Monday, August 27, 2012

Kiss / Kiss-off Contest Announcement!

Guys!! I'm going to host a contest next month here, on Love YA, next month!!

My agency sisters, Bria Quinlan (@briaquinlan and #TeamKissy) and Valerie Cole (@valeriefm80 and #TeamKissOff), will be running a contest to get us to the Best Kissing Scenes and the best Kiss-Off scenes on their blogs. And then, I am going to post the finalists here, on Love YA.
For more details go here AND here. Also, follow my sisters' blogs for more news. :)

The Prize? Will blow your socks off!

If your manuscript is complete, our Awesome Agent Lauren Macleod will do a critique of the first 20 pages of your manuscript. If it’s not ready to go, she’ll do a 20 minutes phone call answering general publishing questions!!!!!!!!!!!

How awesome is that? ;)

Good luck and see you around!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

MSFV Blog Hop – Meet Emily Kokie!

Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress' Success Story blog tours! Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark's First Victim contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross promote each other's work.  Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories, so make sure to tune in to everyone's blogs (there's a list below the questions).

And now, I've got the great pleasure of interviewing Emily Kokie!

And here’s her bio: “My debut YA novel Personal Effects will be published by Candlewick Press September 11, 2012. As a lawyer, I love a good story and a good debate. I like to have the last word.”

1) How did participating with MSFV blog get you where you are now?

It saved me many months of query disappointments, and helped me see
much of what I thought about finding an agent was wrong.

I was in the early stages of querying when I entered a MSFV Secret
Agent contest. During the contest I received a lot of positive
feedback that helped me feel a huge confidence boost. But the Secret
Agent really didn't like my first page. She wrote on my submission,
"Strong voice, certainly, but not for me. Whether it's the profanity,
or the sense that this is yet another book about a boy trying to prove
himself as a man, this didn't work for me personally."

Here's the thing, when the SA's identity was revealed, I was floored
and flummoxed because I had decided before the contest that this agent
was my "dream agent." She was next on my query list and I was *sure*
she was "the one." In retrospect, I thought that for some good reasons
(her demonstrable skills and reputation) and some silly reasons (some
OZMG "it's fate" kind of reasons that had nothing to do with her
skills, tastes and preferences, or what I write).

So, after her response to my first page, I was really thrown for a
loop -- how could I query when I could be so wrong about my "dream
agent?" So, I did what I do when faced with something confusing: I
started researching, and quickly I realized that I was an idiot. One
(objective) look at her client list and blog posts would have shown me
that it was highly unlikely she would be the right agent for my book.
I spent several months researching every aspect of how to look for an
agent, what I needed to know to make an informed decision and how to
find that information. I got a little obsessive, actually, but I
started to see just how much information was out there if you knew
where, and how, to look for it. More than just sales and
qualifications -- those were just a baseline. But likes, style,
personal connections, personality, and even warning signs. Through
that research, I firmly believe, I found an agent who is a really good
fit for what I write and for how I work, and I might not have queried
him if I hadn't had to totally refine my thinking and approach.  The
SA contest really did help me on the path to finding the right agent
for me -- and it was an important lesson to learn, one I might not
have learned, or learned as quickly, without the contest. And after, I
realized how many writers really were flying blind, with no idea of
where or how to look for information on agents beyond sales.  So, now
I do workshops and breakout sessions at SCBWI conferences on
researching agents, with a focus on how and where to look for the
information that can help writers make informed decisions and increase
their chances for connecting with the right agent for them -- all
because the lesson I learned from the SA contest really made an

Could you tell us a bit of how you wrote Personal Effects?(Click on the picture to take a sneak peek on Amazon!) 

I had never finished a book length bit of original fiction before. But
in the summer of 2007 I made a pact with myself to write a novel, and
to see if I could finish it by my birthday the following summer. It
didn't have to be good, and I didn't have to do anything with it, but
I had to finish it. So, I was searching for inspiration, mainly just
free-writing whatever came to mind whenever I sat down to write. In
one of those writing sessions I wrote parts of what is now chapter two
of Personal Effects. And I was hooked. This angry, visceral teen was
really interesting, and trying to find out why he was so angry drove
me to write more. But the thing is, I had no idea how to write a
novel. I found a critique group through SCBWI and I just wrote,
submitting every time it was my turn. I learned so much during that
process, and my critique group really helped me grow as a writer
because I was learning to trust my reader while drafting Personal
Effects.  It took just under ten months to finish that way too long
and in need of serious revision first draft. Then I started revising.
I revised off and on for about a year in between seeking more critique
from trusted readers (including some male readers I could trust to be
blunt about whether I had any glaring errors in my male main
character), attending my first SCBWI conference, and while researching
agents.   Ultimately, I think I ended up sending my agent what was
probably the fourth or fifth revised draft of the book. 

And I am so glad you finished writing Personal Effects, because I am reading it right now and I am absolutely loving it! I am HOOKED!

3) Was it with Personal Effects that you landed your agent?

It was. My agent, Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary, offered
representation after reading Personal Effects. By the fall of 2008 I
was polishing the manuscript for Personal Effects, working on my
query, and finalizing my agents-to-query list. I began querying slowly
in the winter of 2009. And I queried very slowly, in small batches of
queries, until late summer when I felt sure my query and partial were
working. Then I decided to start querying in larger, faster batches
that fall. Ultimately, I ended up querying Chris in the first larger
batch it the late summer/early fall of 2009. All in all, I sent under
20 queries, but I sent them over the course of 9 or 10 months.

     4)  How long did it take to get the book deal since you started
writing seriously?
This is a tough question, because I feel like counting only from when
I got serious about writing ignores all the writing "work" I did in
the years before that time. I had been writing for years, but I had
never finished a project with all original characters before. So, I
guess I got serious about trying to write original fiction in the late
summer of 2007. In the fall of 2009, Chris offered representation and
we went out on submission to editors in the spring of 2010. In the
mid-summer of 2010, I signed the deal with Candlewick Press to publish
Personal Effects.  So, a little under three years, if that's how we
count it. But: (1) I had been writing for years, just not fiction with
totally original characters. And I had let fear of failing keep me
from finishing something original for years. But all those years of
writing -- of thinking about point of view and the mechanics of
writing and plot arcs -- were still practice that had me ahead of the
game once I decided to actually force myself to try to finish
something totally my own; and, (2) Those three years were intense
writing and revising and working on craft years. My writing improved
so much between the summer of 2007 and the summer of 2010 due in large
part to how much I revised and critiqued and worked on my craft during
that time.

          5) Is there a random and funny fact that we probably don’t know
about you that you want to share with us today?

I was in the drum section in my high school band, but I rarely played
a drum - I played cymbals, cow bells, woodblocks, triangles, chimes...
One season I "played" a garbage can by beating out a rhythm on
different parts of the can and lid. And I even "played" a police siren
once (I think mainly because I was the only one the band director
trusted to flip the Jerry-rigged switch. I was terrified I would get
electrocuted but I flipped the switch when the time came).

LOL...that's hilarious!!

Thanks so much for your time, Emily!
But guys, that’s not all! Emily will be giving away a set of her swag dog tags, like the ones below, to a lucky commenter! So leave a comment below, and be sure to add your email to contact you in case you win! :) (The winner will be chosen by on the 8/12/12)

UPDATE: The winner of the swag dog tags is Stephsco! Thanks for stopping by!

AND!!! If you want to win a copy of PERSONAL EFFECTS (and I'm telling you--you WANT to read this!) Goodreads is having a giveaway of two copies here

Tomorrow's post is at Emily Kokie’s blog. See you there!

Oh, and remember that I'm giving away a QUERY CRITIQUE on Leah Petersen's blog!!!
Visit the whole crew:

Posting Date
@angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus