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Writer, Writer Pants on Fire


A Successful Author Talk with Tara Sullivan, Author of GOLDEN BOY

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 November 2012 · 292 views

Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is fellow [url="http://classof2k13.com/"]Class of 2k13[/url] member Tara Sullivan. Tara's debut, [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16099325-golden-boy"]GOLDEN BOY[/url] will be available from G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin) June, 2013.

[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1351041876l/16099325.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1351041876l/16099325.jpg[/img][/url][/center][i]Thirteen-year-old Habo has always been different— light eyes, yellow hair and white skin. Not the good brown skin his family has and not the white skin of tourists. Habo is strange and alone. Only his sister Asu loves him well. But even Asu can’t take the sting away when the family is forced from their small Tanzanian village.[/i]
[i]Seeking refuge in Mwanza, Habo and his family journey across the Serengeti. Suddenly, Habo has a new word for himself: Albino. But they hunt Albinos in Mwanza because Albino body parts are thought to bring good luck. And soon Habo is being hunted by a fearsome man with a machete. [/i]
[b]Writing Process:[/b]
[b]Are you a Planner or Pantster?[/b]

Kind of a bit of both… I start with an idea and try to plan it out, but I always hit a wall I can’t figure out. It’s only when I start actually putting words on paper that the story unfolds around previously-impossible problems.

[b]How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?[/b]

My debut, GOLDEN BOY, took me two years… though really the publication process has involved so much editing that I would count this year too.

[b]Querying and Agent Hunt Process:[/b]
[b]Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them? [/b]

I’m rep’d by the phenomenal [url="http://www.andreabrownlit.com/deals_wiseman.php"]Caryn Wiseman[/url] of the [url="http://www.andreabrownlit.com/"]Andrea Brown Literary Agency[/url]. Here’s the story of how I got her interested in my work: I am a member of a writer’s group and, as such, we were able to get a grant from our local chapter of SCBWI for writer’s group development. We decided that, since we were all just starting to think about querying our work, the best use of this money would be to get an agent to talk to us. We sent a proposal to Caryn (as she expressed an interest in her online profile for work that fit the descriptions of what each of us was working on at the time) for a Skype video-conference and she agreed to talk to us about querying and the market in general. As part of the presentation she agreed to critique a query letter and 10-page submission from each of us to help us perfect our pitch. The evening was a phenomenal success: we all learned a lot about querying from an agent’s perspective, got to ask very specific questions, and heard a professional critique our submissions.

Thought it wasn’t officially a “query,” Caryn asked to see the full manuscript of GOLDEN BOY as soon as I had it ready. Luckily for me, she liked it when she got it and I have been able to benefit from her tireless, wonderful representation.

I like to tell this story to people because I think it’s a valuable lesson: think outside the box! Try to cultivate relationships with professionals in the field [i]without [/i]asking for something back right away. Use resources available to you (especially ones that lend you professional credibility, like the SCBWI) to learn more about agents, your craft, and querying. If you don’t come through the regular channels, you never know what might happen: with a little extra careful reading, you too may get selected by your dream agent!

[b]Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?[/b]

Find a way to de-couple your personal sense of self-worth from your query. This is really, really hard to do, but if you *can* find a way to not take it emotionally when someone (your writer’s group members, an agent, a well-meaning friend) critiques the way you wrote it, your query will slowly evolve into something better.

[b]On Being Published:[/b]
[b]How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?[/b]

Hasn’t happened yet… I can wait until June 27[sup]th[/sup], 2013!!

[b]How much input do you have on cover art?[/b]

Let me first squee about my cover: [url="http://www.jessewatson.com/Books/BooksIndex.htm"]Jesse Joshua Watson[/url] did a phenomenal job of putting a compelling portrait of Habo, my main character on it. Yay, Jesse!

To answer your question: some. Though I didn’t get to have much say in the overall design choices, I was actually amazed how much the people at Putnam/Penguin took my input into consideration. For example, in an early draft Habo’s face floated more and I was concerned that it didn't show clearly enough that he was albino. Jesse went back and added in the sunspots, the hair, and gave Habo that hauntingly vulnerable look. I was even allowed input into the choice of text. All in all, I feel very listened-to.

[b]Social Networking and Marketing:[/b]
[b]How much of your own marketing do you? [/b]

So far, all of it! I’ve been told I will get to meet my in-house (As opposed to out-house? I’ve always wanted ask, but can’t quite find the gumption.) publicist about six months before my release date… so SOON, perhaps, I will have someone to help me with it. For now, though, you can come find me at my [url="http://sullivanstories.com/"]blog[/url] and [url="https://twitter.com/SullivanStories"]Twitter[/url]. Also, GOLDEN BOY can be pre-ordered on [url="http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Boy-Tara-Sullivan/dp/0399161120/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1352085167&sr=8-14&keywords=golden+boy"]Amazon[/url] & marked as to-read on [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16099325-golden-boy"]Goodreads[/url]!



Swag Explosion

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 05 November 2012 · 286 views

A little over a month ago I attended a conference where I spoke about writing YA, and I offered to my fellow authors at The Lucky 13s, Class of 2k13, Book Pregnant and Friday the Thirteeners to take some of their swag to pass out. And wow - did I ever get a great response! So much so in fact, I've got some left over and I thought a great way to reward my followers (as I creep ever so close to the 500 follower mark) is to give it away.

So that's what I'm doing. Below is a big old picture letting you know what you're getting, the Rafflecopter for the giveaway, and a list, in case you have something against looking at pictures.



[left]The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot - tassled bookmark[/left]
[left]Hooked by Liz Fichera - postcard and bracelet[/left]
[left]The Flame & The Mist by Kit Grindstaff - postcard[/left]
[left]Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland - stickers, bookmark & bracelet[/left]
[left]Pretty Girl - 13 by Liz Coley - bookmark[/left]
[left]Prophecy by Ellen Oh - SIGNED bookmark and charm bracelet[/left]
[left]Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger - SIGNED bookmark[/left]
[left]Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger - SIGNED art plate[/left]
[left]The Key & The Flame by Claire M. Caterer - bookmark[/left]
[left]Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton - bookmark and pin[/left]
[left]The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett - bookmark[/left]
[left]The Exceptionals by Erin Cashma - SIGNED postcard[/left]
[left]Level 2 by Lenore Applehans - SIGNED postcard[/left]
[left]Rump by Liesl Shurtliff - bookmark[/left]
[left]Hand me Down by Melanie Thorne - postcard[/left]
[left]Canary by Rachele Alpine - postcard[/left]
[left]The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke - charm necklace[/left]
[left]In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters - SIGNED bookmark and bookplate[/left]
[left]The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell - bookmark and bracelet[/left]
[url="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2071815/"]a Rafflecopter giveaway[/url]




The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 02 November 2012 · 193 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description [url="http://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.


Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson


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, 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 [url="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/"]AgentQuery Connect[/url]. 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 the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in [color=#6aa84f]this color. Because nobody liked the yellow :)[/color]

"Feeling down? Unhappy with life? Then we have a solution for you! Try our newest over-the-counter drug—Happy Pills. Comes in several different emotive-inducing flavors, such as happiness, motivation, and even love! That's right folks, only $799.99 a box. Hurry and get yours today!" [color=#6aa84f]Hmm... well, I know that this is kind of a rule-breaker shot at a hook, but honestly it doesn't work for me. I can't stand infomericals, period. So having one tossed at me as an attempt to get my attention (even if it is tongue in cheek) just makes me want to turn off the TV, or put down the query. [/color]

Sixteen-year-old Creed Gable has it all: the car, the looks, the cash, and [s]even[/s] his own commercial where [s]he gets to[/s] advertise[color=#6aa84f]s[/color] the [s]newest over the counter[/s] [color=#6aa84f]hottest? most demanded? something like that[/color] drug on the market—Happy Pills. It's all thanks to his neurotic parents who came up with the formula as their gift to a dying U.S. population. [color=#6aa84f]I definitely think this has more elements of a strong hook. You need to shave it down (suggestions above) and clarify why people are "dying." Do you mean physical, actual death? Metaphorical death of the soul? What does the parents being neurotic have to do with anything? And what do Happy Pills actually do? Literally make you happy?[/color]

But when can't-touch-this Raven Shaw transfers to his private school, claiming the drugs he's been selling on-the-sly to his friends for cheap are adversely affecting their brains, gossip spreads through the halls. [color=#6aa84f]Why does it matter if the drugs he's selling cheaply to friends are adversely affecting people? Even if that's the actual plot point, you don't need the little element that it's the sidelines sales that she's mentioning -- wouldn't it matter more if she's claiming Happy Pills are bad, period? I'd drop the mention of backhalls deals because it's making your sentence overly long. [/color]Even though Happy Pills went through vigorous clinical trials to make sure it was safe for the general public, Creed can't help but take her claims personally, especially when she snubs his advances and denies his bribes to shut up.

And then the worst happens: she tips off the principal and his cache is confiscated. [color=#6aa84f]OK - now I get that you need the offsides sales for this plot point, but it's still not quite working for me. If Happy Pills are being sold to the general public, then they have to be mass-produced, so I'm not sure why it would matter. Also, why would his cache be confiscated? Happy Pills aren't illegal - they're over the counter and he's the owner of the formula, so I don't see any reason why they'd take it from him. Techncially he's not doing anything wrong. [/color]With disposable dough drying up quicker than his popularity, Creed's only recourse is to quiet that screeching Raven once and for all. [color=#6aa84f]But how is shutting her up going to fix the problem? If the problem is that the drugs were taken from him, (and conceivably, if that's the true problem and he can't get anymore, what does making her be quiet help?) [/color]Trouble is, he's never killed (poisoned, punched?) [color=#6aa84f]Is this you playing with word choice, or how you actually want the query to read?[/color] a girl, [color=#6aa84f]If you do decide to go with "killed," you have to deal with the unspoken implication here that he *has* killed boys.[/color] let alone one he thinks he's in love with. Now, if only he could figure out how to ignore her lovely eyes and smart mouth, he'd be back to the top of his game.

[color=#6aa84f]I think the plot sounds run, and original. What you need to do here is plug the holes. I don't know if the holes are present in the ms itself or just the query, but you definitely need to make it clear what kind of "dying" is going on in the US. What are Happy Pills actually treating? Depression? That's part of the issue, but I think the biggest question is why is having his stash taken away feasible if it's a legal drug? And why would it matter if his personal stash is taken if they're being mass produced and he owns the company? And how does making her be quiet solve his problems, if the actual problem is that his drugs were taken?[/color]
[/color] [color=#6aa84f]Like I said, I think there's a great base here, but the holes need plugged.[/color]



Book Talk - JASPER JONES by Craig Silvey

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 November 2012 · 191 views

[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1302583468l/10814796.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1302583468l/10814796.jpg[/img][/url][/center]There's been a bit of talk lately about YA being easier to read and (the thinking goes) therefore easier to write. Obviously I don't think that's the case, and I don't believe anyone who reads JASPER JONES by Craig Silvey would claim that either.

JASPER JONES reads like an Australian TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD during the Vietnam war. Charlie, a 13 year old who finds more to relate to in Charles Dickens than the local cricket matches - even if the matches do mean catching fleeting glimpses of Eliza Wishart in the crowd - is reading into the dark hours of the summer night when he hears a voice at his window.

It's Jasper Jones, the town bad boy, the person who all mothers warn their children about - and he needs Charlie's help. Deep in the brush Jasper has found a body, Laura Wishart, his secret love who had planned to run away with him. Jasper thinks he knows who the killer is, but he also knows that going to the police himself will only mean cuffs on his hands to go along with the weight of the community's scorn on his shoulders.

Charlie is a good kid, a smart kid. The kind whose word people will listen to, and so his good reputation lands him side by side with Jasper Jones, under the swaying body of Laura Wishart. Their cover up of the crime and subsequent investigation on their own time leads Charlie down paths he doesn't think even Mark Twain could have imagined a way out of.

As the townspeople search for the missing girl, Charlie and Jasper's covert investigation begins to supply answers to questions Charlie wasn't ready to ask yet. Why do people do bad things? What could possibly drive someone to delight in hurting another human being? And what goes on behind the closed doors of his small town... even the one on his own house?



Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 31 October 2012 · 191 views

So, I've been watching (and enjoying, for the most part) Revolution on NBC. I just caught up this past week though, having lost interest in the pilot about twenty minutes in. A student and fellow LOST fanatic talked me back into it, so I've been catching up by streaming online. Thoughts for this week are centered around the show, so sorry if you don't watch. Hopefully you're still entertained.

1) The premise is fun. We lost all our electricity for some random reason and the ensuing panic caused the vast majority of the human race to kill each other and / or die because of a general lack of survival skills. OK cool - yet, uh... the entire plot is revolving around getting the power back on. It's like saying, "Alright, we've learned how to make it without something that pretty much crippled us when taken away the first time. We're making it our priority to get it back so that we can become dependent again and lose all the skills we've learned - sound good?"

2) Like I said, I'm streaming the show online so I get 30 second ads at intervals. And all the ads are for... Revolution. Seriously? I'm already watching it. You'd think my iPad would be smart enough to know that I've been lying here for three hours straight doing exactly that. A better ad would be for adult diapers.

3) I'd love to see an ad with a voiceover running this: "In a world where millions once lived, the handful of attractive female survivors struggle to find clothes that cover their well-muscled torsos. The less attractive female extras manage just fine."



A Creepy Cover Reveal Conversation with IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS Author Cat Winters Plus an ARC and Signed Swag Giveaway!

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 29 October 2012 · 164 views


[i]In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?[/i]

[i]Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.[/i]

[b]BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?[/b]

CW: There are two scenes in this book in which my main character, Mary Shelley Black, poses for a photographer who claims to capture the spirits of people’s loved ones in his pictures. I was really hoping one of those two ensuing photographs would appear on the cover—which is exactly what happened. The book’s designer, Maria T. Middleton, said that as soon as she finished reading the original manuscript, both she and my editor, Maggie Lehrman, agreed that the cover had to involve a sprit photograph.

[b]BBC: How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?[/b]

CW: Around June 2012, ten months before the pub date, Maggie told me I’d probably see a cover by the end of the summer. She didn’t say what would be on the cover at the time, but I knew the design was going to be in the works. In July, she sent me a behind-the-scenes peek of a photo shoot, and I went running through my house with my laptop, screaming, “They’re doing a photo shoot! They’re doing a photo shoot!” My husband worried something horrible had happened because of all the shrieking. It was absolutely surreal to see a team of talented people recreating an image that had originated inside my own head.

Maggie also sent me a link to the website of the photographer, Symon Chow, and as soon as I saw his sample photographs, which all have an eerie, vintage vibe, I knew the cover was going to be amazing.

[b]BBC: Did you have any input on your cover?[/b]

CW: My agent, Barbara Poelle, put a clause into my contract saying that the publisher was required to consult with me on the cover, which they did, although I honestly didn’t have any suggested changes. I thought the photo shoot sneak peek looked perfect—the cover model shared my main character’s eye and hair color, she was dressed like my main character, down to the goggles around her neck, and she was an actual teenager, not a twenty-five-year-old woman pretending to be sixteen. I definitely gave my approval at that stage, and when I saw the sample cover treatments, I was one-hundred-percent in agreement with the cover that everyone at Amulet Books liked best.

[b]BBC: How was your cover revealed to you?[/b]

CW: On August 9, my editor sent me an email containing five cover treatments. All of them contained the same photograph and lettering, and only the borders and the color of the font varied in each sample. I loved three of the five options, including the design that was chosen.

The biggest surprise for me was the font Maria used. I was expecting lettering that would be a run-of-the-mill Gothic historical font. What I got instead was bold and edgy and perfect for my 1918 time period, an era that marked the beginning of the 1920s art deco style. I believe there may have also been an American Horror Story influence.

[b]BBC: Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?[/b]

CW: No. Amulet Books doesn’t really work that way. My editor sent me the final cover on September 26 and said I was free to share it. I immediately sent out teaser tweets and Facebook posts saying I would reveal the cover the following morning at 5:00 AM Eastern Time, and I prepared a post to go live on my site at that time. When I turned on my computer the following morning at 7:45 AM Pacific, I saw nonstop tweets about the cover. Even though it was a spur-of-the moment reveal on my own website, I felt it went really well.

[b]BBC: How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like? [/b]

CW: Seven weeks.

[b]BBC: Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?[/b]

CW: Yes, definitely. I shared it with my mom and sister with emails that strictly stated, “Do not share this ANYWHERE online.” I had dinner with authors Kendare Blake, Marta Acosta, and Lisa Desrochers during their summer book tour in August and snuck them a peek at a printout of the cover. Their jaws dropped when they saw it, so I knew I’d struck gold with my designer.

[b]BBC: What surprised you most about the process?[/b]

CW: How easy it was. I had heard so many awful stories about authors who hated their covers and had no say in them, plus most authors typically watch their covers undergo several alterations before everyone decides on the best design. Mine was a case of “Here are the cover samples, and here’s the one we like best,” and my agent and I were in complete agreement. We didn’t even ask for any minor tweaks. I don’t think that happens often, and I feel really, really lucky.

[b]BBC: Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?[/b]

CW: Ask your agent to put a clause in your contract that allows you to have a say in the design, which will give you peace of mind when you’re waiting. And don’t read too many cover design nightmare stories. Those scenarios don’t happen to everyone.

Wow! What a fantastic cover and story to go with it! And thanks to Cat's generosity, you've got the chance to hold the book in your hands before anyone else... and get some snazzy signed swag to go along with it. The swag will be mailed to the winner right away, but the ARC's aren't quite ready yet... don't worry you'll get it. Promise. How excited are you? Pretty excited? Prove it:


[url="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2071814/"]a Rafflecopter giveaway[/url]




50 Pages or A Sex Scene

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 28 October 2012 · 196 views

That's when I make a decision, as a reader.

I've been reading since I was little. Granted, I wasn't reading books with more than 50 pages, or anything containing sex scenes, but I'm sure I had a system even then to distinguish between what I wanted, and what I didn't want. It probably related to illustrations and inclusion of, or lack of, kitty cats.

Now that I'm older I've got a handy little thing called Goodreads that I use to make my list of "to-reads." And oh my, friends, that last is long. So long that I really should consider breaking a leg or devising a bed rest of some sort here soon.

I exercise, I eat (somewhat) healthy, I've got a pretty clear family history when it comes to the really bad health words. But... I've got a nagging sensation that I won't ever be able to read all the books that I want to read before you know - I 'm dead.

That's because I work in a library, and every box I open tends to add another 4-5 books to the "to-read" list, whereas every week I chalk up at the most 2 on the "read" list. It's not a good ratio. So I'm re-instituting a rule I devised in college, when pleasure reading took a backseat (pun intended) to the meatier (pun intended) stuff.

50 Pages or A Sex Scene

That's right. If I could give less of a crap about the characters or plot in the first 50 pages OR if I get to sex scene that does absolutely nothing for me, then the book is dead to me, and it goes on the "not-to-be-read" pile.

Granted, some books have a sex scene much quicker than others. The most memorable early sex scene I can remember was a Page Two event that really did nothing for me, but I kept going because I was intrigued by the balls it took to just throw that out there. In the end, the book was crap, but it was a lesson learned.

What's your rule? When do you decide to part ways with the not-so-awesome plot?



The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 26 October 2012 · 200 views

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description [url="http://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.


Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson


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, 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 [url="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/"]AgentQuery Connect[/url]. 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 the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in [color=#6aa84f]this color. Because nobody liked the yellow :)[/color]

If Allyson can’t rescue a unicorn from a kidnapping dragon, her best friend will be executed. [color=#6aa84f]First of all, what's the difference between rescuing someone from a dragon, and rescuing them from a kidnapping dragon? I think your phrase should be "rescue them from being kidnapped by..." but that implies that the kidnapping hasn't actually occurred yet. If it has, then the person just needs rescued, period. Skim down your phrasing here and look hard at what's going on. Also - what the heck is the connection here between the best friend's impending death and the unicorn / dragon debacle? Right now, all this hook does is raise questions and confuse me. Definitely work on something with more punch.[/color] And worse, the dragon is Allyson’s father.

Allyson has never met her father, [color=#6aa84f]I think you need another "has" here. The echo is less bothersome than the awkward phrasing [/color]moved more times than she’s had birthdays, and never had a best friend until [color=#6aa84f]and I also think you need "until she met", for clarity. The way you have it now is technically okay, but the pacing is off [/color]Beth. With legendary acne and worsening asthma, [color=#6aa84f]nice - here's something that makes your character stand out. Consider working these details into your hook.[/color] Allyson just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid move-across-the-nation freak. When she accidentally spits fire on [color=#6aa84f]on or at? [/color]kidnappers at the mall [color=#6aa84f]the phrasing here as well as the "move across the nation" sentence has me wondering what kind of world / genre we're operating in here? When we're talking about unicorns and dragons in the hook, I'm immediately thinking high fantasy but here halfway through the first para I'm getting something else- needs clarification [/color], she starts to understand why her father isn’t in the picture: Allyson is half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her long time asthma? Actually a fiery breath weapon. [color=#6aa84f]Nice - again, here's something engaging and original. Hook material.[/color] And since her mother hasn’t shown any tendencies to fry evil landlords, [color=#6aa84f]are evil landlords an issue for the family? [/color]Allyson suspects her father. Through her discovery, Beth doesn’t bat an eyelash. She’s half troll, and trolls are even more despised than dragons. [color=#6aa84f]Is the half-troll part related to her not batting an eyelash? Are they unflappable? [/color]

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed, and unicorns kill [color=#6aa84f]kill who?[/color] for revenge. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expected: Allyson’s father. He works with the trolls and knows where they keep their victims, but there’s a problem: Allyson’s father is under a geas [color=#6aa84f]a what now?[/color] to retain the victims at all cost. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson has to choose: rescue the unicorn and kill the father she’s always dreamed of, or let her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit. [color=#6aa84f]Great - the last para here really shows me what the book is about, and exhibits voice. This is good stuff here, but you're two paras above need serious work.[/color]

LEGACY, a MG urban fantasy complete at 68,000 words, is a road trip culminating at the Ghost Fleet in Suisun Bay (with a side helping of magic).

[color=#6aa84f]I think one of the big things here is that you need to get the high fantasy elements out of the opening para, make the urban qualities more obvious. Also, you need to make sure your originality is out there, front and center. Acne = scales? Asthma = fire breathing? Hey - that's awesome! Get it up front so that the agent sees that first. Also make sure your connections are clear. Your hook makes zero sense until the last sentence of your query, and an agent might not get that far.[/color]



Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 24 October 2012 · 157 views

I know Thursday Thoughts are the best thing to ever happen to anyone. They're the reason most of the world gets out of bed on Thursdays, and directly responsible for the other half staying in it. But, because I actually am making good points about writer's envy over on [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-nasty-feeling-of-not-being-quite.html"]The Lucky 13's[/url], I'd appreciate it if you checked that out before rollicking around in my inanity.

Thoughts lately:

1) If you tell someone there's a grammatical error in a poster when there's actually not, they'll stare at it until they've come up with a new rule for the English language.

2) Cars are so stressful. Even thinking about things like mileage and gas power vs. electric, having to worry about oil changes and tire rotation, tread wear and not to mention What IS That Bad Smell and Where Could It Be Coming From? really makes me think that I'd rather just own a horse, feed it, and shovel its poop.

3) Actually, I'm considering just doing all of my travel by waterway. It would be conceivable for me to kayak to work and back home, except obviously I would be going against the current one way. Also, I don't know if they would take it as an acceptable excuse for not making it to work if I tell them that my kayak won't start.



An SAT With E.C. Myers Author of FAIR COIN

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 22 October 2012 · 257 views

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1334731398l/10151730.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1334731398l/10151730.jpg" width="207" /></a></div>Today's guest for SAT is an <a href="http://apocalypsies.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Apocalypsie </a>- Eugene Myers, author of <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10151730-fair-coin" target="_blank">FAIR COIN</a>. Yes, it's a dude. Come and see this new species!<br /><i><br /></i> <i>Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more disturbing: she thought she’d identified Ephraim’s body at the hospital that day.</i><br /><br /><i>Among his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin—a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he’s liked since second grade. But the coin doesn’t always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people’s lives as easily as it rebuilds his own.</i><br /><i><br /></i> <i>The coin could give Ephraim everything he’s ever wanted—if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.</i><br /><i><br /></i> <b>Writing Process:</b><br /><br /><b>Are you a Planner or Pantster?</b><br /><br />A little of both. I like to have some idea of where a book is going—the major plot developments and the ending—but I usually don’t work out all the details of how the characters are going to get from point A to point B, or even who all the characters are, until I’m drafting. The level of planning before writing mostly depends on how long I’ve been thinking about the project and what the project is. For example, I actually outlined my third novel, a manuscript I’m still revising, because there was a lot world building to work out and there were so many characters to keep track of.<br /><br /><b>How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?</b><br /><br />Five or six months to write a very rough “zero” draft, then another one or two months to revise that into a first draft that I’m willing to share with readers. This is assuming I can write five days a week for at least ninety minutes a day, with occasional evenings and weekend days thrown in. I get most of my writing done in the morning before I go to work.<br /><br /><b>Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multitasker?</b><br /><br />Multitasking is a necessity, especially when I have books in different stages of progress. My ideal is writing a novel in the mornings before going to my day job and spending evenings and weekends working on short stories and the business-side of being an author (responding to e-mails, promotion, reading and critiquing manuscripts, etc). But when I’m under a deadline on a project, I generally work on that one project every chance I can get.<br /><br /><b>Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?</b><br /><br />Just the same fear that I still face every time I sit down to write: the fear of failure. Stories have so much potential until I try to write them down. But fortunately, this isn’t a crippling fear—I look at it more like a challenge. I’m always excited to discover where a story is going, and I know that until I try to write it, I won’t know if it matches what my imagination came up with.<br /><br /><b>How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?</b><br /><br />Happily, none. FAIR COIN was the first novel I wrote.<br /><br /><b>Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?</b><br /><br />I haven’t quit on any novels yet, but I have set aside plenty of short stories. I tend to think of it as putting a story on hold until I can do the idea justice and/or figure out what it’s really about, because I don’t like to quit on things. I almost always finish at least one draft before trunking a story; I might decide to do this after I’ve written and revised it a few times and it still isn’t working, or maybe I’ve just gotten distracted by another story I’m more excited about.<br /><br /><b>Querying and Agent Hunt Process:</b><br /><b>Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them? </b><br /><br />My agent is Eddie Schneider at JABberwocky Literary. I went through the traditional query process, and a reader at the agency picked my query letter and synopsis out of the slush and passed it up. I remember it was a rigorous process: The next step involved sending sample chapters and a “detailed outline” for the rest of the book, before the full manuscript was finally requested—and these were all paper submissions via snail mail at the time. Once Eddie had read FAIR COIN and we talked, it was clear that I had hit the agent jackpot.<br /><br /><b>How long did you query before landing your agent? </b><br /><br />About seven months, and by the end I had queried a total of 33 agents.<br /><br /><b>Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?</b><br /><br />The best thing I can suggest is to write another book while you’re querying, for three reasons:<br />1)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>It will keep you distracted from checking your e-mail, watching the mailbox, and waiting by the phone for news.<br />2)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>It will demonstrate to potential agents that you’re serious about writing as a career and have more than one book in you.<br />3)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;"> </span>It will give you hope that if you don’t manage to get an agent for the book you’re querying now, that you’ll have another, better project to query with next time.<br /><br />Don’t query until the book is as good as it can possibly be, and don’t rush your letter and synopsis either; you get one shot at making a favorable first impression, so make your letter as tight and polished as your novel manuscript is—but feel free to tweak it as you’re querying and getting feedback from agents.<br /><br />Also, make sure you’re querying more than one agent at a time, unless one of them has requested an exclusive. I liked to send them out in batches of three or four a week, and make sure I was sending out new queries as the rejections came in.<br /><br />Finally, be polite and professional in all your communications with agents, in your blogging, in your tweeting, on Facebook, etc. This process is as similar to interviewing for a job as it is to dating, and you don’t want to give any agent a reason to say no beyond whether or not she loves your book and thinks she can sell it.<br /><br /><b>On Being Published:</b><br /><b>How did that feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?</b><br /><br />Exciting and surreal! It’s very strange to see something that has only lived in your head for a long time suddenly a solid, physical thing on a shelf in a bookstore, or as a product page on an etailer website. I can only imagine it was like what Pinocchio might have felt the first time he looked in a mirror as a real boy.<br /><br /><b>How much input do you have on cover art?</b><br /><br />My editor at Pyr, Lou Anders, also happens to be the art director. He did ask me for feedback on possible covers and kept me in the loop throughout the process, which I greatly appreciated, but he also has great instincts and strong opinions about what’s right for a book. I have a background in visual art, but I’m content to focus on the words between the covers and leave people with more experience to make it all look pretty. And I had nothing to worry about; what Lou and the illustrator, Sam Weber, came up with for FAIR COIN and <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10345255-quantum-coin" target="_blank">QUANTUM COIN </a>was better than anything I ever thought of myself—and I’ve definitely given cover art some thought over the years.<br /><br /><b>What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?</b><br /><br />Just that the business of being an author involves so much more than writing the book. Your mileage probably varies with different publishers and projects, but publishing a book means you may not get to do much actual writing while you promote it. I know I could have done the bare minimum and let Fair Coin sink or swim on its own, but I spent so much time and effort on writing it, getting an agent, and selling it—and so many other people have been a part of that process every step of the way—that I decided early on that I was going to do as much as I could to get the word out and contribute to its success. That seems important for a debut author trying to convince readers to take a chance on his book.<br /><br /><b>Social Networking and Marketing:</b><br /><b>How much of your own marketing do you?  Do you have a blog / site / Twitter?</b><br /><br />I do a good chunk of it, maybe more than some authors. I have an excellent publicist and team at Pyr who have been wonderful about sending my books out to reviewers, arranging guest blog opportunities, coordinating events and sales, and supporting all the crazy ideas I come up with. But I did make my own book trailer; design and produce my own bookmarks and assorted swag; and line up most of my readings, signings, guest blogs, and interviews. This is not only a significant financial investment on my part, but an investment in time. I have a day job, and it’s been tricky juggling all my vacation days, work, and personal commitments to make it to school visits, conventions, readings, etc.—things that only the author can do. My agent and his colleagues have also done a lot to facilitate things, brainstorm new approaches, and seek out marketing opportunities.<br /><br />Basically, I’ve been partnering with my publisher and agent on marketing and we help each other out as much as we can—we have the same goal, after all. I’ve taken on a lot of it, but I only have two books and they have so many more authors and books, so I’m glad for whatever support I can get. And I also feel like the more I’m willing to do to market the book, the more they’re willing and able to do.<br /><br />I devote most of my time to my <a href="https://twitter.com/ecmyers" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="http://ecmyers.net/" target="_blank">blog</a>, but I also have a <a href="http://facebook.com/flipthecoin" target="_blank">Facebook</a> page where people can get news and links about the book and related topics. I have a <a href="http://faircoinwishes.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a> page tied to Fair Coin, and a <a href="http://ecmyers.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">personal Tumblr</a> page that I update sporadically with images and videos I find online.<br /><br /><b>When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?</b><br /><br />If you are planning to build a writing career and engaging with other writers and readers is important to you, then I think you should start as soon as possible—before you start querying agents, and certainly well before you sell your book. It’s true that having a strong network may make you seem more marketable to an agent or editor, but I don’t think you should build your online presence just to sell books. It’s better to be online because you want to participate in a community of people with diverse interests. I like Twitter a lot; it’s amazing to be talking daily with so many authors and bloggers I admire.<br /><br />Interacting with other people through social media can also keep you better informed about the business of publishing and could lead to opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have. A blog could offer potential agents, editors, and readers a sense of your personality beyond your work, which hopefully helps encourages their interest.<br /><br />I’m always a little suspicious when I see a Twitter account or blog that isn’t updated often and/or was created the moment a book deal was announced; I’m inclined to assume someone told the author she needs to be online to sell books, and it isn’t something she is really into on her own.<br /><br /><b>Do you think social media helps build your readership?</b><br /><br />I’m sure some readers may have found my work because of a tweet or Facebook wall post, but I think social media has been most useful as a way for people who have heard of my books to find out more about them, or for readers to find out more about me after reading them. If you’re an author who wants to connect with readers, of your work or other work in your field, then I think it’s essential to be easy to find online. You at least need a website where people can contact you, but I like interacting with people on Twitter and getting messages through Facebook or Goodreads. Being that accessible to the public may not be ideal for every writer, but it’s important to me. I’m always a little disappointed when there’s no information on an author on the internet, and it makes it harder to learn about their other books and find out about new ones.<br /><br />And as I mentioned, I’ve gotten many interview requests and other marketing opportunities through social media and from people I first met online, and those have certainly improved my chances of reaching new readers.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-7678410846943923653?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>


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