Friday, 23 September 2016

Getting an agent phone call!!

The time has come, you're expecting The Call. That's a huge achievement so celebrate like there's no tomorrow. After that...sit down and get your business cap on! When you get The Call from an agent who wants to represent your work, there are a lot of things you need to know. The best thing is to be prepared with some questions, so here are a few to start you on your way!

Photo by Kornelia und Hartmut Häfele -, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Agent Questions

Is there any more information you need from me or anything else I should send you?

Do you think my manuscript is ready to send to editors now, or do you recommend edits or revisions?

Do you get involved in the editing yourself, or use someone else?  Are you more editorial focused or sales orientated?

What are your likes and dislikes in terms of manuscripts/genres/etc?

How are you planning to circulate my manuscript?  What houses?  What editors?  What strategy?

How does your agency collect fees?  And what are those?

Does this offer only cover this manuscript or would it be other writing I’m working on as well?

How many times do you usually submit a manuscript before deciding that it’s time to move onto another project?

Would it be possible for me to talk to one or two writers you represent?

Also, could you tell me about some sales you have made recently?

What is the best way for me to communicate with you if you become my agent – telephone, email, or mail?

Will I know who has rejected my stories/how will you let me know if they have been accepted?

Now, there will probably be a lot of other questions you want to ask, and you might not get the chance to ask them all on the phone. But remember, you can email any follow up questions you have. Don't worry about asking these sorts of things - agents expect it and you need to know for your future career!

If you've got The Call coming - CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Character Internal Conflict

Hola wonderful writing friends!

So, you might have noticed last month was total radio silence, and I'm pretty sure ALL of you know why. Lol. Pitch Wars ms reading for my mentee. Oh, and a few lovely new clients who have amazingly good books for me to work on, too.

That all said, I thought it was time I put up a writing tips post. This week, I want to look at the internal conflict your characters will struggle through. Now, it's important to note that it's not only your protagonist who will have an internal conflict(s). So will your antagonist and secondary characters, and it's good to bear this in mind as it will help you to make all of your characters fully rounded.

There are various types of internal conflict and each has its own level of power. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

* Deep, dark secrets are a wonderful way to create internal conflict. What does your character never want to reveal? What happens if they have to reveal it to get what they want or to help someone they love? Using secrets as a motivator is a great way to get your readers hooked.

* An internal need that contradicts an external goal. What happens if your character has a desperate need for something in order to feel complete but they can't get it because they have an external goal they need to achieve? That kind of conflict can create an almost impossible choice: another page turner!

* Give your character a moral dilemma - what do they want and what do they have to do to get it? How much are they willing to sacrifice to get what they want? How far across the line are they willing to step? Really push your characters into their most uncomfortable zones. If they're not outside their comfort zone, you're not writing hard enough. Force your character to make the choices they don't want to make.

* Use distrust. Making your character not believe others makes it hard for them to sort out what's right and what's wrong. If they don't trust themselves (mentally, emotionally, physically) then all the better. If your character can't find their bearings, it makes for great internal conflict.

* Let your character know something they'd much rather not know. Do they know a friend is cheating on his wife? Did his wife just ask him? Is there a business deal about to go south but your character can't tell his friend who invested because of confidentiality agreements? Whatever it is, make your character sweat!

When dealing with internal conflict, there are a myriad ways you can go, so really dig deep into your character and their life and see what they have to offer. This is the time where you use your back story - in your planning, not in the majority of your book!

Good luck with your character conflicts!!!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

How to develop character

Hey Pitch Wars peeps (and anyone else who's stumbled across the blog! lol). Here's our top tips for improving your characterization!


What is setting?

Here are our top tips for using setting to its best effect in writing!


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Our Writing Tips for Pitch Wars!


Here's an impromptu video of our writing wishlist and writing tips!


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Books to love!

For those amazing Pitch Wars hopefuls, I thought I'd stick up a little extra post about the kinds of books that I love. I'll see if I can get my co-mentor Dionne to do the same later, but she's traveling right now, so you might have to put up with just me. Lol

NOTE: I don't mentor all of these categories or genres, but they all have elements I love through any genre, so good to note down!

Okay so here goes:

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle - a surreal, amazing read. This has an amazing ability to tease a reader along with a great mystery and the writing is to die for.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby - again, surreal and intriguing. I like me some intrigue!

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater- now this is my kind of fantasy! Aside from my ridiculous love of horses, this has gorgeous writing, wild creativity and characters that have such bravery and heart you can't turn away from them.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R Donaldson - twisty, clever, dark and deliciously unreliable!

My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carole Oates - this has heartbreaking emotion and such a real and thought provoking main character. Besides, the quirky format and character notes are very engaging.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner - I love the complexity of this and how it grips the reader from the first page and ups the stakes all the way along.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - this is one of my favorite books ever. It is so intelligent, dreamlike and clever. Give me all of this. We keep asking for Neil Gaiman to submit to us for PWs, but he hasn't so if you have a similar kind of book, please sub to us and we'll love you forever.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - no explanation required. See above.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel - now, caveat here: didn't like the opening. However, stunning ending and imagination. Really, really changed my mind when this ending came around. Phenomenal talent there!

I am Legend by Richard Matheson - oh so clever on the ending. I like good endings. A lot. No, really. A LOT.

And the odd ball. I wonder if anyone knows this: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (has a few various different title formats) - stunning look into the human psyche. These characters are so real. Push through the old-fashioned writing and you'll be rewarded with an amazing book.

Okay, must stop. This is just a tiny selection of what I love and I'm hoping you have something along these lines!!!

Oh and obvious choices: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, etc, etc.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Pitch Wars Wish List

First things first - we all know there is a Scavenger Hunt going on. So,  in order to find the letter you need from this blog, find the hidden link that will bring you to your letter...

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…

It’s that time of year again – Pitch Wars has hit 2016! Welcome everyone new, and welcome everyone who’s been here before.  This year, Dionne McCulloch and I have teamed up once again to mentor YA – go team McC!!

Strength and Honor

This is a wonderful opportunity not just for someone to get mentored by seasoned professionals, but for the whole writing community to come together, bond, support and help each other to the next level! So here’s to the war paint and the writing tribe we’re all honored to be a part of!

Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys (and girls). Make your lives (read: manuscripts) extraordinary!

To help you decide if we’re the right mentors for you, here’s our wish list of genres, followed by notes on elements in books that we either like, or not so much:


Strong sense of place

Cowgirls – strong female gangs would be great (in any genre, actually)

Contemporary (but no issue books)





Unreliable narrators

Fantasy (caveat: writing should be in a modern style. Love all forms of fantasy, but writing must be fresh)

Diversity of all kinds


Deep horror/gore

Issue books

Romance/Sex where this is the main theme


Straight historical




A main character or characters with clear internal conflict

A specific reason why only YOUR character can tell THIS story

Quirky, realistic, odd-ball families

Really tight, complex stories


A little love in the mix

Risk taking and pushing boundaries in all areas of writing, character & plot

A voice that blows us away (come on, guys, you knew that would be in here. Twice.)

Characters  - it’s all about the characters.

Emotion, emotion, emotion – make us uncomfortable, happy, sad, afraid and everything in between.



No tropes or cliché

Sorry, but we’re stepping aside from werewolves/vampires this year

Placeholder dialogue

Sloppy writing that hasn’t been edited at all

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse…

And that’s it. We can’t wait to read your writing and your wonderful words and are so excited that you will submit to us if you fall into our wish list categories. But if not, never fear…go through the blog hop and see all the other amazing, wonderful, super-spiffy mentors! You will be blown away by all the awesomeness.

You talkin’ to me?


"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."

Or…if you want to be picky about it: My name’s Fiona, I’m repped by the Blake Friedmann Literary, TV & Film Agency. I’ve interned with two literary agencies (Inklings & Holloway). I’m a full time scriptwriter with my first production coming out next year; I teach creative writing to home schooled kids; I work alongside Cornerstones Literary Consultancy; I have published numerous in print and online articles/short stories/etc; I’ve worked as a copywriter, and in media, too. More importantly, I love horses (especially mine), I miss my two boys (Hugo and Harry) too much to put into words, I have a bad addiction to Coca Cola, and I live in Cyprus, where I write lots of run on sentences just because I can and no one can stop me because it’s my blog! Lol.

Three of my mentees have had success through PWs - one published, one agented, and the other with a deal from HarperTeen!

It’s you and me babe, how about it?

(side note: if anyone knows where that quote comes from, you get brownie points from me!)


And I’m Dionne. Hello! I’m represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House in NYC and am the US Managing Editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. I also freelance as a book and script editor and am a judge for the Bath Novel Award. I write a monthly column about how to work with an editor for The Writer magazine. I live in England with my dog, husband and 3 kids (no order of preference!) and challenge myself to always jump in the ocean, no matter how cold it is.

P.S. If you really, really, really can't find the Scavenger Hunt Letter, let me know and I'll slip you a clue! ;-)

May the odds be ever in your favor!