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BBC Book Talk: DROWNING INSTINCT by Ilsa J. Bick

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 07 June 2012 · 114 views

[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1331339352l/12083233.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1331339352l/12083233.jpg[/img][/url][/center]Here's the thing, folks. Ilsa J. Bick is awesome. I would read a book about ham sandwiches if she wrote it. She's not afraid to look at the hard topics, the questions of right and wrong and the places in between. She converted me to a zombie fan with ASHES and had me up all night with DRAW THE DARK. But [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12083233-drowning-instinct"]DROWNING INSTINCT[/url] is a different kind of story, like the flap says, it's a story where it’s hard to be sure [i]who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)[/i]

Jenna Lord has no one she can count on - not her drunk mother, her absent father, or the older brother who has been shipped to Afghanistan. For so long the only thing that has given her any relief from reality is the slip of a sharp object against her already-scarred skin, the rise of blood to the surface. But that habit landed her somewhere her doctor father doesn't like to talk about, and her move to a new school is supposed to have all the answers.

New school. New friends. Goodbye old problems.

Instead she loads herself up with new problems, immediately (and accidentally) making an enemy out of Danielle, a girl she immediately knows is just as "broken" as she is. Danielle's jealousy flares when Mr. Anderson - the chemistry teacher and girl's cross-country coach - makes Jenna his TA instead of her. Even though she likes Mr. Anderson, Jenna resists joining the team because of the ill-will she feels pouring out of Danielle.

Mr. Anderson insists she run with him to stay in shape, and as their runs become longer and more private he unearths Jenna's secrets; truths buried so deep inside she hasn't acknowledged them herself. Memories of the grandfather who touched her too often and the fire that killed him, the same fire that covered her body in the burns she hides from others in the locker room. The truth about why her brother never responds to her emails, and the frailty of her family situation are all drawn out by Mr. Anderson, who becomes Jenna's only friend and confidant.

And then more...

DROWNING INSTINCT takes the reader down paths they aren't expecting, and looks straight into the gray area between the black and white, where no one is truly bad or good. There are simply people.
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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 June 2012 · 171 views

I know you're all dying for my Thursday Thoughts, but before you jump into me talking about body parts that I wish I didn't have (yes, really), hop on over to the [url="http://bookpregnant.blogspot.com/2012/06/when-your-first-time-is-at-romance.html"]Book Pregnant [/url]blog to read my post about my first time... at a romance convention.

Sigh, friends. I've been sick this week. It's my first week of freedom from work, the first week when I was planning on jumping headlong into the edits. And of course, the first editor phone call took place on Monday when I sounded like a 75 year old Midwestern male who'd been smoking unfiltered cigarettes in the womb. Fortunately, my editor did not hang up and run away screaming. So my thoughts this week focus on body parts we don't need, and why we should just go ahead and get rid of them.



1) Tonsils. Yeah, I've still got mine. They make me miserable. Everyone tells me that having them out as an adult is tantamount to torture, but I'm tempted to call their bluff.


2) Appendix. Yeah, I've still got mine. Everytime I have midsection pain (or [i]mittelschmerz[/i], as we Germans call it) I have to wonder if it's about to blow and poison all my properly functioning innards.


3) Little toes. Yeah, I've still got mine... oh wait, you probably do too. In any case, I'm always stubbing the damn things, and no, we don't really need them. [url="http://www.bloggingwv.com/20-useless-body-parts-why-do-did-we-need-them/"]I checked.[/url]


4) Eyebrows. Yeah, I've still got mine... despite lots of waxing and tweezing. (And yes, you get four thoughts this week). Ostensibly, our eyebrows are supposed to keep sweat from running directly into our eyes. And yeah, they probably are pretty useful once you think about it. But did you know you're not the only person (uh, thing) benefitting from that? Yep. [url="http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2140/are-there-critters-living-in-our-eyebrows"]Something lives up there[/url].


And yes, that last thought was just a random something I've been carrying around in my weird brain for awhile. I just had to back up it with a link.
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A BOA with Mindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 04 June 2012 · 149 views

[left]My original intention for the series of interviews I do here was to focus on agents (BBCHAT) and successful authors (SAT). In the course of internet wanderings though, I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.[/left]

[left]Today's guest is Mindy (AWESOME name, right?) from Magical Urban Fantasy Reads. Mindy is an obsessive reader. She primarily reads YA, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Dystopia, Post-apocalyptic & Sci-Fi. She has a serious problem with falling in love with fictional characters.[/left]

[center][url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-veotUw3tON4/T4Jk-TuwFXI/AAAAAAAABxg/rjgnWSCHO9I/s1600/Main+Header1.png"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-veotUw3tON4/T4Jk-TuwFXI/AAAAAAAABxg/rjgnWSCHO9I/s400/Main+Header1.png[/img][/url][/center][b]BBC: So you run an excellent blog over at[url="http://www.magicalurbanfantasyreads.com/"] Magical Urban Fantasy Reads[/url]. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?[/b]

Mindy: I was already a little obsessed with writing my opinions about books on Goodreads. Then, one day after reading Nightshade, I saw that Andrea Cremer was hosting a twitter giveaway of Wolfsbane so I thought I would enter! Well, that giveaway opened me up to the world of book bloggers and I immediately jumped in.

[b]BBC: You're a prolific blogger! How do you recommend fledgling bloggers become seasoned pros like yourself?[/b]

Mindy: I wouldn’t say that I’m seasoned because I still feel like I’m a newbie. I think one of the most important things is to make sure you do it for fun, and to do it because you like to do it. Book blogging can be and IS a lot of work. It was overwhelming in the beginning, but now…well now, it actually isn’t any easier now than it was in the beginning! I thought in the beginning it would be the hardest, but it doesn’t really get any easier! You just have to find a balance about what’s important to you and what’s not.

I think the most important thing is to get yourself out there! Make sure you are involved in all of the social media websites. Interact with other bloggers and authors. Get to know bloggers who live near you and meet up with them at book events.

[b]BBC: You’re a huge reader. How do you find the time? And because I love a challenge – how many books do you think you read in a year?[/b]

Mindy: I mostly read when everyone else in my house is asleep, and I read until way into the late hours of the night…and, sometimes, into the wee hours of the morning! Last year I almost read 60 books and this year my goal is 80. At first I was shooting for 100 but I was dreaming a little too big.

[b]BBC: Have you ever given a bad review? Why or why not?[/b]

Mindy: Yes, and it sucks! I very rarely need to do that anymore because if a book isn’t holding my interest, I’ll stop and move on to the next book. I always try to be as honest as I can be for each and every review, and I mainly speak about my feelings from reading the book, so if I have emotions of dislike, you will hear it in the review.

[b]BBC: How do you decide what you’re going to read next?[/b]

Mindy: Usually, it’s between a book that’s been staring at me FOREVER or a book that I have to hit at last minute in order to complete a review.

[b]BBC: What do you think is the best way for readers to be exposed to debut authors?[/b]

Mindy: Definitely, it’s through social media. There are quite a few authors who I’ve first chatted with on Twitter, sometimes for over a year, not even knowing whether they will have a book releasing soon. And then when I see the upcoming releases, and their name is on the book, I jump all over it!

[b]BBC: As a book blogger, what’s your advice to writers on getting themselves out there?[/b]

Mindy: Twitter! I can honestly say that Twitter is the best place to get yourself out there. Find bloggers who read your genre, follow their blog and follow them on Twitter! Through them, you will be able to find more bloggers who read your genre as well. Blog tours, and fun giveaways, are always good ways to get yourself out there too, and giveaways don’t even need to be books. I know an author who gives out knitted stuff she makes, and people love it!

[b]BBC: You have an INCREDIBLE first name. I mean, it’s just GLORIOUS. How much do you love it?[/b]

Mindy: I absolutely LOVE my name!!! Whenever an author is asking for suggestions for a character name in a book, I always say, “MINDY” because the name Mindy totally rocks! I’m glad that you agree! LOL
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2012 Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 03 June 2012 · 138 views

This past weekend I had the fantastic experience of meeting quite a few of my fellow Ohioan YA authors. A group of us were on the "Why YA?" panel for the [url="http://www.lorifoster.com/community/readergettogether.php"]2012 Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together [/url]in Cinncinnati. Not only did I get to see the lovely [url="http://blog.juliealindsey.com/"]Julie Anne Lindsay[/url] again, I also met quite a few of my fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky 13'[/url]ers ([url="http://www.melissa-landers.com/"]Melissa Landers[/url] & [url="http://www.jennifermcgowan.com/"]Jennifer McGowan[/url]) as well as [url="http://careycorp.com/"]Carey Corp[/url] and [url="https://twitter.com/#!/LorieLangdon"]Lori Langdon[/url], co-authors and members of the [url="http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/"]Honestly YA[/url] blog, and the uber-cool [url="http://www.leannareneehieber.com/"]Leanna Renee Hieber[/url]. The cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake was meeting my fellow Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins imprint-sister [url="http://www.lizcoley.com/"]Liz Coley[/url].

I love meeting people in real life... yeah that might sound funny when you say it aloud and without context, but I think most people understand what I mean. Not only did we get the initial AAAAAA!!!! commiserate with jumping up and down when we spotted each other's nametags, but we also got to talk to each other in real time.

Yeah. Real time. Much like real life, it doesn't require an internet hookup or the patience of waiting for a response to load. I don't get the chance to talk industry with anyone in real life, unless I intend to spend over 3/4 of the conversation explaining terms like WIP, CP, word count, beta, edit letter, query or having to quickly backtrack when using the word "submission."

It was truly lovely to just be able to talk to real writers as opposed to typing to them. After having crashed on [url="http://www.crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]RC Lewis[/url]' couch last month, and warmed up a few chairs with friends in the corner (by the buffet tables, ahem) I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't already made that personal leap to go out of their way to meet the people on the other end of the keyboard.

They have good hair.
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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 June 2012 · 153 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description [url="http://www.crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]RC Lewis[/url] 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.




[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s1600/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s200/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff[/img][/url][/center]



We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch 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. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.








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 AgentQuery Connect. 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!








And now for our next brave soul. For clarity, my comments are in [color=yellow]yellow[/color].

Written in the vein of the PENDRAGON series, AMELIA AND THE MANY WORLDS is a middle grade fantasy, complete at 60,000 words. [color=yellow]It's very true that some agents like to see the comp titles, genre, and word count up front. I personally like to see the hook out there, but hey, I'm not an agent.[/color]

Twelve-year old Amelia is able to travel between parallel worlds using a pendant given to her by an alternate version of herself. [color=yellow]See? That's awesome! Throw *that* out there instead of dry facts! But others may disagree. [/color]At first, she is only interested in visiting her dog, who is still alive in the reality of the “Amelia” who provided her with the pendant. [color=yellow]This is definitely a tricky query to write, as you have to be clear which "Amelia" you're talking about all the time, yet the extra wordage is tripping me up - I'd stick with the more succinct phrase "alternate self" here, even though technically it's an echo, it's better than extra verbiage. [/color]Curious, she eventually visits other realms, including one where people live in underground cities to preserve the earth’s surface and another where her middle school’s motto is “all fun all the time.” [color=yellow]I'd make it clear that all these "alternate realities" are taking place in the same time period. "Underground cities" immediately makes me think "future" and I picture a very Sci-Fi type environment, even though *technically* she's in the same time... just a different *now*.[/color] She discovers catastrophic events are killing people [color=yellow]Wait - kill people where? In which alternate universe? And what kind of catastrophic event? That phrase is usually used in conjunction with natural disasters, so why would she "investigate?"[/color] and investigates, knowing if she can’t find the cause of the disasters, the next realm destroyed may be her own. [color=yellow]Oh I like this a LOT - makes me think of "The Nothing" from Neverending Story - but... I need to *what* is happening and why she thinks it's spreading? [/color] But how is she supposed to do that when every time she travels to a parallel world, an alternate “Amelia” takes her place in her home reality, causing problems, getting her grounded, and telling her mom she’ll try out for the cheer team? [color=yellow]Nice, I like it, but I feel like we need more on what alternate Amelia is doing at home, and how it ties in to her saving alternate realities. [/color]Complicating everything is her friendship with Seb, a boy she keeps meeting in the parallel worlds. And maybe has a little bit of a crush on. [color=yellow]And woah! A love interest... yeah you definitely want to give this more than two sentences.[/color]

As is the typical path after receiving a degree in literature, I enlisted in the U.S. Army to learn psychological operations, study Korean, and to jump out of airplanes. Now a school librarian, I am certain most kids are indeed from a parallel world. I am a member of SCBWI. [color=yellow]Like the bio, it's fun, and you include you're a librarian (UNITE!), and that's a foot in the door.[/color]

[color=yellow]My overall thoughts on this is that you need to take your middle para and make it two - one that's dedicated to alternate worlds, and one that talks about what's going on at home, and why that matters at all, or has an impact on her actions in the alternate worlds. [/color]

[color=yellow]So what's the deal with alternate Amelia? Is she a trouble-maker? Sounds that way... so what was her motivation for giving Amelia the pendant in the first place? She just wants to wreck her home life? Or is there more going on here? Expand on alternate Amelia and what her overarching role in the story is.[/color]

[color=yellow]If you can find away to neatly slip Seb into the parallel realities paragraph, do so. And how does he play in to the larger plot? Is he in danger? Does he know alternate Amelia? Can he travel back and forth as well? You don't have to answer those questions specifically, but definitely tell me why he matters, other than as a propped-up love interest.[/color]
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Huge Congrats & A Redirect

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 31 May 2012 · 294 views

So, I get to share some incredibly awesome news today.

My crit partner of three years (I think? Maybe more?), RC Lewis, has landed an agent... one helluva agent, and she's got a head-spinning tale of how it went down.

Think of all the fantasies you've had while driving, or mowing, or showering about a slew of agents unable to contain themselves, they're so excited about your book. Your inbox is full, your phone is ringing, your crit partner keeps texting you for an update... (well maybe the last bit isn't in your fantasy).

Ahem... THAT is exactly what happened to RC Lewis. So, for an amazing story of perseverance, hope and long odds (and also listening to your crit parter when she tells you to hang on for one more ms, because the next one WILL be the breakout) go on over to [url="http://www.crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]Rachel's blog[/url] and tell her how awesome she is.

I've been doing it for years.
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Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 30 May 2012 · 133 views

It's my last Thursday before summer, and so today you get one BIG Thursday Thought. Hopefully I don't come off as kind of a prickly b, but there's something I have to get off my chest.

I've been a school librarian for something like a dozen years now, and every year about this time people start asking me, "So, are you packing up all those books yet?"



Sigh. It's one of those innocent questions asked by people who don't really understand the logistics of the situation, but after twelve years of getting the same question about 10 times in the same month it gets very hard not to say something like -


"Yes, it's very hard work to pack up 11,000 books, ship them to our offshore Cayman Island storage facilities, wait three months, then ship them back into the country, unpack them, and put them all back onto the shelves according to Dewey. Really it's a miracle we manage it every year. It's funny though, you'd think with an entire room full of bookshelves we'd just keep them [i]there [/i]over the summer, right? Where better to store books than bookshelves. Geez, wish I woulda thought of that before now."
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Debut Submission Experience with World Traveler Tara Dairman

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 28 May 2012 · 210 views

[url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-y_dkzuKRoOI/T8LpFN_vwSI/AAAAAAAAAhw/_UpO66m0rSk/s1600/Tara.jpg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-y_dkzuKRoOI/T8LpFN_vwSI/AAAAAAAAAhw/_UpO66m0rSk/s1600/Tara.jpg[/img][/url]Today's guest for the SHIT is [url="http://taradairman.com/"]Tara Dairman[/url]. Her debut novel, [url="http://taradairman.com/fiction/"]The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby[/url], will be published in 2014 by Putnam/Penguin; it’s about the youngest restaurant critic in the history of The New York Times (she’s 11). Tara claims to be slightly older than 11. In 2009, Tara and her husband quit their jobs to take a very long, “around-the-world” honeymoon. Over the next two years, they visited 74 countries on 5 continents and ate more fabulous street food than they ever imagined possible. You can read their blog and see lots of pictures from the whole crazy, wonderful experience at [url="http://AndyandTara.com/"]AndyandTara.com[/url]

[b]BBC: How much did you know about the submission process before you were out on subs yourself?[/b]

TD: I knew the basics: about how many editors you usually subbed to in one round, and not to expect to start hearing back from them for weeks (if not months). I feel like there’s a lot of information out there about querying agents, but fewer people are willing to talk publicly about their submission experience—which is one of the reasons I found the previous SHIT interviews on this blog so helpful! =) But those interviews also showed me that people’s subbing timelines and experiences can vary wildly.

[b]BBC: Did anything about the process surprise you?[/b]

I guess that the big thing that surprised me was that I ended up getting an “R&R” from the house that ultimately bought my book. I had heard of people getting revision requests before being taken on by agents, but I didn’t really know that that was an option at the submissions stage—I kind of thought that publishers either bought the project and then worked on revisions with you, or flat-out rejected it. In my case, there were a few elements of the story that the publisher wanted me to beef up. Luckily, I connected very much with their suggestions, and they liked the changes I made with their guidance, so they ended up making an offer.

[b]BBC: Did you research the editors you knew had your ms? Do you recommend doing that?[/b]

TD: When I got the submission list from my agent, I did a quick Googling out of curiosity, but that was about it. I didn’t feel the need to do the kind of in-depth research I had done on agents I was querying because I trusted my agent’s choices. And really, isn’t that one of the reasons you hire an agent—to worry about that stuff for you? =)

[b]BBC: What was the average amount of time it took to hear back from editors?[/b]

TD: We found out that we had interest from one house the day after we went on submission (which is very fast!), and my agent let the other editors know about the early interest, so I think that sped up the reading process for some of them. We ended up hearing back from about half the editors in the first week, one more editor about three weeks into the process, and the last few about six weeks into the process, after my agent had notified them that we had an offer. So I guess that’s about three weeks on average, though it varied quite a bit.

[b]BBC: What do you think is the best way for an author out on submission to deal with the anxiety?[/b]

TD: For me, working on a new project was key. That was something I hadn’t been able to do while querying agents, but I guess that something about actually having an agent—a partner in crime!—let me relax enough to get back to writing. I also recommend planning a vacation for part of the time that you’re on sub—anything that gets you away from constantly checking your e-mail/phone and reminds you that a whole, interesting world exists outside of your will-I-or-won’t-I-get-published bubble.

[b]BBC: If you had any rejections, how did you deal with that emotionally? How did this kind of rejection compare to query rejections?[/b]

TD: The big difference between editor rejections and query rejections is that editors usually give some sort of concrete reason about why they’re turning your project down. Most of my rejections from editors said nice things about my writing, even as they explained why the book wouldn’t work on their list. Those reasons varied, although a couple of editors already had food-themed MG or YA projects and didn’t think they’d be able to acquire another one.

[b]BBC: If you got feedback on a rejection, how did you process it? How do you compare processing an editor’s feedback as compared to a beta reader’s?[/b]

TD: The feedback I got on rejections wasn’t very consistent—each editor seemed to have her own reason for turning down the book, and it often didn’t seem to have much to do with the concept or the writing. When I shared earlier versions of the manuscript with beta readers, I tried to watch out for commonly-cited problems. If multiple readers pointed out that something was bothering them, then I probably needed to fix it. But I didn’t really get that from the editors (this time).

[b]BBC: When you got your YES! how did that feel? How did you find out – email, telephone, smoke signal?[/b]

TD: I found out by phone, but smoke signal might have been faster! It was the first day of our let’s-distract-Tara-from-being-on-submission road trip, and we were driving through the South Dakota badlands—which, as it turns out, have pretty spotty cell service. We emerged from a dead zone and my phone beeped with a voicemail from my agent, saying she had some news and asking me to call her back. My heart pounded as I called her, and she was barely able to tell me that we had an offer before I lost service again. I called her back again, lost service again, called again, lost again, and finally got the bright idea to ask my husband to pull over. I finally got the rest of the news as we sat on the shoulder of the road.

[b]BBC: Did you have to wait a period of time before sharing your big news, because of details being ironed out? Was that difficult?[/b]

After we got the offer, we still had to hear back from a few other editors, which took a few days, then my agent had to do some negotiating. I accepted the revised offer a week after the first call, and then the day after that the news was up on Publisher’s Marketplace! I was actually expecting to have to sit on the news much longer than that, so I was kind of surprised by the speed.

I was still on vacation at this point and had limited Internet access, but had told my mom on the phone that it was now OK to share the news. I thought that she would just call a few relatives or something, but instead she went and posted about it on Facebook. When I found out about this, I had to scramble to get online and share the news myself so my mom wouldn’t totally be scooping me!
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Amy Parrish Is A Genius and I Heart Her

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 27 May 2012 · 179 views

Yeah, so if the title of this post doesn't significantly convey how I felt about my photography shoot on Friday, allow me to go into more detail.

Amy Parrish of Granville, OH is just frickin' grand. Loved her, loved her ideas, loved the fact that one of the first things she said to me when I got out of the car was, "So, how do you feel about climbing?"

Yeah. We got along.

She put up a few of the shots from my session on her blog, [url="http://www.amyparrish.com/parrishthethought/?p=4296"]Parrish the Thought[/url]. Enjoy!



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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 25 May 2012 · 302 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis 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.



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We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch 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. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.






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 AgentQuery Connect. 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!






And now for our next brave soul. For clarity, my comments are in [color=yellow]yellow[/color].
Liz has already proven that she is a terrible mother who does not deserve her child. After all, what kind of mother doesn’t even know she’s pregnant? [color=yellow]I get that the "already" means she's proven that she doesn't deserve the child even before it's born, but I almost think this hook would be better if you chopped the "After all," of the second sentence and just used that as your hook. It's short and to the point.[/color]

Twenty-two year old Liz is shocked to discover that she is [color=red]eight months[/color] pregnant. Sure, she’s gained some weight, and sure she’s been feeling a little off lately, but pregnant? She is too young to have a baby. [color=yellow]Is she really? I'd say no, she's not. That might be *her* rationale but it's not really working here as a statement of fact. [/color]She hasn’t spoken to the father in [color=red]months[/color], and certainly doesn’t want to now. [color=yellow]If the father doesn't figure into the story, don't mention him in the query. If he's not mentioned it's assumed he's not in the picture.[/color] It has taken [color=red]eight months[/color] for her to even figure out that she is pregnant. Nonetheless, in a brief six weeks a new baby will be born, and she has a rapid decision to make. Choosing an adoption plan is the only thing she can do, and the only way she can survive it is to carry the detachment her denial provided along the way. [color=yellow]Here's your crux right here - this is what you've been getting to with everything you've said before this. We don't need her rationale for why she's giving it up for adoption - you said so yourself she's already proven she doesn't deserve her child (or at least believes that to be true)[/color] She [color=yellow]Use the proper name here, you've been sticking to the pronoun for a while.[/color] speeds through the process, visiting an agency, speaking to a social worker, and choosing adoptive parents, all the time believing she is simply a surrogate for the deserving parents [color=yellow]Here we are again with this word "deserving" - this is your plot point and you're throwing a lot of distractions out in front of it. [/color]who will adopt this baby. [color=yellow]I've highlighted all the uses of "eight months" and "months" in this first para. Lots of echoes here. Personally I think you can kill all of the rationalization and get down to the point - detachment, deserving - more quickly.[/color]

Now, [color=yellow]Kill the "now" it makes this read like a synopsis instead of a query [/color]a week after signing surrender papers to finalize the adoption, Liz enters therapy hoping she will be able to [color=yellow]you need some re-phrasing for simplicity in this sentence. "Will be able to" can be changed to a simple "can"[/color] put these events behind her and [color=yellow]The last two clauses of this sentence are pretty much saying the same thing. Choose one to not weigh down the query [/color]return to life as normal. [color=yellow]Wait - has the baby been born yet? Is she still pregnant while going through therapy? [/color]After[color=red] eight months [/color]of convincing herself she wasn’t pregnant, she finds no problem distancing herself from the supposed grief her therapist tells her she will feel. But as she tells the story to her therapist, who seems relentlessly insisting she have an emotional breakdown, she finds herself viewing her therapy as a game of chess she must win. [color=yellow]Convoluted sentence here - we can assume she's telling her story to the therapist, I'd slash that and simplify. Accentuate the "chess" idea. [/color]He pushes her to accept her denial, and her emotional detachment as natural coping mechanisms, while she views them as proof that she is unfit to be a parent. [color=yellow]And that right there is the sum-up of what your novel is about, right? Yet it's buried down here in the middle of the second para. [/color]When he invites her to explore her relationships with her family and her best friend, she struggles to maintain they’re denial is irrelevant. [color=yellow]I don't understand what this sentence means - "struggles to maintain [/color][color=red]they are[/color][color=yellow] denial is irrelevant." You probably mean "their denial" but even then... denial of what? Her? Her relationship with them? Her pregnancy? [/color]Why can’t this just be something that happened? The deeper he digs, the harder she works to keep her composure. It takes the work with her therapist to help her realize that her decision is rooted in more than necessity. It is a life-changing event that will live in her heart forever.

At 76,000 words, Detached is a work of literary fiction. It is my debut work, and inspired by the true story of choosing an adoption plan. Thank you for your consideration. [color=yellow]Good to state this here, that you know the system and the emotional intricacies. And I love the title, by the way, but it needs to be either ALL CAPS or[i] italicized[/i].[/color]

[color=yellow]The story sounds quite interesting, and I like the implied complexities of this character, but that's where your meat is and it's kind of floundering along with the little details that aren't relevant to the query that I mention above. Also, as it stands right now my biggest hang up is that I don't know what her relationship with the therapist is - does she resent his digging? Does she get angry with him? Does she look at him as a partner or an opponent? You brought in the "chess game" idea but then you don't take the analogy anywhere. It sounds like a cerebral internal journey read, and I like the way you're approaching it, you need to carefully look at what the main sell is here before you pitch.[/color]
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