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A BOA with Mandy Buehrlen of YABC Books

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 10 September 2012 · 141 views

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.

Today's BOA is a little different than usual, as the site I'm focusing on is more of a community of readers and reviewers, with a blog on the side. But YABooksCentral has a lot to offer, and I jumped at the chance to Mandy Buehrlen. Catch up with all the YABC news and reviews on Twitter at [url="https://twitter.com/yabookscentral"]@yabookscentral[/url] and [url="https://twitter.com/YABCKids"]@YABCkids[/url]


[b]BBC: So, you run an excellent site over at [url="http://www.yabookscentral.com/"]YABooksCentral.com [/url] What made you decide to take the approach you do there?[/b]
MB: Thank you! Author [url="http://www.kimberlypauley.com/"]Kimberly Pauley[/url] founded the site back in 1998 as one of the first review sites focusing on teen books. It grew by leaps and bounds until we had a staff of volunteer book reviewers, reviewing ARCs for major trade publishers. Then Kimberly thought it would be a great idea for readers to share their reviews on the site too. That’s where the YABC community started. When I took over the site a few years ago, I developed the social network a bit further to incorporate not only reviews, but the ability to start book clubs on the site, host discussions, enter giveaways, host blog tours, have live author chats, and more. YABC just keeps growing!

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

MB: We certainly do have a lot going on at YABC at all times. In addition to posting our staff reviews, we host blog tours, live author chats, book club chats, tons of giveaways, cover reveals and lots more.

My advice to fledgling bloggers is this: Don’t worry about having to post something everyday. Just focus on making quality content. If that means you can only post once a week, then do that. Don’t post mediocre content just to fill the gaps. It can be tempting to compare your blog to someone else’s and feel like you have to do SO MUCH MORE. But try to keep your eyes on your own path. Even if your goal is to make a living running your blog one day, remember: Slow and steady wins the race.

[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]

MB: Oh wow, I haven’t found much time to read lately at all! My staff reviewers read a TON though. YABC wouldn’t be as awesome as it is without them! Most of them read several books a week. They are super human, I’m sure of it. I’m constantly in awe of their reading skills.

I, on the other hand, spend most of my time keeping YABC running, which is a full-time job. But I generally sneak in about two books a month. One for pleasure reading, and one for our monthly Book Club Chats. I’m always wishing I could find more time to read, especially since I see all these amazing books cross my desk each week!
[b]BBC: Have you ever given a bad review? Why or why not?[/b]

MB: Oh yes, we don’t shy away from bad reviews. BUT we have a strict no-bash policy. YABC is a fun community, and we want readers to find the books that are right for them. With that in mind, we always find positive things to say about each book we review. We believe every book is someone’s favorite book, so why discourage readers just because it wasn’t our personal taste? Also, another unique thing about having a staff of reviewers is that not all of us agree. One of our staffers might absolutely love a book, while another might not get the appeal at all. I think there’s a certain beauty in that. We each have our own opinions, and I think it’s valuable to know how to express those opinions in a respectful and helpful way.

I always try to remind reviewers that the Internet is a very public place. Don’t write anything in your review you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to someone’s face. Leave that to private discussions with your BFF over coffee. :)

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

MB: YABC has a pretty unique way of deciding which staffers review which book and when. First, I put together a Book Haul video each month, showcasing all the books we received from publishers. From the video, my staff picks out the books they’d like to review. If there are any left over, I’ll send them to the reviewer I think they’ll fit with best. Then we schedule to read books in order of release date. We know how important it is for publishers that we post our reviews the week of release, so that’s what we strive for.

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

MB: I think Internet savvy readers, or readers who engage in social media, have the biggest advantage here. Debut authors are all over the Interwebz, especially Twitter and Facebook. Publishers do a lot of promotion for debut authors on social media, so they’re easy to find. But I know a lot of readers who don’t do social media. It’s much harder for them to know who the next up-and-coming authors are, because they have to rely on word of mouth. For them, I would suggest asking a local librarian or school librarian. They are a wealth of author knowledge!

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

MG: Above all, be professional. Develop meaningful connections and friendships in the business. Have real conversations with book bloggers, don’t just self-promote. There is an endless sea of self-promotion on the Internet, and most people tune it out. It just doesn’t work. So be real with people and form relationships. If you’re the real deal, you’ll stand out. I firmly believe that growing a fierce and loyal readership slowly, from the ground up, is the best way to go. Quick hype fades, but loyal readers never say die.



What Did You Call Me?

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 09 September 2012 · 127 views


As a YA librarian you've gotta be careful how you say that word. Also you must enunciate when recommending [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7095831-ship-breaker"]SHIP BREAKER[/url] by Pablo Bacigalupi.

A couple of weeks ago in a guest post on [url="http://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/mindy-mcginnis-and-the-ya-crystal-ball/"]Chasing the Crazies[/url], I shared my non-psychic librarian abilities and said that I thought Sci-Fi might be the next big thing happening in YA. I've had some time to think about it since then, and I believe that there might be another fish in the sea who has the capability of reaching Leviathan proportions in the near future.

Yeah, it's horror. Books like Kendare Blake's [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9378297-anna-dressed-in-blood"]ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD[/url] are starting to reclaim shelf space in the stores. I think ghosts might be getting the upper hand back over the beasties. And I'm totally ready for that. A good ghost story, be it a slow-paced nail biter or a cringe-inducing gore splurge is always something I'm up for.

What about you? Are you ready for some good old-fashioned ghost stories?




The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 07 September 2012 · 215 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=yellow]yellow[/color].
Only one person knew Chloe was gay, and his [color=yellow]one thing I'd consider is changing the possessive pronoun here to "their" for flow - we get the gender of the person in question at the end of the sentence.[/color] love and support disappeared when he hung himself. [color=yellow]Great hook, I'm totally there.[/color]

Eighteen-year-old [color=yellow]I think you can drop the age tag b/c of the college reference, although it's not hurting to have it there if you want it. [/color]Chloe continues to hide her sexuality her first year at college, afraid it may affect her friendships and jeopardize her mother’s job. [color=yellow]Curious as to why it would jeopardize her mother's job?[/color] Unable to deal with the loss of her brother Brock, she tells nobody of his suicide. [color=yellow]There's a bit of mash up going on here - we start with the idea of her being at college and how it will affect friendships, as well as mom's job, which kind of implies mom might work at the school. And why would Chloe tell people about her brother's suicide anyway? It's not great ice-breaker material. I would instead tie into the idea of his suicide being internalized *along with* hiding her sexuality. It'll make for smoother transitions.[/color]

Chloe is stunned to learn her crush, and graduate teaching assistant [color=yellow]I think you can safely use the shorter version - TA. Most people know the term, and it's a mouthful spelled out. [/color]Sasha, knew Brock. As their relationship deepens, Sasha reveals the reason behind Brock’s suicide, that he was sexually abused as a child. [color=yellow]Well shit. This book is chock full of issues (and I mean that in a good way).[/color] Chloe refuses to believe it, until she reads Brock’s journals. But even they don’t explain what pushed him over the edge. [color=yellow]I would take away this last line here - it kind of turns the focus off of Chloe's self-acceptance and into her searching for his reasons. Unless of course that *is* a major focus in the book and if that's the case it needs to be clarified.[/color]

She continues to lead a double life, ignoring that her own secrets are hurting the ones she loves most. Her girlfriend Sasha, whom she keeps hidden. [color=yellow]So Sasha is gay? I wasn't getting that earlier. [/color]And Murphy—the boy she’s pretending to date who is becoming her best friend yet doesn’t know she is gay. [color=yellow]Hmmm ... I'm not sure you need this para at all. It's lending word count to an already lengthy query, and isn't informing us on major plot points. OK Chloe is with Sasha, Sasha is gay, Chloe is continuing to pretend... but we got all that already (minus Sasha is gay, which doesn't seem important enough to mention in a query).[/color]

After finding Brock’s last journal, she is consumed with his plan to take revenge on his molester. [color=yellow]As in what? She's going to do it herself? [/color]But Chloe’s obsession comes at a cost, [color=yellow]What's that? [/color]and she might have to give up everything she’s ever wanted, her girlfriend, her best friend, and her sanity, in order to discover Brock’s final secret. [color=yellow]A HA - OK so the focus of the book *is* a combined self-discovery along with the need to know what made her brother kill himself. This definitely needs to be clarified sooner. [/color]
[/color] [color=yellow]There's definitely a dual-focus here - Chloe's sexuality and Brock's motivations. While your hook is awesome, it conveys more of a "I'm gay and ashamed" feel and the sinker says "I need to know why he did that, no matter what." Get that second aspect out there sooner. A simple "and she'll never know why" (or something better than that) tacked onto the end of the hook will clear the waters considerably, IMO.[/color]

The Proper Way to Say Goodbye is contemporary young adult novel complete at 72,000 words.

[color=yellow]This is a well-written query for what sounds like a fantastic story. I would totally request this if I were an agent. Also I LOVE the title. And I don't love much.[/color]



BBC Book Talk - SHINE SHINE SHINE by Lydia Netzer

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 September 2012 · 154 views

[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1325702786l/13167199.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1325702786l/13167199.jpg[/img][/url][/center]Sunny is the ultimate suburban housewife, well-coifed, drives a mini-van, consoles her friends, leads neighborhood craft shows, and always makes sure that her autistic son is wearing his helmet and gets his medicine on time. Her genius husband Maxon makes the $18,000 dollar rug in the dining room a possibility, even if his job is destined to take him out of their sphere - literally.

Sunny's perfect life begins to unravel when Maxon's spaceship to the moon malfunctions and her minivan is T-boned by a fellow suburbanite. In the melee, Sunny's wig flies off. Sunny has never had hair in her life, even her eyebrows are pasted on. She's spent the last decade pretending to be a perfect person she isn't, and it's driven a wedge between herself and her husband, as she's begun to resent exactly what makes him a genius in the first place - his own autism.

Sunny leaves the wig behind, skips her son's meds that evening and hopes for one last chance to tell the man she loves that she's sorry.

SHINE SHINE SHINE is narrated by Sunny and Maxon, their two voices blending to encompass their childhood together, their unique differences that brought them to each other, and the present that has altered their relationship. It's a stunning debut that questions who we really are under our veneer, and whether that person might be the better option of the two.



Thursday Thoughts

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 05 September 2012 · 128 views

Yes, they're back. I know you missed them - three random thoughts from my week. Each week. Every week.

But before the inanity of my life takes over yours, check out this post from [url="http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/2012/08/guest-post-anything-goes-attitude-of.html"]The League of Extraordinary Writers[/url] where I was a guest last week. I'm talking about why the characters in dystopian and post-apocs are so refined, yet gritty - and what that says about the human race. I sound much more intelligent over there than I will on this post here.

Thoughts lately are of a medical nature...

1) We need some kind of sonogram / UltraSound app for our smart phones. I woke up for the first day of work in incredible mid-section pain. I thought, "Well, I either have appendicitis, an ovarian cyst, or I just need to take a big crap." Not calling off work for a big crap.

2) Kid's vitamins taste good. Kid's medicine tastes good. Just because we're adults why do we get horse pills and throw-it-back-fast liquids? Is this the pharmaceutical companies way of telling us that the best years are behind us?

3) If we took everything out of our bodies we aren't technically using we could lose a lot of weight. My uterus, one kidney, appendix, tonsils, adnoids, little toes... that's gotta be like a quick ten pounds right there.



Justina Ireland, Author of VENGEANCE BOUND Talks Submission Process

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 03 September 2012 · 264 views

Before you get to the latest SHIT (Submission Hell - It's True) interview here on Writer, Writer - check out what my non-psychic librarian's intuition is telling me will pop next in YA over on [url="http://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/mindy-mcginnis-and-the-ya-crystal-ball/"]Chasing the Crazie[/url]s.

If there's one thing that many aspiring writers have few clues about, it's the submission process. There are good reasons for that; authors aren't exactly encouraged to talk in detail about our own submission experiences, and - just like agent hunting - everyone's story is different.

I managed to cobble together a few non-specific questions that some debut authors have agreed to answer (bless them). And so I bring you the submission interview series - Submission Hell - It's True. Yes, it's the SHIT.

Today's guest is fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky13[/url]er Justina Ireland, author of [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13643222-vengeance-bound"]VENGEANCE BOUND[/url].

[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1346144722l/13643222.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1346144722l/13643222.jpg[/img][/url][/center][i]Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.[/i]

[i]Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.[/i]

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

JI: VENGEANCE BOUND was my second book to go on submission…my first one didn’t sell *cue sad trumpet.* So for the second book I was kind of an old pro at the process.

For my first book I researched the submission process by reading author blogs and just about everything Google had to offer. And then I tried to estimate where I was at each point. It honestly just made me a little crazy. Okay, it made me more than a little crazy. It made me the Mayor of Crazytown.

Since that one didn’t sell (and my husband threaten to ship me off to a cabin in the woods for the next time), I decided to just close my eyes and pretend I wasn’t on submission for the second book. Instead, I read all of the books I’d been putting off for the past few months (after I opened my eyes, of course), and just enjoyed a self declared writing hiatus. I was only on submission for a month before I got an offer, and the time seemed to go quickly because I was focused on something else.

Okay, that’s a total lie. I was still obsessively checking my email and the days went by so s-l-o-w-l-y. But I did get a lot of reading done and I didn’t obsess like I did the first go round.

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

JI: How hard it is to wait, and how little feedback I got on rejections. For the most part, my agent prefers to keep the rejections to herself unless I ask for them. Beyond a “Yeah, so-and-so passed,” I never got anything back.

And after asking for and reading the three pages of rejections from the first book, I can tell you I much prefer it that way. For me, rejections didn’t do anything but make me question my writing. Not all readers are going to love your book. But it’s hard to remember that someone liking a book is a matter of taste when the someone in question is an editor.

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

JI: I did for the first book. I didn’t for the second. Now, I trust my agent to be able to figure out where my book would be a good fit. It’s part of her job.

Plus, it was a little weird Googling people the first go round. It made me feel a little like a stalker. And agent/editor stalking may be the unhealthiest form of addiction, ever.

So I don’t really recommend researching editors. It will just make you crazy when they acquire a manuscript that’s just like yours except with fairies and a prep school and set in Pennsylvania instead of Antarctica.

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

JI: On the first book I didn’t hear anything back for about two months (even though my agent may have gotten passes before that). With my second I heard back pretty quickly, about a month after everyone got everything. And I think everyone came back at about the same time.

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

Psychotropic drugs.


Sort of.

Stay busy. I always try to work on my next idea, or catch up on reading, or even just watch that season of TV I missed. Since I miss a lot of TV and my TBR pile is huge (I work full time so writing time is also everything else time), those are usually my default.

[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]

JI: My editor rejections were about the same as my query rejections. Bland, polite and vague, with one or two sometimes offering some helpful advice. But usually not helpful at all. I wouldn’t look for much help in editor suggestions.

But even though they were vague, they were still a little demoralizing. I didn’t really think I’d internalized the rejections from the first book until I was revising my second book. I started to doubt my writing, doubt the stories I had to tell.

But finally I had to put all of that aside and just try to be zen about it. My stories might still suck, but they’re my sucky stories. And I don’t really think they suck. I think they’re awesome. But it’s taken me a long time to silence that inner editor and learn to write again.

So editor rejections? Yeah, generally a bad idea to read them.

[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]

JI: In the first submission go round I tried to synthesize editor rejection into some kind of a rewrite. Unlike a beta reader’s suggestions, which are pointed and specific, most of the rejecting editor’s suggestions weren’t so much rejections as “this is why I didn’t really care for it.” Looking back, rewriting the manuscript just made it worse. After all, it was like taking an entire critique groups input and applying it wily nily. Not a good idea, and not something I will do again.

I guess I should clarify that there are exceptions to the above rules. If it’s a revise and resubmit or done after a long discussion with your agent, then go for using some editorial feedback. But for everything else I would just move on to the next manuscript. No sense in banging your head against the wall.

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

JI: Carrier pigeon ☺ It felt pretty cool, but mostly surreal. I had a call from my agent that an editor was interested, and that turned into three editors being interested. The feeling was unreal after NOBODY wanted my first book (yes, I still have some residual grief over my unsold darling). We ended up going to auction, and when I found out that Simon and Schuster were the best bid, I was a little giddy. I never really thought my debut would be with a big house.

I think I’m still getting used to the idea that I’m going to have a real book. With pages! And typeface! And an ISBN!

[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]

JI: Nope, we shared the news almost as soon as we sold, and it was probably for the best. I have a huge mouth, and I always tell people not to tell me their secrets, because I will inevitably blab it to the wrong person. The internet is probably the worst thing to ever happen to someone like me.

Thank goodness it was on Publisher’s Marketplace a few days after it sold. I never would’ve been able to keep such exciting news a secret.

[i]VENGEANCE BOUND will be available April 2nd, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.[/i]



Genre Bending

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 02 September 2012 · 118 views

I'm lazy. So today you get a re-post from my appearance last week at From the Write Angle. :)

There are certain questions that make writers of all stripes both frustrated and frightened at the same time. What is it about your book that's so special? What distinguishes you from the rest of the crowd, either in the slush pile or on the store bookshelf? Is the market for your WIP over?

To my mind all of these questions are related, and boil down to the same word—genre. More specifically—your genre and how you've taken a small corner of it to claim as your own.

I recently had three separate but related online interactions that spawned this post. I'll tackle them each one at a time and draw them back together for the firework-inducing full-circle conclusion. Or at least a steepled-fingers-move from my reader and a thoughtful monosyllabic grunt.

[b]Interaction #1[/b]—A Goodreads reviewer commented that [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13112869-not-a-drop-to-drink"][i]Not a Drop to Drink[/i][/url] sounds more like a post-apocalyptic Western than a dystopian, which is both astute of her and also very gratifying to me, as that's how I felt about it from the beginning.

[b]Interaction #2[/b]—One of my [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/p/query-critiques.html"]Saturday Slash[/url] participants (a query critique on my personal blog, [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/"]Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire[/url]) asked if they should change the genre for their query project from "dystopian" to "post-apocalyptic," as they were afraid that dystopian was "over." My response was that I didn't think it made a difference. Agents and readers know that the terms can (for the most part) be swapped for each other fairly easily. To my thinking it's no more different than calling chick-lit "women's literature." I told the Slash participant to go whichever way they liked, but it didn't matter. A rose by another name, and all that.

[b]Interaction #3[/b]—Instead of re-hashing it I'm posting a screen-cap below of a Twitter exchange between myself, my fellow [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] member [url="http://elsiechapman.com/"]Elsie Chapman[/url], my critique partner [url="http://crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]R.C. Lewis[/url] and her fellow Hyperion author [url="https://twitter.com/sharpegirl"]Tess Sharpe[/url].


Tess's reaction to the simple re-phrasing of my genre spoke volumes to me. Even though she already felt like DRINK had a new angle for the dystopian genre, the idea of it being more akin to a neo-western than its dystopian brothers and sisters were the equivalent of "magic words" to her.

And this reaction had me re-thinking my answer to the Saturday Slash participant.

She's not the first person to mention to me they think the dystopian ship has quite sailed, left the harbor, and perhaps already sunk. And if this is the case I'm going to cry a lot when next fall comes around, and that would be a very bad thing. I am not fond of crying.

So what if I do start referring to DRINK as a neo-western? Will that appeal to more people? Will it lift the ever-present curse of it's-been-done?

Quite a few people in my [url="http://bookpregnant.blogspot.com/"]Book Pregnant[/url] group of debut authors write what's referred to as Women's Literature. And they write it well. If their mss were marketed as Chick-Lit would they have died in their agent's inbox?

And what if my Slash volunteer chose the phrase "post-apocalyptic" to describe her ms instead of "dystopian?" Would the D-word close doors whereas "post-apoc" might leave room for a foot in the door?

I don't have the best answer to these questions, and I'm willing to bet that the answer changes depending on who you ask.

[b]So what's your opinion?[/b]



The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 31 August 2012 · 189 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=yellow]yellow[/color].

Today's query is a bit different, as it's a query for a picture book. I'm not the end-all-be-all of advice when it comes to picture book queries, but I'm happy to tackle it for a friend. Any advice from followers how might know more about this area than me? Definitely hop in!

Travel back in time with this Dragnet-inspired gangster tale about a toddler with a lot of spunk and a big imagination. [color=yellow]I really like the idea, I think the visual I'm getting off of this is fantastic. The one thing that's a little confusing is whether or not the book will take the reader back in time (setting wise) or whether the character actually travels back in time, or whether it's a modern tale with the look and feel of the past. Honestly, I think the most basic explanation (and what is most implied with the hook) is the first option, but there is possible room for interpretation here.[/color]

Lucky Sharp-tooth was on the loose and gangster detective Moxy Mae’s trusty sidekick Bugaboo Joe was shipwrecked on the wrong side of the baby gate. [color=yellow]That's hilarious.[/color] Time was ticking. Soon, Bugaboo Joe would become Lucky Sharp-tooth’s favorite new chew toy. Will Moxy Mae save him in time?

[color=yellow]I love the idea, and the voice. I'm getting all kinds of great visuals off of this. Two things stick out - I'd put it in present tense ("is" on the loose, "is" shipwrecked), and the mention of the baby gate brings me back to my question regarding the hook. Now I'm thinking that it's more of a contemporary tale with a 1930's look and feel. I'd definitely get that clarified within the query, but otherwise I think this sounds great. I'd pick it up to look at in a bookstore![/color]

MOXY MAE, GANGSTER DETECTIVE is a 155 word count picture book manuscript, ready for your review.



A BOA With the Girls of Honestly YA

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 30 August 2012 · 211 views

The ladies of Honestly YA were awesome enough to let me come over to their corner of the internet to [url="http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/2012/08/summer-flings-with-boobs.html"]talk about my boobs[/url] yesterday. Today I'm letting them play a little on my blog, as part of the ongoing BOA series.

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.

This particular BOA is even more awesome because it's a BOA WoW! (We're Ohio Writers). Yeah, that's right. We grow 'em here.

[url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YeXlUvW7oNE/UD-8q9GB4SI/AAAAAAAAAzg/-s8YOfuPYkw/s1600/Hon+YA.jpg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YeXlUvW7oNE/UD-8q9GB4SI/AAAAAAAAAzg/-s8YOfuPYkw/s1600/Hon+YA.jpg[/img][/url][b]BBC: So you run an excellent blog over at Honestly YA. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?[/b]

[b]Melissa: [/b]We agreed from the get-go that the way to make our blog stand out from the masses was to keep it personal. We share secrets with our readers—embarrassing, poignant, and sometimes hilarious experiences from our teen years. And we have a helluva lot of fun doing it!

[b]Lorie:[/b] What Mel said.

[b]Carey:[/b] Author Shelley Coriell deserves some serious credit for the honestly approach. When we were first talking about forming a grog, Shelley shared her marketing plan that focused on organic activities. It fit into our overall concept of rehashing our teen angst, not to sell books or ourselves, but because teen experiences connect YA readers.

[b]BBC: I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time. Honestly YA is a group blog, do you find that helpful in balancing the time investment?[/b]

[b]Melissa: [/b]Um, blogging every six weeks versus blogging every week? Yes, please! Group blogs are the way to go. You just have to find a combination that works.

[b]Lorie:[/b] Absolutely! Blogging on a six person rotation is not only helpful from a time budgeting standpoint, but it’s also a great moral support. I was extremely leery about blogging, especially on personal topics, but being part of a great team makes it easier.

[b]Carey: [/b]If helps that try to have our rotation topics locked in 6-12 months in advance. With Blogger, I can write my posts and schedule them to publish at a later date. So hypothetically, I could spend 1 day to write and load a whole year’s worth of posts. Geez-I wish I was that organized! But I do try to draft 3 or 4 posts at a time…What’s 6 weeks times 4 posts??? ANYONE? Well, anyone except Lorie. We’re so not math girls.

[b]*breaks down and asks hubby*[/b] ME: “What’s 6x4?” HUBBY: “24” ME: “What’s 24 in months?” HUBBY: “I don’t understand the question.” ME: “If I have 24 weeks, how many months is that?” Hubby begins a long explanation of why it’s not exactly a round number of months and how it depends on—[i]I wonder what unicorns eat? Did my son pack sock for gym class tomorrow?[/i] —blah, blah, blah—[i] Why are dust bunnies devouring that brain shaped eraser? Are they zombie dust bunnies?—[/i]hubby stops talking. ME: “So how many months was that?” HUBBY: “5 and a half.” Wow, that nearly half a year of posts!

[b]BBC: Do any of you have personal blogs as well? Do you approach them differently than you do your group blog?[/b]

[b]Melissa:[/b] Yes, my blog is called [url="http://melissalanders.blogspot.com/"]The Unrepentant Escapist[/url]. It’s where I promote my entire body of work (my adult romance in addition to YA). I don’t blog there regularly, but that’s where I run all my giveaways and link posts when I guest blog at other sites.

[b]Carey:[/b] Mine is [url="http://careycorp.blogspot.com/"]My Own Brand of Madness[/url] and it’s geared toward my indie publishing experiences as a YA author.

[b]BBC: Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?[/b]

[b]Melissa:[/b] Eh…sometimes I think blogging helps. Other days, especially when nobody comments on a post, I wonder if we bloggers are just talking to ourselves. But you know what? It’s free, so why not partake? You never know who you’ll reach.

[b]Lorie:[/b] I was skeptical at first, but yes, Honestly YA has given me an online presence that I couldn’t have achieved on my own.

[b]Carey:[/b] What they said. Our agent/editor interview series does get us a lot of attention. But we’re also always eager to read our blogmates takes on a topic—so if we’re the only ones talking, that’s okay.

[b]BBC: Sometimes social media feels like a do-or-die. How do you approach Twitter or Facebook on days when you really don’t feel like you have much to say?[/b]

[b]Melissa:[/b] It’s simple. On days when I don’t have much to say, I shut up. [font=Wingdings][font=Wingdings]J[/font][/font]

[b]Lorie: [/b]I don’t say anything. [font=Wingdings][font=Wingdings]J[/font][/font] I post most days, but I don’t feel pressure to tweet or post on facebook every single day.

[b]Carey:[/b] Ditto – I take a weekly, when I’ve something of quality to say, approach. [font=Wingdings][font=Wingdings]J[/font][/font]

[b]BBC: What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?[/b]

[b]Melissa:[/b] I highly recommend the Absolute Write forums for everything from connecting with beta readers to learning the best query strategies.

[b]Lorie:[/b] [color=windowtext][url="http://Storywonk.com/"]Storywonk.com[/url][/color] has excellent online classes that are entertaining and informative. http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ is a blog I’ve followed for years and it continues to be a source of inspiration for me.

[b]Carey:[/b] I’m a fan of [url="http://www.literaryrambles.com/"]Literary Rambles[/url]. And I visit the [url="http://owl.english.purdue.edu/"]Purdue Online Writing Lab[/url] or OWL on a daily basis.

[b]BBC: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?[/b]

[b]Melissa:[/b] Don’t get so bogged down with building an online presence that you neglect your writing. You can’t tweet your way into a book deal.

[b]Lorie:[/b] The keys for me are [b]discipline[/b] and [b]determination[/b].

Write every day, even if you have dishes piled in the sink or laundry to do, make it a priority to write at least one paragraph every single day. You’ll find that some days creating a single sentence is painful. Do it anyway. Most of the time once you start writing you won’t want to stop and you’ll end up writing much more than a paragraph.

I can’t stress determination enough. Don’t let rejection break you, stare it in the face and keep walking. Keep reading, writing, and perfecting your skills. In short, don’t [i]ever[/i] give up.

[b]Carey:[/b] One great project will net you more than a dozen mediocre ones. Don’t rush to submit/indie publish your early drafts or first manuscripts. Hide them under your bed and keep writing. Leverage your writing community to perfect your craft and ensure your manuscripts shine. Once you reach mastery, you can dust off the early stuff and rework it into something brilliant.

[b]Bios: Check us out on [url="http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/"]Honestly YA[/url] [/b]

[b]Lorie Langdon [/b]A few years ago, I left my management job with a Fortune 500 company to satisfy the voices in my head. Now a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, I spend my summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into my cozy office, Havanese puppy by my side, working to translate my effusive imagination into the written word. My work is represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency. You can find me on [url="http://www.twitter.com/lorielangdon"]Twitter[/url] and [url="http://www.facebook.com/authorlorielangdon"] Facebook [/url] and [url="http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8596783-lorie-langdon"]Goodreads[/url] and [url="http://www.pinterest.com/lorielangdon"]Pinterest[/url]

[b]Melissa Landers[/b] is the author of ALIENATED, a [i]seriously[/i] foreign exchange coming in February 2014 from Disney Hyperion. You can learn more about her on [url="http://www.melissa-landers.com/"]www.melissa-landers.com[/url], and she’d love for you to add [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13574417-alienated"]ALIENATED[/url] to your Goodreads bookshelf!

[b]Carey Corp’s[/b] debut novel for teens, [i]The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian[/i], earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction. It is available in print and eBook. For more information, visit her at [url="http://www.careycorp.com/"]careycorp.com[/url].

[center][url="http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z367/honestlyya/slideshow/004.jpg"][img]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z367/honestlyya/slideshow/004.jpg[/img][/url]l-r: Carey, Melissa, Lorie[/center]



Me, Honestly

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 29 August 2012 · 150 views

I'm guest posting today over at [url="http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/2012/08/summer-flings-with-boobs.html"]Honestly YA[/url], a great group blog that includes some of my fellow Ohioans that I get to hang with occasionally. They have fun. I have fun. Together, it's double fun. They're asking all their guest posters to talk about summer flings, but those are kinda alien to me. Why? Well, [url="http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/2012/08/summer-flings-with-boobs.html"]boobs of course[/url].

I'm also up over at [url="http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2012/08/genre-bending.html"]From the Write Angle[/url] today, where I'm talking about [url="http://www.fromthewriteangle.com/2012/08/genre-bending.html"]genre bending[/url]. What does that mean? Head on over there to find out. But I'll give you a hint - the two posts aren't related. :)

And lastly, just FYI I'm giving myself the gift of sight tomorrow. Yes, LASIK and I are about to become close personal friends. As evidenced in this [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJBaTMkxlSY&feature=g-upl"]vlog[/url], it's about time.


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