Writer Interview: Jamie Grey

Today’s interview is with none other than one of the YA Misfits, Jamie Grey. I’ve known Jamie on Twitter for a while, and I have to say, she’s one of the sweetest Tweeps out there. Plus the title of her MS, Ultraviolet Catastrophe, is probably the coolest title in the world. Let’s get to know her.

AG: Tell us about your current project.

JG: My current project is a YA Sci-Fi called Ultraviolet Catastrophe. Here’s the blurb:

Lexie’s first assignment as a student at prestigious Quantum Technologies leads her to uncover a mistake in the master equation for an Einstein-Rosen bridge. Instead of a wormhole, this equation produces catastrophically uncontrollable ultraviolet rays. Except, it isn’t a mistake at all. It’s a carefully crafted plan that could devastate QT—and the rest of the universe. When the lead scientist turns up dead in the cryo chamber, Lexie knows she’s running out of time. Someone wants scientists eliminated and the correct formulas destroyed. And if she doesn’t find a way to stop them, she’ll be next.

It’s been such a fun book to write - kind of a cross between Eureka and Veronica Mars.

AG: Is it your first book?

JG: Nope, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. But, it’s only the 2nd book I’ve queried (if you don’t count the book I sent out 5 queries on and then realized it was completely awful!)

AG:  How did you tackle the revision process before you queried? Did you use CP’s?

JG: I’d be lost without my CPs! I don’t know what I’d do without them!
My revision process is to finish my first draft, do a read through and makes notes on what needs to change and how to fill in plot holes. I make those changes and do a line edit before sending to my CPs so they have a fairly clean MS to read through.

I usually do revisions using groups of CPs. So, I just sent out UVC to my first three CPs. I’ll fix the book based on their changes and then send it out to the next group. It works really well to get different people reading different version and catching different things.

AG: What was the querying process like for you? Any tips?

JG: I queried my last book for about 6 months. It got a lot of interest, but in the end it just wasn’t something agents thought they could sell. I think the biggest thing when you get to a certain point in your skill level is to remember is that it’s not always about your writing, it’s more about marketability. You could have the best book in the world, but if an agent doesn’t think she can sell it, they’re not going to take it on. It often has nothing to do with your skill.

AG: Do you blog? Where can we find you on Twitter and the internet?

JG: I blog at

I’m also a YA Misfit and blog over there as well -

I’m on Twitter as

AG:  What online resources have you used to help your writing and querying and revision process?

JG: I love Query Tracker - it’s become a bit of an addiction while I’ve been in the Query Trenches. I also love the writing community and love to read everyone’s blogs on process and writing. I’ve entered quite a few contests (Miss Snark’s First Victim, The Writer’s Voice, etc) and have found some amazing CPs and developed some amazing relationships through those. I highly recommend getting out there in the community if you have the time.

Such good advice, Jamie.  Now, everyone, go check out Jamie AND her fellow misfits!  Thanks for talking with me, Jamie!


Writer Interview: Alex Pendergrass

Friends, this week’s interview comes from Alex Pendergrass, who has written a sprawling fantasy…and those of you who know my reading tastes, know I eat that stuff up!  Let’s hear more about his epic project!

AG: Tell us about your current project.

AP:To Vivify Evil is a dark fantasy novel where centuries of inequality, and opposing ideas on how to resolve the disparity, come to a head with violent impact. The whole world stands at the brink when a monstrous foe from the past returns from the dead, intent on wiping out the bastions of power so that he might rebuild society in his vision.

The novel follows the personal stories of seven characters trapped in the upheaval: a victimized assassin, two young lovers, a vengeful orphan, an industrious thief, a seer whose dreams may hold the key to mounting a resistance, and a hunter whose race was marched from society and granted territory in the inhospitable north.

AG: Is it your first book?

AP: Yes and no. This is the first novel I began writing, over ten years ago under a different title, but it remained stagnant for years during my stint as a competitive gamer. At that time, it was little more than Lord of the Rings fan fiction, simply derivative and poorly written. Then around 2007/2008, I began reading A Song of Ice and Fire. My ideas about what fantasy could be completely changed, and I went back to square one.

I redid most everything, keeping a few location names and characters, and upped the content level. To experiment with a more mature style, I wrote a prequel novel that explores the origins of the villain and his motives. I finished that last year, and revised it, then received my first rejection letter before returning to this novel. I’ll revisit the prequel one day, I’m sure, but for now To Vivify Evil is my main focus.

AG: How did you tackle the revision process before you queried? Did you use CP’s?

AP: I begin revising, in earnest, by printing out the entire behemoth and forcing myself to take a red marker to it. There’s something real about having your story in a physical form, something about the feeling of it against your fingertips that, at least for me, helps illuminate flaws. I make several passes, focusing on grammar and spelling to start, and then one pass for each character to examine the logic behind their arcs, another for thematic cohesion, et cetera.

I’ve absolutely used beta readers. For several years, I’ve shared snippets of scenes or early concepts through various online writing communities including more than one run by one of your previous interview subjects, Benjamin Weller. Sidenote: I’ve had the honor to be one of Cloudnigh’s beta readers and it is glorious.

Recently, after completing NaNoWriMo last year, I joined a local writing group. There I’ve received critiques on the novel and helpful brainstorming sessions. I leave every Tuesday night riding a tidal wave of euphoric creativity. I highly recommend that authors find one of their own to join.

AG: What was the querying process like for you? Any tips?

AP: Still ongoing, and difficult. I’m trying to tell a truly sprawling, epic tale with many narratives, so I have a hell of a time boiling it down to a single page query letter. I’ve only sent one such letter, for the prequel novel, and received a quick, well-deserved rejection.

AG:  Tell us how you ended up with your agent.

AP: Well, not exactly an agent, but To Vivify Evil has been picked up to appear chapter by chapter, in the serialized style of old, for the launch of the website JukePop Serials. I think I benefited by the unique nature of the site. They only asked for the first chapter, so I wasn’t left trying to summarize the whole thing.

AG:  Do you blog? Where can we find you on Twitter and the internet?

AP: I have a writing blog on Tumblr, The Literary Gamer, which I use to give little updates on my writing progress sometimes. But mostly I talk about my favorite things. You’ll find a ton of A Song of Ice and Fire entries. I mostly bitch about my day job and quote my favorite rappers (I might be the only fantasy author to listen to Kendrick Lamar as mood music), with the occasional writing news on Twitter, @ajp88. And I’m in the process of creating an author page on Facebook, which I find incredibly narcissistic and yet necessary. The whole notion makes me uncomfortable but that will go live as the September launch for To Vivify Evil nears, and I’ll be sure to link to it through my other online presences.

AG:  What online resources have you used to help your writing and querying and revision process?

AP: I’ve always frequented online writing communities and forums. Most of them are now sadly gone (but we had a good run, Ben). I check Writers' Digest often for leads on new agents and tips in general. One of my favorite authors, David B. Coe, contributes to a website called Magical Words. It’s a website devoted to helping aspiring authors, run by a collective of writers and agents in the business. They have daily articles about a wide range of topics pertinent to the industry, and quite often they ask for examples from readers’ own stories and give helpful guidance in the comments. Finally, I used author Holly Lisle’s wonderful selection of courses to help create the languages, maps, and cultures of my world.

AG: Any extra info you’d like to add or discuss?

AP: Thanks so much for the wonderful questions. I love talking about artistry of all sorts. Particularly Martin’s novels, so feel free to engage me in debates on all of the various theories!


Don’t you guys love that serial idea?  So Dickens!  J  Go check out Alex and his awesome-sounding serial!


Writer Interview: Cassandra Marshall

Guys, Cassandra Marshall's new book THE STARS FELL SIDEWAYS is out and I have a GREAT interview with her!  Make sure to check out Cassandra and STARS, because you're going to want to be on this bandwagon, kiddos!

AG:Where did you get the idea for your story?
CM: You know what's really sad? I honestly don't remember where the idea for STARS came from. I know parts of it, but not the first spark. :( It wasn't a dream and it certainly wasn't based on a real event. :P

AG: What was your query/submission process like?
CM: I wrote it after NaNo '10. I was exhausted by that book so I wanted something new and fun and different from anything else I was working on. I wrote it quickly, spurred on by writing buddies that were loving the pages. I finished it, let it sit for a while, edited, edited edited, let it sit, edited again, and started querying widely in March 2011. So many agents were loving it, just not enough to rep it. I let it sit a few months without thinking about it and when I re-read it I cried, I loved it so much and didn't want it to just sit in a drawer anymore. Earlier this year I won a trip to NYC to Backspace and met a few agents there and did another query push. Those agents also loved it, but not enough to rep it. Some even said they liked me and my writing, but they didn't know who they'd sell it to. So I figured I'd sell it right to the readers myself, as readers aren't worried about imprints and sales thresholds and all that stuff. I've done more editing since deciding to release it, several copy edits, polishes, and more polishes. Hopefully it's about as perfect as I can get it. And I hope the readers like it. The best thing about doing it myself is that I'll be able to easily tweak if people come back with glaring errors :)
AG:Tell us about MolliePup Press!
CM: It's named after my dog, Mollie. She has her own hashtag on Twitter, #MolliePup. I almost went with Wiggly Butt Press, but my friends know MolliePup so I went with that.
AG: What were the last five books you read?
PALACE OF STONE - Shannon Hale
THE AGE OF MIRACLES - Karen Thompson Walker
UNBREAK MY HEART - Melissa Walker
AG: What are your other interests?
CM: Harry Potter, My Little Pony: FiM, my dog, crafting, and Jane Austen :)
AG: Do you believe Geek is the new Jock?
CM: I don't think I understand the question? Everyone is who they are, labels or not. The only thing that matters is whatever brings you joy.


Writer Interview: Nicole Steinhaus

Today’s interview is with Nicole Steinhaus, whose YA thriller is repped by the fabulous Bree Ogden. Check out Nicole’s success story!

AG: Tell us about your current project.

NS: The project currently out on submission is a YA suspense that follows a sixteen-year-old girl’s journey into proper diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder: Ellie Cox can’t remember--her childhood or how she got the tattoo on her stomach. It started out small...forgetting a drive home or a conversation with a friend. But her blackouts are getting worse, more difficult to disguise as forgetfulness. When Ellie goes missing, no one expects to find her in the apartment of another boy. Not even Ellie. Or her boyfriend, Shane. Another three days have escaped her and, if that isn’t bad enough, the boy, Griffin, keeps calling her “Gwen.” Ellie is branded a cheater at school and, fighting for Shane’s forgiveness, she struggles to regain her three days and understand why she lost time in the first place. After discovering her biological last name, Ellie sets out to learn more about her past. And it turns out “Gwen” isn’t just a name Griffin calls her. Gwen is a real person. Living inside Ellie. Created by Ellie’s childhood mind to protect her from the horror she used to call home. Gwen now wants to take over Ellie and live her own Ellie’s expense.

AG: Is it your first book?

NS:This was the third manuscript I wrote, though the first after spending a few months intensely studying the craft of writing. I read craft books, devoured the entire YA section of my local library and basically trained myself to write under the guidance of Donald Maass and others alike.

AG: How did you tackle the revision process before you queried? Did you use CP’s?

NS: I signed with Bree Ogden of D4EO Lit. Agency almost exactly one year from when I finished the first draft. I rewrote the manuscript twice (start to finish) during that year. I used my trusted CPs, but also feedback from contests and online forums. I don’t have any crazy revision routines. I usually outline after the draft is complete to look for plot holes and assess character/plot arcs then--my favorite part--line and copy edits.

AG: What was the querying process like for you? Any tips?

NS: By the time I was querying the third version of my manuscript, I’d learned to query a handful of agents, wait for feedback, revise, then query another batch. Luckily, I didn’t have to query too many within that round. I guess my tip would be to do just that--not query dump. During the first few rounds of querying, I received such great feedback from industry professionals, that it, for the most part, guided my revisions. In time, I worked out most of the issues and the manuscript became what it is today.

AG: Tell us how you ended up with your agent.

NS: I laugh now because even though I’d researched Bree before querying her and had read she was looking for a “Dexter-type” story, because I don’t watch much TV, I had no idea who or what Dexter was. I mean, I’d heard of it--I’m not that far out of the loop, but I didn’t realize how to-her-taste my manuscript actually was. Fortunately, my writing style was to her taste as well.

AG: What is that relationship like? What is doing agent revisions like?

NS: I love working with Bree. She’s funny, easy to talk to, and--whether she knows this or not--is slowly training me out of my got-to-get-it-done-right-now tendencies. When I signed with her, Bree didn’t see any need for revisions before the submission process, so I haven’t had to go through that yet. She does have a second manuscript of mine which I’m waiting for her opinion on, so we’ll see...

AG: Tell us about the editor submission process from your experience.

NS: Can you say STRESSFUL? The huge difference between editor submissions and agent submissions is I don’t have worry every time I open my inbox if there’s going to be rejection letters. Bree handles all of that and every few weeks will send me an update of where we are--which I love. It gives me more time to WRITE and focus on my editorial internship with Entangled Publishing rather than worrying about what I should revise next.

AG: Do you blog? Where can we find you on Twitter and the internet?

NS: I run a community blog called YA Stands ( where several authors and I blog daily about everything YA (book reviews, writing craft, and industry tips). I’m also on Twitter (, and Facebook (!/NicoleSteinhausAuthor)

AG:  What online resources have you used to help your writing and querying and revision process?

NS: I used to enter a lot of contests like WriteonCon and also used forums like those found at Agent Query and Query Tracker. I made a lot of friends and, more importantly, found some valuable CPs.

Thanks, Nicole! Sounds like you and Bree are a fantastic match, and I wish you all the best in the submission process! Go check out Nicole and her blog, everyone!