How to Survive the Query Trenches

Look it’s me in the query trenches! 😂

So, (disclaimer) I’ve never received an offer of representation, but I’ve done a lot of a LOT of querying over the last three years, and shockingly, I’m still alive and at it. So, I thought I’d share a trick or two on how to stay positive and make the process as painless as possible

Please keep in mind this is just my personal querying philosophy which may or may not work for you. As always, take what’s helpful and leave the rest!

1. USE Querytracker

I use the free version to filter for agents seeking my genre/age group. For example, I’m in the middle of querying a YA sci-fi. So I searched for agents interested in young adult and science fiction, and only queried the ones interested in both. (But not before reading their bio and manuscript wishlist first… and everyone else’s in their agency to make sure I was querying the right one.) Honestly, after three young adult books, if an agent has even thought about repping YA, I’ve probably read their bio. 😂

Since I use the free version of querytracker, I also make a giant spreadsheet to keep track of agent name, agency, and query date, to make sure I don’t double query anyone or any agencies.

2. keep your query files updated and ready

Specifically, I have a folder with these files: query, synopsis, first three chapters, first 10 pages, first 20 pages, first 50 pages, and first chapter. Also, I save any other questions they ask me in case another agent asks the same thing.

This is what I have so far for my current querying manuscript: pitch, audience, similar titles, why I’m the right person to write this book, movie/show comp titles, a line about my MC, who would play my MC, the theme song for my book, and the inspiration for my book.

Pessimist?

3. Keep Expectations low. always.

Okay, so, maybe I’m a pessimist, but this one is important to me, because I have gotten quite a few full requests now on multiple novels, and… none of them panned out. Some of them even came back with positive feedback (but still a rejection), and there are also quite a few that I never got a response on at all! And I am painfully aware that even if I get an agent one day, my book still may not sell.

Keeping my expectations low is how I keep myself from getting crushed with every rejection, and maybe one day I’ll be shocked out of my socks with an offer of rep. But… right now, I treat query letters like lottery tickets, and keep on keepin’ on.

4. Know what comes after

So there are really three parts to this.

A. Have at least a rough idea of how long you will query for.

Because you could non-figuratively query one work for your whole life: query one agent, wait 3 months and CNR (closed: no response), revise, and then query the next agent. And that’s totally okay! Just have a strategy going in.

B. Know what comes after.

Will you heavily revise and re-query down the road? Will you shelve the work and query something else? Will you self-publish?

Knowing what comes next helps reduce the fear of rejection. It helps to remind us that rejection is not the end, but merely the next step of the journey.

C. Work on something else while you wait!

This is pretty common advice, but SO true. If I find myself excited to wrap up querying on book ABC so that I can query book DEF (because I’ve grown as a writer, this book is my best yet, and it’s TOTALLY the one!) then this strategy has succeeded (again.)

Make a friend along the way

Because there are a lot of us querying writers out there (Just check out #amquerying on Twitter), and nothing quite takes the sting off rejection like commiserating with a friend. So, find your Sam, Frodo, go throw that query into Mt Doom… and then, you know, maybe one day, Sauron will offer to represent you.

🤔

Wait a minute, I think this analogy went wrong somewhere… 😂

Anyways, keep laughing & try to enjoy the journey. Because there will always be another Mt Doom to climb (or something 😂.)

Actual me after three years and four novels in the query trenches… and still working on the next one (which is totally going to be THE ONE. 😉)

Thanks for reading! And if you have any other querying tips you’d like to add, feel free to comment below!

Audiobook Review – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


I picked this audiobook up from the library, and I have to say, it was not what I was expecting. The premise is fairly simple: an aging mega superstar (Evelyn Hugo) with seven late ex-husbands calls up a journalist a little out of the blue in order to write her biography in the time she has left.

So, it’s essentially a story within a story, as the journalist manages her own career and deals with impending divorce, while trying to puzzle out why Evelyn Hugo chose her, and also learning from the powerful woman.

Evelyn Hugo, in turn, spills the secrets of her life. She does not flinch away from her flaws and is unapologetic as she details her choices. She is a woman that did what was necessary to get what she wanted and succeeded.

This book is about the nuances of passion, friendship, and relationships. It’s about the choices we make, regret, and how we value ourselves.

Once again, Reid’s writing pulled me in, making me nearly forget this was fiction. And in that vein, I want to be very clear that this is NOT a romance, and happily-ever-after’s are hard to find here. It is a story that once again seems to fit somewhere between drama and literary and will leave you with a bittersweet aftertaste.

I don’t know if I’d watch the movie, but if you’re looking for an engrossing, complex story, then this is definitely worth the read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐3⁄4

Now, enough of the heavy reads. For the love of god, someone recommend a fun romcom.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Rock Paper Scissors


Okay, you got me. I was totally prepared for a twist, but I still didn’t guess it! Love it when that happens. Still, this book leaves a strange aftertaste. The premise follows a couple with a strained relationship that’s won a free vacation in a creepy, restored chapel in the Scottish highlands and are using the getaway to try to put their relationship back together before it ends in divorce.

Meanwhile, we get their history through a series of letters written on every anniversary. We also get the POV of a third player at work here, who has unknown intentions for the couple.

It is really hard to review this one without giving anything away, but suffice to say, all the characters have secrets, and at the end, I’m pretty sure I don’t like any of them. 😂  Still, I enjoyed the ride, and would recommend to anyone looking for a fast-paced suspense. However, I will say, if you already know the twist, I don’t think it would be nearly as fun.

⭐⭐⭐⭐1⁄4

Gotta love a book that keeps you guessing!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Lincoln Highway


Okay, I’ll admit, this book baffles me. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow, so I picked up this audiobook from the library. From the outset, Emmett has just been released after serving time in a juvenile work farm, and he and his young brother, Billy plan to follow their mother’s route on the Lincoln’s Highway to California for a new start. (spoiler: although many words are dedicated to this plan throughout the book, it never happens, which feels really… unsatisfying to me.)

Then two of Emmett’s friends (Duchess & Wooley) show up with a wild-haired plan to go (essentially) steal some money. And I think your enjoyment of this book will somewhat depend on how much you want to strangle Duchess from the moment you set eyes on him.

The book is told from many perspectives, and while their journey/adventure is interesting, I feel like there were so many plot threads that were left unresolved (especially Sally’s. Like what?!), and ultimately the ending left me strangely unsatisfied, and just kind of… baffled.

Beautiful writing, interesting characters, a winding journey, and some strangeness. A lot of people loved this book, so it might be for you, but not really for me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Here’s a little bird on my mother’s hat to lighten thing’s up amidst this heavy streak.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Cloud Cuckoo Land


I remember really enjoying All the Light We Cannot See, so when I saw this audiobook at the library I was curious to see what this was all about it. Although I haven’t read it, this book did remind me greatly of the movie, Cloud Atlas. It essentially follows a story’s journey and the people who love it and try to save/preserve it, from the 1500s Constantinople to an interstellar ship in the nearish future.

This is another one in which 90% of the book is rather depressing until you reach the hopeful payoff in the end, and you wonder if it was all worth it. Each of the characters live intensely rough lives, and they look to the ancient story, Cloud Cuckoo Land, as a symbol of hope and escape that they cherish and must work hard to pass on to future generations. The idea is sweet, but I found this book to be another difficult read from an emotional standpoint. The payoff at the end though was excellent, and honestly I found the author’s historical inspirations to be super interesting.

Some of you will no doubt adore this book, and while it was a bit heavy for me, I’m glad I took the journey.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ 

What is it with all these heavy books recently!?

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Malibu Rising


I picked this book from the library, in that random way that I do, without knowing what it was about or what to expect. And, I still don’t really know what to think about it. The story follows four siblings, the children of an absent ultra-famous singer, as they prepare to host their annual, infamous celebrity party in Malibu in the 80s. Interspliced with their story, we also get the history of their mother and father’s story, from their beginnings to present day.

The four siblings really drew me in with their nuanced, fully-fleshed personalities, and also the intense bond between them, forged through a difficult childhood with the abandonment from their famous a-hole father, and their loving but despondent and alcoholic mother. The writing is beautiful, and the story feels so real, you get the urge to google if Mick Reva is a real person, just in case.

However, on the whole, I found this story, for the most part, rather depressing. Both in the family’s story and the nostalgic description of Malibu’s changes. There were a few things that I didn’t quite buy, and honestly I did think about DNF’ing around the 60% mark, just because I don’t tend to go for heavy books that leave you down.

Still, the pay off and catharsis at the end was almost worth it,  I did enjoy the over the top shenanigans of the Reva children’s party, and they do get a relatively happy ending, even though, after several weeks distance, I still think of it as a heavy read.

Recommended if you’re in the mood for a middling to heavy read somewhere in between the spectrums of drama and literary. Some of you will definitely love it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ 

And… also kind of makes you want to get out and go surfing.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Essence of Stone


The Essence of Stone by Haley Rylander is a sweeping, epic fantasy with intricate world-building and political intrigue. The plot essentially follows a city of elves as they try find the source of the strange, destructive earthquakes attacking their city and their source of Vierstone, the magical foundation of their society and their race. Simultaneously, they must navigate an alliance with the neighboring human kingdom, which promises them another source of Vierstone in exchange for their support in battle.

The story spans a wide cast of elven characters and dives deep into the politics and history of Vierstone, their world, and their people. The characters are likable and the writing was detailed and flowed with a rich, fantastical feel. However, the romantic elements were light for me, and the pacing for this epic felt a bit on the slow side. Of course, my general preferences lean toward a hearty helping of romance at *breakneck* speed, so if you’re looking for a lush world of elves and men, political maneuvering, and an interesting magic system with a sciency, hard set of rules, I recommend you give this one a look!

Thanks to the publisher for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. Essence of Stone launches on May 14, 2022.

⭐⭐⭐1⁄2

Mmm. Books. Nom Nom. Tula says give me another!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts


First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts is a collection of romantic short stories centering on the sweetness of first love. I always find short story anthologies featuring multiple authors so interesting, because you never really know what you’re going to get!

This one is no different! There were some stories that were funny, some poignant, and some a little awkward, but overall I think this collection nailed the little bites of cute, clean romance.

The Castle of Ohno by S.E. White, an atmospheric, unique twist on Beauty and the Beast with voicey, interesting characters, was probably my favorite and definitely made me want to read on!

I also enjoyed Clyde and Coalesce by Kim Elliott, a super cute modern taken on Pride and Prejudice featuring an up and coming band and two roommates in a story that I wish was longer!

I also enjoyed how the stories of Marmalade Sunset and The Art of Making Doughnuts also showcased first loves at different stages of life with a more poignant take.

Overall, I thought this and enjoyable, light read, and would recommend to anyone looking for an uplifting collection of clean, sweet romance to fill an evening.

First Love: The Art of Making Donuts comes out Sep 6, 2022, and thanks so much to the publisher for the ARC!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

The world’s heavy enough as it is. I’m always here for a quick, light read!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Bared Magic


What a charming story! Wynne lives in magical world full of were-beasts and other interesting magics, but as a siphon, she finds herself often on the run from those who would misuse her own gifts. And they manage to chase her right into the cottage of three were-bears.

This is a fast-paced, light story that takes place in a intriguing and yet cozy magical world. I really enjoyed all the characters, there’s quite a bit of fun action to keep them going, and I thought the audiobook narration was fantastic. The romance does happen rather quickly, but I really liked watching the connection grow from both POVs, and overall I just thought it was unique, clever adaption of Goldilocks that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thanks to the publisher for the free audible promocode!

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ 

Thumbs up for a fun, fast-paced fairytale retelling!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – People We Meet on Vacation


So after I read Beach Read by Emily Henry, I’ll admit, I jumped into this with some high expectations. After all, my husband and I go on a big traveling trip every year, this should’ve been right up my alley!

And there’s still a part of me that believes that I really should’ve liked this book… the characters were likable, I love traveling, and I like the writing style… but this one fell a little flat for me.

The premise is that Alex and Poppy are two very different (just) friends that take a summer trip every year for the last 10+ years. Half of the book is Poppy talking about those trips in flashbacks, and how basically for the last 10 years she’s been trying to convince herself she’s not into Alex. The other half of the book goes through their current trip, after they’ve gone two years without talking to each other, and it feels… super awkward.

And I can handle friends-to-lovers if it’s over a gradual (and relatively short) timescale, or if there’s something obviously in their way that needs to be fixed or lots of other if’s! But none of those things applied here, and in general, I felt like the concept of time was just way off in a lot of ways. Also their interactions felt strange to me- like in that uncanny valley between platonic love and not, and on top of that, if their vacations did have some kind of magic to them, I wasn’t feeling it.

But lots of people have liked this book, so maybe it was just me! If you like friends-to-lovers romance, don’t let me stop you! (But I might recommend Beach Read instead!)

⭐⭐⭐¼ 

Okay, I know I said more Emily Henry books… but now I’m having second thoughts. Time for something new!

Thanks for reading!