Meet the Silken Sands Editors

A short note before I introduce out Silken Sands editors. I’m blogging today at  The Writers Vineyard on Avoiding the Dreaded Anachronism, my search for accuracy while researching for Amazona, a story about a Pictish Princess who bargains with a Roman nobleman for help in searching for her kidnapped brother. You can check it out at http://thewritersvineyard.com/  .  

The 2012 Silken Sands Conference is set for March 16-18, 2012, at the Hampton Inn (2 Via DeLuna) in beautiful Pensacola Beach. Meet the editors are scheduled to attend the 2012 Silken Sands Conference who are scheduled to participate in pitch sessions: 

AMANDA BERGERON, Associate Editor, Harper Collins/Avon

Amanda Bergeron joined William Morrow/Avon in 2008. She acquires romance of all subgenres for both Avon and digital-first imprint Avon Impulse. Some recent and upcoming titles on her list include A Town Called Valentine by Emma Cane, Second Chance at the Sugar Shack by Candis Terry and Brazen by Margo Maguire. She also acquires historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction and the occasional mystery/suspense project.

SANDY SULLIVAN, Executive Editor, Secret Cravings Publisher

Sandy Sullivan, an established author in her own right, founded Secret  Cravings Publishing in January 2011. She started SCP to give authors a place where they had more say and more control over their manuscripts.

GRACE BRADLEY, Editor Ellora’s Cave

Grace Bradley began working with Ellora’s Cave in 2009. She currently  acquires across all sub-genres of romance, with heat levels from sweet to erotic, as well as erotica.  She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two children, two dogs and one very spoiled cat. 

HOLY BLANCK, Editor, St. Martin’s Press

Holly Blanck is an editor at St. Martin’s Press who is acquiring both adult commercial fiction and young adult novels for all parts of the list and for all formats. Holly graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey and began her publishing career at BookEnds Literary Agency. She is actively looking for all areas of romance, strong commercial women’s fiction, urban fantasy and humor.

ANGELA JAMES, Executive Editor, Carina Press

Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, is a veteran of the digital publishing industry and a long-time advocate for digital publishing. She has enjoyed nearly a decade of experience in her field, including successfully launching, building and serving as executive editor for two digital-first presses, most recently Carina Press. She remains active in the writing and digital publishing community via social media, as well as national and international publishing and writing conferences.

Counting the Days to Conference.

Next week, a Gorgeous Torc with a Twist. RitaBay

Silken Sands Conference Agents: Jenny Bent & Lucienne Diver

It’s less than two weeks to the Silken Sands Conference. I’m among those counting the days. This Moonday, meet the agents who are attending the Silken Sands Conference. They’ll be participating in panel discussions and taking pitches. There’s still editor/agent pitch appointments available for those attending the full conference or the Saturday-only drive-in. Check out the registration info below.  But first, meet our agents.

Lucienne Diver (The Knight Agency)

Lucienne Diver joined The Knight Agency in 2008, after spending fifteen years at New York’s prestigious Spectrum Literary Agency. Over the course of her eighteen-year career she has sold over seven hundred titles to every major publisher, and has built a client list of over forty authors, primarily in the areas of fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery, and young adult fiction.

In addition, she’s an author in her own right with the Vamped series of young adult books for Flux and the new Latter-Day Olympians series of urban fantasy novels, beginning with Bad Blood, from Samhain Publishing. She also writes the Agent Anonymous articles for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and is a regular guest at Magical Words.Further information is available on The Knight Agency website: www.knightagency.net, her author website www.luciennediver.com and her blog http://luciennediver.wordpress.com.

Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency
Jenny Bent started THE BENT AGENCY in 2009, after six years as a Vice-president at Trident Media Group. Her bestselling clients include Lynsay Sands, Julia London, Lori Wilde, Sandra Hill, Jacqueline Sheehan, Kathryn Caskie, Kieran Kramer, as well as RITA winners Beth Pattillo, Kate Brady and Tera Lynn Childs.  She is actively seeking romance, young adult, suspense and women’s fiction and prides herself on career-building for both new and established authors.  Her website, with submission guidelines, is www.thebentagency.com and you can follow her on twitter at @jennybent.

The Silken Sands Conference at the beach which will be held at the Hampton Inn on Pensacola Beach, FL on Santa Rosa Island from March 16 -18, 2012. The conference offers workshops, appointments to pitch to editors and agents, editor/agent panels and workshops, a booksigning, catered costume party, banquet, and breakfasts. For registration information:  http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands/registration/ 

Until next Moonday,Rita Bay

Limbo-ing Under the Spiderwebs

Sorry to have missed last Friday’s post everyone. Trust me. HughesNet heard about their insufficient number of field technicians.

Things have been typical here. Grandchildren, a daughter moving yet again and all that entails, continued training of the Christmas puppy, losing sleep because night time–or extremely early in the morning–is the only time I can write uninterrupted. Hard to write love scenes with a large for his age thirteen year old boy bouncing in and out of the room. Nothing wrecks a mood like “Maw! When are you cooking breakfast? I’m hungry! And my tennis shoes stink. Here, smell.”

There is no way you can turn your head far or fast enough to avoid a size ten shoved beneath your nose. If it happens to you, here’s some advise: do not try to wrestle the kid’s forearm away from your face, because it’s a dead giveaway you don’t like what’s happening. It’s suddenly a new game and it’s impossible to fight your way free while leaned back in the office chair in a headlock, with a black Puma clapped over your face like an oxygen mask. Hubby recognized the danger.  Told Tyler if he wanted to live, his feet better be in motion before he let me bob upright. He kinda planted himself in front of me to prevent my pursuit of said grandchild, too. I finally calmed when I could draw a full non-gagging breath and my eyes quit watering from the noxious vapors. G-son is still among the living. The tennis shoes have been de-funkified. All’s well. At least for the moment.

Puppy training hit a momentary rough spot. I can often be found on my knees playing the game of prying small objects or well slobbered pieces of paper from my puppy’s mouth. Also, Cochise likes it outside, and was reluctant to obey my command to “Come” with play or potty time over. Bull dogs are hard-headed, but nowhere near as stubborn as a red-head with better than half a century under her belt. We worked toward an accord. I’d call “Come!” He’d sit down where he stood. I have to give him credit for not moving any further away, but he wouldn’t come to me either. Training progressed to my scuffing the ground with a foot to mark my spot, repeating “Come!” in a firmer tone, and going to where he sat.  I grabbed the loose skin at the sides of his neck and backed toward the scuffed spot. He, of course, planted his feet and leaned back on his rump. 

He weighs over fifty pounds now. The war of dog leverage versus human determination was punctuated with “Cochise, come!” about every third backward step. He has a lot of loose puppy skin. My tugging bunched it all up around his head and face until he looked like a giant Sharpei. I had to avoid looking at him or go weak from laughing. It only took fifty or so times for him to realize I wasn’t giving up.

I call “Come!” now and he sighs and falls into a defeated slump. You can see him thinking, If I don’t come she’ll just march over here and drag me anyway. Might as well do what she wants and be done with it. But it’ll take a few more good rains before I don’t have to change the subject when visitors eye my back yard. I’m tired of explaining that, no, no one indulged in any random, sporadic efforts at plowing; all those strange sets of quadruple trenches crisscrossing the yard are from dug-in puppy feet.

My daughter moved from a house in the city to a house on a river. Beautiful older home with heart pine tongue-and-groove walls, and a three plus acre yard with mature forsythia, azaleas, camellias, day lilies, blueberries and other plantings. But it also means she downsized. One less bedroom, and virtually no closet space. 

Hubby figured out how to add a couple of  closets without sacrificing too much square footage. She figured out what to do with her exercise equipment while I wasn’t paying attention. I walked through the door to find my dining room now has a Bowflex, a treadmill and a Gazelle.  Told hubby he better hurry and build her a home gym area. I want to eat at my table again!

Have to admit things have been pretty convoluted activity wise. So I’ve been jealously hoarding the early mornings when I go out at daylight by myself to feed the animals. I have a child-like affinity for nature, and no matter how many times I’ve experienced something it always seems new. Warm days with colder nights means there’s a mist of fog hovering over the pond, giving it and wading egrets a mystical appearance. Swirling ribbons and scarves of fog free themselves from the water, the faint morning light lending them an opalescent shimmer. More land bound fog blurs everything in the distance and I walk in a dreamscape toward the horse field with a bucket of feed balanced in each hand. My head tipped back, I’m fascinated as my exhalations form heavy vapor clouds that drift upward. Everything is magical and the world is a beautiful place. 

Right up until the moment something glittering with dew in my peripheral vision is catalogued by my distracted thought processes.

Overnight, an industrious spider has spun silken threads, stretching them across my path between the plum tree and the apricot tree. I’m about to face-plant into a web of massive proportions. Instinct screams stop, but communications between my brain and motor reflexes fail to make that instantaneous jump while still tangled in all the mystical properties of the morning. My feet keep moving. And since my aversion to spiders borders on arachnophobia, deeper avoidance instinct kicks in and I’m suddenly doing a muscle torturing, spine cracking, involuntary limbo to slip beneath the web, buckets still in hand.

My real day has officially arrived. But as I stagger along in a low back bend thinking ‘Welcome, Morning’, I have to ask the universe: was this particular reality check really necessary? Sigh.

Romancing the Armadillo

I wonder if we ever reach the point in our lives when we feel comfortable right where we are. It seems no matter how long I live in our rural area that I’ve grown to love so much, I can’t escape being a south Detroit girl. It shows in my reactions.

We’ve had trouble with an armadillo the past couple weeks. Or another armadillo, I should say. And I’d be willing to bet he’s a direct descendant of  the one that initially traumatized me. All my experiences with them culminate in one fact: I don’t like them. No, the emotion runs deeper than that. I hate them. There’s something downright unnatural about a critter that looks like a possum wearing full body armor. Not even my Cajun friend who grins and slides me a sideways look while saying, “Mmmmm, possom on da half shell! Cook some rice!” can get me to laugh about them.

I hate that armadillo’s ancestor for what he put me through. They’re ugly, disruptive and carry some pretty horrific diseases (like leprosy) for starters. For finishers the first one wrecked my sleep for six straight weeks–which means through two full moons, the time when nocturnal wildlife dance and romance with relentless, never-ending abandon. We had beagles in outdoor kennels and this particular armadillo made a game of running back and forth along the chain link, sending the dogs into a frenzy. I was up and down, up and down, every hour on the hour all night long, yelling at the dogs to shut up and trying to get a bead on the critter with the spotlight. All I could catch was a glimpse of his ratty tail disappearing down a burrow or beneath thick blackberry brambles. It got so bad I sat outside in ambush. Zombie ambush. When he didn’t show I was overjoyed, believing he’d finally moved on. All the way up until the next night when the dogs went crazy barking again.

On top of no sleep, day after day I trundled a wheelbarrow of dirt through the horse pastures filling in holes he’d dug to keep my horses from breaking their legs. He was one industrious fellow, bent on reaching China by several routes. Morning after morning I replanted my rose bushes in the front flower garden. The dogs weren’t really bothered, because they napped all day and could count on me to wake them up to eat. But I finally had my chance at him.

Hubby, leaving right at daylight, rushed back into the house. “Get your pistol! Get your pistol and come quick!” It was high summer, but Hubby keeps the AC unit on Hang Meat and I had slept in a long flannel nightgown.

I grabbed a little .380 I had and followed him outside, granny garb and all. We had an old Nova that sat pretty low to the ground, and the armadillo had bedded up underneath it. Hubby backed the car out of the way and the critter stood up. Now, my oldest boy went Scout/Sniper in the Corps and I taught him to shoot. It may sound gross to some, but when I popped a round into the nasty thing I know I saw brains and blood kick out.

Did he fall down dead? NO. Instead, he just swayed in large circles. I waited until he lifted his head and shot him in the throat. He jumped a full three feet straight in the air and landed back on his feet. Still didn’t fall down dead. He just started swaying in circles again, tighter and tighter circles until he froze in place– eyes locked on me. He charged.

South Detroit kicked in and I took off running, .380 in one hand, hem of the flannel gown up around my ear in the other to keep it from tangling with my feet, and calling poor hubby nine kinds of an SOB because he was rolling on the hood of the Nova laughing instead of helping me! I was half way to the pond before he snorted enough air to holler “You can stop running! He’s not chasing you anymore!” A .380 only holds five rounds, but I whirled and emptied the last three into the bast–uh, beast. He went aerial with each shot, jumping an incredible three or four feet straight into the air.

And still wasn’t dead! I had to go inside and get my .3030 rifle to finish him off. Hubby didn’t have time to bury it before work, but I knew if he left him there, the ugly thing would come back to life and get me. I insisted he do something with him right then. I stood shading my eyes, watching hubby disappear into the distance. My last sight of him was with the driver’s door propped open with his left foot, a dust trail kicked up by the dead armadillo being dragged down the road by his rag-wrapped tail in his left hand, steering wheel in his right. Good thing he has orangutan arms. Made it easier to drive leaned out like he was.

But hear this, Mr. Current Armadillo; this time will be different. I’m smarter now. I’ve already gone on the offensive. My thermies and cammies are laid out and I plan to hunt tonight.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll sic the grandkids on you and pull out that secret little cellophane-wrapped package in the top of the bedroom closet.

Yeah, that’s right. Earplugs.

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: Adam & the Roses of Prose

     Today’s Heroic Hunk in History is Adam, as in Genesis in the Bible. But first, welcome to the Roses of Prose, a group blog of authors published by Red Rose Publishing, whom we added to our blogroll today. The Sizzlers met Laura Breck & Lisa Lipkind Leibow of the Roses of Prose at the Silken Sands Conference last weekend. They did a great presentation on grogging (group blogging) and are counted among our new Sizzler friends from the Silken Sands Conference. Hope to see them at future Silken Sands Conferences.
     Now, to Adam. Medieval and Renaissance art often used religious themes because (1) the Church, (2) religious laity who used the art for their devotions, and (3) sinners who donated/sponsored the art to religious institutions for indulgences were the most prominent patrons. BTW, God was cropped because God will never be a Heroic Hunk. Not any way, no and no. Hell is full of fools.

     The Creation of Adam is the centerpiece of Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City in Rome. In 1511, when Pope Julius II ordered Michelangelo (already a renowned sculptor) to paint the ceiling, it featured gold stars on a deep blue background. The fresco (a mixture of paint pigment heated with plaster and applied to a surface while wet) illustrates the Biblical story from the Book of Genesis in which God the Father breathes life into Adam, the first man. God’s right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into Adam’s (whose arm is an exact duplicate of God’s in reverse).
     Adam’s finger is not Michelangelo’s original but part of a restoration after a portion of the fresco fell off the ceiling. Also, check out the female form in Adam’s left leg which foreshadows the creation of Eve. Adrian VI, one of Julius’ successors, planned to have the offensive frescoes scraped off, but, fortunately, died before he could commission the work.
     Michelangelo and Pope Julius had a difficult relationship. The Pope nagged Michelangelo to work faster but was slow in paying which made things difficult at home for Michelangelo. While Michelangelo’s family was of the nobility and did not support his career which they thought was menial, they did like his income.

     We’ll feature more of Michelangelo’s work later because he does paint/sculpt a good nude and Moondays are mine to choose. HOWEVER, if you have a Heroic Hunk you’d like featured, please make a suggestion. ‘Til next Moonday, Rita VF

Silken Sands Conference

Here are four of the Sizzlers relaxing in our room at the Silken Sands Conference on Pensacola Beach.  SFCatty, Romancemama, RitaVF and GothicDweller.   The fabulous Barbara Vey took this stunning picture.   Check out Barbara’s blog. 

  http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/Beyond_Her_Book/index.php

Badurday March 20, 2010

We are at the Silken Sands Conference at beautiful Pensacola Beach.  We have already had an awesome time.  We got inspired by all the water to bring in a pirate for Badurday.  Then Barbara Vey invited us to her virtual party on her blog.  Since the party is in Paris, we decided to choose a Frenchman.  This guy played the bad guy in the Clive Owen movie, Derailed.  He also played the thief in one of  the Ocean’s movies.  He was very, very evil in Derailed.  AND very, very agile in the Ocean’s movie.   Victor Cassel.  Enjoy!

Join us at Barbara’s blog for the vitual party.  We’re bringin the hot French men!   www.beyondherbook.com

EDITED to FIX this hunky dude’s name to the correct name:  VINCENT.  Sorry, mon ami.

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: The Phantom Hunk & the Countdown

Since we’re on the countdown to the Silken Sands Conference, Moonday’s Heroic Hunks in History blog will be short—or I should have said condensed because the statue of David is over 17 feet tall. The block of Carrara marble had lain incomplete in the Cathedral workshop in Florence for more than 25 years before Michelangelo Buonaroti was hired to finish the project in 1501. Originally intended as one of a series of biblical figures to adorn the pediments of the Cathedral, it was instead placed in the Piazza della Signori. In 1873, when the marble started to deteriorate, the statue was moved to the Accademia Gallery. David’s intense expression portrays the scene just before he joins battle with Goliath. There was no single male model for David. Michelangelo, who had a photographic memory, was notorious for using bits and pieces of models for different projects. David’s face—and a beautiful Italian face it is—is found, in reverse, on Michelangelo’s statue of Hercules. Since David is tall and stands on a pediment, the visitor’s eye-level view is not of the face but of other body parts.
       Now, for the conference chatter. Saturday (Mar 13th) was the final “pull everything together for the conference” meeting day. Cynthia Eden, our conference chair, had it all well-organized and the work went quickly. Everyone visited, while we worked or munched on pizza, veggies, fruit, and Fran’s deliciously fluffy dessert.
        I was relieved to discover that I was not the only one frantically working to pull all my personal stuff together for the conference. My website went up today for the first time (a virgin, no less). Check it out at ritavanfleet.com. Since I’m not published, it focuses on shopping the stories. When you click on a title, the link takes you to a page with a blurb, length and status statement and an excerpt or two. Network Solutions has a really nice web page development tool that allows you to edit whatever, whenever. I also made two-sided business cards to match the webpage.
       ANYWAY, I look forward to seeing everyone at the conference or at the booksigning Saturday afternoon. The booksigning will be a real budget-buster with more than 30 authors participating. (For more info, check out the Silken Sands page on the GCCRWA website.) SEE YOU THERE!!     RitaVF

Countdown to Conference Interview Six Agent Laura Bradford

Hello everyone. This morning I’ve posted agent Laura Bradford’s interview that she was nice enough to participate in. I know lots of people are interested to know what Ms. Bradford is looking for so here you go everyone and Ms. Bradford, thank you for participating.

 

Sayde:    Tell us what you think is hot and what’s not?

     Ms. Bradford

    Paranormal is still pretty hot.  I think that lots of publishers are happy to see interesting mashups that keep paranormal exciting and fresh.  Darker, more intense material has been easier to sell than lighter, frothy work lately, generally speaking.  I think straight contemporary romance is one of the tougher genres to sell right now, though there are a number of houses looking for contemporary romance/women’s fiction hybrids a la Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, Sheryll Woods or even Lisa Kleypas’ contemporaries.  Historical seems to be doing well, too though there are always settings and time periods that are easier to sell than others.  Example:  Civil War or Revolutionary War set American historicals and Native American-themed historicals are pretty tough to sell.  Regency and Victorian era-set European historicals are easier to sell. 

Sayde:    What types of work are you most interested in seeing at the 2010 Silken Sands Conference?

     Ms. Bradford

    I do more single title work than category, so that is my general preference, but I am really open to any romance subgenre except for inspirational.  I also handle mystery, thrillers, women’s fiction, urban fantasy and young adult.

           Sayde:    This question goes back to the “writer rumors”, but so many times I’ve heard that agents/editors will throw out a manuscript if they see grammatical errors. Personally, this is a huge one for me as I am grammatically challenged.  Many times authors will edit and edit then send to a contest and have their manuscript ripped to shreds because they used “ing”, “ly” or “was” to much for the judges liking. Do you look for these issues when reading requested material or is it more about the story?

 
    Ms. Bradford:
    I will notice those errors when I am reading, of course, but unless the material is so riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes that I suspect that the author didn’t bother to proofread at all, I can ignore them.  The voice and the characters are much more important to me than the fact that a few typos slipped through.  I am the world’s worst typist and my typing fingers and brain rarely communicate.  I understand as well as anybody that sometimes a few mistakes slip through.  I don’t judge that harshly on things that are that easy to correct if the rest of the work is rock solid.

 

           Sayde:    What is your opinion on emarket vs. traditional print? I know this is a hot topic and we all appreciate whatever comments you can give us.

 
          Ms. Bradford:

       They are just different animals.  Success in the ebook market can look like something very different than success in traditional print publishing.  The pay is different, the pace is different.  I do not think that all ebook publishers are created equal (same with traditional NY print publishers) and it is true that I regard certain epublishing credits differently depending on the publisher (same with NY publishers).  I know that it is possible to make 6 figures a year epublishing (or at least that was true a couple of years ago) just like I know it is possible to make 6 DOLLARS a year epublishing.  Any way an author can financially support herself through her writing whether she is epublished or traditionally print published, I think deserves respect.

          Sayde:    I know that when I am researching an agent or editor, I Google them, check their Facebook page, and tweet them. I read their posts and blogs.  I try to see if their tastes would lean toward my writing style or not. And I try to get a feel for their personality to see if we might “mesh well” if the opportunity ever arose. If you have a manuscript on your desk, do you ever check the same accounts for that author?  Do you ever check to see what he/she is posting? If so, have you been influenced by what you’ve learned?

 
    Ms. Bradford:

    Sometimes I look, sometimes I don’t.  I usually don’t until I am very close to making an offer of representation or else the author has told me she is previously published and I need to look up her credits.  I am mostly on the lookout for a lack of professionalism.  It is less important to me that you have an expensive, fancy-shmancy website (since lots of folks upgrade their websites when they make a sale anyway) than you comport yourself in a professional manner on your website and blog or on twitter etc.  I really don’t want to see an author discussing her sex life with her husband on her blog or bashing her fellow authors or shoving her polarizing political views down everyone’s throats.  I expect authors to treat their work as a business and to exhibit good judgment.  If the Author in question is published and known to travel in the same circles as any of my clients, I will even sometimes ask those clients whether the author I am considering is a complete whackadoo or not. And yes, I have been influenced by what I have learned.

 

           Sayde:    If an author has queried you and you’ve rejected that query/partial and the author emails you asking for details on why you’ve rejected their ms, what is your process here? Do you give specific reasons on why the manuscript may not have been for you?

 
    Ms. Bradford:

    I am not a fan of authors emailing to ask why the material has been rejected after I pass on the material.  I might not remember, in the first place, even if it is only a couple of days later.  I get 700-1000 queries/submissions a month.  I do sometimes write specific, personal pass notes if it was something I was on the fence about or if I liked certain elements enough to warrant me asking for future submissions or a revision.  I write personal pass notes if it is for a submission I requested at a conference agent appointment.  Otherwise, I have a form rejection note.  If I have passed on material, however, I think it is perfectly acceptable for an author to send me a query for something different.  Just because I passed on your work doesn’t mean I passed on YOU forever.  I have signed plenty of authors on the second or third submission they sent me.  It happened just this week, in fact.

              Sayde:    As a final wrap up could you tell us some of your pet peeves in the industry? Or is there anything happening in the industry you’d care to comment on or discuss?  We’d love to hear some of your views and opinions on the state of the craft and the market.

 
          Ms. Bradford

Industry pet peeves?  I don’t really have a lot of those. Don’t send me a nastygram telling me what a tasteless jerk I am if I pass on your work.  I can do without those emails.  Attempt to follow the specific submission guidelines of the agent/editor you are querying.  In general, to close, I think that 2010 is going to suck a lot less than 2009 did as far as the publishing business goes.  I sense that publishers and editors are ready to start taking risks again.  Yay for that

Again, thank you to Ms. Bradford for this, I had no idea just how many queries she received a month WOW. What a busy lady and I will admit, yes I follow her on twitter and I believe it was last week when she wore her Captain Efficiency hat.  🙂 Go Ms. Bradford!

Countdown to Conference Interview Four, Agent Elaine Spencer

Hello everyone! Well I’m happy to report as of now the virus which has been kicking my tail is momentarily gone! I say momentarily because with two small children to pass it back to me I’m sure I’ll have it again! But for now I’ve got a bit of news before we get to todays interview. I found out Tuesday that my first publication, a short story through The Wild Rose Press, will hit the market May 7,2010! YAY!!! So now that edits and galleys are done its time to get back to writing!

But first its time to get to todays spotlight interview with Elaine Spencer of the Knight Agency! I know some of the lovely Sizzlers are pitching to Mrs. Spencer at the Silken Sands Conference(only about two weeks away!!!) and I’ve tortured them with not telling them her answers to our interview questions so without further torment I give you all the interview:

 

Sayde: Tell us what you think is hot and what’s not. ?

        Mrs. Spencer:  Oooooh. I hate this question! Seriously, it’s the hardest way to start off an interview. (No offense intended!)

        This is such a subjective business though, and really, right now, where the market is, I don’t see it being about trends such as we’ve seen the last few years with the phases of paranormal or erotica or urban fantasy growth. Right now with the way that the market has tightened I think that the “hottest” new voices out there aren’t about falling into a particular subgenre. I think it’s much more about the voice and the overall concept. 

        Everyone, editors and agents, is still looking new talent and new voices. The excitement that exists when you stumble across that breakout submission is still just as grand as it always was. These days however the competition is thick and there’s less room for mid-performers, so what I’m really looking for are those outstanding voices and concepts that I know will be able to have a strong presence in the market as a debut.

        It’s the pitches I hear that are so unique and high concept that I know when I give a one-line to an editor they’re going to be instantly hooked. And then of course the writing needs to stand up to the promise of the idea. I think the hottest trends are those that appeal to a wide audience and don’t necessarily pigeonhole themselves into one corner, those that will pull readers from several different subgenres.

 

Sayde: What types of work are you most interested in seeing at the 2010 Silken Sands Conference?

 

        Mrs. Spencer: Projects that are ready to be pitched. Seriously, the number one hang up I have is when someone meets with me and tries to sell me on a project simply because I happen to be there at this moment, not because the project is complete and ready for submission.

        I would love to find a great contemporary voice, something smart and witty but not mindless. I love heroines that are real “badasses” but still totally relatable and loveable. I would give anything for a GREAT new romantic suspense, something that would be start of a really compelling series perhaps. Also, compelling women’s fiction, something that gets you involved and not only takes over all of your emotions, but also makes you think, something like Kristin Hannah or Jodi Piccoult. I’m a bit over the paranormal and urban fantasy at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the door is closed. The most recent project I found in my submission box was a paranormal that was wicked smart and when I saw it I knew THIS has potential.( Sayde: I actually know this author, if it’s the same one who recently signed with Mrs. Spencer and yes it is a wicked smart book!! Congrats!) I would love to find a few series authors, these books never stop being fun and I love that when I sit down I know what I’m going to get. Really, I’m wide open, there’s very little I can think of that I don’t want. Westerns. I’m not a western girl. Sorry.

Sayde: This question goes back to the “writer rumors”, but so many times I’ve heard that agents/editors will throw out a manuscript if they see grammatical errors. Personally, this is a huge one for me as I am grammatically challenged.  Many times authors will edit and edit then send to a contest and have their manuscript ripped to shreds because they used “ing”, “ly” or “was” to much for the judges liking. Do you look for these issues when reading requested material or is it more about the story?

 

        Mrs. Spencer: My answer on this one is both. We all know that as a writer there is always room for improvement. Every writer has their ticks, the areas they struggle with, the things that they will continuously improve on as they grow. I don’t expect to find manuscripts that are spic-and-span clean all of the time.

        Here’s the thing. The hang-ups/errors can NOT be distracting to me as a reader. If I can’t get through passages and pages because of these errors, then it doesn’t matter how good the concept is, you’re not ready to be a published author and you need to devote more time to your craft. Editors these days are just stretched too thin and their lists are too large to devote to clean up the way they once did, and it’s not my greatest strength either, so I’m not going to be the best back up. If you have a problem with pronoun usage, and I can say “Hey, you need to sweet this manuscript looking for this specifically” then we might be OK. That’s a targeted thing that we can work through in revisions.

        To be blunt, in my mind grammatical errors (as opposed to technical errors) shows a lack of attention. If I see it when I’m reading I think to myself, “Now why didn’t you see that, or your proofreader, or critique partner.” It indicates that you haven’t really polished your manuscript. Rule of thumb, one or two, no big deal, any more, it starts to be something you have to make up for in other areas.

Sayde: What is your opinion on emarket vs. traditional print? I know this is a hot topic and we all appreciate whatever comments you can give us.

                Mrs. Spencer: I think that the emarket is a good thing. It’s opening up more ways to reach new readers and ultimately we will sell more books. For now our main concern needs to be laying the groundwork that makes sure everyone is receiving quality product at a quality price. And that all parties are being compensated fairly throughout the process. That is the primary focus right now of the Authors Guild and the AAR and other organizations that are being established to help act as these watchdog groups. Attentiveness to the change is crucial, in some instances if you miss a day you miss a lot. It is every author’s responsibility to be on the lookout for all of the new information being made available. To be searching for articles and websites devoted to keeping people abreast of the changes, if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t doing all you can to be an active participant in this industry and you will quickly find yourself left behind.

                 Additionally with all of these new avenues available there are going to be parties that are trying to take advantage of the changes and we are at risk for some major quality control issues. I think that’s something we all can help caution against. We are our own best advocates for demanding quality products and making sure that the ebooks we’re reading are being distributed and purchased through fair conduits. 

 

Sayde: I know that when I am researching an agent or editor, I Google them,  check their Facebook page, and tweet them. I read their posts and blogs.  I try to see if their tastes would lean toward my writing style or not. And I try to get a feel for their personality to see if we might “mesh well” if the opportunity ever arose. If you have a manuscript on your desk, do you ever check the same accounts for that author?  Do you ever check to see what he/she is posting? If so, have you been influenced by what you’ve learned?

        Mrs. Spencer: Sometimes I do. It’s not common, but every once in awhile if I find some interesting spark or something I want to know more about I’ll go out and search for more information. Really this is just an exercise in efficiency, the information I’m searching for is info I would otherwise ask about on the phone or during a meeting, but having the internet just makes it more instantly available as opposed to having to wait to have that conversation. Really the only thing I’m looking for is a level of professionalism. I could care less if your blog is 100% devoted to your husband and your cat, as long as it doesn’t do anything to harm your craft or your marketability, then its professional enough for me. And on the same token, if I see very black and white writing specific information posted, I could care less about the actual content of this information as long as it isn’t offensive in any way or affecting to your chances of selling.

        And then, the honest truth, sometimes when I’m hunting around on the internet, well it’s for the same reasons that you would. Because I’m human and humans are nosy. And the plethora of networking sites have opened up an avenue that makes us feel entitled to information that really isn’t any of our business. But hey, if it’s out there, and I’m interested in you, yeah I’m going to look. If I don’t, someone else is, and then I’m at the disadvantage. Perhaps it’s not ok to admit that, but really, I think we can all agree it’s true.

Sayde: If an author has queried you and you’ve rejected that query/partial and the author emails you asking for details on why you’ve rejected their ms, what is your process here? Do you give specific reasons on why the manuscript may not have been for you?

        Mrs. Spencer: I can’t help but feel guilty every time, but typically I just hit delete. Sometimes I want to help the author and so I leave the email in my inbox for a few days, before I know it I’m consumed with other issues and so the email ultimately meets the same fate. I wish I could offer more constructive criticism but once you open this door it just opens you up to such demands that will quickly become overwhelming. Plus, when you start to offer specifics you’ll quickly run into authors that are combative and argumentative. It’s just not worth it – and it gets too personal too quickly, especially for professionals that don’t have those transcending relationships yet.

        In my rejections I personally try to offer something, it’s always vague, but I’ll say if it’s the writing I didn’t love, or the voice, or the characters, or the pacing – again, VERY broad, but at least something that makes it personalized to the individual stories weaknesses.

 

Thank you so much for participating in the interview Mrs. Spencer we appreciate your time. I know several authors who will be chomping at the bit now waiting for conference. I would also like to announce that last weeks winner of the Gift card for Cat Johnson’s interview was commenter Miranda. Please email me with your email address so I can get this to you. You may contact me at saydegrace@gmail.com.

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