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KNIGHT OF LIGHT Review and WSGS #3

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 21 September 2014 · 0 views



This week turned out to be productive, despite a really slow start with writing. That was because through most of the week, I focused on querying MIRRORMASTERS and sent out 7 queries. So, I didn't actually get any writing done on BENEATH THE RED SKY until this weekend, but between yesterday and today, I wrote over 1,400 words. Just having that goal in writing and knowing that I'd have to report on my progress here helped me push through to get it done. To me, that's a success because I reached my total word count goal for the week :). I also finished reading KNIGHT OF LIGHT several days ago and completed today the other goal I'd wanted to accomplish--writing my review. Here it is, posted here from Goodreads:


Knight of Light (The Watchers, #1)Knight of Light by Deirdra Eden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm so excited to have been contacted to host a book tour for KNIGHT OF LIGHT on my blog. This is a charming fantasy about a girl named Auriella, who discovers that she has a unique ability and a destiny to fight as a knight of light against evil shadow lords. I loved reading Auriella's journey as she goes from being an orphan servant girl who doesn't believe she's brave but risks her life to save two little kids from a fire, to a feisty, resourceful heroine who will do whatever it takes to escape those who would threaten her and her friends, to a talented and confident young knight in training.

From the gripping opening pages to its thrilling conclusion, this book hooked me and didn't let go. I highly recommend it to fans of fantasy from middle grade readers on.


View all my reviews




How did I do with my third goal, refraining from compulsively checking my inbox for query replies? Um. Yeah. That was more of a challenge, I have to say. Maybe I'll just accept that I'm going to be checking for emails when I get the chance and drop the idea of making a goal about decreasing that behavior.

Looking ahead to next week, here are my goals:

1. Again, I want to write 200 words a day on RED SKY. I made it through the dinner scene basically, so next up, Kassi and Noah have to share with Jacqueline the troubling conversation she overheard between the shady Colonel James and someone else, a conversation related to more disasters about to befall Mars Colony 1. Then, there's Kassi's next excavation class, which could spell disaster for her new dreams, the only dreams she has left to cling to after having to give up becoming a ballerina to move to Mars with her family.

2. This week, I want to read fellow AQC'er Vicki L. Weavil's new release, CROWN OF ICE, a retelling of the Snow Queen fairytale. I'll post my review here and on Goodreads.

How did you do with your writing goals last week, and what do you want to accomplish this week?



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Undiscovered Treasure: Kalle Mattson

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 21 September 2014 · 10 views

I'm participating a day early in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Underrated Treasures Blogfest. I'm early because I've got a guest popping in tomorrow (hope you'll come back and visit for that as well!)


I'd like to talk about Kalle Mattson. He's an amazing young Canadian talent. I came across Kalle's music through a family connection and he's an outstanding young man as well as a talented singer/songwriter. Not only are his songs entertaining, but there's always another layer in there as well.

One of my favourites is Thick as Thieves.



This video Hurt People Hurt People is also awesome!



Hope you enjoyed! If you click on Kalle's website, you can see & hear & learn a whole lot more!

And don't forget to visit Alex tomorrow to find the links to all the other participants.

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The Big 5-1

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 20 September 2014 · 22 views


Once you get past, oh say, 21, birthdays stop being special occasions in the traditional sense. They become, in some cases, things that elicit dread or even denial. For me, the worst birthday I ever had came not when I hit thirty or forty or even fifty. It was 31. Don't ask why unless you want a blank stare in response. I have glided through all the big 0 birthdays so far, but when I turned 31, it took me weeks to recover from the depression. Maybe I'm just slow on the uptake. 


This year, I hit the big 5-1. That's a year that usually doesn't have a big in front of it, but it really deserved the moniker because of how special other people made it for me. And by other people, I mainly mean my students, though the first card and gift I got were from my parents, of course.

Sometimes a kid will figure out from my user name for practically everything (trainguy917) that my birthday is September 17 and they'll wish me a happy birthday or even occasionally get me a card. But not since 2005, a school year that I refer to as my Golden Era (that's a whole other post), has my birthday been such an Occasion. And it lasted the whole day.

It started when I walked into my room to be greeted by streamers, balloons, and the entire Student Council singing happy birthday to me. Keep in mind that this group only meets in my room--I'm not their advisor, though several of them are my students. I was sung to three more times, once each by my two lunch bunches and once by a lovely young lady who just sang to me because she's a sweetheart.

Speaking of lunch bunches, they got me a toy train, a build-it-yourself wooden train locomotive, a teacher survival kit full of delicious goodies, and two unbelievably decadent homemade cookie cakes. There were even party hats and noisemakers.

And throughout the day, it seemed like literally every one of my students, as well as several teachers and even students who weren't mine, wished me a happy birthday. And to top all that off, the greetings on Facebook were nonstop. Add to this texts from the three people who have come as close as I have ever gotten to actually having daughters, along with my siblings, and it was awfully close to the greatest birthday I ever had.

I guess that if there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it's that we're never too old for magic to happen in our lives. And nine times out of ten that magic occurs because we're surrounded with the right people.

So who knows; maybe I'm in the midst of my Golden Era version 2.0.

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 20 September 2014 · 17 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rclewisbooks.com/" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;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.<br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s400/NewestSatSlash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg" height="320" width="247" /></a>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to&nbsp;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.<br /><br />If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/" target="_blank">AgentQueryConnect</a>. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">green</span>.<br /><br />The Prophet's Daughter is a set in a post-apocalyptic world suffering from the consequences of orchestrated murder - an attempt at genocide. Sixteen years after the initial destruction and spread of the disease that ravaged the human race, Arin is thrown headfirst into the world without any skills of her own to keep her alive. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">OK - lots of questions arise here. If there's an attempt at genocide, who specifically was targeted? I assume this is set on Earth, so the question of genocide means you&nbsp;will be saying who was being murdered by whom, which has the possibility of raising sticky questions, at best. Also, is the disease the weapon? Or is this something else that followed on the heels of the human genocide? And why would Arin have no skills to survive? You say that she is "thrown headfirst into the world," so where was she for the 16 years before that?</span>&nbsp;The book follows her journey as she begins to discover the truth of how the world became what it has become and learn the true reason for her parent’s murder.<br /><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;">This is a pretty short query, which is good&nbsp;because you have plenty of space to expand and answer all the questions above. As it stands right now this query is too vague -&nbsp;there are tons of already published post-apocs and I'm sure many more hopefuls on the desks of agents and editors. Get the&nbsp;details of what makes yours different and unique into the query.</span><br /><div><br /></div>

<a href="http://writerwriterp...y-slash_20.html" class='bbc_url' rel='nofollow external'>Source</a>

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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 21

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 19 September 2014 · 26 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

Spartans were very superstitious.

Most of these superstitions were tied to warfare. Their business might have been exclusively war, but they weren’t so reckless as to charge into a fight without the backing of the gods. After all, if anyone knew the cost of war, they did. In fact, in 432 BC, King Archidamus hesitated to declare war against the Athenians. (He eventually got outvoted and led the campaign himself).

At any rate, commanders did not lead the charge unless their priests received favorable signs, and every military army had a herd of sacrificial animals to discern the will of the gods at any time. Border campaign sometimes got stopped because of unpropitious sacrifices. Eclipses and earthquakes have also put an end to campaigns.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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QUITE THE QUERY: Vicki L. Weavil with CROWN OF ICE

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 19 September 2014 · 21 views

    If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few writers say writing their query […]

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On Genius and Perseverance

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 19 September 2014 · 17 views

by Matt Sinclair

This week, the MacArthur Foundation announced its annual cohort of fellows who do amazing things, often in areas that are far afield from most people's day-to-day life. You probably know them as winners of the "MacArthur genius grants," and they probably know themselves as incredibly fortunate and I wouldn't be surprised if most of them think they are unworthy of such accolades. They're just doing what they love doing.

I have met at least one of these geniuses. I had no idea who the man was who stopped me on the sidewalk in Pittsburgh back in 2006 or '07. He'd either seen my name tag dangling from a string around my neck or just figured a guy in a suit was heading to the same conference center he was aiming for. Regardless, he asked if I was heading to the conference on philanthropy and I said yes.

We walked and talked together. He was a documentary film maker and he'd been invited to discuss some of his recent work, which had been funded by a foundation. To be honest, I don't remember most of what we discussed. He was simply an articulate, interesting person I met at a conference.

In September of that year, while editing a piece on the MacArthur Fellows, I happened to see his face among the previous winners. His name is Stanley Nelson, and he never mentioned the prize. Even now, I'm amazed to discover that I've seen and been impressed with his work after meeting him without remembering who he is and that our paths briefly intersected.

What does a chance meeting with a person I've not spoken to again have to do with writing? Probably nNothing in and of itself, but everything when you get down to how we write.

Originally, a person wasn't "a genius." Rather, it describes the guiding spirit who instills those leaps of insight that characterize certain individuals. A person has a genius -- at least that's how it used to be described centuries ago. Writers call it their muse. I suspect "agnostic" writers call it the product of their hard work. Call it what you will.

The most amazing people I've met have all had at least one thing in common: they had a vision of what they wanted to accomplish with their life and put their all into making that vision appear. Writers. Painters. Doctors. Lawyers. It really doesn't matter what they do for a living; who they are and what they do imbues nearly every aspect of their lives.

And what of the rest of us, those who have not yet caught the eye of the secret nominators of people with genius? Well, I for one will keep writing. I don't know how else to approach life any other way. How about you?





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NIGHTMARE ON QUERY STREET 2014 ANNOUNCEMENT

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 19 September 2014 · 19 views

It's back, and it's badder than ever.

IT'S Nightmare on Query Street!!!!!!!!! Don’t have a scary manuscript, DON'T WORRY. Just read on.


A brand new year, a brand new evil.

This contest, as it runs in the Halloween time, is all about FEAR.


The Details:

The submission window opens at 12 noon (EST) on October 15th. The window will close at 12 noon (EST) October 17th or when we receive 225 entries.

MichelleMike, and SC will make twelve picks each, and those twelve picks will go up on our blogs from the 22nd through the 25th, where (SURPRISE, change from last year!) there will be a mentor round. OooooooOOOoooOOooo. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be amazingly polished when agents come in on the 28th through the 30th. Then, CELEBRATE! Halloween is the day after :)

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and exotica. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre.

If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (MichelleMike, and SC).

It's pretty simple, actually. 

But there's a catch.

Along with your query and 250, you must write a SHORT paragraph (no more than 100 words) about your main character. This is the question you must answer:

What is your main character's most fearsome obstacle? 

The Format:

Send all your submissions to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address or person is allowed.

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed.

Subject Line of Email: NoQS: Title, age category genre

Example: NoQS: Pygmy Hazards, MG humor


Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)
Genre: Adult Fantasy (no caps; age category AND genre)
Word Count: XX,XXX

My Main Character's Greatest Fear:

My MC's most fearsome obstacles is potatoes. (Please, spend some time on this! I know that I will be looking at this to make up for gaps in the query and 250. It gives us a chance to know your characters better. It doesn't have to be horror-scary. It can be more subtle.)

Query:

Here is my fantastic query!

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 252 words.

And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go :) There will be a confirmation email!!

This should be FUN. This is a Halloween-themed contest, so please please please, spend time on the MC's Greatest Fear paragraph!!!! It should be a LOT of fun. If you're writing a funny book, make a funny twist on the question, or say your MC is scared of strawberries or something. If it's a serious/sad book, you should have a field day, because the MC's fear might be so heart-wrenching.

This is a new way to pitch, so have fun with it (and don't stress out over it like its a query or something).

So go over and follow our blogs (MichelleMike, and SC) and our Twitters (MichelleMike, and SC) (we're Tweeting under the hashtag #NoQS) to stay in touch with all that we're doing. 

As before, we'll have a twitter party when the time gets closer.


I AM VERY VERY VERY EXCITED. I can't wait to see your answers to the question!!!!


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Announcing Nightmare on Query Street 2014!!!

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 19 September 2014 · 10 views

It's back, and it's badder than ever.

IT'S Nightmare on Query Street!!!!!!!!! Don’t have a scary manuscript, DON'T WORRY. Just read on.


A brand new year, a brand new evil.

This contest, as it runs in the Halloween time, is all about FEAR.


The Details:

The submission window opens at 12 noon (EST) on October 15th. The window will close at 12 noon (EST) October 17th or when we receive 225 entries.

MichelleMike, and SC will make twelve picks each, and those twelve picks will go up on our blogs from the 22nd through the 25th, where (SURPRISE, change from last year!) there will be a mentor round. OooooooOOOoooOOooo. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be amazingly polished when agents come in on the 28th through the 30th. Then, CELEBRATE! Halloween is the day after :)

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and exotica. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre.

If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (MichelleMike, and SC).

It's pretty simple, actually. 

But there's a catch.

Along with your query and 250, you must write a SHORT paragraph (no more than 100 words) about your main character. This is the question you must answer:

What is your main character's most fearsome obstacle? 

The Format:

Send all your submissions to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address or person is allowed.

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed.

Subject Line of Email: NoQS: Title, age category genre

Example: NoQS: Pygmy Hazards, MG humor


Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)
Genre: Adult Fantasy (no caps; age category AND genre)
Word Count: XX,XXX

My Main Character's Greatest Fear:

My MC's most fearsome obstacles is potatoes. (Please, spend some time on this! I know that I will be looking at this to make up for gaps in the query and 250. It gives us a chance to know your characters better. It doesn't have to be horror-scary. It can be more subtle.)

Query:

Here is my fantastic query!

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 252 words.

And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go :) There will be a confirmation email!!

This should be FUN. This is a Halloween-themed contest, so please please please, spend time on the MC's Greatest Fear paragraph!!!! It should be a LOT of fun. If you're writing a funny book, make a funny twist on the question, or say your MC is scared of strawberries or something. If it's a serious/sad book, you should have a field day, because the MC's fear might be so heart-wrenching.

This is a new way to pitch, so have fun with it (and don't stress out over it like its a query or something).

So go over and follow our blogs (MichelleMike, and SC) and our Twitters (MichelleMike, and SC) (we're Tweeting under the hashtag #NoQS) to stay in touch with all that we're doing. 


I AM VERY VERY VERY EXCITED. So far we've got seven agents on board and a bunch of mentors. I can't wait to see your answers to the question!!!!


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How ‘The Little Train That Could’ Got it Wrong

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Helpful Writer, 18 September 2014 · 40 views

<p>Short and sweet take away: Telling yourself “You can do it!” doesn’t cut the mustard long-term.</p>
<p>Did you know that those ‘pep talks’ where people say to themselves: “I can do it!” is actually less effective than if they were sit themselves down and ask: “Can I do it?”</p>
<p>According to author Dan Pink, people who ask themselves <em>if</em> they can do something opens the door for some serious cognitive engagement. They get the ball rolling in terms of arguing to themselves all the reasons why they <em>can</em> do it. (As well as a few arguments why they can’t.)</p>
<p>For example, say you want to become a popular, best-selling author.</p>
<p>Saying to yourself: “Yeah! I can do it! I can become a bestselling author, woot!” is great. You probably feel pumped up for at least two minutes afterwards. Maybe you even get the courage to stand up in front of a group of high school kids on career day to explain why being an author is the best job ever. But then what?</p>
<p>How about you say to yourself: “<em>Can</em> I become a bestselling author?” Hmmm. Well. That opens the discussion with yourself, doesn’t it? So, can you? You might then list all the reasons to yourself why you this is within your reach by reminding yourself of such positive traits and abilities such as having a wonderful work ethic, the ability to create build characters readers fall in love with, your background in sales, etc. But then you might also identify the reasons why you might <em>not</em> make it. You might identify that you always get caught up on grammar and it takes you too long to get a book out and you can’t seem to get on top of the rollercoaster you need to take to bestsellerdom because of it. And then you realize you need to get yourself a grammar editor or to take a serious grammar course.</p>
<p>Voila.</p>
<p>Because you identified what you are good at, you can hone it and cherish it–meaning you are less likely to inadvertently destroy it. BUT, you also now realize what some of your pitfalls and hurdles are. By identifying them you can form a plan to overcome them.</p>
<p>The lesson here–Be the skeptic not The Little Train that Could.<a class="embedtweet" title=" &lt;-- Tweet that." href="https://twitter.com/...rain-got-wrong/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> &lt;– Tweet that.</a></p>
<p>Sorry.</p>
<p><strong>Go play mind games on yourself and report back on how it worked out. I betcha you get further channeling that inner kiddo by asking yourself all those pesky ‘why’ questions. Good luck! I’m right here rooting for you!</strong></p>
<p>Note: This is a repost from one of my old blogs.<strong><br /></strong></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thehelpfulwri...rain-got-wrong/">How ‘The Little Train That Could’ Got it Wrong</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thehelpfulwriter.com">The Helpful Writer</a>.</p>

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Why I Write — Reason 1

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 18 September 2014 · 27 views

Someone introduced me to this video today.  Please listen and enjoy: Okay, now… I can tell you a secret.  This video  highlights one reason why I write. Because one day, somehow, I hope to create something that is one-tenth that beautiful. Something that will touch one other person’s heart the way this music touches mine. Something […]

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Interview With Romance Author Evelyn Adams

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 18 September 2014 · 21 views

<p>In July I was in San Antonio, Texas for the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. While I was there I met some amazing author friends in person. One of those people was fellow romance author Evelyn Adams. She is a woman who defies description, but I’ll try. She’s kind, a sweetheart, intelligent, demure, well-spoken, curious, and bold.</p>
<p>On one humid Texas evening I was able to corner Evelyn (it wasn’t too difficult) on the Riverwalk where we chatted about things like first dates, our books, favourite candies, and more. We packed an amazing amount of fun into two minutes including her new series–The Southerland Family–which, if you have enjoyed my Summer Sisters series, you’ll love as well.</p>
<p>Check it out and get to know us better!</p>
<p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8i1xpRLlv2k" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p>
<p>Liked it? <a title="Subscribe to Jean Oram's YouTube channel!" href="http://www.youtube.c...=authorjeanoram" target="_blank">Subscribe to my new YouTube channel!</a> I’ll have an interview with<a title="Lori Sjoberg's website" href="http://lorisjoberg.com/" target="_blank"> author Lori Sjoberg</a> coming in the next few days as well as videos where I answer YOUR questions about me, my books, and writing.<a title="Subscribe to Jean Oram's YouTube channel!" href="http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=authorjeanoram" target="_blank"> Stay tuned and subscribe!</a></p>
<p><strong>Got a question for me or Evelyn? Pop them in the comment section below.</strong></p>
<p><a href="http://www.jeanoram....EvelynAdams.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-891 alignleft" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FeelsLikeLoveEvelynAdams-208x300.jpg" alt="Feels Like Love by Evelyn Adams" width="208" height="300" /></a>Want more <a title="Evelyn Adams website" href="http://www.evelynadamseroticromance.com/" target="_blank">Evelyn</a>? Check out the book we chat about in our video interview, <em>Feels Like Love</em>.</p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on Amazon US" href="http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00KWNKJ2O/" target="_blank">Amazon US</a></p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on Amazon UK" href="http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00KWNKJ2O/" target="_blank">Amazon UK</a></p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on B&amp;N" href="http://www.barnesand...n=2940149292769" target="_blank">B&amp;N</a></p>
<p><a title="Feels Like Love on Kobo" href="http://store.koboboo...els-like-love-1" target="_blank">Kobo</a></p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p><span style="color: #ff00ff;"><strong><a class="embedtweet" title="Spread the word and tweet this post to your friends by clicking here." href="https://twitter.com/...r-evelyn-adams/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><span style="color: #ff00ff;">Help us spread the word and tweet this post to your friends by clicking here.</span></a></strong></span></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram....r-evelyn-adams/">Interview With Romance Author Evelyn Adams</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram.com">Jean Oram</a>.</p>

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Manly-Man on the Grill! (Nicholas Warren)

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 18 September 2014 · 12 views

This is an interview with Manly-Man (Jazzy Couldren) conducted by Nick Warren. Nick Warren happened to be in a daring mood, and so he asked some daring questions. He did survive, amazingly, without any injuries.

***

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 9.15.56 AM

NW [Nick Warren]: So, Mr. Couldren—

MM [Manly-Man (Jazzy Couldren)]: Hey don’t call me that, dude.

NW: I thought you were fine with that name…

MM: I don’t done like it right now.

NW: Alright then. Manly-Man, excuse the question, but why exactly did you tie your wife and daughter up and throw them in the bathtub?

MM: I knew you was gonna ask that. I’s did it cause I was tryin’ to escape with the money.

NW: What money?

MM: Ooh, you’s diggin’ into me. It hurts.

NW: Just answer the question, please.

MM: There was this case of money I was supposed to return to the police from a robber I done caught. Instead I just stole it. My wife and my daughter got in my way, so I’s done had to get rid of them.

NW: Right. Then you got away. It’s been rumored that you then became…an FBI agent? And after that, a CIA agent? Are those rumors true?

MM: Hey yeah.

NW: Could you explain how you managed that?

MM: Well…you know, they done needed someone to do some dirty work. To deal with some Russian gangsters that ain’t no one wanted to deal with. And I’s was disguised so they kinda pretended they didn’t know me… And I got hired. Then I did what done needed done, and they sent me overseas. So, I’s became a CIA agent.

NW: It’s amazing what the government does when it wants dirty-work done… Okay, are there any particularly achievements you have that you’d like to tell us about?

MM: Oh you know, there’s many. But I’s really loved becoming a ninja.

NW *clears throat*: Oh…uh…yes. How did that happen?

MM: It was when I was over in Russia as a CIA agent. My partner, Jimmie, and I, got captured by a then Russian operative called Jaguar. He captured us and trained us to be part of his task force. Russia was done working with China, I’s think.

NW: Right. Let’s talk a little more about this. So you became a ninja, then what?

MM: I’s found out Jaguar was a good guy, ‘cause he was sweet… And then Jimmie and I ran into the Director of the CIA. (I’s actually forget his name…) But he was angry at us ‘cause we had betrayed him… I’s didn’t see it that way. But I done escaped from Jaguar and the director dude and got back to America. Then Jimmie and I hid, until we got into a fight and we split up.

NW: Uh…that’s uh…a very interesting career. So tell me, you’re very much in the open about who you are. How come the government doesn’t come after you?

MM: They’s afraid of my manly power. I’s got a nuclear arsenal. Does you want to see it?

NW: No, that’s okay, actually. I’d rather not. Why don’t you tell us about the success of your movies?

MM: I’s put out all these cool movies—remakes of the Christmas Carol, mostly. I make ‘em really violent. Scrooge and Tiny Tim are murderers in them, actually. And it’s really funny.

NW: Now these were actually successes, am I right?

MM: Oh yes. I’s made tons of money.

NW: Why do you think people enjoy such…brutally violent movies that ruin the old classic?

MM: ‘Cause everybody loves to watch gory things…

NW: Okay. Well, thanks for being here, Manly-Man. That wraps up our interview.




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Wednesday Words: We Are People

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 17 September 2014 · 19 views

Hiya!

So, yes, I'm still reading American Gods, but I just read a blog that sparked a thought in me, so I have actual words on this Wednesday.

So, we writers who are privy (or were forced by the times) to social networking do these things called contests to try to nab an agent for our WIPs. They're very innovative and creative contests, and many of the hosts call on mentors or judges to help the writers along.

Key word in that sentence: HELP.

I've been a victim of this, and the writer of the blog post I'd read actually was crushed by this, but there are times when one or two of the judges/mentors *gasp* criticize more than critique what they read.

Key words there: criticize, critique. People forget that there is a difference.

Now 95% of the judges/mentors will be really helpful and give you constructive feedback. Some of it might sting, but you learn from it and make your work better to either try another contest or query an agent/publisher. The other 5% can just be plain out mean. They don't take the time to say, "Hm, this might be just a BIT too harsh. Let me rephrase this."

"Well, if you want to be a writer, you need to grow a thick/tough/adamantium/whatever skin."

That's just lazy and selfish to fall back on. Yes, we have to let some of the critiques roll off our back, but we shouldn't have to bear the brunt of the criticism, especially when it was your job to help a writer who just wants to make it, not beat their self-esteem into a bloody pulp.

Writers aren't robots. We're not androids. Writers are PEOPLE with these things called EMOTIONS and FEELINGS.

Before you put out what you think is a witty or snarky "critique" or even comments you think the writer deserves because you didn't like what they submitted, and they need to know that point blank, remember what it was like when you first started putting your work out there and how crappy you felt when someone was a total douche because they felt they could be.

Okay? Cool.

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It was the best of lines, it was the worst of lines: Studying first sentences

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 16 September 2014 · 31 views

One of my all-time favorite beginnings to a novel is Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. “Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board,” she wrote. It’s pretty and wistful, and also gives readers a good, strong hint that disappointment looms ahead, because once those ships get closer, real life has to intrude, right? Deciding how to start a novel is huge for writers. A good opening sets the tone for your book, draws readers in and shows off your writing skills. No single sentence in your whole manuscript will be read by as many people as that first sentence will be. Which begs the question, what makes an opening good? Here are some more of my favorites, and why I think they work so well...

It Had to Be You, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: “Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral.” Why’s it good? It shows that the main character is audacious, and it's funny, but it also hints at something more complicated. Who doesn’t take her father’s funeral seriously? I immediately want to know more.


Legend, by Marie Lu: “My mother thinks I’m dead.” Why’s it good? Striking in its simplicity, this idea is fascinating—not only that the mother doesn’t know the truth of things, but that the main character has reason to hide from her. I definitely want to read on.


The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz: “They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.” Why’s it good? The writing is lushly beautiful at the same times that it's dark and scary. What is this “it” that lives on screams and comes from nightmares? How could anyone not read on to find out?


Whether browsing at a store or surfing a website, my book-selection process is always the same—and I bet it’s similar to yours. First, seeing which cover design and title catch my eye. Second, judging whether the “back cover” description sounds interesting. And finally, if the book passes those two tests, opening to the first page to check out the writing style. The author doesn’t have long to snag my attention before I move on to the next cool cover. But I have read books where the first sentences definitely did not do much to draw me in. That was because I knew the story had something interesting, or for some other special reason. Some that didn't immediately grab me:

Dracula, by Bram Stoker: “3 May. Bistritz.—Left Munich at 8.35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late.” In hindsight, I can see the humor: Poor Mr. Harker. If arriving one hour late from a 220-mile trip makes him grit his teeth, he’s going to have problems dealing with the rest of this book. But for people approaching the story fresh, I don’t see how it could be that appealing.


The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini: “I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.” Taken out of context—as in no front cover and no back-cover description—I have a hard time getting into first sentences like this. The weather description isn’t as spell-binding as the rest of the novel is, and that takes away from the significance of the character's transformation, in my opinion. Many readers will like it, though, and come away wondering what he became that gray day. This shows how widely judgment can vary and how you can never please every reader with one sentence. So please yourself first.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera: “The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!” Umm, yeah. That's kind of heavy, and if I was looking for an entertaining read, I might pass depending on my mood (and how much sleep I’d had). It seems to be written for philosophers more than your average reader, but it does have an interesting theory when you start thinking about it. I go back and forth—good, bad, interesting, too heavy. Luckily, that sentence was not my deciding factor in whether to read Unbrearable Lightness. My friend recommended it, and the cool title did help draw me in. And the book was fascinating, if somewhat depressing—a read that leaves you questioning what life means, and so an appropriate first line. But it does bring up some advice: Consider who your audience will be.


There’s lots of advice experts give on how to start your story, but pretty much like all other writing “rules,” if you write well you can do whatever you want. (If there’s a theme to this post, it’s that.) For example, I’d say a really good first line will show readers what kind of story to expect—except when it doesn’t. Many of my favorite stories have started on an understated note that's quieter than the rest. For example:

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding: The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.


The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood: We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.


Divergent, by Veronica Roth: There is one mirror in my house.


The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.


The Road, by Cormac McCarthy: When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.


Writers commonly employ these quieter starts on high-octane stories, especially dystopians, to give readers a chance to get to know the character before the madness begins, or before the inciting event. A couple of these examples also disprove another commonly tossed-out “rule”—that starts where characters are waking up are overdone and best avoided. (Some say that about starting on the first day of school, too.) But I would argue that anything done well is worth doing. In other words, can you make it special? Be honest with yourself. If your answer is “No, not special enough,” try something else.

It emphasizes what’s most important—and this is a rule that can’t be ignored. Start strong, but make every line better than the previous. That means your story has to get more interesting, more spell-binding and better written on every page. That’s how to draw in readers, and keep them coming back for your work.

I think the most delicious openings have a twist that shows you the story will be something special. This style is one of my favorites—that kind of sentence where you can’t not read on...

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.


Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer: I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.


World After, by Susan Ee: Ironically, since the attacks, the sunsets have been glorious.


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black: Tana woke lying in a bathtub.


This is probably the most famous opening of all time:

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


And that’s interesting because it’s such an incredibly long sentence. I suspect it would get chopped up if it were coming through the publishing pipeline for today’s readers. And yet, it’s so famous and the book has been so ridiculously successful regardless of what kind of story was popular with readers of the day.

To read more on this topic, check out writer Amy Trueblood’s blog Chasing the Crazies. She regularly interviews literary agents about what’s important to them in the first five pages of any manuscript.

Her blog is an excellent tool to check when you’re considering which agents to query. I prefer agents who recognize that anything can be done well—those who don’t rule out working with, say, “waking up” openings (hello, The Hunger Games) or vampire stories (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), even if my manuscript doesn’t deal with such elements. That’s because an agent signs you for your whole career, and who knows what you'll get interested in next.

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All aboard the Query Train!

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 13 September 2014 · 46 views

So, I made a writer friend today. Yes. In real life. She’s a published author that hasn’t needed an agent yet in her career but is considering heading out into the query world in order to sign with one and I couldn’t be more excited. I. Love. Queries…Especially when they are not my own.

Maybe I should insert a quick definition of a query here for those that may not be familiar:

“A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a resume. It’s not rambling saga of your life as an aspiring writer. It’s not a friendly, “Hey, what’s up, buddy. I’m the next John Grisham. Got the next best selling thriller for ya,” kind of letter. And for the love of god, it is NOT more than one-page. Trust us on this.”

This quote comes from AgentQuery.com. If you click on that link you can read the whole article about query letters.

Anyway, back to my new writer friend. After a short chat I knew right away that I wanted to give her all the resources I used in my query journey to eventually sign with  my awesome agent, Marlene Stringer of StringerLit. When I got home I began wildly typing in all the sites I’d used countless times while querying and ended up with so many open tabs. I didn’t know my browser could HAVE that many tabs open.Then I realized…..

It was time for a new blog post!!

Disclaimer- in no way do I claim that this is and exhaustive list of helpful query sites, they are just the ones I have a lot of positive personal experience with. 

Query Shark- I love this site. It was one of my first forays into what a query even is and give sooooo much helpful information. The blog is written by literary agent Janet Reid. She posts queries (with permission from the writers that submitted them) and gives thoughts and advice to help improve them. She follows them through revisions and helps polish that query till it’s shiny and perfect. Her instruction is AMAZING.

My best advice is to start here if you are preparing to query. When I say start, I mean literally start at the beginning. Take the time to read ALL of the archives. Not only are they informative but also entertaining. If you think “but my book is different- I can’t fit into this query format” I promise you’ll find a query with your same issues in the “chum bucket.”

AgentQuery Connect-  So you’ve read through QueryShark and have a pretty new query you want to get feedback on? AgentQuery Connect is THE place. Okay, not the only place but there are some really helpful and experienced people on this site (including ME, haha). There are TONS of resources on this site so take your time to look through them all and if you feel extra adventurous, post your query for feedback.

Just be aware that you will get LOTS of opinions and it will be up to you to decided what to do with them. Sometimes it is hard to get feedback on your first post but don’t freak out. Just get involved in helping out other AQC’ers and you’ll get it back in spades.

PS- this is also a wonderful site to find beta-readers and critique partners that are serious about giving feedback but clear some time to return the favor!

QueryTracker- Once you are ready to hop onto that roller coaster ride called the “query train” then head on over to QueryTracker. You’ll want to set aside a good chunk of time to really figure out this website. It’s *that* important. Here you can search through agents that have interest in your genre. I advise reading the websites for EVERY SINGLE AGENT you are interested in. What every agent wants submitted with your query is different. Doing your research now can really really pay off. Their websites are usually linked in the Overview page.

There are also “Quick Links” on the Overview page for each agent. These link up to sites like Publishers Weekly, Predators and Editors etc that give you independent information about the agent. It’s also helpful to read the “comments” section for the agents you are interested in to see how long of a wait you are in for, how often and what type of rejection you can expect (if it comes to that).

If you find an agent you are interested in then add him/her to your “query list.” This helpful list lets you keep track of the agents you want to query and that you have queried. It’s also a great place to record responses from agents and gives you a lovely (and sometimes depressing) pie chart to show you how successful your query is. I lived and died by this website. Without it I would’ve been flying blind and probably done that super embarrassing thing of double querying the same agent.

Twitter #mswl & #tenqueries- If you are not on twitter yet, this is a good time to get an account. There’s so much good stuff for writers going on over there. Besides awesome pitch contests (which I’ll cover later) there are several awesome agents super active on there.

First is #tenqueries. #tenqueries is a hashtag used by agents as they go through their slush pile for the day (week..or whatever). In a tweet they give feedback on the queries that cross their desk and say if they requested or rejected the query. It is all done anonymously and is so very helpful even if you aren’t querying these particular agents.

Another helpful hashtag is #mswl which stands for “manuscript wish list.” This hash tag is used by agents to share what they are dying to see in their mailboxes. Wouldn’t it be awesome if one of their “must haves” resembles your MS? There are a few websites that keep record of these wish lists but I’m just going to link one: http://mswishlist.com

Contests: There are many many query contests out there. Some are very very involved, others are simple twitter pitch contests held periodically like #pitmad (which we just passed) or #pitchmas in December or #pitchmadness in March. There are many many more out there. For these contests you need a 140 character twitter pitch for your book which would include space for the contest hashtag and your genre. I had lots of luck with these contests and know several writers that found their agent from them. Even if you don’t participate, it’s always helpful to read the tweets and think about what the “pitch” for your book would be.

There are plenty of contests NOT on twitter including contest sponsored by bloggers and other authors. I can’t even come close to listing them all but as Halloween is on the horizon I thought I’d share the next one I’ve heard about: Nightmare on Query Street . Here is a contest schedule for 2014-2015 from Brenda Drake’s website. Some people LOVE these contests and have found dream agents as a result. I’ve only participated in one but found that for me I preferred the traditional method of querying.

Well- that’s it. I know there are many many more resources out there for querying but in my particular journey to publication, these were the sites I found invaluable. If you have other favorites, please link them in the comments section! Good luck with your query process and if you’d like to chat further, don’t hesitate to contact me via email. Now go! You have a lot of reading to do!!

You KNOW you want on this Query Train




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The iPhone(s) 6 and more: EW live-blogs Apple's big event

Posted by Monicoo in Monicoo's Blog, 10 September 2014 · 44 views

The iPhone(s) 6 and more: EW live-blogs Apple's big event Have you heard? Apple is going to release a new iPhone today. There are some rumors. Today, they will be rumors no longer.
There’s always a lot of hype around an Apple event, and while some of it may seem frivolous and excessive, it’s not all for the tech-obsessed. Thanks to the manufacturer’s immense popularity, the people behind a lot of the pop culture you know and love often follow Apple’s lead when it comes to bringing media your way. So if you want a peek at all the new ways you’ll be able to obsess over pop culture in the coming year, look no further.

If you want to watch the event live, Apple is streaming it on their homepage here—it may be restricted to Safari browsers on OS X and/or iOS devices, however. If you have Apple TV, you can watch it there too, as there will be a dedicated channel for you to tune into.
GET MORE EW: Subscribe to the magazine for only 33¢ an issue!
This post will be updated throughout the event. Refresh for the lastest.
AND WE’RE OFF: Tim Cook is talking about the iPhone’s history.
“Today we’re announcing the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone”
Video showing off the phone. Looks much like leaked images: sleak, nigh seamless body.
And the phones are bigger! iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively. The rumors are true!
With the bigger display, comes a revamped horizontal display. More keys on the keyboard, two columns in iMessage and email, etc.
Apps will scale—older apps for smaller screens will automatically resize for the larger displays.
Of course, both come with new hardware: the faster A8 processor (The 5S has a processor called the A7).
There’s a gaming presentation now, a game called Vain Glory.
Now we’re talking battery life: both iPhone 6 models have have equal or better battery life than the iPhone 5S.
There are new motion coprocessors, which will give the phones better performance for fitness apps—measuring distance, motion, and even altitude. Good for health apps.
It looks like size and battery life may be the main differences between the two iPhone 6 models.
Everything is promised to be faster, clearer. You’ll be able to make calls over WiFi, and the connection will seamlessly carry over from WiFi to Cellular if you lose connection.
Now the camera: 8 Megapixels, all-new sensor, Focus Pixels tech brings DSLR-level autofocus to iPhones, improved face detection.
One feature is different between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: the larger has optical image stabilization, which allows the lens to move around and help stabilize your image even more than usual.
Video camera is also being updated: it now can capture HD video at 60 fps, double the previous frame rate.
iPhone 6 will come with iOS 8, with a new keyboard, a one handed controller, HealthKit suite and more.
Colors will be gold, silver, and space grey.
COST: starts at $199—$399. 16GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB for the iPhone 6.
6 Plus starts at $299, same storage space options.
AVAILABLE: September 19.
There is a weird ad for the phones being shown. It’s very weird. But there’s lots of applause. It’s by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon, but you can’t see their faces, so you’d have to be told that.
iPhone news is a wrap. Tim Cook is now talking about replacing the wallet. “Payments is a huge business.”
Cook is talking about how low tech debit cards are, how no one has replaced it yet.
“We’ve created an entirely new payment process, and we call it ApplePay.”
Brief demo video shows user touching their TouchID button and holding the phone up to the swipe-free scanners on registers.
It’s built into every iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, uses NFC chip and new Secure Element chip for security. You can add cards you have linked to iTunes account. Adding a new card is simple: you take a picture, and Apple verifies with your bank. The card is then added to Passbook. Levels of security: uses device-specific account numbers, one-time use security codes, etc.
Apple does not track what you bought, where you bought it, and how much you spent. Cashier doesn’t see your name, credit card number, security code.
ApplePay is supported by AmEx, MasterCard, and Visa, and six biggest banks in US. Major department stores, drug stores, and restaurants are already on board. McDonald’s is even adding ApplePay to its drive through. Whole Foods gets applause, so there’s that.
Here it is: the One More Thing. iWatch?
It’s official: The device is called Apple Watch. Cook talks about how Apple Watch focuses on an entirely new user interface, one focused on the old-school dial you have on regular watches.
There’s a video showing off the design and features of the Apple Watch–the screen can sense touch and force, telling the difference between a touch and a tap. Apple Watch will also give force feedback. Apple Watch will also have wireless charging.
Apple Watch comes in two sizes.
There are three distinct collections, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Standard, athletic, and luxury, respectively.
iPhones are required to use Apple Watch.
Instead of a grid, apps are arranged in a cluster—you arrange them how you like. You can customize the watch face as well.
The watch’s notifications won’t buzz, but ‘tap’ you gently on the wrist—no one will know but you, unless of course the sound is on.
Quick Board is a feature that analyzes your messages and suggests quick responses without having to type. Also has dictation, and a new collection of emoji.
Siri is built into Apple Watch.
There’s a new messaging system—you can tap friends and trace small pictures to other friends that have Apple Watch.
You can also….feel their heartbeats?
A number of new apps are being shown off: American Airlines, Pinterest, BMW, MLB, and more.
Tim Cook is back, talking about health and fitness.
Workout app lets you set specific goals for specific types of exercises. Aim is to give you a comprehensive view of your daily activity, along with two other apps: Fitness and Activity.
There’s a video explaining how Apple Watch will “get to know you the way a good personal trainer will.” Lots of Active People Living Life and exercising whilst wearing Apple Watch.
Apple Watch is “so much more that we don’t have time to cover this morning,” says Cook.
Pricing is coming:
Apple Watch will work with all iPhones from iPhone 5 onward. Remember, it needs an iPhone to work. To charge simply attach a magnet to back.
Apple Watch starts at $349, available early 2015.
ApplePay will work with Apple Watch.
Cook mentions the iTunes festival, and Apple’s relationship with music industry and artists in it. Mentions collaboration with U2. Applause. They’re performing.
Bono is on the mic now, announces new album “Songs of Innocence.” It’s out now on iTunes. For free. Exclusive to iTunes through mid-October.
AND THAT’S A WRAP: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, ApplePay, and Apple Watch, with a dash of free new album from U2. Thanks for following along. By YLTZ2013

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BWF in summary

  Posted by Mia K Rose in Mia K Rose | Forsaken Illusion, 08 September 2014 · 30 views

So over Friday, Saturday and Sunday just past I attended the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. I attended a great deal of Author Masterclasses and panels which were fantastic  and I got a great deal of many notes, and also made some great writer buddies now on twitter. Also, I now have like super writer motivation, which […]

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An Awesome Autumn Afternoon

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 06 September 2014 · 41 views

Yesterday’s In Print Word of Art reception was a great kick off for an awesome autumn.  And I’m  not just saying that because my piece, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of five finalists selected by writer/publisher John Gile from the … Continue reading

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Death

Posted by Marzie Malfoy in Slytherin House Poetry Reading, 05 September 2014 · 33 views
Death, slytherin, anxiety attack and 3 more...

My heart about to explode.
Breathing slowing.
Faint vision of darkness.
Extremities burn and tingle
From the loss of blood flow.

That is death coming.
This is what happens when the bell tolls.



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