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An Interview with Kristine Carlson Asselin upon receiving an offer of representation.

Kristine Carlson Asselin (golfergirlkca on QT) has signed with agent Vickie Motter of .

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
My book is called THE SWEET SPOT. Here's my pitch:

With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate Anderson decides she's going to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.

(This won a pitch contest sponsored by in March 2010—I'd like to send a shout out to Jason Yarn of Paradigm Agency, who judged that contest. His feedback enabled me to make some great additions which ultimately led to my success with Vickie.)

My parents owned and operated the a golf course in central Massachusetts from 1979-1996. The course was a real "working-man's" club. The setting of THE SWEET SPOT is 100% drawn from that memory. The rest of the details, experiences, and plot are completely made up—well, almost completely. There's a lot of me in Kate. Except she's a much better golfer than I am.

How long have you been writing?
I started seriously writing children's books after my daughter was born in 2003. Prior to that, my creative writing was limited to poetry in high school, script-writing in college film classes, and the occasional x-files fan fiction. (::gasp::) Don't ask to see those.
How long have you been working on this book?
I wrote a short story called "The Knight in Tan Khakis" in the summer of 2006. It was based on my personal teenage experience of being caught on a golf course wearing a white t-shirt during a downpour. Unfortunately I was with a group of boys at the time, including my crush. That story was later featured in Golfer Girl Magazine (December 2008). A lot of readers wanted to know what happened to Kate and Scott—so I wrote the rest of the story.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
In 2009, I'd actually shelved it to concentrate on nonfiction. I ended up meeting a couple of writer friends—who ended up being my critique group—at my local SCBWI conference that spring. They inspired me to pick it up again. I can never thank them enough for that.

I think it's really easy to get down on yourself during this process—I mean, there's a lot of rejection—but my critique group helps me to stay positive. I've also got a very supportive family who are my cheerleaders when I feel like giving up. I've worked on other projects and have had some other successes while querying this project, so that helped keep me focused on "the prize."

The writing community online is pretty great. Between all the great blogs out there and writer's boards like this one, you can always find encouragement when you're down.

Is this your first book?
This is my first YA novel. I've had four books published with Capstone Press (a publisher of pre K-12 children's books for libraries and classrooms). I have four more projects in various stages of production for them. I also have a contract with 4RV Publishing for my picture book THE WORST CASE OF PASKETTI-ITIS (2015).
Do you follow a writing 'routine' or schedule?
At the 2008 New England SCBWI conference, Laurie Halse Anderson spoke about writing everyday for at least 15 minutes. I'd love to be able to do that—but I find it too stressful as an absolute. I write when I can. It's easier for me to write to a deadline. So sometimes I'll impose deadlines on myself.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
At one point early in the first draft, I cut about 10K words—basically a whole plotline—and started over. But since then, it's pretty much the same story I "finished" in December 2009. I added two chapters—about 8K words as a result of Jason Yarn's feedback after the pitch contest.

I have revisions moving forward with my agent, but no major rewrites.

Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes—my critique group members and, once it was finished, "just plain" reader types.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I did not outline this book—and I struggled a little as I progressed. I'm outlining my next project and I outline my nonfiction.
How long have you been querying for this book?
I started querying THE SWEET SPOT in June 2010.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Just under 70.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I looked at things they represent and things they expressed interest in. I tried to find interviews to get a sense of personality, but it's not always possible. I used resources like and Verla Kay's "blueboard" to get insight from other people querying. There are a number of bloggers who feature agent interviews (such as Krista V's Mother. Write. (Repeat) and Casey McCormick's Literary Rambles). I used both of those pretty extensively.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I did at the beginning—but it's just not always possible. I hated to sound forced or made up—so if I had some kernel to base something personal on, I did. But if not, I just led with my hook.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Query widely (after, of course, writing a good book and making sure it's ready by getting honest critiques).

A lot of my "good" rejections came from agents who said they liked the writing, but they didn't "like golf" or "get golf" or "play golf." And certainly while my story takes place on a golf course, the gist is more about Kate's internal struggle and her relationships. Vickie got my story. I immediately knew, after talking to her, that she was my agent. She doesn't play golf, but she GOT that the story wasn't about golf per se.

Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Ms. Motter,

With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate needs to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.

For fifteen-year-old Kate, being the first girl to win the Junior State Championship means more than bragging rights or a college scholarship. The gigantic media blitz that comes with it might draw the crowds back to her family's almost-bankrupt golf course. But golf is a game of focus and Kate's distractions are mounting by the day: the hotshot bully; a pair of Brits her dad hires for the summer; and the sweetest distraction of all, her best friend Scott.

When vandals torch part of the golf course and the cops find the "smoking blowtorch" in Scott's car, it rocks Kate's world—first Scott withdraws from her and then she finds out the family might lose the prestige of hosting a major tournament. She suspects her friends, stakes out the bad guy, and gets her hands dirty for the first time in her life to prove Scott's innocence and guarantee the course is repaired in time. Maybe then Kate can tune out the distractions and prove she can play to win.

Though not a memoir, THE SWEET SPOT is inspired by my experience growing up on my family's golf course in central Massachusetts. It wasn't always easy being the only girl playing golf competitively in the area, but it was fun!

The Knight in Tan Khakis, a short story excerpt of THE SWEET SPOT, was published in Golfer Girl Magazine in December 2008. My elementary non-fiction TAURUS, VIRGO & CAPRICORN: ALL ABOUT THE EARTH SIGNS for Capstone Press was released in January 2010. OUR SUN, STARS, and WHO REALLY DISCOVERED AMERICA with Capstone were all published in January 2011. I have completed two additional titles for their fall 2011 catalog.

THE SWEET SPOT is a contemporary YA novel complete at 68K words and available for your immediate review should you be interested. This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.