Friday, February 12, 2016

A conversation with Literary Agent Liza Fleissig and a Query Critique Giveaway

Today I have an interview with Literary Agent Liza Fleissig. Liza and I became acquainted when I had queried her for my Middle Grade novel. Liza and I kept in touch. I found Liza very warm and approachable. In the short span of time since she started her agency, she is going places and everyone I know has the nicest things to say for her and her agency. As Liza was the first agent I kept in touch with, it was but natural that I when start hosting agent interviews, her interview would be the first one on my blog.  

Q. Tell us something about yourself?
A. After dissecting a chicken in 5th grade, I became a vegetarian and eventually a hard core vegan (before it was a “thing”) but I still cook meat dishes for my family.  Despite my not tasting them, they somehow come out really well; in fact, my husband jokes that my next “new venture” should be to open a restaurant and call it Beethoven’s — a reference to the fact that he created masterful symphonies despite being deaf.

Q. How did you become an agent?
A. I have always had a strong sphere of influence from friends in the publishing industry, and had been searching for something creative to do for a long time after my children were born.  Besides, I guess when you come from an entrepreneurial family, it’s in your blood to take risks and try new things!

Q. What’s a typical day like in your life?
A. Exhausting but good. I am up early to make breakfast and get my kids off to school. After dropping them off, I am at my office by 8:15am. I toggle between emails, reading/editing and contracts most of the day - and also try to get a work out in somewhere in between (usually a conference call on the treadmill is a good way to multi-task). I generally have lunch meetings, whether with a client, an editor, someone in pr, etc., and then am back at my desk until I need to leave to get my kids after school. They get out on the later side given their sports and extra curricula activities. If we don’t have any school event or sports game, then next comes dinner and homework. I am very lucky to have kids who are strong students, but I still like to go over their work. It’s not only a great way to stay connected to them, but it’s really interesting to be learning things again! By the end of the night, there is family reading and yes, some TV, before my kids go to bed. Once they are settled, I am back on my computer, though at this point I usually focus more on reading/editing until I can no longer keep my eyes open.

Q. When you are reading all these query letters, what makes you sit up and pay attention?
A. Any short and sweet query - one that’s well written and has a compelling storyline - is something I will always consider if our current list can support it. If you add a strong social media/marketing platform, that might make me more optimistic, but in the end, it’s always about the book.

Q. What kind of manuscripts are you looking for right now?
A. I love a good thriller/suspense/mystery that keeps me guessing until the end. I also love commercial women’s fiction with sarcastic comic voices. Most of all, I love being surprised. Nothing is more exciting that being over the moon for a book that I never expected to like. So at the end of the day, just grab my attention!

Q. What’s something you have sold that comes out now, that you’re excited about?
A. Celeste Fletcher McHale’s SECRET TO HUMMINGBIRD CAKE (Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian) is a commercial women’s fiction novel that comes out this month and Robert Bailey’s BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE (Thomas & Mercer) is a legal thriller that comes out in March. Both of these books are off the charts amazing and I cannot wait to see readers’ reactions!

Q.  What’s on your nightstand to read right now?
A.  Honestly right now the only thing on my nightstand now is a pile of mss!

Q. Three all time favourite books?
A. Really tough question. I know other agents have solid answers for this, but really, how can you pick just 3? For which part of life? I read Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a kid. Later, I loved books like Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations, though I also read a lot of plays from Shakespeare, O. Henry and Ibsen.  Eventually I became a suspense junky, devouring Cornwell, Ludlum, King, Koontz, Demille and Patterson. And my guilty pleasure? Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb for her “In Death” series. To this day I would love to see Dallas and Roarke take the silver screen.

Q. Will you be attending any writer’s conferences where writers can pitch to you?
A.  I will be at NJSCBWI annual summer conference and also Thrillerfest in NYC. I have other events coming up but I have not finalized those yet.

Q. Which book you wish you could have represented? Why?
A. There are too many books to list that I would have been proud to work on, but the fact that they were given flight by someone else doesn’t make them any less to special to me. I’m just happy they are out there for the world to read and enjoy.

BIO: Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. Their goal was, and remains, to represent authors in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a degree in Finance, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a JD, Liza is a former partner in a NYC based litigation law firm and brings more than 20 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.
From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.
(I also have @LizaFleissig  but the agency account is the best one if they don’t want to follow both)
Liza Fleissig Facebook Liza Fleissig Facebook
Liza Royce Agency Facebook Page Liza Royce Agency Facebook Page

Liza has graciously offered a Query Critique Giveaway to one of my lucky (blog) followers. Let me know in the comments if you want to be a part of the draw.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG Post – My Outlining Woes

This is my first IWSG post of 2016. Click here to read the reason I gave the first one a miss. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) an online group of writers, posts on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG gives us writers a platform to share, express and discuss all our writing worries, fears, doubts and anxieties, with other writers who are fighting similar issues. 

Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), got the amazing idea to start this awesome group. Super A (as I have secretly nicknamed him) trots around the globe on the world wide web, like a blogging Santa Claus, helping other writers by giving them shoutouts on his blog, hosting them during their book releases and sharing their book covers.(If I praise Super A anymore, he will start blushing.)

This year I hope to write something different, by that I mean I want to move away from my comfort zone of Middle Grade and work on an adult novel. I have two ideas. I started writing a few pages of the first one, but then life interrupted me big time.

As the adult novel is a thriller, I am plagued by anxieties about doing a good job plotting the story. Thrillers need to be fast and furious, with action happening on every page, and twists and turns that make readers gasp. To be honest, I am a bundle of anxiety.

I do have a basic storyline in mind. I need to sit and plot it well, with twists and turns and revelations the story will make. Maybe take a few weeks to write a detailed outline. But, I am the kind of a writer who loves to start writing the moment an idea pops into my mind. I usually write a basic outline, and then start writing because If I’m not writing, then I drive myself nuts. I realized that as it’s the first time I am working on an adult novel I may lose my nerve if I spend several weeks in writing a detailed outline.

Do any of my blog buddies know a way I can circumvent this problem? I do want to try my hand writing something different. But unless and until I give it a try I won’t know. And I also need to outline in detail. Any tips?

Friday, January 29, 2016

My fascination with tattoos

Tattoos have always fascinated me. Though I am very scared of needles, and am capable of scaring a lion when I scream at a sight of the dreadful needle/syringe. Believe it or not, a few years back when I had to undergo a blood test as the doctor suspected jaundice, I drove the staff in the lab mad when I screamed. Infact, the poor guys had to close the door so that I didn’t scare people around me. Things have improved since then. I don’t scream anymore, but anxiety about the impending tests stresses me out.

A few years back in Mumbai, while waiting to cross a road, I saw a bare-chested foreigner. There was not an inch of his skin visible; tattoos covered his entire chest and back. I am not sure about his legs, but his torso was quite a sight. I remember staring at it while he crossed the road beside me.

I often wonder about people’s fascination with tattoos. I wouldn’t mind a small tattoo (that is if I ever get over my fear of needles) but too many would put me off.

From last year I have been thinking of using tattoos as a string of clues in a thriller. It would be quite interesting if tattoos could play a role in a book. If only tattoos could talk, I am sure they would reveal a lot of information.

What about you all? Are you all fascinated with tattoos? Do you have a tattoo or plan to get one? Have you given any of your characters a tattoo?

Picture Courtesy: