Literary Agents

Margaret Hart, my wonderful literary agent at HSW Literary agency is retiring. I wish to thank her, her employees, especially Natalie St. Pierre, and the agency for signing me on, for working with me and for helping me get where I am today.

I’ve written the first three novels in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Descent, Burnt and Avalanche.

Descent was nominated for the 2014 Crime Writers of Canada Unhanged Arthur award. Burnt was nominated for the 2014  Crime Writer’s Association’s Debut Dagger. The guidance, editorial comments and encouragement from Margaret and her team helped make this possible.

Along with Margaret retiring, the HSW Literary Agency is closing its doors. This means I’m looking for a new literary agent.

If you know of an agent looking for new authors or you are an agent looking to new authors, please send me a note from my Contact Information page.

Thank you to Margaret and her team!

Thanks for reading . . .


Early Drafts: Having Your Novel Reviewed

Last year at this time I was working with Garry Ryan (2011 CWC President) through the CWC mentorship program on my 3rd novel Burnt. Burnt is now with my literary agent, Margaret Hart, awaiting comment.

I sent Garry about 10 pages at a time, he commented, I updated and sent the next 10 pages. I learned something new with each section. If you get the chance to be part of this program, it’s certainly worth it.

Many of you know my brother, Michael Conn, is also an author. I’ve convinced him that the process I went through with Garry improved my novel and that he, Michael, should do this with me for my next novel.

I’ve finished the first draft of my fourth novel, Look the Other Way, and Michael is reviewing it chapter by chapter. I send him one chapter, he comments, I update and on it goes.

At this early stage, Michael gives me his thoughts on story line, whether he likes a character or not, whether he thinks a sentence is foreshadowing something, and if the writing is good enough.

This helps me see the novel through his eyes and understand what impression I’m giving a reader.

It takes time and effort, but if you can find someone willing to do this for you, I recommend it. My only caution is that you must find someone you trust. It’s hard to put writing out there when it’s not in its most polished state.

Thanks for reading . . .


How I Signed with a Literary Agent

I signed with Margaret Hart of the HSW Literary Agency last July (2011). We met at the Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop.

Sounds easy, but it was a long journey to get there.  I attended the Humber School For Writers correspondence course with Joan Barfoot as my mentor. At the completion of that program my novel wasn’t ready to submit to an agent.

Throughout the course I compiled many tips from Joan and used these to improve my writing.

After spending a week with Mary Gaitskill at the summer workshop in 2010, Mary introduced me to Margaret, and she kindly agreed to read Fracture Line. I spent another month updating the manuscript, this time based on comments from Mary Gaitskill, before sending it to Margaret.

Margaret’s first feedback was that she liked the novel, but I had to pick up the pace. I asked a few specific questions about what she meant and then got to work. Four months and a lot of rewriting later, I resubmitted Fracture Line. This time Margaret was happy and she offered me a contract.

There are many ways to sign with a literary agency, but getting connected through the Humber School for Writers sure helped me. If your interested, the summer workshop is starting July 7, 2012.

How Do You Proofread?

#writetip Proofreading takes intense concentration. Do you have method you’d like to share?

I’m talking about the final proof, after all your readers have given you feedback, you’re not going to make any story changes, and are about to send your manuscript to your agent or publisher.

It takes me about an hour to proof 5 double spaced pages. That may seem slow, but I think worth the effort.

First, I look at each character in a line, then the sentence, then the paragraph, then the page, and finally the scene.

This is where I check every punctuation mark, check for their/there swaps, and grammar errors. For example, I force my eye to look for a period at the end of every sentence.

The only editing I do at this phase it to ask whether I need every word.

If I start to skim, I take a break, let my mind relax and get back to it.

What is your process?


#writing I’ve submitted my third novel, BURNT,  to my agent, Margaret Hart, at HSW Literary Agency in Toronto. So it’s time to relax? Not quite. I’ve got to update my books pages on this blog, the Crime Writer’s of Canada web page, my agent’s web page, LinkedIn and on and on and on . . .

This is the third novel in my Kalin Thompson series. Here’s what it’s about:

Kalin Thompson’s life spirals out of control on her wedding day. Instead of exchanging vows with her fiancé, Ben Timlin, she finds herself trapped by a forest fire and is forced to deliver her best friend’s baby on the shore of a glacial lake high in the mountains of British Columbia.

While Kalin tries to keep her friend and the baby safe, Ben is hanging from the rafters of a burning building, fighting for his life.

Arson is declared the cause of the forest fire.

Arson ruins her wedding day.

Arson turns her new home and half of her beloved ski resort into ashes.

Finding the arsonist becomes her personal mission. Kalin, the director of security at Stone Mountain Resort, gets on the wrong side of small town corruption and uncovers more than just arson. There are those who will go to extreme measures to keep Kalin from exposing their secrets. Kalin will go to extreme measures to protect what is hers.

Why Have A Literary Agent?

#writetip I often get asked why I chose to work with a literary agent. I’m not going to talk about all the pros and cons as there a many articles/blogs on this subject.

What I want to talk about are two benefits that aren’t usually shared.

Benefit Number One: As soon as I signed with an agent my friends and family understood I was serious about making a career out of writing, that it wasn’t just a hobby. The support I received increased tremendously. This came in the form of: being left alone when I wanted to write, not offending anyone when I turned down an invitation, so I could write, having experts willing to spend time answering my questions, increasing the number of people willing to read my work and critique it.

Benefit Number Two: When my friends and family treated me like an author, I behaved more like one. I took myself seriously. I gave myself the time to write, the time to improve my writing, the time to research. Having an agent is a boost to the ever fragile ego and motivates me to keep working hard.

Margaret Hart of the HSW Literary Agent took me on as a first time author, and for that I must thank her.