Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Having recently finished three rounds of editing on my YA paranormal romance JUDGES I figured I’d talk about my own process when it comes to strengthening the manuscript.

One of the best things I ever learned in college was from one of my favorite creative writing professors when she told me, “Molly, you are good writer, but an over-writer. After I closed my mouth, which had dropped in shock, she proceeded to tell me what constitutes an over-writer. This is a writer who usually takes two to three extra sentences to drive in the point--when it was already clearly made the first time. Or someone who reiterates the effect they are going for one too many times. She concluded the meeting by giving me pointers on how to accept the type of writer I was and how to make it work for me.

I’m still an over-writer. I don’t believe that will ever change. I have gotten much better at not completely overdoing it like I did in college, but despite my best efforts, I find there are always things to cut in my manuscripts. So, the best process for me when writing a manuscript is to have several different drafts. 

The first draft is where I am freest. I force myself to forget the rules and my goals and just write the story my characters are telling me. This first draft is for me and my characters only. Then after giving it a couple weeks to rest, I pull it up and make another copy, labeling this one Draft Two. Draft two is my first read-through with fresh eyes and I’ll go through and make little changes or comments or cuts where I feel they are necessary. After this I let it sit for another couple weeks and then pull it up again and make another copy and label it Draft Three. This goes on and on until I’ve finally decided the story is sharp and polished and ready to be read by my critique partners. After they’ve given it their comments, I go back and make changes again. This is an on going process, one that can feel never ending at times, but in the long run turns the story into something much stronger than where it originally started.

Three books that helped me immensely when it came to editing my own work are: The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne. And Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. The last one only applies if you write in the Young Adult genre but the other two fit any genre or style of writing. They cover everything from basic sentence structure to determining the best word choice when conveying certain emotion. 

After landing my rock star of an agent, Brittany Howard, I knew there would be more edits to come. What was different about this stage in the process was I had an experienced professional with insight into my story guiding me. Her comments and suggestions enhanced the characters or their actions or the story overall. And each time I got a new set of notes from her I knew we were one step closer to achieving the story I wanted to tell. The best part of the process was that we were always on the same page and Brittany would realize aspects of my story I hadn’t even thought about! 

Brittany and I went through three rounds of edits together on JUDGES and I sent her the final copy a couple of weeks ago. I can’t lie, when I hit the send button I was a little terrified. Now it is out my hands--I can only hope and pray a publishing house will love the story the way Brittany and I do--and I’m sure if I get lucky enough to land a book deal there will be a whole new round of edits to come. Of course I’m looking forward to it. 

How does your editing process work? Are there any books that helped you with your process or any advice you received that helped? Feel free to pass on the advice in the comments! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Epic Giveaway happening on Bookish!

This is an amazing giveaway with incredible reads up for grabs! Hurry and check it out here!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

UPDATE: Winner of THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting...

****UPDATE**** I never heard back from the original winner so rafflecopter has chosen another winner and it is entry # 74 Kim! I'll email you a confirmation letter soon! 

Thank you to all who entered! To check out more titles and news from author Kimberly Derting visit her website here

Thanks again for entering and please check back for more giveaways and updates on the progression of my YA Paranormal Romance novel JUDGES.

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GIVEAWAY of Kimberly Derting's The Pledge!

Time for another giveaway! 
For this contest I decided to giveaway a novel by my all time favorite author Kimberly Derting! I'm constantly sharing updates on her work and telling everyone to read her novels so I decided to actually give one away--THE PLEDGE 

From Goodreads: In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Now if the description or the stunning cover doesn't grab you, I did a review of The Pledge a few months back and you can read it here

To earn entries all you have to do is choose one or all of the options the rafflecopter has to offer. Following my blog gets you the most entires and all you have to do is click on the link to the right of the page (the one above all the pictures of my followers) that says Join this Site. I'm sure most of you knew how to do that but I figured I'd try and make it as simple as possible! 

All right! Here we go! Happy Reading!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Query

Picture provided by
Let’s start at the beginning--well not the real beginning, because that would be when I got the idea for writing JUDGES (my second novel)--I’m talking about the beginning of the stuff that happens after I wrote JUDGES. Or, more honestly, after I finished editing  the 14th draft of JUDGES and decided it was finally ready to be seen by agents. 

After months of self-editing and help from critique partners, I sat down and wrote the Query Letter for JUDGES. I’d jotted down notes throughout writing the book, ideas and scenes I thought would be relevant in a query. After compiling the most important facts about my book I decided I’d made the query as good as I could. But, since I’d been down this road before (with my first novel that unfortunately wasn’t ready to be seen by agents but it took me querying agents to discover that fact) I decided to get a little extra help to make sure my query was un-reject-able (hey a writer can dream right?) 

I did hours worth of research, hunting for people offering query critique services. After narrowing down the field, I decided to go with Cassandra Marshall a freelance editor with a strong list of references. It was super cheap and the fact that she was a literary agent intern (hence reading hundreds of queries a day) I sent her my query for JUDGES. 

I was surprised by how fast she was, getting back to me within two days! Her comments were insightful and she said I had a strong query, but I needed to get more specific. Like super-specific. I had some hints of what happened with my characters, but I hadn’t come out and told the agent what happened. After taking her advice and making my details concrete, to the point, and basically laying the entire story out, I had a solid query. Just for good measure I took a few days to come up with a good log-line--this is a one sentence explanation of your book--something you would say if you walked into an elevator and your dream agent happened to be riding with you. I used the log-line for my opening and felt my query was complete.

I’ve pasted it below.

A faithless Harley Locke is Called to be one of God’s Judges and finds herself facing a cult, demons, and a forbidden romance with her mentor. 

On her 17th birthday, Harley wakes up feeling like her skin is on fire and her muscles have been run through the garbage disposal. The weirdness escalates when mysterious transfer student Draven somehow knows her name and what is happening to her physically. He attributes it all to a supernatural profession Harley doesn’t want to believe in. 

Draven is a Judge. Not the black robe wearing, gavel smacking kind but the Old Testament type—a person chosen by God and endowed with a piece of the divine, giving him the ability to vanquish evil and balance the scales—and he is Harley’s assigned mentor. 

Harley had given up on God years ago when her mother died from lung cancer. Now Harley must set aside her anger toward God and commit to training or else be left vulnerable to demons who’d love to get a taste of her new-Judge blood. Gaining control over the ability to manifest flames from her fingertips is easier than keeping her growing feelings for Draven in check and the struggle jeopardizes both their lives. 

When the Barton Group—an extremist religious organization based in her home town that maliciously protests abortion, war, homosexuality, and basically anything they consider a sin—has a series of teen suicides, Harley suspects there is something unnatural behind their deaths. Despite her fear of meeting her first demon and all that could go wrong (like being captured and dragged to Hell) she conducts her own investigation. 

Once Harley discovers a powerful demon within the Barton Group, she is thrust into a battle that threatens the life of the person she loves most, and she’d rather go to Hell than let anything happen to him. 

The above query resulted in 6 partial requests and 3 full requests. Of course there were some rejections as well. I believe I sent out 30 queries in all, starting the first week of May 2012 and landing my dream agent by the beginning of August. With my first novel (which, again, was no where near ready) I got some full requests but I had way more rejections over a longer course of time. 

This time around, after meticulous editing on the novel and the query, I was able to sign with my dream agent! I’m now working with her to make the novel even better, using her insight into the genre and industry to make the story stronger. I’m beyond lucky to have an agent who understands my concept, characters, and career goals so well, and I’m happy to say, it all started with a query.