Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kathleen Rushall Interview Part 2 and Novel Contest Finalists!

We have our 10 finalists!! It was another HARD decision. I had 7 judges this time and we still had a huge tie so I had to call in the big dogs themselves for the tie breaker. Kathleen and Monica picked the final three. Thanks to everyone who entered, it has been an absolute blast blogfesting with you all! Please come back Friday and see who the winners are and wait no longer...
See all the finalists and their submissions after Kathleen's interview below!

We have had another list of AMAZING entries for the 200 Word Limit Novel Contest. Seriously! Even with 6 judges we still had some intense ties that have to be figured our. So while we are waiting on some finalizing of the votes for the week 4 blogfest novel contest, I am going to share with you the second part of Kathleen Rushall's interview. Kathleen is an agent with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and will also be picking a winner, along with agented writer Monica B.W., out of today's finalists.

She is open for submissions, so read about her, and if she sounds like a good fit for you, check out her submission guidelines over at Marsal Lyon.

If you'd like to read part 1 go here.

And now I give you part 2...

DB: In your opinion does it help a writer to have a platform and if so how?  Ex: bigger book deal, well known publishing house. 
KR: For nonfiction, absolutely: it’s actually a must. For nonfiction authors, I would say that your book should be looked at as an accessory to your platform, something you’d like to accompany your talks, seminars, program, etc., and not the other way around. However, for a fiction author, this is not the case. Although, an author who has some concept of how to market her/himself is always nice. Getting published for fiction vs. nonfiction are different games.

DB: Fiction writers, it sounds like your call on the platform. I think I'll stick with it since its so much fun:)
For those unpublished authors, is it important to have a college degree in writing or someone in the industry backing your manuscript? 

It can definitely help to have these, but no, I don’t think it’s a necessity. I do think it’s key for fiction authors to join an organization or community like Society of Children’s Book Writers (SCBWI), Romance Writers of America (RWA), AbsoluteWrite, or a writing or critique group of some kind. I look at this as your education in publishing, and it’s more important than any degree. Seeing that an author is a member of a group like this tells me that he/she is serious and knowledgeable, not just about writing, but also the market, expectations, and the process of getting published.

DB: SCBWI, check. I love that group! 

Your agency is based out of CA.  I am interested to know what your take is on the opinion that a writer is best served if his agent is based out of New York. 

This is one of the things I find so interesting about this job. A good agent can provide excellent representation from anywhere in the country (provided that we have the internet and boatloads of coffee, of course). Yes, it’s key to travel to NYC occasionally and to have frequent, quality contact with editors (phone, travel, email), wherever they’re located. The location of the agent shouldn’t be one of the most important factors in the agent quest. Plus, a bonus to having a southern California agent is that many of us have good connections with film agents in L.A. not to mention that if you come visit, I can take you out to authentic Mexican food. :D

 DB: I'm all about both of those!

After signing a writer how is your work relationship?  Do you consider yourself an editorial type agent?

Yes! Each manuscript is different, and requires different levels of edits, but there are always revisions. One of my favorite parts of my job is brainstorming with my authors. Honestly, I think the days when fiction agents didn’t need to be editorial have passed. Editors are looking for a project to be polished and sparkly by the time it reaches their desk, now more than ever.

DB: I think all the authors wanting agents are falling in love Kathleen:) 

This question is geared toward those readers who love blog writing contests…      

Kathleen, you are going to be helping me out in a fun submission contest for my blogorama this summer.  Could a ‘first 200 word contest’ like this spark your interest enough to ask for a partial or full ms from the writer?  

Absolutely. Especially with so many authors on Twitter, many people are used to whipping up short but enticing quips, and have mastered the 200 word pitch. It’s an ADD age and I think people are living up to that challenge! I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s out there.

DB: There are some good ones in this blogfest for sure!

I would love to pick your brain some more but since we have met the ten question limit for my blog I’d like to put the ball in your court.  Are there any parting words of advice you would like to leave with writers trying to break out in the industry? 

Well, the four P’s of publishing are important: practice, perseverance, patience, and perspiration. But don’t forget about the missing ‘P’ – play! Writing should be fun: don’t lose sight of why you chose this, why you love this. This will shine through in your manuscript and your pitch…and enthusiasm is catching.

DB: Kathleen you are awesome! Thanks so much for doing this interview and helping out in this blogfest. 


AN Villasante
YA Fantasy

I: The Farm

Chapter 1
     It’s early, before dawn, but at the bakery everyone’s been up for hours. I stand where I always stand, down the alley in back, opposite her window and out of sight. I want to see her before she can see me, before I go in and buy the morning bread and a cinnamon knot for Story. Story got another tooth last night and needs something to gnaw on while I finish whittling her teething ring. But the bakery isn’t open yet and I need to see Jane first, get over her loveliness before talking to her. I don’t want to sound like a stunt-brained QR, or worse, like a little kid. 
     Right on time, Jane pushes the window out on its hinge and rests her chin on her hands. She always looks up, never down to where I am. I think maybe she’s looking at the last of the night stars as they fade, but she could just as easily be looking at the early morning clouds, judging the weather.
     Jane is smart. She knows things about the stars and the 

weather and the world that I don’t know. Though she’s the baker’s daughter now, before she came to BookEnd she was something else.
Andrea Mack
Title: The Grand Chef's Apprentice
Genre: Middle grade, dystopian
With her hand tight on her gathering bag, Maya slipped out of the forest to a grassy place beside the city wall and took a deep sniff. She caught a spicy-sweet scent, a mixture of herbs, honey, and something else. What was it? If only she could go inside for a taste. She took another breath, but the breeze changed, filling her nose with the sour stench of rot. Huldi! She was supposed to be scrounging. Darting back into the trees, she raced for the Heap. She couldn’t be late. Since she’d turned thirteen, scavenging trash was her job.
When she reached the edge of the Heap, the doors in the stone wall across the sludge were still closed. She’d made it. Still watching the doors, Maya crept in the shadow of a tall shrub. A fly buzzed around her head, but she didn’t let go of her bag. She wasn’t about to let a thief take advantage of her small size.

The ground trembled as the doors clanged open. The trash machine rolled out, its giant black wheels grinding on the rusty track as it brought the enormous metal bin outside the city walls. Around Maya, people edged closer, ready to pounce.
Angela Cothran
Genre: YA Adventure/Romance
Jocelyn lay flat—her stomach pressed to the earth and the chill from the ground seeped into her skin. Was it the cold or the fear making her skin rise in angry goose bumps?
 I’m trapped!  She swallowed her panic in breathless gulps. From under the overgrown bush, she could see the path straight ahead. It’s too late. I didn’t get far enough. With guards chasing her, Jocelyn had two options—run or hide.
She chose the latter.
Now she waited.
The ruthless pursuit moved closer to her with each shallow breath. Jocelyn reached her hand to her neck and let her fist close around a broken locket—its jagged face cut into her flesh. I’m still alive, the pain reminded her. She willed herself to remain still, fighting her every screaming instinct to—Run! Run! Run!
          The earth throbbed as boots hit the ground in a chaotic cadence.
          They’re here! Jocelyn’s body stiffened.
          Around the guard’s torches, the night air cracked and popped with loud complaints. She could hear them disturbing the dense vegetation bordering the well-worn trail—moving in efficient calculated patterns.
          “Any sign?” A guard bellowed.
          “Not yet, Sir.”

          “Keep looking. She can’t have gone far.”
Christine Danek
Title: Lingering Souls
Genre: Young Adult science fiction
The little brown pill bottle that sits on the counter is the best birthday present I could ever give myself. It sits next to the bottles of my mom’s vodka. The bottles seem so sleek and elegant compared to the stumpy, pill bottle, yet they look like a compatible pair.
Sweat drips down the center of my back. The July heat wave is becoming unbearable. Since the air conditioner died, the windows are wide open. Not that it helps in air as thick as mud; in fact it’s only letting more in. I’d rather them closed so maybe I can suffocate by accident instead of a self inflicted death, but my decision is made.
            A white moth flutters around the light on the fan above me. Every time the moth hits the light, an annoying ping interrupts the silence.  My conscious has played tricks on me all day, controlling my motions and decisions. Gazing around the room everything takes on a yellow haze. I glance down through blurry tears. The edges of a picture I’ve been holding for hours seem fuzzy and worn. Just like me. Nothing’s clear and all signs point to exiting my existence.
My cell buzzes. I ignore it. Don’t want to talk to anyone.


Title: Bound
Genre: YA Paranormal

I see the note right away, perched on top of an avalanche of textbooks and binders that threaten to tumble out when I open the door. Delivered in the same fashion as the ones before it—slipped through the thin grate at the top of my locker. Also, like the others, the cruel words inside fail to match its unassuming pink envelope.

Do us all a favor and kill yourself.

The scent of Abby’s favorite perfume rolls off the page, thick and sweet, nauseating.  This time my old ‘friend’ hasn’t bothered to disguise her handwriting. I look down the hall to find her staring my way, face bright with anticipation. She’s at her locker with her latest best friend, Maddy, by her side. When our eyes make contact she grins, and then leans to whisper in Maddy’s ear. Maddy quickly looks in my direction, expressionless.

I notice they're dressed for tonight's game. With that same vindictive smile in place, Abby fiddles with the captain's pin she has hooked to her red and gray cheerleading uniform. The same pin I used to wear till I returned it to Coach last October, walking away from that part of my life.
Lisa Chickos
YA Urban Fantasy
The dolphin twists sideways in my arms.  Eyeing me through one widened, gleaming black eye, she opens her blowhole and gurgles.  Her voice sounds breathless and weak, and the tips of her flukes feel hot against my fingertips.
 “What are you waiting for, Kai?  Tighten up on her, or she’s gonna bolt.”  My father’s warning booms from a nearby research vessel as I struggle for footing in the tea-stained waters of Tampa Bay.  “Do it quick; she’s baiting you.”  
 The concern in his voice sends a fresh wave of anxiety grinding through me, and I wrinkle my nose in protest as I realize the truth of his words.  Growing up watching him perform countless catch-and-release medical exams just like this one, I know researchers only have four, maybe five seconds to restrain a bottlenose dolphin before it fights back and escapes capture.
 Wrapped around this animal’s tail, I should follow protocol by pulling her flukes into my chest and bracing myself for her inevitable thrashing in the shallows.  Instead, I find myself lost in her plaintive, lucid eye contact.  Her pupils, shrunk into tiny circles in the sunlight, roll back and forth as she cranes her head, and a shallow scar splits the silvery bulge of her forehead.
Lora Rivera
YA Thriller & Urban Fantasy
Ava flattened her body against a wall, peering sideways into the vaulted living room beyond. It was gray and desolate, just like all the other rooms -- empty but for the shift of air and streak of chalky dust slowly resettling over the concrete floor.
 A snake of ash-brown hair had come loose from her braid. It tickled the back of her neck and she fought the urge to scratch. Soon now. Melissa Carter was doing far better than Ava had expected or even hoped. True, she didn't think her foster sister would need ninja stealth skills as a rule. But just in case . . . Just in case Ava wasn’t there someday . . .
 You can do this, Mel. She held her breath and heard nothing but a dull wind gust against loose shingles. Her muscles tightened. Then she slinked like a shadow through the stale gloom.
 With roof and walls but no electricity, the abandoned house was dark even at late afternoon. She slowed near one of the far windows that was only partially boarded up by plywood. Here. Treacherously, her fingers leapt for the switchblade she usually kept in her back pocket.

Lori M Lee
Title: Soul Without a Boy
Genre: YA urban fantasy
On his thirteenth lap around the block, London Howell spotted the monster watching him. It was crouched against the wooden post of a neighbor's mailbox, little more than a shadow with large-knuckled fingers that raked at empty air.
London stifled a groan. Sprinting through his neighborhood at midnight was annoying enough without an unwanted audience. He stopped to catch his breath beneath a lamppost, his hand braced against the cool iron.
The monster across the street moved, shifting on spindly legs that trembled like branches in a storm. Its eyes glowed in the dim evening.
London had learned that if he ignored them hard enough, eventually, they went away. Didn't help his doubts about his sanity, but at least it had worked. But they'd been showing up more frequently in recent weeks, and the watching thing was new. Pretending something wasn't there was a lot harder when it was staring at him.
 His mobile vibrated in his back pocket and, with a glance at the screen, he picked up.
 "You sound like a goat on the rack," Amun said in greeting.

 "How," London asked between breaths, "do you know what a tortured goat sounds like?"
PK Hezro
X Dare & The Keys to Nin
MG sci-fi / fantasy
I’d take video games over real life any day.
The reason is simple: at age thirteen I’ve learned a lot about people, and even more about girls. Like how, even if they look bad, you’re supposed to say they look good; and how they whisper a lot and like to keep secrets. I know, because my entire life revolves around the girls in my family. Video games are less complicated, and when it comes down to a challenge between a game or my mom, I know I can beat the game.
“Oh, it’s so cute!” Mom says, grinning down at Veronica and making the little lines around her eyes smile too. 
I let out an annoyed sigh—the kind that says I’m losing my patience. Clothes shopping with my mom and little sister is ranked right up there with taking all day exams and doing chores for no allowance. Mom’s been fussing over Veronica for the last hour. Like she doesn’t have enough clothes already.

Veronica beams, looking up from her wheelchair. She holds a bubblegum pink dress up, hiding her long blonde pig tails. Her eyes are twice their size through her bifocal glasses. “Can we get it, Mom?”
Robin Weeks
Title: GEAS
Genre: YA Fantasy

Brina knew better than to go out in public looking less than her questionable best.

She knew it, but figured hurrying home for her mother’s birthday party deserved a special endowment of luck. She didn’t even grow to human size first. Instead, she left her purse and car keys with her best friend Moira and launched herself out the palace window into the sweltering air of San Antonio, Texas.

The first flash came from her left and, like an idiot, she twisted toward it. Which is how the photographer’s zoom lens caught her: eyes opened wide, long braid slicked back from her face with her own sweat, and limbs sticking out at startled angles from her workout tank and short-shorts. All of it glowing softly brown in the dusk.

As a special bonus, the magazine’s cover photo had captured the moment her four bright white wings froze in shock, sending her plummeting a few feet downward. The resulting portrait could have been entitled “Freak, Falling” but instead the headline proclaimed: “Human-Pixie Hybrids: The Last American Taboo.” That worked, too.

Naturally, the cover was taped to her locker first thing Tuesday morning. It hadn’t been torn carefully, and a jagged gash ripped halfway through Brina’s right wing. 


Anonymous said...

Excellent interview! I love Kathleen-was tryin to snag her as my agent even before this contest, lol. I love her 5 P's of Publishing--gonna tape that to my computer:) Thanks for another great post, Deana~Cheers!

Deana said...

I agree Jamie! Her telling us how great Cali is is my favorite part too:)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amy kennedy said...

Jamie, I'm doing the same thing -- taping those 5 Ps.
I've had my eye on her as well.

A funny thing though, as much as I know belonging to an org. is key -- I decided not to re-up my membership w/ RWA this year, and I've ended up accomplishing more this year than the last 4 I did belong.

Which isn't to say I'm not a part of on-line groups etc. It was almost as if my membership WAS my accomplishment. And now I'm actually doing the work.

Wow. Did not mean to go on and on. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Kathleen comes across as such a nice person.

As I'm from the UK - does anybody know what US agencies such as Kathleen's policies are on submissions from abroad? I guess it's not an ideal arrangement as it would be hard to meet face to face.

I think Kathleen should come to Britain. : D

Deana said...

Amy- Good for you! It sounds like you must have learned some things there and are now putting them to work!

Freya - Now I'm no whizz at this subject at all but I do know some agencies have agents that deal with writers abroad. I think you could just go to an agent website and see if they do or I suppose places like agentquery and querytracker might be able to help. I guess google could work too?

Emily R. King said...

Great interview! It was worth waiting for the second part. Thanks, Deana!

RAD - Dot Painter said...

Great interview! She sounds like she'd be a wonderful agent!

Stephsco said...

I like the 5 Ps - that 5th one is important :)

A good reminder about joining an org like SCBWI or RWA. I've held off b/c I feel like I'm so new at this, I thought it was too early. Maybe I'm overthinking it.

Deana said...

Emily- You are very welcome:)

RAD- I agree!

Stephco- I would say if anything these groups help you along the way! You also get discounts to their conferences and updates about workshops, etc. Very helpful!

amy kennedy said...

Congratulations to the finalists -- I loved all of their entries. Good Luck on the next round!

Laura Barnes said...

Wow, such great entries! Congrats, finalists. Some of those were definitely my favorites. I bet it was a hard choice because some of my other favorites didn't make it. Good luck to everyone with their works in progress.

Angela Cothran said...

Deana--thanks for all the hard work you put into this last month. I wanted you to know it was appreciated.

Unknown said...

I love seeing how some of these have changed from the originals--and such good changes!

Deana, you've done a good thing this month. Thanks so much for all your hard work!

Michelle Fayard said...

Congratulations, everyone! I was glad to see some of my favorites on the list, but I'll be watching for my other faves to be repped soon. :)

Deana said...

Thanks guys! You are all so right! There were so many good ones. It was a very tough one for the judges. This is another one where it would be nice to pick them all:)

Alleged Author said...

Hurrah! Yay for everyone! You did a great job, Deana. This is one blog fest I was happy to promote. :)

Christa Desir said...

This is a great interview. And congratulations to all the winners. There are some great writers out there! Deana, I like the different types of questions. I wouldn't have thought of some of them.

Nancy Thompson said...

Great interview, Deana!

And thanks for the chance to judge in your blogfest. I had the chance to read some great work and learned a lot in the process, too.

I've come away from this blogfest with so much: A better query, better opening, and lots of new friends. Thanks so very, very much!

Lori M. Lee said...

Love the interview. And thank you so much, Deana, for all your hard work and for putting this together. Also, to everyone who helped out as well, of course! This was a phenomenal blog-o-rama.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Deana, what a lot of work. Way to go!

PK HREZO said...

Deana, this has been such a blast! It came during my epic house move and I tried to participate as best I could. So many talented writers here. I'm flattered to be in a group alongside them.
Awesome interview with Kathleen--she sounds great to work with.

Congrats to everyone who participted in this fantastic learning op!

Unknown said...

Thank you Deana, the judges, and all the writers. This was a fantastic group of people! You're all sooooo talented. I learned that I have soooo much to learn!Back to the drawing board.

Leslie S. Rose said...

Kathleen sounds like good folks! Thanks Deana, for letting us get to know her. Boy oh boy am I impressed with the talent in these pieces.