Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Have a Dream Contest




Like the man himself, Martin Luther King Day has great meaning because it stands for so much. It stands for the impact a great man had and continues to have on American society; it stands for the belief that the American Dream is free for everyone—man and woman, regardless of color/race—to strive after; and it stands for the notion that our dreams are within our reach, if only we do things honorably and with great vigor.

That last point got me thinking about the dreams of the writer, which starts with the goal of writing a book and culminates with the publication of that book. However, most of you know that getting to that “finish line” (if there really is a “finish” to any dream) requires a whole lot of work, along with a bit of luck. One of the things a writer usually needs to get to that finish line is an agent. Preferably, a dream agent. And that’s where the “I Have a Dream” Contest comes in.

When I think about my own journey, which is far from over, I realize I have gone through many stages in my writing career. And while I haven’t yet had any of my books published to date, I have had many successes thus far. For example, I wrote a book that drew an offering war between agents (8 of them) and that was pretty unheard of I’ve been told (the book never got picked up, but it was a fun time). I’ve had another book have another offering battle (not quite a “war” since there were 3 agents this time). Eventually, I found my dream agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin. This last success is paramount, since I know my career is in good hands. Alyssa has been behind me at every turn because she’s so supportive; she gets right back to me all the time (I never wait for an answer/reply); she’s that type of “no nonsense” agent that I need (no sugar-coating, and lays down the real deal no matter what); she doesn’t assert her will over her clients’ will, and that means she doesn’t call the shots, but instead, she recommends a course of action but will go with her client’s wishes if they’re different (many agents do only what THEY want, and this is not what the author-agent relationship is all about); and most importantly, Alyssa is a champion for my work (as well as all MG literature). Yes, she is the “dream” agent…for me. I say “for me” because, having been involved with 11 different agents, I have come to realize that many are NOT for me, just as Alyssa might not be a dream agent for some other writer out there. It’s all about the match, and I’m happy to say I know I’ve found mine. With Alyssa guiding me, I have great faith that I’ll reach the part of the dream that involves getting books published. Trust me: it’s a very gratifying feeling.

And to help others achieve that dream, I decided last week that it’d be a great idea to have a contest. Yes, a contest! I asked Alyssa to participate and she said yelled, “YES! I’d love to!”

Then I asked the rest of the Project Mayhem members if they wanted in, and some were able to work it out (on short notice) so that we have a pretty cool contest. Here’s how it will work.

Two agents have volunteered to participate. One is my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media. Here she is, and here’s a bit about her.


Alyssa Eisner Henkin is a 1998 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Trident in December of 2006, she spent seven years at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, where she edited the New York Times bestselling LITTLE QUACK, as well as the popular THE MOTHER DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB, and THE WEDDING PLANNER’S DAUGHTER, and the current Newberry hopeful (and favorite?) WONDER, by her fabulous client R.J. Palacio. As for middle grade, which is her passion, Alyssa is looking for (in her own words): “I’m definitely keen on character-driven books in the vein of WONDER, but I also love a big swashbuckling plot, and am a total sucker for anything super girly, set in a mansion, involving a mystery, or set in the South. And I LOVE historical fiction with all my being, even if they are a tough sell sometimes." 

A second agent who volunteered to participate is Shannon O’Donnell’s agent, Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary. Here is a bit about her.




Memorable stories have always been a fixture in Terrie’s life. A descendent of real-life explorers, settlers and heroes, she experienced the Real West in a way most people might only imagine. Natural curiosity and her need to get the word out led to successful positions within the international media and several award-winning writing and promotions teams. She’s worked at CBS, NBC, Hobson’s Press (UK) and Penguin-UK. The recipient of writing awards like the Emmy, Queen’s Service Award (UK), La Voz y Papel (Spain), and Young Journalist of the year, Terrie read English Literature at Cambridge, studied Creative Writing at NYU and Journalism at CU-Denver. She is very proud, however, of the “Master of Mirth” awarded by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
 
Terrie joined the Anita Kushen Agency in 2009 as a Foreign Rights Specialist and acquired the agency in 2010. Terrie is currently in search of your very best MG. She’d like to see the work you would have read when you were about “that age”. She especially enjoys humorous (not gross or mean), adventurous (not dystopian) and incredible nonfiction; she is also looking for a great story centering around small-town life and real-world issues. She loves the types of work that have the potential to become as memorable as those told around the prairie campfires and fishing holes of her youth. Dare to thrill her.


Okay, here’s how it will work. First, you can choose ONE agent who you think is right for you, as long as you have a MG book to query (please don’t submit to both of us). Then, email me or Shannon directly (email addresses below) with your query and your first page. We will both accept submissions until Thursday (1/24) at noon EST. At that time, we will choose the top 3 that we feel are top-notch and that we feel are right for our agents. We will announce the top 3 (for each agent) on the blog this Thursday (1/24), and then email the three winners directly and ask for the first 3 chapters or the first 25 pages (whichever ends first). We will read and consider the entries from the 3 finalists for a week and each choose one winner. We will announce the winner next Thursday (1/31) on the blog and contact the winner directly via email to get their full manuscript. This manuscript will be emailed to our agents directly from us, but that’s not it. We’ll also be informing our agents what it is we feel makes the winning entry so special, so we'll basically be giving our endorsement for representation (you've got yourself a bonafide referral). And then the book will be in our agents’ hands, and Shannon and I will step back to the sidelines and cheer you on. 

* It is important to mention that this in no way assures the writer of being offered representation. While it’s a good first step (and a leg up), it is still up to the agent whether or not to offer, and it will still take the agent some time to review and consider the manuscript. But it’s a good opportunity to move toward that dream.

Also, for the two “runners up” (for each agent), you won’t go away empty handed. No, for the submission Shannon and I feel is very close (second place), we’ll send your first chapters/pages over to our very own Dianne Salerni for a full critique. And for the other runners up (third place) we will contact you and give you an option of the following: we can either hand your query off to our own Matt MacNish for a detailed query critique, or, we’ll offer a signed copy of Hilary Wagner’s NIGHTSHADE CITY (since she’s our founder and that’s her first book, you could say that NIGHTSHADE CITY is the book that gave birth to Project Mayhem).

Remember:
  • First, follow the blog (if you don’t already).
  • Comment below with “I submitted to *Mike* or *Shannon*” (so that we know we should expect to see yours in our inbox and to make sure it didn’t get lost).
  • Please, only submit to one of us.
  • Put "Dream Submission: BOOK TITLE" as subject header.
  • Make sure you copy/paste the query and the first page in the actual email (no attachments in the initial submissions, please).
Good luck!

 

100 comments:

  1. This was a hard choice. I love Shannon and have heard wonderful things about Terrie Wolf. But I recently queried her on this project. No need to be redundant, right?

    At the same time, Alyssa Eisner Henkin sounds like a great agent too, so I'll email Mike.

    I submitted to Mike. I'm already a follower. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  2. I loved Wonder and I've enjoyed following Terrie Wolf on Twitter. They're both excellent choices!

    I sent my query and first page to Mike. I've been a follower of this blog and now I'm following you on Twitter.

    Thanks so much for cool contest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for this opportunity - such a great idea.

    I submitted to Mike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  4. What a fun contest! Since Terrie has a partial of another ms of mine, I'll submit to Mike.

    Thanks for doing this! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck with your partial AND with Mike! :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  5. I submitted to Mike. Thanks so much for this opportunity. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I already follow Project MG Mayhem, and I submitted to Shannon. Thanks to all of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jayne! I look forward to reading it! :)

      Delete
  7. I followed and submitted to Shannon!

    Thank you for holding this contest!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I submitted to Mike! Thanks for the opportunity!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  9. I submitted to Shannon. Thanks so much for putting this together!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! Thanks, Ronni, and good luck! :)

      Delete
  10. Thanks! This is what I love about writers their willingness to help other writers. I submitted to Mike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  11. Sorry for the same 'ol reply, everyone who subbed to me/Alyssa. Just keeping the playing field level and fair.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just followed the blog and already follow on Twitter. :) I am submitting to Shannon. Thanks for this opportunity!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Guys! I just wanted you to know I followed your blog, but my facebook account is with my husband, & it's
    RicknDale. Also, before I send, should my submission be addressed to the agent or one of you? Thanks! Dale Rogers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go ahead and address it to the agent. :)

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Shannon. I'm never sure which way to do it.

      Delete
  14. Because much of what I write is middle grade historical fiction, I submitted my entry to Alyssa and Mike. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  15. WONDER runs through my veins, so I submitted to Alyssa.
    Thanks for the contest.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe Fernandez

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  16. Since I have a partial out with Terrie, I submitted to Mike. Thank you so much for a great opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  17. Thanks for this contest. I think I'll try!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I submitted to Shannon.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I submitted to Shannon, and I'm following your blog (as RicknDale Rogers), as well as Twitter. Thanks for doing this!

    ReplyDelete
  20. We are all awesome for doing this, but especially you two, Mike and Shannon (and your lovely agents).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's awesome is the entries we're getting. Great stuff. A couple seem to be floating above the rest, but still time to change that.

      Delete
    2. Ditto to what Mike said! :)

      Delete
  21. I submitted to Mike. Thank you for this opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  22. Hi,

    I submitted to Shannon and Terrie (and not just because my last name happens to be Terry).

    Thank you for this opportunity. I adore your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great contest! I adore both agents. Alyssa critiqued the first ten pages of my hf mg after WOC. Terrie is one of my FB & Twitter buddies. I'm going to have to think on this for a day.

    Wonderful opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Nothing like a deadline to kick me into your "comment" window! I will submit to Mike before the 1/24 at noon cut-off. Thanks for hosting the contest.
    Andrea Alban

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks! I submitted to Mike.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  27. I submitted to Mike. Thank you for the opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  28. i just finished Wonder, so I submitted to Mike. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  29. I submitted to Mike.

    Thank you for such a great opportunity!

    Wonder was my favorite book of 2012, I've praised it to the skies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  30. Thanks for this opportunity. :) I submitted to Mike. I follow you on Twitter and liked you on FB.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  31. Hi,friends! I submitted to Shannon and Terri. Thanks so much for the opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi! I've submitted to Mike and Alyssa. I appreciate the opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  33. Such a cool opportunity! I submitted to Mike and now follow the blog. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  34. I submitted to Mike! Thanks so much for this opportunity.
    Sherra
    "Sherra's Take" www.sherragedgar.com
    sgedgar12@yahoo.com
    sherra6368@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  35. I submitted to Shannon. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the entry! Good luck. :)

      Delete
  36. I submitted to Mike. Thanks for running this contest.
    -Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  37. I submitted to Shannon. Thank you for this opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I have submitted to Mike.
    Thank you for this great opportunity, I hope you enjoy !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  39. Hello Mayhem-ers :)

    I, too, already follow Project Mayhem, and I've submitted to Mike.

    Best of luck to everyone, and thank you for organizing this fun pitch opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  40. I submitted to Mike! Thanks for you time and consideration!
    -Christy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  41. I'm drawn to novels such as WONDER. And I have had eye opening chats with Terrie Wolf on Twitter.

    I sent my query and first page to Mike.

    Thank you to everyone involved for this opportunity.
    - Manju

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  42. I submitted to Mike. Thanks for running such a stellar competition! And thanks for your time and consideration.

    - Monica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  43. I submitted to Mike! This is a great idea...thanks for all your hard work!

    Sarah Cannon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  44. So exciting! I'm following and I submitted to Mike. Thanks for your time, and for running this contest.

    - Summer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I submitted to Mike and Alyssa. It was a hard choice. Since Alyssa already read part of my novel, I thought she might like to see the changes I made, per her advice.

    Good luck to everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  47. Subbed to Mike. Thanks for the opportunity and good luck to everyone. KG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  48. I submitted to Mike on time...


    I do apologize for the late comment. Please forgive me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. Look forward to seeing if it's a match for Alyssa.

      Delete
  49. I submited to Shannon...thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  50. My middle grade book wasn't ready in time. I'm doing some rewrites on it. I was hoping to power through them in time to submit to this, but it didn't happen. Maybe another time.

    Thanks for running this little event though. :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. I just found this post and I am a follower now. Wish I had found it sooner, I have a MG and a query ready. Maybe next time. *Sigh* thanks for the opportunity you've given everyone, though.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for adding to the mayhem!