I know. I know. There’s been a bit of a lag in posting. I apologize. I truly do. My work/life balance has been horribly off kilter as of late and I’m struggling to rectify it. At work it’s “please talk, hmmm, for me?”, while at home it’s “please, stop talking!”. At the end of the day, when the silence finally comes, a face plant into the couch quickly follows.
Stolen moments have been found to continue querying. I know many of you are curious as to where I am in the process, but I want to maintain some professionalism and won’t reveal anything until I have an announcement to make. So please, be patient, it may be a while. (And thank you for your support and cheerleading!!)
Recently, I came across a tweet from Laura Brown regarding a cover reveal for a New Adult Romance, “Sway”. I clicked on the link and did a little happy dance when I read that the author, Melanie Stanford, was a fellow Calgarian! Someone from my home town, writing in the same genre as me, got a book deal! I wanted to know more! So, I requested an interview — and she was gracious enough to oblige.
First, a little bit about Melanie:
Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, four kids, and ridiculous amounts of snow.
Melanie, what inspired you to write SWAY? Is it the first novel you’ve written?
SWAY was the second novel I finished. I’d previously written a YA time-travel book plus part of its sequel. SWAY is a modern-day retelling of PERSUASION by Jane Austen. The first time I read it, it really spoke to me more than her other novels (I love them too, though). I really identified with what Anne goes through and felt her pain. But it wasn’t until I was watching the 2007 ITV movie version of it (starring the swoontastic Rupert Penry-Jones) that I really thought it would make a great modern story.
From idea to completion, how long did it take you? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?
The first draft took me about three months. I revised a few times and had 3 excellent critique partners and 5 beta readers who whipped it into shape. They really helped it go from blah to beautiful.
Can you talk about your query process with SWAY? How many agents or editors did you query? Was it an easy process for you, or challenging?
Querying is always challenging. I’d already shelved my first MS, which was heart-wrenching, so to start all over again wasn’t fun, and it was especially difficult because SWAY didn’t get the attention that my first had gotten- both with agents and contests. I sent 33 queries (three from Twitter pitch requests) and ended up with three full requests, one I never did hear back on. I decided to shelve it and work on book number four. I spent the next year going back and forth on whether I should query SWAY to small publishers or not. For multiple reasons, I finally decided it was a good move for me and for this book to give it a try, so I sent it to seven small romance publishers. I received two no’s, two I never heard from, and three offers! (That still shocks me.)
As Canadians, do you think it makes a difference in our options for publication or representation?
I don’t think it does, no. The only thing I’ve come across while researching small publishers is that there’s less opportunity of getting my book into the local Chapters/Indigo. Small pubs in general don’t do much distribution to brick and mortar stores (depending on the publisher, of course), but there are very few that distribute through Chapters/Indigo.
What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?
Since I’m still here with you (I’m currently querying a YA UF, with a YA mystery waiting in the wings), all I have to say is DON’T QUIT. I know you hear it all the time, but all us writers need to be reminded of it on those days when it feels too hopeless to write a hundred more words, or revise one more chapter, or send out one more query.
Tell us about SWAY.
Ava Elliot never thought she’d become a couch surfer. But with a freshly minted—and worthless—degree from Julliard, and her dad squandering the family fortune, what choice does she have?
Living with her old high school friends, though, has its own drawbacks. Especially when her ex-fiancé Eric Wentworth drops back into her life. Eight years ago, she was too young, too scared of being poor, and too scared of her dad’s disapproval. Dumping him was a big mistake.
In the most ironic of role reversals, Eric is rolling in musical success, and Ava’s starting at the bottom to build her career. Worse, every song Eric sings is an arrow aimed straight for her regrets.
One encounter, one song too many, and Ava can’t go on like this. It’s time to tell Eric the truth, and make a choice. Finally let go of the past, or risk her heart for a second chance with her first love. If he can forgive her…and she can forgive herself.
Thanks for having me!!! 😀
Sway is due out this winter and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads bookshelf https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25701546-sway
Her publisher is: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/