Cheryl Angst, Writer

Writer of strange tales – because no one ever accused me of being normal.

Cat Patrick August 23, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 8:09 pm
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Wow, it’s been a bit since I last posted. I’ve been busy writing – I’m 45,000 words into my latest WIPs, and enjoying every session.

However, I had planned on talking about all six authors I met in Seattle, so here’s my next lovely guest: Cat Patrick.

Cat Patrick

Debut YA Author, Cat Patrick

Cat’s debut novel, Forgotten, came out earlier this summer and sounds really interesting. What I found most engaging about her participation in the panel was her debut perspective. So many aspiring authors think eack milestone is “the one.” “If I could only sign with an agent…” “If only an editor would pick up my manuscript…”

Cat did a great job of talking about how having your first book published isn’t the final step – and it certainly doesn’t solve all your problems or make your worries melt away.

I will say, having an agent is a huge milestone though. I would never downplay that part of my journey. However, I went into the query-trenches knowing it was only one more step on the road. I love the new stresses/worries/challenges I’m facing now – and they’re more exciting simply because I was expecting them.

If you think getting a book published is “the end,” I recommend talking with a few debut (or even multi-published) authors to hear their thoughts on the matter. It’ll be highly informative.



Plotting, Plotting, Plotting! July 12, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 1:57 pm
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Rather than spend my summer lazing about poolside, I am using my copious amounts of free time (ha, ha, ha – did I mention I have small children?) to start work on another project.

The textbook people are planning on getting in touch with me shortly, so my freedom is about to be cut perilously short. I must use the hours that remain to their maximum capacity because I don’t know how many (or how few) are left.


Now I’m plotting.

You know what’s really cool? Having an agent to bounce ideas off, that’s what’s cool.

I wrote out these character sketches and a short pitch outlining a book I’d like to write and then I sent it to Brianne. I had some specific questions, but was mostly concerned with, “Should I write this, or is the idea so atrocious no one will ever want to pick it up?” And you know what was really awesome? She wrote back! (I was not surprised by this, as she is very good at communicating with me, but the whole novelty of having someone in the publishing field who will answer my newbie/weird questions still floors me sometimes.)

I would ask you to guess what her answer was, but I kind of spoiled it for you at the top of the post, so we’ll just move on as though we’re all squeeing together at the discovery that my agent likes my new idea. Ready? *SQUEE!*

Being me, I couldn’t just jump into writing (I am SOOOOO not a pantser) – no, I had to whip out a spreadsheet and map the whole thing out. And, ZOMG, I had so much fun! I would post a pic of my spreadsheet, but I don’t want to give away the surprise…

Aw, who am I kidding? Look what I made!

Here's what I'm currently working on

Plotting, Plotting, Plotting!

Don’t be too upset if you can’t decipher what’s written. For one, it’s all set-up and nothing exciting happens. Two, I just wanted to show off my pretty little columns and rows. This isn’t a full chapter-by-chapter outline, more like an event-to-event one. There are key elements that must happen in the story for it to play out the way I want, and I need to get them in order before I start writing.

I did something very similar with Nikko, but I used index cards (and then stupidly recycled them so I had nothing to refer to when I wanted to create this spreadsheet). Seeing as Nikko landed me an agent, I figure the system must not be too horribly flawed. ;)

I still have a few boxes to fill in, but I should be able to do that this afternoon, which means… Da-da-daaaaa! Tonight I will be writing!

A new book!


A brand new, shiny book!

*happy dance* (Well, happy dance until such time as the textbook people come calling…) :(



Get Rich Writing? HAHAHA May 8, 2011


Author/agent Mandy Hubbard posted an amazing article on her blog about the honest truth behind advances and how much writers get paid. She gives concrete numbers from typical $2,000.00 advances through to what people think of as massive $500,000.00 three book deals.

Her openess and honesty is fabulous, and her breakdown of the numbers provided a new insight for me. I had no idea that if you sign a multi-book deal, you get an advance for all of the books on signing. I assumed you got the advance for the first book, then got the second later, etc. While a large sum to start may sound good, take a look at how quickly that income drops off – unless you can write even more books than the three (or however many) books you’re under contract for during those three to four years, you’re not looking at a steady stream of income.

This is definitely an article worth bookmarking.

As an aside, The Firestorm Conspiracy is at the top of the list for To Be Reads over at Galaxy Express:

One week to until launch, folks! Can you believe it?



The Risks of Reviews April 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized,Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 7:05 pm
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The writing and publishing world is teeming with blogs and websites with valuable information on how to effectively launch, grow, maintain, and improve a writing career. I’ve lost count of the number of blogs by agents, authors, and editors offering advice to writers. Advice that spans the basics from grammar and plot to query letters to contract negotiations to building a platform.

I have learned so much from these people – people who have taken the time to share their knowledge because they want others to be successful – and it floors me whenever I come across someone who has spent numerous hours crafting a novel for public consumption who appears to not have taken advantage of the resources available.

This feeling was brought home to me again the other day when I clicked on a link in an agent’s tweet regarding the Do’s and Don’t’s of review etiquette. I followed the link as reviews are pretty high on my radar right now. I don’t know how people will react to my novel, and I don’t know how I’ll react to their reactions. So anything about reviews is attracting my attention these days.

I know the basics. I know that reviews are just one person’s opinion, and poor reviews are equally as valid as fabulous ones. I know that as an author I am not supposed to defend myself or my writing in any comments sections (and this makes perfect sense, because if I have to explain to a reader why I did something that they couldn’t see then I didn’t do a very good job of communicating in the first place, and I need to take that feedback to improve). I know I should be polite and thank reviewers for taking the time, not only to read my work, but to share their thoughts. I know that even bestselling authors get their share of 1-star reviews, and I also know that not everyone reacts well to having their work criticized.

I know all this, not because I actively researched book review etiquette, but rather because I watch and learn and read and immerse myself in the writing/publishing commmunity.

This educational dose was almost more than I could swallow. As I mentioned earlier, I followed a link in a tweet that led me to a blog. I expected an article on review etiquette, but instead found myself at a book review blog. A blogger had reviewed a self-published book and posted the review on his/her blog. While not stellar, the review was neither harsh nor unkind.

The unpleasant element was not the review itself, but rather the comments posted under the review. The author obviously did not like the review and responded emotionally in the comments that followed. Rather than just blowing off steam (which she still should have done on a different forum – I like a private chat with a trusted friend), she attacked the reviewer and several commenters.

The thread was eventually locked, but the damage was more than done. During the height of the conflict, the author told two different people to f*ck off – one of those people being a well-known editor…

Links and tweets linking to this particular review have been swirling around the internet for some time, but I wanted to write about it because it serves as an excellent object lesson in how not to handle an unfavourable review.

I have no idea how I’ll react once the reviews start popping up, but I can say for certain I will not be responding the same way Ms. Howett did.



Writers’ Search Engine April 8, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 5:48 pm
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Elizabeth Craig is an author who scours the web searching for helpful articles for writers. Not only has she been tweeting them and posting them on her blog, but she has also been creating a massive database that tops 7,000 items.

If you’re looking for writerly advice, look here:

There’s even a blog post by me archived there!



iClue and Hocking Buzz April 4, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 6:56 pm
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The awesome contest involving signed copies of some pretty amazing YA books (and the possible prize of an iPod touch) began today. Beth Revis’s story begins the series of mysteries, and starting tomorrow she will supply additional clues to help you find the solution.

Check it out and support some fantastic YA authors!

Amanda Hocking is making publishing waves every time she turns around. First, she took the self-publishing world by storm with her incredible multi-millions in sales in a little over a year. Then, she rocked both the self-pubs and traditionals when she announced a $2M four book deal with St. Martins.

Speculation is running rampant on the blogosphere and twitterverse about the deal and what it means for Ms. Hocking. Taking a slightly different perspective, Alan Rinzler posted words of advice for her (from some well-known authors and agents) on his blog. These snippets are worth the read as they add another flavour to what promise to be several interesting years in publishing.

I have to admit, I am very curious to see how both the contest and Amanda’s writing career pan out. What about you? What are your thoughts?



Hello, Blog February 27, 2011


*wipes dust off blog*


Ah, there you are.

Let’s see, what’s happened in the eternity since I last posted?

Well, I had an awesome conversation with two amazing agents (Brianne Mulligan and Jason Ashlock) about building a strong foundation for my career, I finished the final round of line edits on The Firestorm Conspiracy, I got a book cover, I received the final draft of my manuscript, I witnessed an ebook from an epublisher make the NYT Best Sellers list (followed this week by a self-published ebook), I made plans for a book launch party, I learned how to turn my tweets into a newspaper, and I helped my children make bird feeders out of empty paper towel rolls, peanut butter, and bird seed.

So really, not much happened and you can see why I’ve been so silent. ;-)

Oh! My entry in the Bad Austen contest is still in the top five and there’s only one day left! That’s exciting. I could have been blogging about that…

Did I mention that I posted the first 250 words of a novel I’m toying around with over on Miss Snark’s First Victim’s page? I got some great feedback and encouragement – if you’ve never entered any of her crit sessions, you really should reconsider as it’s an incredbily supportive environment in which to get honest, constructive reactions to your writing.

I’m still plugging away on the math textbook. I finished the student portion a little over a week ago, and now I’m working through the teachers’ guide. Apparently a few of the publisher’s deadlines have slipped in other areas, so I have more time to finish the guide if I need it – which is a relief as I also have thirty NaNoWriMo YWP novels to grade and edit as well as thirty report cards to write.

I am looking forward to finishing up on the math project so I can return my focus to fiction. My agent said she’d send me her notes on Nikko at the end of the month (and in case you hadn’t noticed, the end of the month is almost here!), and I am itching to dive back into the manuscript. I’ve been working on a synopsis for a potential sequel too…

How about you? What have you been up to during my radio silence?



#AskYAed(itors) December 18, 2010

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 6:42 pm
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Two children’s editors from Egmont (USA) hosted a tweetchat session tonight where people could ask questions about the publishing industry. They’re very helpful and willing to answer pretty much anything. In fact, if you have an Amish YA novel with oodles of swearing in it, you’re golden right now (just kidding, but it was a funny topic on the chat tonight).

I asked a couple of questions. One related to the time frame for nudging an editor who’s doing a favour for you, and I’ve decided I may send an email in the new year. But there’s really no rush, and I don’t want to pester anyone over the holiday season.

The other question related to the notion of posting original fiction (short stories and whatnot) on my blog. Both editors thought it was a good thing; but for two almost different reasons. One editor loves seeing original content on author websites, and the other thinks the content should be used as a marketing tool to increase buzz and interest in the author’s books. The first option means putting it up whenever, the second means putting it up once a book exists in the real world.

Now I have even more food for thought!



Day Eighteen 2010 November 18, 2010

1410 words last night.

I am on the road to recovery. Honestly, the scene that didn’t work threw me so out of whack it wasn’t funny. I spent last night re-writing the scene from scratch (although I was able to save a few lines) and finished feeling much more pleased with the product. I know it’s right now because I already know what the first sentence in the next chapter will be.

I find that I cannot move onto the next scene or chapter if I haven’t been true to the characters in the previous section. Sometimes it comes from leaving out something that should be put in, and sometimes it’s like that evil scene I wrote two nights ago – it’s so unfair to the characters that it doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.

I shared the new scene with my cheerleader, and while she never said the other one sucked, she did agree that this one was way better. Which, during NaNoWriMo, is saying a lot about the craptastic nature of the original version.

Now I am all set to write this evening – it’s time to up the stakes for the characters!



Tough Choices October 30, 2010

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 8:24 pm
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One of the workshops I attended at SiWC 2010 was about creating memorable characters.

The presenter talked about a lot of things to consider/include when writing characters, but one piece stuck with me, and that’s what this post is about. He talked about forcing our characters to make choices we would like to make but might not actually do.

He used the example of a book he was currently reading where the protagonist’s son is kidnapped and forced into a guerilla child soldier group. The presenter explained that because he had a teenage son at home this plot element touched on one of his greatest fears – losing a child.

The book’s protagonist goes all “Rambo” and decides to go after the mother f*ers who took his kid, and the presenter pointed out that this was a moment that really made him think. He admitted to being willing to “do anything” for his family, but he had to ask himself if he’d do what the protagonist was doing. He’d like to think he would, but really? He mentioned going to the embassy – rallying support and getting others–people properly trained for such a mission–to rescue his son, but to do it himself?

He mentioned that little feeling of inadequacy in the face of the protagonist’s action is part of what keeps us reading. We WANT to be that person. We WANT to believe we are as self-sacrificing as the protagonist, and we’ll keep reading in order to see just what ends we’ll go to in order to succeed.

The moment where fantasy-self and reality-self collide is very potent and as writers we need to capture it. We need to highlight the stakes, highlight the consequences of inaction (or different action), and we have to make the protagonist’s decision plausible given the situation.

If we do this effectively, we’ll have captured our readers because as soon as that little part of their minds wonders if they would make the same choice we’ve got them hooked for good. They HAVE to read on.




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