Thursday, 25 August 2011


That's right, winners! D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard has made her decision, and here's what she has to say:


Hi All!

Thanks so much for entering. So many great concepts and pitches! I’m choosing just one winner for a full manuscript, and highlighting several that I particularly gravitated toward—I’d like to see queries + 10 pages for those. And for everyone, please do feel free to query! 140 character pitches can be hard to nail, particularly if your work is more about voice and character than plot. So don’t think this is a “rejection” in any way. You can still query!

And as an aside, the last time I did a contest like this, I signed one of the “honorable mentions”. So you don’t even have to win to be a potential winner. J

So without further ado, the winning pitch, by Merliniana:
Charlie’s alone on a spaceship, pursued by villains who want its cargo, and haunted by the memory of a small child he abandoned back on Earth

Please send your full as an attached doc, with your full-sized query pitch in the first page of the doc! Put "Pitch Contest Winner" in the subject line.

Honorable mentions (and requests for a full query + 10 page sample)

Jenn: 16-year-old con artist, Megan Benson scores a place in the Keller mansion before realizing too late this is the one family she can't fool.

Rachel: Told in non-linear chronology, a little bit Hate List, a little bit Heathers, 17-year-old Jenna tries to figure out how she ended up with a dead boyfriend, the murder of her history teacher on her hands and her parents divorced

Susan16-yr old Mary O’Conner is a good girl. 19-yr old Robert Marchioni is a good boy. But now that she’s pregnant, no one in their town sees them that way, so it’s time to split.

Danielle Dreger : Falling in love is easy but falling out of love may destroy you-Eleanor learns this after Jake breaks up w/her &she spirals out of control.

Kathryn Holmes:  15-year-old Cordelia just learned that NYC's subway trains are alive. Now, the creatures are in danger—and it's up to her to save them.

Thanks, All!


Mandy's email address for queries is

I would like to thank all the participants of this contest for entering, and of course Mandy for so generously offering her time. Good luck to the winners and everyone querying!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Interview with Ned Hayes

Good news for the participants of the Perfect Pitch contest: Agent Mandy Hubbard should be picking the winner this week. So keep checking back.

In the meantime, let's meet another writer. This time we're talking to Ned Hayes. Ned has graciously allowed me to take a peek at his newest novel, and I was quite intrigued by his story.

Welcome to We Do Write, Ned. Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm interested in everything from technology mobility to post-modern theology to genetic engineering to bicycle hacking to medieval manuscripts to child-rearing and off-the-grid living. In addition to my newest novel, SINFUL FOLK, I wrote a book about technology and a mystery novel.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing since I was 10 years old. I think I wrote my first attempted novel when I was 12, and I distinctively remember being fascinated by medieval stories and medieval life in 7th grade, when I wrote a story that won an award -- my story was set during the Hundred Years War between England and France. Writing has always been my passion -- I began by publishing shorter fiction and poetry (my book of poems, GLOSSOLALIA, appeared in 2009 from Orchard House Press. And I'm hopeful SINFUL FOLK will appear in 2012.

Tell us about SINFUL FOLK.

SINFUL FOLK is the story of a desperate mother who carries a hidden secret and a terrible grief.

In December of the year 1377, the village of Duns in the south of England suffered a great tragedy. Four young boys were burned to death in a house near the center of the village. It was the dead of winter, and the house burned to the ground. Although most English peasants of that era never traveled more than twenty miles from the place of their birth, villagers loaded the bodies on a cart and journeyed over 200 miles to London, to present the bodies before the King and demand justice.

SINFUL FOLK is the story of that mid-winter journey through the eyes of Mear, a middle-aged former nun who has lived for decades disguised as a mute man, raising her son in secret in this isolated village. Through the course of the journey with the men of the village, Mear’s story is told, her decades-long secrets come to light, and she is able to confront not only her son’s killer, but also the promise of her past, and the possibility of a new future as a noblewoman.

Mear begins her pilgrimage in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and redemption.

Having read SINFUL FOLK, I have to say you presented the story well. I was brought right into the setting, the angst and sorrow Mear felt, and even wanted to punch a character or two. Her journey flowed well, and I was satisfied with the ending. How did the idea of the story come to you?

I was in graduate school for English Literature, studying Medieval Literature and reading Middle English works along with Chaucer. In the course of my reading, I came across this wonderful book by Miria Hallum called The Hollow Womb, in which the story of the village of Duns and the boys who burned to death there. It suddenly came to me that there was a person who so full of hate in that village that they burned down the house with all the boys inside. In a blind rush, I had to write a whole chapter from his perspective. I wrote a chapter in which he finds wood, carefully and surreptitiously stacks it against the house with the sleeping boys inside, and burns the place down. The whole chapter is so full of malice and anger that I found it breath-taking. I also realized I had no idea how to continue the story in the voice and head of that character. So I found my way into the head of Miriam (called Mear in the book), a woman who has been concealed in that village for years. Her perspective on the tragedy turned into the book SINFUL FOLK. The whole section I wrote from the perspective of the murderer was gradually cannibalized into difficult moments in Mear's journey and life, and the malice stripped away. However, I've never lost the sense that behind these deaths was a horrific ego and a sense of twisted payback, and the villain I knew so well traveled with Mear for all of her journey.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is hearing that what you've written isn't read the way you intended, and figuring out how to revise. I wrote a complete first draft of SINFUL FOLK after my agent requested the book -- it was half done, and I'd been putting it off forever. When she asked for the novel, I knew I had to complete it. So I finished up the first draft in a headlong 3 month rush. I thought it was suspenseful and thoughtful at the same time. Instead, as my early readers told me, it was simply ponderous. It moved too slowly, and it was hard to hear that readers found it slow-going. I am intensely grateful to my friend Sheri Boggs, because if she hadn't loved it (even at its first slow pace), I might never have picked it back up again. My friend Manek helped me find the way forward... and many other friends have contributed to the ideas. Writing for me isn't really an act of isolation, but an act of community.

The hardest part of writing is to be utterly alone in the knowledge that your book isn't working, and no one else can tell you exactly what to do next. You can get good advice, but in the end, you are marooned in an ocean of possibilities. and no way forward unless you write it.

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Most people think that writing is inspiration. It is not: it is perspiration. Write as much as possible, put words on the paper. If you keep putting 500 words down every day (that's only 2 pages, double-spaced!), you'll have 182,500 words in one year -- that's about 2 books for the average writer. Two books a year. The more you write, the more you are inspired. I wrote the first, second and third drafts of my novel for an hour a day while commuting on a train every day to a really demanding job that occupied me for 50 hours a week. You can always find time to write a page or two a day... just keep moving forward!

The other thing I've learned is that the more you write, the more inspiration comes to you. You have to be swimming to find fish.

Very wise! Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I have to have something to write with. That's all. I prefer a laptop without connectivity, so I don't get distracted by going online and "researching" (time-wasting!). But I have written on a trans-Atlantic plane in the middle of the night, I've written in a train while commuting, I've written at my desk on lunch hours, I've written at a playground with children playing loudly, and occasionally I've even written in my lovely home office with my lovely wife and excitable children banging around nearby, and I've written in the back yard. Of course, quiet, music, hot tea and a nice view are preferable. But at the end of the day, there's no need for anything but a good idea, a piece of paper and a pen. Every now and then, I've come across a good phrase while driving or biking, and I've had to memorize it for later because I have no writing implements there with me. But it's still writing.

What human beings need to write is imagination. That is all.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would love to have the ability to go without sleeping. I love late nights -- the quiet, the solitude, the sense of working while the world sleeps around you. But I also love early mornings and dawn as the sun rises and the birds sing. Why can't I have both, and be writing through the night and into the day?

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: argument, tiger, and ballet shoes.

The Mad Hatter found himself without an argument when the tiger came to call, bringing ballet shoes to dunk into the tea-cups all around before he ate the March Hare whole and turned to say "Good day!"
(Ok, that was a little strange, but it was certainly fun. Thanks!)

It really was! Okay, here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

I truly appreciate two kinds of friends and readers. First, I really need the cheerleaders and the positive supporters who tell me how great my writing is, and love what I've done -- my friends Sheri, and Bianca Davis and my wife Jill, whose boundless support always buoys me up. Without them, I'd just sink into despondency. But I also really, really need the support and good insights of my critical readers like Manek Mistry, Christine Gunn, Larry Clark, and Matt Haugh, who tell me exactly what isn't working with a book, and how to fix it. Again, as I've said before, for me writing is really an act of community. All these wonderful people come around to help and encourage, and hone and edit, and all of their good ideas help my ideas get better and better. Thank you all!!!

And finally, where can people find you online?

Readers can find out more about SINFUL FOLK at
You can find much more of my writing at 
You can follow me on Twitter -- @nedwriting or check out Sinful Folk on Facebook at
My poetry book GLOSSOLALIA (Speaking in Tongues) is on Amazon at
And I hope SINFUL FOLK will be up on Amazon soon... as well as in bookstores around the world.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Ned. And thank you for letting me read your wonderful work. Be sure to let us know when SINFUL FOLK is available!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Official Entry Post for the Perfect Pitch Contest

Here it is: The post you've all been waiting for! I hope your pitches are polished and perfected, because it's time to show literary agent Mandy Hubbard what you've got.

Let's go over the rules, shall we?
In order to be eligible for the contest, you must:

  • Be an un-agented writer of YA or MG
  • Pitch a completed manuscript
  • Follow my blog
  • Tweet, blog, or post a Facebook update about the contest with a link

It also wouldn't hurt to follow Mandy's blog. Or my Twitter.

And now for the entry details. Please post the following as a comment:

  • Title
  • Genre
  • Word Count
  • 140-character pitch
  • Email address

The comments section will be open now until Friday, August 19th, at midnight. (Although you might get lucky and I'll forget to shut comments off until the next day, August 20th, which is my birthday. *wink*) D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard will then begin her search for the winning pitch.

That said, let the pitching begin. Good luck, everyone! 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Pitch Contest Reminder

Hey, everybody! I just wanted to remind you about the Perfect Pitch contest taking place Thursday, August 18th. I hope you've got your 140-character pitches ready. D4EO literary agent Mandy Hubbard will request the full manuscript from the winner—you've got to admit, that's a kick-ass prize!

So mark your calendars and stop back here on Thursday to enter. More details here.

Good luck!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Author Update: Eileen Schuh

One of my past interviewees, the wonderful Eileen Schuh, has great news to share.

"So excited! WolfSinger Publications has put my sci fi novella, SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT up on Amazon and Smashwords as an eBook.  It will soon be out in paperback, too. This psychological drama is more about tears and fears and relationships and death and dying than it is about science."

Congratulations, Eileen!

Check out Schrödinger's Cat on Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

ARC Contest for SHATTER ME and more

Have you heard the buzz about SHATTER ME yet? I'm dying to get my hands on this book, but it doesn't come out until November. Luckily there are ARC contests. And Tahereh Mafi, the very writer of SHATTER ME, is having one where not only can you win her book, but a choice of others as well.

Check out the contest on her blog!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Perfect Pitch Contest

Hello, fellow writers! Have you been perfecting your pitches? I hope so, because the pitching is set to commence next Thursday, August 18th, right here on the blog.

Who is this contest for? You must:

  • Be an un-agented writer of YA or MG
  • Have a completed manuscript
  • Be a follower of this blog (It's not too late to hit that "Follow" button)
  • Tweet about the contest, linking to the blog

How does the contest work?

On August 18th, I will post an "Official Entry Post" post. In the comments section of that post, entrants will leave their 140-character pitch and their email address. Comments will remain open until midnight, August 19th. The judging literary agent will then peruse the entries and pick a winner, whose full ms will be requested.

And the big question: Who is the judging literary agent?

It's Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary!

Along with being a literary agent, Mandy Hubbard, also-known-as Amanda Grace, is the author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, But I Love Him, and three other to-be-published novels for teens. At D4EO Literary, she represents authors of middle grade and teen fiction. And she's awesome!

I had the honor of being able to ask Mandy a few questions to get to know her a little better. Take a look!

What is your favorite thing about being an agent vs your favorite thing about being a writer?

Hmm. I think as a writer, it's conneceting with readers. There's something very surreal about writing something by myself on my laptop and then reading a review online for it from someone who lives in a state (or country!) I've never even been to. Everyone draws their own conclusions and opinions about my books and it's amazing seeing different reactions. As far as being an agent, its definitely making a writer's dream come true. Having gone through many rejections as writer, there's something very satisfying and exciting about calling a client with good news!

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

  1. Give yourself permission to write crap. Crap can be fixed (as in, don't let yourself be paralyzed by fear-- crappy words are better than no words.)
  2. Write because you love it, not because you want fame or fortune or just to be published. You have to be in it for the right reasons.
  3. Never give up. I wrote several novels before Prada & Prejudice, and Prada went through 9 drafts and 26 rejections. You have to be willing to stick with it when the going gets tough!

Great advice! Okay, Imagine that Agent You and Writer You are a superhero duo. Who are the evil nemeses of each of you?

I think self-doubt can be hard to deal with, no matter what side of the table you're on. As a writer its natural but I never realized how much agents second-guess themselves until I was in the business for awhile and met a lot of them. We constantly compare notes. I think it's harder to maintain confidence as an agent than as an author!

Interesting! So, what type of manuscript are you currently eager to get your hands on?

Really dying for some great, grounded, character-driven fantasy or sci-fi. And I'm always a sucker for realistic/contemporary stories. Haven't yet found that Luxe-style historical, either. So bring it on!

You heard her. Get those pitches ready, writers! Then come back here on the 18th for your chance to win. And if you want to know more about what Mandy represents, check out her website here.

And good luck!

Don't Miss it!

Hi, everyone!

Big announcement coming later today on the Perfect Pitch contest. Be sure to check back!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Interview with Lisa Dale Norton

Hello, fellow writers! For those of you waiting to hear about the pitch contest, I will be announcing more details next week. Announcing the agent? Hmm, maybe. You'll just have to keep checking to find out.

In the meantime, I've got an interview with a lovely writer. Let's meet Lisa Dale Norton.

Lisa is the author of the wildly popular memoir handbook Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir and the critically acclaimed memoir Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills both published by St. Martin’s Press. She teaches memoir writing through her website——and works internationally with clients completing book manuscripts. Lisa lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. USA.

Welcome to We Do Write, Lisa. Tell us, how long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a little kid. I adored writing letters and wrote to everyone, long missives filled with events and thoughts and feelings. Little did I know then that I was a narrative nonfiction writer in training.

For years, early in my apprenticeship as a writer, I discounted this practice and passion for writing, thinking that “writing” was only the crafting of stories with characters and scenes, dialogue and adventure across exotic landscapes. And it’s true, that is writing—a form of it. What I came to realize over time was that my passion for writing letters, for the articulation of ideas and experiences embedded in those letters was an equally valid form of writing. That’s when my career as a writer really began moving forward—when I accorded importance to that which I naturally did, and did well.

What is the hardest part about writing memoirs, and what is the easiest?

The hardest part about writing memoir is figuring out what part of my life I want to write about, and how best to structure that portion of experience, given what it is I am trying to say. That sounds circular, I imagine, but it’s a key point.

Because memoir is not autobiography—it is not a written record of one’s whole life—the writer must select the elements of memory that when separated out compose some thoughtful whole unto themselves, that tell a story with meaning, that entertain and engage, and complete some arc of experience. That dance between memory and imposing structure on remembered events, trying to sculpt a larger point for a reader is both the most fascinating, and the hardest part of writing memoir.

For me, the easiest part of writing memoir—if there is such a thing—is the crafting of individual sentences once the larger story is blocked in and quite solid. It’s the fine work of considering each word, the imagery, the rhythm of sentences, and the perfecting of it all, sentence by sentence. That is work many people loathe, but I love it, and for me it is fun, and relatively easy.

What top three tips about writing memoirs can you share with writers?

  1. Select some portion that is worthy of exploration. Avoid the pitfall of trying to write about your whole life (and that of your forbears).
  2. Craft a voice that captures readers. Learn the power of language itself to shape that voice.
  3. Tell your truth. In other words: Be authentic. Anything less will produce a mediocre product.

What are you working on now?

A new work of literary nonfiction that combines two narrative lines—a journey my parents took in Europe right after the end of World War II, and a love affair in my life with a man who lives in Europe.

I am fascinated with the fact that stories shape people’s lives. That sounds like a simple sentence, but truly “getting” the insight that stories—the narratives that occupy our minds and guide our choices—shape our day-to-day realities is anything but simple. The narrator of my new work is opening to that dawning awareness.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Peace. Quiet. Beauty. Birds help, and the capacity to make a stiff cup of tea.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

To be a seer—to see events that are coming.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: discombobulated, safety harness, and inch worm.

Edward, the inch worm, felt discombobulated because the safety harness the townsfolk had given him to aid with his trek up the sheer stone face of the looming, ice-capped peak that threw its grim shadow across the town was too big for his mid-section, and he was fighting now—despite his methodical movement, which always calmed him—a creeping notion of panic.

Wow! What a sentence! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My thanks always go to the same crowd of people who love me and are always there for me: Gene Dieken, Georganne O’Connor, Karli June Hansen, Kathy Hansen Archibald, Alexia LaFortune.

And finally, where can people find you and your books online?

People can find me at my website: They can e-mail me there:

Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir is available from your favorite bookseller—your independent bookstore,, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, or from St. Martin’s Press, the publisher.

Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills can be purchased on line at, or by ordering from me at Hardcover and tradepaper copies are available.

Lisa, thank you so much for letting us get to know you and telling us about your books. Be sure to let us know when your next book is out!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sneak Peek Review: Nikolas and Company

Last year I had the honor of interviewing a very talented author by the name of Kevin McGill. In the interview, he talked about the book he was working on called NIKOLAS AND COMPANY: A CREATURE MOST FOUL. I was very intrigued by the idea of the book. And now he's let me take a sneak peek at the first 100 pages.

Let me just tell you: This story is awesome!

First of all, Kevin does a fabulous job of putting you smack dab in the middle of the story with his wonderful use of setting, and the flow and pacing of his storytelling are spot on. And this story is futuristic, so that's quite a feat to accomplish without sounding like you're just describing a Star Trek episode. And the world Kevin created is filled with creatures of all kinds. My favorite creatures? The humans. I absolutely loved the teens in this story. They're witty, they're brave when they have to be, they mess up, they try again, and they talk to each other like real teens talk to each other. I felt like following them around just to listen to their banter some more. Don't get me wrong, there's adventure in this story too. Nikolas takes his troop on a mission to ... well, you'll just have to get the books to find out.

Check out his website for more details.

Thank you, Kevin, for letting me get a taste of this wonderful adventure. I look forward to reading the rest of it! :)