Hannah Kates – #WriteMentor Success Stories

Interview by KC Karr

Congratulations on signing with your agent!

Hannah, what about Marisa’s bio convinced you to sub to her?

Thank you for the kind wishes! At the time I submitted to #WM, I had just lost my first published book deal. I was reeling. I didn’t think I had the strength or the stamina to start from square one. 

Then I read Marisa’s bio, and I saw she’d gone through something similar and triumphed in a blaze of glory. I was floored. Marisa had a strength about her that I didn’t see in myself. Her resilience, enthusiasm, and attention to craft yanked me straight out of mourning. 

Marisa, what made you fall in love with Sweetblood?

The MS Hannah subbed was actually different to the one we ended up working on together. She subbed a kick-ass MG that, after losing the publishing deal, had left her deflated. But in those pages was another character that needed her own story at the YA level. Gilly is a tough, but damaged heroine who is so different to any characters I’ve come across in a long time, I knew I had to meet her. Hannah took a vampire trope and turned it on its head, and I’m a sucker for vampires at the best of times (ha ha ha).

Hannah, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?

The people. Far none.  I not only connected with beta readers and critique partners—I met writers who became lifelong friends. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without them. They coached me line by line, talked me down from hysterical meltdowns, and challenged me to develop my craftsmanship. The folks in the #WM community are the most gracious, giving people I’ve ever met. 

I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything. I feel like my team boosted me past the goal line. 

Marisa, tell us what it was like working with Hannah.

Hannah was such a joy to work with. She took everything I had to say on board and never complained. Mostly. Snarf. Sometimes she’d have a meltdown and we’d brainstorm ideas and have a back and forth until she felt comfortable with the direction we were taking the novel. And writing something entirely from scratch during the process was great as we got to work with a blank canvas. She’d give me chapters as we’d go, and I’d suggest which areas needed work and give her exercises to help drill into her weaknesses, all which she tackled with grace and positivity. 

Hannah, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

How cool the people were. Honestly! I know I keep harping on this, but I had no idea Marisa would go through, chapter by chapter, as I wrote an entire book. The other #WM mentees surrounded me with love and support, editing, critiquing, and helping me prepare for submission. This team invested hours of their own time to help me reach my goal. I’m so thankful to be a part of this family. 

Hannah, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Marisa.What advice do you have for future mentees?

I have to be painfully honest. My experience wasn’t like most mentees. I didn’t end up submitting the book I queried. We wrote a completely new one. 

So here’s me, moving halfway across the world from France to Savannah, Georgia, trying to wrap up a novel in a genre I’ve never written before. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but Marisa was with me every step of the way. Chapter drafts, rewrites, outlines, character arcs—she gave me feedback on everything. Her guidance made it possible to put such a massive project together in such a short amount of time, but there was also a point where I had to let go of my own pride. 

I’m not naturally gracious. I’ve had to learn how to take criticism. There was a point (I remember very distinctly—it was in the airport.) where I had to decide: Am I doing this to get better, or am I doing this for validation? 

The answer made all the difference. I’ve never looked at feedback the same, and I am infinitely better because of it. My advice to future mentees is to question your motivations each and every day. I know I have to.  

Hannah, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency. Give us all the details of “The Call.”

Let’s set the scene: I was sitting in a rental apartment wearing a pair of fake eyebrows while a life-sized Deadpool mannequin leered over my shoulder. 

Antiheroes aside, I had just taken another call that didn’t end the way I’d hoped, so I was super nervous. Like, pee my pants nervous. But as soon as I got on the phone with Lynnette, I knew it was a perfect partnership within ten minutes of our conversation. 

She started her introduction by discussing my author career goals, then immediately dove into how much she loved the book. I was floored. My crippling self-doubt kept telling me it was too good to be true, so I piped up with parts of the book I thought needed work. (Awkwardly shirking compliments is always a failsafe defense method.) 

Lynnette wasn’t having any of it. She stopped me dead in my tracks and asked, “Will you let me talk for a second about how much I love this book?” 

I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. Her insightfulness and expertise were exactly what I needed. Lynnette is an unparalleled professional, a razor-sharp editor, and a tireless champion for the work she represents. I’m so honored to be a part of her team. 

What does your writing process look like?

Hannah: Ha, ha, ha. (Syllables. Not laughter.) 

I write fast. I write often. I write whenever I have a waking moment to spare. SWEETBLOOD took me a bit under ninety days, then I turned around and wrote SKIN AND BONES in twenty. The SWEETBLOOD rewrite set a new record—80k in fourteen days. 

I’m naturally a fast worker, but in order to keep quality up with quantity, I create full, excruciatingly-detailed outlines by hand. 

I believe significant amounts of my brain have since oozed out my ears, but as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.” 

Marisa: Well. It’s absolutely changed over the years. When I’m planning a new book, I let the idea circle in my head for a couple of weeks before I write anything down. Usually either a plot or character will come to me and I pull at the threads for a while. I spend another couple of weeks making notes, giving a general outline and getting to know my character. After that I spend some time on a spreadsheet planning out each scene. This is never set in stone, and things always change, but I love to have a guide to follow and it allows me to get down a heavy word count. For instance, in my latest WIP, I’ve recently discovered my MC has mild depression, which I didn’t know until I started writing! Hannah and I are very similar with our productivity. I can write up to 10k a day, but sit more comfortable between 3-5 and will often write a first draft in a few weeks. I don’t get hung up on the quality and let the creativity take over. 

What fictional character would you like to spend a day with?

Honestly? Edward Cullen. Give me 24-hours with that sparkly nincompoop. 

Firstly, we’d discuss how stalking your partner is not romantic, how it is NEVER okay to take away someone’s decision because you don’t think she’s making the right one, and how breaking into a seventeen-year-old’s bedroom to watch her sleep is both illegal and creepy.

Then we’d sit down and hash out a five-year life plan. I mean, the poor kid’s lived for a century and all he can do is go back to high school? He needs guidance. 

Marisa: So many! But I think I’d go for Hannibal Lecter. The criminal mind has always fascinated me. I studied psychology at university with the view to get into criminal profiling (Didn’t quite go to plan) and once tried to get work experience at Britain’s most notorious criminal mental asylum. I’d love to sit there like Jodi Foster did in Silence of the Lambs and pick apart his brain. 

What fictional world would you most like to live in?

The Shire from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Pre-Saruman, of course. I would love to live in a world where I can settle in a hole, eat six meals a day, while away my evenings with a pipe and/or pint, and have virtually no expectations put upon me beyond the radical fireworks at my eleventy-first birthday party. 

I’m also 5’11” (180 cm), so I would SLAY at hobbit basketball.  Plus, I’d love to see Isengard. 

Marisa: OMG, Hannah – you went for REALLY hard questions! Fictional World…I’d like to think I was brave and kick-ass and could survive in something life Divergent or the Hunger Games, but in reality I’d need something soft and sweet that would be so boring that it probably wouldn’t even make a book! Westworld would be awesome – I’ve always been fascinated by AI, and it might be the topic of my latest book…

What is your favorite book (or series). Why?

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman. *Squee!* I could pontificate for a whole article (http://evalangston.com/2018/05/13/the-graveyard-book/), but it’s the purest paradigm of children’s literature since THE JUNGLE BOOK. Here’s a perfect example of why stories must be beautiful, honest, scary, and maybe even sad. 

Why? Life is beautiful, honest, scary, and sad. 

Marisa: I’d choose either The Hunger Games of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy. Both of them pulled me so far into the story that I forgot to even think about the writing. That’s true genius. Those rare books where you want to be in the world, be the hero, make it your real life. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

Childhood trauma. 100%. Looking back, my real life is far stranger than my fiction. Between being raised in the boondocks by a combat medic, serving as a naval warfare officer, living as an expat, and taking my current position at America’s most actively haunted mansion, I don’t have to stretch my imagination very far.

Do you find that as frightening as I do? 

Marisa: I actually don’t even know. Most of my book ideas come to me in a flash with a fleshed out plot just waiting for me. I’ve always been drawn to the dark and twisted. When I graduated from Nancy Drew, at age 10, I jumped straight into Dean Koontz, who remains my favourite author of all time. He is a master of pace, tension and character and I get completely swept away by his novels. I also love horror movies. Not bloody, slasher ones, more of the creepy spine tinglers like A Quite Place. I think I’ve read and watched so much of this genre over the years that it’s now just how I think and what I’m most comfortable writing. I don’t enjoy long, meandering, contemplative novels, but prefer to get right into action. The more supernatural and mysterious, the better. 

And like Hannah said, childhood experiences. I was shot at, my brother’s best friend was murdered, and I became obsessed at age 7 about a girl on the news who’d been abducted. I had huge abandonment issues and all of this leaks into my novels. 

Hannah Kates

HANNAH KATES is a young adult and middle grade author—but also a professional troublemaker. After graduating from the world’s premier military institute, she got out of war games and into the world of children’s literature, which she considers to be significantly more fun. An avid explorer, she’s chalked up all sorts of misadventures—from being shanghaied by the French Foreign Legion to accidentally being locked inside a medieval Montenegrin castle. As a wanderer, songwriter, and collector of stories, you can find her skulking around cemeteries or giving tours in America’s most haunted manor.  

Marisa Noelle

Marisa Noelle always has a story or two screaming to get out, but it wasn’t until she completed a few courses, including the acclaimed Curtis Brown Writing for Children, that she nabbed an agent here or there and her books began to get noticed. 

Her debut, a YA sci-fi, comes out with WritePlan publishing late next summer. She has been long and short listed in a handful of competitions and was proud to be part of the UK WriteMentor program in its inception year. 

She lives in the UK with her husband and three sons.

#WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award – THE LONGLIST

Below you will find the Longlist, then a list of Notable Mentions, who just missed out, and finally a list of Readers’ Favourites (those who did not make the LL).

Right, time to get serious – this was so hard to do – the list is longer than I planned because there were so many novels we couldn’t say NO to!

Missing out on this long list is not a reflection of quality, simply the old combination in any creative pursuit – LUCK, TASTE and TIMING.

There were at least 40 more novels that could have gone onto this list and not reduced the quality in any way.

That said, the novels that did make it were INCREDIBLE.

How did we decide?

Entries were read 7 times (5 adult readers, 2 kid readers) and to make the list, you needed to get 6 or 7 YES votes!!! I KNOW!!!

When you receive your personalised feedback, you’ll get the number of YES votes with it – if you had 4/5, know that you just missed out and that this is still a great achievement – most of your readers wanted to continue. That’s a win in my view.

We also averaged the scores given by the 7 readers – the top 20 average scoring entries also all made the LL, regardless of YES votes, but mostly these overlapped.

Then we had our Readers Favourites – each reader told us their favourite and we took this into account in composing the list. Ultimately a few didn’t make it – we have listed them at the bottom. 4 novels got 2 readers favourite votes. Those were also added to the list if they hadn’t made it on other criteria.

So, I think you’ll agree, we’ve been thorough, we’ve done all we can to reduce the subjectivity of a single reader or 2, so we hope this has created the strongest possible list.

Of course, we are bound to have missed a few off here which will go on and be successful. See above comment on LUCK, TASTE and TIMING. If you weren’t successful this time, it’s due to that, not a lack of ability or promise in your novel.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and we hope if you’re not on this list, you’ll find the feedback we send useful, or at least enlightening. All I ever want to know when I miss a list, is how close I was and what did the readers think, and you all now have that chance, if you chose it at entry.

If you are on here (or even if you’re not) feel free to tweet about it using #WMCNA but if you’re on the longlist, do not tweet your title. You may tweet your title if you are on the bottom two lists.

Without furthering the agony, here is the list of novels (anonymous to allow impartial judging) that made it onto our long list.

Longlist

A Broken Sound
Against All Odds
An Unquantifiable Spark
Cheese Boy
DANCE, DANCE, DIE!
Daughter of No Temple
Follow The Silence
For Never Was A Story
Generation 13
Ghost Town
How NOT to Grow Parents
I Land
Lovespell
Mené
Miss Alexandra Twopenny Plays Doctors and Corpses
My Life Without You
Patsy Scribble
Rumi and the Cats of Istanbul 
Searching for Stones in the Sand
Shadowchild
Summoner’s Revolution
The Colour of Words
The Curse of the Weird Wolf
The Darkest Corner
The Definition of Thomas Stonefeather
THE Dragon’s Suicide
The E.G.A. (Exceptional Gamers Academy)
The Fabulous Freddie
The Failed Genius Club
The Fiend of Aviary Mountain
The Glass Hotel
The Impure
The Keeper of the Books
The Lion’s Mouth
The Shape of the World
The Sluagh at Strange Garden
The Song of Anubis
The Time Thief
The Wonderful, Whimsical Wall
Title Pending
Tulip Finola Barnacle
Two Like Me and You
Viva La Valiants
Whisper Pier
Wishyouwas

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Alex AtkinsonThe Girl Between
Amanda ThomasThe Stealth Pigeon
Carolyn de la HarpeOne Egg Short in Ballymory
Devyani KothariThe Girl who saved Daro
Hannah DunnThe Boy From The Mist
Helen GordonThe Ragged Gull
Julie Farrell FRACTAL
Katie MasonThe Girl Next Door
Laynie Bynum Child of Night
Lorraine J DaggettA Boy Made of Sand
Michael MannThe Ghostclouds of London
Nadine RajehDinosaurs And Demons
Nicola KellerThe Old Oak Hotel
Rachel HanvilleHere Comes the Sun
Rebecca EnglishForest School
Ross HarringtonThe Child of Fire & Fear 

READERS’ FAVOURITES

Alex MarchantThe Order of the White Boar
Andrew FrenchThe Queens of Heaven
Annie WalmsleyJedediah Dreaming Ransome
Debbie RoxburghHUNKY PUNK MOON
Debbie RoxburghTHE GIRL WHO LEARNED TO FLY
Joan HaigTiger Skin Rug
Katherine LathamAtlas of the Darkside
Melissa CharlesR.I.P. (REAPER IN PROGRESS)
Nicola KellerTraitor’s Eye
Phillipa BaylissThe Time That Wasn’t
Sharyn KonyakThese Pieces of Me
Tess BurtonThe Young Volcanoes of Tenemere
Thompson McLeodFAKING IT: A RECIPE FOR DISASTER 

Interview with #WriteMentor Candace Robinson, Author of Clouded by Envy

Congratulations on having your novel, Clouded by Envy, published. Tell us a little about the novel.

Clouded by Envy is told in dual POV from twin bats, which are fairy-like creatures from another world called Laith. The twins escape their world through a portal of sorts and wind up on Earth in the year 1995. Brenik is one of the main characters, and with growing up on Earth and being the only one of his kind, except for his sister, has driven his envy a bit too far. Bray is the other POV and she’s just the sweetest little peach in the world, opposite of Brenik. Think Crysta from the movie Ferngully. However, Brenik just wants to be human and he finds a way, but there is always a price, isn’t there? I seriously love these two characters so much!

Where did the idea/inspiration come from for Clouded by Envy?

So I drew inspiration from The Pictures of Dorian Gray and Dracula for Brenik’s character. I wanted a story a bit dark but also with my usual quirkiness and romance. So you’ll see all of that!

27654619_10155885468080751_8308789254962904984_nTell us about you…

I’m a stay at home mom who really got into writing a little over two years ago after my dad passed away. I’ve known since I graduated high school that I wanted to be a writer just didn’t know how to go about it. Beside that, I love watching horror movies, looking at Bonsai trees, and eating cheese (lots of cheese!). Oh and of course 70s, 80s, and 90s music!

Where and when do you write?

Morning sessions are my jam. During the week its easy since my daughter is at school, and if its on the weekends, I try to write while she’s asleep. I need the radio silence! However, I do have my handy dandy Slinky in hand for when the times get tough!

What are you working on now?

I actually just finished the companion for Clouded by Envy. Don’t worry, both are stand alone books and can be read in reverse order if chosen! I also have a couple unpublished manuscripts I’m figuring out which route to take them in!

Desert Island books?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Warner is my boy!), Trick by Natalia Jaster (Poet is my personal jester!), and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (Rhysand, enough said!)

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

First draft is exhausting for me. I feel like it’s a chore because I’m one who wants to finish stuff in a day. And with a book I can’t do that, so I feel as if I have to rotate batteries in and out to keep myself going. Now second draft is something I love because I can put the pieces together or shuffle them around!

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

Reread your manuscript! You can’t just write it and think it’s good to go! Also, the writing world is very, very hard, so remember to keep writing for yourself because there will be so many rejections along the way.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I feel as if movies make me cry more than books. The only book I can recall off the top of my head is The Midnight Star by Marie Lu. That was a perfect conclusion to her trilogy. Now, if we are talking movies then the scene between Artax and Atreyu in the NeverEnding Story! If you’ve seen it then you know what I’m talking about! I think I’m crying right now!

Finally, where can we get your book?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. But if you can, please add to Goodreads!

Author Bio:

Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words. When she’s not writing stories, she maintains a book review blog. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

Clouded by Envy Links: 

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37654382-clouded-by-envy?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KRW6HFP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542901658&sr=8-1&keywords=clouded+by+envy

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/clouded-by-envy-candace-robinson/1129836008?ean=2940156210145

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/clouded-by-envy/id1441653633?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/clouded-by-envy

Social Media Links:

Website: http://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com

Blog: http://literarydust.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/literarydust

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/literarydust/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/literarydust

#WriteMentor Success Stories – Jenny Pearson

Interviewed by K.C. Karr

Jenny, what about Carolyn’s bio convinced you to sub to her?

Carolyn was a ninja, so I couldn’t sub to her. She had to pick me, and I am very pleased she did.


Carolyn, what made you fall in love with Daniel Strange and the Prime Minister’s PLOP?

Jenny’s book made me laugh. It was ridiculous and different and very hooky. I loved so much about it, that I couldn’t not choose it. Her energy, her observations, her sense of fun; all made it magical for me.

Jenny, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?

My absolute favourite part has been getting to know Carolyn and her other mentee, the very talented Tess James-Mackey. I love our chats which usually start about the craft and descend into some properly strange places.

An also, all the super-valuable feedback Carolyn gave me alongside her unwavering support.

Carolyn, tell us what it was like working with Jenny.

Jenny was a dream to mentor. She got her edits done at high speed and was incredibly open to new ideas/ moving her work forwards. She is a primary school teacher, and her understanding of children and how they think really comes through in her work. I was so lucky to have Jenny and Tess, and to co-mentor Michal Lunsford. All such lovely, open people.

Jenny’s right- our conversations with Tess are hilarious and dark and often very sweary.

I think overall the best thing about Jenny is her honesty. She has had an incredible journey and she deserves every success that comes her way. It’s been a delight to try and support her through all that’s happened – and now I need her to mentor me!

Jenny, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

How many talented writers and excellent stories are out there. I mean, I knew this was a crazily competitive industry, but when I read all the starting pages I was blown away by the talent.

Jenny, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Carolyn. What advice do you have for future mentees?

I think I work quite quickly so I didn’t find the deadline an issue. With regards to criticism, I’d say that you just have to go with it. For me, the course wasn’t about bagging an agent so much, as getting my book in the best possible shape. And to do that you have to take on board what you’re being told.

Jenny, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Sam Copeland of Rogers Coleridge & White. Give us all the details of “The Call.”

I’d sent Sam my #writementor manuscript and he’d sent me back some revision suggestions. In the meantime, I’d written another book, THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDIE YATES. I emailed that over to him too and that was the book he ended up signing me for and I couldn’t be more thrilled. He is not only a magnificent agent but an author too. His book CHARLIE CHANGES INTO A CHICKEN is out now and hilarious. You should all go and buy it.


You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?

Jenny – If I’m in a savoury kind of mood:

Ham spread with marmite and rolled up with cream cheese and capers.

Crab sticks with piccalilli and/or lime pickle.

Walkers ready salted crisps dipped into this whizzed up dip which consists of olives, mayo and grated cheese.

Broad beans in sweet chilli dipping sauce, vinegar and mayo.

Celery, Branston pickle and tabasco sauce.

And if I fancy something sweet:

Chocolate orange slices with squirty cream.

Melted Curly Whirly with squirty cream. Be careful not to put the Curly Whirly in the microwave for too long as it gets lava hot and it WILL stick to your tongue and take of a good few layers of tongue skin when you wrench it off.

Peanut butter straight out the jar. Sometimes I use a spoon.


Carolyn – I find writing makes me crave sweet things… a chocolate orange or a Toblerone would be the dream but it’s often Lidl’s own chocolate bars. Jenny and Tess sent me some designer brownies as a thank you – damn. They tasted like dreams and holidays and chocolate heaven.

Jenny’s snacking (above) is super serious. If I’m feeling savoury I’d go prawn cocktail crisps or those tubs of green olives with feta.

All of this food-talk is making me hungry.

What author has most inspired you, and why?

Jenny – Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Because the man is a genius. You can see how much he likes kids from his writing. His books are so full of heart and humour. And he seems like a genuinely decent human being.

Carolyn – Enid Blyton’s Famous Five because yes, they are worthy and old-fashioned… but they are also gripping thrillers! I also love Michael Crichton for his science-fact/fiction blurring. I’m inspired every day by the fabulous authors on Twitter- so kind and fun to interact with. I read quite a bit of adult too – so anything involving Lee Child gets my vote. I’m already so addicted I could go on Mastermind with Jack Reacher as my favourite subject.

Tell us about your favorite writing spot.

Jenny – Any place where I don’t have one of my kids swinging off me.

Carolyn – In the corner of the lounge with the canary for company.

What fictional world would you most like to live in?

Jenny – I kind of like this world.

Carolyn – I wouldn’t mind a day trip to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. I’d swim in that river until my bits were wrinkly.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Jenny – I’m lucky in that I have been a teacher for thirteen years. That has meant I have met thousands of inspirational kids.

Carolyn – I’m inspired by all sort of things. I wrote a short story that got in my local newspaper after I watched a walking group wander past me, looking at birds. I started to think about what they’d do to a member of the group if they were annoyingly loud, scaring all of the birds away. They’d kill him, obviously.

My imagination is a very scary place.

Jenny Pearson has been awarded with six mugs, one fridge magnet, one wall plaque and numerous cards for her role as ‘Best Teacher in the World’. While she has not met the rest of the teachers in the world in contention for this title, she believes the evidence is stacking up in her favour.

When she is not busy being inspirational in the classroom, she would like nothing more than to relax with her two young boys, but she can’t as they view her as some sort of human climbing frame.

In her free time, if she isn’t writing, she can be found doing something sporty.

She has recently moved to the North East of England and while she has yet to meet Ant or Dec, she has learned how to use canny in a sentence. Which is dead canny, like.

@J_C_Pearson

Carolyn Ward writes MG and is represented by Chloe Seager of Northbank Talent. Living near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, Carolyn has an English degree and works in retail.

She became a mentor in Write Mentor’s first year, working closely with three talented writers and enjoying every second. She went on to develop her editing skills and now freelances for Bamboo Editing.

Three years ago she co-founded a local writing group based in a community pub and is also on YouTube as half of the Word Witches writer support duo. Between the MG edits she writes flash fiction and can be found all over the internet and on LingoBites foreign language app.

In her spare time she runs a telephone reading group for lonely older people with the charity Independent Age.

For more look on Twitter for: @Viking_Ma, @bambooediting, @WitchesWord and @CarolynWardWriter on FB.

Search ‘Introducing Word Witches’ on YouTube.

To find out more about being a telephone volunteer with Independent Age check out their website.

Haleigh Wenger – #WriteMentor Success Stories

Interview by KC Karr

Haleigh, what about Brandy’s bio convinced you to sub to her?

Brandy writes YA contemporary romance and so do I, so right away I knew we’d be compatible. What really got me excited, though, is when I read an excerpt of the first chapter of her debut, Meant to be Brokenthat she had posted on her website. Her words swept me away, and I could tell I had a ton to learn from her.

Brandy, what made you fall in love with Where the Tide Takes Us?

Haleigh had me at the title of the manuscript, Where the Tide Takes Us. I mean, a contemporary romance at the beach?? YES, PLEASE!! That is my absolute jam. Then I dug into reading her sample pages, and yet again, she hit me square in the feels as her protagonist is dealing with a family loss and on top of that, it is set in the South. Haleigh’s book checked all my favorite boxes right out of the gate. After asking for the full and reading her words, I fell in love with the story, what it was and what it could be. Immediately, I saw a path for moving forward and could tell from her writing style that Haleigh was both talented and determined enough to do what it took to polish the manuscript. It was basically love at first sight (read)!

Haleigh, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience? 

It sounds cliché but finding a writing group has definitely been the best part of the whole experience. 

Brandy, tell us what it was like working with Haleigh.

Haleigh was a dream mentee. She listened to my thoughts on her manuscript, we chatted at length about vision, and she never once complained when I gave her the BIG homework to do. She was a champ! She dove into the manuscript with a vengeance, and she turned out a beautiful story that tugs at all of the heartstrings. 

Haleigh, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?

The most surprising part was how much I learned about writing and about my own writing voice. I went into it assuming my MS would get better, not realizing in order for that to happen I’d have to grow and change as a writer.

Haleigh, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Brandy.What advice do you have for future mentees?

Brandy offered up a ton of great ideas, but she ultimately left all the big decisions up to me, which I truly appreciated. She did a great job of guiding me in the right direction while reminding me that in the end it was my story to tell. The best advice I can offer is to be willing to make scary changes, because they will likely be for the best!

Haleigh, after #WriteMentor, you signed a contract with Literary Crush Publishing. Give us all the details. 

I connected with my publisher when they liked one of my pitches during #KidPit. Less than two weeks later, they sent me an email saying they loved my story and wanted to publish it. I loved the direction they want to take the story, as well as the idea of a publisher focused specifically on what I love to write. A few weeks after that I signed the contract!

What does your writing process look like?

Haleigh:I typically word vomit a first draft over the course of a month or so. I have a pitch in mind and usually an ending, but for the most part I’m completely pantsing it. After I let my first draft sit for a few weeks, I pick through it slowly, fixing obvious mistakes. Then I send to CPs, making big picture changes once they’ve sent it back. Rinse and repeat until I can’t stand to look at the story another second. 

Brandy:Ha! Y’all don’t want to know because I go against all the common advice. LOL It takes me around four months to generate a first draft. With that being said, my first drafts are generally more like 2ndor 3rddrafts before they’re complete? Why? Because I’m an edit-as-you-go sort of girl. (I know, I know – grab the torches and pitchforks!) I literally cannot do the first draft traditional let-it-pour-out-of-you thing. It causes me too much anxiety! LOL And expanding on that more fully, I used to be a total pantster but now I find myself making detailed beat sheets before starting. I’m still not a total plotter, though, and more than once, my characters have taken off on their own tangent! Another key part of my process is to find images online that “look” like my characters and to make Spotify playlists I listen to before writing. It helps set the mood for the scene I’m currently involved with.

You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?

Haleigh:So much chocolate! And lots of water.

Brandy: If I could buy stock in Cheez-its, I would! Oh, and don’t forget the whipped cream cheese to dip them in!

Tell us about your favorite writing spot.

Haleigh:I have a nice desk with a bookshelf above it filled with my favorite books, but I end up writing most often in bed.  Once everyone else is asleep, it’s much easier to write in the quiet!

Brandy:I have a writing desk and area where I feel most comfortable, though I have been known to curl up in my front porch swing with my laptop.

What is your favorite book (or series). Why?

Haleigh: It’s so hard to pick a favorite! The big nostalgic ones for me are Harry Potter, Little Women, and Ella Enchantedbecause they remind me of the magic of falling in love with reading for the first time.

Brandy:Well, I’m going to go total predictable here with the first one: Pride and Prejudice. Can you write romance and NOT love this story? Another all-time favorite book is Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides.Southern and full of family drama? Yep, that has Brandy written all over it!

Where does your inspiration come from?

Haleigh:A lot of my inspiration comes from reading other books, watching movies, and talking to other people. I often see questions I have about life and the world around me reflected in the themes of my novel.

Brandy: Life in general, including news stories, music, personal stories, etc. It can’t go without saying that my characters’ internal journeys always do have a twinge of “Brandy” in them as well. It sort of bleeds in. 😊

Haleigh Wenger has been creating new worlds since she could talk. Born with a vivid imagination, she became enthralled with reading and from there hoped to create books of her own someday. Some of her favorites include Little Women, Ella Enchanted, Harry Potter,The Raven Cycle series, and anything by Morgan Matson, Jenn Bennett, or Kasie West. When not reading or writing, she enjoys baking, hiking, and spending time with her sons and husband.
HaleighWenger.com
@haleighwenger
Brandy Woods Snow is an author and journalist born, raised and currently living in beautiful Upstate South Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has always been her first love, the media has been her home for more than 17 years, during which time she has built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky, Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Triangle). She has also worked in corporate communications, public relations and business development for international and regional companies. Her first novel MEANT TO BE BROKEN, the first book in the Carolina Clay series, was published by Filles Vertes Publishing in July 2018. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA).
www.BrandyWSnow.com
@brandy_snow (Twitter)
@BWSnowWrites (Facebook)
@snowbrandy (Instagram)

#WriteMentor 2019

#WriteMentor 2018 Mentor/Mentee experiences

Information page for 2019 version of the #WriteMentor summer mentoring programme.

See our regularly updated list of participating agents for 2019 here:

https://write-mentor.com/mentoring-programme/participating-agents-2019/

And here are the Mentors!

https://write-mentor.com/mentoring-programme/writementor-2019-meet-the-mentors/

We are making changes to how we run the programme. This is based on feedback from mentors/mentees last year but also based upon making it increasingly flexible for all involved.

We are changing to a bi-level structure.

This means there will be two options you can apply to.

A. submission package/partial

B. full manuscript

A. submission package/partial

If you apply for the sub package/partial option, you will work with a mentor on those aspects but we forsee this taking much less than 4 months, so you’d be free to query once you’re done. If you apply for this option, there is no agent showcase at the end.

I would imagine your mentor will help you with querying at this stage, but this option is for those who don’t want a complete overhaul (or are not able to commit to overhauling a full ms in the summer).

Picture books mentors/mentees are likely to apply for this option, unless they are working on/willing to work on several picture books (in which case you may apply for option B).

B. full manuscript

For those applying for a full manuscript mentorship, this will mean a full 4 month commitment to overhauling your manuscript to make it submission ready for the agent showcase.

The expectation is that you will be open to making larger changes to your manuscript and spending all/most of your summer making your manuscript the very best it can be. If this is not possible for you, no worries, but do apply for A instead.

This is not the option for those who aren’t able to work intensively or are not responsive to making large changes to their novels. You are going to receive 4 months of mentorship from an experienced writer, so the expectations are greater.

We have extended the overall period of this years programme.

This is again in response to feedback we received from last years mentees. This extra time should allow for not only large structural overhauls, if they are needed, but also the finer elements.

I have to honestly admit, as a mentor myself, that I struggled with the timeline, to fully help my mentees, and so others have said. I don’t want to compromise the quality of this programme by imposing restrictive timelines. This extra month should help.

Smaller application window

Again, in the interest of the applicants welfare, we have reduced our application window, and also our reading window (a little!). This is to ensure that the painful wait between applying and receiving a decision is reduced and less stressful/anxious.

There were many positives last year, but we also appreciate there are things we could have done better. We will address all of those suggestions and will endeavour to improve the programme in every aspect this year.

For the prospective mentors

A few words on mentors and those considering applying. I am VERY open as to who we take on as mentors. We probably can’t say YES to everyone who applies, but if you’re on the fence, go for it, or chat with me. Don’t self-reject.

So many of my writing friends told me last year that they didn’t think they’d be any good or be able to help their mentees. Imposter Syndrome struck hard. But they had a go anyway and the feedback from their mentees blew the imposter out of the water!

Please trust in yourself and your experience and ability. I certainly will, if you apply, and are successful. We are looking for writers with experience and skills to help another writer. Who have great values and altruistic reasons for applying.

We are looking for agented/published writers, editors, anyone who works in the industry and has experience of working with writers and feels they can offer valuable skills and experience to improve another writer’s craft and manuscript.

While we are primarily looking at MG/YA, this year I’d love to have a few mentors for the younger end of children’s fiction, i.e. chapter books, or even picture books (these would most likely fall into the A category). If you write either, do consider applying.

What do I need to apply?

You will need to have a completed manuscript.

You will need to send us a query letter, 1-page synopsis and 1st chapter along with your application, so ensure these are as good as they can be.

You can apply to 3 mentors. So be sure to research them thoroughly and chat to them during our Twitter Mentor chat week, starting 8th April.

Full timeline is below:


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/