Live from the SCWW Conference

Okay, so I finally made it to my hotel late last night and after a quick trip to the bar to settle my nerves I got a good nights sleep. I cannot tell everyone how excited I am to be attending an actual conference after the past few years of attempts to go and having things fall through.

I have already hung out with a lovely publisher at breakfast, and attending my first class. I think I’ve succeeded in the Business Causal outfit, and I have all my business cards ready to hand out at the first request. I am currently between sessions and just wanted to give a quick update.

Everyone here has be super nice and welcoming. I will say that it is mostly “mature” people but I’m not judging. I’ll talk to anyone who will listen. I have realized the toughest part is choosing which session you will attend and which ones you’ll have to skip. Ugh! I want to go to them all.

I’ll post more tonight with actual helpful info. But here’s my outfit to tide you over till then.

photo 1 photo 2


My agent critique exposed!

Okay so this is kinda scary. Actually it’s very scary and makes me kind of what to poop. You know that feeling of churning stomach, sweaty palms, and you think you may have to go to be bathroom to either poop or hurl, but aren’t really sure which, if any, will happen? Yeah, that’s where I am right now. As promised I am posting my query letter and synopsis, which is slightly nerve-wracking, but the kicker is I am also posting the critique I received as part of my WD bootcamp. Putting all my flaws out there for the world to see, yay…. The funny thing is that I know not to do half of these things, but you get so into your work that you can’t see the forest for the trees. I have been working on the things the lovely Mary Moore mentioned, so that is underway. I’m planning on having all the revisions done before the conference in a few weeks. Which is a completely separate stomach churning situation, but we’ll get to that next time.

The query letter critique is at the bottom as an attachment so you can see the note she made and sorry but I am not posting the first 10 pages for publication purposes but I did post that critique as well because it may help you with some of your own work. Without further ado here is my query letter, synopsis and the critique.:

Query Letter

Dear Ms. Moore,

Shifted is a completed 89,000 word Urban Fantasy novel. The novel is in the style of Laurell Hamilton’s early work, like Guilty Pleasures meets Stephen King’s Firestarter.

In the cloud covered Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N. C. ,seventeen-year-old Charley Donnelly begins waking up in random places all over town and she figures out she can teleport. But, after connecting with a group of others like her from The Center, she learns this so-called “gift” might tear her apart if she can’t learn to control the power. There’s also the dark, violent force inside her-the flip side of her gift. As the first Killer to come along in generations, she is a valuable commodity-and very, very dangerous.

I am a debut author who currently resides in Charleston SC. Feel free to look me up at and or on twitter @lacorte_cayce. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Cayce LaCorte


            Charley Donnelly is a seventeen year old girl, living in Asheville NC, who begins waking up in strange locations all around town. She finally realizes that she has developed the gift of teleportation. She can go anywhere, or find anyone with a mere thought. Excited at first she soon learns that unless she can control her newfound talent she will split apart and cease to exist.

She meets a group from a place called The Center. They say they are there to help her learn to control her powers. Through them Charley discovers that she is what they call a Killer, with an instinctual ability and desire to fight, kill and destroy those who threaten her, including the arsonist plaguing her town. If she cannot figure out the secret to controlling this dark side of herself it will take over. Dorian works with The Center and they quickly discover their bond is stronger than anything either have felt before. They are true partners, two halves of the same energy. If she moves forward with their bond, they will be joined together forever. But how can she give up all she is, all she wants for herself, just because it is destin to be. Sometimes you have to defy destiny and decide your own fate.

            Charley’s life comes to a head as the arsonist gains momentum, Dorian disappears asking not to be found, and she tries to learn more about her dark side at The Center. Things quickly start to crumb after all she finds are some vague references to “joining” with her dark energy, and she goes against Dorian’s wishes and seeks him out. Only to find him with another woman who is one of the Outcasts from The Center, someone who defied the laws and went their own way with no help or communication from their kind. She later finds a secret note left by him where he explains he’s going undercover with the Outcasts to try to ferret out their plans against The Center. She is relieved by this realization but also concerned for his safety.

Charley receives a phone call that her father is in the hospital, clinging to life, another victim of the arsonist. The arsonist has been caught and upon the death of her father, she shifts to his jail cell. Together with her dark side, they murder the arsonist by burning him alive. She shifts to the ruined remains of her childhood home, and with a burst of power that nearly rips her apart she finally joins with the darkness, regaining control of her mind and herself for good. Sensing her pain Dorian appears and takes her to The Center to recover. Now Charley must come to terms with what she’s done, what she’s lost and find a way to move forward with the help of her new friends and Dorian. After losing the only thing that held her to her former life, as well as part of her humanity, she realizes that while she is part of their world now she can still live her life under her own terms.

Ten Pages Notes:

  • This is a good start. I like the Charley’s sassiness.
  • Your formatting needs to be streamlined. Some paragraphs are indented, some are not. They should all be indented. I also recommend using Times New Roman font as Courier is hard to read on-screen. Formatting a ms properly is as important as correct grammar and spelling.
  • There is a tendency to over-use exclamation points. Try to cut them down, and have the dialogue or prose emphasis the exclamation instead.
  • Adverbs such as “suddenly” and “slightly” and “instantly” should be replaced by prose that shows the action rather than tells how it is.
  • Filter words such “I felt,” “I saw,” “I heard,” “I figured out” are unnecessary and also slow down the pace. Especially in first person POV, we are in the character’s head, so we know that is what he is seeing or feeling or knowing etc.
  • There is a tendency to over-describe the narrator’s actions, e.g. “I placed the note pad on my desk,” or “I rounded the corner,” “I threw on a pair of faded jeans.” The reader doesn’t need all of this detailed information, and it is unnecessary to the main story and only serves to bloat the prose. Every sentence should work towards driving the pace and plot in the direction you want the reader to go.
  • Your synopsis is well done. Clean and to the point and perfect length. Make sure you streamline out some of the extra words like “finally,” “quickly,” “they say,” just as you would in your actual manuscript.

Critique Attachment

LaCorte – WD Bootcamp Agent Critique

The dreadful editing process, dun dun dun….

Editing is such a dreaded word in the writing world. The bell of the ball is the actual writing. It’s fun, creative, and you feel like you’re creating something wonderful from nothing other than your own imagination. The red-headed step child then is the edits. This is where you “kill your darlings,” slash that prose that just sounded like music to your ears, and correct all those grammatical mistakes we made in the fervor of the process.

One way to muddle through it is to keep one think in mind, “Write for you but edit for them.” Write till you feel like you’ve gotten every detail you want on paper, make sure every character is fully developed and every plot line explained and resolved. Then you walk away. Give it a beat; a day, a week, a month, whatever you need to get some distance from the work. When you feel ready to return to it with fresh eyes, start slashing it to bits. How do you do these sweeping cuts without losing everything that your novel is and means to you? Cut out what is unnecessary for everyone else.

We, as the author, need to see every detail but readers are smarter than most authors give them credit for. They can fill in the blanks. They don’t need to every last detail spoon fed to them via your laptop. The writers job is to tell the story, set a mood, give the novel feeling, realism and a variety of characters who seem very much real and alive to the reader. You may need to know the backstory, what they had for dinner, where the main character parked his car or the name of the high school they attended, but more times than not, your readers don’t need to wade through the details to get to the actual story.

Here are some hard truths; with some very rare exceptions, your 200,000 word suspense masterpiece will not sell. You will not get an agent with something they cannot sell. Again, there are always exceptions, but I’m talking in broad strokes here. What publishers want right now are concise novels. Thrillers that are fast paced and to the point, and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat and doesn’t slow down; even if you write Women’s or Literary fiction there are still limitations. Fantasy and Sci-Fi may give you a bit more wiggle room for world building but those numbers are getting smaller for debut novelists. If you don’t keep your word count within a reasonable range, you’ll continue to get passed over.

It may sound hard but you can do it! Focus on what it’s about and with every line you re-read think to yourself “If this is my first time reading this book, is that something I NEED to know?” I have personally cut thousands of words from my novel this way. It’s not fun and it sure as hell ain’t pretty but it’s something we have to learn to do in order to create clean, crisp, and fabulous novels that flow well for our readers. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about.

So I say again, “Write for you but edit for them.”