IN THIS ISSUE
The Knight Post: Interview with Cassie Miles
New Clients on the Block
Melissa Jeglinski Reveals Middle Grade Idol Contest
Author Tip of the Month: Steven Harper
The Informer: Why Agents Attend Conferences by Lucienne Diver
Round Table: The Most Critical Phase after Landing a Book Deal
THE KNIGHT POST: INTERVIEW WITH CASSIE MILES
TKA: Many of your romances, including SNOWED IN, take place in rugged mountain regions. Since you live in snowy Colorado, what do you find most romantic about the setting?
Cassie Miles is the author of over seventy-five novels of romance and suspense, including her most recent release, SNOWED IN.
In addition to being a USA Today
bestselling author, she has received the Jasmine Award, Colorado Romance Writer of the Year, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year, Affair D’Coeur Top Ten, Romantic Times
Top Pick, Career Achievement and WISH Best Hero awards.
CASSIE: I’ve lived in Colorado since high school. My first home was a log cabin with an outhouse near Sphinx Park and Elephant Rock. I used to love downhill skiing, snowshoeing, camping and hot buttered rum in front of a fireplace. For me, the romance came from the incomparable beauty of clear blue skies and white fields of snow. In a log cabin, there’s a special sense of being the only people in a world where time stands still.
Fast forward to the present: I’m still in Colorado but live in a Denver high-rise with a lovely view of the snow. The romance comes mostly from Ben & Jerry.
TKA: As a USA Today Best-Selling author of over seventy-five novels filled with strong and memorable heroes and heroines, what advice could you offer writers in creating believable characters?
CASSIE: People always say to write what you know, and I agree. Write what you know to be true in your heart. I like to start with 3 things I love or hate about a hero/heroine and go from there. An example of love/hate might be a heroine who is courageous but impulsive.
I also like a detailed backstory on main characters.
TKA: What was the first book you ever published and how did it come about?
CASSIE: My first book was written so long ago that I used a typewriter. A Harlequin Temptation, the title was TONGUE-TIED, and the story was about a politician who could only cure his stutter by kissing his speech therapist. I had worked for a while in a speech therapy clinic, and everyone there assured me that therapists are hot, hot, hot.
I had stumbled across an agent at a Writer’s Club meeting and bribed her with cookies to send the proposal. And voila!
TKA: Do you have any specific things that inspire you or help you to write?
CASSIE: Money. Paying the rent is a great incentive to write another book. I’m really lucky to be writing for Harlequin Intrigue, which gives me the opportunity to blow things up if I get tired writing about the relationship and vice versa. My kids used to say, “Mom writes romantic suspense, you know, kiss-kiss, bang-bang.”
To help me write? Critique groups. There is a brilliant monthly group I go to with Robin D. Owens.
TKA: For someone who's experienced as much success as you have, are there any writing goals you still hope to achieve?
CASSIE: I would like to be the first Harlequin to win a Pulitzer.
Actually, I’m fascinated with e-books. There really are no limits on what is publishable.
TKA: Can you give us a little teaser of your next Harlequin romance, and when can we expect it to hit shelves?
CASSIE: SNOW BLIND (Harlequin Intrigue, Sept 2014) is set in a fictional Colorado resort. From the balcony of a corporate condo, Sasha Parker, a paralegal in town on business, looks through binoculars at the windows of a hotel across the road. She witnesses a murder. The only person who believes her is Deputy Brady Ellis, and that cowboy is—trust me!—hot, hot, hot.
Order SNOWED IN
Pre-order SNOW BLIND
NEW CLIENTS ON THE BLOCK
MIDDLE GRADE IDOL CONTEST
Middle Grace fiction writers, do you have a complete manuscript you just know is ready for an agent? Would you like half an hour of one-on-one time to discuss your work with someone who has more than two decades’ experience in the publishing industry? Then MG Idol, in which authors compete to get their manuscripts in front of TKA agent Melissa Jeglinski, is the contest for you.
Three winners are guaranteed a half-hour phone call with Melissa—and representation
MAY be offered.
How to Enter
Manuscripts must be complete and classified as Middle Grade fiction. Word count should be between 35,000 and 65,000. Unless it is a heavily revised version, the submission should not have already been reviewed by Melissa Jeglinski. Submissions cannot be self-published or available for sale in any current market. Work must be the original property of the author.
Contest day is April 7
, and the submission window is 11:00 AM EDT through 3:00 PM EDT
. Submit a query letter and the first chapter (not to exceed 25 pages) all within the body of your email, and send it to Contests@knightagency.net
. We will not open attachments, and those submissions will be immediately deleted, as will any others that do not follow the guidelines. Only the first 100 eligible entries will be considered for the contest.
At the end of the day, senders of those first 100 eligible entries will receive notifications alerting them to get their complete manuscripts ready.
On April 11, authors of the top 20 entries will be invited to submit their complete manuscripts, and will be given 24 hours to do so.
On April 16, the top three winners will be notified. Melissa will arrange a time to call and discuss their work.
No portion of the writers’ submissions will be made public in any venue, with the exception of the authors’ names and the titles of the winning works, which may be noted in the TKA newsletter and Tweets. If the writer wishes, his or her last name can be omitted.
What kind of Middle Grade projects is Melissa looking for? A unique premise. Strong protagonists. Stand-alone stories or ongoing series. An exceptional voice that is appropriate for the MG market. Any sub genre of MG is welcome: contemporary, historical, fantasy, realism, action-adventure.
Melissa will be tweeting her MG Idol thoughts before and throughout the contest
so be sure to follow her at @Mjeglinski
Thanks, and good luck!
- USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump's new series, to Susan Litman at Harlequin, in a nice deal by Pamela Harty
- R.S. Belcher's first book in the Brotherhood of the Wheel series, to Greg Cox of Tor, in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver
Rachel Goodman's FROM SCRATCH, to Micki Nuding at Pocket Star, in a nice, two-book deal by Melissa Jeglinski
- Debbie Mason's next three books in the Christmas, Colorado series, to Alex Logan at Grand Central,in a nice three-book deal by Pamela Harty
- Chris Marie Green's HONEYTRAP, to Cindy Hwang at Intermix, in a nice two-book deal by Pamela Harty
Sales Roundup is a selective sampling of TKA's deals for the past month. For more info on our recent sales, visit www.knightagency.net/recent-deals
AUTHOR TIP OF THE MONTH
Steven Harper is the author of The Clockwork Empire series and WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL.
Steven's Tip: A common opening scene shows the protagonist waking up. It's perfect, right? The readers see he has a 32″ plasma TV mounted on his bedroom wall with a bunch of action DVDs on a floor-to-ceiling shelf, but that he also keeps the teddy bear he slept with as a boy, so he’s a macho man with a tender side. The author has established character! But we readers are snoring from the boring because nothing happens.
The opener isn't a place to be slow. Avoid this scene and jump ahead to where something does happen. Perhaps our hero is just taking that first life-giving sip of morning coffee when the police pound on his door. While a detective is questioning him about his abusive and missing ex-boyfriend (He’s gay? There’s some character establishment for you), his mind goes back to the coffee, which is growing cold on the counter. Now you have an opener!
Learn more about Steven and The Clockwork Empire at www.stevenpiziks.com
Why Agents Attend Writing Conferences
by Lucienne Diver
I get asked all the time why I go to writers conferences. After all, I already work with over forty authors; I have a pretty full list. What’s in it for me? The answer is so, so much.
First, I met many of the wonderful authors I work with at writers conferences (waving here to Carol Berg, Beth Cornelison, Vicky Dreiling, Kira Sinclair and Karen Whiddon, to name a few). Some were pre-published, others had begun their journey, but it was a conference that brought us together. So, while I do have a pretty full list, and some times are inevitably going to be busier than others, I can’t imagine not finding room for something that really blows me away. And if it’s awesome, but not for me, I have amazing colleagues at The Knight Agency to whom I can refer writers.
Second, I’m not the only publishing pro at the conferences, so they are a great opportunity for me to meet new people and make new contacts. They’re also wonderful for reconnecting with the clients, editors, etc. with whom I already work. Plus, I get to see them in action. Something might come up on a panel or in an impromptu discussion that I didn’t know or had never even thought to ask. I love being able to interact sometimes in a less formal setting than the office.
Third, travel! Yes, I’m a travel junkie. One or two conferences have snagged me by promising to show me the sights. I’ll admit it, I can’t resist.
Fourth, I like being where the action is. I know I can’t do every conference and convention, yet I still get a pang reading about great interactions on Facebook and Twitter that I’ve missed out on.
Fifth, let’s face it, they’re great advertising for our clients and the agency in general. When answering questions about voice or pacing or whathaveyou, I’m inevitably going to bring up Rachel Caine’s wonderful Morganville Vampires
series or Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock
or…see, I’m doing it now!
And that, my dear readers, is why literary agents do writers conferences.
Here are some upcoming conferences I'll be attending:
AGENTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
Question: What do you feel is the most critical phase for an author after landing his or her first book deal?
DEIDRE KNIGHT: For as long as I’ve agented, I’ve always regarded this particular period of time as a tough one. The book is sold, perhaps being written from proposal, but it feels like a near eternity before the first book will actually be published. Of course, that time frame is much shorter now than it was in the Neolithic, um, I mean old days. But that impatience and feeling of What’s really happening now? can be channeled into very productive purposes by working on social media and branding, website, and newsletter database, and by connecting with potential bloggers and reviewers. To put a military sort of spin on it, it’s the major ground campaign prior to the book’s launch.
PAMELA HARTY: Writing the best possible book and meeting your deadline are certainly important, but preparing for a successful launch of this fabulous book is critical. Working, both with the publisher and independently, to make your book as visible as possible can be a full-time endeavor. Working social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as guest-blogging and taking every opportunity to talk about your work, are invaluable.
LUCIENNE DIVER: I think all phases are critical, but if I had to pick one, I guess it would be the gear-up toward publication. It’s important for authors to educate themselves on how best to promote their work (not that the publisher won’t do a fair amount of that too) and to begin building a media presence. Chances are you’ve already started networking in advance of getting that first book deal—you’ve met other authors, agents, editors, bloggers along the way. If you’re not already following them on Twitter and elsewhere, now’s your chance. If people have helped you along the way with a piece of advice that got you where you’re going, thank them. Let them know that their efforts are appreciated and that they bore fruit. At minimum, you’ve given someone a warm fuzzy and encouraged them to help the next person down the line. If you’re lucky, you’ve made a continuing contact and someone who might be happy to trade posts about new releases or otherwise offer advice and encouragement.
NEPHELE TEMPEST: I think the most difficult thing for an author who has just landed his or her first book deal is to find a balance between new obligations and the need to get to work writing (or continuing to write) on their next project. Contracts bring revisions for your new editor, the need to review galleys, discussions of cover art, and marketing efforts—both through the publisher and the author's own individual publicity plans. But you are still a writer, and may even have a due date on your calendar for turning in your next manuscript, so it's important to find time to write even in the middle of the publication countdown. Communicate with your editor and agent to get the best "big picture" you can regarding the publisher's expectations so that you can plan your time accordingly. Some dates and obligations will likely shift a little as you get closer to your pub date, but if you have an idea of what's on the schedule overall, you can be flexible and still meet all your responsibilities without pulling out your hair.
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