I am so pleased to announce that I am officially published in the historical field. The World War I Centennial website is currently being archived by the US Government for future research and therefore counts as a professional publication. I am absolutely ecstatic. To be published in my field at my age is a huge deal, and I’m incredibly proud of this piece. Please enjoy!
Yesterday, I attended the Chesapeake Writing Workshop in Arlington, VA. This was my very first writing conference, and it was such a whirlwind! I had the opportunity to interact with other writers in the area, get some feedback on my first ten pages, and pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time. I’ve got a lot to tell you about, so let me get started right away.
I actually missed the first train to Crystal City.
I was in the Foggy Bottom metro station waiting for the blue line train to come at 8:36 am. An orange line train was stuck on the track because of a holdup at the next station over. I was getting nervous because I wanted to get to the hotel with enough time to check in and get oriented. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I watch a blue line train pull into the opposite track. Turns out, I had been looking at the wrong side.
Typical of me to get turned around, to be honest.
The doors closed before I could hop on, so I had to wait for the 8:48 am train. Luckily, I made it to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in plenty of time. I got my nametag and a folder with a copy of the day’s schedule before setting off to the first talk I wanted to see.
The first lecture I attended was about middle grade and young adult books. It was there that I truly understood how versatile the YA genre truly is; people from mid elementary age all the way up to adulthood read young adult novels. You have the ability to cater to a wide audience with YA that I think is very genre-unique. I only got to stay in about twenty minutes though because at 10 am, it was time for my 10 page critique.
Ten Page Critique
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into my critique. I wanted to keep my expectations reasonable, but I also wanted to believe that I was ready for querying. In my heart, I was ready. But was the book ready?
I met with Moe Shalabi, a Palestinian-American author and former junior literary agent at Talcott Notch Literary. As soon as I sat down, the first words out of his mouth were how he loved the story, loved the characters, and needed to know more. I have to say, I was floored. I just filled up with excitement, wanting to hear more of what he had to say. His evaluation of my work was incredibly helpful. He pointed out some details to elaborate on: ways to bring the world to life more, a few points about fleshing out the characters sooner, and some points about verb tense in flashbacks. He also said something to me that I will never forget, something that’s going to stick with me for a long time.
He told me that I had a natural talent for writing.
In that moment, I felt like I was on the right path in my life. This was the idea, this was the story, this was the one that was going to get me where I’d always wanted to be ever since I was 11 writing my first novel.
It was such an honor to hear that, and I’m quite humbled by it. I couldn’t wait to get home and make those edits. I knew they were going to make my work stronger.
My First Pitch
Of course, then I had to turn around and pitch half an hour later! I spent about ten minutes riding out the high of my critique before I buckled down and drilled my pitch out loud several times. I wanted to make sure I could deliver my summary confidently and clearly.
At 10:50 am, I walked over to Stephanie Kehr, a junior agent for C.Y.L.E Literary. She was my one and only pitch for the day. I liked what I had read about her, and I was hoping that I could make a good impression. After introducing myself, I sat down and launched directly into my pitch. For the first time, I delivered something verbal clearly and concisely with no waver on my voice and without my face turning bright red. It went off without a hitch.
She asked me if I happened to have a sample chapter with me. Although the conference had said you shouldn’t need to hand over anything to the agent you’re pitching to, I had thought ahead. I had seen on Stephanie’s website that for in person pitches, she liked to see a sample chapter, so I had one on hand. She glanced over the first page and told me it seemed like good writing. She handed me her business card and asked me to submit materials to her: my first three chapters, a synopsis, and platform numbers.
I was ecstatic. Especially because she’s currently closed to submissions. To make it over that hurdle means the world to me even if that’s where my book stops with her.
Somehow after all that, I still had almost five minutes left in my ten minute pitch time. I felt incredibly awkward, so I tried to start up a conversation. She gave me some good advice for debut writers and young writers in particular, and we talked briefly about YA as a genre and its versatility. I thanked her for her time and walked out of that room beaming.
Afternoon Lecture: Author Platform
After lunch and a sit-in on a live agent critique of authors’ first pages (never got to mine), I went to my favorite lecture of the day on building an author platform. This is probably my favorite subject, and as most of you know, I’ve been doing a lot of work on building that up over the last six months. But I really wanted to know what more I could be doing to improve my visibility.
A couple takeaways for me:
I really need to start working on an email newsletter. I’ve attempted to start one a few times, but due to international spam law (that’s a thing!), I have to leave a mailing address at the bottom of the newsletter. Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, I probably could use my mailbox at my college. That would be a physical mailing address I have access to, but if something malicious were to occur, I can’t be tracked to my dorm room or my home address. I need to look more into that.
I want to do more guest posts for others. Preferably fantasy leaning or writing blogs that would help boost traffic onto my website. I think I’m doing a fairly good job of writing about fantasy writing, so why not share it with more people?
After the conference, I worked into the late evening on editing my first ten pages according to my critique. I pulled all of my query materials together, and last night, I sent out the first batch of query submissions: the six that I originally selected plus Stephanie Kehr from the conference. I had a little send off call with my mom, sister, and boyfriend where I sent off the emails/online forms with them on the call with me. My dad was unfortunately traveling, so he didn’t get to join me. Next time though for sure! I’ve forbid him from traveling during the next submission round xD.
Now comes the waiting game.
How long will that be?!
Note: I want to especially thank my father for paying my way for this conference. It was an invaluable experience that I will never forget. I made steps in my writing career today because of him, and I just want to say thank you.
Hey everybody! For today’s post, I want to take some time to go over what’s happening in my life right now, both the writing news and the life news.
Chasing Fae is Complete!
Monday night, I finished my novel, Chasing Fae! It’s finished! I’ve done four different revisions on this book from first draft to the final draft (draft five!). It’s been a real learning curve, learning how to edit properly. I’ll definitely be pulling information on revising and editing your novel for a blog series for you guys because I had enough difficulty trying to figure it out on my own research. I did my final readthrough and grammar check over two days to make sure I caught any remaining mistakes.
I’m incredibly proud of this novel; it has been a long time coming to get from idea to where I am right now. I want to thank everyone in my life who has supported me throughout this journey: from my parents, to my little sister, to my amazing boyfriend, and all my friends over in the Writing Community. I wish I had the time to thank absolutely everyone who was involved, but you’d be here all day!
Next Stop: The Querying Stage
Starting Saturday, I’ll be sending out my first batch of queries. Six, to be exact. I’ve read that it’s good to send out between six and eight at once. I’ve already picked my first six literary agents to query to, and honestly, I’d be pleased to work with any of them. I’m feeling confident about my query letter itself; the professional editor thought it was very strong. Now, it’s all up to fate! Wish me luck!
My First Writing Conference
On Saturday, I will be attending the Chesapeake Writing Workshop right here in DC! I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to attend this writers’ conference. I’m going to be sitting in on various lectures from professionals on a variety of subjects on writing and publishing. I also have the opportunity to pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time and get feedback on the first ten pages of my novel, which is usually part of your standard query package. I can’t wait!
I’m super excited to announce that this week, one of my articles I wrote at my internship is going to be published on their website this week! Because the website is being archived by the government, it qualifies as a professional publication. I’m so incredibly proud. To be professionally published in my chosen field of history at nineteen is crazy. I can’t wait to see it. Let me know if you want me to link it on the site!
Getting Geared Up For Fall Classes
I know it’s almost two months out, but I’m already getting ready for fall classes. This fall semester is going to be a big one for me. I’m declaring both of my majors, history and anthropology, which means I need to start thinking about who I want to be my advisors! That’s gonna be a difficult find. I’ve also got a really great line up of classes. I found a way to take three history classes because one of them is under the classics department. Sneaky, huh? (They don’t typically recommend doing that, but I know what I want!) I’m taking a Greek Civilization class, a class on the Crusades, and a class on historical method. I’m also continuing on with French while simultaneously starting German. Yes. I know I’m crazy. But hey, if I’m looking at grad school, I want a good head start.
Thanks for reading! See you on Saturday where I’ll be catching you up on what happens at the writing conference!
Hello everyone! Happy 4th of July weekend! DC essentially shuts down for the Fourth, so I’ve got a super long weekend to look forward to. Only one more week until my writers’ conference! I can’t wait to go. I’m still working on my pitch; I’ll let you all know how that goes!
Today, I want to talk to you about the basics of writing a query letter, especially for you young first-timers. I just wrote my query letter for the first time, and I’ve love to share some of my insights.
Basic Parts of A Query Letter
When I geared up to write my query letter, I did a lot of research. I scoured the internet far and wide looking for sample query letters, guides to writing query letters, and my favorite, lists of dos and don’ts. I made sure to focus my search on what specifically works best for a fantasy query letter. Here’s what I was able to scrounge up:
1. The Basics: When beginning your query letter, I believe that the best way to start is to come straight in with the facts. It’s a simple equation: I am seeking representation for [Title of Novel], a [State your genre and audience.], complete at [Word Count]. I’ve found that this gets the point of your letter across right away. Getting to the point is important in such a quick letter.
2. Referral: Where did you hear about this agent from? Did you meet at a conference? Did you speak with the agent in any capacity? If not, you should list what the specific reason is that you contacted this agent. Go back to that agent’s wish list and make sure your book matches.
3. Summary: I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at summarizing. I can never get my thoughts condensed down to a handful of words. But it is essential for writing the best query possible. Now, I’m not equipped to give tips on how to do this. What I did was essentially sit down for a while and think hard about my story. Then I just wrote it, a summary of a little less than two hundred words. I actually really like the way it turned out.
4. Credentials: After your summary, you should talk about any and all writing credentials you have that may relate to the genre you’re writing. Make sure to mention any published works that you’ve written or any life experience that may relate directly to your genre. I talked about my website and its followers as well as my growing following on Twitter.
5. Closing: Make sure to close your query politely. Thank the agent for their time and consideration, but don’t sound overly thankful or apologetic about your own work. You’ve got this!
Thanks for reading! Comment below if this has been helpful to you.
Hello friends! Today, I really want to get back to talking about the writing process. And I want to take you aaaaalll the way back to the very beginning: the idea stage. I had an interesting conversation with a fellow intern today about building novel ideas, and I thought it would be a perfect topic to bring up on the blog.
Coming Up With An Idea
So you want to write a fantasy novel, right? But you have no idea where to start. You’ve got pieces of an idea, little inklings that swirl around in your head with little connection. Or maybe you’re looking to come up with something entirely from scratch. Either way, before you start writing, you want to have something concrete to work with.
The best advice that I can give is to read. Read the fantasy genre. Read the subgenres that you’re interested in the most. This can help you narrow down what type of story you want to write, what kind of characters excite you the most, and what tropes make your heart dance. The more you read, the more familiar you will become with the genre. Don’t think that only one or two books will cut it. If you’re looking for a good place to start, I would recommend this article for a basic list of several books in different subgenres.
Is Your Idea Writable?
So you’ve got an idea. Yay! Fantastic. Now, can you write a book from it?
Depending on if you’re an outliner or a pantser, what I’m about to say next may not be the best strategy for you to figure out if your idea can carry a whole book. Some people like to jump right in and figure everything out as they go along. But I recommend at least asking yourself a few basic questions before starting.
Do you know enough about where you want to go to write the first few chapters? It doesn’t do you any good to start and realize you have nowhere to go. You don’t necessarily need to know how your story ends yet. Trust me, that will come along eventually.
Are your characters interesting enough? Do they have motivations for doing what they are going to be doing?
Do you have a basic idea of your setting?
Can you see yourself committing to this idea for a full book? Are YOU excited enough to write this book?
Finally, a question you should always ask yourself before writing a book: Can you commit a little time each day to write? This is especially important. Writing everyday helps to perfect your craft and will be key to finishing your story!
Keep these questions in your mind as you’re formulating your novel idea. Most important of all though, don’t forget to have fun! Writing is fun. Creating worlds and characters and plots entirely your own is fun. Don’t lose sight of that.
I woke up this morning to find this! I can’t even believe it. The blog has only been live for about six months, and I found myself on a list with some pretty impressive people. I am so, so honored to have been selected. Thank you so much, readers for your love and support. I’m super excited to move forward into the querying phase within the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!
A Rendering of Grace Richardson, the main character of Chasing Fae. Complements of Skye Kelrose, a fantastic artist!
What is your full name? – Grace Andrea Richardson.
How old are you? – I’m 19.
When were you born? – I was born in Lisden in the Middle Realm.
What is your current state of mind? – Current state of mind? Pretty chaotic. Lots of thoughts scrambling around. I’ve kind of blocked out most of my emotions. I guess that’s autopilot, huh?
What do you consider to be your lifelong dream or aspiration? – Lifelong dream? I don’t know… to get revenge on my brother’s killer? To avenge his death? I don’t know if I have many aspirations. I suppose I’d like to take care of my mother, make sure she’s okay. Oh! For myself? I suppose… I suppose I’d like to have some place where I feel like I truly belong.
How close are you to your family? – That’s such a loaded question. It’s entirely different for my various family members. Like, my brother and I? Inseparable. My mother and I are somewhere in the middle. We used to be close, but we’ve kind of grown apart since Leo’s death. And my dad? He was never around. I’ve never even met him. So our relationship is nonexistent.
What is your earliest memory of? – Violin music. I heard the violin for the first time when I was about three years old. I don’t remember much about where we were, but I could make out the melody of a pretty song. I begged my mom to let me try the pretty music. She and my brother had to physically drag me away from the performer.
What is your favorite memory from your teen years? – My first violin gig. One of Mom’s regular art clients was hosting a party. She caught me practicing one time when she stopped by to pick up a painting, and she demanded that I perform at her party. She offered me a decent amount of money, so I took the job. My mother and brother both came. I was super nervous, but when I finished that last note, I remember how brilliantly my brother smiled. I’ll never forget it.
Who is the person you despise the most, and why? – The Fae. Just… just all of them. I hate them. They took my brother away from me. They’re self-centered and all they do is take. They take from the people, they take from our Realm, and they take from our families.
Describe a normal day for you. – I wake up early to go for a run. Like, really early. About dawn. After my morning run, I can usually sneak in an hour at the gym before I head back to my own house before my mom wakes up. I eat breakfast with my mom. On non-gig days, I practice my violin for a couple of hours and then either do some studying/planning or paint with my mother. On gig days, I don’t really practice. Gives me more time to study or work out or rest for the evening. My mom and I always have dinner together. We talk the most then. In the evenings, I’ll either be at a gig or reading and relaxing some more. Sometimes I go out and back to the gym.
What about you is heroic? – That’s a weird question. I don’t really know how to answer it. I suppose my mission and my passion for it makes me heroic. My willingness to do whatever it takes maybe. A willingness to die for my family and friends? I don’t know.
What is your occupation? – I’m a freelance violinist. I used to do some art on the side as well, but now, it’s primarily playing violin. I play gigs and then also, I sometimes play street corners or train stations.
Do you like your job? – I love it. I love playing. Sometimes it can get monotonous cause a lot of clients want the same boring songs. But…even just playing makes me happy.
Describe your perfect romantic partner. – I want someone who will listen to me and let me have my space when I need it. I need someone stubborn and intense to match me. I need someone to take care of me when I need it and let me take care of them when I don’t. I want someone who’s not afraid of chaos cause my life is a lot of chaos. He should be able to keep up.
Do you think the future is hopeful? Why or why not? – I…. no. I really don’t see hope for our future. The Middle Realm is subjugated by the Upper Realm, I’m headed headfirst into a snake pit, and my brother is dead. What kind of a future could I hope for? Even if I do come out of this alive.
Hey everybody! I hope you all have been having a fantastic week. I know I have. I’m getting prepared to attend my first writers’ conference, and I’m working on crafting Aphrodite for my other writing project, All in the Pantheon. I’m doing the best I can to build up my image as a writer as I move into the querying stage for Chasing Fae! It’s all so new and exciting, and I can’t wait to go on this journey together with you. I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read posts as they come down the pipeline. I’ve been hearing good feedback so far, and I want to continue down that path. All of your support means so much to me.
That being said, I need your help! Readers and writers, both old hat and new to Fluff About Fantasy, I need input. What do you want to read more of? I’ve covered a lot of different topics from a young writer’s perspective as well as spent some time promoting my own novel. What do you want to hear from me in the coming weeks?
To name a few options for you:
Building An Author Platform series: I have two article ideas lined up to address tips for building a Facebook page as well as a Pinterest account.
Worldbuilding: The SFWA questionnaire series has just wrapped up, so there’s definitely a lot of content on this site. But I’m always happy to talk about worldbuilding. Comment below with specifics!
The Querying Process: Learn with me as I go along!
More information on Chasing Fae: If you’re interested, I’d love to share more information about my novel.
Anything! Anything is up for grabs, as long as it’s related to books or to writing.
I’d love to generate some ideas in order to keep turning out fresh content twice a week. I want to build up this website to be something that I and the writing community can be proud of. Whether you’re a seasoned writer with several published books or if you’re a young writer like me just starting out with a new idea, I want to hear your voice. Please, please, please, if you enjoy the content that you read on this website, please comment below.
Welcome everyone! This is the very last post in this worldbuilding questionnaire series. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you all on this particular subject, and I look forward to guiding you through others. But don’t worry! I’m not swearing off the discussion on worldbuilding forever. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing fantasy, so you’ll definitely see it again.
Without further ado, one last time, we are working from this link for our last section.
First, let’s talk about social mobility. How easy can social advancement occur? What items are considered luxuries in your society?
What are acceptable norms of personal hygiene? What systems and tools help to assist that? For example, plumbing systems assist with keeping running water moving to and form the house.
How is garbage and waste material disposed of?
Think about the interior of a typical citizen’s home. What does the furniture look like? What kind of material is it made from? Think about the craftsmanship, whether it is kept fairly simple or is more elaborate. Does more elaborate design mean a more expensive piece of furniture?
How early do people tend to wake up in the morning? How do they know what time to wake up?
Fashion and Dress
What do people wear in your society? Consider all walks of life and all species. What kind of fabric would this clothing be made from? Also think about professional uniforms like healers or soldiers or the dress of the politician.
What does current fashion look like? What’s considered trendy? How about physical characteristics, like tan skin or curly hair?
I believe most of these have been covered in previous sections, but essentially we want to focus on respect of procedure. Who walks through doors first? Who should be introduced to who in what order? What rules surround a formal court dinner? To name a few.
Food! Glorious food. This question section will focus on the typical diet of the average citizen as well as traditions involving food. This will require you to look back to what crops and animals are available to use. Think about what kind of dishes a person would eat in a day and when. Does your society eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or are there entirely different norms? Are some dishes local to certain areas? Different cultures tend to have different signature dishes. What herbs and spices are available to season foods? What kind of foods are eaten around the holidays?
Is there an organized system of education? How many levels does it consist of; does some education happen primarily at home? Is literacy considered a necessary skill to the society? Who teaches in these schools? Where are those people trained?
Think about what is being taught in these schools. An educated populace or an uneducated populace changes the course of society. It changes what it allows its government to do to it. This can be a massive plot point. Don’t forget about magical education!
Time! A world must run on time. Or be timeless! This is fantasy, after all. If your world does in fact adhere to the laws of time, consider having a universal calendar that your people can run on. Divide up your days in a way that’s understandable. Feel free to use the time scale we operate on now (second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, etc.). It might make it a lot easier for your reader to follow. Feel free to modify it by making the week longer or changing the names of the months. Think about what holidays are celebrated around certain times of the year and plan accordingly.
We have reached the end, my friends! This series constitutes the best and most comprehensive worldbuilding questionnaire I have ever seen. I have really enjoyed walking through this with you all. I hope the resource has been super helpful to all you writers out there. Much love. <3 Happy writing!
I am incredibly excited to announce that the third draft of Chasing Fae is finally finished!
I’ve had a decent amount of time on my hands after working at my internship during the daytime. I’ve had many an afternoon and evening to concentrate on making this book the best that it possibly can be. Major structural changes have been made that I believe really transform the reader’s experience in the world of the Three Realms. From character arc clarification, to new plot points, and a renewed sense of urgency in the storyline, the changes I have made make me very proud to be a writer.
I tried a new technique this time of working with two drafts side by side. I started an entirely new document for draft three and wrote alongside draft two, making large changes or copying and pasting between drafts. I felt like this really allowed me to watch the writing expand and shift directions. I could really see the movement of the story much better than any other revision technique I’ve used thus far. With a very clear to-do list in hand, I wrote and rewrote and wrote anew. The novel length increased by over eight thousand words. This puts it in a fantastic range for YA fantasy without going too far.
There’s nothing more invigorating than seeing your hard work finally come together on the page.
So what happens now?
I’ve sent off my book to three new beta readers who I’ve met through various #WritingCommunity projects. I’m going to give two of them a quick shoutout here since I know them well enough to do so: my wonderful friend, Hill T. Manner over at steamblogger.com (who I’m now collaborating with in admin on his site!) and the fantastic CJ Landry who I collaborate with over at All in the Pantheon. (She’s also just released a new poetry book, which I’m going to link here.) I’m super grateful to all of them for taking this on for me. I’m really excited to hear their feedback.
While I’m waiting to hear from them, I have a variety of tasks on my author to-do list! I’m going to spend some time working on the website to build up more of a following. (So if you’ve got some friends who you know would love this site, please send them a link!) I’m going to focus on Aphrodite’s storyline over at All in the Pantheon and make some decisions about who I want her to be. Finally, I’m going to work heavily on my query letter and my synopsis to make sure that those will be ready for querying this fall.
The writing never stops! But that’s what we love about it, isn’t it? We never have to stop.
Thank you for your constant support, everyone. Much love. <3