** UPDATE: Tricia’s book has found a publisher! We are so delighted to have Tricia back to answer a few follow-up questions about the deal, the book, and the experience since #DVpit.
Tricia, first of all, congratulations on your book deal! We’d love to hear how the submission process was for you, from editing to polishing, to going out on sub to publishers, to getting news of your book deal. Catch us up on what’s happened since #DVpit!
TRICIA: Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m thrilled to share this news with the #DVpit crew. #DVPit set everything in motion for me and without this pitch event for marginalized voices, I might not have a book deal and release date to share.
As far as the submission process, mine was super-quick. I polished a few things for my agent, but we were on the same page about changes. She loves my characters and didn’t want to see them altered. After I made small developmental changes—more back story, beefed up a sub-plotline—I went on sub just before Christmas last year.
Then, I was cruising Twitter Christmas Eve and saw Sue Grimshaw had started following me. I mean, SUE GRIMSHAW, people! I squealed (and I don’t squeal) in my mother’s kitchen while we were baking anatomically correct Gingerbread cookies.
Since I didn’t want to bug my agent over something that could be nothing, I waited to tell her until after the holidays. That same week the offer came from Sue. I was flabbergasted. I had prepared myself for the sub process to be like the querying process, and I’d re-donned my thick skin waiting for the rejections to roll in.
Nope. Sue’s offer came in before any rejections hit my inbox.
Tell us about your editor! What was it like speaking to them for the first time? What is your relationship like?
TRICIA: The whole Loveswept team is amazing, but the first time I spoke with Sue a missing puzzle piece fell into place. I could tell from the go that she loved my characters as much as I did. Conversations flowed easy, and I love our informal relationship. She understood my snarky sense of humor, listened to all my concerns, and my first round of developmental edits flew by. Her ideas to improve the story rang true on every level, and I was excited about making the changes.
Actually, I got to meet Sue in person this year at the RWA conference and she is… tall. Like 6’4 to my measly 5’2. But seriously, she’s a wonderful person who went out of her way to help me feel comfortable by introducing me to her other Loveswept authors. Our working relationship is open, easy, and she always has a minute to talk and assuage my debut author fears.
Looking back, is there anything you wish you knew or prepared for when you were first entering #DVpit and getting ready to pitch agents?
TRICIA: I wish I would have had 280 characters! 😂 As far as pitching, I like to tell writers that less is more.
In the era of 280 characters it is easier to develop thorough pitches, but shorter, concise pitches that still contain character, plot, stakes, the appropriate hashtags, AND let your voice shine through are more likely to catch an agent’s eye.
After all, if an agent or editor is scrolling through the #DVpit feed reading long pitches, a short pitch will appeal simply because it takes less time to read.
If you need 280 characters, by all means, use them. But if you can convey the same things in a shorter pitch it’s more likely to stand out of the crowd.
Are there any updates you can share about your book? Pub date, hints about the cover, finalized jacket copy, pre-order links, etc?
TRICIA: We recently held the cover reveal for Moonlight & Whiskey! It’s beautiful, and gorgeous, and I love it, and here’s a peek at the jacket copy.
When life gives you curves, you gotta learn how to rock them.
Successful businesswoman Avery Barrows likes her dips and curves, but she’s sick of the haters telling her that she should be ashamed of her body instead of embracing it. Determined to send them a big f*** you, Avery resolves to cut loose during a girls’ trip, hightailing her quick-mouthed, plus-sized self to New Orleans. So, what’s a smart woman with a little extra gotta do to get laid in this town?
Not much if you ask Declan McGinn, the lead singer of BlackSmith. Tall, dark, and tattooed, with a body made for sin, Declan prefers his women as curvy as his guitars. Avery’s sharp tongue and keen mind make him want her even more.
As they burn up the sheets, Avery and Declan realize this is no one-night (or even one-week) stand. But for all of her bluster, Avery isn’t sure she can handle any more rejection. Besides, Declan has demons of his own. Now Avery has a choice to make: play it safe, or place her trust in the hands of a man who’s as tempting as the devil himself.
Release day is slated for March 12th, 2019, and you can pre-order Moonlight & Whiskey at all major ebook retailers.
Barnes and Noble
Books A Million
What’s next for you?
TRICIA: I’m working on the sequel to Moonlight & Whiskey. I’m planning at least three in this series, and the next book features a tri-racial former model who is dogged by the tabloids for her weight gain. She gets a second shot at a relationship with a sex-on-a-stick Nordic blonde guitar player…If she can get out of her own way, of course. ;)
Congratulations once again, Tricia! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and best of luck with the publication of Moonlight & Whiskey. We’re all excited to see it hit shelves!
[The original interview follows.]
Tricia and Saritza, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your partnership! To start, Tricia, I’d love to know more about your book and why you wrote it.
TRICIA: First, thank you for having us! #DVpit changed the course of my journey to publication and I’m eternally grateful for the time and effort you contribute to make this contest a success.
I wrote Moonlight & Whiskey because I wanted more sex-positive/body-positive books featuring kickass plus-sized heroines. As a former athlete in a male-centric sport, I can attest to the pressures put on plus-sized women to fit neatly under the labels of what we should be, and how we should change to fit certain preconceived notions.
My heroine, Avery, is fighting to break free of the labels forced upon her. A plus-sized engineer with body issues, Avery never feels like she’s enough the way she is, an issue amplified by the traditionally male field she works in. As a result, she’s erected walls, and uses her sharp-tongue as a defense mechanism to insulate herself from rejection. When she collides with tattooed frontman, Declan, a man who likes his women as curvy as his guitars, she begins to embrace her curves. However, as their connection deepens, Avery discovers her insecurities are more profound than the size of her butt. She must face the fear of rejection ingrained long before she developed curves, or risk losing the frontman who’s stealing her heart.
Most plus-sized women have lived, or are living, Avery’s journey to learn to love herself as she is. Few curvy girls are confident from the go, and those who are, have fought difficult battles to achieve self-love. Confidence can’t be about how others see you, but how you see yourself. I think anyone who’s grappled with body issues of any kind will relate to the process Avery goes through.
Saritza, what was it about this manuscript that sealed the deal for you?
SARITZA: I was mesmerized with this book from its opening line all the way through the end of the manuscript but it was the representation of body positivity in the book that sealed the deal for me. I’m all about books that let you see yourself on the page without shame or as a life lesson to the cisgender, heteronormative, statuesque heroine. I was so enraptured by the tone and plot of the manuscript that I read it in one sitting then sat back and thought to myself, “This is it. Avery’s the heroine I’ve wanted to see and root for in my romance novels.”
Tricia, how did you prepare this manuscript for submission? Do you work with outlines, schedules, or deadlines? Do you have critique partners and beta readers?
TRICIA: I’m very new to the industry. At first, I pantsed Moonlight & Whiskey, but realized about halfway through, that it was more difficult for me that way and started using a loose outline to see my way through the plot. When I’d finished, I was lucky enough to come across a mentor for another contest. She suggested I get involved in the Facebook and Twitter writing communities and told me to find a solid critique partner.
I jumped in with both feet, and before long, I met a wonderful CP that pushes me to be a better writer. We’re hard on each other, and as a result, we’ve both found our place in a community that has helped us improve at every step. I have a “team” now, of other writers and betas, in my genre who have my back. I’m eternally grateful to the romance community for being so welcoming and supportive.
And how was the #DVpit experience for you, overall? Expectations? Doubts? Disappointments?
TRICIA: Truth time. I learned of #DVpit a day before the pitch event in early 2016. I knew that I had an #ownvoices manuscript, with a marginalized heroine and writer, and I threw out a pitch when the manuscript was still very rough. The pitch wasn’t well thought out, and last minute—all the things you aren’t supposed to do—and, subsequently, it was a bust.
However, #DVpit is a wonderful chance for those of us who can get buried in other contests to really showcase why our stories are important. I planned and crafted pitches for the next #DVpit and got a wonderful response. Including Saritza, who I know loves my book just as much as I do, and is passionate about showcasing marginalized voices.
How was the experience for you, Saritza?
SARITZA: I’ve participated in #DVPit before and have loved seeing how this pitch event brings works to the forefront and attention of the publishing industry in a way we haven’t been able to before. It’s one of my favorite pitch events of the year and one I fervently believe in.
When Tricia’s tweet came through, I knew I needed to be in the running for this great book. I even called dibs on it when one of our agents also liked the tweet but was secretly excited to see others love this premise as much as I did. When the manuscript came in, I was not disappointed by the pitch at all.
Tricia, did you receive pitch help or tips? Any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to future participants?
TRICIA: Absolutely. Prepare a bunch of pitches, have every writer you know look at them and give feedback. It’s extremely challenging to convey why your book is special in 140 characters, but it can say a lot about your writing ability. I ran pitches through my writing friends and my CP until I had a solid list.
Also, use great comps, but leave room for your voice to shine through, too!
All that said, keep in mind that timing and luck are key elements. I sent the right pitch, for Sary, at the right time, for this manuscript, and got lucky enough that she saw it. Be tenacious, and eventually, the stars will align.
And Saritza, do you have any advice for querying authors and/or for anyone planning to participate in a future #DVpit?
SARITZA: It takes a village and Tricia is proof that a strong support network can really help propel your work in ways you wouldn’t be able to on your own. It’s important to research the agents you’re interested in querying but it’s crucial to understand the industry and the genre you’re writing in as well. Get to know the agents participating in pitch events like #DVPit by looking at their published author lists and wish lists. Practice your pitch with your writer groups. Streamline your pitch to be enticing, informative and representative of your tone. Not an easy thing to do but when it’s done right, it will attract the right kind of attention to your book from agents and editors looking to partner with you.
Tell us about The Call, Tricia!
TRICIA: Seriously, I fangirled the whole time. I asked a lot of questions, probably more than I should have, but Saritza was patient with me. We talked about where she saw my career going, branding and transitioning from “writer” to “author”, about possibilities for future storylines and the direction I wanted to take this series.
With Sary, I felt like I was talking to an old friend, someone who loved my characters as much as I did, and wanted them to find a home in publishing. But she also didn’t pull punches about telling me what changes she’d like to see to make that happen, and I knew then, she would be the best advocate for my work and career.
Still, for new writers, the idea of talking to an Agent can be overwhelming. Saritza made me totally comfortable with it and we immediately had a rapport. We definitely speak the same language, and the words, “I’d like to offer you representation,” had me bawling tears of joy after we hung up. (Shh. She doesn’t know that.) She does now! SH ;)
Give us the pitch that hooked your agent!
TRICIA: “DUMPLIN’+LEAD in New Orleans when a plus-sized engineer & commitment-shy frontman face rejection fears as her vacation ends. #OWN #DVPit #CR”
Saritza, what was it about this pitch that caught your attention?
SARITZA: I’m a huge fan of Julie Murphy’s DUMPLIN’ and loved it so much, I bought a copy of it for my niece and had it signed at RT this year (hands were shaking the entire time I was in front of Julie Murphy trying not to fangirl too much) and have always wanted to see an adult romance with an unapologetic “fat girl” getting her HEA. Add to it that the pitch gave me setting, plot, comp titles and the stakes in less than 140 characters and I was hooked! But I have to say that seeing “plus-sized engineer” in the pitch was what I zeroed in on first. This book was about a woman who wasn’t just a roadie or a rock star manager or a subordinate to the hero in any way. She was in a position of power in a traditionally male-centered profession! How freaking awesome is that?
What else are you looking for these days? Is there anything specific on your wishlist that you’re hoping to find, maybe at the next #DVpit?
SARITZA: I’m always looking for more #OwnVoices and diverse books in romance both adult and young adult so I’m super excited for the next #DVPit! Right now, I have a hankering for RomComs, humorous, quirky romantic comedies featuring POC in leading roles navigating through life and love with humor AND poignancy. Would love to see a 50 First Dates meets Groundhog Day featuring POC. Am also dying for some less than conventional re-imaginings like Battle Mages in Space, Dragon shifters falling for their gargoyle protectors, Blue Lagoon meets The Martian and a romantic comedy featuring a hidden prince falling for a commoner man in the style of Coming to America. Still looking for #OwnVoices historical romance set in 19th Century Caribbean in the style of Beverly Jenkins and sports romances featuring non-traditional sports. You can find my #MSWL here.
Warm congratulations to Tricia and Saritza for finding each other! I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next. Follow them on Twitter so you can do the same!
Tricia Lynne is fluent in both sarcasm and cuss words and has little filter between her brain and mouth––a combination that tends to embarrass her husband at corporate functions. A tomboy at heart, she loves hard rock, Irish whiskey, and her Midwestern roots. She’s drawn to strong, flawed heroines, and believes writing isn’t a decision one makes, but a calling one can’t resist.
A member of the Romance Writers of America, she lives in the North Dallas ‘burbs with her husband, and three goofy dogs. Her debut, Moonlight & Whiskey, is scheduled for release, March 12, 2019 with Loveswept/Random House.
Check her website for the latest news and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where she’s bound to say something to get herself in trouble. As a co-founder, you can also find Tricia blogging regularly for All The Kissing––a blog for romance writers.
Saritza Hernandez (@epubagent) is the Sr. Literary Agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency and known as the first literary agent to represent authors in the digital publishing landscape. While continuing to seek traditional publishers for her authors, Saritza is the leading literary agent in digital publishing deals, according to Publishers Marketplace. An avid coffee-drinker with a Kindle book obsession, she enjoys a steaming cup of strong Cuban coffee every morning while reading an erotic contemporary romance, a suspenseful romantic thriller or action-packed science fiction romantic adventure. A strong advocate of the LGBTQ community and #OwnVoices, she enjoys fresh voices in LGBTQ Young Adult and Adult genre fiction. Her client titles include: Dreadnought by April Daniels, Guyliner by j. leigh bailey, Even Odds by Elia Winters, and Lambda Literary Finalist, Gravity by Juliann Rich.