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An Interview with Abigail Schmidt upon receiving an offer of representation.

03/06/2012

Abigail Schmidt (abbypekar79(d) on QT) has signed with agent Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
It's adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy with grim reapers and tattooists. I've always found tattoos fascinating. This probably stems from a childhood surrounded by Harley Davidson folks. I like knowing why people get inked, is it spiritual or personal or just because they think it looks cool. But more than that, I like the history of tattoos, that even thousands of years ago people were getting tattoos to heal their ailments. I thought to myself, what if throughout history there have been people giving tattoos to kill the individuals, like inking beacons into their skin for grim reapers. How scary would that be?
How long have you been writing?
Since I was a child, but seriously writing for 3 years.
How long have you been working on this book?
I wrote a book with this concept in 2010 in about 3 months, but it was painfully underdeveloped. A beta reader and an editor mentioned that it felt like the second book in a series. I agreed and went for it. The 1st book, that is the 2nd book written (confused yet?) took over a year. Imagine carrying a baby for over a year? Lordy.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Hell, yeah! All the time. But as soon as the thought crossed my mind, I turned away from it. Self doubt is a terrible demon. And I don't like demons, so I kicked it to the curb.
Is this your first book?
3rd book.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Nope. Not even a creative writing class in college.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I write early in the mornings and after work before my husband gets home. I do a lot of brainstorming in the car and when I go running.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I do rolling edits. But I still did 2 major edits.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Oh, yes. I had several, including my husband, mom, friends, even my dad's high school best friend.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I have a vision of where I want the story to go. Beyond that, I write from the hip.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried 2 books prior to this one. Then I wrote this book. I knew the agent I wanted. I set my goal on her, but took advice from others and queried. I got some requests. All in all, I queried for 3 months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
39.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Anyone who wanted fantasy and romance. Anyone highly visible.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Nope.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Know what you want, polish that baby of yours until it sparkles, and keep focused. It's all too hard to see the end game and not the journey you have to take to get there. If you look one step ahead, you'll be better for it, because eventually you'll hit your mark.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
I didn't query my agent. I met her at a conference and pitched to her. Nevertheless, here is the query I would've sent her:

Ollie Dormier, a harbinger of Death, doesn’t consider the consequences when her only human friend, Remy is slated to die. All she wants is to keep Remy alive. Her grim life without Remy’s smiles and conversation wouldn’t be nearly as bearable.

But the human population just hit seven billion. With that many souls in backlog, the Head of Death is getting desperate to restore the balance between the Earth and the Afterlife. This is why he instated his Ten Offenses for his grim reapers. A Level Three Offense for eating sugar on the job results in a week in Erebus. A Level Eight Offense for not ferrying a soul to the Afterlife results in immediate execution.

Killing a grim reaper before he ferries Remy’s soul? Well, that goes to eleven.

Ollie should face execution, but lucky for her, Brent Hume, an unusually powerful grim reaper is on her side and a mutiny is brewing against the increasingly unpopular Head of Death. With humans outpacing their death days, the Reapers can’t keep up with the demand. Every day they’re getting executed for their slip-ups. Like a monkey wrench in Death’s gears, Ollie’s effort to save Remy inspires Brent and her co-workers.

But when she uncovers the Head of Death’s Level-Ten-worthy treachery, Ollie is thrust to the helm of Death’s revolution. And she quickly learns that she’ll either save everyone she loves or she and her devoted allies will go straight to Tartarus to burn for an eternity.

TATTOO OF YOUR NAME ACROSS MY SOUL is an 110,000-word adult urban fantasy that has crossover potential with the paranormal romance market. The novel, which plays on Greek mythology, will appeal to fans of Darynda Jones’s FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT and of Jeaniene Frost’s NIGHT HUNTRESS series. The manuscript is complete and available upon your request.