Writer Spotlight (Follow-up) - Faith Elizabeth Hough

Happy Tuesday, everyone!!! Since I don't have a new writer to spotlight today, I thought I'd go back and check in with Faith Hough to see how things are progressing for her and her YA historical, THE WITHERING VINE.

BTW, Writer Spotlight is a series for writers who have a completed YA or MG manuscript that they want to pitch.  It's a great opportunity to get more eyes on your work and to meet new writer friends. Click here for details and then email me at PaulaKayMac(at)comcast.net.

So Faith, thanks for coming back.!!First a few questions about your querying process.

How many queries do you send out at once and how do you space them out? Do you have a system for keeping track of what's sent?

I tend to send three to four queries at a time, wait a month or so, and then send out three or four more. This sounds very organized and planned, but actually it just turned out that way. I do a lot of research on any particular agent before querying, so that part of the process (along with, you know, keeping up with life and mothering) prevents me from moving along much faster. I do have a system for keeping track, which I picked up from my lovely critique partner Paula McLaughlin. : ) I keep a spreadsheet of agents' names, agencies, preferences, where I learned about them, if I met them, how to query them, etc. I mark down the date when I query them, when I hear back and send a full or partial, and when they send the rejection. I'm happy whenever (like now) there's empty spots in that rejection date column.

Glad my system-thingy worked for you : )

Congrats on being selected as an honoree for The Tassy Walden Awards. I understand one of the judges (an agent) was there when you read your first chapter. Tell us about the conversation you had with her after the reading.

Thank you! Reading the first chapter of THE WITHERING VINE was thrilling/terrifying/actually a lot of fun. I was nervous, but Jenny's voice seemed to speak for itself and that helped immensely. (She's a lot braver than I am, so it was no big deal for her. :) During the refreshments after the ceremony, one of the agents who had been a judge for the competition came over and we chatted for a while about writing and family and how good the brownies were--honestly that was the coolest part of the conversation: realizing, again, that agents are real, very nice, people. :) At the end of the conversation she asked me if I had an agent and when I told her no, she said she'd love to see the full ms. Of course I said I'd be happy to oblige!
Faith reading first chapter of TWV
I went to the awards ceremony (see picture to left) and was so impressed with all the readings. I'm not so sure that will be my strong point, but all of you did such a great job of speaking in character!

Often times we think the query process means we're done with revisions until that editor's letter, but this isn't the case. Would you share how your query responses have prompted you to revise TWV a bit more?

Sure! I'm one of those people that will probably never stop revising until the book is on the shelves... so whenever I get a response/criticism/critique that makes sense to me, I'll jump on the opportunity to make my book better. After I sent the full to the Tassy judge, I spent a couple weeks sitting on my hands to prevent me tinkering any more. When I received her response, I was extremely grateful that she listed specific things that weren't working in the story, in her opinion. She wished me luck with the story--but she did say she'd be happy to see any future projects or future versions of this one. Because her comments all really resonated with me, I decided to revise in that direction. I thanked the agent and let her know my plans and she said she'd be happy to look at the story again when it's ready!

You agreed with the changes the agent felt TWV needed. Do you have any advise for the rest of us? How can we tell when feedback or suggestions should be acted upon?

For me, it was a definite "gut feeling." Or "aha!" feeling, where you actually feel excited, because you suddenly see directions you can take that will make the story so much stronger. I knew my vision for the story well enough that it was clear that the changes would enhance that vision rather than weaken it. And I also sought the opinion of the few other people who have read the entire story and know what I want it to be: my husband and critique partners. When they agreed with how I was feeling, I knew I was heading the right way.

Any advice you can share with the querying writer on how to keep spirits up?

Oh, I am full of this kind of advice. :) First of all, chocolate is not a luxury, but an investment. Seriously. Second, make sure you have critique partners who are willing to be your harshest critics as well as your fiercest supporters; having that kind of trust will always keep you from sinking too low. Third, write because you love to write--because you love the craft. Of course we all want publication because it validates that love--but always focus on the craft first. After that, there's so many little things...Enjoy life, nature, kids, family. Read often. Take joy in others' successes. Watch sunrises. Look for encouragement, because it is just waiting to be found. For example, yesterday I found this quote by Michelangelo (one of my favorite people ever): "Genius is eternal patience." I hope it inspire you, too!

That is a great quote, thanks Faith.

Thank you so much Faith. Continue to keep us posted on your progress and best of luck to you!! To read Faith's Writer Spotlight interview click here. Her blog is pretty awesome too, just like her!!!


  1. Paula - I LOVED having this follow-up to Faith's Spotlight. It's so nice to hear when good things happen along the way. You should make this a regular part of your Writer's Spotlight program. And congratulations Faith!! It sounds like exciting things are coming your way.

  2. Thanks, Kiki! I'm keeping my fingers crossed and writing like crazy. :)
    And I agree--this follow-up was a lot of fun. Thank you, Paula!

  3. Enjoyed this follow-up, Paula!
    And Faith, enjoy the sunsets. I will think of both of you when I watch the sun set tonight. The simplest pleasures bring the greatest of rewards.


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