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An Interview with Kiki Anika upon receiving an offer of representation.

Kiki Anika (kikilon on QT) has signed with agent Maya Rock of .

How long have you been writing?
For about 5 years, 3 of them full time.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Just at the end of last year, I felt like it was all getting too much. I'd been writing for so long and while the feedback has been getting progressively more personal and helpful, I felt I was never going to make that final jump. Having writer friends has been an enormous help. Being part of a writers' organization meant I knew a lot of other people who'd been through similar writing depressions.
Is this your first book?
This is my second completed book, but the fifth I've started.
How long have you been working on this book?
About 8 months, including a 3-month rest period where I worked on something else.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I've done a pointless BA with a major in creative writing and several courses and workshops at writers' conferences and online that were much more useful. But the best training has been hands-on, writing every day and reading lots!
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I have 6-month deadlines/schedules I set myself and I try to write a little bit every day. I find I am more productive if I aim for a page a day than 5 pages a week, for example.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I wrote the first draft, then let the manuscript rest for three months, did an edit, gave it to my two fabulous critique partners and queried after I'd incorporated their feedback. So two edits.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I have two critique partners who worked with me chapter by chapter.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I create a rough outline so I know where I want to go, then I improvise along the way. I find an outline helps me on the days that I don't feel like writing. I don't have to be creative because I know what needs to happen on that page. It takes the creative stress out of my writing time.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried my first book for about a year and ended up selling it to a publisher without the help of an agent in the end. I've been querying this book since July '08.
About how many query letters had you sent for this book?
46. I love having this data available through QT, by the way. I'm referencing this constantly when talking to people about my querying experience.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Whether they represented the genre(s) I write and had actually made sales with that recently. I had four tiers of agents that I queried, depending on whether I had heard good things about them or if I had queried them before and had gotten good feedback from them.

I also chose junior agents over senior ones where I could. I wanted someone fresh and keen who would be ready to take some risks along the way.

Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I googled every agent before querying them, trying to find a connection. If I read their blogs, I would tell them. If I knew the books of any of their clients and enjoyed them, I told them so. If I knew they were looking for specific types of stories, I would make reference to that. Apart from that, the bulk of my query letter was pretty much the same.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Do your research and be sure that you are querying the right person. Be patient and don't expect to hear back from people immediately. Joining professional writers' organizations can be an invaluable tool to get insider information about teh industry that might otherwise be hard to come by. The more informed you are, the better you will be able to position yourself in front of a prospective agent or editor.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Ms/Mr. Agent

I am writing to you hoping to interest you in my latest project. TOTALLY COOKED is a Young Adult romance, complete at 55,000 words. Set in competitive world of high school It-girls, it is the story of one dance diva who dons an apron and braves the flames of Culinary Arts, the lamest class around, to save her fellow A-listers from eating disorder charges and ends up faking it on national TV.

Cupcakes are the new popular – not!

Venice Ng is about as Chinese as the sweet and sour pork at Number One Noodle Son, her family's take-out restaurant. She's happy working her exotic appeal as one of the Flames, a team of strictly A-list dancers at her high school. But when she is accused of causing another girl's anorexia, Venice is sentenced to a prison term in Slop n' Chop, aka Culinary Arts, and her world spins out of control.

Now this undomestic goddess has to learn how to cook like a pro. At the same time, she can't afford to miss a single step in her precarious social dance or she'll fall back into obscurity. Which means falling for Quinn the vegan troublemaker is so far out of the question she shouldn't even think about it. So why can't she stop hanging around him in cooking class?

On the flipside of the cake there's sweet, mousy Eileen, food blogger, cooking whiz and all-round good girl. But maybe she's sick of sweet and looking for spice… and Venice may be just the ticket.

They let Gossip Girl in the kitchen. Big mistake.

I have been writing fiction for about four years and my first YA novel, Enter The Parrot, is coming out from The Wild Rose Press in June of this year. Teen chick lit is my first love, especially when it shows a sassy attitude and a fresh, sparkling voice. I have a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne and have been a member of RWA and SCBWI for four years. I also write food-related articles and am a recipe developer for a vegan magazine as well as draw manga.

If TOTALLY COOKED is something you might be interested in, I will gladly send you sample chapters or the complete manuscript.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.