Success Story Interview - Sandy Williams

An Interview with Sandy Williams (brimfire on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Sandy Williams:
My book is an urban fantasy with a very strong romantic element. I'm not quite sure what inspired me to write it. I had one scene in my mind -- my heroine dangling above an abyss and having to accept the help of her enemy or die. This was supposed to be a science fiction book, but since I'd just finished writing an urban fantasy, I thought maybe I should stick with that genre. Once I made the decision, all the plot pieces fell into place.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Sandy Williams:
Since 2nd grade, I think. I remember writing and illustrating a story called The Adventures of Yoyo and Dodo in Walt Disney World. It was about two calico cats who escaped a farm. I wrote off and on during junior high, high school, and college, but only started thinking about publication after I graduated. So, I’d say I’ve been seriously writing for about four years.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Sandy Williams:
It took about a year to write.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Sandy Williams:
Giving up has never been an option. I’m not me if I’m not writing, so no matter how many rejections I received, I always pressed on. It helped that I had other book ideas I was excited to work on. Plus, I had really great feedback from agents on the previous manuscripts I queried, so I knew I didn’t completely suck.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Sandy Williams:
Nope. Well, I did have one creative writing course in college, but it wasn’t really “training”. More of a critique group. I have no idea how the professor gave grades in that class. There weren’t any tests, and I only remember handing in two chapters from a book I’d worked on years before. Easiest class ever.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Sandy Williams:
I’m fortunate enough to be writing full-time right now, so whenever my husband’s not home, I’m staring at my computer. Yep, sometimes just staring.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Sandy Williams:
Well, my current manuscript says it’s version eleven, but those aren’t complete re-writes. I’d say I’ve probably done a heavy edit four, maybe five times now (just sent my latest off to my agent).
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Sandy Williams:
Yes! And they were awesome!
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Sandy Williams:
I’m a pantser. I had a few pivotal scenes in my head and I knew (mostly) how it was going to end, but I was surprised dozens of times along the way. I LOVE being surprised!
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Sandy Williams:
I started querying in October of 2009 and received offers in late January.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Sandy Williams:
*runs off to check QueryTracker* 46 queries. That’s around the same number I sent out for my previous books, but my request rate was MUCH higher on this one.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Sandy Williams:
I looked for agents who represented science fiction, fantasy, and romance, since those are the genres all my books fall into. I wanted an agent who’d be interested in my future projects, not just the one I’m currently working on. I also liked agents who had a good web presence. There were a few who rep’d my genres, but it was hard to dig up information on them and how they worked. I was fortunate enough to receive multiple offers of representation, so when it came down to the time to make a decision, an agent who worked editorially with clients was a huge plus for me.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Sandy Williams:
Yep. Usually, I’d research on-line, find blogs they’d written, then note something in that blog that made me want to query them.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Sandy Williams:
Write your next book. Seriously. When you have another project you love in the works, the rejections don’t bother you as much. Yeah, they still suck, but they don’t signal the end of your hopes and dreams.

Query Letter:


Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them.

Ever since the fae discovered her talent ten years ago, McKenzie has fought to balance her normal life with her life as the Court’s best shadow-reader. She has things almost under control until she’s abducted from her college campus by Aren, a charismatic and dangerously attractive fae who’s set on overthrowing the king.

Aren's determined to have McKenzie's help. She’s determined to stay loyal to the Court. After all, this is the man responsible for damaging the fae’s magic and causing a bloody civil war. Or so she’s been told.

Aren’s methods of coercion – and his tantalizing smiles – rattle McKenzie’s faith. Instead of hurting or threatening her, he teaches her his language and claims the Court has told her lies. Now, McKenzie must decide if she can trust the fae she’s falling for or if his seduction is part of a strategy to lure her to his side of the war.

I noticed your guest post on Market My Words last summer and read there and elsewhere that you are looking for urban fantasy with strong female leads. I thought you might enjoy FISSURED, my urban fantasy which is complete at 105,000 words.


Sandy Williams