Dave Amaditz and Marcy Collier
We hope that all of you had a nice holiday with friends and family.
This past Friday, December 23, 2011, we posted part one of a two-part interview with Casey McCormick, from Literary Rambles. The first part mainly focused on her blog, the history and what is required to maintain the site. Today, we'll talk mainly about how creating this site has affected her writing career. Let's get to the interview questions.
So grab a cup of coffee and what’s left of your holiday cookies and enjoy the interview.
Dave and Marcy: How long have you been writing for children?
Casey: I've been writing for children for four years.
Dave and Marcy: When reading your blog I have noticed that you have not yet submitted your work to agents because you feel your writing is not ready to submit. You’ve obviously read enough comments from agents to know that that is a wise choice. Do you feel you'll have something ready to submit soon? Do you have a pitch ready? How do you feel about the importance of a one line pitch?
Casey: I don't expect to have anything ready to submit anytime soon, no. The truth is, I'm extremely insecure and self-critical and it gets in the way of my writing hugely. Until I can find some self-confidence and a process that really works for me, I don't think I'll be ready for a professional career in writing.
I'm beginning to think I belong on the other side of the desk, to be honest. The time I've spent helping other writers compared to the time I've spent actually writing suggests I enjoy the former more than the latter!
Dave and Marcy: I used to be able to pick up a book and read from beginning to end no matter what flaws were contained within. Now, as a writer who values a good critique of my own work, my critiquing skills are always on high alert, and I find it impossible to simply read a book or manuscript and accept what has been laid out in front of me without thinking it would have been better had something been written differently. Has this happened to you? Do you wish for a time when you were able to pick up any book and read from beginning to end without thinking about what could have been changed? Or, does your ability to critique a manuscript make you appreciate that much more for those manuscripts and books that are really done well?
Casey: I am definitely a far more critical reader than I used to be, but it really depends on the book. There are books throughout which my inner editor screams and screams, but there are books that are so good I struggle to be critical of them at all. Overall, I'd say it makes me appreciate good books more. I like being a mindful reader.
Dave and Marcy: How has your new blog partner, Natalie Aguirre helped develop the blog?
Casey: Natalie not only helps me with much needed updates, but she does amazing interviews and giveaways each week. She also started the "Ask the Expert" series, where she interviews teens about their reading habits. Best of all, having her as a partner has allowed me to step back and give my family more of my time, and I'm extremely thankful for that. Literary Rambles would be really quiet right now without her!
Dave and Marcy: How has interning for an agent helped further your writing and editing skills?
Casey: Interning has been an incredible experience. I'm exposed to a wide range of writing ability and it's helped me develop a better sense of what works, what doesn't, and what really stands out. It also forces me to be critical, so I'd like to think I'm constantly developing new editorial skills as well.
Dave and Marcy: What is the most important tip you could give to a writer seeking representation?
Casey: Don't forget that the main reason you need an agent is to SELL your project and future projects. If an agent (however nice and legit) doesn't have strong connections with editors in NY, they're probably going to be a waste of your time and writing. If not initially, down the road.
Check agency websites for deal news, subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace (even for just a month), research clients (who they are, what they've pubbed, how long they've been with the agent, if available), and make knowing a priority. If the information simply isn't available, make a note to ask during "the call" in the event you get an offer.
You want an agent who is actively making deals with the kind of publishers you hope to publish with (big six? specialty?), and the more deals they make in the genre you write, the better.