CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Quressa Robinson Query Critique through November 11th
DARK MIGHTY THINGS through November 25th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Elizabeth Bewley Agent Spotlight Interview on 1/10/18
Molly O'Neill Agent Spotlight Interview on 1/22/18

AGENT NATALIE LAKOSIL and AUTHOR LINDSEY BECKER GUEST POST and QUERY CRITIQUE and THE STAR THIEF GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to have debut author Lindsey Becker and her agent Natalie Lakosil here with a guest post to celebrate the release of Lindsey's MG fantasy THE STAR THIEF. It sounds like a fantastically different world that is fast-paced and has a little bit of stempunk too.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Honorine's life as as maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia's study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night....

Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?


Now here's Lindsey and Natalie!

Finding an Agent: Revise, Resubmit, Rinse, Repeat

I’m so thrilled to be writing a post for Literary Rambles, because one of the most asked questions I’ve gotten since selling my debut novel is “How did you find your agent?” and a big part of that answer is this site. I didn’t attend any conferences or in-person pitch meetings. I found my agent through online research, and emailed queries.

THE STAR THIEF was the third book I wrote and the first one I queried to agents. I worked on my manuscript for about a year before I sent out my first small batch of queries. Right from the start, I got requests to read the full manuscript, and also right from the start, those turned into revise and resubmit requests. From there, I developed an unintentional pattern of sending out a batch of 5 or 6 queries, getting at least one or two requests for the full, which would turn into requests to revise, and then, after a revision, an eventual rejection. Then I would send out a few more queries, and it would replay again. Request, revise, resubmit, rejection.

I didn’t keep an exact count of how many queries I sent out, but it was in the range of 75 or so in total. I didn’t revise every time it was suggested. I took to heart the things I thought would make my writing stronger, and I ignored suggestions that didn’t fit what I wanted to do with my story. Overall, I reworked my manuscript at least half a dozen times during the process. Twice I received feedback from absolute rockstar agents, and even though they ended up passing, what I got from them was pure gold. Once I made it all the way to a phone call with a wonderful agent who had a very different vision for my book than I did. After the phone call, I knew two things. Exactly what I wanted to do to keep polishing my book, and that the agent probably wasn’t going to like the revision when I turned it back in.

I was right. They did not. It was a pass, again.

But the very next agent I queried after the rejection from amazing phone call agent happened to be even more amazing agent Natalie Lakosil. She too asked for a revision, but this time, she really seemed to connect with what I had already done, and agree with what I wanted my book to be. And then, finally, after years of querying, dozens of rejections, and a handful of painful near misses with other fantastic agents, Natalie offered to represent my work.

It would have been easy to put this book aside, after so many rejections, and move on to something
else. But what kept me querying for over three years before finding an agent was a true passion for the story, and the little bits of encouragement all those requests gave me. I was getting rejections right away, but also positive reactions to my concept, my finished pages, my idea in general. From that, I knew I had an idea worth working on, that my writing had enough potential to keep going, and that continuing to move forward was only going to help me improve my craft. It was also perfect practice for the editor submission process, because in the first round, I received – you guessed it – a revise and resubmit request. This was what I had been training for! And that final R&R turned into an offer to publish THE STAR THIEF.

Though my query process was long, I found it to be tremendously valuable. The work I did during that time not only improved the manuscript that eventually sold, but the other projects I’ve been working on as well. For me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, the hardest part of the query stage was when it felt unproductive. To counteract that, whenever I felt stuck I’d research new agents and send out one or two more queries. From the writer’s perspective, the query process can seem like it takes things out of your control. The agent gets to say yes or no to your manuscript before you begin officially working together, but you get to choose who to send your work to in the first place. Having a great agent is definitely worth the wait, and making the effort to work on craft and polishing those pages is always worth the time. So, keep submitting that work, and most importantly keep writing! You don’t have to wait for an agent to start crafting that next project.

So, now that I’ve shared my Revise and Resubmit adventure, here are some thoughts from my amazing agent Natalie Lakosil on successful R&Rs, and why they often fail.

From Natalie:

I think the answer as to WHY lies first in breaking down two kinds of R&Rs:

1. Surface-level R&R
2. Love-the-premise-enough-to-not-let-this-go-but-needs-so-much-work R&R

The first can be a simple fix; a "I need you to take out the mention of the word birthday in this so I can take it to a meeting since my house is allergic to the word birthday" sort of fix. Those usually work out (and yes, an editor might ask for a surface-level R&R to take to a meeting - gone are the days of seeing potential and being able to buy. An agent is less likely to ask for this; perhaps only if the surface-level request changes birthday to anniversary and they want to make sure you're cool with that).

The second is asking for a very thoughtful overhaul.

In my experience, the R&Rs that I've seen come back and fail had one of four issues:

1. The author took my notes, executed, and called it a day.
2. The author took the plot in a new direction that didn't resonate with me
3. Timing - in the amount of time that's passed, the market changed
4. The R&R ends up highlighting more issues, or that the hook you were looking for really just isn't there in the execution

#1 is a problem if the R&R is not a surface-level revision request. Often, an R&R will have quite extensive revisions needed - and not just adding in a sentence here or there. For example, if your issue has to do with character development, or pacing, it could mean striking whole scenes, starting in a whole new way, finishing in a whole new way, ALONG with peppering in changes throughout. And those kinds of changes require a lot of thinking. If my note was, "I don't really find her likeable here," well, the answer may not necessarily be to just work on making her likeable right there. It might be that the situation needs more depth, that the reader doesn't understand enough where she's coming from - changes to OTHER parts of the book leading UP to that scene.

So if you want your R&R to have the best chance of succeeding, THOUGHTFULLY revise. I think it's perfectly ok to come up with a game plan, too, before you dive in, and run that game plan by the requesting agent or editor.

#2 is an unfortunate situation that might be because of a thoughtful revision. As I mentioned above, I think it's ok to ask if the direction you're taking the novel in sounds good to the agent or editor before you slash and burn to try and avoid it failing for this issue. But, at the end of the day, it might be that the new direction you're writing really IS the best direction for the book - and it's just that the agent isn't the best agent for it.

#3 is a tricky one. Because a thoughtful revision takes time. I know that. But taking TOO much time also leads to market shifts, and/or perhaps that agent or editor will sign a new project in the mean time that's too close to yours to be able to take yours on after revisions.

I think the time you should take on a revision really depends on the amount of work needed; if it's really more of a surface revision, I wouldn't drag that on for months. If it's something you're having to really spend time overhauling, a few months may be just what you need. I will say that the longer you take, the more I expect to see; I WILL be disappointed if you take four months and shift around some sentences. I have signed R&Rs even if they aren't totally there yet if the author has totally impressed me with the revisions undertaken. And I have never been impressed with surface tweaks when more depth was needed.

So don't cheat yourself worrying over this; if you have to take a year, take a year - just know it's POSSIBLE that you might run into the timing issue. If you do, that might mean timing was off for your book anyway - if it shifted that fast, likely your genre was in a down trend and selling it may have been difficult anyway.

#4 might happen when an agent is on the fence; it's possible for an agent or editor to just love the writing, and/or the hook...but...there's something...just something not there. We see that spark, and might do an R&R, hoping, ok, we fix this, and that'll be it. I'll be fully pushed over the fence. But when it comes back...nope. Still on that fence.

If that's the case, that's the point an agent will have to decide they're just not the best editorial fit. Seeing potential and not being able to take it where it needs to go, or realizing, you really DON'T love it as much as you thought, can happen - and be highlighted by the enthusiasm you feel for the project when the R&R comes back. This is a tough one, too; it's hard to know when this will happen. An agent isn't going to request a revision and all that work just to be mean; they genuinely want to see it get to the level of OMG I LOVE THIS!!!! And sometimes that doesn't happen.

That is a risk you take with revisions...and you must, in the end, decide to revise, or start fresh? Only you can answer that.

I think what helps with #4, and ALL issues, is that regardless of whether or not you succeed with an
R&R, the goal shouldn't be to approach it for a WIN. The goal should be to approach it TO MAKE THE BOOK BETTER. Don't fixate on making that one person (agent or editor) happy; consider their notes as a free professional critique you won in a lottery. Ruminate and really dig into potential issues and fixes, and in the end, send out a book that you're happy is MUCH stronger knowing that it could be a yes - but it doesn't matter, because you have a stronger manuscript to keep sending out regardless.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lindsey and Natalie! You can find Lindsey at:

Blog: http://literarylilycate.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lcatebecker
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lcatebecker/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zombiecate/

You can find Natalie at:

@Natalie_Lakosil
Bradford Literary Agency http://www.bradfordlit.com

Lindsey has generously offered an ARC of THE STAR THIEF for a giveaway and Natalie is offering a query critique giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through April 22nd. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. Both the ARC and the critique giveaways are international.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Friday, April 14th I'll be participating in the Happy Easter Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Tracy Marchini and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 24th I have a guest post by debut author Sarah Jean Horwitz and a giveaway of her MG fantasy ARMER AND GRIT BOOK ONE: THE WINGSNATCHERS

Wednesday, April 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, May 3rd I have my IWSG post and a guest post by debut author Allison Hymas and her agent Laura Abramo and a giveaway of Allison's MG mystery UNDER LOCK AND KEY

Hope to see you on Friday!




64 comments:

  1. Never give up certainly rings true here. Thanks for the honest, inspiring post.

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  2. It's encouraging to see other "long road" publication stories such as these. The novel sounds like it will have been worth the wait.

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  3. I find this post so encouraging. I'm in the querying trenches right now and I so agree with Lindsey. The process can make you feel powerless. And Natalie's comments are very helpful. I just completed an in-depth R&R which ended in a rejection. Her comments here really helped me look at the experience differently. Thank you!

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  4. Lindsey knew the right changes to make that last time.

    R&R overhauls don't always work. DLP's release last month was a big R&R. Twice. But I've requested others that come back just as Natalie said - still on the fence.

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  5. Congrats to Lindsey! I admire her so much for persevering for years, and through all those revisions. Thanks so much for all this wonderful advice, from both Lindsey and Natalie.

    Don't include me in the query critique giveaway since I recently won a query critique from you (which was most helpful, btw).

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  6. This was so great to read. I queried my first book for over two years with about 100 queries sent. I did get a R and R, but that was rejected and eventually I stopped the process and moved on to something else. It's nice to know that sometimes it does take years to find the right agent for a book. I'm on the verge of jumping back into the query fray, so I'd love to win the critique.

    Also, this story sounds like a fun one. Would love to win that as well.

    tamara (dot) narayan (at) gmail (dot) com

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  7. I'd love to enter for just the book. What a journey. Congrats!

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  8. Congratulations to Lindsey, and nice to meet both her and Natalie. This is an encouraging and helpful post, especially to those of us who are on the very long road!

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  9. Thank you for the encouraging help in this post. I really appreciate the specific details you went into, Natalie, on various scenarios with revision. I also appreciate the thoughts on taking each revision request as a way to learn more and become a better writer, from both Lindsey and Natalie.
    Congratulations, Lindsey! Your book and cover looks wonderful!
    tyreantigger@gmail.com

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  10. This business is all about patience and perseverance, and today's post is another example of how staying the course can pay off!

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  11. Thanks for the writing advice--I am revising my manuscript now and doubt every word change it seems. "Is this making it better?" I've started over three times now, but keep hoping it gets stronger. I shared on my tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/159420989882/agent-natalie-lakosil-and-author-lindsey-becker

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    Replies
    1. I am not ready for a critique, so please don't enter me in this part of the giveaway.

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  12. It was really fabulous to read Lindsey's R&R story - thank you for sharing! It gives me hope! And it was even more helpful to have Nicole's perspective on R&Rs. Thanks to both!

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  13. YAY!!!! Natalie's my agent. She's the best!!!

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  14. I really enjoyed hearing Lindsey's story and why a R/R works or not from Natalie. Congrats, Lindsey! I'm so excited to see your book in print--so glad all that patience and hard work paid off!

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  15. What a great collection of tips, especially the handling of different scenarios. Very useful. Lindsey's story shows that patience and persistence pay off. Congrats!

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  17. I love reading articles like this because they answer all the questions I'd love to ask. Thanks for the valuable information!

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  18. Lindsey's story was very inspirational, and Lindsey and Natalie's interviews exemplify why I like this blog. You have information nobody else does! Thanks for entering me in both contests. My email address is profrbailey@aol.com.

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  19. Thanks for sharing your writing/publishing journey and I can't wait to read your book!

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  20. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm currently wading through the querying trenches and working on an R&R, and it really resonates. Perfect blend of optimism and reality. :)

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  21. What a fabulous interview! I had an R&R request once and it took me 2 months. By the time I finished, the agent was no longer an agent. What a let-down! But I did wind up with a far better MS than I had before, so there's a bright side to it as well.

    My email address for the query review: giffmacshane (at) gmail (dot) com

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  22. AudrasPicks@gmail.com I would love the query critique, found this article so helpful as I go through endless revising per agents. Nice to know someone else had similar problems!

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  23. Thank you for sharing your story, Lindsey, and thank you for the awesome R&R insight, Natalie! I look forward to reading The Star Thief and putting some of those revision tips to use. (sophia@sophiagholz.com)

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  25. Thank you for the inspiring post. Lindsey, I loved reading about your journey and perseverance. Natalie, thank you for the reminder that any thoughtful manuscript revision is well worth the time, regardless of the outcome with a particular agent or editor. I look forward to reading The Star Thief!
    -Erin Pearson
    elfpearson (at) gmail (dot) com

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  26. I've done more than one R&R, and while I haven't *yet* had a yes from one (fingers crossed), I have seen each of the novels turn into a better project as a result. I really appreciate hearing the agent side of why it can be a no. It makes sense.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I tweeted!

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  27. I've often asked about R&R's and "how long one should take". I've never gotten such clear answers until now. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  28. Congratulations, Lindsey. My daughter loves steampunk, so I'll be sharing this with her. Also, thank you, Natalie, for the information on revision and resubmission. Very helpful.

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  29. Oh, and my email is branwenoshea@gmail.com
    😄

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  30. The Star Thief sounds wonderful! I'd love to be considered for the ARC. bonecabela(@)yahoo(.)com

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  31. The Star Thief sounds so interesting, and the agent process was very informative.
    Please don't include me in the query giveaway. Thanks! xinyi1467 at gmail

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  32. Thanks Lindsey - I feel encouraged that you followed your vision for the story and eventually found representation. And it's wonderful to read Natalie's thoughts on R&Rs. Please enter me for both the ARC and the query crit.

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  33. Really great information on R&R's.
    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/MeAngelaD/status/851907385010434048

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  34. Love the give and take of this post. It reads like a read, revise, resubmit. Congratulations Lindsay!! Your hard work paid off!

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  35. Thanks for the peek into your submissions and the info on revision! anlyledo at gmail dot com

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  36. Congratulations Lindsay! I admire your perseverance. Your journey encourages me to keep trying. Thank you, agent Natalie. I appreciate the behind the scenes peek into revise and resubmit. And thank you, blogger Natalie, for a terrific post.

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  37. This is a great article. Thanks for sharing this great information. Always keep revising. And these critique opportunities help so much!

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  38. What a fabulous interview! Would love to win both the ARC and the critique! Monicachess26(@)gmail(.)com

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  39. Wonderful rich interview as usual. I always enjoy these. I will pass on the book giveaway as I am way behind on my reviews right now, but please drop my name in the hat for the query critique. Thanks.

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  40. This is a great reminder to be persistent, and to pay attention to the little victories we encounter. I linked to twitter, as well. :) Thanks for this!
    amyseaholt at gmail dot com

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  41. Thanks for the interview; it was helpful to get both sides of the story, and Natalie had some great advice.

    I'd love to be entered for the query critique, but not for the book giveaway (I'm in Canada so it's harder to send me books). Thanks!

    kimaippersbach @ gmail dot com

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  42. It's nice to meet and hear from both Natalie and Lindsey. Fun to get each perspective. So much more to the process than most readers realize.

    Thanks for the interview, Natalie. I'll pass on the giveaway this time. Have a great weekend!

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  43. This is such a valuable interview, and answers a ton of questions I've had about R&Rs! I'd love to be entered for the query critique. Thanks!
    Angiedickinson06@gmail.com

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  44. Thank you for this contest. I especially appreciate entering for the query critique.
    Natalie, your points hit home, especially about taking the right amount of time and revise deep. Great thoughts. maryveewriter@gmail.com

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  45. I read the interview with great interest. I've never heard of anyone querying the same project for 3 years. Or doing so many R&Rs. But as with anything, your silver lining was a lot of helpful feedback you can carry into new projects. Good luck!

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  46. Thanks for the interview and contest!

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  47. I enjoyed reading this, as I do all the new author stories - particularly that you were able to find an agent by research and didn't HAVE to go to a conference. I'd love to but time and $$ limited! I'd love to be included in the query critique giveaway - ericdhaan at yahoo.com

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  48. Thank you to Lindsey for sharing your path to publishing and to Natalie for the R&R info.

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  49. Great article! Thank you so much for posting! :)

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  50. Thanks for sharing your story. The revision process can seem endless and it's good to see someone persevere. kimberde@gmail

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  51. Amazing article :) I'd love a query critique. I mentioned the contest on my Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MatthewMartinz/status/854543045378928640

    My email is zchingz@hotmail.com

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  53. Another great interview Natalie. The insight into how R&Rs works from Natalie (the agent!) and Lindsey was informative. It's somehow else's turn for the critique, I've had my share, but I'd love the ARC. The Star Thief sounds like a fun read that I'll keeping an eye out for.

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  54. Thanks for the advice. I'm in the process of querying and it's heartening to read success stories. I'd love to win the critique, and the book sounds fun too!

    amythernstrom (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  55. Posted the contest on Facebook!

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  56. Thanks for the interview. I hope to win the ARC of Star Thief! (But please don't include me for the query giveaway.) I tweeted about this interview too: https://twitter.com/eisen5585/status/855066293669638147

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  57. I'd like to win the ARC but I'm not interested in the query critique.

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  58. I'd love the arc and the critique--helpful interview on R&Rs
    faydrastratton at gmail dot com

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  59. Thank you for sharing this! It is great info (and encouragement!) as I start the query process!

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  60. Thanks for this post. It makes the R&R process less of a mystery.

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