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How to get your book published (in seven years)


I almost cried when I saw my name written in solid black script on the cover of my debut novel. It was the culmination of seven years of relentless work, boundless joy, unexpected friendships and numerous disappointments.

After all the waiting, finally I could read – MAYRA CUEVAS – written under a gorgeous illustration of a girl of color wearing a chef’s coat, her wild locks adorned with a crown of flowers. Next to it stood the catchy title crafted by my editorial team at Blink/HarperColllins, Salty, Bitter, Sweet — the perfect name for the book, and for the long journey that brought it to existence.
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An afternoon with four awesome YA authors at the Decatur Book Festival

Last weekend, I attended the Decatur Book Festival’s Teen Stage panel “Thicker Than Water.” It was a discussion on the family bonds that make up YA novels. The panelist were authors Una LaMarche (Don’t Fail Me Now), Elizabeth Lenhard (Our Song), Marie Marquardt (Dream Things True) and Katie M. Stout (Hello, I Love You).

Family loyalty was one of the first topics to be addressed, one of the main themes in Marquardt’s novel.

“Alma’s family is primarily an undocumented immigrant family from Mexico,” she said speaking about the protagonist in Dream Things True. “Evan’s family is a politically complicated family. They are so different but in fact they share a lot in common, they feel a pull to live up to what their families want them to be.”

Stout’s treatment of family bonds in Hello, I Love You prompts her protagonist Grace to hide from her family in a boarding school in Korea.

“You don’t get to choose them,” Stout said, speaking of one’s family. “And you might not always like them, but they are still people that you need to love as human beings. We might not be best friends and disagree but I choose to love and respect you.”
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Second Annual Winter Writers Retreat

In January 2014, my critique partner Marie and I held our first winter writers retreat with the idea that it would become a yearly tradition. And it did!

Last weekend we held our second annual winter writers retreat with double the attendance! Yes, we went from two to four! Ha!

We were happy to welcomed Peggy and Lee into our little writing getaway. Peggy, a published author, is writing a literary biography, while Lee is working on her first manuscript, a contemporary romance. Marie and I are both working on contemporary YA manuscripts.
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Great news! Teaching a workshop at the RWA 2014 National Conference in July.

I’m happy to announce that I will be a workshop speaker at the Romance Writers of America 2014 Conference in July.

This years conference will take place in San Antonio, TX.

Here are the two workshops I will be teaching:

Crash course on Evernote: Take control of your research: A one hour crash course on using Evernote as a curator for all your researching needs.


Ditch Word. A Crash course in Scrivener: A one hour crash course on using Scivener to compose and structure your novel.


I’m very excited about these two workshops and will be showing lots of neat tools to improve your research and writing process!

If there is something you would like to see during the workshops send me an email at


A few highlights from our writers retreat

Last week’s writing retreat was amazing! My writing partner, Marie, and I spent a few days in the North Georgia mountains with the sole goal of writing. Such a luxury!

We both worked on the outlines of our new books while exchanging ideas on plot, character development and story arch. At the end of each writing session we traded the scenes we had written and gave each other feedback on the direction the story was taking.  It was fantastic to get instant feedback on each other’s scenes.

For me, starting a new book was a great way to get my mind off the misery that is the query process. It gave me a new creative outlet into which I can channel my energy while I wait, most impatiently, for agents and editors to respond to my query emails.

In between writing sessions Mary and I took time off to enjoy the hiking trails of Big Canoe (I have shared some photos below). We even attended an Aqua-Aerobics class set to 80s music and packed with fabulous grannies! That alone made the trip worthwhile!


My very happy beginning to a new year: a writers retreat!

On Tuesday I will be embarking on my first writers retreat and I am very excited!!! Yes, triple exclamation mark.

I have attended many meditation retreats in the past but never a retreat where I set out to write for a week in a place other than my house.

The idea came when my writing critique partner, Marie, and I talked about doing something to mark a great start to 2014. We decided to head for the mountains for a few days with the only goal to begin writing a new book.

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My first agent critique, a confession of struggles and the happy news that followed

By Mayra Cuevas

After a decade-long career in journalism, I pride myself on the ability to take criticism and rejection. At least that’s what I’d tell my writing partner every time literary rejection came up.

I once worked on a mini-documentary series for six months only to have it cancelled after it was ready to air. But that is the nature of the TV business, so it was easy to accept.

But writing a novel, I have come to find out, is different. It is a very personal, almost visceral experiment that brings out every hidden insecurity. And faced with criticism and rejection, it can be devastating.

Last month, I participated in the Atlanta Writers Group Spring conference – my second writers conference and my first taste of literary judgment. My first conference, last October, was a mix of excitement and the unrealistic idealism of the first time novelist. This second time was a reality check brought about by an agent critique session.

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