Archive | February 2011

My “It was a Dark and Stormy Blogfest Contest” entry

The wonderful Brenda Blake is holding a first line contest where writer’s post their first lines in their blog and people critique them. Once the critiquing is done we post them back on her blog:

Here’s my entry for my novel Mishca, let me know your thoughts in the comments section by 9th February. Mishca was voted a ‘Top Pick’ on the YA writer’s site Inkpop, like the Carrier of the Mark – the first book to be published off the site.

Name: Sharon Johnston

Title: Mishca

Genre: YA Speculative Fiction

I always knew that I was adopted; it was pretty obvious. 

The prize is a critique on part of a manuscript and query letter with fabulous agent, Weronika Janczuk, so fingers crossed.

So, hit me with your thoughts below.

If you are a participant in the contest as well, please leave a link to your blog in the comment so I can check yours out too.

Leigh’s Legacy

If you haven’t heard the hype about Leigh Fallon and her debut novel, Carrier of the Mark – where have you been?! Leigh Fallon is the first member of Inkpop to be given a publishing contract by HarperCollins.

For those of you who don’t know, Inkpop is a YA writer’s site. Members read each others work and vote on their favourites with a ‘pick’. Each month the five favourite projects are awarded ‘Top Pick’ status and their work is read by a HC editor.

Leigh was the first inkie to be offered a contract. Rumour has it there is more to come, but for now we know that Leigh is the first, of hopefully many, in a new way for YA writers to be discovered.

So let’s find out about Leigh’s journey.

Tell us a bit about your writer’s experience prior to inkpop:

Honestly, I’ve had a short run in. I’ve been quite lucky that things have moved incredibly fast for me. I started writing in March 2009. The Carrier of the Mark was my first manuscript and I had it finished by the end of the summer 2009. As soon as I’d finished, like a complete rookie who hadn’t a clue how the publishing world worked, I sent my manuscript to a few agents in Ireland and two publishers in Ireland who accepted unsolicited manuscripts. I didn’t know what I expected. I didn’t really think I’d be published, I guess I was chancing my arm, hoping that something might come of it. Of course it didn’t. I tried a couple in the UK then the US (just for a laugh), but still no joy. Then I posted my manuscript online on a few writers’ websites, and in December of that 2009 I discovered Inkpop, uploaded The Carrier of the Mark. Four weeks later it was in the top five and got reviewed, and a couple of weeks after that, I had a publishing contract.
How did you get your agent? Did your success on Inkpop contribute to that?

Again for me it was a quick thing and done sort of back to front. I’d half heartedly tried getting an agent before, but I was just getting the usual generic ‘thanks but no thanks’ letters back. HarperCollins offered me the contract and I saw an opportunity to snag an agent of my choice. So I picked my top three agents and typed up an email explaining the situation and sent it out. Within a week I’d made up my mind to go with Tina Wexler of ICM. ICM is huge, an international, and a full service agency, and Tina Wexler is both lovely and talented. We clicked immediately. Having an offer of a published deal obviously helped in my securing Tina, but I like to think that if I didn’t have the HarperCollins deal that she would have eventually found me in her slush pile.

Do you think, if The Carrier of the Mark is a best seller (which I’m sure it will be), that agents and editors will take success on writing sites like inkpop more serious and why?

Oh God, I hope the Carrier of the Mark will be a best seller! Oh could you imagine? *drools*

Actually, this is quite a tough question. I think publishers take the writing web sites more seriously than the agents. Agents can cherry pick. They have thousands of manuscripts being chucked at them every day. It’s easy for them to be dismissive. I don’t blame them, I’d be the same. As far as I can tell, agents really need to click with a manuscript. They need to believe in the work… love it. It’s not enough just to have a manuscript that was loved by loads of people on a website; they need to connect with it. For them, it’s not just a case, oh it will sell. They want be in love with it too. Publishers need to sell a book, and in large numbers in an increasingly difficult market. Writing websites like Inkpop give your book punch, because it’s giving your book potential sales statistics. Unfortunately, to get that book with the super sales statistics to a publisher you need an agent… catch 22.

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment, apart from ensuring your twins don’t lock you out of the house again?

LOL. Those kids of mine are always plotting against me. I haven’t a hope of staying a few steps ahead of them. I’ve accepted my fate, now I’m waiting for the next twin assault.

On the book front, I’m nearly finished the first draft of the sequel to The Carrier of the Mark. And I have another one or two books in the pipeline for that series. I’m also working on a ghost story called Haunting Jenny. I’ve been working on a book for the adult market; it’s a sarcastic parenting guide. I’m having great fun with that.

What was your reaction when you:

a) Found out that you were going to be published by HC through Inkpop?

Screamed, cried, laughed, and scared a herd of cows out the back of the house while I ran around the garden in hysterics.

b) Landed your agent?

Screamed, laughed, felt ever so smug and self satisfied, and I’m sure I scared the cows again (poor things).

c) Saw your cover for the first time?

I believe I sat at my computer screen in shocked awe… I may even have shed a tear, and I know for certain I didn’t sleep a wink that night.

Have you been practicing your signature? And do you have an exercise program in place to strengthen your hand (I have a feeling you are going to end up with writer’s cramp)?

OMG! I never even thought about practicing my signature, but now you say it; I’ll get right on that. Now will I go for L Fallon or Leigh Fallon or just Leigh ummmm decisions decisions? LOL. And no, I’ve no exercise program in place yet, but I’ve had a couple of personal hand trainers suggested to me. This is a serious business you know.

Rapid Fire questions:

Zombie or Unicorn? Zombie

Night or Day? Day

Cinema or DVD? DVD

Joggers or flip-flops Flip-flops

Fringe or no fringe? No fringe

Batman or Superman? Batman
Thanks so much Leigh! I look forward to reading it.

Here is some links to find out more about Leigh and Inkpop.