Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pick me! Pick Me! PitchWars 2017


Thanks for checking out my bio. I can’t wait to read your awesome words when the submission round starts. My wish list has changed, so please review carefully, even if you submitted to me last year.

Here's the basic bio: 

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She’s ecstatic to be mentoring PitchWars this year for the third time. 

AMERICA'S NEXT REALITY STAR is now available. SWEET REALITY will be released Sept. 5. The series concludes with a third book on March 6, 2018

Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary



MY QUALIFICATIONS:

This is my third year mentoring Pitch Wars. I’m a hardcore contest junkie. I help host PitchSlam, QueryKombat, and Nightmare on Query Street, and I mentor Sun vs. Snow. I’ve also helped with NestPitch and New Agent. That’s a lot  of contests. I have read a couple thousand queries and first pages. Plus, I interned for an agent who represents women’s fiction.

I have a good idea of what works, what doesn't work, and what agents are looking for. I'm also an excellent editor and will put tons of comments all over your manuscript. As far as feedback style goes, I’m a big fan of the compliment sandwich. I’ll tell you what doesn’t work, but also what does. I try not to be mean. And I’ll help you brainstorm ways to fix things (I won’t fix it for you).

All of my prior mentees are still speaking to me after I made them remove the to be verbs from their manuscripts! (Well, I let them keep a few. But not many.) My 2016 mentee, the amazing Tobey Forney is represented by Liz Parker at Inkwell Management, and I can't wait for the world to read this gorgeous manuscript. 


I'm a published author. If you take a look at my books, you get a pretty good indicator of one type of thing I like to read.


MY STRENGTHS
  • Finding where your story begins.
  • Big picture issues. Plot holes, pacing, avoiding the saggy middle.
  • Finding the genre that best fits your story.
  • Crafting a pitch to get agent attention.
  • Tightening language. Reducing unnecessary words and filtering. Finding your filler words. If your writing style is more wordy, we may not be the best fit. 
  • Commas. Finding typos. 

WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR:
  • Adult/NA. Anything else will be deleted unread.
  • Romantic comedies (formerly known as "chick lit"). Life is short, I like to read things that make me laugh. Send me your light/funny stories.
    • All types of consensual relationships are welcome. M/M, F/F, M/F, genderqueer, polyamorous, etc. Whatever you've got with consenting adults works for me.
  • Women's fiction. This means that the primary focus of the story is on the main character’s emotional journey. WF can have a romantic subplot (and many do), but the book should be about the female main character. 
    • My preference is for light, fun stories. Help me escape into your words. But it's a big genre, and I read widely within it. Just check my do not want list.
    • The term "women's fiction" is not limited to those assigned as female at birth.
    • Upmarket is fine, but if it's super literary, another mentor might be a better fit. 
    • No historical this year.
  • Contemporary Romance. This year, I'm keeping it light and fluffy. There are a ton of romance mentors, but I very much prefer to laugh rather than to cry. No tear jerkers. Contemporary only. I'm afraid I'm not taking historical romance. I tend to prefer women's fiction over romance, which means I'm more likely to pick a romance if it has a WF-type feel to it.
    • Single or dual POV is fine. Past or present tense. (I've never seen a book written in future tense, and that feels like it would be weird, but if you wrote it, I'm curious.)
    • LGBT+ pairings are welcome. 
    • Erotic Romance is generally okay, but with the above caveats.
    • BDSM and Polyamory are also fine. Just make sure it's a positive, functional relationship. BDSM is not abuse. Abuse is not sexy. 
  • Genre-straddlers: Don't know if your book is WF, romance, or rom com? No problem! Send it to me and we'll work out the best fit for the story.
    • For all of the above genres:
      • Diversity! A book full of people just like me isn’t all that realistic, and since I’m not looking for SF/F, that’s a problem. Not that I’m not awesome. All types of diversity are welcome: people of color, physically and mentally disabled characters, LGBT+ characters, religious minorities, etc. 
      • Books with elements of SF/F are fine. Think The Time Traveller's Wife or The Status of All Things. I adore contemporary books with magical elements. But keep it light.
      • A mysterious subplot within a WF or romance is fine.
      • If your book has any sort of a board game or convention or LARP or other geeky thing as a plot, I wants to read it. Rom com, romance, WF, gimmee gimmee gimmee. I am the mentor you're looking for.
      • Do your characters do pole fitness or aerial yoga? There's only one adult/NA mentor who publicly admits to these things, and you're already reading her blog. 
      • If your book is similar to Kristen Rockaway's The Wild Woman's Guide to Traveling the World or Ricki Schultz's Mr. Right-Swipe, I want to read it.
      • Give me strong women! This damsel is not in distress (or when she is, she can save herself).
      • Women in STEM are my bag.
      • My husband is Canadian. Send me your men with accents, foreign men, books set in countries other than the U.S. 
      • Send me your beta heroes. Alphas are fine, but I tend much more toward the sweet, sensitive guy than the military man or cop.
      • I love The West Wing and The Newsroom. Do with that information what you will.
      • I'd love to read an updated twist on Pygmalion, especially if it's gender-swapped. This is one of my favorite old stories. (Heck, I'd probably read an updated twist on Medea, too, but am not sure how anyone would pull that off for a 2017 audience.)
      • Healthy relationships, please. If your love interest's defining characteristic is that he refuses to take no for an answer and keeps coming back when the main character tells him no, I'm not the mentor for you. (Unless you revise this before the sub window opens.) (See also: why I will never like the Buffy/Spike episodes.)
      • Enthusiastic consent is a big plus if you're writing sexy scenes.
      • If you have a dystopian WF or romcom, that would make me unbelievably happy.
      • I like smart characters in interesting professions. I won't pass on something because the MC is a lawyer, a chef, or a party planner, but those things come up a lot in romance/women's fiction. Think outside the box.
      • As a card-carrying Mensa member, when you tell me your character is a genius, that means something very specific. Your character has to live up to my expectations. But I do love books that show me an intelligent main character.  (I also love Shopaholic, though, so don't think you have to write a smarty pants to hook me.)
      • Edited, polished manuscripts. I've posted many blogs with writing tips. Read through them with an eye toward how to improve your manuscript before submitting. 
      • Appropriate word counts. If your manuscript is under 60,000 words or over 100,000, seriously consider doing another editing pass before the submission period starts. 
      • Make sure you've done your research. If your main character is a lawyer or a cop, and the legal stuff is wrong, I won't be able to read it. (And if you have a background relevant to your MS, make sure your query tells me.)
      • I am ALSO looking for people who are easy to work with, positive, upbeat and who genuinely want help improving. If you want someone to tell you the book is perfect, call your best friend or your mom. That's not what this contest is about.
      WHAT I'M NOT LOOKING FOR:
      • Any genre not listed above. That includes, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, horror, mysteries, literary fiction, westerns, and historical. 
      • YA, MG, chapter, or picture books. 
      • Non-fiction.
      • Please do not send me books about abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, IVF, characters trying to get pregnant, etc. Even if it’s not a major plot point. These are important topics, and there are some excellent books about them, but I am not the target audience.
      • I’m honestly not the best fit for books about motherhood. It’s fine if your characters are parents, but when the plot revolves around the children or what it’s like to have kids or the funny things about pregnancy–I have no frame of reference. I won’t get your jokes.
      • If your ultimate goal is to make readers cry, I'm not your target audience.
      • I'm not really into family sagas or multi-generational stories. Family secrets revealed when a family member died or dark pasts might be more suited to another mentor. 
      • NO books about cancer, please. I'd prefer to avoid terminal illness.
      • If your main character is a proud pothead or struggling with addiction, I'm not the best fit.
      • I'm only looking for books with human POV characters (well, okay, I might consider a robot if it were like Small Wonder). No vampires, werecreatures of any kind, pets, zoo animals, aliens, unicorns, zombies.... I want adult humans. 
      • If your only POV character is a child/teen or male, I may not be the best fit. I want my women's fiction to be about adult women. And I'm not a big fan of books that start when the MC is young and span decades. 
      • NO rape or abused women. Even if the book is about escaping the abuse and starting over. Even if the book is uplifting. It's just not something I personally want to read.
      • Do not send me anything that portrays being LGBT+ as a bad thing. 
      • NO inspirational or religious-themed manuscripts.
      • NO cliffhangers. When I got to the end of Lord of the Rings after three hours in the theatre only to find that NOTHING HAPPENED, I was pissed. I'm still annoyed. You can leave threads open for a sequel, but I want a complete story. If your main character walks around for 300 pages and then stops at the top of a hill and goes, "Oh, hey! More walking!", I will drive to your house and hit you with your manuscript. (© Michael Mammay) (See also: why I will ask you for a synopsis.)
      • NO slave/master or Nazi/Jew romances. All characters must be able to consent. In fact, I don't want any slave owner or Nazi heroes, period. Since I'm not accepting historical, this shouldn't be an issue, but the world is a flaming dumpster, so I want to be clear.
      • Anything that's already been published. A self-published book is published. Agents won't take these books, which means they're not right for this contest. (But good luck, because self-publishing is hard work.)
      • I'm not interested in writers who bash traditional publishing on Twitter, who vent negativity toward the process or complain about contests/mentors. There's a time and a place to let off some steam, and that's in private.
      • If I've critiqued/read your manuscript before, you're better off getting a new set of eyes and choosing other mentors. You're welcome to submit a different manuscript to me. It's OK if I've done a free query or first chapter critique, but I prefer you submit to someone else if I did a paid critique for you or if we're friends.
      • If you support Trump, we're not a good match. Also, if you voted for McConnell or Ryan, you can't sit with us.


        OTHER THINGS I LIKE:
        My favorite authors in genres I'm accepting include: Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Ayisha Malik, early Jane Green (think Mr. Maybe or Babyville), Mary Ann Marlowe, K.M. Jackson, Leah Marie Brown, Amy Reichert, Terry McMillan, Allison Winn Scotch, A.J. Pine, and Brighton Walsh.

        Shows I never miss include Married at First Sight, UnREAL, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Are You the One?, and Scandal. Yes, that's a lot of reality shows (This should not surprise anyone who has heard of my book). I'll watch almost any superhero movie (old or new), I saw Rent! live seven times, I like Playstation Lego games, board games, yoga, spinning, pole fitness, chocolate chip cookie dough, and traveling with my husband. There are more gay romances than straight on my DVD rack. I never got used to saying Blu-ray instead of DVD (and have stopped trying).

        If you have questions about whether something falls into my wish list, feel free to leave me a comment or ask me on Twitter. No pre-pitching! 

        A legitimate question is, "Would you maybe be interested in a romance that takes place on a camping trip?" A pre-pitch would be, "When Wilma agreed to go camping with Fred, she never dreamed he'd make her heart Bam-Bam and ultimately smash it into Pebbles."

        Good luck with your submissions! Now head on back to the blog hop.

        Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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        Summer Escape Scavenger Hunt


        Looking for something new to read? Join our scavenger hunt enter to win one of multiple prizes:

        • A $15 gift card to the ebook retailer of your choice
        • The Winemakers by Jan Moran (print)
        • Signed copy of Rush by Megan Matthews (print)
        • America's Next Reality Star by Laura Heffernan (ebook)
        • How Beauty Saved the Beast by Belle Maurice (ebook)
        • $5 Amazon gift card and a copy of Mikolaus by Margo Bond Collins 
        • Playing with Fire by Emily Robinson (print)
        • Vampire Encouter by Alix Adale (ebook)
        • Between Love And Loyalty by Shannyn Schroeder (ebook)

        Discover new (to you) authors! There are plenty of ways to enter. 


        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        If you can't see the giveaway, above, click below to enter:
        https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e8df5c9819/

        Monday, July 17, 2017

        NoQS Success: Ash Van Otterloo

        My favorite type of success story--one that came from our contests! Let this bit of inspiration follow you into Pitchwars and the fall contests. Here's the story from Ash.


        I put the finishing touches on my MG fantasy manuscript CATTYWAMPUS in late May of 2016, spent July-Sept in rounds of revisions with notes from my beta readers and critique partners. Right before I started my first round of queries, on a whim, I noticed a blog schedule for #NoQS and entered the story. Having entered contests a few times before, I knew it would be a fun experience and hoped to snag helpful feedback before I leapt into the query trenches.


        When my name popped up on Mike’s team list, I promptly exploded with excitement. My second stroke of luck was being paired with the clever Kate Foster as my mentor, who I’d received a bit of constructive feedback from in a past contest with a shorter project. (A good reminder to us all to receive constructive criticism gracefully, even in rejection!) We polished my query and pages, and it got a significant amount of requests.


        By the end of October, I found myself on the phone chatting with the incomparable Lauren Spieller. I’ll admit it: I had instant agent-crush. Besides being fun to chat with, she asked all the clarity-bringing questions about plot development, was enthusiastic and straightforward (swoon), and asked for an R&R, along with suggestions for sensitivity reads. Why, hello, sweaty palms. Obviously, I was eager to give it a whack.


        I worked hard on revisions, found some amazing sensitivity readers, and resubmitted in March. Another R&R. And y’all. I am so grateful for last round of revisions, too, because that’s where I truly found my protagonists (and discovered an underground bunker of feelings to pour into the manuscript.) I re-submitted and got a phone call. THE phone call. (Dun, dun, dunnnnn!)


        When I answered my cellphone, Lauren offered me representation with Triada Us. Only barely did I manage to refrain from shrieking directly into the receiver. As before, Lauren was supportive and excited about the story, and had great thoughts for final revision notes. After recovering from a round of omygodomygodomygod, I was eager to accept. I’d researched agencies and MG agents thoroughly, and this was indeed my dream representation. A couple of days later, I officially accepted the offer and went out with my family to celebrate with pizza.


        My final thoughts: Writing can be lonely, sometimes. There are moments (months) when you have to be the one who believes in your work, even though part of you worries you might be wasting your time. And when the opportunity to make a helpful connection comes, even in the form of a constructive “no”, tackle it and suck every bit of wisdom from it. Learn, and be kind to yourself. And don’t give up.

        ____________________________________________

        Ash Van Otterloo lives just outside of Chattanooga with her long time best friend and four wild forest-children. She's regarded fondly by her two cats, and, like a cat, she enjoys people who offer her good food regularly. Whether or not she's a witch is a topic for gossip among her neighbors. The ones, at least, that she's not yet turned into newts.

        Wednesday, July 12, 2017

        A #PitchWars Guide to Interacting with Mentors, Part 2

        Pitchwars is one of the most exciting contests of the year, both for mentors and prospective mentees. It’s a huge contest, and everyone wants to be a part of it. In this three part blog series, I’m going to take a look at ways that you can benefit from the contest through your interactions with mentors, whether you’re chosen or not.

        Part one of this series can be found here.

        During the Selection Period:
        • DON’T tweet mentors to ask if they’re going to ask to read your manuscript. It's awkward, and it puts on us the spot. If I'm on the fence about whether I want to work with someone, making me uncomfortable on Twitter is likely to push me more towards no than yes. It's fine to tweet with other questions.
        • DO read the hashtag to get teasers and writing tips. Even mentors who aren’t in your category or genre will be tweeting general information that you might find helpful.
        • DON’T assume that all constructive tweets are about your manuscript. Usually, when I tweet about a mistake in someone’s work, it’s because I’ve seen it in at least 5 entries. We’re here to help, not make you fee bad. Also, many mentors don’t always read entries in order, so a tweet that occurs 40 seconds after you hit send likely has nothing to do with you.
        • DO talk to your friends, swap work, try to get outside during this time. Waiting can be stressful. All mentors know and understand this. You don't have to sit by the inbox waiting for requests.
          This doesn't have to be you.
        • DON’T panic if you tweet or email a mentor and they don’t reply right away. We may be reading. Even if you see tweets, some of us use apps like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule tweets when we’re away. Don’t assume a mentor is online, and don’t take it personally if it takes time to reply to you. We’re doing the best we can.
        • DO be honest. Mentors frequently ask questions to find out if we’re the best fit for your work and if our styles are a match. If I ask if you’re willing to add a gay vampire to your Regency Romance, don’t say yes because you think that’s what I want to hear. Some mentors may ask questions like, “Are you willing to change the main character into a purple unicorn?” simply because we want to hear you give a thoughtful response. If you swear up and down that you’ll make any change, do anything, that’s not helpful.
        • DON’T tell a mentor they’re your #1 pick. If I’m considering your manuscript, and I find out you told Molly Mentor you’d do anything to work with her, that might leave me feeling less graciously inclined toward your work. Like with agents, you can’t really know who you’re going to want to work with until you start talking revisions. Wait to find out if my ideas for your work resonate before you tell someone else you’d rather work with them. Worse, don’t tell me and Molly both that we’re your #1 pick. Mentors talk.
        • DO be discrete. It’s OK to celebrate privately when a mentor asks to read more of your work. It’s not OK to post it on Twitter. Be mindful of other prospective mentees who may not have gotten requests yet (especially ones who subbed to the same mentor). At the same time, we love to see you all cheering each other on when you check your Twitter profiles. So stay positive, just mindful of others.
        • DON’T use an auto-DM. If I go to follow you and find out you’ve got an auto-DM, I’ll unfollow faster than you can say “Follow my Facebook page.” In fact, don't DM mentors at all unless they DM you first or say it's OK. There are few reasons for this:
          1. It's intrusive. Typically, I only DM with friends. So seeing someone I don't know pop up in there always initially makes feel a bit hesitant.
          2. It takes time away from reading subs. Last year, I read approximately 4,000 pages during the submission period. Pages, not words. Four thousand of them. That's 80-90 first chapters (which run anywhere from 10-20 pages for adult works), plus the first 50-100 pages of 10-15 more, and multiple full manuscripts. While working my day job and writing Sweet Reality. I didn't have a lot of time for DMs, so each one frustrated me more than they normally would have. When you ask questions on the hashtag or @ someone, we can respond on their own time.
          3. Whatever your question, chances are someone else has the same one. Sending a public tweet makes it more likely other people can benefit from the answer, and it saves mentors from having to type the same information over and over (see #2).
          4. With that said, if you need to drop out of the contest because you got an offer, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE to message one of the mentors you subbed to or the contest hosts. We'll all be very excited for you. (And it's polite to let us know not to spend time reading your manuscript.)
        • DO thank the mentors. We’re working hard. If you have the means, buying our books is a great way to say thanks. If you don’t, ask your library to buy it. If you read and enjoyed a mentor’s book, leave an honest review on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. And of course, “thank you” is always nice to hear. J

        Stay tuned. A couple of days before the winners are announced, I’ll post Part 3: How to Interact with Mentors After the Contest.

        Monday, July 10, 2017

        Meet Query Kombat Grand Champion Erin King



        Query Kombat Grand Champion
        Erin King




        Erin King hails from the deserts of Las Vegas, where she was a serious high school choir nerd (no, really, we won a Grammy), turned songwriter, turned novelist. These days,
        she lives in Manhattan with her designer husband, where they pretend “creatives” can afford the city. She writes Young Adult fiction while her three native New Yorkers attend elementary school, and takes her life in her hands every time she goes for a run in Central Park. She’s anaphylactically allergic to exercise. Yes, it’s a thing. However, she hopes to survive to write many more fantastical tales about fictional teenagers.

        Erin lives on Twitter @erinkingwrites, or online at erinkingwrites.com.

        Meet Query Kombat Adult Champion Maxym Martineau


        Query Kombat Adult Champion

        Maxym Martineau




        Maxym Martineau is a staff writer and copy editor by day and a fantasy romance writer by night. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and a borderline unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and coffee. When she's not reading or writing, she can be found playing with her dogs or binge-watching TV shows with her husband. She also appreciates a well-made margarita.



        Twitter: @maxymmckay

        Website: www.maxymmagazine.com






        Meet Query Kombat YA Champion Tracy C. Gold


        Query Kombat Young Adult Champion

        Tracy C. Gold


        Every day I strive to help people learn, spark conversations, think about “what’s next,” and play with cute animals.

        I spend most of my time teaching, editing, and writing. I cofounded Sounding Sea Writers’ Workshop, which holds writing classes and provides writing tutoring. I teach composition at the University of Baltimore, and I write short stories and novels. I also intern for literary agent Carrie Pestritto.

        When I’m not working, I’m devouring a novel, riding my ex-racehorse L.J., running, biking, or at least pining for the trail.


         If you’re a Terp or a Tar Heel, you may want to skip this part, because I’m a proud alum of Duke University. I earned my Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction at the University of Baltimore.

        P.S., if you’re wondering why the middle initial is everywhere, it’s because I have no relationship with Tracy Gold, the actress in Growing Pains. I was actually named after a dog, which is cool by me.

        Twitter: @TracyCGold
        Website:www.tracycgold.com

        Meet Query Kombat MG Champions Jess and Britney Gulbrandsen


        Query Kombat Mid Grade Champions

        Jess and Britney Gulbrandsen



        Jess and Britney Gulbrandsen are a husband and wife writing team who spend their romantic date nights discussing plot points and hunting for Big Foot. When they aren’t writing, Jess and Britney like to read aloud first lines of novels and create dialogue for their children and dog.

        In his spare time, Jess enjoys fishing, arm wrestling, and extremely low-budget monster movies. Britney spends most of her days making lists, reading, and trying to keep the little ones from burning down the house.


        She also talks about books and writing on her website: www.britneygulbrandsen.com

        Instagram: @gulbrandsenbooks

        Twitter: @britgulbrandsen


        Sunday, July 9, 2017

        Summer Escape Giveaway, Week 2

        Congratulations to the first round of Summer Escape Winners!

        July 2-8 Summer Escape Winners!

        $15 gift card to the ebook retailer of the winner’s choice – Charlotta C Rowe
        Blood And Shadow by Dayne Edmonson (print) – Barb Allen VanderWel
        Emergence by Dayne Edmondson (print) – Karen McKnight
        T. F. Walsh ebook of the winner’s choice – Mary Margaret Devine
        Signed Sisters of the Craft trilogy by Lori Handeland (print) – Jana Leah
        Signed Once Upon a Time In the West by Lori Austin (print) – Sharon Good
        Hollywood Nights Tender Trio by Christa Maurice (ebook) – Jess Haney

        Here's the link to the new hunt. Enter before the end of the week to win a $15 gift card to the ebook retailer of your choice.


        Wednesday, July 5, 2017

        Query Kombat Wrap-up, Part 1





        It's unofficially over!

        The Query Kombat Awards Ceremony usually marks the close of our brutal, month-long tournament. Praising the top performing entries in each age category as well as the Grand Champion is a something we can't do without!

        That being said, the ceremony will be delayed for about a week or so due to an unforeseeable (but totally awesome!) circumstance. We're hoping to present our winners with their badges early next week, so hang tight.

        I hope my fellow Americans had a grand Independence Day!

        Real Life Reality Stars: Steph Mignon

        As some of you may have guessed, I like reality TV a lot. :-) To celebrate the upcoming release of Sweet Reality, I'm going to be posting interviews from current and former reality TV stars over the next few weeks. To start, I've got someone who is part of both my writing world and reality TV: my lovely Pitchwars mentee from last year, Steph Mignon. To be honest, when she mentioned in the ramp up to PitchWars that she had been on a reality show, I googled it. I was hoping to love her story before I even got the entry in my inbox. We're a great team. 

        Name: Steph Mignon (Featured as Steph Hickey) 
        Reality Show: Mantracker
        Season: Season 3, Episode 11
        Air Dates: 2010

        This is not Steph.

        **Mantracker is a Canadian reality show where tracking expert Terry Grant pursues two people through the American or Canadian wilderness. The show aired from 2006 - 2012. I admit, I'd never heard of it before meeting Steph, but I enjoyed the episode I watched.**

        How did you Place? (If applicable)
        We didn’t not get caught if that’s what you’re asking.

        What made you decide to audition for a reality show?
        I am always game for an adventure so when I found out this show involved running from two men on horseback in the Big Bear wilderness, I was in. Luckily, my friend and roommate Kristy is always down for anything and she quickly agreed to be my partner in crime.

        What was your favorite on-screen moment?
        Attempting to steal the Mantracker’s horse was definitely an intense moment for me. I will never forget that adrenaline rush. And I was so close! I literally had the horse’s reigns in my hand and was seconds away from hoping on when I felt a rope around my arms. Even though we didn’t win, getting that close to stealing the Mantracker and his sidekick’s transportation was very satisfying.

        What was your favorite behind the scenes moment?
        After we were caught we had a few days left to do interviews, as did the Mantracker and his sidekick. I finally got to ride one of the horses then which wasn’t quite as exciting as it would have been without permission but still cool. I’ll always be a horse girl at heart.

        Steph and her partner, Kristy
        Who is your biggest reality TV crush (any show)?
        Flava Flav for sure.

        How would you say the show affected your personal life?
        Even though we only filmed for a week, it was super exciting and a great break from everyday life. Coming back to my office job was a major let down. I was definitely craving excitement after Mantracker! Then there was some unresolved tension with Kristy. If you watch our episode you’ll see we bickered quite a bit. Thankfully, our friendship is strong and we were back to normal in a few days.

        Overall, how would you rate your experience?
        Totally awesome.

        Would you do another reality show? Why or why not?
        Absolutely. You only live once. Plus as Laura proves Reality Television is great writing material.

        If you could do any reality show you wanted, which one would it be and why?


        -->
        Probably The Amazing Race. I’m a good problem solver in stressful situations. Plus I love traveling. Maybe someday when my kids are older I’ll apply if the show is still on.

        Thursday, June 29, 2017

        Query Kombat Success: MY SOUL TO GIVE by Magali Fréchette

        What better time to share a Query Kombat success story than before the final round? Publishing is a long game. You tend to hear about the overnight successes, which is one reason it's so important to celebrate the stories that take a bit longer to find their homes. Today, we're hearing from Magali A. Fréchette about her journey to publish MY SOUL TO GIVE - available today! Congratulations, Magali! I've loved this concept since I first read the query, years ago.

        Hey!

        I was a contestant in Query Kombat 2016, and although I made it into the first round, that’s as far as I went. However, I did end up getting great feedback on my query, and it helped me along the way for future queries. It even helped me fix part of the story I realized didn’t work through the query itself. Now, the story I entered for the contest isn’t the one that got published (although, I’m still querying that one!), but I did want to mention something here. The writing community on Twitter, these contests like Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Sun vs. Snow, and all the Twitter pitching contests did get me where I am today. I remember when I was feeling really low about not getting into one  of these contests, Michelle (amongst many others) reached out, made sure I was feeling better, and offered all the help and the support she could. And that’s the greatest thing for a writer; a community. There are lots of people I want to thank for getting me here, and these contests, and their hosts are definitely among them, so thank you!

        MY SOUL TO GIVE is an Adult paranormal mystery romance inspired by a dead tree the neighbourhood kids, my sister, and I didn’t like approaching (sounds weird put like that, I know, but I swear, the story doesn’t actually revolve around a tree!). From there, a story was born. I’d been querying my manuscript since I finished it back in 2014. It wasn’t my first story, though; it was actually my 19th.

        After many, many rejections, I was beginning to give up hope for this manuscript, but I’m glad I never gave up on it. It changed a lot from what it once was (original was so dark and depressing…and disturbing lol), but I love what it is now. Just to give an idea, this book went through over 72 edit rounds (not kidding), three revisions, and one rewrite. I can’t even count how many times the query was redone, but you can imagine. A lot of people told me to move on, and write something else (which, I did since I’m on manuscript #25 now), but I just wouldn’t – couldn’t – give up on this one. It meant a lot to me, and after putting so much work into it, I wasn’t ready to shelve it just yet. And all that hard work made it what it is today, and I have no regrets.

        On February 21st, I found Evernight Publishing. I’d seen them before, and loved their covers, read their books – but I had waited since I already had eight queries out. I wanted feedback to see if my query was good enough now, or if it still needed work. Finally, that day, I decided to stop waiting, and queried them. And on April 7th, they emailed me back and offered me a contract to sign my book with them. To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement!

        After going back and forth with them, I realized how lucky I was to be publishing with them. From answering my questions, setting me up with a wonderful editor, an artist who did a fantastic book cover, and a marketing manager who has been giving me wonderful and helpful advice, and explaining everything step by step on how the press works – it’s just been all surreal, and I love every second of it!

        I plan on writing a sequel to this book, and query Evernight again for it; crossing my fingers I get a second book deal with them because they really are a fantastic press to publish with, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

        Moral of the story? Keep writing, yes – but don’t give up on that manuscript you really want published. It may have to change, go through more edits, and even be rewritten, but eventually, it will find a home!


        When Celina Leviet escapes the brutal home invasion that kills her husband, she’s left with a bullet in her gut and vengeance in her heart. An alluring demon, Mekaisto, offers an irresistible deal—in exchange for her soul, he’ll let her live long enough to get her revenge, but she must hunt and kill the murderers herself.

        After sealing the contract, Celina digs into her husband’s past for clues about his murder, and what she uncovers makes her question everything she thought she knew about him.

        His company never existed.
        His family history was a lie.

        And he was involved with The Lumen, a shadowy religious order whose members know too much about demons. As the life she thought she knew crumbles around her, Mekaisto's charms become harder to resist. Forced to face a horrible truth, Celina struggles against her late husband’s betrayal and the dark seduction of the devil she knows.

        My Soul to Give is available now!





        Magali A. Fréchette writes paranormal, dark fantasy, and thrillers, but always with a side of romance as she enjoys all things dark and sweet. Full-time single mom, photo manipulation artist, and gamer, she loves spending most of her time writing. She also enjoys reading, watching TV shows, and pizza.  While, in her heart, home will always be in Ottawa, Ontario, she currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences with a Major in Criminology. Bilingual – French being her first language – and has a passion for Japanese.

        Twitter: @stormowl7