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An Interview with Erin L Schneider upon receiving an offer of representation.


Erin L Schneider (Erin501 on QT) has signed with agent Lisa Grubka of Fletcher & Company.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
WHERE THE WATER FALLS (WTWF) is a YA Contemporary -- a "newer" sub-genre for me to write. After my last manuscript (YA Suspense) I wanted to write something that was more true to who I was. I didn't want to hold back in my writing like I'd done in the past, for fear of what others would say. In the end they're going to say it anyway, so I might as well write what I want. So I tapped in to many of the hard issues I dealt with when I was a teenager: heartbreak, betrayal, broken friendships, broken relationships in general -- then the beautiful side of things like new friendships, new relationships, learning to forgive...and most importantly, learning how to be forgiven. WTWF is about more than what I experienced when I was younger and in some ways it deals with lessons I'm still learning, as an adult.
How long have you been writing?
Like most writers, since I could hold a pencil -- but I seriously focused on writing YA back in 2008, so over five years ago.
How long have you been working on this book?
I started writing WTWF in June of 2011, and only had four chapters finished before I put it aside to work exclusively with an agent on edits for another manuscript. It was after that agent and I parted ways earlier this year (and then I was laid off from my job a couple of weeks later), that I decided to pick back up on the story -- and I had the first draft finished about five weeks later.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Writing is an incredibly turbulent and often solitary journey for those crazy enough to take it on -- and after five years for me, there were many times I felt like giving up. Rejection is never easy, but after so many years of it, I started to learn to treat my writing career like a business. Not everyone is going to love what I write and many are going to have an opinion that isn't necessarily in my favor -- and I can either let that stop me or fuel me to push forward. It also helps to have the amazing support of my critique partners. They're all in it too, so leaning on others when I need it, helps immensely.
Is this your first book?
This is my fourth - I have three other completed novels and a handful of partials in sequels for a few of them.
Do you have any formal writing training?
None. Writing is my creative outlet and I do still ponder the idea of going back to school, but for now, it is what it is.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I write whenever I can and definitely whenever I'm feeling inspired.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
WTWF went through two solid revisions before I felt it was ready to query.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I have four amazing critique partners that I don't think I'd be able to navigate the writing journey without. I also have a couple, depending on my sub-genre, that will CP for me as well.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I'm a complete pantser when I write my first draft. When I dig in on revisions, I'll have a solid outline of my story and make changes were appropriate. I find this method is the best way for me to stay 100% creative up front, just to get the story down, and then it makes it much easier to revise from there.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
My first query for WTWF went out on 8/29/2013 -- so for this book, I'd only been querying five weeks before my first offer came in. However, my very first query for the first book I wrote, went out on 9/27/2009 -- over four years ago.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?

Here are my stats:

First query sent: 8.29.13

Total queries sent: 25

Total rejections received: 6

Total requests received: 19 (16 fulls and 3 partials)

Total offers received: 4

Offer accepted: 10.23.13

On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Every agent I queried of course had to rep YA. I also looked for those that particularly enjoyed YA Contemporary, plus a few of the other sub-genres I write, since I never know what sub-genre I'm going to write in next.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
For the most part, the bulk of my query letter was standard. However, if I met an agent at a conference or if they had a full of mine previously (especially if they showed interest in my future writing), I would mention it upfront to get their attention. I "met" the agent I signed with through #MSWL on Twitter, so of course this was included in my query to her.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
While my journey isn't nearly finished, a big hurdle is now behind me. I know how hard it is to want to share your stories with the world and become a published author. I know how hard it is to get rejection after rejection. I loved the query process -- yes, I know how that sounds. But to be acknowledged by professionals in the business, even if it's a rejection, for me was inspiring. Read in your genre. Read outside your genre. Join writing groups. Participate in writing blogs. Anything to put yourself out there and hone in on a craft that will forever need polishing, no matter how much experience you have. I guess in the end, it all depends on how bad you want it.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Of course!

A YA Contemporary novel that explores second chances, the true bonds of friendship, and what it means to forgive and be forgiven, WHERE THE WATER FALLS is complete at 67,000 words, and would appeal to fans of both Sarah Ockler and Courtney Summers.

Her best friend. Her boyfriend. A broken condom.

Seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre's entire life is turned inside-out when she hears that admission from her best friend. But it's when her boyfriend admits he slept with her twice – that sends her fist flying.

With a broken heart and a broken hand, it's a good thing she's on the next plane with her twin brother, Penn, to visit her mom for the summer in Honolulu – the same thing she's done for the past seven summers since her parents divorced and her mom moved home to the Islands. But escaping to Hawaii only changes the scenery; it doesn't change the pain of heartache and betrayal. And a measly 2,680 miles isn't nearly far enough away to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her now ex-boyfriend who refuses to let go.

But then she meets Finn McGowen – the new guy that moved to town just after she left the summer before. And when he still sticks around after she throws up on him during a game of chicken, she finds herself in a happy distraction from everything that's so wrong back at home. Because while she might be heartbroken and damaged, he's equally troubled and alone – and that just might be the exact combination the both of them need.

What she wasn't expecting was for her once perfect best friend to give in to her guilt and take her own life, leaving Sloane to question how her own actions could have changed it all. During a summer were almost everything went wrong, Sloane learns what it truly means to be a friend...and ultimately, how to forgive and be forgiven.

I'm an active member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, as well as the SCBWI. I’m also co-founder and creator of the YA Buccaneers – a group blog of YA authors and writers, for YA authors, readers, and writers. If you'd like to consider WHERE THE WATER FALLS, I'd be happy to forward the completed manuscript your way. As well, I'd love for you to visit my website, for more information on myself and my writing.