Monday, December 24, 2012

Laced in Malice: Interview with Riley Gray

Riley Grey has brought us a great YA novel that's like Cruel Intentions meets Mean Girls. I chatted with her about her risque novel LACED IN MALICE.
Sharon: This reminds me of a modern day Cruel Intentions. What prompted you to write about such a risque subject?
Riley: It's always been a pet peeve of mine that we're so cavalier about violence, but when it comes to sex, it's so taboo. As much as we might not want to think about it, teens are sexual fiends. If they're not thinking about it, they're doing it! This isn't an erotic YA. It's a YA with some sexual nature to it, though it probably goes above what an 'average' YA might detail. I wanted to write a story that focused on the malicious side of people, and sex is often used as a weapon.
Sharon: Tell us a bit about Zara and what readers can expect from her.
Riley: Zara is too naive for her own good. She gets called naive a fair few times in the book, and it's not until the end that she finally realises that they're right. In a way, Zara is a lot like most teenage girls. She only wants to be liked. She doesn't want to face up to the truth if it means losing her friends. But she's also got morals and her own beliefs that won't easily be destroyed. I think people will either love or hate her.
Sharon: You've given readers a reboot with Written in Malice from Oliver's POV. What promoted you to do this?
Riley: There's a lot to this story that readers won't see because Zara doesn't know it. Much in the same as Cruel Intentions, the story was told from the Antagonist's POV and therefore the viewers were aware of what was happening behind the scenes; what prompted the interest in the new girl. This story is told from the new girl's POV and I think readers will find it interesting/beneficial to see what went down before Zara came to town (poet and I didn't even know it!).
Rapid Fire Questions:
Favourite animal? Horses
Favourite colour? Pink
Favourite drink? Anything Mango flavoured
Favourite writing place? Starbucks
Favourite author? Loving Courtney Summers

Find Laced in Malice on Goodreads and Amazon.

You can find Riley on Twitter and on her website.

post signature

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Sekrit Project revealed

I saw so many glorious pitches come through my own inbox for Pitch Wars, as well as other mentors', that it made me really sad that only a small percentage were going to make the final cut.

Then a new opportunity arose for me to scout through the entries for two independent publishers. I've received a wish list, which includes YA and NA pitches.

How I'm doing it to protect the authors:

Because the decision to query an independent publisher is a very personal one I am not passing on the queries. Instead I am creating a micro pitch that identifies the genre, a one sentence pitch and then adding any personal thoughts on the query. This way the author, the MS name and the main premise are kept private in case the author isn't interested in those publishers.

The editors will let me know if they're interested in seeing any of these pitches in query form. I will then contact the author letting them know that an editor is interested in seeing their query and that they can reference the Pitch Wars Sekrit Project in their query.

It will be totally up to the author if they want to submit to the publisher, or if they want to hold out for an agent.

So, if you are a Pitch Warrior (a Pitch Wars participant) and you want me to look at your pitch for Sekrit Project consideration, please leave your name and MS title in the comments and I'll make sure I hunt it out to look at it.

Also - let me know in the comments if you DO NOT want me to micro pitch your project (you want an agent first, you're not interested in independent publishers).

Please note I won't be putting it out there publicly who I micro-pitched to the editors and it'll be up to the authors if they want to put anything out in the public area if they get an invitation to query.

The Sekrit Project is only for people who participated in Pitch Wars and did not get selected as a top pick or as an alternate.

post signature

Pitch Wars: My Team!

I had so many amazing pitches come through my inbox. Each time one came through my inbox I oohhhed and ahhed. The pitches were so strong. My writers had amazing concepts. Lots of pitches thrown around on Twitter were awesome. But the submissions or the first five pages weren't strong enough. The ones that caught my eye with their pitch and had intriguing five chapters scored a request of the first three chapters. This was when I worked out what really fitted me and what didn't.

I ended up with Historicals, Retellings, Speculative Fiction and a contemporary amongst my favourites. I could only have one top pick and then two alternates (you WANT to be an alternate). And mine are:

Top Pick
Dark Moon by Crystal Collier. Pitched to me as "a YA genre blend of Brothers Grimm, Heroes, and Pride & Prejudice that we’ll call Historical Fantasy" I was spellbound from the start.

I'll be working with Crystal to get her pitch and MS ready for the eagerly awaiting Pitch Wars agents.

Grand Scheme by Meagan. This is a haunting contemporary that deals with some deep issues, regret and guilt.

The Phoenix by Tiffany Johnson. A Speculative Fiction that drew me in with a killer pitch and an awesome opening line: This just in: There's a dead boy at my window.

Both of these pitches will be pitched in an open call editor and agent contest  that will run around the same time as Pitch Wars.

I'd like to also give special mentions:

Loving Lavender Girl. This was one of my favourites. I absolutely loved it. But I didn't feel I was the right mentor for it. I read the words and was worried I had nothing to offer. So I pimped it out to Monica to have a look at and she ended up having it as her top pick.

Mad as a Hatter. Fiona and I were both fighting over this one on Twitter with some friendly rivalry. I was so happy when Fiona picked it as an alternate.

The Sovereign Place. I thought it deserved a mentor and put it in the up for grabs folder and it found a home too!

Now the Sekrit Project info will be out later this week, so stay tuned.

post signature

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cover Reveal: Suicide Watch

Former YAtopian and my friend, Kelley York, is releasing her latest novel, Suicide Watch this month! And I'm happy to be hosting the cover reveal!

She released the ground breaking novel Hushed and now brings us more heartbreaking new novel. Subscribe to her latest news on her blog for information on how to buy Suicide Watch when it's launched.
18-year-old Vincent Hazelwood has spent his entire life being shuffled from one foster home to the next. His grades sucked. Making friends? Out of the question thanks to his nervous breakdowns and unpredictable moods. Still, Vince thought when Maggie Atkins took him in, he might’ve finally found a place to get his life—and his issues—in order.

But then Maggie keels over from a heart attack. Vince is homeless, alone, and the inheritance money isn't going to last long. A year ago, Vince watched a girl leap to her death off a bridge, and now he's starting to think she had the right idea.

Vince stumbles across a website forum geared toward people considering suicide. There, he meets others with the same debate regarding the pros and cons of death: Casper, battling cancer, would rather off herself than slowly waste away. And there’s quiet, withdrawn Adam, who suspects if he died, his mom wouldn't even notice.

As they gravitate toward each other, Vince searches for a reason to live while coping without Maggie's guidance, coming to terms with Casper's imminent death, and falling in love with a boy who doesn't plan on sticking around.

post signature

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Steal the flag...or an agent's heart: Pitch Wars

Pitch Wars ... the agents!

Are you ready for this? We have 16 incredible agents vying for our Pitch Wars team manuscripts. We're so excited to see what pitches they fall in love with, and what teams will win the coveted Pitch Wars Most Requested Manuscript title.

And, in no particular order, here are the agents...

Louise Fury
L. Perkins Agency
Twitter: @louisefury

Louise is seeking teen Sci-Fi and Young Adult horror. She's also on the hunt for deep, dark contemporary YA and select Middle Grade fiction with a literary feel--it must be realistic and thought provoking and the characters must be authentic and original. Louise loves horror and romance, especially Regency and Victorian.

Jessica Sinsheimer
Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
Twitter: @jsinsheim

Jessica is seeking Literary, Women's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Fiction.

Twitter: @Natalie_Lakosil

Natalie is looking for commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), and upmarket women’s fiction. Specific likes include historical, multi-cultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, and middle grade with heart.

Twitter: @BookaliciousPam

Pam represents young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance authors.

Twitter: @bluedragonfly81

Jordy is on the look out for Romance (contemporary, historical/Regency, and paranormal). YA contemporary/historical or dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy with romance elements. She's also open to YA GLBT within those genres. She'd love to see unique, well-developed plots featuring time travel, competitions, or travel.

Andrea Somberg
Twitter: @andreasomberg

Andrea's looking for the following categories: Fiction; literary, commercial, womens fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, middle grade.

Jennifer Mishler
Twitter: @literarycounsel

Jennifer is seeking Young Adult Fantasy, Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Literary, and Young Adult Historical.

Suzie Townsend
New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
Twitter: @sztownsend81

Suzie represents adult and children's fiction. In adult, she's specifically looking for romance (historical and paranormal), and fantasy (urban fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, epic fantasy). In Childrens' she loves YA (all subgenres) and is dying to find great Middle Grade projects (especially something akin to the recent movie SUPER 8).

Victoria Marini
Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc.

Victoria is looking for literary fiction, commercial fiction, pop-culture non-fiction, and young adult. She is very interested in acquiring engaging Literary fiction and mysteries / suspense, commercial women's fiction (romantic suspense, sci-fi, fantasy), and Young Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller and horror ).


Kerry is looking for Young Adult and Middle-Grade fiction, both commercial and literary. She tends to shy away from werewolves, zombies, faeries, and the like, but she’ll read anything with a fresh voice and compelling characters. She is particularly keen on contemporary YA, quirky MG, books with a strong cinematic element.


Drea is currently seeking: fiction, memoir, crime, non-fiction and YA. Her roster consists of British, American, and Canadian clients. International talent is welcome.

Katie Shea

Katie specializes in fiction and memoir, especially women’s fiction and commercial-scale literary fiction, and realistic YA. She is most interested in coming-of-age stories and stories of unique relationships.

Elise Capron

Elise is interested in serious character-driven literary fiction, well-written narrative nonfiction, and short story collections. (Note: She is not interested in Fantasy, young-adult/middle-grade, picture books, romance, and sci-fi.) She aims to work with writers who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience.

Jodell is interested in YA, MG (especially funny) , fiction and nonfiction, book proposals, and picture books. She will also coach writers wanting to self publish. She simply loves a well-paced story that moves her between joy and tears.

Brittany and Michelle are teaming up to look for Adult, YA, and MG manuscripts.

Michelle Johnson
Twitter: @MJsRetweet

Michelle’s published one novel, The Footloose Killer, and edited several others for publishing houses and private clients. She also is a Script/Story consultant on an independent film in Halifax, NS, Canada, and enjoys working closely with writers to help them develop their voice and craft.

Brittany Howard
Twitter: @brittanydhoward

When reading, Brittany loves to be introduced to new and interesting people and places. She looks for strong voice, good storytelling, and fascinating relationships between characters—romantic or otherwise. More than anything, she loves when a book surprises her.


There's just one more day to get your applications in for Pitch Wars. Make sure to check out this post here to get all the details.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pitch Wars submissions and About me!

 It's here! The day you've been waiting for. Time to officially sign up for Pitch Wars and have your opportunity nab a mentor. In this post you'll find my wish list (what I'm looking for in an MS to champion), my bio (stuff you need to know about me as a coach) and the sign up details. Makes for a long post so let's get into it.

I'm taking submissions of all genres, as long as it's YA or NA. But What I'm really hanging out to see is:
  • Emotional Contemporary - Whether it's making me laugh or making me cry, I want a contemporary full of feeling. Think Anna and the French Kiss or Hushed.
  • Genre Mash-Ups - I'm the Glee Queen of Pitch Wars. If you've mashed genres together then I want to see it!
  • Speculative Fiction - Alternative histories, like The Curse Worker Series, or genre mixes of SciFi, Horror, Fantasy or Paranormal (like a genre mash-up but more specific).
  • Historicals - preferably mashed up with another genre, like The Falconer by Elizabeth May (yet to be released but the blurb looks awesome!). 
  • Science-Fiction - I prefer more emphasis on the Fi than the Sci, but I am a huge fan. Think Across the Universe.
  • Magical Realism - A contemporary setting with just a touch of magic, like The Locket.
Me and the first book I was published in.
About me:

I'm a writer of YA and NA weird fiction and contemporary fiction, a blogger at YAtopia, Writing Teen Novels and Down Under Wonderings, a regular speaker at The Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival and a NA/YA intern for Entangled, so I've got my finger on the pulse for what editors are looking for (which is also what agents are looking for!). I've also been a host for Pitch Madness and had lots of agents request from the MSes I picked from my blog. I'm a CP for Wendy Higgins, Aimee Salter, Suzanne Van Rooyen and Stacey Nash. I have a habit of having weird profile pics and have been stalked by women because of my great taste in shoes.


Wendy Higgins, author of Sweet Peril and Sweet Evil: "Sharon CPed for me and gave me the invaluable advice that Aussie guys don't really use Shelia to refer to females."

Angela Slatter, Australian short story Queen with anthologies including Sourdough and The Girl With No Hands: "Under my mentorship Sharon will never write a MS with a MC who suffers from sad sack syndrome again."


Editer Kitty is editing
Jeyn Roberts, author of Dark Inside and Rage Within: "I've been friends with Sharon for a couple of years now. I fully endorse her ability to push cats off her laptop...I mean mentor.

Suzanne Van Rooyen, author of Dragon's Teeth and Obscura Burning:  "Sharon's good for my ego. She keeps saying she loves everything."

Stacey Nash, Sharon's CP and contributor for Authors Promoting Authors: "I love having Sharon as a CP, even if she's a dialogue formatting freak."


Submissions start today (11/26) ! The cut off time to get your applications (query & first five pages of manuscript) in is 8PM EST on December 5. 

Send your applications to Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches' categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they've signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their category.

For additional information about this contest go HERE (link to your post announcing the contest)

·        This is open to finished manuscripts only.

·         You may only enter one manuscript.

·         Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


 Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)

 Name: Your Name

Genre: The genre of your manuscript

 Word Count: The word count of your manuscript 

Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph. 


REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.

 Check back soon for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There's over a dozen!

Today all the coaches are posting bios/wish lists on their blogs. So before choosing your top 3 picks, check all the coaches' posts in your category before deciding which coach to submit. To jump from blog to blog, just click on our pictures below.

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Opal Trailer Reveal with giveaway

I fell in love with the Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and I'm thrilled to host the Opal Trailer reveal. It's so hot it's sizzling! You can read a fun interview with Jennifer about her writing here.


Opal (The third book in the Lux Series)
Available in both print and digital version on December 18, 2012 at


Check out Jennifer L. Armentrout on the following sites:

I'm going to giveaway a preorder of Opal to one lucky person. All you have to do is comment on what book are you hanging out for to read that will be released in 2012 or 2013. For me it's The Falconer by Elizabeth May and Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins (even though I've already read it =P).

You have until 30 November 2012 to enter. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

post signature

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pitch Wars!

We're extremely excited to announce an upcoming event where  agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.

Here's the deets...

·         The teams will consist of 1 agented author or industry intern or editor (coaches) and 1 aspiring author.

·         December 1: The coaches (listed on the linky below) will post on their blogs what genre/category they want to coach. They'll be very specific genres. Aspiring writers will hop around and decide which coaches best fit their manuscripts.
·         December 5: Aspiring writers will submit 3 "applications" to their top choices for coaches to the contest email ( during the allotted times (8AM to 8PM EST). That means, participants will send three separate emails to the contest email addressing each with one of their three top choices for coach. 

·         December 5 through December 10: Coaches will read the applications and pick teammates.The coaches don't have to pick from their applications. If a coach passes on an application, it is then up for grabs and another coach, if they haven't connected to their applicants, can snatch it after notifying the applicant and if the applicant chooses the coach. 

·         December 12: Teams will be announced. On the announcement post there will be instructions on how the winners must send their work. 

·         December 12 through January 16: Each coach will read their teammate's manuscript and give general notes on any issues they find. The coach will help their teammate get his or her pitches ready for the agent round. 

·         Note: The material for the agent round will be a 3 sentence pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. Coaches will read manuscripts and query letters only once and give notes. It is up to the writer to use the notes from their coaches to get the manuscript and query letter in as best shape as they can to send to requesting agents. The coaches will critique the three sentence pitch and first 250 words. The coaches will read them as many times as they deem necessary. In no way will writers expect the coaches to read the manuscript and query letter more than once or the pitches more than twice.  

·         January 20: Coaches will submit shined pitches to the contest email. 

·         January 23 and 24: Agents will read and make requests on the pitches they like (it is likely that not all participants will get requests). 

·         January 25: We'll announce the team with the most requests and who will take home the winning prizes (an amazon gift card for each). 

·         This is open to finished manuscripts only. 

·         You may only enter one manuscript. 

·         Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)

Name: Your Name 

Genre: The genre of your manuscript 

Word Count: The word count of your manuscript 

Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

 REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches (Note from Sharon: If you like YA - pick me =P).

 Our mentors ...


Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

post signature

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Last month, my partner in crime, John announced CritFest, our short story critique competition for writers of the ages 13-20. It is so epic! You get to write a short story and submit it for the chance to receive feedback from an industry professional.
Up until December 20 (10 - we've extended the deeadline for you NaNoers) you can submit your short stories to CritFest (see the bottom of the post for the rules courtesy of John!). The ten stories, as chosen by myself and John, will win full critiques of their short stories (done privately) from one of the industry professionals below!
If you don’t make the top ten, the ten runner-ups that John and I choose will move to a separate voting stage. Each of these entries will be posted on the blog for everyone to vote for their favorite and possibly make critiques of the entries. The top three will win fantastic prizes, which will be along the lines of ARCs, perhaps some sort of critique from us, and other things. One random commenter will also win a prize. Note: If you don’t want to enter for this part of the contest—only the first one, where your work is not posted—please say so in your entry.
The awesome industry professionals participating, ranging from editors to literary agents to authors who are all full of knowledge and sure know how to critique. They include:
Shade (Shade, #1) Possess Code Name Verity
Ginger Clark, top-notch literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd, representing fantastic YA authors like Elizabeth Wein, Jeri Smith-Ready, Gretchen McNeil, and more!
Jodi Meadows
Incarnate (Newsoul, #1) Asunder (Newsoul, #2)
Jodi Meadows, author of the popular INCARNATE (HarperCollins, 2012) and ASUNDER (HarperCollins, 2013)
Victoria Schwab
The Near Witch (The Near Witch, #1) The Archived (The Archived, #1)
Victoria Schwab, author of THE NEAR WITCH (Disney, 2011) and the totally amazing THE ARCHIVED (Disney, 2013)
Leigh Fallon
Carrier of the Mark (Carrier Trilogy, #1) Shadow of the Mark (Carrier Trilogy, #2)
Leigh Fallon, author of the popular CARRIER OF THE MARK (HarperTeen, 2011) and SHADOW OF THE MARK (HarperTeen, 2013)
Kat Zhang
What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)
Kat Zhang, author of of the newly released (and excellent) WHAT’S LEFT OF ME (HarperTeen, 2012)
Thumbnail photo of children's and young adult author Cath Crowley
Graffiti Moon A Little Wanting Song
Cath Crowley, author of the award-winning GRAFFITI MOON (Pan Macmillan, 2010), A LITTLE WANTING SONG (Knopf, 2010), and more!
Jeyn Roberts
Dark Inside (Dark Inside, #1) Rage Within (Dark Inside, #2)
Jeyn Roberts, author of the the thrilling DARK INSIDE (Simon & Schuster, 2011) and RAGE WITHIN (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
Emily Steele, awesometastic editorial director at Medallion Press, publishing YA authors like Rachele Alpine and many more!

(We’re still looking for two more participants, which we’ll most definitely find by January. If you’re an agent or editor or published YA author and would like to participate, please email John at TeenRiter(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!)

As a recap, the rules (courtesy of John from his CritFest post):
- To participate, you must be of the ages 13-20. No exceptions.
- You don’t need a finished manuscript or anything special. All you need is to write and polish a 1.5k-5k  word short story (we've lowered the minimum word count from 3K) and submit it to us during the appropriate time.
- For your entry to be counted, you must tell us in the entry whether or not you’d like to participate in the voting stage, too, in case you end up to be one of the ten runners up.
- The story must not have been previously published on your blog or elsewhere.
- Only one entry per person.
- Please only enter if you’re genuinely interested in a critique from these industry pros. The critiques will be nice but honest, so if you’re looking for a cheerleader, this contest is not for you.
Submission Info & Dates:
- The short stories should be 3k – 5k words in length and should be some form of Young Adult, although genres within the Young Adult category work too. Other than that, anything goes. There’s no set prompt; just a short story.
- You can start submitting your short story NOW, (if you even have it written yet) but it may be best to hold off for a few weeks because we’ll be running short story writing advice posts and John have an opening paragraph critique going on throughout November, which should hopefully help make your short stories even better.
- The deadline for entries is December 10th.
- We’ll announce the top ten finalists as well as who will critique their stories on January 10th, and we’ll post the ten runners up for the voting round the next day.
- There’s plenty of time to get your short stories written and polished, but those of you doing NaNoWriMo might want to start writing them now then go back and edit them in December before the entry window closes. I know how busy November is with NaNoWriMo, so I made sure there’s still time for you guys. Don’t worry!
- Please send your submissions to TCWTContests(at)gmail(dot)com. Short stories should be attached as a .doc file. We’ll respond with a receipt of confirmation after one week. If you don’t get a confirmation after that time, please resend and let us know via comment. Formatting of the email should look like this:
Name/Pen Name:
One sentence pitch of your short story*:
Whether you’d like to have your story posted on the blog, if you’re one of the runners-up:
[Attach the short story as a .doc]
And that’s it!
If you decide to participate…
This event is obviously pretty large, and we’d really appreciate anything you can do to spread the word. Tweets, facebook posts, etc. are awesome (but not required). Or if you blog, we’d really appreciate any mention of CritFest in a post, or even adding our CritFest badge to your sidebar. You can get the HTML for that here:

Or grab the image here:

So, if you have any questions drop it to me in the comments.

post signature