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Friday, May 6, 2011

QueryTrackers Making Tracks, #7


Today is installment number seven of my Friday series on successful authors from QueryTracker. Some of my guests have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But one thing they all have in common is the utilization of the QueryTracker website to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

I'd like to welcome Veronica Canfield who recently signed with agent Louise Fury of L. Perkins Agency . You can find her QueryTracker success interview here.

Welcome Veronica, to the interview box.

Veronica: First of all thank you for having me as a guest. I feel like a cool, professional author promoting my book rather than a harried mom trying to herd my son into the bath and push the cat off my keyboard. By the way, any typos, mistakes or ridiculous statements, I blame on the cat…or my son.

AGH: LOL. I totally understand, and promise to overlook anything that marks you as remotely human. So, what genre(s) do you write?

Veronica: I am generally drawn to paranormal/supernatural/magical realism for young adults. Give me a good vampire girl meets werewolf boy story any day. I work with teens as a behavior specialist, so I have enough real teen-aged drama in my life already.

AGH: Could you give us a quick summary of the book which snagged your agent?

Veronica: I’d love to. Here’s the query.

Armed with a snarky attitude and a bag full of dollar store mirrors, seventeen-year-old Jenna Gray catches and relocates lost and troublesome ghosts. Ghost rescue does have its problems, such as getting stuck with a spirit named Edwin—a gender confused, eighteenth-century, English drama queen, with a penchant for cross-dressing. That’s what happens when you bring home ghost strays…you get haunted by a diva.

Sure, being able to see ghosts is pretty cool, but hanging with dead people can put a serious dent in Jenna’s social life. Things start looking up when Colin Rees, an über hot transfer student, takes an interest in Jenna. She may be on her way to finding love.

When high school girls are found murdered and Jenna’s ghost friends begin disappearing, Jenna learns a group of Goth students dabbling in the occult has unwittingly unleashed a demon from hell. Now Jenna's abilities are drawing the demon to her and somehow Colin seems to be connected to it all. With the help of her BFF Eva, and her self-proclaimed BGF (best ghost forever) Edwin, Jenna’s determined to reveal the demon’s identity, find a way to defeat it and prevent herself from becoming the next victim—all before her 11:00 pm curfew.

AGH: Awesome query! This book sounds so fun. How long did you query it, and what were your stats?

Veronica: I queried for about 4 1/2 months—September ‘10 to January ‘11. Louise, my agent, was the 12th query I sent out and that was in my third week of querying. She was very enthusiastic, but due to time constraints she didn’t read my manuscript until the end of December and she offered representation in January. So really, it was my 12th query that got me my agent.

93 queries sent

19 requests for partials or fulls

Lots of rejections and no replies, but it only takes that one agent who loves your work.

AGH: So true about getting just one yes. What inspired your book idea?

Veronica: Last summer I decided to trunk my first manuscript until I was ready to do some serious rewriting. It’s a deeper, darker young adult novel that took a few years to write so for a change I wanted to try something fluffy and fun. I was lounging around at home, half watching Discovery channel or TLC, can’t remember which, when a show came on called “The Haunting”. It’s sort of a reenactment of hauntings with interviews of the haunting victims. I wondered why ghosts never seem to be fun and playful. I took it to the next level. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a snarky ghost in the house that drives you bananas, but is also like your best friend? Hmm, you’d have to be able to see ghosts all the time though. And wouldn’t it be fun to have little tips explaining the ghost terms, like it was a handbook for a wannabe ghost hunters? That was the start of the novel.

AGH: How did you come up with the title?

Veronica: I wanted something light and funny so the reader would know what to expect from the novel. I knew I wanted the word “handbook” or “guide” in it because of the ghost tips. Ghosts are a major part of the novel, so that was easy to include. “Boys” seemed to be necessary for the romance part. And “Other Weird Things” pretty much covered all the other paranormal elements in the book. So I ended up with A Girl’s Guide to Ghosts, Boys and Other Weird Things. I apologize to boys everywhere for putting them in the category of “weird things”, but to girls, boys are pretty much an enigma and vice versa.

One of my author friends on the Backspace forum suggested A Girl’s Guide to Ghosts, Boys and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night. I got a laugh out of that because the idea of boys going bump in the night was…interesting.

AGH: Haha. Okay, I was thinking that your friend's suggestion would’ve been a great title before your … clarification. How many other books had you tried to query before you signed with your agent?

Veronica: I queried one other book, which I am still very fond of, but it needs work.
AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?

Veronica: It’s hard to say, I read such a wide variety of authors. But when it comes to writing, I’m defiantly more influenced by the young adult authors such as Karen Cushman, Meg Cabot, Lois Duncan, Lois Lowry and Roald Dahl. But I did get some inspiration for the fun, snarky voice of a Girl’s Guide from authors like Katie MacAlister, Helen Fielding and Charlaine Harris.

However, I think everything you read eventually influences how you write.

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it help you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?

Veronica: I think I read about QT on one of the “Top Sites for Writers”, but I can’t remember exactly. I can say with confidence I don’t think I could have done it without QT. It is such a fabulous resource. When I was sending out snail mail queries, I had such a hard time keeping track of who I contacted, when, which query I sent, their response, etc. Becoming a premium member of QT resolved all those problems. The database is a life saver for tracking everything and the forum members are very supportive.

AGH: Have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers, something you wish you'd known in the beginning?

Veronica: Really work on that query and send it out first to the people lower on your wish list. Chances are, you’re going to have to tweak the query and you don’t want to “waste” a contact on a less than perfect query. Also, make sure you polish, polish, polish! I’m lucky that my agent liked my story enough to look past the rough spots. When I went back to make the changes she suggested, I realized my MS was NOT ready to be queried. I found typos, some poorly constructed sentences, a few continuity problems and a lot of unnecessary words. It really needed to be polished again, and that was after having already gone through it no less than six times. I also wish I had known about the technology resources that have made the process easier: Querytracker for tracking queries and the supportive forum, Natural Reader for having your MS read back to you—helps with typos, Dropbox for keeping all the changes to your MS and having access to it whenever you need it and Autocrit to tighten your MS.
AGH: Wonderful tips, thank you! I didn’t know about Natural Reader or Dropbox. Linked up now. So, are you involved in any new projects you can tell us about?

Veronica: Book two of A Girl’s Guide. Finding out I was already working on the second book with the intention of a series is what sealed the deal for my agent. It’s what she already had in mind when she read my MS.


**Five for fun**

AGH: In your opinion, what was the best thing before sliced bread?

Veronica: The bread itself. I LOVE carbs—tortillas, bread, bagels, pita bread. Yum. Who needs sliced bread anyway? A big ol’ hunk of steamy, sour dough bread, all crusty on the outside and soft on the inside has the same amount of calories as a slice of Wonder bread anyway, right?

AGH: Which would you rather do: carry an umbrella or sing in the rain?

Veronica: Sing in the rain. I have curly hair with a mind of its own. Once the humid weather hits it, any semblance of style is gone. I may as well sing in the rain, since an umbrella won’t help in the vanity department.

AGH: Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

Veronica: I am a true animal lover so I am Team Dog and Team Cat, Team Hamster, Team Llama, Team Gecko, Team Everything Animal, except Team Bug.

AGH: If you could morph into any food, what kind would you become and why?

Veronica: Honey—it’s smooth, sweet, golden and practically lasts forever. It’s been found in Egyptian tombs and was still tasty after thousands of years (I want to know who lost the bet that persuaded that person to try two-thousand year old honey). How could you go wrong with something made of flower nectar and is barfed up by bees?

AGH: When would you go to if you had a time machine, and why?

Veronica: I think I would go back to the early eighties so I could buy lots of Microsoft and Apple stock. Then my family would be set and I could write full time. It’s sort of a selfish wish, but I’d give money to charity to offset my capitalistic desires.

~~~

Thank you for the interview, Veronica! And you taught me something. I never knew people sampled the honey found in Egyptian tombs. *supresses gag reflex* Heh.

Visit Veronica's website to stay abreast of news and announcements. It's a great site! There's even a question and answer section where you can interact with Edwin, the cross-dressing English drama queen ... ahem.. king. ;)
Congrats, Veronica, on all of your successes so far, and I wish you much luck and happiness as you climb to the shelves.

Everyone else, have a wonderful, safe, and relaxing weekend!

Although I'm not here to answer comments today (having some outpatient surgery), if you have questions for Veronica -- or would like to show her your support -- please feel free to leave comments below for her to enjoy. I'll stop in later this weekend to answer any left for me.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you Veronica Canfield for sharing your story. And double kudos to Anita for posting it.

    This is the first time that I have a clear idea of the typical length of the query process and how many queries vs partial request ratios. I know it will vary but its a good general idea of how long the process can be.

    I think as an aspiring author, understanding the process helps the nerves tremendously.

    So thank you to both lovely ladies for shedding some light.

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  2. Great post, and an excellent query! Congrats Veronica on your success and nailing that query.

    On the honey issue - yeah, I er... knew that. *nerd factor goes up by ten*

    :)

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  3. Wow this book sounds like so much fun! And Louise Fury is a doll--I met her at DFW Writers Conf and she was so charming. YOu are in good hands Veronica!

    I will definitely be on the lookout for this book, love it!

    Thanks for the spotlight Anita

    Have a great weekend everyone :-)

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  4. The book sounds like tons of fun Veronica! I can't wait to read it :) Great interview Anita, hope everything went well this morning!!

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  5. A girl who loves carbs & who writes books with fantastic titles and an engaging premise...I'm in love!

    By the way, my scientist boss' grandfather, also a scientist, invented the chemical compound used in making Wonder Bread. No lie. He also invented Desonex. If he was still alive, I'd ask for his help with an agent...

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  6. Veronica,

    Funny premise! Your book sounds like a great read. I also enjoyed hearing your story of how the query process went for you. I love seeing stats that shows it's not instantaneous, not for most people.

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  8. Thanks for all the kind words. Querying is different for everyone. Some people get multiple offers in the first batch of ten. Some get one offer after a year. If you are not getting any bites, get some critique help by posting at writing forums like Query Tracker. My query represents about 10 hours of rewriting, pondering and critiquing from two forums. Good luck to all. Anita, love your "Alice" story idea. Looking forward to getting my hands on a copy when it comes out.

    BTW, I just started a website @ ghostwalkergirl.wordpress.com. Check it out!

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  9. Veronica, your query has stellar voice! I'm betting the book is just as equally impressive. Congrats! This looks like a really fun read. ;)

    Anita, great interview as always. Take care and I pray you have a swift recovery. The blogosphere seems different with your absence. <3

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  10. This was great. I really enjoyed the interview and your approach to it. I learnt a lot as well as being entertained: always a great combination

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  11. Still loving the sound of this book and the inspiration behind the idea. And the title. Man, I sound like such a kiss-ass. Thanks for the awesome interview, Anita. Now I need to go check out Veronica's site.
    - Sophia.

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  12. Sophie Li~ It's true, right? It helps to know not everyone hits their agent right off the bat. It's inspirational to see how many agents were hit before finally getting one. Thnx for stopping by!

    Hey there Mindy! Thanks. :) And I happen to think nerds are VERY cool. LOL

    Rachel~ Hi there! You're welcome. And thanks for stopping by. That's so cool the you met Victoria's agent.

    Hello, Kerri! My surgery went great and I'm feeling pretty good today. It's so nice to have that pain in my ribs gone.

    Bethany, LOL! That's some cool Wonder Bread trivia there. ;)

    Jenny girl, hey there!It is an inspiration seeing how she never gave up. That's a lot of queries she had out.

    Hello, Cherie! I agree about Veronica's voice. It's no wonder she had all of those requests. And you're so sweet to say that about the blogasphere! I'm back today, but doubt I'll do any tweeting. Still waiting til Monday to do that. But I'll try to hit a few blogs in the interim.

    Sophia~ Hi! That title does rock, doesn't it? You're welcome, and thank you for stopping in. Have fun at the site. :)

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  13. Hey there countingducks.You have an amazing username. LOL Thanks for the lovely comments, and for stopping by!

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  14. Yes, Anita. Just wanted to thank you for posting this, and to Veronica for a super, constructive interview. There's some valuable snippets in there.

    And hope your surgery went well. Take it easy

    warm wishes
    D

    x

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  15. Thanks Bluestocking Mum. Surgery went great, and I appreciate your thoughts and your visit!

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  16. Loved this. Both of you are fabulous.

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  17. Veronica, thanks for sharing! I love your honesty. May all your dreams come true.

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