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Are You That Person at the Back of the Room?

  Posted by Rick Pieters in Room to Wonder, 01 October 2014 · 16 views


That guy at the back of the room, the one at the edge of the party, the one in the bar who only talks to people who approach him? That guy isn't aloof. He isn't unfriendly.

That guy is me. I have been accused of being aloof and standoffish.

Could be you, too. Right? (Guy or gal, this is NOT gender-specific.)

I am shy. Most people don't guess that. I'm pretty much an introvert, although after a drink or three, you might beg to differ.

I don't like rejection (who does?) so I avoid putting myself out there.

At a party, I'll zero in on the person or two I know and hang with them all night. I don't work a room. Never could. I've no doubt missed interesting folk.

So have a set myself up for failure? Actually, no. I don't stay home and entirely avoid the situation.

Approach me, say hello, even toss a slight nod my way, and I'm ready to chat. A smile given gets a smile returned.

Know what?

Many, many people are the same. Just like us. Oh, they look friendly and outgoing in their immediate group. Remember what I said about zeroing in on the ones you know? Comfort zone. So you, we, look at them and think what a clique, bunch of snobs, stuck-up.

Of course, sometimes that is true. We do run the terrible risk of putting ourselves out there, saying hello first, introducing ourselves, whatever, only to find no interest, a down-the-nose glance, and a turn away.

It's happened. I didn't die. Sometimes you win.

My point?

Let me relate it to writing. I'm not convinced my stories or my book are great. Sometimes, not even really good. But I kinda do, and other people have thought so. When it came to the publishing world, the odds kept me from participating with serious intent for most of my younger life. Oh, I wrote. Plenty. Stories. A novel. I queried, some, not a lot. I expected rejection and got it, and it didn't kill me. I got a solid bite from an agent who rejected the manuscript. And a small publisher, when I decided I really didn't care about landing an agent and a deal with one of the Big Five, where I'd no doubt be buried alive, anyway. But I didn't stay home from the party.

Then someone said yes.

Sometimes you go to the bar and nurse a beer and go home alone. Sometimes you nod back when someone nods your way, and you go home with a hottie who may a great one-night toss, or may be a forever real thing.

Don't assume you won't win. Maybe you won't. But maybe you will. Maybe you'll be misunderstood, your reticence taken for arrogance. But maybe you'll connect. Don't be afraid.

One thing is sure. You never will if you don't go out and try. As "they" say, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Oh, and that other person, the one not talking, across the room, at the bar, the party, the one who looks so up-in-the-air? That person may be just like you. Like me. Smile.



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I Support Street Art: Graffiti is more than art

  Posted by Deb Borys in Painted Black, the novel, 01 October 2014 · 13 views

This bio of A1one is the perfect example of how street art is not just graffiti.  It is, in fact, even more than just art.  It is an expression of the artist’s viewpoint and comments on the world they, and we, live in. A1one is the most prolific Graffiti writer working and creating street art […]

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The Rules of Being a Salami

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 01 October 2014 · 7 views

Daddy Salami sat down and passed a drinking horn to the newest member of his family, Sandra.

Sandra Salami.

“So, Sandra me dear,” Salami began. “I should tell ya about the rules every Salami follows.”

Sandra nodded. She was a mess. Her red hair sort of went in all directions, but her large round glasses kept the hair from poking her eyes out. (A worry the professor always has, you see–when wearing the mop.)

“Rule #1,” Salami said: “I’m the patriarch of the family, not Oregano, me brother. He’ll try to make you think he’s the boss, but he’s not!” Salami’s green eyes were glowing.

“Does that make me the matriarch?”

“Of course. Me daughter definitely!”

Sandra smiled.

“Rule #2,” Salami said: “Julliard, O’Reggy’s son, is not Ruber’s better. You’re brother, Sandra, is a fearsome warrior.” Salami leaned closer. “Why, I heard once that he led an army of 120!”

Sandra’s brow kinda scrunched up. “You heard? Shouldn’t you know for sure?”

Salami laughed, and leaned back into his chair. “When he was younger, Ruber was a free spirit. I tried to keep him contained, but…he was a warrior!”

Sandra rolled her eyes. Then she went back to flipping through some sort of medical book, with scary pictures.

“And that brings us to the last point–for now. Point #3: Don’t mess with me baby son, Lucini Pavarinni.”

Sandra looked up and nodded. “Ruber said he was a ‘bad bloke up to no good all the time.'”

Salami’s mouth fell. “Ruber said that?”

Sandra nodded.

“Eww…” And Salami’s green eyes were looking somewhere else for a moment. “Anyway, don’t mess with Lucini. He’s a bright boy. And quite scary.”




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IWSG: Write Because You're A Writer

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 01 October 2014 · 14 views


Creator: Alex J. Cavanaugh (sensei)
Website: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/


I know that sounds pretty obvious, right? But some of you would be surprised. People will ask some of us what we do for a living, and even if we have a day job, saying that we’re writers will sometimes get us strange looks. I had some perfect stranger (I hate when people at bus stations try to spark conversations) ask me, when I told him I majored in Creative Writing (at FSU), what would I write other than newspaper articles. As if books just…I don’t even know.

Heck, saying you want to be a published author when you grow up may not even be supported by your family. I follow a blogger who has that issue, and my older sister used to tell me how unrealistic it was to be a writer and spent too many years trying to get me jobs for which I was unqualified. And many people who ask what I graduated with (BA in English) think an English degree means I want to be a teacher. I still don’t understand why. I’ve known people who instead of going into Creative Writing or English go into weird things they’re not particularly interested in just to please their parents. No offense, but that’s some crap.

Some people have small minds. If you’re not being a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or whatever, you’re not doing anything of importance. WRONG.

You are a writer. NEVER put it on the backburner because people who don’t understand what it is to think these things up and to create other worlds and see other forms of mankind in their mind aren’t particularly worth pleasing. Life is not a drill. Go through it doing what you were meant to do. You’re not crazy, you’re not dreaming too hard. You write. That’s what you do. So, do it.

(Yes, IWSG peeps, you may use this for the E-Book. Happy Anniversary!!)


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Bravest Warriors: The Search For Catbug Art Book Review

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 30 September 2014 · 23 views

If you’re a fan of the Bravest Warriors animated series, chances are you’re also a fan of the cutest member of its cast, Catbug! Absolutely adorable with his squeaky voice and somewhat ADD personality, he’s now the star of an art book: Bravest Warriors: The Search for Catbug!

back cover blurb

Four teenage travelers traverse the universe saving those in need…though not always in the way you’d expect…in fact…never! Along the way they meet aliens, phantoms and other interdimensionals—including everyone’s favorite, Catbug. Sometimes…they even meet themselves!

Featuring more than 25 artists, this is a new one-of-a-kind art book in the style of a classic seek & find from Perfect Square featuring the Bravest Warriors.

The Review

The Search for Catbug is a collaboration between Cartoon Hangover and Viz Media. What they’ve done is take the cast of Bravest Warriors, twenty-eight artists, and a simple prompt and created a book that’s part game, part art collection, and part Bravest Warriors merchandise.

This hardcover opens with a two-page intro in comic book format that lays the premise for the rest of its contents. In short, Catbug eats foodstuff cubes from Chris’ dreams, which cause him to lose control over his jump abilities. The Bravest Warriors can’t let him go careening through dimensions so they take off to find him.

What follows is not so much a cohesive story as it is twenty-eight separate graphic interpretations of what the Bravest Warriors’ search might look like. Each drawing is presented as a two-page spread in full color. Those looking for a collection entirely rendered in the cartoon’s style may be disappointed. Character designs and art media are as varied as the artists participating, ranging from Leong’s anime interpretation to Kuhn’s CG illustration to Hillburn’s watercolor candyland to Monlogo’s Escher inspired piece.

However, two things unify this collection. Every illustration features the four Bravest Warriors, and each has Catbug hidden somewhere in the details. And of course, the game is to locate Catbug in each picture. It’s very similar to Where’s Waldo?, but unlike the Where’s Waldo? illustrations which hide Waldo among crowds of people, these artists use a variety of tactics to hide Catbug, ranging from making him super tiny to placing him against a backdrop of ladybugs.

That aside, the artists don’t appear to have had any constraints with the subject matter. Most depictions include other characters, objects, and places from the animated series, and several feature the foodstuff cubes that caused Catbug’s uncontrollable jumping in the first place. Some have the Bravest Warriors in battle mode, while others are more pastoral. In keeping with the tone of the show, the pieces are generally fun with a heavy dose of randomness. And for those who search and search but just can’t seem to locate Catbug, the book includes a handy answer key in the back along with artist credits and their self-portraits.

In summary

The Search for Catbug can be summed up as a playful artist tribute to Bravest Warriors. If you are completely unfamiliar with the Cartoon Hangover series, this book probably isn’t the best introduction. While the artwork is entertaining and it is possible for newbies to have fun locating the Bravest Warriors’ cute little mascot, this collection will be best appreciated and enjoyed by those who are already fans.

First published in The Fandom Post.




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Writers Block

Posted by MelGrinder89 in Writing woes and wants, 30 September 2014 · 21 views

I had writers block for about a week. I wondered what I was going to write, and what I was going to do. It was after finishing a quick edits with my main story for the last fifteen years, Dark Fantasy. The first book in a series.

I realized it was too long, it was going to take a lot more work that I'd already put into it. Don't get me wrong I love the work, and I love the story. I've just already cut out so much, and changed a lot, and I realized, if I change anymore, it won't be the story that I wanted to share with the world. I realized a while ago, that my Dark Fantasy series may not be my debut story, recent revelations had me accepting that.

So I was bouncing between what story I wanted to work on next. I have a couple ideas written down, and a few started that would need to be rewritten, but the way that I work, I needed the paper copies to work from. But with the printer out of ink, I've been working on my tablet. Which is considerably more eco friendly lol.

Finally I decided a complete rewrite was needed, and just takes notes from what I've written.

*sigh* It's amazing what a little drawing and watching Bones, Supernatural, and Sword Art Online will do for the mind and writers block.

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Louise Galveston on Second Novel Blues

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 30 September 2014 · 26 views

Welcome to the SNOB - Second Novel Ominipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?<br /><br />Today's guest is <a href="http://www.bythegrac...age2/index.html" target="_blank">Louise Galveston</a>,&nbsp;who grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. The lone girl in her neighborhood, she always got to play Princess Leia.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.bythegraceoftodd.com/page2/files/stacks_image_35.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://www.bythegraceoftodd.com/page2/files/stacks_image_35.jpg" /></a></div><b>Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?</b><br /><br /><i>In my case it wasn’t, because IN TODD WE TRUST is the sequel to BY THE GRACE OF TODD. There was, however, a lot of looking back to little details and rereading to make sure I nailed the characters’ voices. There are a LOT of characters in these books.</i><br /><br /><b>At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?</b><br /><br /><i>My launch for book one overlapped final edits for book two. So I was piggy-backing promotion and editing. And I wasn’t sleeping much. It was tough. But I’m not going to whine. This was what I’d dreamed of and worked toward for years-only it was like having twins instead of just one book baby! Also, constantly having to focus on the sequel helped distract me from the impending launch, which had my nerves in a knot.</i><br /><br /><b>Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?</b><br /><br /><i>I think I always kind of write for myself (especially since I mostly write humor) and hope that if it entertains me, it will put a smile on readers’ faces as well. But you’ve got to make the editor smile before it can get to them. ☺</i><br /><br /><b>Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?&nbsp;</b><br /><br /><i>Time management? Balance? Let me laugh hysterically for a moment. **clears throat** Okay, I’m back. Just pretend you’re the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and you’re running behind…in everything. Seriously, though, I had to sacrifice sleep. With ten kids at home (eleven total) I’m used to less shut-eye than most people, but during crunch time, I got pretty bleary-eyed. (As in, I could hardly read during my launch party because my eyes were so tired.) Now that I’m not under so much pressure, I try to write for a couple of hours later in the evening or before breakfast. My husband takes over on Saturdays, and I cram as much drafting/editing in as I can.&nbsp;</i><br /><br /><i>There’s also the issue of not having time (due to deadlines) to run things past a crit partner or even my husband (my first reader). Having the security net yanked out from under you like that makes you really rely on your gut. I still try to read a manuscript aloud, but there’s not always somebody around to listen at 1:30 a.m.</i><br /><br /><b>What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?</b><br /><br /><i>My second revision notes from my editor were much lighter than in my first book, because the characters’ personalities were well established and I understood what to do as far as details (such as formatting, use of italics, etc.) Also, I had a few good reviews under my belt, and I knew what material connected with kids when I did school visits. So with all of that in my arsenal, I was definitely more confident in my writing. But being published also means that you know for certain some people just aren’t going to get or like your book. And you learn to be okay with it. That knowledge was liberating, and let me write the book as it came to me.</i><br /><br /><i>I tried not to allow myself to procrastinate. (One of my worst habits.) If I got stumped on a scene, I’d force myself to muscle through it, even if I knew it was going to be mostly trashed later. I also had to break the habit of editing as I go. The perfectionist in me had to surrender to the deadline. I learned how to fast draft and found I was a lot funnier when I didn’t overthink things but wrote off the cuff.</i><br /><br /><i>Thanks so much for the fun interview, Mindy!</i><br /><br /><br />

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

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Query Questions with Laura Crockett

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 30 September 2014 · 19 views

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

 



Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.


Good things come in pairs. Welcome to Laura Crockett, another new agent from Triada US


Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
It's more like days and times that'll be better or worse. It's best to query Monday through Friday. It gives me an opportunity in the evening to sift through them, and time on the weekends to devote to any manuscripts I may have requested. 

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?
Not necessarily, though if I find two or more errors I begin to lose faith and interest. The query should reflect your manuscript.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
Only if the query is strong. It's like shopping at a bookstore -- if you like the jacket summary, you open the book and read it, right? That's what I do with a query. Grab my attention and I'll look at the sample pages.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
I check all of them! 

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?
Yes. Many times the prologue provides some insight/intrigue. 

Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?
Query only one agent, period. If I receive a query I think Brent or Uwe might like more (and vice versa), I'll pass it along.   

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
I would rather hear about the manuscript. That said, if the manuscript has some sort of connection to a book you know I've read and enjoyed, by all means mention that! It shows me that you've done your research! 

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?
Definitely a red flag, especially if the genre sentence isn't included. I prefer to know what sort of mindset I should prepare for (historical fiction, fantasy, romance) when reading the query. 

Writers hear a lot about limiting the number of named characters in a query. Do you feel keeping named characters to a certain number makes for a clearer query?
The more named characters in a query makes the query overwhelming. The fewer characters mentioned, the clearer the query and purpose of the manuscript. Find the core of the story and pitch it.  

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?
Oh, believe me, titles will be changed by publishers. They know markets! That being said, your title should still be able to catch my attention. Character names are occasionally changed, so prepare for some discussion on that when the time comes.   

How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?
Thus far I'm averaging 50 queries, but I'm new in the industry -- this'll change as time goes on and word spreads. As for requests, it will definitely fluctuate, but it looks like at least 2 of the 50 I'll ask to see a manuscript. 

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?
I definitely care. This was something stressed over and over in my graduate program, at AWP, at BEA, and many writer conferences: that an author has an online presence, that they have an active twitter or blog or public Facebook page. It tips the scales slightly in getting an offer, and it really helps (I cannot emphasize just how much this helps!) the marketing team at the publishing house. I would highly suggest a writer starts creating an online presence immediately. Create a following, start conversations with other writers and published authors, make your name known. The publishers can better promote and sell your book if you join them in the process. 

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?
Links in the email signature are perfectly fine. 

If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested?
Only if the material was requested. 

What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?
Any information the writer thinks improves their work and credibility. Tell me your educational background, activities or organizations you're involved in, an event or experience that shows you understand the material you worked with to create the manuscript (ex: historical fiction set on a farm --> you worked at a farm for a summer or studied agriculture for a project, etc).  

What does ‘just not right for me’ mean to you?
Simply that nothing grabbed my attention or stuck out to me personally -- just like when you're reading a book jacket. I can't help you make your book the best thing out there if I cannot muster up enough enthusiasm for it from the very beginning. If I can't think of editors and imprints who would also snatch up the manuscript, then it's not the right manuscript for me to read, enjoy, and share with others. 

What themes are you sick of seeing?
Catty female friendships, female friendships where the only conversations are about males, insta-love, love triangles, protagonists hell-bent on revenge, and...well, dystopian. (What's happening to the rest of the world? Why is it always in the US?) 

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
Oh, yes. I love editing. I love writing/typing all over a manuscript, offering my reactions and insight and comments and suggestions. I'm very detailed. 

What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve seen in a query?
I have yet to find something incredibly strange or funny. A part of me wants to challenge you to make that happen...but maybe it's best not to! 

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
(In no particular order) Contemporary YA that portrays anxiety or abuse, WWI and WWII adult and YA historical fiction, and YA and adult gothic/Victorian horror (there's gore and there's mood/atmosphere. I'm in the mood/atmosphere camp).

What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 
Books: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban specifically), The Likeness (Tana French), One Day (David Nicholls), Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell), Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys), The Hallowed Ones (Laura Bickle), Name of the Star (Maureen Johnson), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen) 
Movies: 2004 BBC North and South, 2013 Belle, 2013 About Time, 2003 Love Actually, 2009 Bright Star
TV Shows: Outlander, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Bomb Girls, New Girl, Once Upon a Time, BBC Merlin, BBC Sherlock

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My name is Laura, and I have my M.A. in Publishing and B.S. in Psychology. When I'm not working as an agent or bookseller, I'm reading, researching, and staying up-to-date on a variety of my passions (Victorian culture, Gothic literature, publishing, neuroscience, autism, stress and anxiety, music, books books books). I have a fluffy black cat named Rossetti, I love to knit, tea is my drink of choice, and I’m obsessed with British and Canadian television dramas.


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People Watching - The Wedding Edition

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 29 September 2014 · 19 views

I was out of town for a family wedding over the weekend. It was wonderful and everything a wedding should be - including unique.

As usual, I put my people watching skills into action and found lots of interesting quirks that may appear in future characters!

  • One of the self-proclaimed 'Crazy Aunts' who tapped couples on the shoulder all night, insisting they kiss on demand to show respect for the newlyweds 
  • The Grandfather who dressed identically to his grandson - right down to the cowboy boots, bow tie and shining bucking bronco belt buckle
  • The groomsman who decided it would be much more comfortable without a shirt
  • And the multiple elderly ladies who celebrated his choice. Loudly
  • The friend from out of town who crashed into a car on the way, brought 2 different shoes, and forget the engagement ring he was gong to give to his girlfriend that night
  • The young woman who wore orange (BRIGHT orange!) shoes because they DIDN'T match her outfit and she figured that would ensure no disasters for the couple on their special day
  • The young man who sighed lustily after one of the bridesmaids all night long. She never even looked his way ... which probably made her fiance happy
  • The granddaughter who answered the same questions from her grandfather (who suffers from Alzheimer's) all night and made sure he danced the night away when he thought she was his late wife

How about you? What interesting characters did you meet this weekend?

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RUNNING AWAY BY JULIE HUTCHINGS IS HERE!

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 29 September 2014 · 19 views

I’m so excited to share that Julie Hutchings’ sequel to RUNNING HOME is now available! RUNNING AWAY continues Eliza’s story as she learns the ways of the ancient warrior vampire clan, Shinigami, to save the life of her beloved Nicholas.             Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her […]

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Tracy Townsend - Nightmare on Query Street 2013 SUCCESS STORY!

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 29 September 2014 · 23 views


HOW ABOUT IT? A success story from last year's contest right before our amazing Nightmare on Query Street 2014 contest coming up soon!!!!!!! NoQS is mentioned in the story below (along with some actions we can't say we endorse :D) so this is amazing. It's a fantastic story. Take it away, Tracy!

In the fall of 2012, I accepted a dare from a colleague in the English department where I teach: to join him and a group of our students in NaNoWriMo. Since I’m one of the principle teachers of creative writing at our school (this haven for intellectual oddballs and the gifted, sometimes called “Hogwarts for Hackers”), it made sense. I’d had a loose idea for a world and a story in me for years but never made my own writing – or, really, myself – enough of a priority to write it down. But I knew my characters already, and I knew what was facing them, and the thought of finally getting it out was so appealing.

I could never have predicted how that one, agreeable shrug of my shoulders would lead to such a complicated future.

When Nightmare on Query Street 2013 came around almost a year later, I was a first-time novelist with a complete ms and a fistful of loyal CPs found through the hope and happenstance of AgentQuery Connect (I’m looking at you, Michelle and Pete). I had a query letter they’d kicked up and down cyberspace for weeks, a synopsis, some spiffy first chapters, and …

A word count problem. Like, to the tune of an adult fantasy manuscript 134K strong. By the time Michelle, Mike, and S.C. made the all-call NOQS entries, I’d already racked up a month’s worth of rejections and some detailed CP notes, all chorusing “cut this thing down, and maybe it’ll go somewhere.” Encouraged by my writer-friends to give the contest a go, I wrote my “MC’s greatest fear” paragraph, squinted fussily at my query, spit-shined page one, and sent it all off.

Then I sat down to make good on my submission’s claim that the project was actually 125K.

I know what you’re thinking: “You … lied about your word count?”

Well, sort of. No. Not “sort of.” Yes, I did. (Not-so-subliminal message: DO NOT do this!) I had a strategy planned out: I would submit with that word count, dive into my CP notes, and start editing down. By the time I knew if I’d made the contest, the ms would be the promised length, and really, that tightening needed to happen either way. I had been reluctant to cut for months, insisting I had already taken out as much as could go (it had been 146K, once upon a time – STOP LAUGHING AT ME). Creating this sense of urgency would make me do the job at last. (Do not do this… Do not do this… Play with fire and you get burned… Look both ways before you cross the street… DO NOT DO THIS. Please.)  [SC: Do not do this!!!!!!!!!!! XD]

Poking about the NOQS forum on AQC, I saw Mike tease about dropping his final pick for another spotted at the last minute – a really interesting adult fantasy he couldn’t pass up. And then, a day or so later, lo and behold: I – or, my manuscript, THE NINE, rather – was a Monster. The actual manuscript was only down to 130K at this point, not the advertised 125K, and so, even as I gabbled on Twitter with the other contestants and our growing, cheerful fan bases, I worked furiously behind the scenes to cut, cut, cut.

By the end, I had one ten page, three fifty page, and one full request. Twenty-four hours after the contest closed, I was down to 122k and sent my beastie off, praying after its electron trail.

Time passed. By December, two of those partials became fulls. The original contest full lingered out there, unanswered.

In February 2014, still haunting the Twitter pages of two agents from NOQS who hadn’t yet decided on the full, I discovered #MSWL. There, I found a request tweeted by Agent Overwhelming: funny, charming, unfailingly polite personage with an impressive sales streak. I had long since decided that querying there was out of my league, but the #MSWL message sounded just enough like my work…

I gave it a shot.

Three hours after I sent the query, it turned into a request for a full. Nine days later, I was talking to Agent Overwhelming on the phone, going over ideas and details for an R&R. I babbled. Lord knows how I must have sounded. Agent Overwhelming, though, was completely clear: these kinds of phone calls are rare, and serious, but not a guarantee. No promises from Overwhelming that writing the revision meant representation – and so, no expectation that the revised ms would be an exclusive, either.

That, as it turned out, would prove as important to my eventually getting an agent as NOQS itself.

It was just six months after I’d started querying, and I had an R&R. I planned it down to the finest detail and set aside my entire upcoming summer break to tackle the job. In early June, it dawned on me that I really should take advantage of the non-exclusive agreement offered. I contacted all the agents who had read the previous full or had it in hand then (including a small press who had offered on a prior version) and let them know a new copy would be available soon, if they wanted it.

One of the first agents to respond to that offer was Agent October, the agent whose request – even though it wasn’t a full – had had me the most excited during NOQS. I’d had a stack of raggedy post-it notes in my desk drawer for months prior to actually beginning querying, written in more or less my fantasyland order of “agents I wish would sign me.” (These were, naturally, also the agents I was most afraid of querying.) Agent Overwhelming and Agent October’s names were written side by side, with slashes separating them, top of the list. Imagine my surprise when Agent October responded to the revision offer, confirming that she actually had just recently finished reading my ms.  She’d had some misgivings about it and thought a re-read was in order. I described the changes I’d discussed with Agent Overwhelming, and she felt they largely addressed her concerns. She added two points of her own, which I quickly included in my to-do list. Then I powered on, completing a first draft, CP rounds and notes, and a final draft all by the first week of August 2014.

I sent the revision – practically a speed-skater at 114K (STOP LAUGHING) – to several interested agents, the small press, and (of course) Agents Overwhelming and October.

I waited, but not for very long. When the small press editor came back with yet another offer, I sent the word around and found myself on the phone with Agent Overwhelming again. Not wanting to endanger the small press as an option by making them wait overlong, Overwhelming vowed to finish reading by the following Monday and get back to me. Other agents followed suit. Mercifully, the school year was starting again. I threw myself into the distraction of class prep.

Monday came, bringing no news with it. By lunchtime Tuesday, I felt the small press deadline closing in and nudged Agent Overwhelming for a status report.

The response came less than one minute later.

Agent Overwhelming had not been overwhelmed. The email was polite, professional, encouraging. Sympathetic. It ended with an invitation to share future work, and best wishes. None of that stopped me from sitting slack-jawed at my desk, staring at the screen as if I could will the message away. It wasn’t that I assumed I was already in. I am extraordinarily good, actually, at not getting my hopes up. I had written the revision, telling myself all the while that the reason to do it was because I believed the advice given would make a better book. Everything beyond that was hope – less than hope, it was a guess, a stab in the dark. It was that dream-list on a raggedy post-it note.

That well-ordered, rational thinking didn’t console me much.

I wondered how I could have fooled myself into thinking I was in anybody’s league. Anything other than bush-league. I was a first-time novelist, a lifelong writer with a career of putting my own ideas aside in favor of teaching others how to excel. I was a living embodiment of that horrible adage about how those who can do, and those who can’t, teach. I remembered the small press offer, but now, as I researched the costs associated with a good publishing attorney to review documents, it seemed the billable hours would equal or exceed my probable earnings. Whatever THE NINE earned would be almost entirely through my own marketing, something I knew nothing about. I was in over my head and had been from the start. I was finally getting my cosmic punishment for my word-count gamble. I had dared, and gotten close, and it was just that I should get my smack-down now. Simple as that.

My sadness gave way to a dull sense of foreboding – an absolute conviction that the next 24 hours would be parade of “no”s from the remaining agents. Instead, at 3:30 that same afternoon, my email winked with a message from Bridget Smith. Agent October, the first agent to ever request my full manuscript based on reading a partial. The first agent to want more of my work, knowing what it was really like. The first name, side-by-side with Agent Overwhelming’s, to have made my dream list.

She was glad to have read the revision, because she really liked it. She felt more confident about it, reading it slowly, carefully, taking time to “admire [my] skillful writing”! Could we talk tonight?

Yes. Let’s talk now.


A half hour later, my phone rang, and the whole world changed. I told myself not to listen with rebound-ears. There was a chance this might not be a fit. I shouldn’t jump at acceptance because I was still stinging from rejection.

But it was a fit – a perfect fit. Bridget had noticed things about the manuscript, details of character and world-building that I had put in almost as Easter eggs. I’d never counted on a reader finding them, but she had and she got them. She had insights into the culture of my world, daring suggestions about shoring up storyline, and authentic curiosity. She was the perfect blend of enthusiastic and genuine – never gushing or putting on a show. And she didn’t shrink from my toughest questions. She had some editors in mind for submission and felt that the book could go bigger than the small press who had offered to me. She was ready to really work her experience in the sf/f market. As the conversation wound to a close, I told her I needed to let the other agents know of the offer – and she asked about Agent Overwhelming.

Was it just my imagination that she didn’t sound terribly disappointed about Overwhleming’s decision to pass?

When my cursor hovered over “send” on my first query back in August 2013, to predict where I’d be in a year, I would never have mapped out this strange, winding road. I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it would lead right back to the beginning – to my first and fondest hope.

People tell you patience is key to querying, and they’re right. October 2013 to August 2014 kind of patience. Luck is part of it, too. The luck of finding amazing CPs, for one: Michelle, and Pete, and eventually Maura. The luck that opens the doors to opportunity: Mike’s taking a second look at my entry and swapping it in. There’s an absolute, full-frontal nudity of the ego when querying, and entering contests, and being rejected. You can’t know when you start if or how you’ll reach your goal, or how many expectations will be broken along the way. You can’t predict which gambles will pay off and what paths will cross, or how they’ll all suddenly come together, as if it were meant to be.   As if you’d written the end of the story on a scrap of paper before you even began.

You can’t know. That’s why we try.





Tracy Townsend lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois and teaches English at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. She has studied at DePauw University, the National University of Ireland (Galway), and DePaul University, where she obtained degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric. She is a member of the Science Fiction Research Association and other academic organizations, which has allowed her to write very long things and read them aloud to people who are obliged to behave politely. Her background as a lapsed Catholic, an assistant martial arts instructor, a comic book fangirl (Make Mine Marvel!), a tabletop role-player, and an obsessive hound for obscure mythologies inspired her writing of The Nine. Inexplicably, other uses for that resume have yet to present themselves. She is represented by the strikingly elegant and classy Bridget Smith of Dunham Lit.

Tracy devotes time she doesn’t have to cooking, gardening, writing, and seriously pondering the treadmill in her basement. She is married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she shares two remarkable children. They are – naturally – named after characters from books.

You can find Tracy on Twitter more often than she really ought to be.


I really enjoyed this story. It's real and honest, and shows that getting an agent isn't some fairy tale with a path paved of gold. It doesn't come easy, it doesn't come fast. We all know it, but we can always hear it again. Thank you so much Tracy for sharing! Make SURE to congratulate her on Twitter and thank her for sharing. And Nightmare on Query Street 2014 is coming up soon! If you want to win a free pass (skip the slush pile and make it directly on our teams) click here for details.

Congrats Tracy!!!!!!!!!!!!


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The She Influence: Evatopia Entertertainment Promotion

Posted by Quiana Kyles in The Silent Whispers Movement, 28 September 2014 · 21 views
Silent Whispers Movement

The She Influence: Evatopia Entertertainment Promotion Hello world! I know it's been a while since I've written and I just wanted to come back and give you guys the 411 on my writing progression as I've set my goals on the prize.....A block buster hit movie...But hey I'll for my mother just being able to sit in the front row free of charge and to view one of my projects...

Here is the scoop..So, I decided to still do my homework and discover a way to somehow get the word out to all of cyberspace about my writing! My book Silent Whispers has found a home! We'll sort of..

I had this bright idea that while I am working on the budget for the current project that maybe I should start out trying to do a reality show idea first just to get my foot in the door. You, may say we'll how does the two connect with one another? We'll, I created a poem in the book entitled 'The She Influence" then I decided to create my F/B page to showcase just another portion of who I am as an artist. I've currently got 73 members! That, just shows me that someone is not only reading but paying attention....So, I took a chance to go online to search for representation for my reality shows. Evatopia Entertainment was really cool because they deal with the age demo I'm looking for in respect to the projects that I'm working on. So, taking the ultimate chance I submitted my work to them and they have actually supported me in so many ways. I, won their contest where they showcase a book of their choice on both twitter, F/B and goggle... Even on F/B they took the picture shown above and gave much love for it.....I, even got up enough courage to even submit a small project to Steve Harvey's Act Like A Success.....

I, totally understand that this business is all about relationships and establishing them so I thought it was cool that the founder of Evatopia Entertainment decided to send me a letter personally. If, anyone is interested in seeing what I have to offer then please go to the following website www.lulu.com/spotlight/lyricalcafe9! Continue to write and don't give up on your dreams.....See you all at the box office!

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Life of the Postpartum Author

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 27 September 2014 · 31 views

by S. L. Duncan

I’m not here to name names. But if you ask any recently published debut author, perhaps plying them with an adult beverage, they might fess up. So far, everyone I’ve talked to has admitted to feeling the same way, or has experienced some level of the darkness that creeps in. To borrow from the medical world (and a fellow YA author), it’s simple postpartum depression. 

Yeah, I’m working through some stuff right now.

My book, THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM, released August 12thof this year. It’s been a whirlwind of all the things you’d expect from a book release. Interviews, industry reviews, book signings, release parties, giveaways, and even a book festival. The gauntlet. For me, it was a good two or three weeks of newborn book-related excitement.

And then, well, nothing really. Nothing after years of building up to a moment. After hitting the highs of getting the agent, getting the publisher, and getting the book onto a shelf, the drop-off of perceived excitement for your work after your book birthday is sudden and steep.

I shouldn’t say there’s nothing to do. There are reader reviews and the struggle to get reader reviews.  If you’re not big five (and sometimes even if you are), a lot of grabbing the world’s attention will fall on your shoulders. Learning to sell a book is like learning a foreign language. It’s daunting and unless you’ve got a guide or someone to teach you, it’s a series of mumbling, inarticulate gestures.

It’s a wonderful time for doubt to seep in. I’ve found myself to be surprisingly sensitive to this sort of thing. I once thought of myself as a rock, able to brush off criticism. I’m now second-guessing everyone and everybody. Mostly, though, I’m second-guessing myself and my ability. This came in tandem with the first bad review.

Worse than doubt, realitysets in. I’m saying reality, but what I mean is jealousy. Because the reality is, other authors that I consider peers are doing fantastic out there and they are doing it faster than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited and thrilled for them. But a question keeps popping up in the back of my mind that calls into question my ability to tell a good story: Why not me? I'm fully and totally embarrassed to be admitting this. 

Very few authors hit escape velocity with their book and break into a place where public awareness and interest has an expanding upward trajectory. Movie deals. New York Times attention. Keynote appearances at book festivals. This is super, crazy rare. But starting out, in the back of our minds, even if we understand the near impossibility of hitting this mark, the potential of doing so is still on the board.

Until it isn’t.

For a good two weeks after my book release, I found myself in a dark place, creatively, consumed with how my book was doing. Hourly check-ins at Amazon’s Author Central. Looking at other debut's bestseller rank and comparing it to my own. Google searches. Constantly checking my Goodreads page. That's obsessive behavior. My reviews have been very good, but those readers that didn’t connect resonated louder than the ones that did. Having a mood that swings in direct relation to how the public embraces my work is not a healthy way to live.

Looming over all of this is a book deadline for the third book in the REVELATION SAGA. So, add to all of this, one heaping scoop of anxiety.

What’s weird is that all of this is happening during what, outside-looking-in, was joyous time. I got Published. Don’t think for one second that I’m not thankful for that, or that I take it for granted. Trust me, I don’t.

In the past few days, I’ve had – if you’ll excuse me – a bit of a revelation. (Mumbling, inarticulate marketing gesture – check!) I remembered why I ultimately write: for myself. I tell the stories I want to see told. All these other things? These doubts and distractions? They are on the peripheral of the art itself. Do I appreciate when someone likes my work? Sure. But I’ve realized that appreciation does not validate me as an author. Nor does criticism make my work less worthy.

To borrow a legal term, those things are not relevant.

Lawyers call their profession the practice of law. I like that. You’ve come to FTWA looking for advice and counsel on how to get published or how to better your writing. But all we can offer is what we’ve learned from our own victories and defeats.

In truth, we’re all still trying to figure it out. We’re practicing authors. My freshly squeezed advice is this: remember why you write and stay true to that.


Unless you are writing to get famous. In that case, you may be in for some disappointment.

S. L. Duncan writes young adult fiction, including his debut, The Revelation of Gabriel Adam, in bookstores everywhere. You can find him blogging on INKROCK.com and on Twitter.


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More Word of Art Finalists

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 26 September 2014 · 40 views

I promised I would post more info about the In Print Word of Art event that took place September 5. There were five finalists chosen by Word Judge John Gilemy, including mine, An Autumn Afternoon. Here are the others. THE … Continue reading

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Win a Signed Paperback of Love and Rumors

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 25 September 2014 · 11,480 views

<p>As you may know, I LOVE giving away signed paperbacks of my books. Want one?</p>
<p>Check out my latest giveaway happening on Goodreads. As well, if you love giveaways and hanging out, be sure to check out my ‘giveaway’ board on the <a title="Check out the giveaway board!" href="http://www.jeanoram.com">home page </a>of my website where I am always listing online events where I am hosting giveaways.</p>
<h3>Love and Rumors Signed Paperback Giveaway</h3>
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<h3 style="margin: 0; padding: 0; font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal;"><a href="https://www.goodread...k/show/22593863">Love and Rumors</a></h3>
<h4 style="margin: 0 0 10px; padding: 0; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal;">by <a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.goodread...70589.Jean_Oram">Jean Oram</a></h4>
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<p>Giveaway ends September 29, 2014.</p>
<p>See the <a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.goodread...way/show/107473">giveaway details</a><br />at Goodreads.</p>
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<p style="text-align: center;">I’ve selected every country for this giveaway–go forth and enter!</p>
<h3>More about Love and Rumors</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.jeanoram....09935457105.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-885 alignleft" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/loveandrumors579K-200x300.jpg" alt="loveandrumors579K" width="200" height="300" /></a>One photographer who needs money—fast. One movie star with an offer as tempting as his bad boy smile.</p>
<p>Hailey Summer, a photographer who has remortgaged her entire life in order to follow her dreams, needs more time. As the eldest of four girls, her self-appointed job has always been to solve everyone’s problems—including holding onto the family’s historic cottage that’s precious to all of them. But with the cottage about to be seized for back taxes, Hailey’s going to have to confront more than just the family members she’s kept in the dark.</p>
<p>When movie star Finian Alexander closes his eyes he sees is his family’s destitute past and the unfulfilled promises he’s made to others. Only a fraction away from making the A-list food chain and fulfilling his promises, Finian needs help from the paparazzi to push his next “bad boy of Hollywood” escapade into the limelight. Problem is he’s in the Canadian Muskokas and the only photographer he’d consider partnering with slaps him every time he deserves it—which is increasingly often as he becomes more desperate.</p>
<p>Will Hailey and Finian give in to the easy way out of their problems, or will they discover how alike they truly are when they hit the tabloids—together?</p>
<p>This is the first book in the Summer Sisters beach read contemporary romance series.</p>
<p><span style="color: #ff00ff;"><strong>Want to read it now? Get your copy here:</strong></span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Love and Rumors by Jean Oram on Amazon" href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L9Q1Y7C" target="_blank"><strong>Amazon US</strong></a><br /><a title="Love and Rumors by Jean Oram on Amazon UK" href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00L9Q1Y7C" target="_blank"><strong>Amazon UK<br /></strong></a><a title="Love and Rumors by Jean Oram on Nook Barnes and Noble" href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-and-rumors-jean-oram/1119883472?ean=2940046033137" target="_blank"><strong>B&amp;N</strong></a><br /><a title="Love and Rumors by Jean Oram on iTunes" href="https://itunes.apple.com/book/love-and-rumors/id892274033?mt=11" target="_blank"><strong>iTunes</strong></a><br /><a title="Love and Rumors by Jean Oram on Kobo" href="http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/love-and-rumors" target="_blank"><strong>Kobo</strong></a><br /><a title="Love and Rumors by Jean Oram on Smashwords" href="https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451059" target="_blank"><strong>Smashwords</strong></a></p>
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<p style="text-align: left;">Want to spread the word and earn brownies points from me? <span style="color: #ff00ff;"><strong>Tweet this</strong></span> –&gt; <a class="embedtweet" title="Like signed paperbacks? Enter this #giveaway for Love and Rumors by @jeanoram via @goodreads. #romance" href="https://twitter.com/...ck-love-rumors/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Like signed paperbacks? Enter this #giveaway for Love and Rumors by @jeanoram via @goodreads. #romance</a></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram....ck-love-rumors/">Win a Signed Paperback of Love and Rumors</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram.com">Jean Oram</a>.</p>

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More agents for darker YA

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 24 September 2014 · 43 views

One of the most work-involved parts of querying is researching which agents would be a good fit for your manuscript. When I started my novel, I was intending to write horror, but when I finished, I realized I’d explained too much about my monsters—and built too much sympathy for them—so I’d really ended up with a pretty dark paranormal story. The vast majority of agents who rep YA say they take all genres of that, but almost-horror isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. For example, take a look at how few agents also rep horror.

So for my fellow writers who’ve also written dark YA, here’s a list of more agents who seem like potential fits, in alphabetical order. See the first 20 agents I posted about here.

Steven Axelrod, The Axelrod Agency

Email address: Steve@Axelrodagency.com

Subject line: query + title

Wants: query only

Query info: Doesn’t have much of an Internet presence

Response: 3 months


Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency

@hannahnpbowman, http://hannahbowman.tumblr.com

Email address: queryhannah@lizadawsonassociates.com

Subject line: query + title

Wants: query only

Response: one month or resend


Melissa Chinchillo, Fletcher & Company

Email address: info@fletcherandco.com

Subject line: query + title

Wants: query + brief synopsis in body of email

Query info: Her primary role at the agency is not as a literary agent, but she reps a small number of writers on the side. Her request rate is extremely low.

Response: 4-6 weeks; no reply means rejection

See the rest, and the first list of 20, at www.selene-bell.com

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MY YA SCIFI — FACSIMILE — HAS LANDED!

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 23 September 2014 · 34 views

Very excited to announce that my Young Adult science fiction novel, FACSIMILE — and its sequel — will be published by Month9Books. Here’s the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:   Children’s: Young Adult CROWN OF ICE author Vicki Weavil’s FACSIMILE, in which a girl from a forgotten planet must choose between a long-held dream of going to […]

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KNIGHT OF LIGHT Review and WSGS #3

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 21 September 2014 · 36 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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The Big 5-1

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 20 September 2014 · 45 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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How ‘The Little Train That Could’ Got it Wrong

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Helpful Writer, 18 September 2014 · 45 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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