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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 06 July 2012 · 172 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.




[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s1600/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s200/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff[/img][/url][/center]
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.


Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!

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

Ava’s nineteen, but she feels like she’s thirty, and every one of those years has been lonely. [color=yellow]Good hook, I like it.[/color] She never expected to find friends among the Greek gods, and she definitely didn’t expect the Garden of Eden to become home. Ava falls in love with this [color=yellow]I'd use "the" [/color]world of Olympians, fauns, and centaurs, [color=yellow]I'd set the net sentence apart to accentuate it. This is the crux of your plot. [/color] but war looms on Eden’s horizon. Ares, god of war, wants Eden and the rest of Earth as his own. He and his witches are marching on the Middle East, and they vow to remake Earth as one monotheistic nation- where all people worship him. The Muses say only Ava can defeat Ares, but she’s not magical at all. She could barely handle her home life; [color=yellow]Really? Why?[/color]defeating the god of war is hardly a skill on her resume.

When Ares kidnaps her and claims he loves her, Ava gives him a chance. He might not be the evil dictator she was told. In fact, he just might be able to unite humans and bring global peace. Marrying him will make her the enemy of the Olympians she loves, but mediating between Ares and humans might be the only way to stop the war.

When his witches sacrifice a human to raise Haides [color=yellow]Is there an "i" in that name? [/color]from the Underworld, Ava realizes how wrong she’s been about Ares. With Haides as his weapon, Ares could destroy her newfound family and bring the world to its knees. Ava, non-magical [color=yellow]already covered that [/color]but determined, must find a way to stop him, even though it means risking her life just when she found the family that makes her life worthwhile.

THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE is a 101,000-word fantasy novel with series potential. Readers who enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss may enjoy its base in mythology, magic, and history. I’m a high school English teacher and have written three short films, each placing first at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. I earned my B.A. in English writing under James Calvin Schaap, award-winning author. [color=yellow]I'd switch the phrasing here to put "award winning" first. [/color]

[color=yellow]A couple things. The writing here is good and solid, and the query does a good job of portraying a somewhat complicated plot. I would say though that same really key points are missing. How does Ava become a part of this magical world? If she's not magical at all, why is she allowed to live in the Garden of Eden? It doesn't sound like the Muses determine she's the one who can deliver them until after the fact. [/color]

[color=yellow]Also, the hook, while good, is potentially misleading. Ava feels like she's 30 - that immediately makes her different from most teens and makes us wonder if there IS something different bout her, yet you insist (twice) that there's not. I need to know more about how Ava discovers this world, and is admitted into it in order to be really pulled in.[/color]

[color=yellow]Also, you hint that her real life is quite bad. She's lonely, she couldn't handle her real life, etc. Yet, we don't know why. Abuse? Neglect? How can she be so easily absorbed out of the real world and into the magical one? I need to know there's a good reason, and not just authorial convenience.[/color]

[color=yellow]Lastly - It's hard to break in with a book over 100k. You get a little bit of leeway for your genre, but I'm willing to bet you've got a couple thousand words in there you don't need. Same with the query, in a smaller amount. Streamline. In order to get the real world details in here, you're going to have to make some sacrifices. Kill your darlings, and you'll be fine. And last random question - what does the title have to do with the ms?[/color]
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A Submission Story with LEVEL 2 Author Lenore Appelhans

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 04 July 2012 · 246 views

Today's guest for the SHIT (Submission Hell - It's True) is Lenore Appelhans, the blogger extraordinaire behind [url="http://www.presentinglenore.blogspot.com/"]Presenting Lenore[/url] who stopped by last week for a [url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/06/boa-with-presenting-lenore.html"]BOA[/url]. Lenore's experience in the submission process certainly wasn't hellish, but a good dose of optimism never hurt any aspiring writers, either. And it certainly didn't hurt that her debut, [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10861195-level-2"]LEVEL 2 [/url]sounds like it's made of everything you ever wanted, wrapped up in paper and topped off with a glorious cover.


[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1339111040l/10861195.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1339111040l/10861195.jpg[/img][/url][/center][i]Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.[/i]

[i]Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.[/i]

[i]Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.[/i]

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

LA: I did know a bit, mostly from scouring the blue boards (community at Verla Kay’s website) or from SCBWI resources/conferences.

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

LA: My agent walked me through the process and he was incredibly confident that it wouldn’t be on sub long. He told me he was pitching it on a Friday and that we’d probably hear first reactions mid-week the following week. So when he forwarded me some feedback on Saturday already, I was elated, but my anxiety level also rose considerably. I might not have slept that whole weekend.

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

LA: I had the submission list, and I googled all of their names, but I found precious little info about them. The main way to find out about which editors edit which books seems to be reading acknowledgement pages. So I did a lot of that to pass the time while I was waiting!

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

Well, we heard that the first editor had interest in less than one day. We also got a couple of rejections by Monday. By Tuesday, my agent indicated that it would likely go to auction on Thursday, but then the preempt came in from S&S and we eventually accepted that.

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

LA: I wish I knew! Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with that specific anxiety for very long, but I’m sure if it had been much longer I would have developed some coping strategies.

[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]

LA: The rejections we got were basically of the “this is just not for me, but I’m confident you’ll sell it elsewhere” variety, and the face of so much positive feedback, they really didn’t register much. You can’t expect everyone to love your book.

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

LA: It was all via phone calls on a chilly Tuesday night in March. It felt really, really surreal because I just couldn’t believe I would soon have an actual book published. By the time the deal was agreed to, it was nearly midnight here (in Germany I am 6 hours ahead of New York) so my husband and I celebrated by going to the grocery store and buying sparkling wine and Snickers ice cream bars.

[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]

LA: Because the publishing contract and the movie option with CBS happened at the same time, Deadline.com broke the news the next day and S&S sort of had to scramble to write a press release. The deal was announced in PM and PW on Thursday, so it really wasn’t too bad of a wait.
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A Tongue-In-Cheek 4-of-J Giveaway

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 03 July 2012 · 157 views

Hey, I love America, don't get me wrong. But I came across some things from a not-so-recent trip to Europe that I have yet to actually make use of, so I thought - I know, I'll have a sarcastic July 4th Giveaway!

So to celebrate our independence from the heinous British I'm giving away two keychains from the British Library, along with a dual American to English / English to American dictionary. It's so incredibly helpful. Take it with you when overseas so that you're not confused like I was when the girl at Subway asked me if I wanted salad on my sub.

All you have to do to enter is follow the blog and tweet to spread the word. Comment below with your tweet link and I'll pick a winner from the comments using random.org Contest runs through Sunday night, 11:59 PM EDT.


[center][url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nokfChZNSBs/T_OlaBAK4vI/AAAAAAAAAqU/pSy8DDA37pY/s1600/British+Library.jpg"][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nokfChZNSBs/T_OlaBAK4vI/AAAAAAAAAqU/pSy8DDA37pY/s320/British+Library.jpg[/img][/url][/center]


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Cover Reveal Interview With Ellen Oh, Author of PROPHECY

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 03 July 2012 · 202 views

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1340555383l/10129062.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="640" src="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1340555383l/10129062.jpg" width="420" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Today's guest is my fellow <a href="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Lucky13s</a> and <a href="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Friday the Thirteeners</a> member Ellen Oh, to talk about her awesome cover for <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10129062-prophecy" target="_blank">PROPHECY</a>, available from Harper Teen January 2, 2013.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><i>Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...</i></div><br /><i>Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.</i><br /><br /><b>BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look </b><b>like?</b><br /><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: Well, my kids did versions of the cover that I loved! But otherwise I didn’t have any real idea of what I wanted it to look like other than wanting an iconic cover. I was so happy with what HarperTeen produced.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: I’d say as early as the summer of 2012 was when we had the first conversations with my editor where she asked me what I was thinking about. I remember telling her that I really liked the Eon cover for the paperback version. There was the shadow of a girl holding a sword before an amazing dragon. And then I didn’t hear anything until I saw the first version.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: Did you have any input on your cover?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: Not really, but then that’s probably a good thing as I’m not artistic or creative in the very least! I leave that to the professionals. The only thing I asked for was something iconic, which they totally delivered.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: How was your cover revealed to you?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: My editor called me first and then it came via email and I was like WOW!</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: Yes, the marketing team at Harper asked me to reveal my cover the week of June 18th. Being very literal, I revealed it, jointly with the wonderful Megan Shepherd, right on June 18th!</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: I’d say I knew what the final cover was at least 2 months before the release.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EOL HELL YES! ;o)</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: What surprised you most about the process?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: That it takes a year to create a cover. That shocked me.</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><b>BBC: Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">EO: I think the best thing is not to stress about it because it ultimately isn’t in our hands. Being able to give input on what you hope for is good early on, and I do think they take an author’s input very seriously. But after that, forget about it and know that you are in good hands with your publisher.</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/121295651954516717-6477655954231935472?l=writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>

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When Your Mom Calls At Five AM Wanting To Borrow A Gun...

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 July 2012 · 314 views

... the first question out of your mouth isn't "Why?" But rather, "Which one?"

Well, it is if you're me, anyway.

[url="https://p.twimg.com/AwldbgvCAAAslpn.jpg:large"][img]https://p.twimg.com/AwldbgvCAAAslpn.jpg:large[/img][/url]Hail (Also my hand)Yes, life continues to be an amalgamation of the amazing. Some really awesome storms have been ripping through Ohio lately. If you've been following my [url="https://twitter.com/#!/bigblackcat97"]Twitter feed[/url] you know that it's been above 90 degrees as late as 10 PM these days, and you've also seen pics of golf-ball sized hail. The one thing I can't take a picture of is the fact that around 300,000 people in my state do not have power at the moment. Well, I could take a picture but it would be rather... dark.

My parents are among the 300k, but we're resourceful people. You can imagine the same couple that has a backhoe at their disposal also has a generator, so they're doing alright. However, the generator cord isn't quite allowing the back door to shut all the way, and sometime around 4 AM a particularly curious mammal with opposable thumbs figured that out.
[url="https://p.twimg.com/AwhZYZLCMAA-Vu9.jpg:large"][img]https://p.twimg.com/AwhZYZLCMAA-Vu9.jpg:large[/img][/url]The temp. on Thursday, 10 PM
So what do you do when there's a raccoon in the kitchen? Call your daughter and borrow her rifle.

It seems pretty straightforward, but raccoons aren't really that excited about being shot at. Plus, Abby ([url="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/2012/06/you-just-cant-make-this-shit-up.html"]yes, the Scottish Terrier of tunneling under the road fame[/url]) had it in her head that *this* was her redeeming moment and was doing her damn-it-all-best to kill the raccoon, which really just meant she was ruining any chance of my dad getting a clean shot.

Oh - and I forgot to mention that he only had one bullet.

And also - the flashlight was going dim because they've been using them constantly.

And yes - that flashlight was my Mag light that I still haven't gotten back after the Abby-Under-the-Road Incident.

One more thing - the person holding the Mag light was my mom, who kept having to scream and run the other way when the raccoon charged her.

It was a glorious, badly-lit circus.

To add to the fun, my parents' St. Bernard (appropriately named Boo, because he's scared of everything) would occasionally stick his head in whatever room the entire escapade had moved to, howl mournfully, and then back out because he didn't feel equal to the situation. Dad says it's just not in his nature to hurt things, and that's a good thing.

My dad is a really big, really nice guy (pretty much just like Boo). He gave the raccoon every chance to make an escape, but once it did find its way back to the screen door it refused to let go of a bag of bread (no, I'm not kidding) that wouldn't squeeze through the crack. So it was time to make use of the one bullet, and unfortunately the raccoon met its bitter end in the bathroom.

Mom says that's OK, because she was tired of the Harvest Gold colored tub anyway.
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A Sunday Surprise

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 30 June 2012 · 211 views

So normally I don't blog on Sundays, but today is special. [url="http://www.blogger.com/"]The Lucky 13s[/url] are celebrating the six month countdown to 2013 with a huge book giveaway. Quite a few of us volunteered to pick a YA title that inspires us to use as a giveaway. To see the other authors participating, and what titles they chose, and how to win, hit up The Lucky 13's blog.


[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4lrfs3VUoww/T9BBs7TRPtI/AAAAAAAAAeM/cTPsbOuQclE/s1600/header+for+Kris+6.jpg"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4lrfs3VUoww/T9BBs7TRPtI/AAAAAAAAAeM/cTPsbOuQclE/s400/header+for+Kris+6.jpg[/img][/url][/center]

[left]I'll be giving away a copy of [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6514178-the-knife-of-never-letting-go"]THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO[/url] by Patrick Ness. Why? Beyond the fact that the writing is awesome and the plot is razor sharp, the first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy showed me that you don't have to talk down to write teen. You can write about difficult topics, you can cover the hard stuff and throw complex themes at them - and they'll love you for it. If you haven't tried out Ness, make this your first stop. Amazing.[/left]

[center][url="http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320481925l/6514178.jpg"][img]http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320481925l/6514178.jpg[/img][/url][/center]




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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 29 June 2012 · 262 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.




[center][url="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s1600/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff"][img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MAvrORptKTc/T4xRk0x9XQI/AAAAAAAAAeM/G_WLmt8stog/s200/UseSaturdaySlash.tiff[/img][/url][/center]
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox. Also, at the end, I'm going to tell you what I think your story is about, based on your query. I know how hard it is to get your ideas across succinctly, and how easy it is for your author's brain to fill in the blanks and not see the gaping holes that the average reader may very well fall into.


Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!


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

It's been over sixty years since Lucy last killed. The only difference is now instead of taking lives, she's taking souls. [color=yellow]Very nice, I like the hook.[/color]

When contract killer Lucy Hamilton was murdered in 1951, she never thought her day job would transition into the afterlife. Her superiors call her Lucy, her friends call her Contract Killer, but everyone else calls her Death. [color=yellow]Nice, I like the whole plot setup, especially the idea of a female assassin in the 50's. The one thing I would say here is that it seems like you need something snazzier for what her friends call her. Everything so far is nice and snappy so it seems repetitive to use the phrase "contract killer" twice. Give her something more clever for a nickname. And I don't know the voice of course, but it seems like her superiors would call her Ms Hamilton?[/color]

After countless years of training in Limbo on how to do her trade [color=yellow]I'd strike the phrase after "Limbo." Training implies she's learning how to do her trade. Also, the phrase "countless years" makes me wonder when the story is actually set? Present day? If so, make it "50 odd years" or something like that here in the query. Otherwise it raises the question of "when" we are[/color], Lucy sets out to reap her first soul. Even though she knows humans can see and interact with her, she figures being a reaper is no different than being an assassin - all it takes is a little skill [color=yellow]I feel like you don't need the "even though" to start the sentence. More like "Since" or "Because." [/color]However, when memories from her death interfere with work, she gets caught reaping an old man, [color=yellow]Slightly clunky phrasing here, scale back the beginning phrase of this sentence[/color] turning her into a wanted felon [color=yellow]the phrase "wanted felon" is a little redundant - how about "turning her into a felon wanted" [/color]by the San Jose Police Department. Her mugshot becomes local news at eight, but she knows she must continue reaping the names of those on her list or their spirits will find a way to exact revenge for their deaths. [color=yellow]I'd put a para break here. [/color]Lucy was just doing her job; she didn't know the old man she got caught reaping was the grandfather of one seriously pissed off lunatic. And for him, this is personal. David Clark [color=yellow]I'd put a rank in front of this so we know he's police[/color] launches a statewide manhunt for Lucy and ends up getting a hold of her list. [color=yellow]Really? That seems a little far-fetched. You definitely need to tell us how.[/color] After figuring out what he holds [color=yellow]"hold / holds" echo[/color] in his hands is Death's List, he understands he's been granted access to the names of those who are next in line to die. And he knows just what to do with it.

Given no choice, Lucy must find a way to keep David from selling her list to the highest bidder or risk having it land in the hands of someone powerful enough to cheat Death. [color=yellow]Very confused on what this last sentence is implying - when you said he knows just what to do with it, I assumed that meant he was going to go to the places were the people on the list lived so that he could catch Lucy. But now he's selling it? And what good would that do, knowing someone is scheduled to die? How would that information be lucrative? And who is the person powerful enough to cheat Death?[/color]

[color=yellow]Overall you've got a great premise and most of this query is fantastic. But little problems are popping up at the end. You mention the psycho guy, but then he's dropped in favor of David the cop, whose motivations I'm not understanding. I also am not clear on how someone (anyone) having the list would really matter all that much, and I'm very lost on who the person is who would be powerful enough to cheat Death.[/color]

[color=yellow]Iron out the kinks, don't let the psycho just go wandering off the page, and be clear about the [/color]
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Crits For Water

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 28 June 2012 · 347 views

Myself and seven of the other quite amazing members of [url="http://www.fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] are offering crits for water! Bidding closes today - [url="http://critsforwater.katbrauer.com/2012/06/28/pledge-friday-the-thirteeners-fiesta-critique-of-4-queries-with-8-authors/"]go here[/url] to see what you need to do. If you've ever wanted me to look at something more than just your query, this is how to get it done. Otherwise [url="http://www.crossingthehelix.blogspot.com/"]RC Lewis[/url] has my hands full, as she writes a novel every month or so :)


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A BOA with Presenting Lenore

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 27 June 2012 · 210 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.


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Today's guest is Lenore Applehans of [url="http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com/"]Presenting Lenore[/url], who runs an absolutely stunning book review blog, as well as being a debut author herself! Her book, [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10861195-level-2"]LEVEL 2[/url], will be available from Simon & Schuster, January 15, 2013. For her fantastic cover reveal and trailer, check out [url="http://presentinglenore.blogspot.de/2012/06/level-2-cover-reveal-this-is-it.html"]this post[/url] on her blog. And to make her even cooler, she's a cat person.

[b]BBC: So you run an excellent blog over at Presenting Lenore What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?[/b]

LA: Originally I envisioned PL as a place to talk about my work in advertising (hence the title), but after attending the SCBWI pre-Bologna conference in 2008, I repurposed the blog to discuss books. In the early years, my reading was a lot more eclectic, but gradually my focus narrowed to YA since that’s what I mainly write.

[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. You're a prolific blogger - how do you recommend one be both a successful blogger and writer?[/b]

LA: Blogs are a ton of work, no question. In 2009, at the height of my blogging, I wrote and published a post every day – with probably about half being book reviews. These days, most of that creative energy goes into writing fiction, so I’m lucky to have time for one or two posts a week.

One thing I think helps keep a balance is having specific goals. For 2012, for example, my two main goals are to stage my two dystopian/post-apocalyptic theme months (February and August) and to promote my fellow debut authors in the Apocalypsies via my Apoc Love! feature. I also have the very reliable Cat Tuesdays as an easy filler post.

I used to accept more blog tours and scheduled events, but I’ve drastically cut back on anything that has a firm deadline. It’s just too stressful. Having a calendar really helps though!

[b]BBC: It looks like you’re a big reader - do you set aside time for that?[/b]

LA: I have to set aside time for reading and I consider it part of my job as a writer. It’s essential not only to know what’s out there but also in terms of improving craft. I have learned so much about how to pace and plot YA from reading hundreds of YA novels over the past couple of years.

[b]BBC: You do a lot of reviews. Have you ever given a bad review? Why or why not?[/b]

LA: I’ve written critical reviews, yes. Book reviews are for readers and if they’re not honest, they are worthless. What I think a lot of authors don’t really get is that vaguely positive reviews pass from a reader’s consciousness in a matter of seconds while an in-depth, thoughtful review, even if it has its criticisms, forces a reader to engage with the material and really consider reading it.

Despite my firm belief in the value of critical reviews, my Apoc Love! book reviews are a bit different. Since these debut authors are essentially part of my support community, I use this feature to accentuate the positive, only talking about what I love about a book and not bringing up what I don’t. I’m still being honest, but my readers know that I’m only discussing the good aspects of the book.

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

LA: It can be, for sure. When I asked, in a recent survey attached to a contest, where visitors had first heard about LEVEL 2, I’d say 70% answered that they’d heard about it via my blog. Granted I was a blogger long before I was an author, but the contacts I’ve made just by being an active part of the blogosphere all these years (leaving comments on other blogs, engaging people on twitter, joining in events like read-a-thons, etc) are so valuable. At Book Expo America this year, I couldn’t walk two feet without running into someone I knew.

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

LA: I’m a huge fan of the link round-ups at YA Highway and Cynsations and I check in at least once a week at Verla Kay’s blue boards. I also subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace and the free newsletters from Publisher’s Weekly and Shelf Awareness. I find myself clicking on a lot of links from authors, agents and editors on twitter. Always lots of wisdom to be found there!

It can also be very educational to follow some of the more critical reviewers in the blogosphere to get an idea of what type of story element resonates and what repels. A few of my favorites are: [url="http://foreveryoungadult.com/"]Forever Young Adult[/url], [url="http://thebooksmugglers.com/"]The Book Smugglers[/url], [url="http://www.galleysmith.com/"]GalleySmith[/url], [url="http://www.stephsureads.blogspot.com/"]StephSuReads[/url], and [url="http://www.stackedbooks.org/"]Stacked Books[/url].

[b]BBC: What is your genre, and what led you to it? Does your genre influence the style of your blog?[/b]

LA: I’d say LEVEL 2 falls mainly into the thriller genre, though it does have some dystopian elements. My blog isn’t dystopian most of the year – just in February and August! But I am also blogging on the group blog [url="http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/"]The League of Extraordinary Writers[/url], which focuses on sci-fi.

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

LA: Hard work pays off. Maybe not today, but someday! Hopefully soon :)
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Cover Reveal Interview with Shannon Messenger, Author of LET THE SKY FALL

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 25 June 2012 · 229 views

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I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.






Today's guest is my fellow [url="http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/"]Lucky13s[/url] and [url="http://fridaythethirteeners.blogspot.com/"]Friday the Thirteeners[/url] member [url="http://shannonmessenger.com/"]Shannon Messenger[/url], to talk about her awesome cover for [url="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13445306-let-the-sky-fall"]LET THE SKY FALL[/url], available from Simon Pulse in March, 2013.


[i]Vane Weston should have died in the category five tornado that killed his parents. Instead, he woke up in a pile of rubble with no memories of his past—except one: a beautiful, dark-haired girl standing in the winds. She's swept through his dreams ever since, and he clings to the hope that she's real.[/i]


[i]Audra is real, but she isn't human. She's a sylph, an air elemental who can walk on the wind, translate its alluring songs, even twist it into a weapon. She's also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect him at all costs. [/i]


[i]When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra has just days to help Vane unlock his memories. And as the storm winds gather, they start to realize the greatest danger might not be the warriors coming to destroy them, but the forbidden romance growing between them. [/i]


[i]Set amongst the desert airstreams of Coachella Valley in California, LET THE SKY FALL is about two teenagers broken by their pasts, divided by their futures, and bound by love.[/i]

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


SM: Honestly? Not really. I had a much stronger sense of what I DIDN’T want it to look like than what I wanted, so mostly I sent a lot of silent, “please don’t let it have _____” wishes into the void and danced for joy when I saw the final cover.


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


SM: Pretty early, actually. Even in my first round of edits there were notes in the margins of certain scenes marking them for possible cover ideas. And during The Great and Never-Ending Title Debate (LET THE SKY FALL was VERY hard to title) my editor gave me some information on what they were thinking for the cover to try and help inspire some title ideas.


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


SM: Yes and no. My editor and I are (fortunately) very much on the same page, so mostly she told me what they were doing and I said brilliant things like, “Ooo, that’s going to be awesome!” I did get to see headshots of the models they’d selected for the photo shoot ahead of time, and offer some suggestions on how I’d preferred them to be styled (all of which were met with: yep, that’s what we’re planning!), but on the whole it was all the amazing team at S&S doing what they do best.


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


SM: In an email from my editor where she gushed and gushed about how amazing it was for several paragraphs and I did my best to be a good author and read all of that despite the fact that all I really wanted to do was DOWNLOAD THE ATTACHMENT AND SEE IT.


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


SM: Yes, though it was a bit of a rushed scramble. Within a couple of weeks of finalizing the art I found out that LET THE SKY FALL was going to be featured at a special S&S event the week of BEA and that ARCs would be given out. Which—while AWESOME—meant we needed to do the reveal before that event, and there wasn’t a lot of time to organize. So we settled on revealing May 30th, which gave me a couple of weeks to prepare, but was still before everyone would start traveling for BEA and be too distracted to be checking blogs.


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


SML Only about three weeks. Like I said, it was a bit of a last minute scramble.


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


SM: YES! Keeping secrets is never easy for me. And since we were scrambling to prepare for that event, I kept getting exciting things I couldn’t share. Like, they sent me my ARCs, but I couldn’t post the obligatory Shannon-Hugging-Her-Book photo (what? It HAS to be done!) because the cover was still secret. Same with when the bookmarks I’d ordered came in, I *almost* forgot and posted a picture of them on Twitter. Thank goodness I remembered at the last minute and stopped.


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


SM: How MUCH I loved the final cover. It was SO MUCH BETTER than what my imagination had come up with.


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


SM: Yes, two things. One: try not to panic until you actually SEE the cover, because nine times out of ten authors end up loving what their publisher sends them. And if you do happen to fall into the category of not liking your cover, trust your agent to help guide you through. There’s a lot that can still be done and I know many authors who started out with something that wasn’t right and ended up with something awesome!

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