Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Author Stop: Shannon Grogan


Guys. Food books + me = super happy. So I'm very excited to have Shannon Grogran stopping by today!

1. I love that baking plays a huge part in From Where I Watch You (I am a huge fan of baked goods! And also proud b/c I recently mastered cupcake icing). What is you main character's yummiest goodie?

Kara bakes sugar cookies, iced and decorated with Royal Icing. She’d probably say her yummiest and most popular cookie is her skull cookie with black, glittery icing. They’ll stain your tongue.

2. What kind of journey did you take to get your agent?

My journey was long and without the SCBWI/Verla Kay Blueboards, I honestly don’t think I’d be answering your blog questions today! It’s such a huge part of the journey, querying and trying to snag the attention of busy agents!

With the first novel I queried I sent out over 120 query letters over the course of almost a year and a half. I had five requests out of those 120 queries. Five requests, 120+ rejections. Ugh. (PS: 3 of my offering agents on FWIWY had rejected me on my first novel)


For FWIWY I kept the query in mind while I was writing, and I had a file where I’d stick little query notes for the time I would need them. I started writing my query in the summer (before I started sending it out in December), and worked on it a little at a time for almost 5 months! Of course during that time I was also revising my novel. I had my critique partners critique the query for me and then I was ready to send it!

I spent two weeks studying agent interviews on Literary Rambles and via my paid membership with QueryTracker, so I could target agents requesting stories like mine. I sent 3 queries in December of 2012, and had 3 fast rejections! I was having flashback feelings of the last time I queried so I went back and fine-tuned the query after reading the query section of Mary Kole’s book, Writing Irresistible Kid Lit. Wow, so helpful!!

I started querying again January 2, 2013 and had much better luck! By mid-January I had sent out 10 queries (VERY targeted ones), and out of those got 7 full requests and 1 partial!


Holy cow. The requests blew me away (because of history of course). Those requests had me in unending smiles. Really. I was over the moon to be getting REQUESTS! And I thought, wow, this so cool, these awesome agents wanting to read my story. And of course I anticipated each request ending in a rejection.

But then…the offers.

It all happened lightning fast. Within one week of the requests starting, I had four offers of representation from AMAZING agents! Including the agent who had been at the top of my list for almost two years! And even though I had the offer from her, the others were so in love with my story that it was very difficult to make the final decision. Actually, this part was painful and made me cry a lot because I don’t like rejecting anyone.

Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary was at the top of my list. She’d done an MS consultation with me at our regional SCBWI conference, nominated my story for a most promising WIP, and asked me to query her when I was ready. I did (almost 2 years after I met with her, so not rushing pays off!), and now she’s my agent!


3. Do you have a preferred social media platform, and why?

I think Twitter because it’s fast and the posts are short. But I also like Facebook. I probably don’t spend enough time on them because of my day job as a teacher, but if you friend me or follow me I’ll probably reciprocate!

4. In homage to the soup mentioned in FWIWY's synopsis (wink), what soup has you scraping the bottom of the bowl for the last drop?

I actually do love pea soup, but probably the beef stew I make every weekend in the winter/early spring is my favorite. Except I make it with chicken. But beef stew sounds more appetizing than chicken stew, don’t you think? ;)

5. What is a fav line(s) from your book?

This is tough, and I think if I read through I’d find a line I like more. For now it’s the very first line: ‘We can all smell when someone is getting an ‘F’.’ I also like the line, which inspired the title (and it’s one of the notes Kara receives): ‘Do you know where I watch you?’

* * * 

I would be so creeped out if I got a note that said that. Okay, terrified, actually! (And both of those lines make me want to read FWIWY asap!) And guess what, all? Shannon has graciously offered a hardback copy of From Where I Watch You to one lucky commenter! Please just follow her at one or more of her social media sites to be eligible to win. And as always, there's also a $5 Amazon gift card up for grabs.



Shannon Grogan is a second grade teacher who writes at night (and while her kids are at ballet and baseball) in a small logging town east of Seattle. She holds degrees in education, and graphic design/Illustration. When she isn’t writing, she's baking, reading, watching scary movies, and wishing she were at the beach. You can find out more about her online at www.shannongrogan.com.

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Sixteen-year-old Kara McKinley is about to realize her dream of becoming a professional baker. Beautifully designed and piped, her cookies are masterpieces, but also her ticket out of rainy Seattle—if she wins the upcoming national baking competition and its scholarship prize to culinary school in California. Kara can no longer stand the home where her family lived, laughed, and ultimately imploded after her mean-spirited big sister Kellen died in a drowning accident. Kara’s dad has since fled, and her mom has turned from a high-powered attorney into a nutty holy-rolling Christian fundamentalist peddling “Soul Soup” in the family cafĂ©. All Kara has left are memories of better times.

But the past holds many secrets, and they come to light as Kara faces a secret terror. Someone is leaving her handwritten notes. Someone who knows exactly where she is and what’s she’s doing. As they lead her to piece together the events that preceded Kellen’s terrible, life-changing betrayal years before, she starts to catch glimpses of her dead sister: an unwelcome ghost in filthy Ugg boots. If Kara doesn’t figure out who her stalker is, and soon, she could lose everything. Her chance of escape. The boy she’s beginning to love and trust. Even her life.

13 comments:

  1. Whoa, very cool premise, Shannon! Congratulations! I love food, too, and I love how integral it is to your book :)

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  2. It's amazing when we finally succeed after the long struggle, eh? Very inspiring.

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  3. ooh sounds AWESOME. and I loved your agent story! I so wanted to join the verla kay boards when I started querying but the confirmation email kept getting lost in the ether not matter how many times i requested it lol but it seems like such an awesome place! gorgeous cover btw. :)

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  4. I love the cover and the opening line. But I'm with Leandra. That note would freak me out.

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  5. It's always nice to see people's agent stories when they *aren't* immediately successful. Makes me feel better about myself ;) Sounds like a great book!

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  6. Thanks you guys! I recognize some BBers on here! :) <3

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  7. I so want to read this! Shannon, you and I are sisters from another mister. I used to be a teacher (ESL) and I love to bake! And I write.

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    1. Oh yeah we are!! I sadly have to bake gluten free now, but I am getting better at it ;)

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  8. Congrats, Shannon! Sounds like quite the journey to find an agent. Great interview, both of you.

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  9. Big foodie here. Great premise and best of luck!

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  10. This sounds like an awesome read! And I really would love one of those skull sugar cookies :) Also, your agent story gives me so much hope!!

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  11. The winner of the copy of From Where I Watch You is Kimberly Giarratano! And Loni Townsend won the gift card. Thanks everyone!!

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