Hello, Sub It Clubbers,
Well, it’s not even February, and we already have a “Small Steps to Success Bingo” winner. That’s right, Candice Marley Conner shouted “BINGO” a mere 15 days after we launched the game.
Candice is so motivated, we had to meet her and see if she had any query tips for the rest of us.
- Candice, you are amazing. Who the heck are you?
Hi Sub It Club! My name is Candice Marley Conner and I am a writer and BINGO winner! First off, thanks so much for all the energy y’all give to Sub It Club. I’m a bit competitive so I LOVE the idea of a writerly bingo, and was beside myself to see I reached blackout first. The squares pushed me to do and be more and I’m really happy with the results. Thanks to the game, I’ve joined an online picture book critique group, started and finished two manuscripts, and even got an elementary school excited to have me speak next year when my picture book comes out!
I live with my husband, a mermaid girl, a dinosaur boy, and a tiny but ferocious cat at the bottom of Alabama where the antebellum lady dips her toes in the Gulf of Mexico. I pretty much grew up in a swamp so most of my writing centers around water and the magic and wonder of natural things.
2. Tell us a little bit about your writing journey.
I write pretty much everything. My senior thesis in college was a chapter book, which I queried way before I really knew anything about the industry. When I stayed home after Mermaid Girl was born, I got serious about writing and wrote a YA mystery. In the six years since, I’ve written two middle grades (eco-fairytale retelling and magical realism), picture books, personal essays, poems, and am currently working on a YA Southern Gothic and co-writing an adult psychological thriller with two other mamas.
3. Wow! That is a pretty impressive list of works. What made you decide to join Sub It Club? Are you actively querying?
My agent rebranded herself to solely represent adult/YA crossover, so I found myself on the hunt again for someone who represented the majority of what I write: picture books and middle grade. Facebook analytics, or whatever sorcery our smart devices use, suggested the Sub It Club group to me. When I saw some writerly friends I had met through contributor groups and mentor contests were members I thought, why not? Incredibly glad I clicked ‘join’. What a tiny action with such lovely results.
4. We are so glad you found us! Any tips for those in the query trenches, for example how to stay motivated, handling rejection, etc.?
Keep writing. If you get burned out, change it up. I got really bummed when I was on submission and felt helpless because it morphed into a waiting game. That’s when I turned my attention to mother-centric personal essays and poems. I found it cathartic and thought it helped me be a better mom. It also helped because I was back in control, researching and submitting. And it’s a MUCH faster turnaround to publication than a novel.
Get on Twitter and join in on the pitch parties and mentor contests. Even if you don’t “win,” meeting likeminded writers is priceless. And they will usually send you virtual wine and chocolate. (Occasionally one will buy a chocolate factory and mail you the real stuff like dark chocolate truffles and chocolate covered gummy bears. Then you know that a rejection from one publisher or agent doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things.)
When rejections start to pull me under, I remind myself that it’s because there’s something else I need to learn to be better. So then I get to work figuring out what I need to know, whether it’s a mentor, a fun fact, an industry rule, a fabulously supportive writing group (ahem, Sub It Club), etc.
5. Excellent advice. Speaking of rejection, what’s your favorite rejection food/drink?
This time of year? Girl Scout cookies. Wine, any season. And if I’m feeling particularly downtrodden, I’ll get some of that fancy foam for my coffee.
6. Yum! Can you share a fantastic book you’ve read recently?
Since I write all over the place, I also read a lot of different age groups and genres. I recently read Annie Silvestro’s picture book, BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, and fell in love with the beautifully lyrical prose and illustrations. Forest friends sneaking into a library to start their own book club, how cute is that? I would so bake some carrot cake cupcakes if I could get adorable bunnies at my Mom’s Night Out Book Club.
Middle grade: Shannon Hale’s THE PALACE OF STONE, the second in her Princess Academy series. I cry, I cheer, I fret with Miri. Such an inspiring, earnest character.
Young Adult: just finished Jeff Zentner’s THE SERPENT KING. The way he writes is hauntingly beautiful and the relationships between his characters are so authentic and funny.
Then in Adult, I recently completed N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy (seriously rocked my world, and yes that’s an intentional pun but true all the same) and Karen Dionne’s THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER (HC Anderson fairy tale interwoven into a psychological thriller focusing on surviving off the land is right up my alley.)
Thanks again for having me and holding these fun contests! I enjoy interacting with other writers so y’all can find my author page on Facebook, on Twitter @candice_marleyc, and I haphazardly blog at candicemarleyconner.wordpress.com.
As our bingo winner, Candice has won a critique of the first ten pages of her middle-grade novel generously donated by Rate Your Story’s Sophia Gholz. Novelist and RYS judge Anne E. Johnson will provide the critique. RYS is an online critique service offering honest feedback from published authors. Learn more here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.