Success Story Interview - Jenna Lehne

An Interview with Jenna Lehne (jennadanielle(d) on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Jenna Lehne:
My book is called BEAUTIFUL MALEVOLENCE (for now) and it's a YA Thriller with kissing. Lots of kissing. As far as inspiration goes, I just started writing a scene I had in my head of a girl burying her dead pet. The story kind of developed itself from there.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Jenna Lehne:
I, like just about every other writer I know, started early. My baby book has the first story I ever wrote printed out by my older cousin. I started seriously writing toward the end of 2009. I finished my first book, Second Hand Lace, in 2011, and it was just recently published.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Jenna Lehne:
It took me twelve days to write and another twelve to revise.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Jenna Lehne:
Of course! Before Beautiufl-M , I was querying a YA contemp. I absolutely adored. I had a great request rate and made it into a bunch of contests. It wasn't good enough, I know that now, but at the time all the rejections made me feel like quitting numerous times. My CPs/family/husband kept me on track by feeding me lots of chocolate and wine.
QT: Is this your first book?
Jenna Lehne:
Nope, it's my third.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Jenna Lehne:
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Jenna Lehne:
I'm lucky enough to have a relaxed enough job that I can write during the day, at work. I find it really trying to write at home because of all the distractions.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Jenna Lehne:
I revised three times, and am currently revising again for my agent.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Jenna Lehne:
Two CP's and one Beta service (which I'll use forever)
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Jenna Lehne:
I wrote from the hip, but outlined my revisions.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Jenna Lehne:
I found a publisher for my first after a few months. I queried my shelved YA book for about ten months. For this book I went from first query to signing in two months.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Jenna Lehne:
Ooooh stats.
Queries Sent: 50
Rejections: 31
Fulls/Partials: 13
Closed: 4
R&R: 1
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Jenna Lehne:
I searched for agents that rep'd YA, obviously, as well as ones with past sales of thrillers/horror/contemporary since those are the genres I'm most interested in writing. I wanted an agent who had recent YA Thriller deals and was with a reputable agency. I also wanted someone with a strong online presence (twitter), which my agent totally does.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Jenna Lehne:
I always followed their submission guidelines and addressed them by Mr./Mrs. Last Name. I would only personalize the query if I had read an interview or they had mentioned something like my MS on twitter/their blogs.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Jenna Lehne:
Be yourself. Agents are human too, and they're not expecting perfection. That being said, revise the crap out of your work. Find people who will tear your work to shreds and help you make it stronger. Get to know the community. Enter contests. Cheer people on. Be freaking polite.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Jenna Lehne:
Fo' shizzle.

Query Letter:

Dear Ms. Rushall,

Sixteen-year-old Olivia doesn't think she killed her dog, but her blood soaked pajamas say otherwise. If the death of her pet wasn't bad enough, now someone is tormenting her through cryptic e-mails and a painted locker that screams "Murderer". At first she writes it off as a cruel prank, but after her drama teacher accuses her of stealing and Olivia's crush, Smith, swears they hooked up, Olivia starts to wonder if someone is set on destroying her life or if she's doing it to herself.

When her mom is attacked and hospitalized, Olivia is sent to the Royal Alexander Center for Mental Health. After a psych evaluation rules out paranoid personality disorder and a video tape catches someone who looks eerily similar to Olivia torching a school shed, she is released from the Center. Smith becomes her knight-in-denim armor when he discovers the identity of Olivia's tormentor and turns the tables in their favor.

Armed with a taste for revenge, Olivia's out to clear her name and get some payback. But each retaliating prank escalates and the price of her revenge could be the lives of the people she loves.

BEAUTIFUL MALEVOLENCE is a young adult thriller completed at 50, 000 words. My novel will appeal to fans of Sara Shepard's PRETTY LITTLE LIARS series and BURN FOR BURN by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han.

My debut novel, Second Hand Lace, is due for release April of 2013 by Turquoise Morning Press. My name is Jenna Lehne and I live in Calgary, Alberta with my husband and 2.5 dogs.

Thank you for your time,


She requested three minutes later, and offered three days after that :-)