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Wednesday WOLF

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 March 2013 · 121 views

Before you get your English language lesson of the day, a quick reminder that I will be one of the debut author guests on #yalitchat tonight on Twitter - 9 PM EST!! See you there!<br /><br />I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF (oh, how clever is she? She made an acronym out of her agency's name!) Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.<br /><br />Let's talk about something we haven't talked about before: cliches. (did you see what I did there?)<br /><br />Cliches are phrases, characters, or situations that have been used repeatedly in the culture to the point that they lose all meaning. Some examples of cliches:<br /><ul><li>Opposites attract</li><li>Time will tell</li><li>Read between the lines</li><li>Laugher is the best medicine</li></ul>What does <i>cliche</i> mean? It's French, and originates from the printing press days when movable type was used and each letter had to be aligned on a metal plate to print one page. Some phrases were used so often that the press would keep a plate set with that phrase or word usage. Interestingly enough, these plates were called&nbsp;<i>stereotype</i>, but the technical term in printer's trade was the French,&nbsp;<i>cliche</i>.

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An SAT with Kim Rendfeld - Author of THE CROSS & THE DRAGON

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 05 March 2013 · 163 views

Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is Kim Rendfeld, author of <a href="[url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15746583-the-cross-and-the-dragon"]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15746583-the-cross-and-the-dragon[/url]" target="_blank">THE CROSS &amp; THE DRAGON</a>.&nbsp;Rendfeld grew up in New Jersey and attended Indiana University, where she earned a BA in journalism and English, with a minor in French. She was a journalist for almost 18 years at Indiana newspapers, including the <i>Journal</i> and <i>Courier</i> in Lafayette, <i>The Muncie Star</i>, and <i>The News and Sun </i>in Dunkirk, and won several awards from the Hoosier State Press Association.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="[url="http://biz117.inmotionhosting.com/~kimren5/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/9781611792270-CrossandDragon-lrg1-198x300.jpg"]http://biz117.inmotionhosting.com/~kimren5/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/9781611792270-CrossandDragon-lrg1-198x300.jpg[/url]" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="[url="http://biz117.inmotionhosting.com/~kimren5/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/9781611792270-CrossandDragon-lrg1-198x300.jpg"]http://biz117.inmotionhosting.com/~kimren5/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/9781611792270-CrossandDragon-lrg1-198x300.jpg[/url]" width="263" /></a></div><i>THE CROSS &amp; DRAGON is a tale of love in an era of war and blood feuds.</i><br /><i><br /></i> <i>Francia, 778, the tenth year of Charlemagne’s reign: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon’s vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor’s malice is nothing compared to Alda’s premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.</i><br /><i><br /></i> <i>Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.</i><br /><i><br /></i> <i>Is its magic enough to keep Alda’s worst fears from coming true—and protect her from Ganelon?</i><br /><i><br /></i> <i>Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge.</i><br /><br /><b>Writing Process:</b><br /><b>Are you a Planner or Pantster?</b><br /><br />Pantster, mostly. When I started TC&amp;D, I was so eager to get it on my computer screen. If I had started with an outline, I’d likely have gotten stuck and never written a draft of the story.<br /><br />Upon seeing the draft, my critique group asked me to write an outline. I did, and it helped me get focused. And then I ended up throw two-thirds of it away as I made revisions.<br /><br />Definitely not efficient, but this is the process that works for me when writing fiction.<br /><br /><b>How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?</b><br /><br />This is a complex question for me to answer because my writing process is not continuous. With TC&amp;D, I spent a year or two on the earliest draft and thought it was done. About a year or so later, I found a critique group who kindly informed me it wasn’t done, that it read like a very good outline but not a novel. And it was mired in back story. And the characters weren’t showing enough emotion. And there wasn’t enough conflict.<br /><br />Two years later, I had another draft, which I was certain was ready for publication. Wrong again. Over several years, I sent out queries. When I got a useful rejection letter, I would revise the manuscript, setting other work aside.<br /><br />If I were to total it up, I’d say five years.<br /><br /><b>Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi-tasker?</b><br /><br />I was going to say one project at a time because it would be difficult to write more than one novel. But as I thought more about this, I realized after I got my first manuscript done, I am more of a multi-tasker. I have a full-time job. On top of that, I was querying agents and working on a second manuscript. Even as I work to promote TC&amp;D, I am trying to find time to work on its companion, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar.<br /><br /><b>Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?</b><br /><br />I was a newspaper editor when I started on TC&amp;D and encountered people who thought they could write well. I had to ignore the voice in my head that whispered, “How do you know you’re not one of those people, the ones who just think they can write?”<br /><br /><b>Querying Process:</b><br /><b>How long did you query before landing your publisher?</b><br /><br />I began querying in earnest in 2003, the bad, old SASE days (stamped, self-addressed envelope for the acronym impaired). Most of the time, it was the equivalent of a cold call; a few times the query went to someone I met at a conference. I finally got an agent in 2007 through the query process. My agent was not able to sell the book and after three years had, for all intents and purposes, given up on me.<br /><br />In early 2011, the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results” came to my mind. I knew I had to do something different. I terminated my relationship with my agent and entered TC&amp;D in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.<br /><br />I ended as a quarterfinalist and couldn’t have been happier with my prize, a positive review of the unedited manuscript from Publishers Weekly. I had another tool to promote myself to agents and editors. Just as important, the review gave me a boost in confidence when I really needed it.<br /><br /><b>Who is your publisher and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?&nbsp;</b><br /><br />My publisher is Fireship Press, a small press based in Tucson, Arizona. I decided to query them after reading a blog post from an author who had a bad experience with one of the Big Six and an agent but later connected with Fireship and was happy with them.<br /><br />I sent an e-mail to a Fireship editor, along with the first chapters, as specified on their submission page. The editor liked what she saw and asked for more.<br /><br /><b>Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?</b><br /><br />What helped me most in getting through query hell was writing another book. Of course, I still checked the mailbox (as I said I go back to SASE days), but pouring my creative energy into other characters and another story helped take some of the sting from the rejections. And I had a lot of them, enough to paper a large walk-in closet.<br /><br />A couple more pieces of advice:<br /><br /><ul><li>If you get the rare response that tells you specifically why your work was rejected, pay attention. By acting the suggestions in the rejections, I made my book better, and ultimately publishable, in the end.</li><li>While you should be patient—this industry is fraught with rejections—be mindful that these days, there is more than one path to publication. If it’s been several years and one path simply isn’t working, consider something else.</li></ul><br /><b>On Being Published:</b><br /><b>How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?</b><br /><br />Dreamlike, as in wow, this is real!<br /><br />I still am adjusting to the fact that my book is for sale on Amazon and Barnes &amp; Noble. It’s a heady feeling to see the novel for sale not only in dollars but also in pounds and euros.<br /><br /><b>How much input do you have on cover art?</b><br /><br />Cover art is one of upsides about working with a small press. Not only did I get to suggest images for the cover art, I got to ask readers to help me and my publisher decide on a public domain image. My readers chose my favorite image, Rowland Wheelwright’s Enid and Geraint. They have great taste.<br /><br />The cover artist did a nice job, and I got to approve it.<br /><br /><b>What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?</b><br /><br />I was surprised by how much control I had in the process, another upside to a working with a small press. My editor’s suggestions for the story were minor but they improved the book. She and I also worked together on fonts for the cover and decorative elements of interior.<br /><br />I could not be more pleased with how it turned out.<br /><br /><b>Social Networking and Marketing:</b><br /><b>How much of your own marketing do you? &nbsp;Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?&nbsp;</b><br /><br />For now, I do all my own marketing. Although it is taking time away from work my second book, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, it will be worth it in the long term.<br /><br />I’m all over the Web. I have a <a href="[url="http://www.kimrendfeld.com/"]http://www.kimrendfeld.com/[/url]" target="_blank">website</a>, <a href="[url="http://www.kimrendfeld.wordpress.com/"]http://www.kimrendfeld.wordpress.com/[/url]" target="_blank">blog</a>, <a href="[url="http://twiiter.com/@kimrendfeld"]http://twiiter.com/@kimrendfeld[/url]" target="_blank">Twitter</a> account, as well as a presence on <a href="[url="http://www.facebook.com/authorkimrendfeld"]http://www.facebook.com/authorkimrendfeld[/url]" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="[url="http://www.goodreads.com/Kim_Rendfeld"]http://www.goodreads.com/Kim_Rendfeld[/url]" target="_blank">Goodreads</a>, and <a href="[url="http://www.amazon.com/author/kimrendfeld"]http://www.amazon.com/author/kimrendfeld[/url]" target="_blank">Amazon</a>.<br /><br /><b>When do you build your platform? After publication? Or should you be working before?</b><br /><br />I built my site, blog, and Twitter platforms after I had written two manuscripts but long before publication. I’ll admit it. I was a skeptic about blogging. How was I going to find time? And who would care about what I had to say, anyway?<br /><br />Yet if you’re a historical novelist, you have an advantage. You have done more research than you will ever be able to fit in one book. You can’t show it all off the novel. I’ve tried, and it just gets in the way. But you can show off your research in a blog, in short essays. If your period is not well known, mine is one example, this whets readers’ appetites.<br /><br />I am glad I set up the platforms before I was published. (The Facebook fan page was after I signed the contract, and Goodreads and Amazon were after publication.) I was too busy making revisions and proofreading once the process gone under way.<br /><br />It’s important to remember the novel should come first. My limit in most cases is one blog post per week, and I’ve started opening it up to guests. When I was in throes of the final proofread, I didn’t write in my blog for three weeks.<br /><br /><b>Do you think social media helps build your readership?</b><br /><br />Oh yes. I’ve met so many nice people, and I participate in Facebook and Twitter promotion boards, where we post links to each other’s blogs. It is key to letting people know when you have a new blog post.<br /><br />However, that doesn’t mean that the 300 friends you have on Facebook will result in 300 sales. And whatever you do, don’t bore them with “Buy my book, buy my book.” On my Facebook fan page and Twitter feeds, you will find promos for my posts, reviews, and interviews. You will also find links to other author’s posts, reviews, and interviews as well.<br /><br />You still have to reach out. Review and interviews with book bloggers are a great way to let get your work before new audiences.<br /><br />Thank you, Mindy, for this opportunity to share my writer’s journey.

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Rituals & Pouring Chocolate on Stuff

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 04 March 2013 · 143 views

When I was in high school I worked at an ice-cream and pizza place.<br /><br />And if you think that's funny - I worked at a Hallmark during college. Yep. Mindy, selling greeting cards. It's downright surreal.<br /><br />Anyway... whenever we had a new ice cream flavor for people to try we let them have a sample before committing to buy. But I had a little trick where I offered to pour chocolate on stuff if they were unsure after a plain taste.<br /><br />And it totally worked.<br /><br />It's weird the things that become buried in your skull, popping out at completely inappropriate moments years down the line. I don't know what it was... maybe the fact that there was a counter between us, or that I really wanted the student to fall in love with the book I was giving them, but with that ice-cream joint 10 years in my past I told the kid -<br /><br />"Try this. If you don't like it bring it back and I'll pour some chocolate on it."<br /><br />Since the title was THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness, I didn't end up pouring chocolate on anything, but it was a good lesson in a few ways.<br /><br />1) The kids knew early on that the new librarian was insane.<br />2) Association can be buried deep, and we're not always in control of what our brain is kicking out.<br /><br />Because of being in the service industry for most of my life thus far, I wanted the person across the counter to be happy. My brain randomly offered to pour chocolate on something to accomplish that goal and my mouth said HELL YES! GOOD IDEA, BRAIN!<br /><br />This is why writing rituals work so well. Once those synaptic pathways in our brains have been beaten into well-formed tunnels, our thoughts squeeze through without a lot of voluntary action on our part. This can apply to so many things in life, but it's especially useful for writers.<br /><br />We're always terrified we're going to fail, that this time the white page will remain blank, or the cursor is just going to blink instead of produce a string of words in its wake. If you can set up a ritual before writing - even a small one - and stick to it, soon you'll find the thoughts flowing from your brain out through your fingertips because both brain &amp; body instinctively know what to do in this situation.<br /><br />My own ritual is quite simple. I write in my bed, lying down, usually between the hours of 9 and 11 PM. If I'm not working on a WIP at the moment, I use the time for blogging, or reading. My brain knows that I'm either going to write, or absorb writing through reading. Either way, many of the same synapses are firing, and I can count on them to rev right up when I call on them to do so.<br /><br />The drawback?<br /><br />I haven't poured chocolate on anything in a damn long time.

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 02 March 2013 · 161 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/[/url]" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.<br /><br /><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg"]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/url]" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg"]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/url]" width="246" /></a></div>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch &nbsp;them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.<br /><br />Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/"]http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/[/url]" target="_blank">AgentQuery Connect</a>. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!<br /><br />Over a millennium ago, The Shadow of the Fallen was banished from Ethereal to rot in the caves of Sheol and as centuries passed so grew their strength, numbers, and bitter hearts with time. <span style="color: #38761d;">In my opinion you've got way too many unfamiliar words and concepts knocking around for this to be a hook. I was a Religion major in college, so I get what you're throwing out here, but the vagueness is not going to appeal to someone who doesn't know these terms out the door. Also, as a sentence this hook is a bit rambling.&nbsp;</span>Now with the battle for our world on the horizon, The Shadow seeks a mighty weapon to secure their success, a weapon that myself <span style="color: #38761d;">the first-person, query-as-written-by-MC doesn't really work for me. That might be personal opinion, but I think it's gimmicky&nbsp;</span>and two others have kept guarded. Hidden among the Sewn Mountains in a town called Hermits Hollow, we have raised Nevaeh Night as an ordinary human. Nevaeh knows nothing of the danger that hunts her or has yet to awakened <span style="color: #38761d;">typo- "awaken?"</span>&nbsp;the power she was born with. But I fear the time is quickly approaching. The day has already turned to night and the mountains are tainted by The Shadows mark. Soon The Shadow's collectors will come for her and if they succeed, we will all fall into darkness.<br /><br />That is why I have acquired a writer that, with your guidance, can prepare mankind. Together, we can avoid the brouhaha of our kind springing out of the ground like determined weeds in a vegetable patch. Which, most weeds are actually dingleberry troll hairs. But humans like uprooting dingleberry troll hairs, don't they? I find it a rather odious task myself. <span style="color: #38761d;">I actually think this bit here is pretty clever, but it does nothing to convey what the story is actually about.</span><br /><br />I have chosen a promising candidate that can tell our story. With my approval, she has completed the first novel HEAVEN SPELLED BACKWARDS at 90,000 words. She asked me to include the genre which is NA Fantasy and sends her regards, as do I, for taking time to review this inquiry.<br /><br /><span style="color: #38761d;">While the second para and specs closing para use the device of 1st-POV-query rather cleverly, the query is not doing it's actual job - telling the agent what about this story makes it unique and awesome. Right now it's got a classic setup - good vs. evil, a hidden Chosen One who will save the world... but that's been done approximately 25,000 times already. Why is yours different and special? As it is, this query isn't doing the job of conveying why this story is better than - or different than - every other query in the slush that has a similar premise.</span></div>

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Book Talk - DUALED by Elsie Chapman

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 March 2013 · 113 views

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="[url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1337693826l/13401993.jpg"]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1337693826l/13401993.jpg[/url]" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="[url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1337693826l/13401993.jpg"]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1337693826l/13401993.jpg[/url]" width="212" /></a></div>My book talks are coming at you from a librarian, not a reviewer. You won't find me talking about style or craft, why I think this could've been better or what worked or didn't work. I only do book talks on books I liked and want other people to know about. So if it's here I probably think it won't injure your brain if you read it.<br /><br />West Grayer is the last of her family.<br /><div><br /></div><div>In a world where teens have a window of opportunity to kill their Alt - a genetic copy of themselves - she's lost her brothers and sisters through violence. Even being a complete - someone who has successfully killed their Alt - didn't save her brother Luc when he went along with their mutual friend Chord for his assignment.<br /><div><br /></div><div>Now Chord is complete, and West is left in a house by herself when she gets the text - she's now Active... and her Alt is looking for her. Although she's been training her whole life to be the killer and not the killed, West doesn't have the confidence she needs to take out her Alt. She joins an underground group to become a Striker - a killer for hire who will eliminate someone else's Alt for a fee.</div></div><div><br /></div><div>Strikers aren't well-loved, and West's strikes aren't the cleanest ever performed. The marks on her palms that distinguish her from the rest of the population of Kersh disgust Chord, who tries to help her see that every strike she accepts is killing time in her window of opportunity, something that her Alt isn't taking chances on.</div><div><br /></div><div>West waits for her Alt to come to her - and finds herself face to face with a better version of herself, with colder eyes and a Striker of her own who loves her. West's bullet misses its mark, and she's left wondering if life in Kersh is a massive game of survival of the fittest... is she really the one who is supposed to live?</div><div><br /></div><div>Chapman's debut is a tour-de-force of a world where everyone is born knowing someone else is out there training to kill them from birth. West's self-doubt fills her every action and opens up avenues into this complex character that any teen will relate to. <a href="[url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13401993-dualed"]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13401993-dualed[/url]" target="_blank">DUALED</a> is available from Random House Books for Young Readers.</div>

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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 28 February 2013 · 107 views

Thoughts lately...<br /><div><br /></div><div>1) Having watched Skyfall last weekend I have to say that just once I'd love to see James Bond jump into a boat / car / motorcycle that he doesn't instinctively know how to operate. While I really enjoyed watching Daniel Craig wearing a very nice suit and operating a backhoe, my farmer-girl suspension of disbelief hit a serious bump. Those things are NOT easy to operate.</div><div><br /></div><div>2) I also watched quite a bit of professional boxing this weekend. Instead of all the posturing and grunting, I think it'd be totally awesome to see a boxer who apologized to their opponent every time they got a good hit in.</div><div><br /></div><div>3) I have an issue with cereal milk. When I get to the bottom of my bowl and still have milk left, it tastes fresh and cold. But when I go ahead and put more cereal in there it tastes lukewarm. This makes no sense to me.&nbsp;</div>

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Wednesday WOLF

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 27 February 2013 · 90 views

I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF (oh, how clever is she? She made an acronym out of her agency's name!) Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.<br /><div><br />I love oxymorons. No, not stupid people who need to have stains removed from their clothing.<br /><br />You probably know what an oxymoron is, but in case you don't I'll supply you with a definition and a few examples. An oxymoron is a combination of what appear to be contradictory terms. Here are some fun ones:<br /><br />Civil War<br />Act Naturally<br />Only Choice<br />Awful Pretty<br /><br />But what does <i>oxymoron</i> mean? It's from the Greek "sharp fool," or "sharp dull."<br /><br />My favorite oxymoron?<br /><br />Good morning.<br /><br /><br /></div>

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An Interview with Elsie Chapman, Author of DUALED

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 26 February 2013 · 174 views

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="[url="http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350438849l/13401993.jpg"]http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350438849l/13401993.jpg[/url]" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="[url="http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350438849l/13401993.jpg"]http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350438849l/13401993.jpg[/url]" width="212" /></a></div>Today I've got an extra special person on the blog with me, Elsie Chapman, author of <a href="[url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13401993-dualed"]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13401993-dualed[/url]" target="_blank">DUALED</a>. Elsie is a fellow Friday the Thirteener, and we have a heck of a lot of inappropriate fun together. I got my hands on an ARC of DUALED and I wanted to have an extra special interview with her tailored to help get the awesomeness that is this debut title out into the world. DUALED releases TODAY from Random House Books for Young Readers.<br /><br /><i>The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.</i><br /><i><br /></i> <i>Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.</i><br /><br /><b>MM: DUALED’s world is a militant place where the survival of the fittest has been taken to new heights. Where did you get the idea?</b><br /><br />EC: My son got the wheels turning, actually. He asked me one day, How did we know for sure we didn’t all have someone out there just like us, and we just didn’t know about them? It was a really interesting question because the implications would be incredible. Imagine someone out there walking around with your face, your body, living a whole other life. So then I started thinking about parallel worlds, and which world would get to be the real one and why, and it took off from there.<br /><br /><b>MM: West Grayer isn’t a conventional character. She’s got big issues in a world where everyone is faced with dealing death to their alter ego. Was it hard to write a character that isn’t going to be easy to swallow for some readers?</b><br /><br />EC: I hope it doesn’t make me a horrible person if I say no, because it came really easily. Mostly because I had to get into West’s headspace, and from her point of view, you can’t be anything but ruthless. I also wanted her actions to be truly hers, right or wrong. Whatever she does is not because of forced circumstances but truly her own decisions. That we get to see how it all weighs on her makes her more relatable, too, I think.<br /><br /><b>MM: In DUALED, every teen has a window of time once they are “activated” to take down their Alt. Violence is dealt in the streets and bystanders know to make themselves scarce in the face of it. Not only is there a sense of kill-or-be-killed, but also every-person-for-themselves type mentality. Yet West forms strong relationships with her brothers and sisters, as well as Chord, her brother’s best friend. How can relationships like that persevere in an environment where anyone can be taken from you, any moment?</b><br /><br />EC: I think for Alts to know such love and experience a loving childhood only emphasizes what a completion is worth. It makes Alts want to do their best and to be the ones who end up surviving. Not only to return to such relationships—for someone like West who’s lost nearly everyone, this wouldn’t be possible—but for the chance to create more once they’ve completed. It’s a pretty hardcore society, and it’s human nature to try to justify a system that asks them to live the way they do.<br /><br /><b>MM: Along with other children, West spent her early years training to kill someone who looks exactly like her. What kind of impact has this had on her?</b><br /><br />EC: In the beginning of the book, West comes across as pretty confident. She needs to believe she’ll win, otherwise she’s already at a disadvantage. But she’s also a realist, like most idles are before going active. She doesn’t actually allow herself to dream, or even think about the future that much, knowing that until she’s complete, there’s no point. It’s when she experiences a huge loss that her confidence gets shaken, and all of a sudden she starts questioning her own capabilities. I really liked seeing how she changed throughout the course of the novel.

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Blogs - What Are They Good For?

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 25 February 2013 · 182 views

And I apologize to everyone who now has Edwin Starr stuck in their heads. I also apologize to Edwin Starr for yet another horrific Edwin Starr ripoff.<br /><div><br /></div><div>But to answer the question - what are blogs good for? Hell, I don't know.</div><div><br /></div><div>Not only do I post six days a week here at Writer, Writer, but I also contribute to six group blogs. Yes six- <a href="[url="http://bookpregnant.blogspot.com/"]http://bookpregnant.blogspot.com/[/url]" target="_blank">Book Pregnant</a>, <a href="[url="http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/"]http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/[/url]" target="_blank">From the Write Angle</a>, <a href="[url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/[/url]" target="_blank">Friday the Thirteeners</a>, <a href="[url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/[/url]" target="_blank">The Lucky 13s</a>, <a href="[url="http://classof2k13.com/"]http://classof2k13.com/[/url]" target="_blank">Class of 2k13</a> and <a href="[url="http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/"]http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/[/url]" target="_blank">The League of Extraordinary Writers</a>. Last fall I had the experience of having an aspiring writer who doesn't blog say to me, "You're using all your time for blogging and not actually writing."</div><div><br /></div><div>Which is kind of funny, really, since she has absolutely no idea how much time I spend (or don't spend) writing.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>I blog because I <i>like</i> to. I think that's the step that a lot of people are missing. I read a lot about blog burnout (it happens) as well as the burning question of whether blogs are a form of social media that actually help to sell our books.</div><div><br /></div><div>But here's the thing - even if you could tell me for a fact that this blog sold ZERO copies of NOT A DROP TO DRINK, I'd probably keep doing it anyway.&nbsp;There are more than enough words rattling around inside my skull to fill up monthly posts on group blogs, daily posts here, plus a couple of short stories and at least one novel a year.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>People ask me fairly often what my secret is. How do I find the time to do all this blogging?</div><div><br /></div><div>I don't find the time - I make it. I make it the way anyone with hobbies makes the time to read, scrapbook, knit, or play the piano. My secret is that I actually <i>like</i> to do this.</div><div><br /></div><div>But I won't mind if you buy my book, either. :)</div><div><br /></div><div>If you're thinking about jumping into the blogging world, or would like to revitalize your blog and / or your love for it, check out some of these articles below.</div><div><br /></div><div><a href="[url="http://ezinearticles.com/?Do-Authors-Need-a-Blog?-Selling-Books-by-Blogging&amp;id=5435055"]http://ezinearticles.com/?Do-Authors-Need-a-Blog?-Selling-Books-by-Blogging&amp;id=5435055[/url]" target="_blank">Do Authors Need A Blog?</a>&nbsp;- Irene Watson</div><div><a href="[url="http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/08/you-tell-me-do-author-blogs-sell-books.html"]http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/08/you-tell-me-do-author-blogs-sell-books.html[/url]" target="_blank">Do Author Blogs Sell Books?</a> - Nathan Bransford</div><div><a href="[url="https://marketyourbookblog.com/blogs-for-authors/"]https://marketyourbookblog.com/blogs-for-authors/[/url]" target="_blank">How Blogs for Authors Help Sell Books</a> - Jan Bear</div><div><a href="[url="http://blog.winepresspublishing.com/2012/03/5-reality-checks-author-bloggers-can-sell-books/"]http://blog.winepresspublishing.com/2012/03/5-reality-checks-author-bloggers-can-sell-books/[/url]" target="_blank">5 Reality Checks - Author Bloggers CAN Sell Books</a> - The WinePress Blog</div><div><a href="[url="http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2010/01/does-blogging-really-help-sell-books.html"]http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2010/01/does-blogging-really-help-sell-books.html[/url]" target="_blank">Does Blogging Really Help Sell Books?</a> - Jody Hedlund</div>

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 23 February 2013 · 101 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/[/url]" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.<br /><br /><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg"]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/url]" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg"]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/url]" width="246" /></a></div>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch &nbsp;them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.<br /><br />Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/"]http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/[/url]" target="_blank">AgentQuery Connect</a>. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!<br /><br />When twelve year old Maia Quinn arrives at her aunt’s mansion in a remote village of Grunewald, she is none too excited. With her parents away overseas, she has resigned herself to a long and dull summer, or so she thinks. <span style="color: #38761d;">You need a better hook here. Your first sentence is weighed down in detail, and I don't have any sense of originality here. So an MG MC reluctantly goes somewhere boring for her summer vacation, but finds out there's more in store? Been there, done that - why is yours different?</span><br /><br />The night she attends the Start of the Summer Party, a mysterious flying trapeze artist brands her with a glowing silver star and then disappears without a trace. <span style="color: #38761d;">Ah - now this seems interesting. Trapeze artists and a brand? Get this in the hook.&nbsp;</span>Soon after, the wall drawings at the mansion start to come alive, warning her that Grunewald is in grave danger. <span style="color: #38761d;">This is better, there are definitely unique qualities here but I have no idea how they come together. What is a Start of the Summer Party? Is this a village thing? A circus, I assume, since there is a trapeze artist. What do you mean by "brands her?" Does she have a tattoo now? And what does this have to do with the drawings?</span><br /><br />Now Maia is determined to learn the truth <span style="color: #38761d;">truth about what?&nbsp;</span>and even having a giant green hound for a stalker won’t frighten her away. She discovers that one of her ancestors was an immortal from the Faie realm, and because of this she was born a Wanderer, someone who can travel between two worlds. The immortals reveal to Maia that their race is in peril from the warring Nature Spirits, who were forced into a struggle by the thoughtless actions of a human. As a Wanderer, it is within Maia’s power to stop their conflict and bring both their worlds from the brink of destruction. That is, if she can survive the mission. <span style="color: #38761d;">Better - there's more detail here so we can understand the plot here, but you need to tie all these ideas into what has come before. What about those moving portraits? Why exactly is Grunewald in danger?</span><br /><span style="color: #38761d;"><br /></span><span style="color: #38761d;">You need to make your plot more clear and tie these elements together in order for this to pop. It's difficult because as the author you already know the answers, and so instinctively draw the lines in between elements that seem unrelated to a fresh eye. Get those lines drawn clearly and you'll be in a lot better shape.</span></div>

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