Author Interview with Michelle Hauck

michelle_hThis month I bring you an interview with author Michelle Hauck. As well as being an author, some of you might know her as the insane writer who hosts NoQS (Nightmare on Query Street), not to mention some other wonderful contests and this year became a mentor for the famous #Pitchwars!

So let’s begin…

 

  1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?

I’m from extreme northern Indiana where we get a lot of snow from Lake Michigan. It’s a wonderful place if you enjoy the change of seasons. I have two kids already in or about enter college, which means I have plenty of time to spend on writing or running writing contests. Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Sun versus Snow, and New Agent are some of the contests I help host for writers.

As for writing, all sorts of fantasy suit me. I’ve written adult epic fantasy, middle grade humorous fantasy stories, and young adult dystopian. My epic fantasy Kindar’s Cure is published with a small press, and I just finished up another epic fantasy for young adult.

 

  1. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

I started writing on a dare from my husband about eight years ago. He figured as I’m such a reader and a bookworm, I should make up my own. That started me off and I never looked back. At that point, I knew nothing about publishing. I was all about putting the story down. Needless to say, my first book wasn’t great. After several years of learning the writing ropes, I landed a publishing deal with a small press for my adult fantasy and then an agent for my middle grade story. The journey continues and who know how it will end.

 

  1. What do you like most about the genre’s you write? What do you like the least?

What I like most like about fantasy is that you can invent your own world and the rules involved with it. It’s so much fun to let your imagination loose. And I also enjoy getting to create multiple point of view characters. Fantasy writers can play around and focus on more than one character in a story. That gives you such an added dimension.

I guess the biggest drawback would be the time involved to do all this creating. It takes a little longer calendar-wise to write a big epic fantasy. My last one took eleven months from start of first draft to last chapter.

 

  1. What was your experience like querying for an agent?

Querying for an agent was no picnic. Nobody likes rejection after rejection, even when they are kind. It’s a blow to the ego and the confidence. You really have to be stubborn. Stubborn at writing fresh books and learning more about your craft. I got an agent on my fourth manuscript and ended up with multiple offers. Before that my second manuscript was picked up by a small press. Stick with it. Keep improving. Getting your work in front of big publishers is worth the stress.

 

  1. With the time involved creating, do you prefer an outline or are you a ‘panster’?

I’m a totally panster. Or more correctly, I should say I keep it all in my head. There’s usually a goal or direction toward which I’m working a few chapters ahead, but I never do an outline of an entire book. The endings are often a surprise to me. I do keep a file with notes on names and places and themes, just to help me remember because high fantasy can get pretty involved.

 

  1. Did you have a plan in case you didn’t get an agent?

I actually published with a small press before I got my agent. My preference was for an agent and traditional publishing, but when that seemed shut out, I was happy to try other avenues. I’m also sitting on a shelved dystopian because of the market, and think that a writer needs to decide for themselves where they feel most comfortable. Writers have so many more choices now, thanks to ebooks!

 

  1. Something many people might not know is that you’ve hosted several query contests on your blog. How did that come about?

Actually it happened because SC Author, a friend from Agent Query Connect, invited me. He and Mike were starting a contest called Query Kombat and wanted a third host. We also do a contest called Nightmare on Query Street together. They wanted someone with a busier blog and I had been wanting to get into contests, but hesitated to try it on my own. Now we easily draw over two hundred entries for our query contests!

 

  1. What is the best thing you like about these contests?

It’s a lot of hard work on the hosts’ part, but I really enjoy the interaction on twitter. Talking with the writers. Becoming part of their lives. Helping them on their way forward. It’s so rewarding. Life gets awful quiet when I don’t have a contest in the works. I guess that means keep looking for new excitement on my blog.

 

  1. What advice do you have for authors who want to attract an agent?

The best thing they can do is learn about the industry. Follow writers on twitter with more experience than you. Take advantage of blog posts by agents such as Query Shark. Enter contests that provide feedback and let you meet other writers. Find out what’s happening in your genre by reading new releases and listening to agents. Look for advice on what makes a strong query letter. (There are some articles like this on my blog under the labels ‘editing’ and ‘critiquing.’)

 

  1. What (if any) are the biggest mistakes you see new authors make in their query letters?

There are smaller mistakes like leaving off your word count or not leading with your main character. The second biggest mistake I can think of is telling your goals or the decisions behind your story instead of showing it. For example, writing XX story is a creepy and horrifying science fiction book of 87,000 words instead of showing it’s creepy and horrifying with your word choice when giving the blurb about your story.

Telling the agent your main character displays leadership to inspire girls battling XX problem, instead of letting the query show this.

Don’t focus on your aims or lecture about the style or purpose of your story. Display that when you describe the character, problem, choice, and stakes. Those items should take up the majority of your query.

By far the largest mistake is not being specific enough in your query. Don’t say your hero is battling a ‘threat’ that can ‘destroy the world.’ Say it’s a madman creating a virus to destroy the world’s food supply. Which is more interesting?

Trying to hide the unique parts of your story to avoid giving away the surprise is a mistake. Nothing should be a surprise except the outcome and the main character’s final choice. Instead rid your query of generic cliches and provide specific details if you want to entice.

And now I sound like a lecturing professor, waving my finger at everyone. But truly, after reading hundreds of queries, that’s the way to make your query stand out.

 

Bio:

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, was published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was published by The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer’s Double Edge. Elephant’s Bookshelf Press also published another of her short stories, The Unfinished Task, in their winter anthology, Winter’s Regret. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

 

Where to find Michelle online:

Twitter: @Michelle4Laughs

Blog: Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details

Facebook: Michelle Hauck, Author

Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure

Tumblr: Michelle4Laughs

 

Kindar'sCureFinal_(2)Book links:

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon Paperback

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon Ebook

Kindar’s Cure on Amazon UK

Kindar’s Cure on Barnes and Noble

Kindar’s Cure at The Book Depository

 

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About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

3 Responses to Author Interview with Michelle Hauck

  1. csschwarz says:

    Great interview! Thanks for letting us get to know Michelle more!

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