Meet an Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon is the author of YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, out 1/2/18 from Simon Pulse. She’s represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency. A former journalist, Rachel currently works in education and loves tap dancing, red lipstick, and new wave music. You can find her on Twitter @rlynn_solomon.
Rachel Lynn Solomon_photo credit Ian Grant

On your website, you mention the twin protagonists in YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE are “in many ways, similar to who I was in high school. Adina is everything I was too scared to be in high school. She’s all the thoughts I had but never acted on.” Do you think your personal connection to the girls made it any easier to persevere through finishing the book? Or did your closeness to them make edits harder?

This is such a great question. Each book I write feels more personal than the last, which is funny because whenever I finish a book, I’m like, “welp, guess I used up all my ideas and I have nothing else to write about!” Though none of my books have completely mirrored my experiences, all my characters have a slice of myself in them, and each new project allows me to learn something new about myself.

I think I was able to persevere through edits because, while these two characters each have a bit of me in them, neither is a clone of me—so that kept my interest while also enabling me to dig deep within myself for inspiration.

For YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, my first nugget of an idea was that I wanted to write a sexually aggressive female protagonist because I hadn’t read very many of them in YA. That became Adina, the viola prodigy who owns her sexuality and is fully comfortable in her body. Her twin, Tovah, is ambitious too (in a different way—she wants to become a surgeon), but she’s much shyer about her body, and her arc deals more with the exploration of that.

Tovah is similar to the girl I was in high school—shy, embarrassed to talk about anything sex-related with even my closest friends, ashamed to acknowledge desire. Adina is who I wish I’d been: confident and in control. She acts on a lot of thoughts most of us probably wouldn’t, which made her extremely fun to write.

Other than novels, you’ve also written for newspapers. Has writing for newspapers helped your novel writing at all and vice versa?

I tend to throw myself into my hobbies a bit intensely, so while I was still in college, I also freelanced for The Seattle Times and a number of other outlets, including public radio stations. I loved to begin my stories with a person—some unique aspect of their experience that would provide a fresh angle to whatever I was reporting on. I really think all news stories are human stories, and I’ve always been drawn more to character-driven stories than plot-driven ones. Almost all my books begin with a character; I can’t start writing until I have a clear (or clear-ish) picture of my protagonist, her passions, her desires.

Before signing with Laura Bradford you parted ways with your first agent. Any advice for other authors who may find themselves back in the query trenches after their first agent?

The best advice I gave myself after I parted with my first agent was to not view it as a step backward. I only knew more about publishing after 2.5 years with my first agent, and I had absolutely become a stronger writer! It may seem like you’re going back to square one if you’re querying again after previously being represented, but I assure you, the opposite is true! Leaving an agent is so difficult to do; it’s not a decision anyone makes lightly. If you’ve made this choice, I’m positive it was the right step forward in your career. Not backward.

Switching agents is also much more common than I used to think—at this point, more than half of my friends are with second, third, or even fourth agents. It’s difficult to know who’s going to be your perfect agent fit—which is partially why I don’t believe in the concept of a “dream agent”—until you’ve spent some time working together. You may find your communication styles don’t mesh or you have different editorial visions—and that’s okay. If you’re back in the query trenches for the second or third time, I promise you aren’t alone, and you deserve a partner who is as passionate about your work as you are.

In your post about your journey to publication you advise writers to have an outlet other than writing. For you that outlet is dance. How does dancing help you deal with rejection and other writing struggles?

Because I work full-time in addition to writing, I need to occasionally turn off my brain. Dance is better at flipping that switch than anything else—when I’m focusing on choreography, I’m not thinking about a rejection or other writing-related stress. I’ve been tap dancing for nearly five years, and I perform annually.

As a mentor, how often do you communicate with your mentee during Pitch Wars?

Is constantly too much? Haha…somewhat kidding :). I approach Pitch Wars looking to find someone I can work with long term, not just during the contest, and so far, all five of my past mentees are people I communicate with on at least a weekly basis. I consider all of them friends and critique partners. (I love them all! So much!) So that should give you an indication of how communicative I’ll be during the contest: extremely, because I want this to be a lasting relationship. I want my mentee to feel comfortable talking to me about anything in publishing. It’s an impossible industry to navigate alone.

Finally, you are a fan of red lipstick. Do you have a favorite brand or shade?

I have about twelve, but lately I’ve been loving Stila stay all day liquid lipstick in the shade Beso, a true red, and Kat Von D everlasting liquid lipstick in Nosferatu, which is more of a crimson.

Thank you, Katelyn!

 

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Meet an Author: Kellye Garrett

Meet Author and Pitch Wars mentor Kellye Garrett. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, will be released by Midnight Ink in August 2017. You can pre-order it by clicking here. Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder.

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Your book is inspired by your experiences working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. What made you decide to turn those experiences into a detective novel?

The initial idea for Hollywood Homicide was actually just a woman who decides to solve a crime for the reward money. But they say “write what you know.” And at that point, I’d been living and working in Hollywood for 8 years. I was semi-successful and mega-broke, so, of course, I created a character who was also semi-successful and mega-broke. I made her an actress so no one would accuse me of basically writing myself. 😊 Continue reading

Meet an Author: Aimee L. Salter

Meet author and Pitch Wars mentor Aimee L. Salter. Aimee started as a self-published author, but her debut novel was acquired and re-released as Every Ugly Word by Alloy Entertainment in 2014. Her second book, Dark Touch, came out out February 2016, also from Alloy Entertainment.

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Your latest book is DARK TOUCH. In it your main character wants out of her small Oregon town. Is any of it based on your own experiences living in Oregon?

It’s not my experience of Oregon, specifically. But I did grow up in a small town in New Zealand and suffered terribly bullying there for several years. While I adored the lifestyle of that town (I had my own horses, we were bordered by the beach, a river, and mountains) I couldn’t wait to get out of there, and was ecstatic when my parents moved us back to Oregon just before I turned seventeen. I know what it’s like to feel trapped—and to get free of that. Continue reading

Meet an Author: Tracey Enerson Wood

Meet author and Pitch Wars mentor Tracey Enerson Wood. She writes historical and women’s fiction along with non-fiction. She is represented by Heather Flaherty and Lucy Cleland. She is co-author of Homefront Cooking to be published by Skyhorse Publishing in spring of 2018.

Tracey WoodHomefront Cooking will be a combination cookbook and memoir, a collection of treasured family recipes from active duty service members and veterans, and their loved ones, accompanied by a brief essay on why the recipe is special. Also included are favorite stories or humor related to military service or lifestyle. Photographs and artwork will also be featured.

The goal is to honor veterans, while preserving moments of personal history before they are forgotten. All authors’ profits will be donated to military service organizations. Continue reading

Meet an Author: Michelle Hauck

Meet Michelle Hauck, author of the Birth of a Saint series published by Harper Voyager. The first two books GRUDGING and FAITHFUL are out now. The last book in the series, STEADFAST, is scheduled for release November 2017. She’s represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary. Other than mentoring in Pitch Wars, Michelle also co-hosts Picture Book Party, New Agent, Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow

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FAITHFUL is the latest book in your fantasy Birth of a Saint series. As an animal lover the horses in your series that bond with their humans intrigued me. What was your inspiration for the horses and do you have any real-life experience with horses?

 The unique horse-human bond in my Birth of Saints series wasn’t really planned. It just sort of sprang into existence as I was writing. I gave the main character, Ramiro, a horse and I didn’t want it to be an ordinary horse. So I built up this backstory of the horses being super intelligent and the soldiers all forming a life bond with their own horse from a special herd. Which of course led to other characters having exceptional horses. Horses who could understand their masters and were incredibly loyal—not to mention able to fight. You’ll have to read the third book, Steadfast, to get the final backstory history on the origin of the horses and why they are special. That’s still a secret.

This may sound bad, but my only real life experience comes from the rented horseback rides I’ve taken on vacation. My information about horses all comes from reading and asking questions. But I think I’ve created the sort of horse-rider relationship I used to dream about having as a little girl. So that’s probably where the horses really came from. Continue reading

Meet an Author: Natasha Neagle

Meet Natasha Neagle, author and Pitch Wars mentor. Natasha Neagle’s debut is THE BODY PARADOX, in which a genetically altered teen becomes trapped in the same body as her worst enemy and must overcome their rivalry in order to survive the organization that turns against them. It’s slated for publication at Entangled teen in winter 2018.

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You started writing at a young age but took a break when you went to undergraduate school. Years later you started writing again. What made you decide to finally get back to writing?

I taught 8th grade science in Maryland at the time and I had three students who I adored. They called the four of us FEWN (Farah, Eunice, Wesley, Neagle), which led to an idea of four friends going on a crazy time-traveling adventure. I started plotting it and the next thing I knew I had a completely different idea take over. My original idea focusing around those three amazing students is still in my AMWRITING folder to be written one day. Continue reading

Meet an Author: Vanessa Carnevale

Meet Vanessa Carnevale, Pitch wars mentor, women’s fiction author, and freelance article writer. Her debut novel, THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE sold in a two-book deal to Harlequin Australia and is available now! You can read more about that here or purchase the book here. She is co-host of the Podcast, Your Creative Life, and blogs for for The Huffington Post. Last September, she hosted her first sold-out writing retreat in Tuscany called Your Beautiful Writing Life.

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In THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE Mia finds she can’t bring herself to paint anymore after battling cancer Has anything in your life ever made you feel like you couldn’t write or partake in some other hobby?

I haven’t personally experienced anything like this, but as a creative person I know that it can feel harder to write when life is out of balance. I imagined that for Mia, going through what she did, would have had some challenges in terms of getting her life back on track. It felt entirely probable that her art and her relationship with her art would be affected after having gone through such a life-changing illness like cancer. Continue reading