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Writers on the Rise: Introducing Edith Lalonde

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

EDITH LALONDE

K: Hi Edith, and thanks so much for talking to me! First, what genre and age category do you write?

E: I write adult romantic suspense – it’s my crack!

K: So how long have you been writing? What inspired you?

E: I’ve been writing in my head for as long as I can remember. From a young age I made up stories, most of them involving a suspense element that included a strong heroine who rescued herself. I finally put pen to paper about eight years ago after I read the entire Twilight series in one weekend. I finished my first novel in 2009. It was a YA coming of age story that should never have been queried – live and learn!

K: I love that – heroines who recuse themselves! And I completely understand the “querying too soon” syndrome. So what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about querying while in “The Trenches” that you’d like to share with other authors?

E: RESEARCH! The fastest way to a form no is querying an agent who doesn’t represent your genre. Agents share their wish lists for a reason; you’ll have much greater success querying agents if you send them what they’re looking for.

RESEARCH! Know what a good (short) query letter looks like – keep it simple – CHARACTER must overcome OBSTACLES or STAKES. If you nail your MC’s voice while sticking to the formula, you have a winning query.

RESEARCH! Get feedback on your draft query from multiple sources. Twitter is a great place to connect with other querying writers, find the people who can help you. Yes, they’re out there! Never query with the first draft you pound out at midnight after eating a leftover bean burrito and drinking mojitos because you can’t sleep. Write it, share it, revise it, share it, let it sit, revise it again.

When you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to query! I recommend sending out a smaller test batch to start; you may just get agent feedback you can use to revise subsequent queries. If you get a few rejections, take another look at the query and opening pages to make sure both are as strong as possible. If you get a couple of requests for partials or fulls, do a happy dance and then send out more!

K: Yes! No mojito and bean burrito queries! Great advice! And you nailed it – research is so incredibly important to being successful. Do you have any resources that you can’t live without?

E: Agent Janet Reid’s Query Shark is a go-to resource for me. Excellent for first-time query drafters. Read the blog, the whole blog, and learn from one of the best in the industry.

Agent Jessica Sinsheimer’s Manuscript Wish List. Tailoring my query submissions to agent’s wish lists on MSWL resulted in several requests for my full manuscript. RESEARCH it works!

Stephen King’s On Writing a Memoir of the Craft – saved me from giving up on my writing. I highly recommend it as bedtime reading. It won’t scare the pants off you!

Twitter. Yep. Twitter. There is a wonderful community of supportive writers who tweet advice daily. Some of my favorites include:

Michelle Hazen (‪ @michellehazen‪) http://michellehazenbooks.com/

Michelle Hauck (‪ @Michelle4Laughs‪) http://www.michelle4laughs.com/

Brenda Drake ( ‪@brendadrake‪) http://www.brenda-drake.com/

And of course, you Katie!