Monday, December 22, 2014

Ten Alternative Titles for FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP

Having a critique partner like the inimitable Ami Allen-Vath is the best. Especially when she tags me for hilarious writing games like this one! Ami is the author of the forthcoming YA contemporary novel PROM BITCH, which you should definitely check out if you haven't already. :)

So, here's the game we're playing today: "Scroll through your manuscript and stop on a random place. Whatever you land on becomes one of ten terrible titles. I picked the first short sentences I randomly came across.”

And now, feast your eyes on Ten Alternative Titles for FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP:

 1. I Know Where She Lives

2. The Horrible Picture

3. The Joys of Needlepoint

4. He Was Really Naked

5. An Evil Old Witch

6. Creatures With Too Many Teeth

7. A Chorus of Sniffling

8. There's Nothing Out There

9. The Scent of Fish Guts

10. Grandad's Ghost

...Hilariously, looking at all those titles, they actually sum up a lot of FEAR! Next, I'll tag a few author friends to join the silliness:

Ava Jae, Author of BEYOND THE RED

Stephanie Strohm, Author of THE TAMING OF THE DREW

Be sure to watch for their forthcoming YA novels, and thanks for reading! Until next time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Hey there, friends!

You can now add FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP to your Goodreads, if it sounds like something you'd be into. Monsters, mythology, kissing--that kind of thing!

I'll just leave this link here:


Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Hi, everyone!

Thanks so much in advance for caring enough to read this. :)

Admittedly, this a post I've always dreamed of writing, but sometimes doubted would ever happen. Writing books is tremendous fun, it's true, but also a ton of work, and the amount of perseverance required to go from finishing a first draft to landing a book deal is staggering. If you're anywhere in the process right now, I'm sure you know that if you want to be published, the most important thing is to never, never, never give up! And to lean on your CPs when you need them. And to accept the guidance of your agent, and your author friends who've been where you are now. Oh--and did I mention the never giving up? You have to keep writing to have books for publishing!

But this is a celebration post, so now it's time for baby animals and happy dancing!!!

Ninita is pretty much the cutest baby in existence!

Even Voldie's excited!

Now, I'm not going to take you through the entire back story of how I landed my agent--that's here, if you have an interest--but I'll remind you that I signed with the dedicated and extremely hard-working Christa Heschke at M&O back in July of 2013!

The summer I became agented, I was about halfway through writing a book called FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP. That's always been the title, you see. It popped into my head one day, and I've never let it go! The idea for the story actually came to me when I saw this little guy in a news article online:

A goblin shark! What nice teeth he has.

This strange creature had been spotted by fishermen, if I recall correctly. Very few have ever been seen, or documented. And it got me thinking: people spend so much time focused on what's happening to them and around them. Or, when they aren't doing that, they're looking up--between deep space exploration and possible colonization on Mars so near, the universe is fascinating! But what about Below? What about the deep, inky darkness of the oceans' trenches? We know so little about what's down there, and don't spend much time wondering about it or exploring it. What secrets might be hiding at the bottom of the ocean?

And so, the story kernel for FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP was born! Long story short, after I finished drafting the book, I revised it with Christa until we were both satisfied, and then it was time to go ON SUB! (Oh, and I should probably mention that this wasn't the book I was signed on. But after a lot of careful thought, Christa and I agreed it would make a strong debut).

Naively, I thought (despite reading countless blog posts to the contrary) that submission wouldn't be stressful. Oh, how wrong I was! And of course, submission is the thing we're Not Supposed to Talk About. So even when I was wallowing in self-doubt and having a hard time (or a great time! Because there were so many valuable learning experiences), I couldn't talk about what I was going through. The best way to put it is, being on sub often felt like this:

What? I just really like Harry Potter, okay? ;)
Still, it all worked out in the end, because my fantastic agent, Christa, never gave up on the book! Not once. She encouraged me all the way. And so did my husband Chris, who has a never-ending supply of patience, and who started me on the path to a writing career by turning to me one day and saying "You know what? I know you're unhappy at your job. Quit and write a book. I believe in you. Whatever it takes, we'll make your dream happen." Thanks for your constant and unwavering support, babe. <3

So in November, when I got THE CALL (that's the "WE HAVE AN OFFER!" Call) from Christa, I was attending an event called FaerieCon in Baltimore, MD. It's where people dress up in the most fabulous costumes, and come together to celebrate fantasy art, music, and writing! It's one of the only places I know where running around in fairy makeup and wings won't get you crazy stares. And where I got to meet the one and only Tamora Pierce!

Moi, at FaerieCon

The one and only Tamora Pierce!
So now, if you will, please picture me running through hordes of fairies, elves, trolls, Green Men, and a few orcs as I hurried to find a quiet place to call Christa back! Watching the fae folk gather in the lobby of a hotel, I heard the good news: someone wanted to buy my debut! FEAR, the book I'd dedicated an important chunk of my life to!

That's right, friends! Kristin Kulsavage of Sky Pony Press has acquired FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP for publication in the spring of 2016!!!

Here's a screenshot of the announcement:

In case you can't read that tiny little snippet, it says:

"Sarah Glenn Marsh's DEAR THE DROWNING DEEP, a historical fantasy about a 17-year-old girl who knows there's something sinister in the waters around her Isle of Man home; together with the mysterious boy who washes ashore, she must face the danger before the ocean claims everyone she loves, to Kristin Kulsavage at Sky Pony Press, in a nice deal, for publication in Spring 2016, by Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis."

A huge thanks goes to everyone who's been with me from the start of this roller-coaster journey (like my parents, who've always made sure I had plenty to read!), and everyone I've met along the way so far--all the wonderful people who've never let me stop chasing this dream-come-true. There are too many of you to name, but reach out to me soon so we can celebrate together; I owe you a big hug! And thank YOU, all you book-reading types, if the idea of buying a book called FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP ever crosses your mind!

Hopefully more good news to come soon. :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Query Hop!

Hey all!

Today, you can find me over on Michelle Huack's blog giving advice on a middle grade query.

Check it out here!

And as the holidays approach, my wish for you--whether you celebrate anything or not--is that you get to spend the next few weeks enjoying some time with family and friends! <3 That's my favorite part of this time of year (okay, and maybe the food, too).

 A slightly older photo, but still one of my favorites!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Liebster Award Blog Hop!

Huge thanks to my lovely agency sister Betsy Aldredge (and by association, her fabulous writing partner, Carrie DuBois!) for tagging me in the Liebster Award blog hop! This is my first year participating, and I'm excited to give it a try.

Here goes!

1.      How do you motivate yourself to keep writing? Do you focus on word count goals or pages?

Mainly, my characters motivate me! When they're telling me their stories, I just feel this strong desire to put the words down on paper before I lose a thread or forget a great sentence. I hear their voices until the story's finished, and as I've always got some new idea simmering away, I want to get on to the next project!

I'm not sure I really focus on word count goals OR pages while I'm drafting (aside from having a rough word count goal in mind at the start), but if I had to choose between the two, I'd say word count!

2.      What’s your spirit animal?

Just a few days ago, I would've said a wolf or a phoenix. Or, you know, Taylor Swift. But that was before I met...Ninita, the baby Pygmy Marmoset! Ninita and I both love to cuddle, sleep, and brush our hair. What more is there to say?

3.      Is there any genre or type of book you’d love to write but are too intimidated to do so?

Well, I'd love to write a fantastic YA sci-fi, but I'm not sure I know enough about the sci-fi genre to dive in just yet. Fantasy and historical are the areas where I feel most comfortable.

4.      What’s the best piece of constructive criticism you’ve received?

Be careful not to put too many adjectives in a sentence. I usually aim for one per sentence now, because I'm just the wordiest girl ever (as if you haven't figured that out from reading these answers!). Having that goal in mind helps me not to ramble too much about gorgeous scenery or other descriptions.

5.      What author or book speaks to you the most and why?

I have so many answers for this. It's really hard to choose, so I'm going to pick three, okay? Okay. :)

The Harry Potter series is my first pick, because I feel like I grew up with Harry and his friends. They were so relatable that they've followed me through life, and whenever I'm having a hard time, I know I can go back to Hogwarts and feel like I'm among old friends.

Next is Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. This speaks to me because when I was young, and I first read The Lord of the Rings, I loved the settings and the dangers, but I couldn't picture myself on the adventure in the all-male Fellowship! Then one day, I discovered Tamora Pierce's work, and her heroine Alanna, who was everything I wanted to be in my own fantasy stories. She disguises herself as a man to become a knight, and she never backs down from her goal, no matter what challenge she faces.

Last, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book has the distinction of being the only book to make me cry! To explain why would be a big spoiler--but basically, Gaiman did such an incredible job of creating characters who seem an unlikely makeshift family at first, and then as you get to know them, you realize just how much they all need each other.

6.      What’s your writing goal for 2015?

1) Finish a nonfiction picture book I've been working on

2) Revise a certain YA ghost story

3) Finish drafting and polishing my new YA high fantasy

7.      What’s your bad habit in terms of writing?

See above--I'm adjective-happy sometimes!

8.      What advice would you give a writer just starting to query?

First, remember that agents are really kind people, not intimidating gate-keepers. They're perfectly approachable, and of course, extremely knowledgeable about the book world! Next, do your research! Look up your prospective agent's sales, read interviews with him or her, see what sort of online presence they have--there are many things to take into account! Maybe having an agent with a strong social media presence is important to you, or maybe you aren't worried about that as long as the agent has a sales record with houses you respect. Personality is a huge factor in which agent you'll work best with as well, and (this should go without saying) it's crucial to know what genres/age ranges an agent represents.

*And--this is so important that it's getting its own section--make sure the book you're starting to query is really ready for agents! If several CPs and betas haven't given excellent feedback, I'd hold off on querying until you've revised and revised again.

9.      Who is your book boyfriend or girlfriend and why?

Can I have multiple book boyfriends? Pretty please?

Charlie Weasley from the Harry Potter series--he hangs out with dragons!

Four from the Divergent Trilogy--does this need an explanation? ;)

Touchstone/Torrigan from the Abhorsen series--he's everything I want in a prince!

10. What’s your best cure for writer’s block?

When I have writer's block, I usually do one of two things. First, I'll listen to music to see if that'll put me in the mood to write whatever scene I'm stuck on. Then, if that doesn't help, I might open my idea folder and work on something completely different--just to get words down and flowing again!

I've noticed that walking away from a tricky area in a story can work wonders, too; I'll go work around the house, or take a shower, and suddenly the answers will come to me when I least expect them!

And now, I'd like to tag my agency sister Rachel Pudelek and my critique partner Hilary Harwell to answer the questions above! Then they'll tag a few of their other writing friends.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Meet My Character: Bridey Corkill from FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP

Hi everyone,

The wonderful Eve Castellan tagged me to participate in the Meet My Character blog hop! Basically, I'll be answering 7 questions about my main character, then tagging another writer or two. And now, I'm excited to take this opportunity to introduce the main character from one of my novels, FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP.

1) What is the name of your character? Is she a fictional person or a historic person?

Bridey Reynylt Corkill is a fictional person starring in my YA Historical Fantasy novel, though the magical island on which her story takes place is quite real.

2) When and where is the story set?

FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP takes place in 1913, so just before The Great War (WWI). It's set on the Isle of Man, in the completely made-up town of Port Coire (a word meaning 'heart'). I've always pictured Port Coire as being smack dab in the middle of the real towns of Peel and Kirk Michael on the island's western shore.

The Isle of Man is an incredibly beautiful place that seems to have a magic of its own (though not quite like the magic in my story!). If you aren't familiar with the Isle, it's worth looking up!

Town of Niarbyl, Isle of Man

3) What should we know about your character? 

Bridey's been terrified of the ocean ever since she watched her grandad leap to his death and drown with a smile on his face. So naturally, at sixteen years old, it's her mission to get off the Isle and find somewhere higher and drier to spend her life. Of course, that's only until she rescues a handsome boy she calls Fynn, and realizes that something sinister in the water is threatening her town. Headstrong Bridey would never let anything happen to her family and her many sisters, even if it means facing down a creature from her nightmares. It probably goes without saying, but--she hates seafood! She also loves to read.

How I picture Bridey!

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
One summer evening, a girl's body washes ashore. She appears to have drowned, but Bridey, remembering her grandad's death, suspects something more sinister. No one's ever believed her about the strange thing she thought she glimpsed in the water the day he died, but the drowned girl is stirring up painful memories for everyone.
Soon after, people from Bridey's town start going missing. She could be next, or one of her sisters, if she can't prove to everyone that there's something lurking in the sea, an ancient evil that must be stopped. But it's going to be quite the battle for a girl who doesn't even know how to swim to stop a monster, or convince a town full of narrow-minded people that the killer among them isn't human.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
I touched on this above, but basically: Bridey wants to stop the danger before anyone else from her town disappears, like her friends or her sisters--or her!
She also wants to travel the world, live someplace without a sea view, and settle down somewhere that has a massive library.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP has always been this book's title! I posted a brief excerpt or two during WriteOnCon 2013, but for those who are curious...I'll just leave the first 500 or so words RIGHT HERE:

Chapter One

May 15th, 1913
Isle of Man, Near Peel

They found her body at dusk, washed up in a tide pool with a handful of sea urchins and a slender green starfish. As they lifted the girl, her dark hair wrapped around her neck like seaweed. Fat drops of salt water rolled off her body and kissed the cold sand. I shivered in sympathy, though of course she didn’t feel the bitter wind tugging at her gown. Her waxy skin appeared paler than the full moon that had risen earlier.
            Old Mister Gill pushed the girl’s hair back, revealing milky, grayish eyes. I couldn’t begin to guess their true color. Cradled in his arms, the girl looked like a nymph, or one of the mermaids my mam loved to paint. Not like a murder victim, or even someone desperate enough to have taken her own life.
A neighbor beside me released a shriek, sending a chill rippling down my back. Several other women sniffed. They reminded me of a flock of guillemots, the way they’d perched themselves on the lowest cliff overlooking the rocky shore. They shared handkerchiefs and made little hiccupping sounds. Spectators. Like me, I suppose.
Not one of them noticed me lingering where a girl of sixteen shouldn’t be.
Heads bowed in respect, Mister Gill and several fishermen carried the girl up the steep incline leading to town. Had she come from the other side of the island, or one of the smaller islands around us? I’d never seen her before, and in our close community, that was rare.
One of the women turned to follow the procession back to town, dabbing at her eyes with a scrap of linen. Her graying hair was pinned at the top of her head, and even in the pervasive air of sadness, she stood tall and proud.
Before I could consider hiding—a near impossible task on the barren cliffs—the woman’s shrewd brown eyes spotted me. Despite her age, my neighbor Missus Gill rarely missed a thing. Folk said she was as clever as Morag, the ancient sea-hag who lived on the swell of land above town. I thought she was just nosy, though I didn’t dare say it. Her husband had been the self-appointed leader of Port Coire for as long as I could remember.
Missus Gill broke from the procession and strode in my direction, frowning. “Bridey Corkill, this is hardly a sight for young eyes! Aren’t you supposed to be helping your mam put supper on, child?”
“I’m not a child,” I protested, though without any force behind the words. No one argued with Missus Gill unless they wanted everyone else to hear about it. “And she sent me to buy bacon from Mister Vondy.”
“Yet I see you’re sadly empty-handed.” Missus Gill eyed my windswept hair, and I resisted the urge to pat it down. “How’d you end up here, when the market is on the other side of town?”
“I followed the screams.” I glanced around. The crowd had almost dispersed, but a few curious souls—all young, fit men—scuttled down the cliffs by way of a narrow, winding path to the strand of beach flecked with tide pools.
The Gills’ nephew reached the bottom first. He stared into the pocket of salt water that had moments ago held the girl’s body, as though he might find answers bubbling to the surface simply because he willed them to appear. With the light fading, he wouldn’t be able to see anything in there for much longer.

And, lastly:
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
Someday soon is always the hope!

And now, I'm tagging my lovely agency sister Rachel Pudelek to join in the fun; she writes some fierce YA horror and fantasy, but lately she's been hard at work on a middle grade novel!

Friday, October 24, 2014


UPDATE: Huge thanks to Jackie at Bouquet of Books for choosing me as one of this year's two winners! Check out the other winning entry by author DRC here.

 Hey all,

I'm so excited to participate in this year's Spooktoberfest '14, hosted by The Cover Girls!

Stories had to include the following five words: curse; cocoon; virus; chill; commotion

All stories also had to be 300 words or less, and could be accompanied by a photo or song to set the mood!

So, ready for something spooky? :)

Read on...

Under the Glass


Gravel crunched under Maree’s boots as she followed her neighbor, Colton, down a wooded trail. She hated walking home from school after the moon rose, but that was the curse of living in Rainey Hollow, the middle of freaking nowhere.

As they reached a gate half-choked by vines, Maree quickened her steps. A gust of wind parted her hair, leaving a chill kiss on her neck.

“Wait a sec.” Colton bent to tie his dirty shoelace.

Sighing, Maree studied a wispy cocoon clinging to an oak. She traced the arc of the early moon. Anything to avoid glimpsing the abandoned farm house beyond the gate. The house’s sides and caving roof, blackening over time as though stricken by some virus, made ghosts seem a real possibility. 

“What’s that?” Maree’s skin prickled as a blurry figure danced at the corner of her gaze. The woods had gone unnaturally still. No rustling bird wings. No grumbling insects.

A window creaked open, then banged shut. Again. And again.

Together, Colton and Maree turned toward the commotion.

Someone was standing in the topmost farmhouse window. The abandoned farmhouse window. A girl with midnight hair and a pale, sharp face. 

She was staring right at them.

At last, Maree found her voice. “Y-you see her, too?”

Colton nodded, fishing for something in his pocket. His iPhone. It shook slightly as he raised it to snap a picture. 

But the instant he clicked the button, the girl in the window vanished.


Tossing her jet black hair, Lillian shut the door to the attic room where Granny kept the model town. The miniature boy and girl figurines had looked so startled to see her on their walk home from school. It was almost like she’d really scared them.

Lillian smiled. 

She couldn’t wait to come back tomorrow.

The End

That's all for now! Thanks so much for reading. Wishing everyone a candy-filled, creepy Halloween!

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Hey all,

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm now offering critique services through this blog! It's something I've wanted to do for quite a while, as I discovered the joy of helping fellow writers through mentoring in query contests like Query Kombat and Sun vs. Snow! For the time being, my critiques will focus on queries, pitches, and opening chapters (basically, preparing your novel for querying & partial requests).

Here's what authors have to say about my critiques:

“SG Marsh (or Sarah!) is my critique partner and my writing is always pushed to the next level with her. She knows the craft and it shows in her own writing, all the offers she’s received because of her writing, and in her critiques. As a matter of fact, I got my agent after becoming CPs. Probably not a coincidence! She’ll also school you on spelling, commas and grammar if that’s also something you need. Also, for the time and quality of effort SG puts into crits,  these prices are an absolute steal so take advantage while you can!” -Ami Allen-Vath, YA Author

"I met Sarah earlier this year when my picture book was chosen to be in the Sun vs Snow contest and Sarah was one of the mentors. Sarah’s critique was spot on and was super helpful. She picked on details that I hadn’t even thought of. And she pointed out areas for me to strengthen my manuscript. She is smart and kind and since Sun vs Snow we have become great friends! Sarah has since critiqued other manuscripts of mine and has truly been a HUGE help in getting them ready to go out on submission. I highly recommend Sarah’s critique service for anyone who is looking for an awesome critique at a great price!" ---Sharon Chriscoe, Picture Book Author

Oh, and if you're writing a fantasy novel, I'm your gal for world-building. Fantasy is my specialty!

Here's a look at what I'm offering. (This information can also be found under the 'Services' tab at the top of the page).

Query Only: $20

Let me polish your query so it'll catch an agent's attention. In addition to spotting grammar errors, I'll make sure your stakes are clear and that your MC's personality shines through. This is a one-time critique with detailed comments.

First Chapter Only (up to 20 pages): $30

If you need an extra set of eyes on those first pages, or want to make sure you're starting your story in the right place, this is for you. I'll go through your opening chapter once, with an eye for grammar errors as well as the big picture.

Query & Contest Package: $35

I'll go through your query up to 3 times, helping you fine-tune the conflict and stakes until we're both happy! Then I'll help you create and polish one 3-sentence pitch and two Twitter pitches (under 140 characters to accommodate contest hash tags). This is for anyone who wants to catch an agent's eye in that next exciting contest!

Submission Package (Includes Query and First Chapter, up to 20 double-spaced pages): $45

I'll go through your query and first chapter twice, leaving big-picture comments as well as checking for grammar errors. I'll help you figure out whether you're starting your story in the right place, make sure you've crafted a gripping first page, and find areas for improvement.

Deluxe Submission Package (Includes Query and First 3 Chapters, up to 40 double-spaced pages): $75

Same as the package above, but with three chapters instead of one! I'll go through your query and pages twice to make sure they're ready for agents.

*Note: If you want to add or combine options for a discount, or want more pages edited than what's offered above, drop me a line!

**For the entire month of OCTOBER 2014, all critiques are $5 off to celebrate this new venture!

***Also note: No non-fiction projects please, as they are outside my realm of expertise!

Thanks so much for thinking of me for your story. I hope to speak with you soon!