Tag Archives: Queen of Glass

BIG NEWS!!!

22 Mar

Okay, so this is pasted from my personal blog, but I just wanted to share the big news with you guys, too!!!

-Sarah

~

So, I’ve been daydreaming about today  for a long, long while.

And by “a long, long while” I mean over eight years.

It’s actually really hard to type right now, mostly because I’m trembling (and maybe crying a little bit), but also because I have no idea how to phrase this other than…

QUEEN OF GLASS WILL BE PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY!

It’s too early to have a release date, but we expect it to be late 2011/early 2012!

I seriously cannot express enough how THRILLED I am right now. Bloomsbury has published so many books that I absolutely adore, and when my agent gave me The Call, I just…well, I’ll show you how I felt.

Yes, show you. Because after I stopped hysterically crying and laughing, I managed to clean myself up and turn on the video camera.

Warning: I’m an emotional person. And I cry in this vlog. A lot. But this was how I felt immediately after receiving The Call. No retakes, no edits. This is just me, literally processing everything.

In case you don’t have time to watch, I just wanted to quickly thank some people–without whom I wouldn’t be here today. (Please bare with me for all of this…I’ve been dreaming of this moment for a while, and might not get a chance to do this again)

To my parents, thank you for reading me fairy-tales, and never telling me that it was unrealistic to believe in them. To my brother, Aaron–thank you for enduring a big sister who often kicked you out of her room to write. To my friends: thank you for understanding that some nights, I couldn’t go out, but forcing me to go with you, anyway.

A massive thank-you to Mandy Hubbard–because the email you sent me in 2008 changed my life, and gave me that push out the door.

And to everyone at FictionPress…There aren’t enough words in the English language for me to properly thank all of you. I said it in my vlog, and I’ll say it again–this moment belongs as much to you as it does to me. You have no idea what your encouragement and support have meant to me. I am eternally grateful, and love you all.

I’ll post later this week with all of the details about what comes next (short answer: lots of work!), but for today…today, I’m just gonna savor this moment a bit longer.

So, here’s to proof that hard work and dedication can pay off. And here’s to the next leg of the journey!

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011/early 2012. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Query Week 2: After the Query

16 Feb

QUERY WEEK PART DEUX:

After the Query

By Sarah J. Maas

~

So, let’s say your query was stellar, and you’ve got a whole pile of requests from agents!  Excellent. But what the heck do agents mean when they ask for the first fifty pages, or the first three chapters, or—eek!—the full manuscript?

First of all, this is AMAZING. This means you’ve got the agent’s attention. Feel free to do a victory dance. Go ahead. You know you want to.

Done? Awesome. Now, let’s get down to business.

When an agent requests the first fifty pages or the first three chapters, this is called a Partial Request (ooooh). They want to get a sense of your writing before committing to reading more from you. This is precisely why your opening pages are SO important—this is your only shot to get that agent excited about your work. If an agent likes your partial, they’ll most likely request the rest of the manuscript.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. When I got my first partial requests, I freaked out. Why? Because Page 50 stopped right in the middle of a scene! Most often, your first 50 pages will end somewhere inconvenient.

You can either choose to end the partial at the scene closest to page 50 (maybe it ends on page 48), OR you can just find a good final sentence on page 50 and end it there. It doesn’t matter THAT much, but I personally preferred to close the partial with the end of a scene, rather than stop in some random place/in the middle of the action. If your scene ends on page 51, it’s okay to go over by a little bit, but not by much.

But what if an agent replies to your query with a request for the full manuscript? Well, the short answer is: Jackpot! They want to read your entire book. This essentially translates into: “Your Query Blew My Mind, and I’m Hoping Your Book Will, Too.”

When you send off your partial or full manuscript to an agent, it should ALWAYS look professional.  To help with that, here are a few rules to abide by:

  • Your manuscript should be double-spaced in Times New Roman, 12-point font (unless the agent specifies otherwise—make sure to check!!!).
  • You should have 1-inch margins.
  • DON’T FORGET PAGE NUMBERS! Upper or lower right corners are fine.
  • Be sure to add in a header that includes your name and the title of your work (example: Sarah J. Maas, Queen of Glass).
  • Chapters should begin around 10 lines down from the top of the page (like in a book).
  • When sending electronically, remember that some agents don’t have computers that support .docx, so always send your manuscript in .doc format.
  • Again, some agents might prefer a different set up, so ALWAYS double-check their agency guidelines before you send them material!

Once you’ve sent off your material, the hard part begins:

Waiting.

Waiting to hear back from an agent is like being in limbo. You jump every time the phone rings, you flinch every time you see your inbox announce that you have 1 new message. Sometimes, all you want to do is lie on the couch and eat bag after bag of Cheetos as you watch reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Normally, after sending your material, you can expect to hear back between 8 and 10 weeks. If you haven’t received a response after 10 weeks, it’s not considered inappropriate to send the agent an email to check on the status of your manuscript.

Sometimes, you’ll wonder if an agent even received your materials. Some agents send a confirmation email to let you know that they received your manuscript—but many just won’t reply until they’re telling you Yes or No. If you don’t receive a confirmation email, please refrain from bugging them about it—wait until the appropriate 8-10 weeks have passed before inquiring.

It’s maddening, but try to find ways to occupy yourself while waiting for agents to get back to you: start a new novel, bake hundreds of cookies, go for long walks. You can’t let the waiting overrun your life, and often you’ll hear back at the most unexpected times. I actually missed The Call from my agent because I was sleeping!

I heard my phone ring early in the morning and was SO ANNOYED that someone was calling me at the crack of dawn (even though it was more like 10 AM) that I didn’t even bother to pick up! When I finally got up and listened to my voicemail, BOY was that the most heart-stopping message of all time!

In short, you can’t make agents read your material any faster (and please DO NOT attempt to do so), and you can’t predict when they’ll respond to you—so don’t drive yourself crazy by trying to guess! Stalking agents on Twitter definitely doesn’t make you feel any better, either—in fact, it can make you even more insane.

But if you’re curious about agent response times, go to Agent Turn Around, a livejournal community that tracks how long it takes for agents to reply.

Best of luck with everything!

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Her agent currently has her novel on submissions to editors. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Query Week: QUEEN OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

8 Feb

WELCOME TO QUERY WEEK!

In case you didn’t see on Friday, this week is ALL ABOUT QUERYING.

Today, Sarah J, Maas will discuss her querying experience for QUEEN OF GLASS, and what made it successful (or not); Wednesday, Savannah Foley will be doing the same for her ANTEBELLUM query; and Friday, Mandy Hubbard—YA author extraordinaire and literary agency intern—will be analyzing their queries from an agent’s POV.

But what’s the point of all this?

To help you. To learn from our mistakes—and our achievements. To get a sense for what works, and what doesn’t. To know what catches an agent’s eye, or what repels them.

Feel free to post any questions you might have about the querying process–we’d all be more than happy to answer them! And don’t hesitate to give your own feedback about the queries we share!

We hope you’ll join us!

~~~

QUERY: QUEEN OF GLASS

By Sarah J. Maas

~

To be honest, there were times when I wondered if I’d ever be in a position to discuss what made my query letter for QUEEN OF GLASS successful. So, here’s a bit of background on what I did BEFORE sending out my query.

I researched like a crazy person. Using AgentQuery.com, I browsed through agents who represented fantasy, viewed their client lists, and easily accessed their submission guidelines—which are IMPORTANT. FOLLOW THEIR GUIDELINES. DO NOT IGNORE THEM. THEY ARE THERE FOR A REASON.

Once I compiled my list of agents—and properly formatted everything to fit their individual requirements—I made sure to tailor each of my queries to the similar tastes we shared. If they had a passion for strong heroines, I’d mention how Celaena, the heroine of QUEEN OF GLASS, is an ass-kicking assassin; if they enjoyed love triangles, I’d mention that. Basically, by tweaking my query to our mutual interests, I demonstrated that I’d done my research, and that I wasn’t mass-querying them (which is one of the biggest faux pas you can commit).

Then…I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and hit “send.”

The query I sent to my agent was the following:

Dear Ms. Rydzinski:

What if Cinderella went to the ball not to win the heart of the prince, but to kill him?  In THE EYE OF THE CHOSEN, the first book of my fantasy trilogy, QUEEN OF GLASS, Celaena Sardothien is not a damsel in distress—she’s an assassin.  Serving a life sentence in the salt mines for her crimes, Celaena finds herself faced with a proposition she can’t turn down: her freedom in exchange for the deaths of the King of Adarlan’s enemies.

Before she can complete her mission, she must first train within the glass castle in the capital of the empire. As training with the Captain of the Guard revives her muscles, encounters with the Crown Prince threaten to do the same to her heart. But Celaena soon learns that the King of Adarlan might have plans more sinister than assassinations.

An ancient queen’s ghost charges Celaena with an enormous task: to discover and destroy the mysterious source of the evil king’s power. Torn between her desire to win her freedom and a mission much bigger than herself, Celaena thus begins an adventure she never wanted, which will uncover her forgotten, magical past—a past more dangerous than any tyrant…

I am a 2008 graduate of Hamilton College with a degree in Creative Writing, and I have been published in Hamilton’s literary magazine, Red Weather. Because of your interest in fantasy, I thought you might be interested in my trilogy, which is centered on a retelling of the Cinderella legend through the eyes of an assassin. My completed manuscript is available at your request. Below, please find the first ten pages of my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sarah J. Maas

So, in hindsight, what worked and what didn’t?

Well, I still like my pitch. BUT I’m not ashamed to admit that the first draft of my query was a nightmare. Mandy Hubbard can attest to that, and it’s only because of her editing genius that my query looks the way it does. I was totally clueless about what to include in a query—and it wasn’t until I imagined that I was writing the summary on the back of the novel that I got the tone and pacing down right. I spent several drafts tweaking words to make them juicier, cutting or combining sentences to make it flow better, etc..

And PLEASE–don’t discuss the philosophical and thematic elements–SHOW them in your pitch. Don’t talk about your history with the manuscript; don’t mention how long it took you to write it, or how quickly you revised it, or how your critique partner thinks it’s the next HARRY POTTER.

So…What could have been cut? Well, some things in the final paragraph irk me. The reference to my publication in Red Weather, for one. While it’s a college literary magazine, it doesn’t really COUNT in the real world. In fact, I’m a bit embarrassed that I saw it as a credential, and my query wouldn’t have suffered in the least if I had removed it. I would also cut out the double-use of “interest” in the same paragraph (Wow, I’m cringing right now).

Regardless of those things, I learned pretty quickly that I had a decent query in my hands. I immediately received requests, and out of the 16 agents I queried in mid-December of 2008, well over half of them asked for material.

My agent got back to me within a few weeks—and requested that I snail mail her the partial. Two weeks later, she asked for me to mail her the entire manuscript. A week after that, she called to offer representation, and from the moment I spoke to her, and heard her enthusiasm for the story, I KNEW she was The One. I signed with her at the end of January 2009.

There are loads of missteps that I could discuss—the two agents I queried in spring of 2008 with a 2-page query letter (eek!); or the 6 agents I queried in fall of 2008 with my novel, A FARAWAY LAND (whose query letter was pretty kick-ass and garnered a bunch of requests). The short explanation: I learned not to write a 2-page query, and that, while AFL received a few revision requests, my heart was more in QUEEN OF GLASS, and I’d endure the rejection better with a project that had my entire soul in it.

But the most important thing I learned when querying was on a more personal level. I learned about my strength. I learned to get back up when knocked down; I learned that my backbone is made out of steel. I learned to take risks—I learned that it’s okay when those risks turn out to be mistakes. I learned to keep my head held high, no matter what.

While it was difficult at times, I wouldn’t trade the ups and downs of querying for anything. I wish you all the best of luck with your own endeavors!

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Her agent currently has her novel on submissions to editors. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Fairy-Tale Retellings: Original, or Just Plain Lazy?

18 Nov

By Sarah J. Maas

~

Odds are, when you see the words “Fairy-tale retellings,” you’ll have one of two reactions: 1) Roll your eyes and groan or 2) Clap your hands and jump for joy. Okay, maybe No. 2 is a bit extreme, but as someone whose “To Be Read” list is overflowing with fairy-tale retellings, I get pretty excited about them.

In fact, I love fairy-tale retellings so much that most of my novels and short stories are retellings. QUEEN OF GLASS is a Cinderella re-imagining on an epic fantasy level. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, another YA fantasy trilogy, is a retelling mash-up of “Beauty and the Beast,” “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” and “Tam-Lin.” A FARAWAY LAND, my adult fantasy novel, has an original plotline, but half a dozen fairy-tales make a cameo appearance. My short stories include “Chaperon” (a “Little Red Riding Hood” retelling), “Humbert” (a “Frog Prince” retelling), and “Why Not Me?” (a retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” from the witch’s POV).

So, obviously, I have a thing for fairy-tales. But a writer-friend of mine once remarked that people who do fairy-tale retellings are just being lazy. To phrase it lightly, I got really pissed off. I got pissed off for the same reason I get pissed off when people say fantasy novels aren’t “real” books. Writing both fantasy and fairy-tale retellings requires a huge amount of imagination and creativity. Huge.

Because, even though you’re retelling a story that wasn’t your idea to begin with, you have to make it original. You’ve got to make people believe in it, give people something they haven’t seen before. I’m initially drawn to stories with unanswered questions—stories with gaps in them, stories where the characters are pretty 2-D, so I can easily insert my own characters into their place.

Imagining the fairy-tale from a different angle is another way I’m called to write. Neil Gaiman’s short story, “Snow, Glass, Apples,” is a perfect example. A retelling of “Snow White,” the story follows the POV of the wicked queen, who is trying to rid the world of Snow White, who happens to be a vampire. This might seem TOTALLY out of left field, but think about it: haven’t you ever wondered why the wicked queen wanted to kill Snow White so badly? Fine—she was vain and jealous, but seriously: she destroys herself attempting to bring down this young woman! Casting Snow White as a vampire suddenly clarifies the story—it’s a creative answer to a question lingering between the lines. I bought it—and frankly, it made me unable to look at “Snow White” the same way again.

That’s what a good fairy-tale retelling should do: it should make you reconsider your preconceived notions of the story. But it can also go the other way: retellings can be a viewpoint for how we perceive our world. In Jane Yolen’s BRIAR ROSE, Yolen uses the story of “The Sleeping Beauty” as a lens for viewing a young woman’s Holocaust experience in a concentration camp.

Regardless of whether your retelling takes place in this world, or an imagined one, it’s your characters that ultimately make or break the retelling. Give us an awesome plot, yes, but give us human characters—give us the people we don’t get to see in the legends, give us a Fairy Godmother who is little more than a slave, give us a gay Cinderella (see Malinda Lo’s ASH). It’s the characters that will carry your retelling, the characters that will answer the unasked questions—the characters that can even make us believe that your version is the true one, and the original tale is just a watered-down version of your narrative.

But before you begin writing your retelling, do your research. For a good chunk of popular fairy-tales, Wikipedia offers a list of retellings/references/uses, and will often list novels that feature your fairy-tale. Read up on them; see what the author has done. There are certain retellings that are untouchable. “Swan Lake” is one of my favorite fairy-tales, but I know I can never trump the mind-blowing awesomeness that Mercedes Lackey did with her novel, THE BLACK SWAN. Nor will I ever be able to touch Arthurian myth, having read THE MISTS OF AVALON. But that’s just me: I don’t want to write anything unless I know it will be original and fresh, unless I have complete confidence that I’m bringing something killer to the table.

That being said, don’t be afraid when you see that other authors have done a retelling of your chosen story. If the story calls to you, write it. I’d wager it’ll be pretty different from that other author’s vision. That’s part of the reason why fairy-tales have survived: they’re eternal; they offer us a wealth of potential stories and unanswered questions. Fairy-tales speak to us; they touch upon our primal fears and hopes, our nightmares and joys. Don’t be afraid when a fairy-tale speaks to you.

And do me a favor: if someone tells you that you’re being lazy by writing a fairy-tale retelling, please hit them.

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a high fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Her agent currently has her novel on submissions to editors. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

Hey Everyone!

30 Oct

Hi everyone!

I’m Sarah J. Maas, or S. J. Maas (creative, I know), if you want to go by my FictionPress name. First of all, let me just say how EXCITED I am to get Let the Words Flow off the ground! This site has been in the works for some time now, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be writing my very first post to you all!

Since I removed Queen of Glass from FictionPress, I’ve been super busy writing all sorts of new projects. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I took QoG off FictionPress in December of 2008, after six years of posting its (very) rough draft for an audience of thousands. Prior to that, I’d spent a year and a half rewriting and polishing the QoG series in anticipation of querying agents. After many rounds of revisions and countless hours of worrying, I researched agents, wrote my query letter (which itself was a huge ordeal), and queried sixteen agents in December of 2008.

Of the sixteen agents I queried, I received a lot of requests for partials and fulls. Even though agents were interested, just one agent offered representation. To my delight, she was one of my top choices! I practically hit the ceiling when she called to offer representation! I signed with her in January of 2009, but for the complete story of what happened next, check out my bio on the “Contributors” page!

Since completing Queen of Glass, I’ve written several other series. A Faraway Land, a novel that retells the legends surrounding the Fairy Godmother figure, started off as my senior thesis in college, and I continued (and completed) it after graduation (Side note, I queried AFL before QoG and received a lot of requests for the full—but no offers).

After AFL, I wrote Hades, a YA fantasy duology set in an alternate, ancient Graeco-Roman world. From October of 2008 to March of 2009, I wrote the two books that make up the Hades series. It was my first attempt at writing in first person, and remains one of my favorite projects. For more information, check out the synopsis I posted on my blog.

Once I finished Hades, I jumped into writing A Court of Thorns and Roses, a YA fantasy trilogy that retells and combines the legends of “Beauty and the Beast,” “Tam-Lin,” and “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” I wrote the entire trilogy from April 2009 to September 2009—and plan to begin revising it sometime in the near future.

To keep the anxiety of submissions off my mind, three weeks ago, I began writing my current WIP. Info about it is top-secret right now, but I’m 39k words into the novel, and loving it so far! I look forward to sharing more updates with you all!

So, that’s about it—I try to write at least 1,000 words every day (Monday-Friday, that is!), and when I’m not writing, I’m usually swapping manuscripts with my incredible critique partners. Though I grew up in NYC, I currently live with my fiance in Los Angeles, California, where I take full advantage of the perfect weather and awesome beaches.

Great to meet you guys!

Sarah J. Maas

Currently Reading: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip