional parts of the book.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Starting With Amber is a book that uses different forms of communication such as IM messages, police interview transcripts, and more. It really plays with text and the way it's written shows just what's on the character's mind in lots of different ways.

Okay, so I'd like to pay it forward on the Next Big Thing. Please check these writers out:

Jamie Corrigan

Katrina Sincek

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Author Interview - Kimberly Chase!

The first in line of an up and coming series of author interviews, I have managed to snag the huge kudos of getting author Kimberly P. Chase to tell us all about her book, writing and more!

Before we get started, please stop by and check out Kim's awesome blog:

Okay, so here goes:

1.  So, you're a did that come about?  Where did it all start?

Honestly, it never even occurred to me that one day I'd become a writer. It all kind of came about a year and a half ago when I began to really notice what was missing in my reading pile, a lack of women in aviation books, especially in young adult. I've always loved reading, but my career focus over the last sixteen years has been spent on something I loved just as much as books, aviation. It was when I combined the two passions that the idea for The Apollo Academy came about. It took me a few months to convince myself that that I should be the one to write it, but when I started writing, the first draft flowed out of me in three months. I had a lot to learn about writing and re-writing, but once I realized I could do it, I haven't looked back since. Now, using my experiences as a licensed pilot to tell stories seems a natural extension of my interests.

YABookcase note:  WOW!  You're a pilot?  That is FREAKING AWESOME.

2.  You're represented by the awesome Corvisiero Agency - talk us through the process, from query to offer of representation.  How did it all happen?

I began querying late Feb. 2012. I didn't even really know what a query letter was when I started or all the things I should avoid (like asking questions), so there were quite a few early rejections. By April/May 2012 I had a killer query and my request rate went through the roof.

June 6th, 2012 I sent a query to the Corvisiero Literary Agency

June 30th, 2012 Brittany (my soon to be agent) emails and asks for the first 50pgs of The Apollo Academy

August 6th, 2012 Emails again and says she’s enjoying the story so far and wants to see the full manuscript. By this point, I’m an extremely patient person. (Ok, so that’s a stretch, but I was prepared for a long wait.)

August 8th, 2012 at 1:02 AM (YABookcase note:  I love that you recorded the time!) Brittany emails. I’m shocked by her quick response and hesitant to even read the email. But when I started reading she was saying things like “I love your book,” “I couldn’t stop reading,” etc.  She wanted to talk about representation and that I should tell everyone else who had my manuscript that I had an offer!!!

3.  Of course, we'd all love to know about your book.  What's your elevator pitch?

As the heiress to Titon Technologies, Aurora Titon can have whatever she wants—clothes, expensive gadgets, anything money can buy. All she really wants is to escape her pampered, paparazzi-prone life for the stars. Becoming the first female pilot to train as an astronaut for the Apollo Academy is exactly the chance for which she has been waiting. Everything would be perfect if it weren’t for her unreciprocated crush on a fellow student, the sexy astronaut bent on making her life miserable, and the fact that someone keeps trying to kill her.

My agent says “It’s a mix between Jennifer Echol's Such A Rush and Battlestar Galactica.”

4.  Do you have plans for another WIP?  Any top secret clues about what it might involve?

I have 3 WIP right now...yikes! And believe it or not, one of them has nothing to do with aviation. WIP1 is the sequel to The Apollo Academy, WIP2 is a YA historical romance, and WIP3 is an MG. I'm waiting for one of them to demand all of my attention.


5.  What's your biggest advice to new writers?

I know this is cliché, but it's so true.

Don't give up. Ever. If your dream is to write a book and publish it, you can do it, but only if you NEVER give up. Learn from your mistakes and get back up!

6.  Can we bribe you into telling us how many rejections you received before you got The Call?

It's like being on a diet and constantly hopping on the scale to see if you've lost any weight. It's a terrible mind game. When I got up to twenty query rejections, I stopped counting. It was better for me to not know THAT number. If I had to guess, I'd say I had around 40 rejections. But why focus on the negative? I had 12 manuscript requests, ultimately leading to multiple offers of rep.

YABookcase note: Major kudos to Kim for letting us know her stats!

7.  If you could describe your agent in an elevator pitch, how would you do it?

Brittany Howard is a highly energetic and down to earth agent. Her enthusiasm for my manuscript, work ethic, and go get 'em attitude is what sold me on the call. Sometimes I think she knows my work better than I do. Not only is she my agent, but she's my friend as well.

YABookcase note:  New writers...this is just the kind of agent you want!  Check out Brittany at the amazing Corvisiero Agency.

8.  Are you a panster or an outliner?

I'm both, but if I had to choose, a pantser. I like to have a rough outline of things, but really I write what I'm feeling at the moment. Some of my best writing is unplanned.

9.  Tell us something we don't know about your characters...

Aurora is a short, quiet, and feisty character. When she's nervous her voice turns into a high pitched squeak. And of course, she's obsessed with flying and space.

10.  If you weren't  a writer, what would you be?

Literary agent? Drive-in theatre entrepreneur? First person on Mars?
Wow.  What a fantastic insight into your world, Kim.  From everyone who reads the YABookcase...thank you so much!  We can't wait to buy your book!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween Agent Surprise!

Well, it's finally happened and the timing couldn't be better!  It is Halloween, my all-time favourite holiday of the year (I mean, it's just so creative - how could it not be amazing?) and I have just signed the contract with my new LITERARY AGENT!  I am now officially represented by the amazing Jamie Bodnar Drowley of the Corvisiero Agency.

So, how did it all happen?

I entered a contest called PitMad that I'd heard about from the wonderful blog run by Brenda Drake (seriously, check it out -  Basically, every writer on twitter in search of an agent went on to the #PitMad hashtag and tweeted the pitch of their book in under 140 characters.  Interested agents would request anything that caught their eye.

I was lucky enough to get multiple requests on two of my books.  I sent the requested materials away as soon as I could hit SEND.

I waited.  A few weeks later I received a form rejection from Corvisiero.  Oh well, I thought, shrugging it off and thinking "maybe next time".  I continued to send out queries.  The next day, I received an email from one of the agents at Corvisiero saying that they had been passed my manuscript from a co-worker and they really loved the opening - could I send more?

So, with heart thumping in my chest, I sent my full book to Jamie.  At that time, I had several full requests out with other agencies.  I just couldn't believe I had another one.

And then everything started to happen.  I silently stalked Jamie on twitter (sorry about that!) and watched in trepidation to see whether she might tweet any clues about the manuscripts she was reading (oh come on, you know we've all done it!).

Then I received an innocuous little email saying "Can I ask you a few questions?  Can I call you?"

So, we set up a Skype call.  Jamie talked to me briefly about word count and suggested lengthening the book.  Then...she OFFERED!

I was blown away.  Here was this lovely, smart, industry professional wanting to represent me!  After squealing like a stuck pig on the phone and declaring something along the lines of "sorry, I'm excited, I talk fast and I'm Scottish", I asked for a few days to let everything digest.  She graciously allowed me some time to think over her offer.

Those few days were the most exciting and the most challenging of my writing career to date.  I received other offers from amazing agents, but in the end I had to go with my gut.  Jamie was just so full of enthusiasm for my work and I was really impressed with her encouraging attitude.  She made a point of letting me know I had to make the right choice for ME and for my work.  Aside from being extremely personable and easy to talk to, she really sold me on the agency itself.  And if she can sell me then I trust her to sell my work.

So today, a little magic came into my life.  Halloween sprinkled some fairy dust my way and I signed my contract with Jamie and Marisa of Corvisiero Agency.