Friday, September 2, 2011

Query Trackers Making Tracks, #12

Today is installment number twelve 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, Miss Bethany Crandell, wears many hats. She's known as: #shakiragoat,
, or Rookstar on twitter, and BethanyMC on QT, or just good ol' Bethany over at her Rookie Riter blog. But underneath all those hats is the secret to her witty cynicism and hysterical charm: she has a brain hamster who keeps her creative wheels turning. And he's quite good at his job, considering Bethany has recently signed with agent Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services. Click here for her success story on QT.

This interview is extra-special to my heart because over the course of the past few months, Bethany and I have become very dear friends. It's almost like I'm having her over to the house for the first time, so I'm all nervous and aflutter trying to get the dusting done  and the cobwebs swiped away (ergo the huge award post last week). Now that the big day has finally arrived, I'll push up the special chair for her,

Offer her a margarita, and once she's all comfy-cozy, we'll settle in for the interview.

AGH: Welcome Bethany! Could you give us a quick summary of the book which snagged your agent?
BC: SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS: After a botched party attempt at the country club, seventeen-year-old Cricket has been sentenced to work as a counselor at a summer camp in Western Michigan. As if being left for dead in mosquito country with limited cell coverage isn’t bad enough, she learns that Camp I Can isn’t just an ordinary summer camp. It’s a camp for disabled teens. What she learns about herself, and her differently-abled campers, after three weeks of handicapped hell is inspiring, funny and life-changing. 

Side note: I’m the mother of a special needs kiddo, so I’m personally connected to this topic. This isn’t a book with a message. It’s just a story about people being real—P.C. be gone!

AGH: Before you signed with your agent, how many books had you tried to query?
BC: One. STALKING PEGGY FLEMMING was my first attempt at a novel. I had no idea what I was doing. It's actually a pretty good story, but it needs some special lovin’ that I am not prepared to give right now.

AGH: What were the responses to those queries (stat-wise: fulls, partials, etc.)?
BC: Actually, not bad for a first effort. As I recall, I had a handful of partials and six or seven requests for the full. (I think I sent out about 90 queries). Most of the feedback was the same, though. Great concept, strong voice, but they didn’t know how to market it. The protag is 17 but the story is set in the late 1980s. A contemporary YA is usually current—was it YA? Was it women’s fiction? Oh the drama. J 

SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS was around 90 queries, too. I think there were a total of 12 requests for the full over ~6 months of query time.

AGH: What genre(s) do you write?
BC: Based on my answer to question #3 I’m probably not in any position to answer that. *hee* I write YA, and that’s what I considered the first novel to be, too.

AGH: What inspired your very first book idea?
BC: Growing up the youngest daughter to a Christian Reformed minister, I was well aware that the world’s expectations of who I should be didn’t mirror who I was. Thankfully my parents didn’t subscribe to that notion. I was given a ton of freedom to be myself—no matter how contradictory to my dad’s profession that seemed to the outside world. That’s ultimately what led to my first novel—the idea of what it would be like to have your parents wish you were someone else. STALKING PEGGY FLEMMING was about a girl whose mother was so obsessed with a former Olympian that she raised her to be just like her—instead of letting her be who she was.

AGH: How do you come up with titles?
BC: Usually while under my hair dryer. It’s true. I have a whole lot of hair, and my Revlon Ion Pro Stylist (I’m hoping to get paid for product placement someday) provides the perfect combination of solitude and white noise. I do my best thinking under there.

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?
BC: The first book I remember falling in love with was LORD OF THE FLIES. We read it freshman year of high school. I remember feeling anxious and uncomfortable while I read that—how chaotic it became when the boys started turning on each other, and then when they dropped the rock on Piggy…Poor Piggy! But as shocking as it was, it was also incredibly liberating. Up until then my reading fixes were through safer books: Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, etc., but that book allowed me entrance into a world that felt a little dangerous, but because it was on paper, I knew it was safe.

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it help you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?
BC: I was having a private Google party one day and stumbled upon it. I used QT with my first book, but was too insecure about what I was doing to dare comment and actually “engage” in conversations with other writer’s about my book. (I didn’t even dare call myself a writer at that point.) As the rejections came in, and my skin grew nice and thick, I started revising, going to conferences, working with a writing coach, and then I got some courage to put myself out there. QT was the perfect format for that. When I was ready to query THE SHORT BUS I dove in head first; engaging with other writers, following comments, searching for new agents, looking up stats.

Bottom line: QT was a great place for me to get comfortable being a writer.

AGH: Have you recently learned anything about the business side of publishing that you can share with up and coming writers?
BC: I’ve learned that agents aren’t evil, manuscript-hating trolls who feast on the dreams of hopeful authors for dinner. They’re actually cool people who want your book to be as successful as you do. (Who knew?!)

AGH: Do you have any current news to announce?
BC: We are officially on submission. So far it’s going very well.

                                     **Five for fun**

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

BC: This is a toss-up. Either the DVR or guacamole.

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

BC: I have LARGE hair. (My fro was frisked by airport security—no lie) Venturing out without an umbrella is completely out of the question. I’d be targeted as a terrorist for sure.
AGH: What’s your favorite breakfast?

BC: Mmm…maple & brown sugar oats topped with blue & blackberries with a banana on the side.
AGH: Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?
BC: I have no use for a cat. I have a nine-year-old daughter. If I’m in the mood to be ignored, glared at, or judged for things I’ve yet to do—I will just barge into her bedroom. GO TEAM DOG, WOOF!
AGH: Drinking tea … pinky up, or heavy on the Long Island?
BC: Neither. Pinkies will be wrapped around the beer bottle right beside the other fingers.


Thank you for the interview, Bethany! LOL about the airport security frisking your hair. That would actually make a hilarious scene in a book. ;D 

Don’t forget to visit Bethany’s blog and follow her on twitter to stay abreast of news and announcements. Also, please leave her any questions, comments, or kudos below. I know she'll be thrilled to see them!
Bethany, I'm so excited your book is on sub, and hope the submission trail is short and lucrative for you! I wish you every success. Everyone else, have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you next week.


  1. Another great Query Tracker making Tracks!

  2. Another good interview! I too think the DVR is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Seriously. I think I'd go without heat (and I live in Michigan) before giving up my DVR ;o)

    Your on submission?!?! Woo-hoo! Congrats and best of luck, friend! :o)

  3. Congrats! I love query tracker too. Awesome interview.

  4. Great interview, as always, Anita.

    Hello, Bethany (*waves*). Congrats on your agent and good luck on your submission process. I'd love to get a chance to read your book--the premise is fantastic. I have a special needs kiddo as well.

  5. "Evil, manuscript-hating trolls," OMG - must control bladder, laughter too much! Great post, and a big congrats!

  6. Guacamole or DVR. Do we have to choose?

  7. Hey, everybody! Thanks for stopping by.

    First, a big thanks to Anita for her hospitality. The marg was just the way I like it, on the rocks--no salt, and the chair was to-die-for!! So comfy :)

    @Janesadek, thanks for stopping by! QT is so awesome, we must all sing its praises!

    @Ang, I'm not saying FOR SURE, but if it came down to a ransom situation where the kidnappers wanted my DVR for my husband's safety--I'm pretty sure I'd have to see what was on the line up for HBO that week before I made my decision.

    @Miss Arroyo, thanks! Anita's questions' were fun to answer. Glad you enjoyed it.

    @Marybk--Thanks for your encouragement--good vibes always needed. I didn't realize you had special-needs kiddo, too. I'd love to chat w/you about that some time. I'll swing by your blog this weekend and send you a message.

    @Kathryn--If I'm being honest, I had a lot worse names for them than that! ;) Thanks!

  8. @Tina,
    We should not have to choose! I don't care which party they represent. If during the next election someone can promise me unlimited guacamole & bigger DVR hard drives, they have my vote!

  9. HAHAHAHAHAHA ... you sure Bethany isn't a stand-up comic on the side? She's hysterical!

    Many congrats to Bethany and thanks so much to Anita for jump-starting the QT series on such a zinger! It really is entertaining as well as informative. And as an aspiring author it allows me the luxury of living vicariously for a little while.

    So thanks & thanks to Bethany & Anita! <3

  10. Oh my gosh, I love this interview for so many reasons! Two of my very favorite bloggers teamed up to announce such exciting news... Woohooo! This is also the first time I've heard what your book is about, Bethany, and it sounds awesome! The title alone is fantastic!

  11. Great interview! Congrats the Bethany! I've been seeing her around on QT for a while and it's always fun to see a fellow QTer succeed. :)

  12. Oh Bethany is so funny - now I cannot wait to read her book. I'll be crossing fingers, toes and eyes for it to get picked up!
    I guess my knownledge of QT needs some refreshing - thanks for the interview, Anita:)

  13. Great interview ladies! And, to echo Anita's well wishes good luck with the sub process Bethany, your book sounds AWESOME! Wishing you a super fast sale!!!! Happy weekend :)

  14. I'm so excited for you, rookstar!! You so deserve this good fortune my friend for you are a talented writer with a lot of heart (and hair). Love love love to you! <3

  15. @Sophie, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, all my best material was used on this interview. I'm utterly boring now.

    @LisaAnn, Hello my dolphin-loving friend! Nice to see you. Anita and I had a good time doing this together. She's a lovely hostess.

    @Janet, Hi there! Nice to see you outside the QT walls.

    @D&D: First off--sweet handle. Secondly, crossed-eyes are the BEST luck. I have some at my house and lots in my book--bring 'em on!

    @KerriM, would be great, but I'd be happy with speed limit, too ;)

    @Cherie, Thanks for all the lovin' and hugs. You are my favorite purple pal. Love you, too!

  16. Great interview! The storyline for this book sounds awesome. I can't wait to read it!

  17. Thanks everyone for stopping by and cheering on Bethany! It's been a pleasure and an honor having her here. And her book is every bit as wonderful as it sounds, to that I can attest!

  18. never would have thought hair dryers could be so thought provoking. cool interview.

  19. Me love me some Bethany! Goat power, sister! I think you are hiding a bumpit under that hair. Come on, confess!

  20. Wonderful interview! Your book sounds great. Best wishes while you're submitting. :-)

  21. @Augila, I know...right?! White noise is my best friend ;)

    @Phreshy...does a bumpit wear flip-flops and drink margaritas? Cause if they do...then yes, I've got one of those under there.

    Thank you!! This was fun. I'm eager to read your beautiful book in the near future ;)

  22. Thank you for the interview, Anita!
    You were a wonderful hostess. I'm never leaving.

    Love you!