Friday, March 2, 2012

Query Trackers Making Tracks, #17

Today is installment number seventeen of my "First Friday of the Month" 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.

Today’s guest,
Ryan Graudin, is a very accomplished lady. She majored in writing in both high school (attended a a fine arts school) and college. She's also been a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, working around 45 hours a week while still fitting in time to write. To say I'm impressed by that feat would be an understatement. Her official QueryTracker success story can be found here.

Welcome to the interview box, Ryan!  

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

RG: Luminance Hour is the story of a Faery named Emrys who finds herself forced to guard the partying Prince of England from soul feeders (ie. Spirits who prey on mortals). She soon finds that she has very un-Fae-like feelings for him. There are also assassins and paparazzi in the mix.

AGH: Before you signed with your agent, how many books had you tried to query?

RG: I queried a YA urban fantasy for about a year before I finally threw in the towel and started trying to find representation for this project.

AGH: What were the responses to those queries (stat-wise: fulls, partials, etc.)?

RG: For my first book I sent around 200 queries and got 2 partial requests. (Yes, you read that right). For Luminance Hour I sent about 66 queries, got 12 requests (I can’t remember how many fulls vs. partials) and 2 offers for representation.

AGH: What genre(s) do you write?

RG: I write Young Adult novels with fantastical slants (paranormal/urban fantasy). They usually have a good bit of romance in them as well.

AGH: What inspired your very first book idea?

RG: I can’t even really remember… I’ve been dreaming up stories ever since I was really little. For Luminance Hour, the inspiration actually came out of a submission to a short story anthology. It was an anthology that called for “sexy, modern” portrayals of faeries. I started thinking about it an thought it would be interesting to write a story from the perspective of a modern-day Faery Godmother.

AGH: How do you come up with titles?

RG: I don’t. (Ha!) I’m actually really terrible at titles and it’s likely that Luminance Hour is only a working title. It was originally called Godmother, but it wasn’t “sexy” enough for a teen audience (I have since removed all references to Godmothers in the manuscript too!). I really love poetic titles, but it’s hard to come up with one that it both poetic and commercial!

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?

RG: I’m a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. I was also really blown away by Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I love writing that is lyrical and poetic and carries weight. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I studied and wrote lots of literary fiction in high school and college.

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

RG: I found QueryTracker just through a Google search. The forums there really helped me figure out what I was doing with my query letter and how I should mold it into something better! I also discovered a lot of agents through the listings and kept an amazing record of everything.

AGH: Have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers?

RG: There is a lot of waiting involved in the publishing process. Be prepared to be patient. (This coming from one of the least patient people ever, just ask my husband.) Also, interact with your audience! Be active online by blogging, tweeting, tumbling and pinning (and whatever else is out there!). When you take the time to talk to people they will become loyal.

AGH: Have you been given a release date for your book yet, and do you have any other current news to announce?

RG: Sadly no. It is still ambiguously Summer 2013…

***Five for fun***

1)      In your opinion, what was the best thing before sliced bread?

RG: Caffeine. I don’t know how the world survived without it. How did people wake up with the sun? (I still can’t, even with a triple espresso).

2)      What’s your favorite breakfast?

RG: When I was a teenager I went with my parents to Paris and we stayed in a hotel where the breakfast was fresh croissants and thick, creamy hot chocolate every morning. It was the best thing ever. A close second? Pumpkin pancakes. Third? Hominy grits with cheese and butter. (As you can tell I loooove breakfast).

3)      Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

RG: Team Alaskan Malamute. I love them and I want one oh so badly. Perhaps one day when we don’t live in a hobbit-hole of an apartment.

4)      When would you go to if you had a time machine, and why?

RG: Oh wow. What a tough question. I think I would have to choose the 1940s. I’ve always been really fascinated by the history surrounding WWII and the great men who lived in that time. I’d probably go to England and try to crash a meeting of The Inklings.

5)   Drinking tea … pinky up, or heavy on the Long Island?

RG: Depends on the time of day! I love Earl Grey and Jasmine tea for mornings and afternoons. And Long Islands… let’s save those for a bit later in the evening!


Thank you for the interview, Ryan. Jasmine tea is one of my favorites, too! And I sure hope you get to keep your working title. Luminance has always been one of my favorite words. It's so lovely and evocative. 

To our readers, please feel free to offer support and kudos to Ryan in the comments. Also, you can follow her publishing star on the internet:

Hope to see you next Monday for some poetry, and have a safe and productive weekend!


  1. Loved the interview, ladies! And congrats on Summer 2013, Ryan! What exciting stuff... I am so happy for you!

  2. 200?! Wow.

    Your perseverance is amazing. I'm definitely impressed and REALLY interested in the book you have coming out!

    1. Thanks, Tristina! Yeah, 200 queries was a lot, and it was very discouraging after a while, but I had no choice but to keep trying! Quitting wasn't an option. I hope you enjoy Luminance Hour when it hits the shelves!

    2. Inspired by your persistence and I wish you the very best with 'Luminance Hour.' You've earned your success.

      Well done.

  3. Thanks for the inspiration, Ryan and congrats! (My daughter's name is Ryan, btw. Love it!)

    1. Thanks! As I've gotten older I've really grown attached to my name. It's definitely unique. :)

  4. Lisa~ Thanks for stopping by!

    Tristina~ I'm pretty excited about this one, too. Love the premise!

    Laura~ My son's name is Ryan, so I'm pretty partial to that name myself! :)

    Ryan~ Thank you again for doing the interview! That's interesting about the fairy godmother not being sexy. I guess that's true. There's a stigma because of the Cinderella fairy tale that they're cute little old, roly poly witches. :)

    1. Thanks so much for having me, Anita! And yes, I'm pretty sure that Disney's version of Cinderella had much to do with unsexyfying (yes, I just made that word up) godmothers. Can't fight the tide on that one!

  5. I adore Ryan and I think Luminance Hour is going to be fantastic. Although I'm so curious as to what you replaced Godmother with....?

    1. It's still up in the air (aka editor's hands). But I've had some fun playing around with Old English terminology and coming up with compounds. We'll see if it sticks!

  6. I love this success story! Congratulations, Ryan. It will be fun to read the book and know its history! I'll be interested in the godmother replacement too. :)

  7. Thanks, Melissa! I hope you enjoy it... whatever the terminology will turn out to be!

  8. Genn, thanks for stopping by! I'm also very curious, considering Ryan's been dabbling in Old English etymology. :)

    Melissa~ It is a wonderful tribute to tenacity, isn't it? And such a great premise! Thanks for coming by. :)

  9. Congrats Ryan! Your book sounds awesome, I definitely can't wait to add it to my must read list. Anita, you are so rocktastic for hosting such wonderful interviews! :)

    High-fives you both for a kick-butt post.

  10. Thanks for keeping up these very encouraging posts.

    1. I'm glad I could be an encouragement! Keep writing!

  11. Congrats, Ryan! You are a shining example of how persistence pays off! And if you're going back to 1940--take me with you!! Like you, I'm totally fascinated by that period of time. (My home decor is my proof!!)

    Another great interview, lovely!

    1. Thanks, Bethany! There's just something about the epic scope of WWII and the greatness of the people embroiled in that time that really intrigues me. Also a world without so much technology would be very interesting to explore...

  12. Kerri~ Hifive backatya, twinkstah!

    Jane~ And thank you for supporting the authors!

    Rookstar~ Nice to see you, lovely.