Writers on the Rise: Introducing Maxym Martineau
Universal truth: writers are AWESOME, whether they have agents, book deals, contest wins coming out their ears, or are in the query trenches. Yes, trenches. You know, the period of time when a writer leaves behind anonymity and braves the rejection-heavy world in their attempt to obtain representation by a literary agency.
It’s a mouthful, ain’t it? Yeah, so is doing it. But when I was querying and entering every contest available, I found myself surrounded by amazing people who were querying right alongside me. Not only did my other “Trenchers” keep me going, but these were also the people who taught me the most about how to do this crazy thing we’re trying to do, and what kind of cheese goes best with red wine. (It’s Tillamook cheese, btw.)
It’s for that reason I reached out to writers who are either actively participating in contests or are querying agents, and I asked them about who they are, what they’ve learned and would like to share, and how we can support them in their journey.
I hope you join me in welcoming
K: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, Maxym! So first, what genre and age category do you write?
M: I tend to stick to New Adult and Adult. As far as genre goes, primarily fantasy and romance. Light fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy romance . . . I have a contemporary romance that I occasionally visit, but it’s hard for me not to douse that sucker in magic. And I love to write about kissing. ALL THE KISSING. Yup, that about sums it up.
K: All the kissing! A motto I live by myself ;) So how long have you been writing? And can you tell us what inspired you?
M: My mom says I started writing really early on. I’m talking like I learned how to hold a crayon and I just started going. But as far as what I can consciously remember, I’d say 13 (so about 13 years now, but those first eight weren’t really serious). I have exceedingly vivid dreams and night terrors, so I started writing as an outlet. I think that’s also why I’m so drawn to fantasy — it’s the closest thing I can come to in terms of capturing the fantastical elements that pop up in my dreams.
K: That’s so incredible that you started so early! And as one very vivid dreamer to another, I love the idea of swirling fantasy and reality into your writing that’s prompted by your unconscious mind. So with your aforementioned 13 years of experience (wow!), what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about writing/querying while in “The Trenches” that you’d like to share with other authors?
M: Oh boy. What haven’t I learned while hanging out in the trenches? It really comes down to two things, I suppose, and one of those things sparked the other realization. First and foremost, get involved. Be an active part of the writing community. I spent my first few years in the dark, totally unaware of Twitter contests, beta readers, critique partners — the works. Rejection is hard to handle, and I had (unknowingly) placed myself in a very bad place in terms of writing. It was like trying to navigate a class five river in a banana boat. And sometimes, it still is. But now, I have people to go to. When something doesn’t work, I can get advice and feedback (something agents rarely have time to do) and that makes everything easier. Like navigating a slightly less dangerous river on a banana boat but with a paddle.
But beyond that, and this is the second realization, it’s important to set smaller realistic goals. I have lofty aspirations (as we all do). And I’m not saying you should toss that primary goal to the wayside. I’m just saying give yourself something smaller along the way. A positive review on your query, a request for pages in a contest, winning a contest, a request for pages from an agent — any goal that isn’t the obvious, “become a best-selling novelist overnight.” Trust me, accomplishing the little goals along the way is a huge win, and it makes the ride more enjoyable.
K: *barely resists the urge to give you standing ovation because YES, TAKE ALL THE WINS, gives in anyway and claps my heart out* *cough* *tries to re-compose self because #professional*
So it seems as though you’re well versed in how to handle the query process, but can you tell us what resources you used to get started, or any that you’ve collected in the time since?
M: I have a habit of collecting links on my site. Pages I frequent, blogs I follow . . . It’s not an all-inclusive list, and I’m constantly adding to it when I realize that I’ve accidentally left someone off (that happens a bit). But generally speaking, I’d say I can’t live without QueryShark. She’s rad. When it doubt, find a query that works and emulate the formula. Afterward, take it to a crit group and shape it into your own beauty.
K: That’s such great advice – especially taking it to a crit group for feedback. On that train of thought, do you have a CP, and if so, where did you find them? If not, are you seeking a Critique Partner or Beta Reader? And what are your strengths are as a CP?
M: I currently have one CP and I met her through Pitch Wars. We’re both part of an aspiring mentee group on Facebook, and we’d been eyeing each other’s posts for a bit before we started swapping chapters. In retrospect, I wish we’d started sooner because she’s totes amazing.
I wouldn’t mind an additional CP or beta reader, preferably someone who’s familiar with fantasy and is OK with romantic elements. My current CP writes contemporary romance, so she’s got the kissy stuff on lockdown. I’d like to work with someone who can bring a fantasy lens to the table. I’ll probably start poking around for one of those post Pitch Wars. As far as where I’ll go to find one, I’m not sure. I’ve seen groups pop up on Facebook, Twitter . . . there’s always sites like Absolute Write Water Cooler which is a forum-based platform where other writers come together for queries, synopses, pages, frustrations, celebrations, etc. Though you have to be willing to put in some legwork for that site, as you have to prove you’re actively interested in helping others instead of just flying by for some free critiques. You could probably start your own thread seeking a CP and go from there.
As far as my strengths go, I can tell you I won’t pull punches. I work as a copy editor for my company, so I’m not afraid to get real with you real quick. I’m not talking mean in any sense of the word, but I’ll likely get invested in your story. I want it to shine bright like a diamond, damn it! I’m also pretty good at pointing out character incongruities, overloaded descriptions, sentence flow/continuity . . . I can tell you where it’s dragging, where we need to feel the character vs. see the environment. That kind of stuff.