July 2015 Query Blog-Hop

When I had just finished Happily Ever After, I did one of these and got some great feedback. I’ve done two more drafts and worked on the query, so I’m hoping to get that final polish in time for #Pitchwars. If you’d like to join in, see this post on the lovely Michelle Hauck’s blog:

Genre: Fantasy, adult, lgbt+

Wordcount: 103,000


Dear [Agent]

Lavie Streaver has many identities: noblewoman, knight, and now hero. With a long war over, Lavie and her childhood friend have set the rightful heir to the throne, but, while the kingdom is at peace, she’s not. Too highborn to remain with the soldiers, and too scarred by her experiences to be comfortable with the nobility, she searches for a purpose to her life amid worries the new reign she risked her life for will be short-lived.

When the new king is torn between his duty to the throne and the man he loves, Lavie finds must choose between what’s right for the kingdom, and what’s right for her oldest friend. As cracks appear in the peace, and their friendships, Lavie finds herself continually drawn to an unlikely source – the man she worked so hard to defeat.

Starting where most fantasy novels would finish, Happily Ever After is an adult fantasy of 103,000 words featuring a strong LGBT+ cast.

Yours sincerely,

First 250 words:

The sea-warped gate in the bailey opens with a squeal, dusting me in flakes of rust. I cringe at the sound, hoping the keening seagulls cover it. Sea-salt on the wind mixes with the smell of blood and anticipation in the air as I slip into the narrow space between the inner and outer wall and signal my team to follow me.

Today, I take back my home. Today, I kill a man and end the reign of a tyrant. The idea of it makes my body tingle. Everything ends today. Either we defeat the Usurper and set the prince on the throne where he belongs, or we fail and nothing matters anymore.


The voice makes me start and I curse under my breath. One of the soldiers accompanying me points ahead and I hear something else. Footsteps.

“Sir,” I correct the man sharply as I draw my sword. “Wait here.”

I slip into the inner bailey and press my back against the wall by the steps. The unseen figure is almost at the bottom and my fingers twitch on my hilt. As he emerges, I step out and drive my sword into his belly.

Our eyes meet in the gloom. He’s not a soldier, just a runner. He’s also barely more than a boy, fifteen at most. His pale hands clutch at his stomach, as if he’s trying to push the blood back, and a gurgling cry spills from his lips. I give him mercy and put my sword through his heart.


At the beginning of April, I noticed a pitching event being mentioned on Twitter – #Nestpitch. I quite enjoy this sort of thing, so I thought I’d give the rules a quick look and see if it was one for me. The Moritician’s Boy met the criteria, so I sent of my details, grateful I’d just made the deadline and sat back to wait.

Nestpitch pairs up authors with a couple of helpers to read through all the entries and pick out a team of four or five entries to mentor over a couple of weeks until the agent phase. Sometimes the teams will ask for a little more than what was sent in during the entry phase to help them judge who to pick. I had requests from five teams, so I was fairly hopeful of making it through.

Then came the day of the team reveals. No email for me. Lots of people in the slush pile I’d been chatting with over the last week were celebrating, and I was happy for them, but at the same time, I felt crushed. Mentoring would incredibly useful and I thought I was in with a chance. Then, that afternoon, (if you’ve seen the post below you’ve probably guessed it) I got a response saying I’d been selected for team PlotBunnies. And there was much rejoicing.

The lovely Amanda Foody, my mentor, and other members of the team helped polish up my first chapter and synopsis, getting ready for the agent phase. At that point, participating agents had just 24 hours to read over the available pitches and leave treats (requests for pages) for us hopeful writers.

This is my pitch for The Mortician’s Boy:

How did I do? Final score: three requests, including a full! Given that was from a 35 word pitch and just 300 words, I’m over the moon. I’m really hopeful that lots of the other participants get picked up as there were some really good pitches out there.

I’m eternally grateful to Amanda and the lovely Nik Vukoja who organised the contest for all the support and a wonderful experience. Here’s hoping it leads to something…

If you’re interested in taking part next year, the Nestpitch blog is here: and Amanda’s page is here :

I Wrote a Book. What Next?

I came across someone asking this question on Figment, and its a good question. Where do you go once you’ve typed The End? This was my response, hopefully it will help others as well.

Firstly, make sure you’re really ready to be published. Finishing a book is great and you should be very proud, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready to be published. Lots of first novels feel great when we write them, but when we look back in a few years, we can see the gaps in our skills. It took three books before I was ready to publish. Remember, you are going to expect people to pay money for it. Is it something you would be happy to pay for, if you found it in a book shop?

Lets assume it is. Okay. The next step is to decide how you want to publish it. You have two options, really. Self publish or traditional. I’d recommend self-publishing if you either have a lot of experience with marketing and self-promotion, or you don’t really care about writing as a career or making sure as many people read it as you can. That’s fine. Not everyone wants to be an author as a career. That’s why I self-published my first.

If you want to go down the traditional route, your best bet is to try and get an agent. The first thing I’d do is look for agents on twitter, and follow hastags like #500queries, #tenqueries etc. These are where agents tweet about their queries and whether they wanted more or not. It gives you a good idea of the basic mistakes people make, like querying agents who don’t rep their genre, not following submission rules, or sending in queries that don’t sell the book.

Once you have a handle on that sort of thing, start researching the right agents for you. Then build up your query letter. It should be three parts – a hook or log line (single line that sells your book); short synopsis that again makes your book sound interesting; and a bio that includes any publishing credits you have and tries to explain why you are the right author for the book. Always include word count, genre, and the age group you are aiming the book at (MG, YA, NA, Adult). Try and

Then you send it off. Most agents work on email these days. Make sure:
– they are the right agent. They rep your book and they have a good record of sales
– that you email them in a professional manner, but you use their name
– that you spell their name right
– that you read their submission guide and send them what they want. Some people want just a query, some want chapters. Some want those chapters as an attachment, some in the body of the email
– that you put your contact details on the query. Name, address, phone number, email etc.

Then you wait, and you expect to get rejections. Trust me, no matter how good you are, you will get rejections. Build yourself up for them, because they hurt, but you have to accept them in good grace. Never reply to a rejection in a negative manner. Agents talk and they will talk about you if they do. At most, send them a polite thank you for your consideration message.

Hopefully someone will pick you up. Be prepared to send dozens of queries though. Let say, sadly, no one does. Don’t give up on the book yet. Now, look at publishers. Big publishers generally won’t accept unagented authors, but many smaller ones will. And if you sell to a smaller publisher, it gives you credits to go to an agent with for the next book. Again, research, research, research! Submit only to ones who might be interested. If they are a romance imprint, don’t send a sci-fi novel and vice versa.

Watch out for scammers. Avoid any publisher who charges (you’re better off going self-published); any that says you have to make a number of sales or buy the books yourself (again, can get very expensive); anyone who says they are in the business of making dreams come true (publishers are in the business of selling books); anyone who advertises direct to authors (publishers customers are readers); anyone who markets themselves as looking for young authors (publishers are in the business of making money. They won’t do that on just young authors.)

And if all that fails? (Again, be prepared. Hope for the best, plan for the worst). Write another book. Keep writing and writing and believing in yourself and you will get there. Publication isn’t a race; there’s not right age to publish by. Just love your words and people will love them back.