Success Story Interview - Angela Quarles

An Interview with Angela Quarles (angelaquarles on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Maura Kye-Casella of Don Congdon Associates, Inc..


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Angela Quarles:
It's for my time travel romance, MUST LOVE BREECHES. It's my second novel that I completed and I was inspired simply by imagining "Wouldn't it be cool if...." and I vividly remember brushing my teeth and thinking how cool it would be to go back in time, and that led to the next what if, and the next. First I had to figure out when to go back to, and at first thought I'd do a Jane Austen tie-in, but then ran across Ada Lovelace and just knew she had to be a major secondary character. So the time period was specifically chosen to accommodate Lady Lovelace--1834, which was when she was still single and known as Ada Byron. I initially thought the hero would be Charles Babbage, but I quickly scrapped that idea...
QT: How long have you been writing?
Angela Quarles:
I've been writing non-fiction (history) off and on for twenty years and in the 1990s dabbled with sketching out plans for a romance set in Virginia, but gave up, and then in 2005 I tried my hand for the very first time with fan fiction. It was for a Pride & Prejudice fan site that I created and ran, along with several other wonderful folks, called Longbourn Loungers. Tessa Dare also participated and we knew she was destined for greatness. But it wasn't until late 2008 that I seriously began wondering if I should try my hand at writing a full length novel. I gobbled up craft books but became stalled after 5-6 chapters. My fellow Longbourn Loungers told me about NaNoWriMo in 2009 so I participated and "won" by completing my first novel (a mystery). In 2010, I participated again, and this was what became MUST LOVE BREECHES. I spent the winter letting the MS sit and breathe and researched a ton until March of 2011 when I really sat down in earnest and began revising it and starting the critique process. This year, I also wrote another novel and a novelette.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Angela Quarles:
Oh God, yes. There were many times when I felt like "who am I kidding?" Even the night before I left for my first RWA national conference, July of this summer where I pitched to my now agent, I remember thinking right before I fell asleep "what am I doing??" It's very hard sometimes to come back from a rejection, but what kept me focused was remembering that this was all part of the process and that I couldn't please everyone. Participating in RWA chapter contests also helped me get inured to varied feedback--some loved it, some didn't. Writing is subjective, especially humor. But the biggest mental thing that helped me was picturing, every time I got a rejection or some other "bad" news, that I'd just hit a big wall. And so did a lot of other writers. And that this wall was an opportunity if I only climbed over it and pushed on, because I knew that many others stayed behind at that wall and wouldn't climb over. If I knew others who had hit that wall, I helped pick them up too and encourage them over with me. Anyway, I envisioned that wall and then being on the other side and that the ranks were getting thinner the more walls I climbed. Sadly, too many wonderful writers give up way too soon. Keep climbing over those walls. They give you strength!
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Angela Quarles:
Yes, I'm a newly-formed morning person! I used to be The Snooze Alarm Queen and would get up with just enough time to get ready for work. Now I get up 2 hours and 45 minutes before I have to get ready and I devote that time to my writing and my writing career. I squeeze in writing other times, too, but that's the scheduled time.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Angela Quarles:
I've lost count. I think as far as the whole, what I submitted was the 6th revision, but that's misleading, because right when I started revisions, I divided it up by scenes and would do multiple passes on each scene, some way more than others, until I was happy with that version for that revision pass (meaning I might have revised a scene multiple times for the third revision, etc). Suffice it to say, it was to the point where I was sick of it, sad to say.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Angela Quarles:
Yes. I had many wonderful Beta readers and would not have gotten to this stage without them. Thank you guys!
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Angela Quarles:
I had a premise and first turning point and pantsed the rest.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Angela Quarles:
Most of the time, yes. If I could find information online from interviews, bios, recent sales on Publisher's Marketplace that was relevant to my query, I opened with that.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Angela Quarles:
Keep going and be patient. Resist the urge to query right when you finish a book. Put in the time to make sure it's the best you can make it. The hard work will pay off. Actively engage with fellow writers. I truly believe that my commitment to blogging and engaging on forums and critique sites this last year telescoped my learning process significantly.

Query Letter:

Isabelle Rochon, a thoroughly modern American working at the British Museum, has finally met the man of her dreams. There's one problem: he lives in another century.

When a mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle to pre-Victorian London, a thief steals it, stranding her in a place where nobody's heard of toilet paper or women's lib. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes. But when he asks her to pose as his fiancée for his scheme of revenge, his now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and kicks in her old insecurities. Why does he have to be so damn hunky, compelling and, well, Drool-Worthy? This is notwhat she needs. She’d carved off part of herself for another man before and is determined never to make that same mistake again. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the-boyfriend move. Besides, she'd just reassembled her life and getting promoted at the museum will ensure that she can remain in London and the life she's carefully built. In the end, she must decide when her true home lies.

MUST LOVE BREECHES is a time travel romance complete at 99,000 words. It features such historical figures as Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Fans of the TV mini-series LOST IN AUSTEN will love the modern woman’s fish out of water foibles, while experiencing a more scientific and mechanical London. It is similar in tone to THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION, and Katie MacAlister’s contemporary romances. It is a standalone novel with the potential to be a prequel in a series of steampunk romances.

I hold a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University and am a member of RWA, as well as three RWA chapters: Gulf Coast, Hearts Through History and FF&P. My contemporary geek romance novelette, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, is contracted by Secret Cravings Publishing, and due to release in January 2013.

MUST LOVE BREECHES has finaled in nine RWA chapter contests in 2012--in the Regency/Victorian/Georgian category of the Hearts Through History’s Romancing Through The Ages contest, and in the paranormal category for Washington DC's Marlene contest, San Antonio's Merritt contest, Virginia Fool for Love contest, Celtic Hearts Golden Claddagh contest (winner), Greater Seattle’s ECO contest, Georgia’s Maggie contest, and Utah's Heart of the West contest, and in the time travel/steampunk/historical category of FF&P's On the Far Side contest.

This is a multiple submission, thank you for your time and consideration,

Angela Quarles