Thursday, August 31, 2017

0 Linsey Miller, author of MASK OF SHADOWS, on pitch contests being her thing

We've had so many amazing authors provide interviews lately that we're spreading them out to Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than overwhelming our readers with writing wisdom on Saturdays.

We're delighted to have Linsey Miller join us to chat about her debut novel, MASK OF SHADOWS.

Linsey, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

My time has come. For young adult readers, I would suggest OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis, THE UNINTENTIONAL TIME TRAVELER by Everett Maroon, LIZARD RADIO by Pat Schmatz, WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore, LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Córdova, OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey Coulthurst, IF FOUND RETURN TO ASTROPOP by Lucas Hargis, SHADOW RUN by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller, TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim, THE READER by Traci Chee, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi, THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie, PANTOMIME by Laura Lam, TERRIER by Tamora Pierce, THE TIGER’S WATCH by Julia Ember, EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES by Rhoda Belleza, NO MORE HEROES by Michelle Kan, REBEL SEOUL by Axie Oh, WANT by Cindy Pon, HUNTRESS by Malinda Lo, and GRACELING by Kristin Cashore. Most of those are science fiction and fantasy, and all of them share similarities with MASK OF SHADOWS in some way. Some of them don’t come out for another year, but they are definitely worth the wait.

If you like adult (some of it short) fiction, maybe try Michael Matheson, Scott Lynch, Kameron Hurley, Claudie Arseneault, RoAnna Sylver, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, Austin Chant, and Rose Lemberg.

How long did you work on MASK OF SHADOWS?

It started out as a too long, too complicated adult fantasy in my head, and then during the eight-hour drive to my very first YallFest in 2014, I plotted it out and realized it worked much better as a young adult novel. I didn’t start writing it until 3 months later. The first draft took a month, and that was in 2015.

All in all, it spent about two years being revised and edited.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I wrote two books before MASK OF SHADOWS. Both were YA fantasy, and the first was absolutely dismal, but I was lucky enough to win a full manuscript read from an agent early on during a pitch contest. The agent was then nice enough to include reasons for the rejection, so I spent the next year improving the issues the agent had highlighted before writing my next book.

The second book was much better but I always felt it wasn’t the book. Then, when I was trying to phase it out and wipe the query slate clean for MASK OF SHADOWS, I got a very unexpected (but loved) offer of representation from Rachel Brooks during a pitch contest.

All in all, I wrote two books before MASK OF SHADOWS and those two haven’t been published (though I’d love to revisit them in the future).

Also, apparently pitch contests and I get along swimmingly.

What are you working on now?

My next book! It’s a YA fantasy that’s getting written with a lot of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels playing in the background, and I’ve wanted to write it for a while. But I also write short stories weekly for school, so at any given time, I’m writing a lot of different things.

Lots of murder, magic, and science in all of them, though.


Mask of Shadows
by Linsey Miller
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 8/29/2017

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender-fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Purchase Mask of Shadows at Amazon
Purchase Mask of Shadows at IndieBound
View Mask of Shadows on Goodreads


bw-photoA wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in September 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.


Have you had a chance to read MASK OF SHADOWS yet? What sort of success have you had with pitch contests? Do you feel they help you build up your pitch style? Have you figured out your entire story but put off writing it immediately? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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