Can I (An Author) Respond to Reviews?

Should Authors Respond to Reviews, EVER???

As I was scrolling through a certain social media site this morning, I ran across a posted article by BookRiot and entitled “Dear Authors: Don’t Respond to Goodreads Reviews.” Written by Brenna Clark Gray and originally published on July 10, 2015, this article discussed a certain author ‘going off’ on a reviewer. Using this as a basis for her opinion, Ms. Grey proceeded to conclude that authors should not respond to any reviews, good or bad, because even to say thank you is to intrude on the reviewers “reviewing space” which, apparently, could be compromised and their ability to write a completely honest review would fly out the window (I’m rephrasing here but I believe that was the basic gist of the paragraph.)

If you would like to read the article, click – here– to do so. I would also like to suggest that you go on to the Book Riot Facebook page – here – and find this post to read the comments. While a few seem horribly venomous and slightly under-educated about the idea, the comments really serve as a good cross-section of research for readers’ feelings on the subject.

The comments on that post were honestly what made me think more on this topic. The idea that an interaction with an author, no matter how respectful it is, could make someone uncomfortable is something I really had never thought of. As both an author and an avid reader, I’ve always nerded out at the littlest minute possibility that my writing heroes noticed my existence! But then again, I don’t believe that I ever told them they were stupid and uneducated, which some of the reviewers do on occasion.

So what answer have I come up with after pondering this question for a few hours? What has my reading and writing brain concluded? Well, in my semi-expert (in my own mind anyway) opinion: Go for it! Answer those reviews respectfully. But DO NOT ANSWER THEM IMMEDIATELY!

What I mean by this is not that you should look at an absolutely horrid 1-star review that gives no reasons for their loathing of your life’s work other than the idea that you were born without a brain and a chicken quite possibly transcribed your story, stew on it for a few hours, and then write a well worded, scathing, and absolutely equally horrid response insinuating that the reviewer is, in fact, living with the half brain donated by their family’s beloved pet donkey. No. That is, in fact, a very poor plan. Because however else I feel about Ms. Grey’s article, I 100% agree with the statement that no matter what the outcome, an author who responds in such a manner will be hurt by it.

Do NOT tell them how stupid they are. Someone who can’t spell basic words once reviewed a book of mine a trashed it. They claimed the book was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes and that it took away from the story. However, they rated it a 3 star and proceeded to state that they had bought the other two books and were currently reading the second (at the time). I wailed and went off about that for days. However, I did not respond (ok…I may have responded and then immediately deleted my response). That kind of back and forth will probably never do any good and even hollering about my degree in education, heavy on English and Music would only serve to make me look worse.

So what, then, do I mean? If we can’t respond to the uglies, what can we do? We can cry, scream, cuddle those stuffed animals saved from our childhood that we swear are only there to inspire our next great children’s book…and then we can move on to other reviews. The reviews that include reasons for the low rating, questions about areas in the book that confused them, or even glowing recommendations. These are something that might provide for a GOOD interaction with our readers. For these, I would suggest reading them multiple times, letting the questions or comments simmer, and then writing out a respectful response that asks for more detail about where/what their complaint pertains to in the story or answering their questions. If you cannot do this in a respectful, kind manner then DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL! However, if you can respond appropriately, this can lead them to connect with you on other sites, possibly even garnering recommendations or new readers.

Additionally, if they have specifically commented on something they enjoyed about your story responding with a little information about that segment, a little behind-the-scenes backstory, can create a bit of a bond between reader and author. It gives them a peek into your process and allows for a respectful and friendly back and forth. This can also lead to them recommending you to their friends, following you on social media, and possibly even becoming a new reader buddy.

You must use your best judgement though! Please, please don’t force yourself to respond to people if you don’t feel like it. Some people say that authors should put their work out into the world and never look back, letting their ‘baby’ fly on alone. I don’t believe that those people have ever spent what feels like an eternity writing, re-writing, editing, revising, sending out, reading rejection letters, formatting, and printing pieces of their souls. I could be wrong about that though. It is all a matter of personal opinion. This post, as pretty much everything else I write, is my own opinion.

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Please use self-control and self-policing here. Our goal is not to scare readers or make a bad name for ourselves, it is to help ourselves grow as authors. If you do not feel comfortable responding to reviewers or feel as though you would be nasty to them, then please don’t force yourself to respond on my account! Remember, you can usually also send a private message to the reviewer if you would like to quietly and without fanfare ask for specifics from their reviews. That can sometimes be the best option. IF you do ask for their specifics in order to look it back over, please consider also sending them a note that you’ve revised that section or asking them read the possible revisions so that you know if it works better in the new format or wording. You may have just located a new Beta reader with fresh eyes for your work.

Have any thoughts on this topic?? Can’t wait to hear from you!! Until then, may you be blessed with great reviews and fabulous bursts of inspiration.

 

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Author Interview-Carol P. Roman

Hello Everyone! Welcome to another edition of Author Interview Fridays! Today we’ll be speaking with children’s book author Carol P. Roman. Welcome Carol. Let’s get right in to it and start with the questions:

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1)      Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author. 

My son’s dared me to write a book. I had always wanted to, but was afraid. They told me to write about what I knew, so I chose to use playtime with my oldest grandson as the subject, and Captain No Beard was born. I love to play imaginary games with my grandchildren, so putting our adventures to paper was an easy task.

Children’s imaginations are AMAZING. I love seeing what my daughter comes up with. She and my nephews have been the source of  more than one story 🙂 Besides, who can walk away from a dare?
2)      What genre(s) do you write in, and why?
I write in both fiction and non-fiction. Captain No Beard is an exciting adventure series involving a group of cousins who travel the seven seas in search of adventure. Each book has a gentle lesson and is based on events in my own life. If You Were Me and Lived in…is a non-fiction series that introduces culture to young children. I am a former social studies teacher and love to examine what makes the people of our world similar, so this series was a natural for me.
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As a former writing and science teacher,  I always love to read books like this and to see how people react to them! Isn’t it so much fun to follow your passion?
4)      Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.
Captain No Beard’s crew are based on my four grandchildren, so they are by far, my favorite characters, ever. The stuffed animals are based on different family members. It fun to see if they can guess who is who, and sometimes a relief when they can’t figure it out!  My all time favorite fiction character is Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With the Wind. I adore reading her story over and over again, watching circumstances change her.
I always find pieces of myself or my friends/family in characters I write, to some extent. I am often happy when they don’t find themselves! Can I admit something here, just between the two of us? I’ve never read Gone with The Wind. I know the circumstances and I’ve seen bits of the movie, but that is one classic I’ve never even tried to pick up. 
  5) There is a lot of controversy among fandoms about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?
I would love to see my books reach more people. I think they have a very important message. Captain No Beard teaches children they are never alone. The series touches on bullying, sharing, working well with other, stranger danger. If those messages are sent to a bigger audience, that would be great. The cultural series teaches tolerance through knowledge. I would hope Hollywood wouldn’t mess with those ideals.
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  6) How do you handle writer’s block?
Never had it. I always find subjects to write about. It’s fun, not pressured. My day job has pressure enough, so this is a labor of love.
That’s amazing. Even if I don’t have any pressure, I still sometimes find myself with writer’s block. I think it stems from the insanity of day to day life. 
7) What inspires you?
Success inspires me to do more. The reaction of my fans, the awards and reviews make me feel appreciated. This has given the second part of my life so much meaning.
8) How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?
It is one of my jobs and I usually add it in last. I guess I am not that comfortable with it yet. It is just one of the things I do- I am a wife, mother, grandmother, businessperson, teacher, and an author.
 Finally, tell us where to go to find you (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Online Bookstores, Physical Stores, Etc. List them all for us please!) 
Thank you Carol! 
Remember, if you or someone you know is an author, an illustrator, an artist, or a musician and would like to be interviewed for this blog please leave a comment down below or message me on Twitter @writerbaby13 or Facebook facebook.com/TyreeTomes

Spotlight On…Maggie Stiefvater

Welcome to another semi-new and hopefully weekly post for Here There Be Dragons…The Spotlight On Art segment is meant to do the same for illustrators, musicians, and artists as my Author Interview Fridays do for us writers. However, I don’t have as many artist connections and, as such, have had the Tuesday Interviews kind of fall by the wayside. Therefore…I am going to start spotlighting a mixture of the famed, infamous, unknown, etc etc etc in the rest of the art world.

This week the spotlight lands on Young Adult author Maggie Stiefvater. Many of you may know her as the author of such books as The Raven Cycle Series and The Shiver Trilogy, among others. However, were you aware that Maggie is also an accomplished musician and artist?

WELL SHE IS! I just finished listening to The Raven Boys on audio book this past week. At the end of the final chapter a haunting Celtic melody flows behind and between the last words, tugging at the sleeping bits of your brain and prodding at your creative heart until the final notes die away and you think…”WAIT WHAT?? THAT’S IT?? NO NO NO…WHERE’S THE REST? WHAT HAPPENS? ACK!” (Or I did anyway). Turns out…that would  a Maggie Stiefvater song. Check out the making of video HERE, or just look at her YouTube Channel and plotz because she’s bloody well amazing. There are videos of drawing, music making, talking, and many other wonderful things I can’t begin to describe well enough for you (Like the video below!).

This woman draws, writes novels and music, plays several instruments, works on her own vehicles, and is just the kind of super cool that makes you a little bit afraid, a lot in awe, and even more a fan. Kudos to you Maggie Stiefvater…I wish to be like you when I grow up.

Here are a couple of other places you can find her snazzy wit and great work:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mstiefvater

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieStiefvaterAuthorPage/?fref=ts

Blog: http://maggiestiefvater.com/blog/the-future-belongs-to-those-who-read/

Website: http://maggiestiefvater.com/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/maggie_stiefvater/tracks

If you have a favorite artistic type person you’d love to see featured, or if you or someone you know would make a good time dancing in the spotlight…LET ME KNOW!

Until next time…have a Blessed and Artsy inspiring week!

Sunset and Inspiration

I did try to edit this video so that everything turned the proper way…unfortunately I don’t know enough about video editing yet to have done a really good job. If you can ignore the fact that I’m sideways, however, I think the content is pretty solid. Especially since I got the idea and recorded on the spur of the moment without an outline or much of an inkling as to what I would say.

In this video I mention my first novel, Dragon on My Neck. During this month (December 2015) my books will all be available for free e-book download, at various points, through my amazon author’s page so be sure to check those out as well. The 4th book in The Stone Dragon Saga will be available sometime during the first few months of 2016 so now is great time to get caught up on the story thus far!

Next time I’ll try to do a better job of watching camera angles!

 

Author Interview: Kayla Matt

Thank you everyone for joining us on another segment of Author Interview Fridays. Today I have the great pleasure to present to you the author of what we’re calling ‘hybrid’ novels, Kayla Matt.

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Thank you for taking the time to participate in this Kayla! Let’s get to it:

Author Interview Questions

  • What name do you write under? Is this a pseudonym? Do you use more than one name when you write?

I usually go by K.Matt. It’s not a pseudonym. But if I did have one, I’m not sure what I’d use.

  • Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.

To be honest, I can’t really pinpoint when, exactly, I’d realized that I was an author. I went to college to become an illustrator, and am still working at that. If I had to choose a time, I’d say that it was sometime in middle school that I started writing more. But I never put much thought into publishing anything until after college.

  • What genre(s) do you write in, and why?

Now this is a loaded question… My work is usually some blend of horror, sci-fi, and urban fantasy. The books themselves are 1st person/present tense, and consist of a combination of prose and graphic novel elements. The reason I stick with this—let’s call it a hybrid—is because I enjoy it. I wish I could say there was more to it than that, but there really isn’t. I enjoy it, and find myself hoping that others do, as well.

  • What genres are your favorites to read? Why?

I’ll go for pretty much anything that’s not romance/erotica. But if I had to pick a favorite, I would say probably fantasy. Usually, I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels. For those, the same rules tend to apply: nothing too heavy on the romance.

  • Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.

Now this is a hard one… There are a lot of fictional characters out there that I love. And having to choose just one of my own is like trying to tell someone to play favorites with their kids. But here goes!

Out of all characters created by someone else, I think one of my favorites of all time may be Batman. Not a literary character, per se, but the different approaches taken with the character over the past 75+ years interest me. People have gone campy with him, they’ve gone serious… there’s a Batman for pretty much every mindset. He’s been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

I will accept Batman as a literary character!

As for mine, it’s a toss-up between Travis and Ivy. Travis is my favorite to write. He’s the main narrator of my first three books, and is a half-monkey man with hair longer than any of those around him. His friends and family have probably taken to calling him Rapunzel behind his back, after a certain point. Also, he possesses a strong regenerative ability, accompanied with an insanely high metabolism. Along with all of that is some level of insecurity, some of which concerns his nose, and a lot of it having to do with his childhood.  As for Ivy, she was the first one I’d created, around 13-14 years ago. Telepathic, telekinetic, and has a very unique blood composition that requires her to drink alcohol as opposed to water. She works as an assassin, but greatly enjoys her downtime. And both can veer into smartass territory every so often. So, like I said, it’s sort of a tie between these two.

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  • There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?

 

I think it would all depend on how much input I would get. If someone were insane enough to want to make a movie based on these books, I’d hope they would agree with my vision. I’d definitely want it to be animated. At the same time, I would NOT want it to be geared toward children. Seriously, just no. Of course, the controversy that would likely stem from it would definitely help raise further awareness of it… But no. I’d rather not receive angry letters from someone’s parents.

  • How do you handle writer’s block?

In that case, I usually put on some music, watch cartoons, and grab a snack. Or roleplay with a friend. That generally brings about ideas.

  • What inspires you?

Oh, man…I have a lot of inspiration out there…horror movies, Disney films, animation, the works of Stephen King and Jim Butcher… And comics. Can’t forget comics.

  • How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?

Oddly enough, it hasn’t really come up. Though I would imagine I would get offended. Usually, they seem to be somewhat interested, and then ask where they can find my books. Which is, of course, some degree of nerve-wracking.

Seriously, apparently the people in my area are the ones that worry about ‘stability’ and ‘money’…or maybe they’re just the ones willing to rudely spout it out to a person they’ve just met.

  • Finally, tell us where to go to find you

My Twitter handle is @MarieTwixie, and my Facebook page for my books is at http://facebook.com/HellBentBookSeries ,where one can find all sorts of artwork and updates pertaining to these books. Both Visions and Retribution can be found on Kindle and in paperback on both Amazon and CreateSpace, and in hardcover on Lulu.com. Book 3: Destruction is currently in the works, and if I can get it finished when I’d like to, it should be up for release around Halloween. Hopefully.

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*All images provided by, and property of, Kayla Matt*

Thank you Kayla! We look forward to seeing what you do next.

Remember, if you would like to be featured on an interview here, leave me a message or comment and let me know!

Author Interview: Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree

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Dr. Tyree

Hello everyone and welcome to the third installment of the Interviews segment for Here There Be Dragons. 

Today I am honored to welcome minister, professor, author, and my dad, Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree. Thanks for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to answer a few questions for us sir.

Let’s get started:

  • What name do you write under?

I often write under the name Bible Chair.  The name is above the door and I write under it.  The name I use to identify my work is Dr. Wilson J Tyree

  • Is this a pseudonym?

Nope, that’s the name they gave me at birth, including the title.  They knew I was special.

  • Do you use more than one name when you write? No
  • Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.

In reality, my writing grew out of a need to organize and recycle my teaching.  Sermons, Bible classes, etc. Seem to beg to be put into written form, organized and shared with audiences I might never meet.

To be fair, he recycles the material far more often than this lets on. Ask him about The Woman at the Well sometime when I’m not around.

 

  • What genre(s) do you write in, and why?

Religion and spirituality are my main fields of endeavor, as they are my areas of expertise 😊

He also has a children’s book out, writes poetry (some of which is available in Ministerial Musings) and works well as a backboard to bounce ideas off of.

 

  • What genres are your favorites to read? Why?

I rarely read full volumes, but occasionally read articles concerning biblical studies.  My eyesight is poor and my attention span minute.

  • Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.

I am intrigued by St Augie, a character from one of my own short stories (Found in the volume Ministerial Musings).  As for characters created by others, I’m partial to Nancy Drew.

Notice it isn’t one of my characters? Not sure that he’s read any of my books in their entirety…not even the short story ones!

 

  • There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?

Can’t imagine a scenario where that would make any sense at all.  For the record, though, I would rather see a book brought to life in 2 hours or less than to invest the weeks of squinting and concentration needed to wade through the printed page☺

His children’s book, Monsoon McKreel and the Rose could be made into an animated picture with ease.

  • How do you handle writer’s block?

I write as a sideline, so I can often move to another project and come back later.  For items with a deadline, (I write a weekly religious column for the local paper) I tend to retreat to commentary on current events in my own life.

  • What inspires you?

Faith, Hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love (Paul).  I enjoy that moment when someone “gets it” because I’ve been able to organize the material in a way that makes sense to them.  Keeps me coming back.

  • How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?

I’m minister.  I’m pretty used to that face.  The one that gets me is the fake face when they say they would love to read my stuff.  😃

See, he lives in the same town I live in. All of you that are telling me you’ve never had that ‘face’ show up…come visit.

 

  • Finally, tell us where to go to find you

My blog is a bust.  I rarely remember to post.  Best spot is Kindle.  My goal is to give away about 1000 books per year, so check the kindle free list on just about any given Monday or Tuesday.  If you’d like to help me in this quest, like us on Tyree Tomes and share the freebie announcements.  I appreciate your time.

He regularly has free e-book give aways, which we always post on the Facebook page. You can also find updates for his work here on Here There Be Dragons, since the Tyree Tomes blog hasn’t had a post updated in months (MONTHS…*sigh* I remind him…)

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www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes

Thank you for participating in our Interview Segment, Dr. Tyree! Good luck with your new books, your new semester, and that weird kid you have 😉

Remember, if you would like to be featured in an interview on this blog, please just drop me a comment or message and let me know. I’ll get you set up with some (hopefully) fun questions and a little bit of free exposure.

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Monsoon Essays Buffy and BiffLostandFound

Author vs. Writer

Today I want to talk to you about something that has been bothering me, eating at me really, for a few weeks now. Actually, that isn’t accurate. This issue has been bothering me for over a year and every time I think I’m finally over it, every time I think I’ve acclimated myself to it, I realize that I was wrong and it still bothers me. “What could this issue be?” I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves what I’m up in arms about. Well I’ll tell you: the use of the words author and writer to mean very different things. Such as ‘well I’m a writer, but not an author.” Or “how would you advise someone who is aspiring to become an author.” etc. 

Almost every day I see an interview or comment in which someone is referred to as ‘aspiring’ to be an author, or in which someone defines that moment wherein they became an author as the time they finally published something, etc.

Not to be rude or anything, but I completely disagree! To be an author does not mean that you have published and to be a writer does not mean that you have not. What it means is that you have accepted in yourself the fact that you are who you are, and the way you do that is through telling stories in whatever form of wordsmithery you’ve chosen.

I find it so frustrating to be talking with someone who says “oh you’re a writer/author, what would you say to an ASPIRING author?”

I say there is no such thing unless you haven’t started yet. When you write, you’re a writer. When you’re a writer, you’re an author. The first time you completed the first poem or short story that had anything of your own ideas in it, sometime back in about 1st grade or so, you became an author. In fact, according to the writing process taught to our students, you became a ‘published’ author by turning in a completed work to be read and reviewed by your intended audience (the teacher). So get that concern out of your head. You’ve been there a while.

Dictionary.com defines an author as a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist. As well as, the literary production or productions of a writer: the maker of anything; creator; originator:

The same site defines a writer as a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist. AND a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing :

Not to be too sarcastic here but: OH LOOK, an author writes and a writer writes. No where here does it say “An author is a person who is published and you can only use this title when you have an agent, a traditional publisher, a set of editors, and a personal illustrator.” No, it says an author is a person who ‘writes.’ A writer is a person engaged in writing.

They are one and the same everyone! SO please, stop giving advice to ‘aspiring authors’ or “writers looking to become authors.” If you write, you are already both.

I understand that calling someone a ‘beginning writer or author’ is a little less elegant and Jr. author probably isn’t the thing either, but for the love of words, let’s find something that works to show that they are starting out without implying that they don’t actually write!

For the record, I have been an author for my entire life and a writer since i learned the alphabet…not that anyone can read my handwriting any better now than when I was 3. I had poetry officially published a few times throughout jr. High and High school, but didn’t ‘officially’ publish in 2012. That means I’m aspiring to learn more, not that I’m an aspiring author. See the difference?

Querying Angst

After months of researching, looking through dozens upon dozens of bio pages, and a few false starts, I finally sent off my first new query letter. I feel almost as though I have been tredging through some dating site, trying to find someone with similar style and interests while maintaining compatible personality differences…instead I’ve been looking for an agent.

I posted earlier about writing the query letter…I never got a response but that’s okay. Since every thing I read had at least one difference, I can see why people ‘liked’ but didn’t comment. Yes, that’s right, every single one of the 15+ articles and e-books I read had something different: anything from “yes, mention if this is a series” vs. “NO! DON’T SCARE THE AGENT AWAY!” to “write in a professional voice devoid of humor or other personal traits. The writing will speak for itself” vs “They won’t read your writing if your query letter voice is too professional and staid.” and even “only query one agent at a time…even if they’re in separate companies or for separate genres/age levels/pieces” vs “Go ahead and query a bunch of them all at once. Just don’t query people who work together.” (Oh and BONUS – “never say ANYTHING about how long you’ve been writing, because that makes you sound like a newbie” vs “If you’ve been working on this book, or writing in general, for X amount of years, casually slide that into your bio.) I spent a lot of time over the past several months just sighing and shaking my head.

Obviously, Agents are people too and they each will have their own set of wants, needs, desires, and/or dreams for the query process. So I did what I usually do with anything, I took a little from here and from there and I mixed it all together with a solid dash of “I live with Dragons bruh” arrogance (I don’t EVER really use the word ‘bruh’, but it seemed to fit in this instance, the newly minted sixth graders would be proud of me). I even threw in my parents and toddler for good measure…if I’m going down, we’re all going down! (or something like that!) No, seriously, I mentioned them all but, hopefully, for a really great reason. You see, instead of searching out an agent and desperately trying to get them to take me on with my self-published series (which I WILL be trying later…hopefully with the agent I queried today…But my reasoning and choices for that will be an entirely different post) I chose to send in Leonard, with all of his Lemur charm, and described him as a picture book type leveled science/reading reader for k-2 students.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I AM EXCITED! I am also terrified, doubtful, and ready to curl up into a tiny little plus sized author ball in an oversized blanket fort with a notebook to dry my cheeks on. This must be what #writerproblems was invented for.

Do you have any stories like this? The joys or woes of finding representation? Questions, comments, or critiques? Is it just a slow day at the office? I LOVE to hear from you!

May your agents and muses be plentiful and your blanket fort well equipped!