Chloe Seager – Interview with our #WriteMentorCNA SL Judge

What are you particularly excited to find in the shortlisted novels?

A strong concept. Brilliant writing. Characters that breathe. And preferably all three at the same time!

What are  your  top 3 tips for those  entering to get an agents attention?

I often see writers cramming too much into their opening scenes, (especially in competitions), as if they think if they don’t explain everything on page one the reader will immediately lose interest. Whilst I don’t want books that start too slowly, trying to communicate everything straightaway leads to a lot of telling instead of showing and can be overwhelming. You don’t need to explain everything in the opening – that’s what the synopsis is for! Equally on the synopsis, I’d say don’t try to be too interesting with the way you write it – that’s what the writing is for! Just make sure you detail all the key points of the plot.

What are the top 3 mistakes to avoid? 

Synopses that are blurbs, not synopses. Cover letters that are too long. Cover letters that focus too much on an author’s personal story, and barely mention the book!

What do you think are the benefits of novel awards for writers?

Although at the end of the day agents care more about the book itself than a writer’s credits, anything that can set you apart from the pile of submissions they see every day can only be a good thing. Also getting yourself together to submit for a novel award can give you a goal to work towards. Depending on the novel award, there can also be mentoring, feedback and development up for grabs. 

For those who don’t make the LL or SL, what kind of thing would you like submitted to you?

I have pretty broad taste so I wouldn’t rule out anything, although I have been looking to develop the darker side of my list – for instance middle-grades rooted in creepy, lesser known folklore or sharp, feminist YA. I’d also love something that defies my expectations… For instance, I would drop everything for a Georgia Nicolson character in a fantasy world!

Top 3 reads of 2018.

This is hard! As soon as anyone asks me this I forget everything I’ve read, but The Stormkeeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle and The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson are springing to mind. And, if I can have an adult one?!, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 

 

Chloe is responsible for the agency’s children’s and young adult book business as well as science fiction and fantasy.

In children’s, we represent all genres of young adult, middle-grade and age 5-8 fiction and non-fiction.

Chloe is herself a published author of young adult fiction, with her first novel Editing Emma published by HQ in 2017 and the sequel Friendship Fails of Emma Nash published in 2018.

Having previously worked at Titan Books, she is also our resident expert in science fiction and fantasy.

http://www.northbanktalent.com/about/chloe-seager/

Emma Read: On signing with Chicken House for her debut MILTON THE MIGHTY

I’m so excited this is my first blog-post for #WriteMentor! Thank you Stuart for indulging me, while I make a small announcement: 

My debut novel MILTON THE MIGHTY will be published by Chicken House in July 2019, under my author name, Emma Read. 

It is a story for young, middle-grade readers about a courageous and determined (but tiny) spider, who overcomes self-doubt to do something super-heroic.  

Milton is a house spider who lives, mostly unnoticed, under the skirting board by the front door. 

His life changes when his big house human suddenly begins screaming the house down at the sight of him, and after a good deal of running and screaming, Milton discovers the reason: a tabloid newspaper has falsely branded him DEADLY! 

Picture2Things go from bad to worse when spider-hater and owner of BugKILL! pest-control, Felicity Thrubwell, turns up on the doorstep to exterminate Milton and all his eight-legged friends. But, with the help of his BSFs (Best Spider Friends), Audrey and Ralph, Milton finds the courage to do something unheard of: he communicates with his small house human, Zoe. 

Together they create an online campaign to save spider-kind, and with the help of the neighbourhood spiders, become social media sensations. They also confront the desperately devious Felicity and send her legging-it for good. 

Milton the Mighty will be illustrated by the incredibly talented Alex Griffiths. (http://www.alexggriffiths.com/ 

Do take a look at his work on Instagram and Twitter—it’s simply gorgeous. Alex has his own picture book, The Bug Collector, also released in July 2019 with Andersen Press. (https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/1083035/alex-g–griffiths.html 

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  1. The manuscript was originally a ten-thousand word chapter book—a short book aimed at readers aged around five to eight. It grew to thirteen-thousand, following agent edits and is now more than triple the original word count. Milton’s not so tiny after all! 
  2. Milton is the second book I completed (aside from the critically acclaimed* Marmalade Atkins fan-fiction which I wrote in middle school). I began querying in late 2017 and was fortunate to catch the eye of a few agents. 
  3. Under its working title, ‘Milton Hits the Headlines’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Bath Children’s Novel Award ( https://bathnovelaward.co.uk/childrens-novel-award/ ) 
  4. It also won #PeerPitchFirst250 in 2017, an international peer-feedback competition and social media event run by The Scribblers Blog (@ScribblersBlog) 
  5. Milton is a false widow spider—often maligned and very unfairly treated by the UK press. These spiders are not deadly, and are in fact extremely effective natural pest-controllers.  
  6. Before writing Milton the Mighty, I was an arachnophobe. The process of studying and learning (tentatively at first) about these fascinating creatures gradually began to cure me of my fear. I am scared of a LOT of things, but I’m proud to say I have crossed spiders off that list. 
  7. The campaign that Milton and Zoe set-up is called #NotScaredOfSpiders—IRL you can use the hashtag to tell the world why you’re not scared of spiders. 
  8. A second Milton book will be published in 2020, also by Chicken House. 

*Read to the class by my teacher. 

Follow me on Twitter at @emmydee73 and on Instagram at EdieReadie  

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Interview with #WriteMentor M. Dalto

Congratulations on having your novel published. Tell us a little about the novel.

Thank you so much! So, TWO THOUSAND YEARS in the first book on my Empire Saga series. It’s a New Adult romantic fantasy novel and I like to tell people it’s Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses meets The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. It’s about Alex, a Starbucks barista in Boston, who’s swept away from her home to a mysterious realm known only as The Empire, where Treyan, it’s Crown Prince, insists she’s their predestined Queen Empress and the only one who can save them from the threat of the opposing Borderlands. There’s a little bit of action, some adventure, humor, a lot of emotion – a little bit of everything that I hope readers can enjoy!

Where did the idea/inspiration come from?

The inspiration for TWO THOUSAND YEARS actually came to me in 1993 – and now I’m probably dating myself. Billy Joel released his album entitled River of Dreams and on it was a song called Two Thousand Years. My best friend and I had very active imaginations and often wrote our own stories, roleplayed, and the like — there was something about Two Thousand Years that called to me, even then, telling me there was a story there, and it needed to be written. They melody was moving and the lyrics were inspiring- battles to be won and love that spanned centuries. It was just begging for a story to be told.

Let’s jump to November, 2014 when NaNoWriMo started to roll around, and I had the thought in my head to actually write a story inspired by that song I had heard so long ago, so I sat down, and 30 days later, I had the first draft of TWO THOUSAND YEARS written.

MBTell us about you…

Ironically, I hate talking about myself- *haha*

I was born and raised just south of Boston, Massachusetts, USA where I still live with my husband, our daughter, and our corgi names Loki. School wasn’t exactly my favorite thing, and it actually took me 13 years to complete my undergraduate education. But it was my time in school that actually taught me that writing might be my calling. I was that person who could procrastinate until the night before an assignment was due, throw together an essay, make the words sound meaningful, and could still get an A on it. It was that point I realized that maybe it wasn’t art or sports, but words that were my calling.

I really didn’t start taking writing seriously until that NaNoWriMo in 2014, but now it’s a part of my life and I don’t know where I would be without it.

When I’m not writing, I’m a full-time real estate paralegal, which means writing is taking on the form of a second job, a part-time nightly endeavor that I would one day love to see because full-time but that’s a long ways away. When neither my full-time job nor writing take up my time, I enjoy reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee.

Where and when do you write?

Because of my schedule, both professionally and personally, I carve out time at night to get my writing in. Usually it’s once my daughter has been put to bed- I go down to my computer desk, open my laptop, and if any writing is getting done it will usually be between the hours of 8:30pm and, depending on the night, 10pm to midnight.Rarely I get the chance to sneak way to a cafe, but when I can, those are the moments I cherish as a writer.

What are you working on now?

With NaNoWriMo now over, I can finally say I am almost done writing my YA dark fantasy retelling that I started almost a year ago. Other than that, I’m editing my upper-YA assassin story for querying, and working on edits and revisions on the remained of the books in my Empire Saga series.

Desert Island books?
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare, and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Depends on the day. I have General Anxiety Disorder so there are plenty of times where my anxiety becomes so debilitating, the very thought of having to write exhausts me. I find that I need to take breaks more often than not so that I don’t burn out- if I do get to that point, it could very well be months before I allow myself the time to refocus and get the words out. This is, in part, why I’m a huge proponent for self-care. If you feel like you have writer’s block coming on, and that writing is becoming an obligation, just stop writing. Be it for an hour, a day, a week- take as much time as you need to because you are you important than the words you write. If you are at your best, neither will be your writing.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell myself that sometimes, there are going to be people who aren’t going to like what you write. And those people will feel the need to let you know- harshly- and sometimes they do it with the intent of just to bring you down to make themselves feel better. And sometimes- no, most of the time- those people are wrong. Those people are the ones who need to stop what they’re doing and reassess themselves- not you. Never allow another to keep you from what you’re doing, or from doing that you love. It’s your heart and your story that’s being poured into the world- that you’re making the effort to share it is more important than anything the naysayers may fling at you. And never, ever stop because of them.

What is the first book that made you cry?

The first book that made me cry was A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. The end of it. Everyone probably knows the ending by now, but reading it for the first time almost twenty years ago was devastating.

Finally, where can we get your book?

TWO THOUSAND YEARS is officially released December 11, 2018. Preorders are currently available, as are paperback versions:

AMAZON https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GHYZGPJ/

B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-thousand-years-m-dalto/1129581675

PAPERBACK http://www.parliamenthousepress.com/product-page/two-thousand-years-by-m-dalto

Also, I’m currently having a preorder giveaway where anyone who preorders can submit their confirmation emails and receipt to ttypreordergiveaway@gmail.com  for a signed bookplate, a bookmark, and exclusive character stickers. And then everyone will be entered into a grand prize giveaway for a personalized signed copy of TWO THOUSAND YEARS and a custom ‘Treyan’ candle made by A Court of Candles. All the details can be found on my blog:

https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/2018/10/07/pre-order-update-and-giveaway/