Tuesday, June 28, 2016

So long, blog

The past year has been amazing. Ah-ma-zing! For those who need a short recap:

1. I signed with my superhero agent, Brooks Sherman.

2. I was an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant from We Need Diverse Books.

3. My debut novel, THE HATE U GIVE was acquired by Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins in a 13 publishing house auction.

4. As of now, it has sold in 13 countries!

5. Fox 2000, Temple Hill, and State Street bought the film rights with George Tillman attached to direct and Amandla Stenberg attached to star!

So many great things, yet I haven't updated my blog nearly enough. Unfortunately, I think it's time to say goodbye to this place.


You can find me on my official site - acthomaswrites.com. And look! There's a blog, too.

I'll keep this blog up in hopes that it will inspire other writers on their journey. No matter how many rejections you get, remember ANYTHING is possible. I'm proof of that.

Looking forward to the future!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This happened:

See that name underlined? Yep. That's me.
I won a Walter grant.
I won a freaking Walter grant!

A huge thank you to the judges and to We Need Diverse Books. I cannot say that enough. I am honored. Stunned. Floored. Mr. Myers' works have inspired me greatly, and to receive a grant that was named after him...



Thank you. 

I'm off to write :-)

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Post. No, seriously, THE Post

Soo...it's been crickets around here for a few months, but I swear it's with good reason. Great reason, actually. Drum roll, please.


Yes, me. I'm more shocked than anyone, honestly. I don't think people understand when I say this does NOT happen where I’m from. Seriously, it doesn't.

Now, to that "How I got my agent" story, because I'm sure that's why you're here. Well for that and the gifs. Be warned, it’s a long story. The short version, using stats:

Manuscripts: 3 (2 versions of my MG and a YA)
Queries sent: 52 for MG (overall), 7 for YA
Requests: 17 for MG (includes contests), 4 for YA
Offers: 3
Agent: 1 Superhero

Now the long version:

Back in December, I sent Her Royal Sharkness, the Query Shark, the query for my revised MG manuscript. She posted it, called it splendid, and I was stunned. I sent that baby out.

The requests came. But so did the rejections. Everyone says that the best way to deal with the roller coaster of querying is to start another manuscript. So that’s what I did. 

I recommend that everyone do this. The querying process is crazy at times, and if you don’t want it to drive you crazy, distract yourself with another manuscript. Preferably something different than the one you’re querying. 

And boy, was my new manuscript different from my MG. Waaaay different. YA. Contemporary. Realistic. Darker. No need to front, I’m from “the hood,” and this manuscript is about neighborhoods like mine. Plus it deals with the Black Lives Matter movement. It was easier to write in some ways though. I was loving it. I sent it out to some CP’s, and they were loving it too. 

I hadn’t given up on the MG yet though. I entered the raffle for The Writer’s Voice contest, and I was chosen from the raffle. Then, I posted my query and first page of my MG on my blog. 

And holy crap, two mentor teams wanted me. Two! 

I could’ve gone either way and had a great experience, but I went with Team Coffeehouse, which is made up of three awesome ladies—Brenda Drake, Nikki Roberti, and Kimberly Chase. I owe them my first born. 

They helped me polish up the first few chapters, synopsis, and query letter for my MG. As I waited for the Writer’s Voice to begin, I worked on the YA and decided to query it if the MG didn’t work out in the Writer’s Voice. However, I was terrified of querying the YA because it deals with such a sensitive topic. 

Now, here is where things get a little crazy. 

*In my Sophia Petrillo voice* Picture it: Twitter, June 3, 2015.

An agency, who shall remain nameless for now, had a question-and-answer session on Twitter. Since I was on the fence about querying my YA, I asked about it. Let me clarify – I did not pitch it. I asked if the topic was appropriate for YA. I got a response from a Superhero Agent. 


Phew! What a relief. I wouldn’t be exiled in query land for my manuscript. But who could I query at this agency? I crossed my fingers and toes that it would be a fit for Superhero Agent because he had always been one of my "dream agents." The Q&A session was winding down. I took a chance and asked:

I got this response from Superhero Agent: 

For the record: PLEASE DO NOT PITCH TO AGENTS DIRECTLY ON TWITTER. Unless they ask you to. Twitter Pitch contests? Great. Asking questions during Q&A’s? Fine. But never pitch them directly. 

I was still editing and assured the agent I would query him when I was done. 

About a week or two after the Twitter conversation, the Writer’s Voice began. My MG entry was posted, and I got FOUR agent requests.

I prepared to send out the fulls. I hadn’t read the MG in its entirety since I started the YA. I decided to read through it before I sent it.

And holy crap, I saw issues.

It’s true what they say – once you step away from a manuscript for a while, you see the problems when you come back. I was heartbroken, yet I sent it out to the agents who requested in the contest, because you never know. Plus I’m my worst critic. 

Thankfully, I had my YA. It softened the blow so much. I was in the last of my edits, which proved to be a great distraction when two of the contest rejections came in. I assumed the other two would also be rejections and decided to focus on the YA. 

Then Superhero Agent from Twitter announced he was closing for queries in July and wouldn’t reopen until September. 

Not a long time, I know, but I thought, “What if he forgets our conversation? Wait, he may have already forgotten. Holy crap, I need to query him.”

I went back and forth on it, but my amazing CP, Michelle, encouraged me to query him and other agents with the YA. So I queried Superhero Agent right before he closed. Soon, I finished my edits and sent it to a few more agents. 

Less than a week after I queried the YA to the other agents, I got an e-mail from a contest agent, who's a Rock Star, about the MG. She wanted to talk on the phone.

Say whaaaat?

We arranged to talk, and since I’m the Queen of Assumptions, I assumed it would be an R&R call. Nope. It was an offer. On the MG. 

I told her about my YA and that I'd already started querying it. She loved the premise and wanted to rep me for both. I nudged agents who had the MG AND agents who had the YA, which led to a lot of full requests. Superhero Agent requested the full for the YA and later for the MG too.

Then a Powerhouse Agent, who was another one of my "dream agents," requested the full for the YA. Two days later, Powerhouse Agent offered.

She love love LOVED it. And I was shocked, shocked, shocked. I was upfront with her and explained that the initial offer was for the MG. She asked to see it too, but her offer remained. 

I let Superhero Agent know that Powerhouse Agent offered. He asked to talk.

Now, word on the internet streetz is that Superhero Agent went crazy over my YA. But you didn’t hear that from me.

We talked. He had spot-on ideas for revisions, and the love and passion he expressed for the YA was nothing short of amazing. He offered. I internally freaked out, but I kept it cool. 

Although I think I broke the Guinness world record for the number of “okay’s” said on a phone conversation.

It was an overwhelming week. The agent offers hit me like:

My best friend, Christy, kept me calm, and like I said, I owe Brenda, Nikki, and Kim my first born because they talked me through the chaos too. All the while, Brenda and Nikki were preparing for Pitch Wars. Crazy!

I had a tough decision ahead of me. Three offers from three great agents who loved my work. I talked to their clients who told me about their respective agent’s approach, etc. It's true - every agent isn’t for every writer. I could’ve chosen either one of them and been in great hands, but I went with the one whose agenting style better suits me. It didn't hurt that he was so passionate about my work and as I talked to him, I knew he was The One. 

And I’m happy to announce that Ant Man is my Superhero Agent.

Also known as Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency!

But seriously, he does resemble Paul Rudd and he truly is a Superhero Agent. I am so happy to join the B-Team, and I’m amazed at how all of this started from a Twitter conversation. My book babies are in good hands.

Only hip-hop fans will get this reference, but: *In my Suge Knight Voice* if you’re a writer and you want an agent who is part superhero, part Slytherin, part amazing, query Brooks Sherman! (When he re-opens for queries, that is.)

Let’s do this, B! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Who I am


They say no news is good news. In this case, that's true. Although I'm still amazed/shocked/etc about her Royal Highness, the Query Shark, calling my query letter splendid, I have not hit the query trenches yet. I'm going through my last rounds of edits with my CP's, but I hope to hit Query Land soon.

In the mean time, I realized I haven't said much about myself on this blog. I think waaay back I mentioned that I would blog about my journey so far, but I never got around to it. I recently entered SCBWI's Diverse Voices grant contest, and although I wasn't chosen, I decided to post a tweaked, longer version of the bio I submitted. So, here goes. 

I was born, raised, and still reside in the poorest state in the nation, Mississippi, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in its capital city. If you say the word, “Georgetown,” to anyone who is familiar with Jackson, they will define it with images of crime, drug-infestation, and poverty.

However, I saw something different.

Books have been my refuge from the moment I could read. They ignited my imagination. For me, the neighborhood crack house was a dragon’s lair that I scurried past every day before the red-eyed, scaly-skinned dope fiends attacked. My imagination was, and still is, my blanket. 

It was hard to keep it at times, though. I have a vivid memory of being six years old, riding my bike in the neighborhood park as kids do when gunshots fired off. I didn't know which direction they came from, but I rode off, not realizing I rode straight into the line of fire. Miraculously I wasn't hit, but I remember asking God to give me super speed so the next time it happened, I wouldn't even be close to the line of fire. 

Of course, I never got my wish, but this began my fascination with superheroes. From the Flash to Storm to Black Panther, I was in love. 

I also fell in love with writing. I wanted to tell my own stories. I wanted to pull my friends into the worlds I imagined, away from our hardships. Obviously I still have this love since I received a degree in Creative Writing and recently completed my first manuscript, an upper middle grade superhero novel. I hope to inspire kids in the “Georgetowns” of the world to see things differently. 

Diverse books and writers are important not because it's a good look or because diversity is a "trend." It's because kids need to be able to see themselves and see what they can become.  If it wasn't for authors like Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, etc, showing me that someone who looks like me can do this, I probably never would've considered becoming a writer. And while I don't have an agent and haven't been published, I know it's possible because of them. 

So, to all of you diverse children's writers out there. No, scratch that, to ALL children's writers out there - keep going. That kid who hears gunshots every night needs to see a world beyond their circumstances. We have the power to fuel their imaginations and their dreams. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Still Stunned

When I finished the latest draft of my book, The Time Traveler, I dreaded doing a query letter. Seriously dreaded it. I prayed about it a lot and made lots of attempts at writing one. I'm sure if search my blog, you will find some of my failed attempts for the old version of my book.

I also did tons of research. I've read every entry on Query Shark at least twice. If for some reason you've never heard of Query Shark aka literary agent Janet Reid, visit her blog. Read every entry. Digest her comments. Look at your query letter. Realize you've probably been doing this wrong. Mope about it. Try again. The end result will be a much better query letter.

That's basically what happened to me.

One day, I sat at my computer and decided I would not get up until I wrote a query letter that not only described my book, but one I was happy with. I read this article by author Shallee McArthur, which helped a lot as well. It took several hours, but I finally did one. I let it sit for a day or two, sent it to my best friend/Critique Partner/ awesome person Christy for critique, and made edits. I then participated in the Query Letter Blog Hop. The feedback I've received has been amazing. It's always awesome when your fellow writers tell you something is good.

But then, something totally unexpected happened.

On Friday, December 5th, I decided to send it to the master of query letter critiques, the Query Shark.

On Sunday, December 7th, she posted it and called it splendid.

Splendid! My letter! Written by me, the black girl in the hood who still hears shootings every night.

This doesn't happen to people like me.

I'm still stunned.

Maybe this writing thing is possible after all.

Now, excuse me as I go make sure my book is as good as my letter.

- A.C.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hellooo out there


I know this place is dead.

I know I'm probably just writing this for myself.

However. . .

I'm back!

I had to step away from the online literary world for a bit. Well, by the looks of it, for about a year.

The online literary world is great, don't get me wrong. Tons of awesome people, awesome advice, awesome tips and insight.

But. . .

Of course, there's a but.

But once you start reading all of the blogs, the critiques, the tips, the do's and don'ts, it can become the biggest ball of yarn in your brain, full of knots that make it nearly impossible to see the core.

For me, my core is my book.

I've used the past year to step back, re-evaluate things, and re-write my book. I purposely avoided the online literary world. I can honestly say it was the best thing I've done for my book and for myself as a writer. I took the knowledge I gained, ate it, and stepped away from the table to let it digest. As a result, I have a better book.

A much, much, MUCH better book.

Another thing my time away has taught me is patience. Yes, it is my life long dream to be published, and since that means so much to me, it's okay that it takes time to get there. So, if that means taking a year to start from scratch and write a book, then that's what I will do.

That's what I did.

I'm back and happier with my book than I've ever been.

And that's what matters.