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After a long journey, I’m THRILLED to announce I am represented by Becca Crandall at the Carolyn Jenks Agency. I’m so excited to work with Becca to bring my modern Greek myth to life and cannot wait to share it with the world.

I’ve posted an entire post on my querying journey if your interested in learning about it HERE

An aesthetic of my YA contemporary fantasy, Frayed
Writing Advice

How I got my agent…

While in the throes of the query trenches, I found so much inspiration in reading posts just like this and STILL cannot believe the day has come that I officially get to write one for myself!!!

My writing journey started back in college with fan-fic and short stories, but in the effort of brevity I’ll fast forward to 2017 when I really got serious about not only completing a full length novel but actually publishing it.

In the fall of 2016, my partner and I started a new business and I found myself quitting my day job to not only stay home with our two small children but helping with the bookkeeping and office managing of the business. In January of 2017, I made a new years resolution to start and finish a book. I finished it that April (we’ll call it Manuscript A). *Cue fanfare* In my baby writer innocence I googled how to get published and immediately ran into the brick wall that was “You need a literary agent.” (It couldn’t be THAT hard and besides, if they really loved it, they’d look past all the grammatical errors, gaping plot holes, and the fact that the word count was not appropriate for the age group, right?)

So, again, being completely ignorant of the industry, I gave the draft a quick once over edit and sent out terrible excuses for queries.

Surprise! There were floods of rejections.

While querying, I read blogs on how to get agents, how to perfect a query etc and quickly realized that I needed to start from scratch. Manuscript A was not going to be the one and so I gave up and started a fresh idea. In the Summer of 2017, I shelved manuscript A, and wrote a completely new story. This time for a different age group and genre. THIS time, I spent months revising and while drafting, I read craft books and read blogs on how to better my writing.

In the Fall of 2017, I started querying Manuscript B, and to my joy, received a few requests! One of which replied after reading that my YA story actually had a middle grade aged voice and I’d do it service to revise it completely for that age group. SO, I pulled all outstanding queries and spent the winter of 2018 doing so.
At which point, in January 2019, I saw a Twitter post about a writing/querying group that was looking for members. To be honest, I hesitated because surely THIS manuscript was the one and I’d join this group but within a month, I’d have an offer.

(*Surprise, surprise* that was not the case)

While in this group—the Llamasquad, as it came to be lovingly called—I discovered so many mistakes in my query as well as my story. I outgrew my self-conscientiousness and exchanged pages with others and everyday learned how to really hone my writing abilities. I entered a few pitch contests with newly revised manuscript B. I had many requests, and truly there were so close calls, but alas as I crept over a hundred queries, I felt it was time to move on.

It was very difficult decision but the urge to create something new had taken hold and so while waiting on the last of manuscript B queries to reply, I wrote manuscript C, something I highly recomend you do when facing the stressful days of querying.

WRITE THE WAIT 😉 Trust me, it’ll keep you sane, improve your craft, and should you happen to get an offer, your new agent will be ecstatic you have another project complete!

This new idea, manuscript C, (titled: Frayed) was so vivid in my mind. The characters more real than any of the other stories I’d worked on. It burned through me, and within two months I’d written a first draft. I spent the entire month of March revising it, taking notes from my critique partners and thoroughly polishing it.

I was more careful this time, making sure each and every agent I picked was seeking that genre and age group. I googled interviews they’d done, I subscribed to Publisher’s Marketplace searching what books they repped and if they were similar to mine. That spring I (obsessesed) over perfecting my pitches and entered several pitch contests.

The response was AMAZING. Suddenly, I had dozens of agents interest and garnered many requests. More than any of the other manuscripts.

It was really happening. For once I really felt hope that this story was something special.

Then, the rejections started rolling in. Many were kind and gave no feedback merely saying “Just not a good fit.” In July of 2019, I received not just a polite form rejection, but a long email that summed up was something like, “Here are all things wrong with your story, and while I like the premise, I can’t sell it as is. However, if you fix all of these things, I’ll take another look.”

I re-read the email several times and even shared it with a few close friends to double check, but it was indeed an R&R. A revise and resubmit. Not an offer, but the next best thing.

However, the edits this agent requested were extensive and would require a FULL rewrite. Querying tends to make most writers feel anxious because there is so much they can’t control, so being exactly that, I began a re-write that summer. What could it hurt? Besides, I could keep the OG version in case any of the other agents reading it fell in love as it was. I took almost two months to finish it, had some CP’s look it over, then I took a deep breath and sent it back.

A month passed before I heard a response, and *whomp whomp* while the agent said they were impressed with my revisions, it still wasn’t what they were looking for in regards to their list.

Rejection after an R&R is the worst I tell you

By the Fall of 2019, I’d begun to lose a lot of hope that Manuscript C as not being the ‘one’. The exciting rush I’d had earlier was fading and I felt the first sense of nagging doubt that THIS story too needed to be shelved. That winter, I struggled to start anything new, and the month of November was a tough one. Over the past months, the rejections to my complete manuscript were like gut punches and only contributed to the dark thoughts that grew that perhaps THIS path would never happen for me. More and more I grew to believe that my writing would never be good enough and that getting an agent would never be a reality I would get to experience.

Facing a bleak outlook on the last of my queries closing out, December was shaping up to be a dark one. With encouragement from my writing group, I decided to take one last chance at this story finding its match, and entered in December’s Pitmad contest. One last hurrah before shelving it for good.

To my delight, I did receive a few agent likes, not as much as before, probably because the publishing world is small and the same agents were seeing the same pitch over and over and thought “WOW, is she still querying that thing?”

However, one of the likes, did garner a full request!! While I waited to hear back, I did some find courage and started writing again and mentally I found myself forgetting that I still had one chance of hope.

On March 20th, I received an email from the agent who’d requested the full from Pitmad. The very last FULL request I had out, which to be frank I was excited to hear from them because then it would officially mean I was done querying that story and could move on for real.

But it WASN’T a rejection, instead they said that they were halfway through my story but could they see the other version as well to read along beside it. (I mentioned the revised version in my query because I’d spent so much time on it, why not offer both as options?)

Delighted, I sent it over, still not letting myself get too excited of course. I’d been close in the past, and I’d learned not to read too much into emails.

On April 2nd, the agent replied again and said she’d finished reading but needed some time to discuss with their managing agent about it.

Again, I felt a small flicker of hope, but quickly squashed it down. Nothing in this industry is certain.

One week later, April 8th, the agent replied and said they’d love to set up a time to chat. Still, I’d heard of agents asking for revise and resubmits on the phone and I prepared myself for this possibly being one of those calls.

We scheduled the call for 4/15 (a whole 7 days away which at the time was a blur of stress, excitement, and not enough sleep). The day of the call finally came, and I gripped the phone in my hand, my heart somersaulting when I saw the east coast number pop up.

Our call was great, and the agent said EVERYTHING I wanted to hear. They answered all of my questions and then some and the best part was how much they LOVED and really understood my story.

After we hung up, I received an email with the subject line:


We decided to take two weeks for me to notify the few remaining agents with my queries and then I’d choose. On April 30th, I replied to the agent with an acceptance of their OFFER!!!! In the end, I had several kind passes and one other offer of rep. It was an incredibly hard decision to decline the other agent, but I am THRILLED to announce that I am now represented by Becca Crandall at the Carolyn Jenks Agency.

Becca has been a dream to work with and I cannot wait to grow my writing career with her by side!


Manuscript A:

Queries: 32

Requests: 0

Manuscript B:

Queries: 124

Requests: 12

Rejections: 94 and 30 no response

Manuscript C (Frayed):

Queries: 97 (28 were pitch contest requests)

Requests: 21

Rejections: 20 on the partial/full, 78 on queries, 19 no response

Offers: 2!!!!

Me signing my agency agreement contract

HERE is a quick post with more info on the story that hooked my agent!

To all you still in the query trenches or just starting, there are so many fantastic resources available online. One of the greatest discoveries I made when I begun this journey was the true kindness other writers and authors show. I plan to post in the future with links to some of my favorite resources so stay tuned!


Capricious Cargo

From where they sat under the shade of the trellis, Kat and Ella had a direct view of the arena. Groomsmen led horses back and forth along a corridor between the barns. Along the edges of the barn and corners of the arena, barrels overflowed with flowers and bushes. Horses’ coats gleamed and their polished hooves were neatly shod. Throughout her teenage years, Ella had spent the summers at the local racetrack with her family. However, the horse’s at Kat’s stable were nothing like those racing at the track. Compared to the leggy, muscular thoroughbreds, these creatures were refined and compact. Adapted to harsh conditions in the desert, they exhibited large nostrils and alert ears. The tip-off though was the way carried their flowing tails up high, like waving flags behind them.

“These are Arabians. Am I right?” Ella said.

Kat’s cheeks crinkled around her eyes. “I knew you were beautiful, but I couldn’t tell from your mom’s pictures you were also smart.”

Ella scratched the back of her neck, pretending to ignore the compliment.

“Yes, they are indeed Arabians. ‘Created by the gods from the desert sand and wind’ or at least that’s how the legend goes.”

“But how—”

“How do I keep them all? I can’t take all the credit, that’s where my dearest Zalika comes in. While I do admire the gorgeous animals, Zalika is the true horsewoman. Her father bred and raised Arabians for Saddam himself. After his fall, many of the horses were stolen or slaughtered. She’s procured them at various horse markets including Baghdad. I won’t lie, some cost a pretty penny, but we can sell them easily for double in Europe or the United States.”

The thought of such frivolous use of money among such squalor made Ella cringe. “I don’t understand,” she said through gritted teeth. “The price of one of these horses could pay for a month’s supply of food at a refugee camp.”

Kat raised an eyebrow, looking taken aback by the harsh tone of Ella’s words. “Of course, you’re right dear, but—”

“How can you sit here among all this?” Ella said, getting to her feet. “When there are families being torn apart and every day more children are orphaned?”

Kat pursed her lips as if waiting for Ella to finish.

Ella’s chest heaved as she clenched her fists. “Here you are, drinking your fancy wine, and not ten miles west, people are literally starving to death!”

Kat tilted her head but didn’t reply. As if an idea struck her, she knitted forehead, narrowing her eyes. “I want to show you something. Follow me?” Without waiting for Ella, the old woman had pushed herself up from her chair and had begun tottering out into the glaring sun toward the arena. Three horses were being worked, two ridden and one long-lined. They trotted in the shade along a grove of trees, their polished hides slick with sweat.

Kat paused at the fence, resting an elbow over the top rail as Ella joined her.

“You see that young man over there,” Kat said, pointing to a man on the ground lunging a spirited gray mare. “That’s Qadir. He’s been with us two years this fall. He was fifteen when his entire family was killed in an air strike.” Kat’s eyes grew distant as she gazed toward the boy.

“They’d been preparing a family dinner when Qadir’s mother had asked him to fetch a birthday present for his father from the store down the street. On his walk home, a missile struck the side of his family’s house. Qadir had to watch his home burn, with his father’s wrapped gift clutched in his arms.”

Ella’s chest tightened. Her cheeks felt hot, feverish.

Kat turned and rested her back against the fence. She motioned to a middle-aged woman and older man attending to a pair of water buckets. “Sayyid and Jasmin came only a few months ago. Jasmin lost both her husband and son to suicide bombers. Sayyid is her father. His brother joined a terrorist cell and was responsible for the suicide attack at the cafe last February.”

Ella bit her lip. “Alright, but what exactly are you trying to say?”

Kat flicked an annoyed look at her. “Now don’t make me take back my compliment about you being smart.” She motioned around her again. “Everyone you see here has been affected by an act of violence in one way or another. However, we welcome them here. We provide a decent wage as well as room and board. And if needed, transport out of the country.”

Ella’s eyes widened as the words struck her. They were smuggling people out of Iraq. And to think she’d raised a critical eyebrow at their contraband wine last night.  

“You can’t be serious.” Ella narrowed her eyes at the gray-haired woman.

“Serious as a heart attack,” Kat smirked and knocked on the wood rail behind her.

“But how?”

“The same as the wine,” Kat said. “When we export horses out of the country, we have to send a few grooms to go along as well. Tend to the horses en-route, make sure they’re cared for and fed. And once they’re delivered to their new owners, whether it be France or England.” Kat paused and gave a small shrug. “There have been occasions, the shipping containers return empty.”

Ella couldn’t believe it. It was almost too clever to work, and yet, it did.

“And you’ve never been—” Ella trailed off.

“Been caught?” Kat supplied. “No, dear and we hope to keep it that way,” She shot Ella a stern don’t-tell-a-soul-or-I’ll-kill-you-myself look.

Ella shrank under the woman’s glare and gave a quick nod. She felt a sense of honor that Kat had disclosed such a secret to her. She’d never betray it. However, Ella knew someday they’d get caught. The authorities would get tipped off eventually and shut them down. But until that day, Ella hoped many more lives could be saved.

Writing Advice

Give Me Five

Make Your Writing Come to Life by using ALL five senses

Have you ever sat down to read a book and then glanced at the clock in what felt like only a few minutes and an hour has flown by? THAT is every author’s ultimate goal in their storytelling. More than anything, they want to engross their reader to the point where they forget all reality and are truly swept away by their story.

As a new writer, many authors find themselves making their characters perform their actions like robots or puppets on a stage. They hear this or feel this, or see this, but every time you use one of those words, you’re putting distance between you and your reader.

So how DO you immerse your reader and make them forget they’re even reading?

While, there are many pieces to this puzzle, but one of the best ways to really pull your reader in is by utilizing all five senses. Now there are varying tips on how often to do this, depending on age range and genre, but a general consensus is to try and use all five on every page. Now you might be saying WHOA there’s no way I can do that! But stay with me for a minute…

Let’s imagine a scene where two people are having a conversation at a coffee shop. It may seem that this is just an ordinary interaction of dialogue, but there are plenty of opportunities to not only describe the scene but immerse your reader! Of course, you can show the barista’s making coffee, taking money at the register, and other customers sitting at the nearby tables, but what else is there? Here is a prime opportunity to do what I like to call “piggyback” the senses. Are the wooden tables worn and scratch their arms? Does their lipstick leave marks on their coffee mug?
Does the hot coffee singe your main character’s tongue? When you do this, you’ve hit not just taste of the coffee or feeling the heat, but also elicited an uncomfortable pain feeling. Perhaps the whole conversation is upsetting them, and this is just one more thing they are annoyed with? When you do this, you’re getting two or three senses for the price of one (sentence).

What if the customer next to you is wearing an abundance of perfume, but instead of saying “I smelled her perfume” you could say, ” I sneezed as the haze of perfume overpowered even the scent of the coffee beans, and set off my allergies.”

Another example could be when describing the weather, use the character’s own voice to interpret how they feel. Perhaps there is a sudden downpour of rain. You could of course default to “I felt the rain splash on my face.” Or use the sudden change in weather to further develop your character. Would your pretentious, vain character be upset about their hair getting ruined? Or would your free-spirited teenager immediately want to splash in the puddles and not care about their socks getting soaked?

I hope some of these tips helped you out! I highly recommend the next time you’re reading a really good book, look for ways the author has incorporated senses into the character’s development, or ways they “piggyback” multiple senses in one action.

Remember, even the longest novels are written one word at a time.

Happy writing!

Writing Advice

Why Tension Doesn’t Always Have to Mean Death


1.the state of being stretched tight.”the parachute keeps the cable under tension as it drops”synonyms:tightness, tautness, rigidity

2.mental or emotional strain.”a mind that is affected by stress or tension cannot think as clearly”synonyms:strain, stress, anxiety, pressure

Whether you’re drafting your novel or in the final stages of editing, there are ALWAYS way you can create more tension. Tension is defined as the pressure or forward momentum a story has. Think of it as someone laying a card face down in front of you. 

What’s your very first temptation? Immediately, you want to flip it over, right? 

What happens if the person lays three cards face down? 

Then, imagine they flip one over but add two more?

This analogy demonstrates what readers experience as they journey through your story. Moments of revelation, (the card turning over) no matter how big or small, which when are quickly followed by another promise (the face down card). This pattern of promise and reveal provides your story an ongoing pressure, encouraging your readers to keep turning the page! (every author’s dream!)

Now, don’t get me wrong. The risk of death of a character or side-character is always a HIGHLY tense card to play. However, there are so many more ways to increase overall tension…

For example, consider the good old “ticking time clock” with or pressing deadlines (a big test or job interview) are also commonly used. But what about a side character with an obscure tattoo on their neck? Or burn scars on their face or an eye patch. Perhaps a character is pregnant and (heaven forbid) unmarried!! Give a character a mysterious limp, or accent. Heck, give them a dog! 

All of these ideas are akin to hidden cards being placed in front of your reader. As they’re stacked on top of each other, they build the tension, increasing the need to turn the page. 

Word of caution: It isn’t necessary for you to have to reveal ALL of your cards in the course of your novel. If they don’t directly pertain to the overall plot, go ahead and leave them un-turned, and leave it up to your reader to contemplate the answer…or use them in the sequel! 

I hope you found this post helpful! Feel free to comment below with ways you add tension to your novel!

  1. This is brilliant, Sarah Jane – so glad you’re persistence paid off. I’m in the query trenches now – my…

  2. Congratulations! I went over and checked the other post and was inspired by it as well. Wishing you all the…

  3. Your website looks beautiful! Can’t wait to read more!

  4. Susan on ABOUT

    Sarah Jane, how beautiful!!!

  5. Lenore Stutznegger on ABOUT

    Looks great! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!



My name is Sarah Jane Pounds. In middle school, my first job was at the local library. While volunteering only, just being able to breathe in the smell of all those books was enough and my arms would be overflowing with books when my mom picked me up at the end of the day. It wasn’t until after college that I decided to start creating my own stories. When not writing or reading, I spend my time exploring hidden trails in the Pacific Northwest, playing D&D on the weekends, and driving my friends crazy by guessing the twist endings of movies. I live on a small farm, complete with horses, garden, and a dozen very spoiled chickens in Washington state with my husband and two children.

I plan to use this blog as a place to share insights into my writing journey, as well as tips and advice I’ve learned from fellow authors!

  1. This is brilliant, Sarah Jane – so glad you’re persistence paid off. I’m in the query trenches now – my…

  2. Congratulations! I went over and checked the other post and was inspired by it as well. Wishing you all the…