Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Talk about days flying by. I can NOT believe that its already Thursday again, but well, here it is and so as you all know, that means it is time for TKA's Q & A.

Before we get into today's questions I want to make sure that everyone saw yesterday's blog and marked tonight's chat event on their calendar. I am super excited that at 7pm EST my VERY talented client, Melissa Mayhue, will be available in TKA's Chat Room answering your questions.

Melissa's much anticipated, HIGHLAND GUARDIAN, will be released October 30, and this is a perfect opportunity to come and chat with Melissa about all things writing!


by Melissa Mayhue

Ian McCullough is neck-deep in his own trouble. A half-mortal descendant of Faeries, he's been a Guardian for more than six hundred years, but he's never encountered a woman like Sarah. Assigned to protect her, he finds the job tougher than he could have imagined. Oh, he can handle the stalker, and even the renegade Faeries trying to kidnap her. But falling in love means forsaking his role as Guardian -- which is some-thing he could never do.

But there is no denying the passion that exists between two souls fated to be together.

I can't wait to see everyone tonight at the TKA chatroom! And now . . . onto the questions. First five to hit the board are game. Put your thinking caps on, as normal I'm game for anything -


Blogger Jeff said...

I've been sending my novel around for quite some time now (two years, to be exact) and I know that it is very close to being accepted somewhere. I had one agent say to me in her rejection, "I like X, Y and Z about your story, but it just doesn't sing."

I've revised the manuscript multiple times, and gotten feedback from a number of different sources to bring me to where I am right now. I even turned to a freelance editor, paid for her opinion of my work and incorparated as many of the changes she suggested that I possibly could.

I'm willing to work hard and do whatever I have to do to get my work where it needs to be, but I need more help. Who should I turn to? I'm afraid that I'm just not quite good enough to make the final cut.

My question is this: will an agent work with someone who shows talent, ambition and determination but perhaps isn't quite "there yet," wherever "there" may be?

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 8:34:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, I'm not the knight agency, but a fellow not-yet-published writer. I'm not going to answer your question, but wanted to give you some encouragement. First of all, keep going! I must admit I sense a bit of desperation in your question... I just wanted to encourage you to start your next book, if you haven't already. For one thing, I think you'll find you get better and better with each book you write, and it's a nice distraction from the "business" of writing which requires an extreme amount of patience. I'm just starting book number four, and enjoying myself. Had a very reputable agent for one of my books, but it still didn't sell. Getting an agent is great, but it's no guarantee. I'm not meaning to discourage you with this, but want to encourage you to keep writing, telling stories, and also, yeah, sending stuff to agents. If you don't already *have* patience, then trying to get published will *teach* you patience... good luck!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Jeff -
This is largely dependant upon the agent in question. If you go with an agent that already has a full and busy client list they are most likely going to be looking for something that is fully ready to go. If you are interested in a newer agent that is still actively building a list they are most likely going to have more open time to work one on one with an author and their manuscript.

Authors need to always remember how much material is out there. Agents are inudated on a daily basis with a hundred new manuscripts. Unfortunately, it just doesn't make sense to spend time cultivating something unpolished if a polished product is waiting in the queue.

My advice to you is to start a new project. Perhaps this particular manuscript isn't the right thing. One story can only be revised so many times, and it sounds like you have done about as much as there is to be done in this case.

9:28 AM

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:30:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

anonymous - GREAT ADVICE, we were very much on the same wavelength there!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:31:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Wendi said...

Thank you, Ms. Spencer, for answering our questions today. I've written a women's fiction coming-of-age story that is set in the deep south. Church is a central part of the community and the characters are Christian. There is also a native American healer whose influence blends the community's Christian beliefs with her natural healing methods. The novel does not adhere to guidelines set by the inspirational publishers, so I've shied away from any mention of the religious influence of the story. But should I try to use that aspect of the story as a hook? Or is better just to focus on the themes of forgiveness and love? I don't consider the novel to be inspirational, although I don't think it will be offensive to the inspirational community either. I think the relationships between the characters and their lifestyle choices are more "real" than those typically drawn in inspirational novels.

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

CBA publishers (the Christian market) have VERY strong guidelines and if your book doesn't fit in those by just a hair, then you will not find success trying to pitch to those outlets. Don't try to make a story something that its not because the CBA is particularily strict in this nature. There are other options available that aren't straight CBA, more inspirational outlets such as Harlequin's Steeple Hill or Grand Central's Center Street - these could be possible matches for your title.

This question is impossible to answer not having seen your story. The best advice I can give you, and its advice I've given time and time again, is head to the bookstore or Amazon and find stories that have similar themes and determine how they have been marketed.

It sounds like it's a women's fiction story where the themes of forgiveness and love are blended into the plot via the characters strong religious morals.

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 10:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Wendi said...

Thank you, Ms. Spencer. You nailed it: "It sounds like it's a women's fiction story where the themes of forgiveness and love are blended into the plot via the characters strong religious morals." That's exactly how I see it. Now ...back to query revision...*groan*

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 10:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeff said...

Thank you both. I have indeed started working on my next novel, which is number six for me. I've just got to keep at it, but be willing to let go if necessary.

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 10:14:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard from a couple of different sources now that some editors are actively looking for a "big contemporary romance" that is not paranormal, and I'm trying to understand what they mean by "big." The best I can come up with is that the stakes, both emotional and physical, should be high, but I'm wondering if it means more than that. That it should have a suspense element, for example, or a mystery element, or...what?

How would you interpret big?

Thank you for any insight you can add!!


Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 11:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Gena Showalter said...

I hope to make the chat! Melissa's second book is one I want!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 11:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Dixie – That is the million dollar question that we are all asking ourselves everyday. We all groan when we hear the "and of course we are looking for great contemporary romance" from the editorial side - this whole concept of "great" or "big" or "smart", (insert your own adjs at will), is extremely subjective but EVERYONE wants it.

Basically you are point on. They are looking for a project with the high stakes. These need to first and foremost be emotional and physical, but from there they can spin off in many directions.

When editors say big, I think you can interpret it to mean they are just looking for that thing that hits there desks and smacks them across the face. Regardless of the details, when they start reading they are hooked by the voice, by the characterization, by the plot, and by the subplots. It all blends seamlessly into this "big" great read.

That is all I can give ya on that, you really did ask the unanswerable question, IMHO, the one that keeps each of us on the prowl for new material everyday, just waiting for that thing that you see and say "now that's big".

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 11:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Gena - Can't wait to "see" ya. Twice in one week? I must have done something to make someone VERY happy :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 11:56:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's on your "wish someone would send me" list currently?

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 1:20:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's on your "wish someone would send me" list currently?

A big contemporary, clearly...
(sorry, couldn't resist.)

Thanks, Elaine!


Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 2:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Elaine,

What's the hear back time on queries right now?


Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 3:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or partials?


Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 3:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Keri Ford said...

I hope to make the chat tonight too! My internet's been a hit and miss game all day, so i hope it has it's act together in time!

Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 4:49:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know an author who published a book with Five Star in 2005. They don't seem to be a small press publisher, the book is on epinions and available through She tells me she still wants an agent but still doesn't have one. Could she have gotten one if she told them - this publisher wants me and I want you to negotiate the contract?

David Weisman

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 5:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Anonymous - "Wish someone would send me" - I have a lot of things I wish someone would send me right now. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE a great "big" romantic suspense story. One that sizzles but also has a really clever catch that blows me away plot wise.

I also would love to find a heroine that I just totally fell in love with. There have only been a few leading ladies lately that have really taken me. I'm in the mood for one of those.

Now that you've got me thinking, I would also really like to find a really different and fun straight historical.

And I'm looking for a clever paranormal, something light, perhaps pirates, witches, gypsies, I don't know something other than Vamps and Werewolves.

And I would also be totally down with a great new YA. I have one in the works right now that I'm uber excited about, but I am always looking for more. It would be much fun to find something like Gossip Girlish. But fresh.

And of course TKA is still looking for all our standard genres, so just because I didn't list something, please don't assume we don't want it!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Lisa - Queries are caught up to date as of Tuesday. I do have a few in the box that go a bit farther back that I want to request material on and unfortunately I just haven't gotten those emails out. Those instances don't span farther than Sept though. So, if you are waiting longer than that, please resend!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...


Partials, and this is just my box I'm speaking for, I can't be sure what is going on in the rest of the ladies worlds, but for the most part we are up to date as of August. There are a few exceptions to that general statement, but in most instances we have chatted with those folks. If there is something you have been waiting on for longer than that from me, please drop me a line, let me know I need to get my rear in gear!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

David, You are lucking out, you are actually question #7 but since I won't be around for the next few Thursdays I figured I would step get ya an answer.

The answer to your question unfortunately is no. Five Star is a very reputable press, but garnering a contract doesn't guarentee an agent, regardless of the publisher.

While there are a select few agents that will sign on any client who comes their way with a contract in hand, for the most part we have to be convinced by the writing on our own merits first. The writing still needs to take precedence in our world, we need to LOVE what the author is doing. Yes, we could take on the client that has a contract in hand but what happens when their next book doesn't get picked up by that publisher and we have to try to sell a manuscript thats about something we don't like or where we can't stand the authors writing style?

For these reasons, contract or no, it's important that an author find someone that loves their writing for their writing, not because there is a promise of immediate money.

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Thanks everyone, I hope I got all the questions. As I mentioned we are going to be gone for a few weeks but I look forward to hearing more of your questions come November! Happy Writing folks!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 9:59:00 PM EDT  

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