Friday, August 15, 2014

Here's the thing about #PitchWars

So here's the thing about this #PitchWars you've been seeing dominate your Twitter feeds. It's awesome. The basic rundown is that you submit a shiny MS into a pool of other shiny MSs, and you wait and see if a published author-mentor person takes your shiny MS bait. If chosen, your mentor will help you make your shiny MS worthy of burning retinas (in a good way) so you can submit the even shinier MS into another pool where agents fight over the submissions like an author-agent version of the Hunger Games.

Sounds AMAZING, right? If you can't decipher my gab above, here is where you can find everything there is to know about #PitchWars.

Now for the reality check. Not all of you will be picked. There is so much talent out there, and what I've gleaned from the #PitchWars feed, that statement is a correct one. There are a lot of amazing mentors out there, including my mentor from last year, Trisha Leaver. That being said, they can't pick all of you. Last time I heard, they can only pick three. So yeah, that kind of sucks.



No matter what your personal results will be from entering #PitchWars, all of you will walk away with something, if you go into this with a good attitude and an open mind. If you get picked, great! Congratulations, do a happy dance, have some cake! You now have an amazing team consisting of a genius mentor and some spot on CPs/cheerleaders.

But if you don't get picked, hey that's okay too.

This is the perfect time for you to form bonds with your other #PitchWars applicants. Check each other out; see if their genre matches yours. Form YOUR OWN team before the mentors even make their picks! You guys are after the same thing: YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED. The journey is long and arduous with about a billion years of waiting. Why not make some allies along the way? Form a team that will be there for you when you get THE CALL from your dream agent, or when you've broken your fingers in half because you've edited into infinity. And when you finally land a shiny deal at a publishing house, they'll be there squealing loudly and making a scene wherever they are. And you'll do the same for them.

So whether or not you get picked for #PitchWars, know first that the publishing business is just one big cesspool of subjectiveness, and by extension so is #PitchWars or any writing contest. And know second, that you have the possibility to take away from this experience the best family of supporters you've ever had, and it just may take some initiative.

I didn't get my agent from winning #PitchWars last year. What I got was a family. And in my experience, my group is still with me today and not a day goes by that I don't think about them and am so grateful for their help/camaraderie/laughs.

It takes a village to write a book. Start building your village now.

Friday, July 25, 2014

That time I got an agent

No, you read that right. Believe me, I've read and reread that same sentence over and over again. I read it so many times that I nearly printed it out and slathered it up with lemon juice just so I could hold it under a lamp and see what ancient fineprint revealed to me that I was flipping out about nothing. That this was nothing more than a cruel lucid dream that would disintegrate the moment my eyes opened.

But it was no dream. Besides, my dreams usually involve talking dinosaurs and a much handsomer Cuyler. No, it was the real deal.


I have finally crawled out of that dark, dirty, and insufferable pit we call the query trenches. But, as any agented author will tell you, it was anything but easy. It involved a lot of work, pain, crying, animal sacrifice (just kidding), and dedication.

Before I wrote GILDED FEVER, I'd really only dabbled in querying. I roughly knew what it was and the basics of what should be included, but that was about it. I hadn't realized that it would take much more than looking up a list of names and sending them a quick email, and it really showed in the kind of responses I received: REJECTION REJECTION REJECTION. Trying not to be disheartened, I realized that I needed to reevaluate my querying process. So I took a break from querying agents, submitted my query for critiques from published authors, and attended events for writers. I really gleaned so much from this, and came to realize that querying was so much more than sending an email. It was an art. With this newfound information in my querying arsenal, now I needed something new to query. That's when GILDED FEVER was born.

It was just before NaNoWriMo, and I really wanted to participate this year. GILDED FEVER had become a solid brain-baby, and I was pumped and ready to start. So November 1st came, and I wrote like I'd never written before. GILDED FEVER churned out of my fingertips without lax, and I ended up winning NaNoWriMo for the first time! But GILDED FEVER wasn't finished winning. The next month, I entered my new manuscript in the Pitch Wars contest hosted by YA author Brenda Drake. With my newly crafted query and a manuscript I was crazy about, GILDED FEVER won Pitch Wars as 1st Alternate Finalist. My prize: a fantastic mentor and four amazing CPs who I absolutely love and am so thankful for. My mentor, Trisha Leaver, gave GILDED FEVER new life with her powers of editing, and my CPs became the best cheerleaders I could ask for. Now with a shiny new manuscript, it was time to get back into the throes of querying.

I felt ready. I felt confident. I felt dang near invincible. Then the rejections started to roll in. REJECTION REJECTION REJECTION. I didn't get it. Why was I still getting so many rejections? Sure, I received some requests for partials and fulls, but for about half a year what I was getting most were big, fat rejections.

I kind of looked like this:

I really didn't know what to do. I talked to a few author friends, consulted the Fearless Five gang (Trisha and my fantastic CPs), and tweaked my query letter like a billion times. I felt like I was trying to look through the dark with a faulty flashlight. I didn't know what would work, when it would work. Then I realized something. This business is not only a hard one because talent needs to be flowing out your backend, but it's so intensely difficult because this is a thoroughly subjective business. There was one common thread with each rejection letter that I received: "Though this manuscript was not right for me, I am sure that it will be different for someone elsewhere." I'm sure all you queriers wading through the query trenches right now are perpetually nodding your head at this. It was something I saw in nearly every single rejection I received. And you know what? It was right.

It had now been seven months of straight querying, and my email notification sound on my phone now possessed the ability to momentarily incapacitate me. I was heading to my next class after lunch when my phone went off, hurling my stomach down to my toes. I froze in mid-hallway, and slipped out my phone. I clicked on the little email icon, and read the email. Except there was no this wasn't for me, but someone else might think different. Nope, none of that. Just a simple, "I am enjoying this so far. I would like to schedule a phone call."

This was me now:

Needless to say, I squealed like no man should squeal, and had to promptly explain why I was in fact not having an aneurism. Also, I can't even remember what lecture was about that day. But who cares--I was going to get THE CALL!

And I did get that call. Me and Fabulous Agent Lady spoke on the phone for nearly an hour straight, talked books--MY BOOKS--and talked about our future as partners in crime. It was flipping fantastic. I swear I got no sleep that night. I am also not ashamed to say that there was more squealing. A few days later, I signed with Fabulous Agent Lady. Cue Rocky Theme.

I would like you to meet Fabulous Agent Lady, AKA Sandy Lu of L. Perkins Agency!

Click here to learn more about Sandy and the L. Perkins Agency.

Sandy is AMAZING. I absolutely cannot wait to see where this partnership takes us. GILDED FEVER is in her hands, I know that they are good hands to be in! It's an exciting time, and SO well worth the wait!

And to you brave souls still trudging through the query trenches, KEEP TRUDGING. Eventually you'll find a hand that will pull you out, and you'll know then that every tear and perpetual pterodactyl scream of fury had all been worth it.

Keep trudging, and keep writing!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Writer's Voice: Query & 1st 250 Words


The California Gold Rush had promised untold things. Riches. Freedom. Life anew. Gold promised anything. Gold promised everything.

And it was all a lie.
It’s 1850, and the easy gold is gone. Sixteen-year-old Annie Duvall’s father and his mining crew are on their last legs, losing men, patience, and their sanity in the process. Desperate and out of options, Annie’s father recruits Severo, a foreigner whose mining technology has the ability to cycle through the riverbed five times faster than his men’s bare hands.
When Severo’s equipment is vandalized in the night, rendering it inoperable, he quickly points his finger at Annie. But it is not Annie who is sabotaging the mining operation, rather Keme, a mystic Indian boy whose tribe is dying at the hands of her father’s mining methods.
As Annie begins to develop feelings for a native she didn’t know were possible, she is forced to choose between the lure of gold and helping a savage destroy everything her father has worked tirelessly for. Both will tear her heart apart, but one will leave her dead.
GILDED FEVER (80,000 words) is a YA Historical novel about the California Gold Rush. This novel may appeal to fans of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
I am a blogger and YA reviewer for the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox The blog was featured in VOYA’s Trending in Youth Culture: The Best Blogs and Sites for Youth Advocates in 2012. GILDED FEVER was also a finalist in the PitchWars writing contest. Per your request, the first 250 words are included below.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Cuyler Creech

GILDED FEVER (1st 250 Words):
Thomas Miller had never killed a soul before in his life.
He had never uttered a foul word, or even been in so much as a fight. Thomas Miller was a good ol’ boy in the eyes of many.
But it only took a sparkle. A single sparkle and Thomas pointed his gun and pulled the trigger.
Thomas bent over the man. His head was face-down in the river, a thick shadow of red coloring the water. Once he and the man had been as close as brothers, but now Thomas barely cared to remember his name. All he cared about was what was in the man’s hand.  
Thomas pried open the dead fingers. They were still warm, still covered in a layer of dirt from the day’s work. He unfurled death’s grip, and grasped what had caught his eye just seconds before he’d  pulled the trigger.
He’d been working for months. Worked so hard it seemed like this was all he knew. Like breathing or keeping his heart beating. He’d heard the stories—they all had. Stories about a rock so pretty it shone with the sun’s light. A stone that granted man’s wishes. A pebble that meant life anew.
Gold, gold! Gold found in the great American River!
It was a story worth leaving families for. Excitement spread through the entire world like a flame to a haystack. They flocked from everywhere, coming for a taste of golden freedom. A taste Thomas craved so hard it ached.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday!

So props for this post go to my amazing #FearlessFive pal, Jenni. I first saw "Works In Progress Wednesday" on Jenni's blog, and thought, Holy cow. If I had a blog I would so be doing that! Well I have blog now, so what the hey. I'd love to tell you about the stories fighting over the space in my head.

Name: GILDED FEVER (YA Historical)
Word Count: 80,000
Status: Querying
Cuy's Thoughts: This story has been on my mind every day for months. I finished Gilded Fever's last round of edits in January, and ever since it's been like taking my kid to the talent agency and showing her off in hopes that one day they make her a star. I know that published authors say over and over again that the road to getting published is paved with rejections, but it still hurts every time I get that little letter that says, "Thanks, but this one's not for me." Thankfully my pathetic pouting is, for the most part, short-lived, as my lovely little WIP is garnishing partial and full requests as well. Looks like Gilded Fever and I will continue to wait for our perfect "Author-Agent" match made in Heaven. Until then, I will go eat lots of chocolate.

Name: ENKINDLE (YA Fantasy)
Current Word Count: 1,513
Status: Newborn
Cuy's Thoughts: So I've been planning this YA Fantasy for a few months now. And last night was the first time I put the idea into words. What's funny is, at the time, I hadn't sat down to write this story. I'd cleared my evening to put some time writing an MG Fantasy I had percolating in my mind. So here I was writing the beginning pages of what was going to be the greatest MG adventure of all time, and then all of a sudden everything went haywire. What was meant to be a funny-yet-adventurous-and-magical tale turned into something dark and something very not MG. Seriously, there were guns and everything involved. Obviously, my brain had decided TO HECK WITH  the childhood adventure and just full on kill someone instead.

My brain in the form of Bela Lugosi:

It was like the YA part of my mind had suckerpunched the MG part right out and assumed full reign. So I scrapped the dark and twisted MG, and wrote the most killer first chapter I have ever seen. ENKINDLE is going to be one heck of a thrill ride!


So that's what's going on in my head right now. Thanks for stopping by, and I'll understand if you now need therapy after your visit here.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Twisty Tuesday. You Gotta Love It!

You know one thing I really appreciate about life? It's full of twists. Twists make our lives interesting. Sometimes that's not always a good thing, but in writing? They're like decadent espresso shots for your novel.

Twists are shining gems, my friends. Devious, evil, and utterly vile gems. And oh man are they fun. In honor of the twisty goodness, I've dubbed Tuesday as Twisty Tuesday. My little gift to you. You're welcome.

Want a plot twist for your next WIP? Look no further. I got one to spice things up a bit right here:

 The best friend of the MC is forced by the antagonist to jump off a building. The MC witnesses the whole thing.

Whattaya think? Pretty diabolical, huh? Was your face akin to this cat's?:

If so, my job here is done.

I'll see you guys next time...Or will I?...

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's Muse Monday!

I'm just going to say it: MONDAYS=CRAP. The weekend is over, we're back to work/school, and we're still trying to hold on to the residual fun-high we had from Friday to Sunday. So, originally this post was going to be all about Mondays and how they suck.

But that's depressing. And I don't like to depress you guys. Unless you're one of my readers--that's a totally different story. I like tears when people read my work.

So I've decided that Monday is going to be all about a wonderful thing we writers/artists call muse. And thus, Muse Monday was born...

Muse is a pretty cool guy. He resides within many things. Sometimes he's a thought. Other times hes a great line in a book. One time he was a cat with three legs, but I'll spare you the odd deets on that one.

Muse is inspiration. It gets our fingers to type with enthusiasm and vigor so that we may completely immerse ourselves in our stories. It's what makes writing FUN.

So today, I'm going to share with you my special muse that helped me when I was writing my YA Historical novel: Gilded Fever. (If you would like to know more information about Gilded Fever such as its pitch and an excerpt, click HERE.)

Gilded Fever takes place in 19th century America during the California Gold Rush. There's lots of action, grief, mystery, and forbidden beliefs. Savages, murder, and, of course for you girls out there, a hot Indian dude with mystic abilities to turn things into solid gold with his touch. Among other things.

As I said above, a muse can come in many different forms. For about the halfway-mark for Gilded Fever, my muse came in the form of a bowl.

But not just any kind of bowl. Take a look for yourself:

It's a bowl of gold. Basically, the coolest bowl ever. 

Look. Look at it. Bask in its golden glory!

Actually, those flakes of pretty aren't actually made of real gold. It's Fool's Gold, to be precise, with a bit of mica. But you know what? That's not the coolest part. You know what is?

Get ready for it...

It's a bowl...made of clay...from a Californian Indian reserve. 

It basically describes my entire book. And I'm sure you could use it as a weapon if you wanted to, to satisfy the 'murder' aspect of the novel as well.

There's another plus to this little piece of beauty: It was made by one of my best friends :). Her name is TJ, and you should, like, totally follow her on Twitter. Or I will bash you in the head with my bowl of gold.


So what's been your muse this week? Inquiring minds want to know!

I'm gonna leave you guys now to go play with my bowl of gold. Later!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stunning Cover Sunday!

Here's what I do when I go to the bookstore without money *sigh*. I browse the brimming shelves in search of eye candy. Yes. I. LOVE. COVERS. If I could sit in Barnes & Noble all day and just drool over all the pretty covers. But I don't, because it's hard enough for me to remain within the parameters of a normal human being.

 photo MickeyCrazy_zpsef156b85.gif

So. This is where Sunday comes in. Because I may get kicked out of Barnes & Noble for all the book-cover drooling, I'm utilizing Sunday to squee about all the covers I can virtually drool over. That's a little more acceptable to society.

So drool over them with me, won't you?

I think this is one of the coolest concepts I have ever read. I got my hands on Miss Peregrine's Home For PeculiarChildren a few years ago thanks to blog boss Karen, and I devoured it in a day. Hollow City is the second book in the Peculiar Series , and it's cover is even creepier. Which, in Cuyler terms, is the best kind of cover. Dude, the girl has a hole in her stomach. A hole. How creepily awesome is that?

Read more about Hollow City HERE.

I've been following Stephanie on Twitter for a while now (I'm not a stalker, I promise) because her situation as a writer is similar to mine. Both of us are in our early twenties, and both of us love to write. I love seeing young people's success stories, because it instills a heap of hope into my system as a currently unpublished author. 

I also follow Stephanie because her book sounds frickin sweet. Check out the details HERE. Not only does the premise hold my interest, but LOOK AT THAT COVER. I think I have a thing for covers with an eye on them. Wierd? Oh well. It looks pretty, it looks spacey, it looks AWESOME. I can't wait for this one's release. Check the shelves for Extraction on July 22nd 2014!

I first picked up one of Marissa's books at a bookfestival in Austin, Tx earlier this year. I'd seen her books on the shelves before, but I never picked them up *kicks self for being stupid*. When I left that festival, I came home with a slew of brand new, shiny books ALL signed. And Cinder and Scarlet was among them.

I pretty much consumed Cinder and Scarlet in a few days. I am not much of a fairytale-kind-of guy, but Marissa's take on Cinderella and Red Riding Hood was out of this world. Literally. It's Sci-Fi. Cinderella the cyborg, and Red Riding Hood teams up with a fighter named 'Wolf' to rescue her kidnapped grandma who has a super-secret past. Um, HOW COOL IS THAT? Very. And Cress will be no different in awesomeness and completely different in uniqueness, as it's take is on the classic tale of Rapunzel, except Rapunzel is stuck in a satellite in space *dies from amazement*. But I'm currently broke, so I haven't yet picked up Cress. It just keeps staring at me with it's BEAUTIFUL cover when I walk by the shelves *cries*.

Learn more about Cress HERE.

I had been waiting for this book for a long time. Victoria, a writer friend of mine, is the author of The Collector series. Fire & Flood is her newest novel just released, and it's already a big hit. Want to know what all the hubbub is about and what the heck a Pandora is? Then check HERE.

Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Antigoddess said, “If The Hunger Games and X-Men and some Pokemon had a baby, it might turn out almost as awesome as this. But probably not. Read this book!”

Do you need any more motivation to pick up this book than that

I didn't, and it rocked the start of my new year.

I mean, just look at the cover! I think this design completely encompasses what Fire & Flood is all about. But don't take my word for it--go pick a copy of Victoria's Fire & Flood, like, now. Or suffer dire consequences. 



What did you guys think? Did you feel the pretty? I felt the pretty.

Want more pretty? Check back next Sunday for more beautiful, creeptastic, and stunning covers on Stunning Cover Sunday!