Writers on the Rise: Introducing Tricia McKee
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: Hi Tricia! Thanks so much for agreeing to talk with us! So first, what genre and age category do you write?
T: I write steamy Adult Contemporary Romance.
K: *high-five* Right there with ya, honey. How long have you been writing? What inspired you?
T: I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen, but I took a more “practical” road through college. Writing on the down-low, I would tuck it away, occasionally sharing with my mom, who kept telling me I’d missed my calling.
Then, I had to spend several years sitting on my ass having more knee surgeries than anyone should have to experience in a lifetime. I couldn’t work a regular job, I read constantly, and I found myself wishing there were more Romance novels with plus-size heroines. They are becoming more popular, but can still be hard to find.
I figured that if I wanted a heroine that was over a size six, it was likely other women did too (c’mon, I mean, the average size in the us is 14!). My mom suggested I put my money where my mouth was…so I did, and MOONLIGHT & WHISKEY is the result.
K: That is so incredible! As a plus-size woman, I know seeing myself represented in fiction has been something I’ve always been hoping to find. It sounds like you’ve been doing this for a while now—what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about writing/querying while in “The Trenches” that you’d like to share with other authors?
T: I’ve learned the business is subjective at every turn. Of course, we’re all told that as newbies—over and over again—but so few of us actually take it to heart, or apply it to writing beyond the manuscript itself.
Every agent wants something different in a query. We can read, “How to Write an Amazing Query,” by one an agent, and the next agent’s examples says, you must never do what that other agent told you because your query will blow. I also find a lot of what they say floating around––They say you should never do this, or they say you should always do that. In reality, never and always are relative only to individual agents.
Take what they say and give it proper consideration, but keep in mind it’s not necessarily indicative of every agent you query. What doesn’t work for one agent is exactly what the next is looking for and as hard as we try, we can’t please everyone.
K: That is so true: not every rule is hard and fast, and it’s so important to find out what works for you, and the agent you’re querying. When you’re preparing to query, do you have any resources that you can’t live without that you feel best point you in the right direction?
T: YESSSSS! www.querytracker.net is an invaluable starting point. It helps me search by genre, agent popularity, whether an agent is open or closed to queries, and gives reviews from other querying writers about their experience with the agent. It also provides a starting point for saving website info, email addresses and links to other sites like Association of Authors Representatives and Publisher’s Marketplace for vetting agents.
As for writing queries, I always have a base letter to start from. Reading the archives of Query Shark––a blog run by Janet Reid, literary agent with New Leaf Literary––is a wealth of information that can be a little overwhelming to wade through, but totally worth making the effort. From there I go to the website of each agent I’m querying, read through their do’s and don’ts, and tailor the query to their preferences (because, again with the subjective).
K: I love that you’ve got a lot of options for cross-referencing, because like you said, everything is so subjective. On that train of thought—with subjectivity also being one of the most common reasons for rejections—how do you stay inspired and keep going in the face of a rejection-heavy industry?
T: First and foremost, I’ve found my tribe. Those other writers who are in the trenches with me that cheer me on and cheer me up. Who commiserate with me when I receive yet another rejection. They’ve been there. They understand. So whether it’s twitter or critique groups, find a family that understands the struggle. Dig in and be active because their support is invaluable. You can always share your trials and tribs with your regular friends and family, but NOBODY, will understand them like your writing tribe.
K: So true! There’s nothing like the support that comes from a writing family. Can you tell us where did you find your CPs, and if are you seeking any additional Critique Partners or Beta Readers? If so, what are you looking for in a partner, and what are your strengths are as a CP?