Wednesday, July 15, 2015

3 Contest Success: Author Tara Sim and her agent, Laura Crockett of TriadaUS Literary, on the power of persistence and intrigue!

You may remember that Tara Sim's YA manuscript Timekeeper was a winner in our Pitch Plus Five contest last year. 

Well, this year Tara has some amazing news! Not only did she find a wonderful agent, but TIMEKEEPER is set to be published in Fall 2016!

To celebrate this amazing success story, we invited both Tara and her agent, the fabulous Laura Crockett of TriadaUS Literary, to share the details of Tara's path to publishing.

1. Tara, how long have you been writing?

I've been seriously writing since I was 15, when I wrote my first book. I remember composing poems to my dad when I was six, and writing the odd short story here and there, but it wasn't until I wrote my first book that I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. The last 11 years have been a long exercise in craft and finding my style/voice.

2. Did you ever have a moment when you thought you were going to give up?
I don't think I've ever thought of giving up. There were episodes of despair, though. Between graduating high school and my first year of college, I had terrible writer's block and couldn't finish my third novel. I eventually bit the bullet and finished it, and I'm so glad I did, because it re-lit my passion. There have also been times, like when I was querying, where I just wanted to crawl into a hole, but eventually I knew I would climb out of that hole and get back to work. It's perfectly okay to retreat to your hole/blanket fort/underground lair, as long as you get back into the fray afterwards!

3. How did you decide to enter Pitch Plus Five? What was the contest like?
I heard about the contest through a friend. Since it sounded interesting and I liked the challenge, I entered TIMEKEEPER (my first YA book) and got in. The contest was a great learning experience. I loved reading all the different excerpts and pitches, seeing what worked and what didn't, what some people liked and what others didn't. It taught me a lot about subjectivity, and how something can be loved or hated depending on the reader. That was humbling.

As far as my progression with TIMEKEEPER, I watched in surprise as it made it to the top 25, then the top 10, and then came out as one of the two winners. It helped not only with my confidence in the project, but in evolving the pitch and the first few pages, which are integral when querying.

4. Tell us about your offer(s). 

The offer from my agent, Laura Crockett at TriadaUS Literary Agency, was both expected and unexpected. I queried Laura a few months after Pitch Plus Five, and shortly after I sent her the full manuscript she followed me on Twitter. Sometimes agents will follow you for no apparent reason, but I felt like this meant something. I even had a dream that she offered me representation, but only if I brought her a pot roast (it was a difficult time, mentally and otherwise). Strangely enough, that very day, she called to offer on TIMEKEEPER--no pot roast required.

5. What's next for you?

TIMEKEEPER has just been acquired in a three book deal by Sky Pony Press. The first book of the trilogy comes out fall 2016. For more info, check out the Goodreads page.

1. Laura, what about the pitch and the first pages of a manuscript is most essential to draw you in?

The pitch needs to be concise. I'm most attracted to queries that read like a book jacket -- in fact, all of my authors had queries like that. A bit about the setting, interesting situation with the main character, the turning point in the plot, and then intrigue! Make me curious. 
The first pages are tough. I prefer to be dropped into it, next to the main character, experiencing what they're facing right that second. Backstories and world-building should happen gradually, no matter the genre. With Tara, her main character was on an assignment to fix a clock tower and he was nervous. Why was he nervous? Why was it so important to fix the tower? Can he really manipulate time? Who's this deformed, silent apprentice? I fell into the manuscript.

2. What was it about Tara and her writing that made you decide to extend an offer of representation?

She's intelligent, creative, funny, and such an excellent storyteller. That's what we're about in this business. Tara's manuscript kept me up late into the night, her characters were in my head for days, and I wanted to have that experience exclusively for all of her books. When you know, you know. It's like finding a new book to read, getting sucked in, and now that author is your new favorite author and you will automatically buy his or her work forever and ever, amen.

~ posted by Sandra Held


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