Agent Time!!!

Greetings, all!

I am *beyond* excited to report that I just signed a contract with literary agent Lesley Sabga of the Seymour Agency!!!

When I wrote the “Epic Indianapolis” post just a few days ago, I had no idea just how epic the results of the writing workshop would be! I pitched THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP to Lesley that afternoon, and she has since read the book. Lesley truly seems to get the heart of what I’m trying to do with my writing, and seems almost as excited as I am about getting my writing out into the world (which is really saying something… those of you who know me KNOW just how excited I am!).

Adding to the coolness is that she is with the Seymour Agency, making me an agency brother to my awesome friends and mentors Carey Corp, Lorie Langdon, and Melissa Landers! This is almost too much awesomeness. By the way, if you haven’t looked them up and read their bestselling books yet, please do! And check them out on Twitter (@CareyCorp, @LorieLangdon, and @Melissa_Landers). They’re some of my favorite authors on earth, and some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet!

This is all a pure blessing, a good and perfect gift from above. A wonderful answer to my prayers to move on to the next phase as a writer.

Now begins a new chapter (pun entirely intended) of my writing career. I’m pressing ahead as fast as possible with the rewrite of THE PROVING while sharing everything else I’ve written with my new agent. I am sure there is work to be done polishing the Magic Stones books, and I am so ready to tackle it. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Thanks!

~Kevin

 

 

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Epic Indianapolis!

Greetings all!

Last weekend I attended my first ever writers conference and pitched my books in-person to literary agents! The Indiana Writing Workshop in Indianapolis, hosted by the Writing Day Workshops organization (@WritingDayWksp), brought together about 200 writers from all genres seeking to find their perfect literary agent while learning about publishing from experts in the field. Live pitching my writing is something that I had never before considered doing. But at the dawn of 2018 while setting my new year goals and spending some time praying about them, I had the strongest sense that it was time to try something new. Email querying for both my young adult and middle grade books led to some successes last year, meaning a few requests for partials and full manuscripts here and there, but I seemed no closer to finding that perfect-fit agent who both loved my writing and believed they could sell it. The old saying nagged at me; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

Then I found the Indiana Writing Workshop. Three things about it caught my eye immediately; it was local since Indy is only a 90 minute drive away, it was inexpensive (less than $200 registration fee, plus $29 for each 10 minute agent pitch session), and it featured one of my dream agents Marisa Corvisiero.

I first heard of Marisa around the time I finished the first draft of what became THE PROVING (it was then called “Emergence”, and it was not very good at all). I actually queried her at the L. Perkins Agency in 2011, but got back a response that she had just left to start her own company, the Corvisiero Agency. I kept an eye on the Corvisiero Agency over the years as they grew because they were clearly good at what they did. In Indianapolis, she was scheduled to teach half of the day’s sessions and was taking live pitches! In addition, agent Lesley Sabga was attending from my great friends Carey Corp, Lorie Langdon, and Melissa Landers’ agency (The Seymour Agency), plus another agent from Corvisiero, and several others I’d heard of before. I immediately registered.

The the fun began. A few days after signing up, I received a group email from the workshop organizer looking for local participants who would be willing to drive an agent from the Indy airport to the hotel. Of course I replied *instantly*, figuring the odds weren’t great but that it was at least worth a shot at having time to make friends with a literary agent. Guess who the organizer picked for me to drive? Yeah… Marisa Corvisiero! The day before the conference we spent about 45 minutes chatting as we drove from the airport to the hotel, and it was great. She’s just about the nicest person you can imagine! I talked a little about my work and got to mention my Fifth Grade Fans as a plug for the Magic Stones collection, and learned a lot about how she runs her agency. What a fantastic connection!

The next day arrived, and it was time to live pitch THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP. I was unbelievably nervous… but my first pitch of the day was to Marisa! Her friendliness made it so much easier despite a few anxious screw-ups I still made. She liked the concept a lot, and requested the full manuscript. My day was absolutely made.

Then it got better. I pitched to four other agents that day, and they *all* liked the concept and requested to read Midnight Keep! The workshop really could not have gone any better. I highly recommend Writing Day Workshops for anyone out there trying to get published; they host similar events in cities all across the country. The Corvisiero Agency also does one day workshops, with one in Charlotte, NC in less than a month (March 10, 2018). Knowing Marisa, it will be fantastic.

All of that said, the proof is permanently stuck in some really thick, heavy pudding. Having the manuscript requests is wonderful, but will at least one of these agents love the story and how I wrote it? The wait has begun, and it can be a long one… Alice Speilburg of the Speilburg agency also taught during the workshop, and she announced from the podium that she was currently reading submissions received in October of 2017. As always, patience is the number one personality trait needed in traditional publishing. But even if I don’t find my perfect agent from this experience, I am so glad to have met agents Marisa, Alice, Lesley, Kortney Price, and Cyle Young. Connections are important in *every* business, and publishing is no exception.

In the meantime, I’m writing! I completed an “extended edition” of THE MAGIC STONES OF LAKESDAWN CASTLE a few weeks ago, adding in a few deleted scenes to bump the word count up to a more respectable 40K words. I did a little more concept shaping and sharpening for THE MAGIC STONES OF RIVERSIDE CAVERN, which will be the third book in the Magic Stones collection (I’m almost done the all-important first chapter!). And I’m re-writing my YA fantasy THE PROVING into an entirely different beast. More on that later.

Thanks all, and stay tuned!

~Kevin (The Tome Writer)

More Fifth Grade Fans!

So many thanks to my awesome friend, beta reader, and fifth-grade teacher Keri, who delivered yet another round of THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP fan mail and fan art from her class!

MSoMK 4

Now this is my kind of criticism! “I just don’t understand why it had to end”. LOL! Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not averse to the idea of the endless middle grade fantasy novel. It’s just that I’m not quite sure I have the time to write it.     🙂

Relic Pit

I simply LOVE THIS. In chapter 1, our hero Aril falls into a pit at night and breaks her ankle. Eventually her friend Truly rescues her with a length of rope. This drawing is so fantastic! I love the emotion on Aril’s face, and the pain lines around her ankle. I received more than one critical comment from this class about Truly; apparently some of the kids want to see a lot more of her. Maybe in future books?

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Now that’s faith, my friends. In case you can’t read it, this fan writes “I want to read it again when it comes out in local stores.” Well, ME TOO! Let’s see if we can make that happen.

Running Sands 1

This is a great drawing from Aril’s perspective when she first arrives at the Running Sands and sees a desperate person drowning in the fast-moving powder.

These drawings and letters warm my heart. These kids are so creative and are very good at expressing their thoughts about what they heard in the story! I will post more soon, so stay tuned.

Thanks!

~Kevin

Big News! The DOON Book Series Optioned for Television!

Greetings all! It’s time to take a moment to celebrate the success of two great friends, Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon!

The #DOONSeries Has Been Optioned for TV!!!

Check out the link above from the USA Today exclusive article and interview!

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It’s been so much fun getting to know Carey and Lorie over the past few years, and I can’t even tell you (though I’ve tried over these blog posts) how much I have learned from them as my writing mentors. Along with Melissa Landers (STARFLIGHT and the ALIENATED series) and Jennifer Osborn (The Shilund Saga and THE DAWNING OF SCARLETT), they form a nexus of amazing people that I am so blessed to call my writing “tribe”.

I’m a huge fan of the DOON series, and now Hollywood shares my opinion. It’s so great to see this happen for them (and for all of us fans). If you’re a reader of YA fantasy-romance, or YA fantasy of any stripe, I can’t overstate my recommendation for the four-book Doon series (Doon book 4, FOREVER DOON, is pictured above). Besides, if you read them now you’ll be all caught up by the time DOON makes it to TV!

You can check out more at their website http://www.DoonSeries.com, or look them up on Facebook. If you’re addicted to Twitter like me, follow them at @CareyCorp and @LorieLangdon.

Thanks for reading!

~Kevin

Sage Advice from the Fifth Grade!

Greetings all! This one is too good to not share:

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In case the writing is not clear for those on smartphones, here is the gist of the message:

“Your book is amazing! I don’t know where to start. One of my favorite parts is when Aril and Pritenn go to the slave yard and Pritenn gets taken by men. When she gets beat up its very sad and cruel but very cool and interesting. I’m sure your book will be published, but just in case it doesn’t I saw a commercial saying ‘if you need a publisher don’t wait call: 1-800-622-1421’. So if your book doesn’t get published you can call that #.”

I absolutely LOVE this! Friend and beta-reader Keri’s fifth grade class is totally looking out for me! The fact that this young reader (well, listener… Keri is reading THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP aloud to the class) took the time to write down the phone number is just beyond great.

Right after I stopped smiling, the student’s comment really made me think about the long process of trying to get published and the inevitable question of self-publishing. I have been actively writing for nearly nine years now and still do not have a publishing credit to my name. The argument could be made that the first five years were required for me to learn *how* to write, but the point remains. Maybe I should self-publish?

I have considered it many times. I’ve researched several different ways to self-publish. I’ve probably learned the most, however, from watching the efforts of other successfully self-published authors. Just as before, I come to the same conclusion now; while it’s not out of the question, it is very unlikely that I will ever self-publish either THE PROVING, its sequels, or the Magic Stones collection. While the reasons are many, the most important one is really more a gut feeling than a fact. Something within me continues to strongly believe that traditional publishing is the right path for my work. While it may not ever happen, it will be a very long time before I stop trying to become a traditionally published author (if I ever stop at all!). This is in no way a critical comment about the self-published; they work far harder than I could probably manage! But I am going with my gut.

More to come soon! In the past week I have received requests for partial manuscripts from two agents, which is very exciting. In the meantime, I am continuing to actively query agents about the Magic Stones books and THE PROVING while still writing new stories.

Thanks for reading!

~Kevin

Fifth Grade Fans!

I’m not sure that anything in the land of writing could have made me more excited than this.

My awesome friend and beta reader Keri is also a fifth grade teacher at a local elementary school. After she finished THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, she asked me if she could read it to her fifth grade class. Naturally my response was a resounding yes! But I didn’t expect what happened next. The students not only love the story, they’ve given letters and fan art to Keri to deliver to me! See below.

IMG_20170912_143414 The letter above says “Chapter 3 was amazing when she got stronger and indestructible because of the stones. And also when she threw the barrel of water that landed on her head after she threw it. And before that when she pushed and threw both guys all the way across the room. I love the book so far and we only read chapters 1-3 so far.”

I can’t explain how fantastic that little note made me feel. What an encouragement! Then a few days later, two more arrived via email.

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The first drawing shows the main character, Aril, during chapter 1 when she finds a pair of magic stones while stuck in a pit near Midnight Keep. The second, with accompanying letter, shows one student’s depiction of a fearsome Dramini Bonecrusher – MUCH more fearsome and awesome than any version I could’ve managed! I absolutely love these pieces of fan art and the wonderful messages of support. So wonderful! Many times I have imagined one day seeing fan art and letters about my writing… but I never thought it would happen before I even had an agent (much less a publishing deal)!

Needless to say, I am advertising these comments and pictures to literary agents and acquiring editors ad nauseam. What could be better proof of the potential of a book series than feedback like this from the target audience!

Many thanks are due to Keri and her fantastic fifth grade class. Hopefully there’s an acknowledgement page out there in the future with all of their names on it.

Until next time,

~Kevin

The Running Sands

dads desert boat final

From THE MAGIC STONES OF MIDNIGHT KEEP, Chapter 5:

I drank a little extra water and pressed on through the hot wind. But at the top of each rise I could see the long depression a little more clearly, and it really did look like there was a river flowing through it. Dark colors stretched along its length, stark against the bright sand, and it appeared to be flowing east. I began to worry; I hadn’t counted on what the heat might do to my mind despite the presence of the stones.

But as I drew closer, I doubted my doubt. It really did look like a river of dark, churning water. Could heat visions seem this real?

Topping another tremendously tall dune, I stopped with a gasp. Far below me and stretching from horizon to horizon in an almost straight line lay my river. Through the misty drog I guessed it about one hundred yards wide and flowing fast with breaking waves of various heights churning in the stiff breeze.

But something was wrong. The waves moved much too slowly, and peaked with bursts of dark mist that carried with the wind far too long, giving the drog a shadowy hue. And the sound was unlike any river I’d ever heard; this was not the rolling rush of water, but high-pitched and hissing as if it was made of…

“It’s sand,” I said, removing my head-wrap. “Diamonds! It’s flowing black sand!”

Original artwork, as always, by the incomparable KTJ.

Interested in reading an advance copy? Just let me know.

~Kevin