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The Worth of the Word Cloud & A Week of Giveaways

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 August 2012 · 142 views

So here's a big fat question for everybody -

Do you use the word cloud on blogs? More specifically - do you use the word cloud on [i]my [/i]blog?

I use them. I like them. It's the bloggers answer to an index. But it's also a little unwieldy hanging out there in the right sidebar, even though I've tried very hard not to use random words for tags and stick to a few that I already had. (Although, I'm keeping "cholera" over there. Yes, yes I am).

So I'm doing a little blog rearranging here and there and the word cloud is kind of bothering me. I may put it in different spots and try it out. Would anyone cry in their Cheerios if I took it away? (Salty Cheerios are very not tasty).

But hey - there's a real reason why you clicked on this, isn't there?

Starting next Sunday August 12 - Fri August 17 I'll be giving away a book everyday. It's called late spring cleaning, but it's also a time for you to rejoice at my bad habits of bringing home things I don't need. Some info on the books - they're all YA. Some are ex-library books, some are ex book club books, so you're not getting bright shiny hardcovers.

BUT - the big kicker for Friday's giveaway on Aug. 17 is a signed copy of THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima. So yeah, you might want to hang around for that one.

The only rules I have for this giveaway is that you must be a follower of the blog, and if you want to win the signed Cinda Williams Chima, you must have entered to win at least one of the other books throughout the week.

All you'll have to do to enter is comment on the blog on a day that you see a book you want.

So - get ready to visit my blog next week, and beat the rush by following me now :)
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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 04 August 2012 · 168 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.








[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/img][/url]


Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson


http://femboost.tumblr.com/



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].

Harold has ruined twelve-year-old Jake’s life for the last time. So what if Harold has Asperger’s and is a genius when it comes to baseball trivia and sixth grade Algebra. Jake’s D-O-N-E.[color=yellow] Great hook, very kid-oriented. Voice is here, genre is here.[/color]


Harold collects baseball facts like the Smithsonian collects dead things and Jake is convinced that Harold also has a talent for killing his [color=yellow]Nice parallels, but the "his" is a little general here. First pass I thought you meant killing "Harold's" social life[/color] social life. But Jake’s finally found a way to put some distance between himself and Harold—middle school. His plan is to not only ditch Harold, but also the Titans, Jake’s baseball team. The team he’s played on since T-ball. The one his dad coaches. [color=yellow]Choppiness here. I get that it's on purpose, but I'd play these connections in with the idea that even though he's got family connections and a history, they're second-rate.[/color] It seems the best the Titans can do is second place and Jake wants to find a spot on the number one team, even if it means leaving his old friends behind. [color=yellow]I need more here about how ditching the team equates to ditching Harold. Does he play?[/color]


Jake meets Mr. Williams who was once a Little Leaguer himself. Only no one would play his team because in the 1955 South, white teams didn’t play black teams. Mr. Williams helps Jake understand that some people have a gift to make us better individuals and Harold might just have that gift. It’s also possible that Harold’s knowledge of expert plays can help Jake’s team beat the undefeated Comets.


Lucy, the girl who sits beside Jake on the bus, tries to convince him that there are more important things than winning and that friends come in all sorts of packages. Jake discovers that Lucy, while annoying, might be right and…kind of awesome to sit by. [color=yellow]Love this last line :)[/color]


[color=yellow]While I like the two paras dedicated to each supporting character, it pushes your query into a longer place than it needs to be. Combine the two, it'll be quite easy using the idea that Lucy introduces friends in "different packages" and then the parallel with Mr. Williams having to deal with racism.[/color]


HAROLD - THE KID WHO RUINED MY LIFE AND SAVED THE DAY is a 32k middle grade novel. It’s a story full of baseball action, humor, and a lesson about true friendship. As a teacher and school counselor for over twenty years, I’ve worked with kids like Harold who fall on the high end of the autism continuum and who struggle to find acceptance. Currently, I’m a middle school counselor with the largest school system in the Southeast. [color=yellow]Great bio - you tout the high points of your book, while showing why you're qualified to write it - well done![/color]


[color=yellow]Overall you just need some tweaks here. The query stands out, the hook is superb, and the lessons here sound great for a contemp MG. I think tightening those last two paras is your biggest concern, and obliterating some of the choppiness involved in the top one. Nice job![/color]
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Like Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread...

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 August 2012 · 181 views

That's how I feel lately, but in a good way. If that's possible.

I'm kind of a needed person - ahem, make sure you read that "needed" and not "needy." If there's something that needs to be done around my place, I'm the person that's going to do it, or it's not going to get done. Sometimes that's a weight, and sometimes it's a blessing.

Sure, I might *want* to lay in bed all morning and drool on myself. I might *want* to play old videogames on my PS2 all day and eat cold pizza. I might *want* to get a pedicure and... oh no wait, I would never want to do that. It's a foot thing.

Anyway - the point is, there are plenty of things I'd rather be doing than the things I should be doing. But living life by the idea of work before play has always been my way, and as I get older I'm really glad of it.

Responsibility is not easily come by. It's not sexy. It's not even fun. But my hyperactive work ethic is why my house is clean, why I'll have six months worth of home-canned food setting in the root cellar by the time the garden is finished, and why I know I've got to do my line-edits instead of perfecting Lara Croft's swan dive.

Because really - who else is going to do my line edits?
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A Cover Reveal Conversation with Alex Lidell, Author of THE CADET OF TILDOR

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 31 July 2012 · 316 views

[center][url="https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17102068/Web%20-%20Alex%20Lidell/WEB%20LINKED.%20Do%20Not%20Delete/Cover%20Final%20CadetofTildor.jpg"][img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17102068/Web%20-%20Alex%20Lidell/WEB%20LINKED.%20Do%20Not%20Delete/Cover%20Final%20CadetofTildor.jpg[/img][/url][/center]

[left][i]Having already survived six years at the Tildor's top military academy, sixteen-year-old Renee De Winter is determined to graduate, training day and night to compete with her male classmates. When the boys overpower her parries, she works harder. When a bully sabotages her gear, she fights without it. But when an underground crime group captures her mentor for its illegal gladiatorial games, she must choose between her career and her conscience. Determined to penetrate the group's inner circles, Renee will leap from academia to the crime filled streets, pick up a sword, and weigh law against loyalty.[/i][/left]

[left][i]THE CADET OF TILDOR will be available January 10, 2013 from Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin). Add it to your [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13549523-the-cadet-of-tildor"]Goodreads[/url] shelf, or [url="http://www.amazon.com/The-Cadet-of-Tildor-ebook/dp/B007HUD5QC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339305443&sr=8-1&keywords=the+cadet+of+tildor"]pre-order on Amazon[/url] today![/i][/left]
[b]BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?[/b]

AL: Orange. And with a sword. The word TILDOR just feels orange.

I also had expected to see at least one of my characters on the cover. Upon reflection, this wish had more to do with me wanting to see my character’s picture than with a genuine belief that the characters belonged on the jacket. See, that’s why writers don’t design covers!

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

AL: When I first met my editor, shortly after she acquired CADET, she handed me a copy of GRACELING (Cashore is also a Dial author) saying that she thought I'd like the novel. The editor also pointed to the cover, saying that she imagined something similar for my book. "And glitter," she said. "We like glitter."

And then that editor left publishing.

My new editor and I talked about the cover once the major edits were done. Glitter has not come up in conversation.

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

AL: On a scale of 1 (you'll see it when we're done) to 10 (draw your own), I'd put me at about a 5: Enough to feel involved and considered, but not so much that I could mess things up.

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

AL: Anticlimactically. An email showed up out of the blue one day saying, "ok, cover time. Here is what we have in mind."

I was excited to learn that the designed had specifically asked to work on CADET and read the whole novel, which does not usually happen.

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

AL: Yes! We had a Cover Team of about 50 bloggers – including this one here – that all revealed together on June 11, 2012. It was a lot of fun and I’d love to do something like that again. Maybe with the trailer reveal in a few months?

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

AL: I had the general notion for months, but got the final art less than a week before the reveal. Penguin knew and approved my reveal date - we based it around Penguin’s internal schedule.

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

AL: Impossible. I showed CADET’S cover to my mom and dad. I didn’t email it though - just to make sure one of us did not accidentally forward it along. Also, my agent was CCed on the cover, which was important because I had someone to legally talk about it with.

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

AL: The number of people involved. There is the editor. And the designer. And the artist-who is not the same person as the designer. And the marketing folk. And me. And my agent. And the people at the press who need to adjust stuff to get the colors just right. I'm sure there are others too…

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

AL: Write down all your thoughts, wishes, ideas. See a cover you like? Take a picture. Make sure you know what you like and can describe / show it to the editor if she asks. For example, at one point in my cover we were discussing color tinge. I applied a photoshop color filter to the mock-up to explain what I was talking about.

Another suggestion: Find out which audience your publisher believes will buy your book. For example, Penguin thinks THE CADET OF TILDOR would appeal to Tamora Pierce and George R. R. Martin fans, so I spent some time looking at those authors’ posters/covers and phrasing my comments to the editor in those terms.
[img]https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-5885547196316007692?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com[/img]

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A Non YA Giveaway Winner

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 29 July 2012 · 174 views

Follower Amanda Ray is the winner of the [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/07/reading-outside-your-genre-non-ya.html"]Non-YA Giveaway[/url]! Please email me at bigblackcat97(at)gmail(dot)com with your address and I'll get your books right out to you. If I don't hear back by Friday I'll have to pick a new winner. Congrats, hugs and kisses, and other things I would never do in real life.

In other news, my line edits came in this weekend, so I'm crawling off to the edit cave. In case you missed it, [url="http://bookpregnant.blogspot.com/2012/06/edit-cave.html"]the edit cave is a glorious dark place of constant seclusion and butlers[/url].

Ok, not really.
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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 27 July 2012 · 199 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.






[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/img][/url]

Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson

http://femboost.tumblr.com/


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].
Born into one of the Big Three families of the Enchanter realm, 17-year-old Finna Claremont’s lineage—yeah, lineage—should mean she’ll make a great guardian…. Right. [color=yellow]The hook isn't fantastic, but I like the slight snark in the voice here, so I would keep reading.[/color]

Finna’s screwed up everything from transporting to blocking her thoughts since she was little, so when a fairy declares Finna has special responsibilities to protect her world [color=yellow]Whose world? Finna's, or the fairy's?[/color], it shocks everyone, including Finna. [color=yellow]I'm a little confused here - is this in an entirely different realm? [/color]To prove she can hack it as a guardian, Finna sets out to stop an evil politician threatening the rights of all Enchanters. [color=yellow]Hmm... yeah I don't have a good feel for this world right now. It feels all high fantasy with elves and enchanters and lineages, but now we're talking about politicians? And what does an Enchanter do? [/color]She’ll have to trust the last person she ever expected to befriend [color=yellow]Why? Why does she need his help? How is she going to stop this politician? Clearly more than holding a protest march, I guess.[/color] (not to mention fall in love with) to pull it off. And trusting Liam Monroe isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because he’s a Monroe. They’ve hated the Claremonts for a hundred years, and the feeling is mutual. There’s a lot more than family honor riding on the line if Finna fails to measure up. She’ll have to count on her fledgling powers or else watch the world she knows disappear.

The powerful family ties and strong adult characters set apart BLOOM, a YA fantasy novel complete at 86,000 words.

[color=yellow]I don't know that you want to use this as a sinker, because your query hasn't shown me powerful family ties or strong adult characters. If those are truly strong selling points for your book, get them out into the query. Right now, i think one of the more interesting aspects I see in this query is the idea of the bad guy being a politician, and that the threat lies in losing rights. Usually in fantasy we expect bad sorcerers and dragons as the threat... so I'd say that's another aspect that sets you apart.[/color]

[color=yellow]Build on those. Right now you're trying to sell a not-ilving-up-to-her-potential heroine who is supposed to save the world along with a Hatfield and McCoy romance. All those things have been done before, not necessarily all together, but they have been done. Build the query around your world, because I think that's what's going to set you apart. We need to know what an Enchanter does in the first place, what rights are being threatened, and how Finna intends to fix that with Liam's help in order to say - Wow! I want to read that![/color]
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How to Distinguish Between 50 Shades of Grey and Between Shades of Gray

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 25 July 2012 · 210 views

Because it appears to be a problem.



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Debut Submission Success with YA Author Bethany Crandell

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 23 July 2012 · 291 views

Before I jump into today's interview - the winner of the [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/07/reading-outside-your-genre-non-ya.html"]Non-YA Giveaway[/url] was Amanda Ray!

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 SHIT guest is a special friend of mine. Bethany Crandell slogged through the query trenches right alongside me, celebrated with me when I crawled on out, and then kept on slogging. We all know slogging makes one weary, but this slogger slogged it out. Bethany emerged with an agent and a deal for her debut [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13635790-summer-on-the-short-bus"]SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS[/url], which will be available from Running Press in 2014.

[center][url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yOfUyqcYfMw/T7pg4hecFQI/AAAAAAAAAhk/D2PU_-4_oac/s1600/0.jpeg"][img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yOfUyqcYfMw/T7pg4hecFQI/AAAAAAAAAhk/D2PU_-4_oac/s1600/0.jpeg[/img][/url][/center][i]Cricket Montgomery was born with a golden spoon in her mouth (though Tiffany platinum would have been preferred) and the narcissistic notion that the world revolves around her. After a botched party attempt at the country-club lands her in hot water with her rarely-present father, it's bye-bye relaxing Hawaiian vacation, hello attitude-adjustment as a summer camp counselor.[/i]

[i]As if being left for dead in western Michigan with limited cell coverage isn't punishment enough, Cricket's horror increases when she realizes she's working at a camp for disabled teens. Thankfully there's one bright spot in handicapped hell; fellow counselor and Zac Efron lookalike Quinn, who Cricket falls head over heels for. Unfortunately for Cricket, Quinn is the one person who offers her the brutal truth about the kind of person she really is--and not even a platinum spoon can make 'self-centered, bitch' taste good.[/i]

[i]As wheelchairs, lazy eyes, and slurred speech begin to threaten her sanity, Cricket finds herself relying on the unlikely friendships she makes with the campers, and the strange connection the camp's director seems to have to her forgotten past.[/i]

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

BC: Thanks to one of my best pals allowing me fly-on-the-wall access to her sub process, I knew a fair amount. However, it’s a lot like the first few weeks of sleep deprivation after you bring your newborn baby home from the hospital. People warned you you’d be tired, but until you’ve experienced it first hand—no warning does it justice.

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

BC: I was surprised by how incredibly kind the editors were. We received a handful of rejections, but they were all lovely and encouraging. One actually made me cry! It turns out editors are not dream crushing trolls after all.

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

BC: Hello. My name is Bethany and I’m an internet stalker.

You bet I did. I am a control freak. Since I was on the sidelines waiting while Rachael communicated with the editors, Googling, Twitter-stalking and PM browsing were about the only things I could do that allowed me to feel like I was still a part of the experience. I’m not sure that it got me anywhere, but it did give me a sense of purpose. I wouldn’t not recommend doing it. I think you need to do whatever works for you to get through the process. (For the record, I never Google Earthed anyone. I had to draw the line somewhere).

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

BC: It varied. Some were as little as three weeks, others had it several months and never replied even after we got the offer from Running Press. I’m sure there are a ton of things that factor into their response time. Current lists, how full their in-box is, how many people in-house have to read…basically, too many to count. I tried not to fixate on the spurts of radio silence, but when you’re a big communicator, like I am, that wasn’t easy.

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

BC: Write, if you can focus long enough to do so, and talk to people. I wouldn’t have survived submissions without my author pals there to cheer me on, boost me up, and let me vent. Other writers are your greatest resource—utilize them!

[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]

BC: Whether you’re agent hunting or searching for a publishing home, rejections suck--period. The difference this time around is that I wasn’t taking the hits by myself. Rachael, my agent, was fielding the blows, too. Knowing I had someone who believed in my book as much as I did made the passes a lot less painful.

[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]

BC: I had a little spreadsheet where I tracked the date our query went out, when the material was requested, as well as any feedback they provided. Again, it made me feel like I had a little bit of control in the situation. (The stupid things we writers tell ourselves.) Thankfully, the worst feedback we received was completely subjective. (Subjective. That word gives me the shivers.) I think I’d have fallen on the floor and assumed the fetal position had there been something negative.

As far as the differences between betas & editors; it was hard, but I tried to remind myself that editors are looking for more than just a well-crafted book. They need something that’s going to sell. As much as market trends can hurt authors, that’s just the way it works. Editors gotta eat, too.

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

BC: Here’s the scenario: Ten minutes after I hung up the phone with my agent the phone rang again. I glanced at the display and saw it was her number. My initial thought was, “OH CRAP! Something really bad is happening. Why is she calling me again?” After a deep breath I picked up the phone…

ME: “Hello?”
AGENT: “Are you sitting down?”
ME: “Uh…”
AGENT: “They’re going to make an offer today.”
ME: Absolute silence immediately followed by hysterical, bordering on scary, laughter. “Shut up! Are you serious? Don’t lie to me ‘cause you know I can’t handle that today.”

The rest is a lovely blur. It took several days for the reality of what was happening to sink in. In fact…it’s still sinking in. Sometimes I’ll be doing something totally brainless like sitting at a stoplight or packing the girls’ lunches and it will hit me, MY BOOK IS GOING TO BE ON A SHELF—IN A BOOK STORE! And then I break into the giggles again.

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

BC: Thankfully, my editor contacted me within two or three days to let me know it was safe to let the cat out of the bag. The cat is now perched on a very tall mountain with a megaphone mewing like a lunatic!
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Getting Sued Would Not Be Fun, So Be Smart

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 23 July 2012 · 154 views

There is a fantastic post today over on [url="http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html"]Roni Loren's blog[/url] about using photographs on your blog. In summation - yes, you can be sued for using a picture you didn't take yourself on your blog. It doesn't matter if you link back and name the photog, it doesn't matter if you acknowledge it's not yours, it doesn't matter if you don't make money off of it, it doesn't matter if it was innocent and you didn't know you were wrong.

As a librarian, I'm very aware of copyright issues. As a writer, I'm very aware of how they protect me. As a blogger, I'd love to be able to pop up whatever pretty picture my Google search presents me with to spice up the latest post.

But I can't - and more to the point - [i]I shouldn't[/i].

One reason I waited so long to create a [url="http://pinterest.com/bigblackcat97/not-a-drop-to-drink/"]Pinterest account [/url]was because I'm pretty sure the only way to be totally free and clear of Legal-Land is to only use your own pics and not re-pin. So that's what I do over there. Sure, it might be the paranoid way of going about it, but I'm a paranoid gal.

I'm fairly certain that the only pics I have on my blog are ones I took myself, or that I had permission to use. Even so, I'm going back through today and making sure of that fact.

You might want to consider doing that too, if you're a blogger.

What are the odds you get zinged? Small.

But I'm sure the 13 year old girl who used Napster thought that too, right? (God, what a fiasco THAT was).
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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 20 July 2012 · 187 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.




[url="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s1600/NewestSatSlash.jpg"][img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ys6toRSVJD4/UADeqdCGAKI/AAAAAAAAArg/zFHQIB3dYgs/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg[/img][/url]
Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
http://femboost.tumblr.com/

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].
Avery isn’t as crazy as everyone thinks—her dreams really are coming to life. But ever since she lied about her parents’ kidnapping, she’s the girl who cried wolf. [color=yellow]Oh - nice. I'd consider switching your sentences around here. The first one isn't quite as "hook-y" as you want it to be. You start out with kind of an overused concept, but then you turn it around with the second sentence. Consider restructuring for strength, but it's still solid as is.[/color]
But one boy believes her. Mason knows Avery is a Dreamer—a regular person with the ability to bring their dreams to life [color=yellow]I'd drop "regular," as it sounds like being a Dreamer automatically discounts you as regular.[/color]. What he doesn’t know is she’s the future and hope of all mankind, and her dreams are bringing a sinister group of people, the Dream Catchers, one step closer to finding her and harnessing her power for evil. [color=yellow]Why is she the Special Dreamer of all Dreamers? How is she the hope of all mankind? Why is she special and different even among Dreamers? And how are her dreams bringing the Catchers closer to her?[/color]

As a Waker—a protector of Dreamers—it’s Mason’s job to help her control her dreams and shield her from the Dream Catchers. But learning to trust someone, especially a Yankee [color=yellow]Is this book set in the South? Why does it matter that he's a Yankee?[/color] who may just be the boy of her dreams, could be Avery’s biggest challenge.

Narrated alternately by Avery and Mason, DREAM MAKER, a YA modern fantasy, is complete at 61,000 words and is on multiple submissions. [color=yellow]You don't need to specify that you're querying more than one agent, they expect it.[/color]

[color=yellow]I'm definitely drawn in by the concept but I need more here in order for this query to escape from the "Special Girl / Protector Boy / World Might End" derivative machine. You really had me with the idea that Avery has lied about something - something HUGE - in the past... and then *poof* that totally left the query. Her parents aren't even mentioned again, or their kidnapping. Are her parents still around? What's the story with the kidnapping? Does it play into the larger plot? Why would Avery lie about that in the first place? You bring up some massive questions that sound like they have the potential to separate this from every other YA urban fantasy, but then you drop them.[/color]

[color=yellow]I also need to know why Avery is so special, even among Dreamers, and how her dreams are leading the Catchers to her. The concept is interesting, and I like the idea, but I need to see in the query that you've got the execution nailed - show me the details instead of these broad strokes and make it clear that you've got a unique twist on the "Special Girl" story.[/color]
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