2013 Debut Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Author A.G. Howard

A.G. Howard is most at home when weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Top five things aspiring authors should know:
1. The only way your query should stand out is a unique story premise and polished writing. Everything else needs to be standard and professional.
When I started querying the first book I ever wrote, I read LOTS of books and articles on how to go about it. One of them suggested you do something out of the ordinary to get noticed. So I decided to make a query brochure … the tri-fold kind *in full color, mind* that had pictures of my characters, a short synopsis, excerpt from the book, and an author’s bio (under a pseudonym, thankfully … that’s the one thing I did right—Ha!). To further humiliate myself, I included a picture of me. Want to see?

*Shudders* Needless to say, I didn’t get many responses. And those I got, well, they aren’t worth mentioning. 😉 So glad I only sent out five. 
2. Finishing a book does not equate to instant success.
I just knew the first publisher who read my three page query letter (after I abandoned the brochures) would buy my MS. In truth, I got over 100 rejections before I ever learned how to write a query letter to begin with. And it took that many for me to realize maybe I wasn’t going to get in the door with book one. Here’s a picture of HALF of the rejections I received. Didn’t have room to lay them all out, so imagine a line twice this long (Note: some of the rejections are on small slips of paper or postcards, so they’re hard to see)…

There are a lot more steps to getting published than writing a book. Educate yourself on those steps and ace them. It will give you an edge over the millions of other writers out there trying to get their books on the shelves.
3. Agents are NOT out to make you miserable.
I once did a post on my old blog poking fun at all of the pointless form rejections I’d received, even copying some word for word–omitting names, of course. A very savvy fellow blogger (who happened to be an assistant for an agent) pointed out that it might not be the smartest move, considering I was querying at the time, and if any agents googled me, they might be offended and write me off. What I learned? Agents are in this for the same reason as you: they want to get the books they love published. But they are human; they have limited time, ergo, they have form letters to help them do their job. Treat them with respect if you expect it in return.
4. Even once you get an agent, you might not have him/her for life, they might not love everything you write, and you most likely won’t be published within months of signing.
Now, this isn’t true for everyone, but it was for me. With my first agent, while we sent out the MS she signed me for, I wrote three more. My book didn’t sell and my agent flat turned down two more MSS that I wrote. She even wanted me to change the fantasy side of SPLINTERED so drastically it would’ve killed my vision for the book. She is a wonderful person, and to this day I respect and admire her so much. But, we were on completely different pages for my career, so we parted ways. Sometimes we don’t find our literary soulmates until round 2 or 3 or 4. What’s important is to be willing to make changes that resonate, but stay true to your voice and vision. Have the courage to do what’s best for your longtime career.
5. Even if an agent turns you down, you can query them again with another work down the road.
Refer once more to the long line of rejections above. One of those is actually from my present agent. We’ve never discussed it, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t remember that I sent a query her way for the first book I wrote (some six or so years ago), or even that she read a chapter of it. She turned it down because she didn’t love the writing. Thinking that meant she’d never want to see anything else I wrote, I made a point not to query her with my YA. I queried her colleague instead. Had said colleague not sent the MS my agent’s way after deciding it wasn’t the right fit for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. All that to say, an agent’s tastes can change over time, just as your writing will. Never be afraid to try an agent again, especially if you have a few more books under your belt. Chances are, one of you has changed enough to make a connection. You certainly won’t know unless you try.
That’s all I got! You know what they say about hindsight? It’s even better when it’s someone else’s. No matter how many mistakes you make, the only mistake that can keep you from getting published is to quit trying. Now that my dream has come true, I’m glad I never gave up. And I hope that any of you out there aspiring to be published will keep plowing ahead through the rejections and lessons, until you pave your own way to success.  🙂

Splintered by A.G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Giveaway Details
Signed ARC + Splintered secret key necklace
Open to US/Canada
Ends 2/3/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway