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CROWN OF ICE Countdown — Day 41: G is for Gerda and H is for Hope

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 31 July 2014 · 14 views

Tackling a couple of letters today, because I may not be posting for a few days – Day 41 of the countdown to publication, and I’m highlighting one of my primary characters, GERDA, and one of her major characteristics, HOPE.     (PIcture, GERDA AND BAE by laurart).     Gerda is actually the protagonist […]



Manly-Man’s Feats (#1) by Nicholas Warren

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 31 July 2014 · 10 views

The contents of this story are only rumors, but Manly-Man has supplied some of the text himself. So it’s an accurate rumor at the very least. Depending on whether you believe MM or not…


The lightning struck the building.

And it struck the building.

And it struck the building.

You get the point.

It liked to strike the building.

Finally, the little lightning rod had disintegrated—this was no normal lightning storm.

Prince Beef was standing on one of the verandas of his palace, with many of his servants and advisors.

The White House, not overly far from his palace, wasn’t going to last much longer. But that hadn’t stopped Prince Beef and his company from watching the lightning with incredible interest, as it struck the building, and even venturing to cheer at a few of the strokes.

Prince Beef never had liked the man who lived in the White House, the general and sole commander of America’s army. (Which implies that Prince Beef doesn’t have much political power.)

Then the lightning struck again.

The roof went up in flames.

There was nothing but silence on Prince Beef’s veranda now. This was… I guess they thought it was very weird. By now, it was quite clear that the lightning was anything but natural.

I haven’t mentioned yet that it was night-time, and it was a clear sky, have I?

Obviously, someone with the power of controlling lightning had been made angry. By America.

The lightning didn’t stop when the roof of the White House went up in flames, though. It just kept striking.

And it didn’t stop striking until the White House was nothing more than a pile of smoldering rubble.

Then Prince Beef’s phone rang. He answered it. “Yes?” More than a little annoyed to be interrupted at watching such a scene.

Yes, he’s weird.

“Hey, Beefy, I’s angry. If you doesn’t done get your dudes out of my place in five more minutes, your palace is next,” Manly-man said. He didn’t sound angry.

Prince Beef couldn’t talk for a moment. He couldn’t believe he had been called Beefy.

Before Prince Beef could say anything, Manly-Man continued, “I’s tried to have talks with your stupid general…but he was stubborn.”

“My man!” Prince Beef said. “There will be no deals, and there’ll be no threats, you scheming swine!” I don’t think the prince even knew what he was talking about.

“Hey, I’s give you five minutes to think about it. My little wrestling arena don’t hurt nobody.”

“How you yak on. I have no idea what you’re speaking about!”

“Oh, but you better find out. I’s give you five minutes. Thanks. Bye.” Manly-Man hung up.

I think Prince Beef was worried despite himself. Manly-Man wasn’t one to be played with. Despite what he would say on the subject. So the prince had his men look into the matter. What could possibly have made Manly-Man angry?

Now, while Prince Beef struggles to find out something he should have known, I think there is some information I need to tell you.

You see, there are a few theories on where Manly-Man got the power to use lightning from. This was not the first time he used it, though it usually was rare.

Some people say that Manly-Man can do it with his mechanical suit, or that he somehow has control over storm clouds. But it’s neither of these.

Here is the rumor I’m pretty sure of. Manly-Man is unnaturally strong, and it is said that years ago he was able to convince the ‘god’ Zeus that he was Hercules. And after that, he was able to get into Zeus’s lightning machine (which is merged with a computer that allows him to see everything [editor's note: One of the SuperComputers]) and strike almost anything in the world with lightning.

The god Zeus is a totally different subject. He…and his other ‘gods’ are complicated. Not really gods, of course, just strange Punchyish beings. Whatever.

Prince Beef’s men came and told him what was what. The general had ordered a raid of Manly-Man’s world-famous and world-popular fighting arena.

They had shut it down because Manly-Man refused to pay taxes.

Just as Prince Beef got this information, the lightning began to strike.

Prince Beef called Manly-Man.

“Hey, yeah?” Manly-Man sounded busy.

“I will remove my troops from the building, if you repay me for the loss of the White House.”

“Hey…I can’t hear you. All this lightning is getting in my ears.”

“My man! You listen to me. Or there will be no deals!”

“Oh… there goes your lightning rod. It went fast.”

The thunder was very loud now.

“We have to evacuate, sir!” a servant yelled. And then the servant ran.

Prince Beef had no choice but to follow, even as he tried to reason with Manly-Man.

Once out on the lawn, the prince said, “Now, my man, quit striking my buildings with—”

At that moment, the entire palace went up, as three successive bolts hit it. The resulting thunder was deafening.

“Oh no,” Manly-Man said.

Prince Beef just stared at the palace. It began to crumble.

“So…does you want to get your troops out now?” Manly-Man asked.

And Manly-Man won that day. With Prince Beef in the open, the prince had no choice but to listen. Mr. Magi was nowhere in the area, either, so Manly-Man had free rein. Mr. Magi was probably napping…

So, there you have it. One of the famous feats of Manly-Man. He got his arena back, I assure you.



Woman in Fantasy with Anna Kashina

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 31 July 2014 · 11 views

Today Anna Kashina joins us to talk about women in fantasy. The second book of her Majat series, The Guild of Assassins, releases August 5th. I really enjoy her first book of this series, Blades of the Old Empire.

Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!

But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

But is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a distraction sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

Women characters in fantasy

I am a fan of epic fantasy. My fascination with this genre started early on when, as a child, I developed my interest in folklore and fairy tales from different cultures into a minor form of scientific research. Later on, when I got my hands on a copy of “The Lord of the Rings” my love for the genre was sealed. I devoured anything I could read in this genre and tended to lose myself in these imaginary worlds.

Thinking back to that time, it seems mind-boggling that *none of these early stories had a major female protagonist* and *I did not even notice*! In a way, I think we were all conditioned, influenced by early fantasy and folklore which implied that such important things as war and magic--major elements in many epic fantasies--are best left to men. There were exceptions, like Lady Galadriel, but all such women were definitely in the background compared to the men. Along with many readers at the time, I used to take it for granted, and now, even as I am writing this post, I am finding it hard to believe.

My first introduction to the idea of fantasy told from the women’s point of view were the works by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A friend recommended “Mists of Avalon” as “the story of King Arthur told from the women’s point of view”. I found the idea intriguing, and I absolutely loved the book. I read other novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley, who became my hero for the way she could truly center her stories on women, revealing an additional dimension of my favorite genre. I think, after reading her books, I never actually went back to the old classics.

From the perspective of today’s fantasy, where female protagonists are not only common but probably more abundant than male (at least it appears this way in the books I tend to be drawn to), I am realizing one thing. Female point of view can bring an entirely different perspective into the story. It is not better or worse, but both are necessary to show the world as it is, and leaving one out inevitably creates a bias--which can be good in some cases, but never complete. In a way, I tend to compare it to perspective in painting, which enables the use of two-dimensional drawings to portray three-dimensional world, adding a level of depth that was previously only imagined but never realized. Despite the fact that literature and storytelling are nearly as ancient as visual arts, it is amazing that this shift took centuries longer with books, especially when it came to fantasy and other types of speculative fiction.

While I love some of the books centered solely on female characters--and I have a number of male-centered ones among my favorites--in my own books I like mixing male and female perspectives. With this style come additional challenges: the switching, making both points of view believable and gender-appropriate. In “Blades of the Old Empire”, book 1 of the Majat Code released earlier this year, there are two nearly equal points of view: Kythar, the crown prince and heir to a disputed throne, and Ellah, a common village girl with a rare gift of truthsense. Both of their perspectives drive the story, and it has been so much fun to work on achieving this mix.

In my current release, “The Guild of Assassins”, book 2 in the series, Kythar’s point of view is contrasted by another female character, the Majat warrior Kara, who was previously central to the story but never had a point of view in the previous book. I am pleased with the way it turned out, and I in fact found her character intriguing enough to give her an even bigger role in my work in progress, as-yet-unnamed book 3 of the Majat Code.


Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. 

Anna's interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Awards: 2013 Silver Medalist, ForeWord Book of the Year. 2014 Silver Medalist, Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY).



Interview with Matthew Cox

  Posted by TBruce in Terri Bruce's Blog, 30 July 2014 · 10 views


BRoP Logo Revised
The Blog Ring of Power Presents...
An Interview with Author Matthew Cox


cox authorpic2

Today we have an interview with author Matthew Cox via BRoP member Vicki Lempe Weavil. This is a return visit for Matthew who is celebrating the release of his third novel (but first young adult novel), Caller 107. Feel free to leave a comment or question for Matthew below, and when you're done here, pop on over to the other BRoP sites to read the rest of the interview. This interview is also part of the Caller 107 blog tour, so be sure to check out all the other stops and enter the giveaway!



Older love interests in YA: Creepy trend or human nature?

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 30 July 2014 · 36 views

The vampire men of romance novels have always been older than the women they hook up with. (That’s true of other paranormal males, too, of course. Thea Harrison’s Dragos, for example, or Lora Leigh’s original breeds.) I don’t think many readers questioned it. Lots of women end up with older men in real life -- my husband is nine years older than I am. I think it’s a leftover instinct from our hunter-gatherer days or something. Women are often attracted to powerful men, talented men who know what they’re doing and who are financially stable. And it often seems a fact that men mature more slowly than women, thus women look to older men. Yes, that’s a ton of stereotypes I just threw out there (studies like
this one and this one support those ideas) and there are plenty of books where the love interests are the same age, and more and more books where the woman is older.

But when Twilight came out, and Edward was sneaking into Bella’s room to watch her sleep before she knew it, it kind of hit me (and scores of other readers) that this January-December romance might be a little squicky. (Not to diss that book. I liked it when I read it.) It seems in the years since that a bigger number of YAs or New Adult novels have paired teen girls with older men, often teachers. To name just a few, Pretty Little Liars, Slammed, the darker and less-well-read Captive in the Dark and Veiled Innocence (which was a nice turnaround of the girl being the aggressor). That’s not to get into the paranormals, such as The Vampire Academy books. Even with their leading lady who pushed boundaries, she still went for the traditional hero. (Which I’m not complaining about. Dmitri. Happy sigh.) The guys in these books are great. I’m not saying the girls shouldn’t have been all in.

But then there’s the side of life books don’t get into. Grocery shopping. Paying rent. Being so tired after work that all you want to do is come home and crash on the couch. The guy’s whiskers left all over the sink. Things that decidedly are not sexy. I mean, I crazy-ship Beth and Daryl in the TV version of The Walking Dead, despite their age difference. But in real life, if there was not a zombie apocalypse, Daryl wouldn’t be some heroic boyfriend for Beth who’d do things like remember her birthday, go to her performances or care about her friends. Of course, love makes squicky things, like watching you sleep, romantic.

I don’t know, I’m a huge believer in willing suspension of disbelief, and I’ve loved lots of older-man characters. (My WIP has a — I’ll say love possibility instead of love interest — who’s seven or eight years older than the seventeen-year-old MC. He’s a police officer.) But the biggest time this age difference doesn’t work for me is when the man’s the teacher. That’s a pairing that’s so imbalanced power-wise that I just can’t get behind it. Why? I’m not sure. I love it when bad-on-paper pairings work out. I like dark romances. But the person who is supposed to challenge you to learn new things and assign homework shouldn’t want something, especially sex, in exchange -- no matter how meeting-of-the-minds the connection is made out to be. He’s getting paid to teach you and he sees you every day in an environment in which the age difference — the life difference — is emphasized. It’s a time in which teen girls need to learn to relate to men in a nonsexual way, or they will always be seen and see themselves as a walking vagina first, and a smart, thoughtful person second. That’s the worst life lesson a girl can get. So I don’t find teachers sexy. In fact, teacher romances have become an immediate turn-off for me. Like books with surprise babies, they need warning labels.

Maybe the other part of why it doesn’t work for me is the tone of the books. I mean, I can read a book about a guy who kidnaps a woman and they fall in love, or a pair of lovers who kill someone together, or a guy who falls in love with the girl he bullies, and never blink. It’s the treatment. When you read a book that’s dark, you expect dark things to happen. When you read a book that sets out to include a sincere romance, dark things seem out of place.

And, I still think paranormals (and probably dystopians, too) exist in their own special place where age doesn’t matter. (Go Daryl and Beth!) Call me contradictory.


Wednesday Words: 18 Things

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 30 July 2014 · 23 views

Good morning! Every Wednesday, I will use Random.org to pick a page of the book I'm reading and a line or two and post it. I was still reading Talulla Rising last Wednesday, but I finished it (that book was AWESOOOOME!), so I'm about to start a book that's been in my Goodreads for 2 years (blush), 18 Things. Here is the blurb:

Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then, Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible for his death.

When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled “18 Things”: eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

But there’s more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.

There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity.

And a big thank you to Jamie Ayres for sending me a copy!

Now, there are 246 pages to 18 Things, and I'm reading it on a Kindle with percentages...So let's see what happens. lol

Random.org has given me Page 198, which is 80.4% into the story.

And there are 17 lines on the 80% area where I stopped, so...Random.org gave me line 17!

"If I would've known your parents weren't home, I would've invited Mom and Dad in to take some pictures for us."

And now I'll force myself not to read everything around it just yet!



W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with Christina Lee

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 30 July 2014 · 26 views

    I was lucky enough to meet today’s featured writer, Christina Lee, at the Romantic Time (RT) Convention in May of this year. What struck me most about Christina was her kindness (especially when I peppered her with all sorts of writing questions) but also her honesty in sharing the ups and downs of publishing. I […]



Successful Author Talk With S.L. Duncan

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 29 July 2014 · 5 views

Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is an old writing friend, SL Duncan. He's a writer and traveler seeking stories from inspired locations - a connection of prose to place. The first book of his YA book series, <a href="https://www.goodread...pate.&nbsp;</i>



I write letters

  Posted by dclabs in dan.croutch.ca, 28 July 2014 · 17 views

Letters are a bit of an old fashioned thing.  No, this isn’t a blog nostalgia-ing about sending things through the post.  Nor is this a blog about my recent spam of letters, both physical and virtual, which have been raining down on unsuspecting literary agents in New York.  While writing query letters has consumed some of my time lately, that’s not what this is about.

No, this is a story about being too stubborn to not ask.

I write letters.  That fact has been established by the title.  I’ve been writing letters since I was a teenager.  For those keeping tally that’s at least ten years ago.  People on the receiving end are all executives or senior leaders in companies which you no doubt have heard of.

My first letter was to Chrysler, back when they were an American publicly traded company and bankruptcy was a thing only crappy companies did.  I was an aspiring automotive engineer in grade 9 with dreams of someday designing computer systems for automobiles (way to go on that, Dan).  During class, when I was supposed to be listening and learning, I had designed two cars that I really believed were super.  The first was a redesign for the Dodge Charger.  Chargers were a huge favourite of mine; particularly the 1969 Hemi.  You have to realize that at this point in time there was no Dodge Charger, none was even on the horizon.  I was a bit surprised when they announced they were relaunching the Charger in 2005.  Their design did not resemble mine in anyway, which is probably a good thing.  My second car on submission to them was a completely new sports car called the “Clipper”.  Being the weather geek that I am, I took my inspiration from the name for weather systems that often whip across the prairies.  Powerful and speedy, I figured it was perfect for a sports car.  This car, too, never saw the light of day.  What I did get, however, was a very nice letter from then CEO.  Still being young enough for it to be considered “cute” he actually responded.

He didn’t know the effect it had on me.

My letter to Chrysler was shortly followed with one, written in tandem with my good friend Nick, to the CEO of Porsche.  I figured since the Chrysler CEO had written me, perhaps the Porsche CEO would too.  Our letter was all business.  We wanted Porsche to move a factory to our city of Cambridge, Ontairo.  We created a list detailing why the city was a great choice for the company, the German heritage of our area and Toyota’s success.  Sadly, nothing came of that letter.  In fact, with the exception of a few auto-replies or tersely short “thank yous” from customer service reps, my letters went without response.  Yet, I continued to write.  Among those who received my crazy letters were:

  • Porsche again(a complaint about treatment at the auto show)
  • Audi
  • Christophorus Magazine (official Porsche magazine)
  • Sea Ray yachts
  • Neptunus Yachts (a letter that resulted in a guided plant tour)
  • Volvo
  • Brunswick Corporation (parent company for Sea Ray and Hatteras Yachts)
  • Prime Minister of Canada
  • Bungie Corporation (see below)
  • Audi Canada (again, including a local dealership)
  • Daniel Ratcliff and Emma Watson
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Tesla Motors

The list grows, it seems, by the year.  I’m sure there are lots I’ve omitted as well.  Many of these entries are recent by the way.  In fact, I wrote to Elon Musk of Tesla a mere ten days ago (response pending).  There are many bold highlights to the letters I’ve written.  My letter to Bungie, for example, was less a letter and more a 2kg tin of Tim Horton’s coffee.  I had sent it for the Canadian members of their staff, also known as the “Cananimators”.  I had email by then and, to my surprise, I received one of the best responses, via email, to date; they told me the tin was promptly confiscated by the Canucks and under close lock and key.  I wrote to Audi and the local dealership in hopes of getting a white Q7 to surprise my wife with for our anniversary – our first if I recall.  So bold as to ask for it outright as a gift, or at the very least a week loaner.  Letters to the Harry Potter stars were for autographs for my sister (which never came).  Recent letters to Ford were for some money they have in a Bank of Canada account unclaimed – I figured they wanted their quarter of a million back.  My letter to Tesla and it’s contents will remain secret, for now.

So, by this point you have one of two thoughts; “dude, you’re crazy” or “wow, this is kinda awesome”.  A word that comes to mind in both cases is probably “why?”

I’ll be honest here; every single letter was written with the intent, whether subliminal or outright, to gain something.  In the case of my car designs it was fame and fortune as a car designer (ah young ignorance).  My letter to Bungie was in hopes of a coveted studio tour and free copies of their Halo game.  Letters to celebrities were for obvious gains.  Knowing that, it still begs the question “why?”  Why even bother if they’re not going to respond?  Why write just to ask for something?  Why waste their time like that?  I would submit that there are some great life lessons in my letter writing, simple mottos that drive my stubborn pursuit of the silly and unrealistic dreams.

Be respectfully bold

Just go for it really.  Many people who are in places of senior management like boldness.  Letters written respectfully, properly and with few words gain more attention than you might think.  Most of all, however, boldness gets noticed.  Sure, nine times out of ten it results in nothing.  However, any result in your favour is a plus.  We aren’t rewarded for the risks we don’t take.

The worst they can say is no (or nothing)

There’s an expression that you often hear; “nothing gained, nothing lost”.  This view is the lens through which I look at a lot of things, particularly when reaching out or chasing crazy ideas.  What’s the worst response you can get when you ask?  (Hint: it’s no)  If and when you get a no, has it cost you anything?  Not really, no.  In fact, you’re the same after writing (or asking) as you were before – nothing gained, nothing lost.  But, in the rare moments when that 1 in 10 does respond to the positive, maybe even one in one hundred, you’re officially better off after than you were before.  Suddenly you’ve gained everything with nothing lost.  The worst they can say is no, the best they can say is yes.

You (or they) don’t know until you ask

What if someone has a spare car they don’t know where to send?  A chunk of money they need to write off?  Some great stuff to give away?  Their company is sitting on a potential breakthrough technology?  Truth is, we simply can’t know.  While 98% of the time the answer to every scenario is no, moments exist where it could be yes.  There could be, no I maintain there are, troves of things out there ready for those who have the boldness to make their needs known.  For those who’re willing to simply ask.

Now, where did I put my letter signing pen?  I have companies/people to write to.



Manga Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Vol. #05

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 28 July 2014 · 17 views

For hard core manga and anime fans, the voice acting world has the same kind of glamor and mystique as Hollywood. So it’s no surprise that the world of Maki Minami’s manga Voice Over! Seiyu Academy portrays it as such. Viz Media has just released Volume 5 of the series and you can read on for the review. (To see previous reviews of the series, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Hime’s producer Yamada has decided to let her have some time off for good behavior, so he sets up a trip to a lake for her and the rest of the Stragglers. But will Hime ruin the vacation when her idea of a fun time turns out to be a bust?!

The Review

Hime’s school life and the Stragglers have been scarce the last several chapters. As if to remind us of their existence, Volume 5 kicks off with Hime taking a lakeside getaway with Tsukino, Sho, Mitchy, and – surprisingly – Ume. The premise for their vacation is weak, and because it is a single chapter one-shot, their 29-stamp rally has a rushed feel to it. However, this story is probably the closest this series will have to a summer vacation arc.

The manga then continues by introducing a rivalry. No, not for Hime. She lives up too much to her super-amateur/super-noob nickname to inspire anyone to challenge her. This rivalry is between Mizuki and his costar on the Four Gods Squad anime, Toru Fujimori.

Actually, the rivalry is more of a one-sided grudge. For Toru’s entire career, his success has been overshadowed by AQUA’s popularity, thus earning him the handle of Mr. Shade. As such, he is obsessed with beating Mizuki, but all his efforts to steal the spotlight wind up backfiring – badly. Mizuki, for his part, doesn’t care. That is, until Hime/Shiro gets involved.

For someone who is supposed to be a professional with a lead role, Toru’s attempts to outshine Mizuki are amateurish – as in Hime-amateurish. Not surprisingly, she sees in Toru a kindred spirit. The production then devolves to the level of a middle school play when Toru can’t get past his personal feelings to deliver his lines. Of course, Hime is compelled to help in Lovely Blazer fashion, but that only serves to irritate Mizuki, causing him to stoop to their level of immaturity. When this arc finally concludes, I can only wonder why they haven’t all gotten fired.

Lots of extras including embedded author’s remarks, translation notes, and four bonus mini-manga.

In Summary

Only a brief glimpse of the Stragglers and nothing at all of Holly Academy in Volume 5. Voice Over! continues to focus on Hime’s career and the other actors on the Four Gods Squad anime. But the amateurish flavor in Minami-sensei’s depiction of the voice acting world unfortunately also continues, making the professionals in the entertainment industry look anything but.

First published at the Fandom Post.



Laura H - Query Kombat 2013 SUCCESS STORY!!!

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 28 July 2014 · 9 views

What's that? ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take it away, Laura!

You hear that finding an agent takes forever. And you hear those awesome stories about people getting offers overnight. For me, it was both very quick and very slow (and completely awesome).

I’ve always loved writing. I have random first pages of unfinished novels saved all over my computer. But I never really got the push I needed to finish a novel - life always got in the way. Then, in 2013, when I was on my honeymoon, an idea gripped me that wouldn’t let go. I raced to put it on the page when I got home. Soon, the words just poured out of me.

The first draft took about six weeks. Then I walked away, researching publishing for a few weeks before editing. I sent it to a friend for fact-checking while I revised. Then I edited it again. But my next step was what many new writers do: I queried too soon. Those two revisions weren’t enough. It took weeks of rejection to figure out what was wrong with the manuscript. Finally, I stumbled across the idea of getting a creative partner (how did I not know about this earlier?). After a couple of false starts, I found an awesome CP, and we went through the manuscript, chapter by chapter. Finally, after two more full rewrites, it was ready to go out again—about four months after I finished the first draft.

Starting in March, I sent groups of query letters. I entered contests, and as my manuscript slowly improved, so did my contest luck: I was runner up in Sun vs. Snow (between rewrites), featured in NestPitch (with no requests), and made it to the agent round in Query Kombat (with two requests). Each time, feedback helped me make my query and opening pages stronger.

I knew not to expect The Call within a couple of days after querying: everyone knows those stories are the exception. Still, every time I sent a query, part of me hoped, this time, I’d be the overnight success story. I even walked around Target for an hour once, constantly refreshing an agent’s Twitter feed because she said she liked a MS she’d just gotten. (The fact that cell phones barely work in my local Target did nothing to diminish my excitement.) It wasn’t mine. But I kept querying, incorporating feedback as necessary, and I started to get a lot of full requests.

July 7 was a crazy day. Around 9:30 a.m., I got a rejection from a partial I’d sent months earlier. At 9:45 a.m, I sent a query letter to an agent I’d heard good things about. At 10:30 a.m., she sent me a full request. (Yes, that’s right. 45 minutes later.) This was the fastest request I’d ever gotten. Still, I’d gotten requests in a couple of hours that didn’t pan out, so I knew not to get too excited. About 10 minutes later, I received a rejection from another agent, helping me keep my feet nailed firmly to the floor. If usual querying is a roller coaster, that hour was like being inside a martini shaker. I wondered if I was going to make it.

Tuesday, I happened to pull up my email while at the gym. (I swear it was an accident—usually, I go to the gym to unplug and de-stress, not think about queries.) The agent I’d queried on Monday wanted to know if I had time to chat about my manuscript.

Of course I did! I raced out of the gym to charge my dying phone (didn’t even finish my workout). We scheduled a call later that night. I asked a friend if they ever called to personally reject you. Then, I calmed down enough to speak coherently, the phone rang, and less than 36 hours after I sent that query, I had an offer from an excellent agent. It really can happen that fast.

I danced. Cheered. Screamed. I remembered that I had other full manuscripts out (plus some regular queries). So, the next step was to sit down and let the other agents know that I had an offer. To agents that had the manuscript more than a month or so, I offered a slightly revised version. Some replied right away to let me know they’d read it next. Some bowed out politely. Some didn’t reply at all. One emailed back to request the most updated version.

The next morning, I found a message from one of my friends. “Did you leave [often misused word] in your manuscript? I think this agent is reading it now.” The same agent I’d once tracked walking around Target. My heart plummeted. I’d forgotten to cut that problem word before sending. I clicked on the agent’s Twitter feed nervously. But she liked it! She tweeted about how much she loved the manuscript she was reading. My hopes soared. It had to be mine, right? It was. I opened my email and found a message asking if I was free to talk about the manuscript.

We arranged for a time the following afternoon. Then we talked, and I absolutely agreed with everything she had to say about the manuscript—including removing things I’d added because I thought the reader would like them. (Note: Don’t try to write for other people.) Before we even got off the phone, I knew I’d found my agent. The first agent I spoke with was great, but the second really got me and my work. I still had some full manuscripts out there, and I waited for responses before signing, but there was never really a question in my mind who I would pick after that conversation.

The day I’d promised to give my decision, I woke at 5:00 a.m. My phone was in hand before I decided that my new agent probably wouldn’t appreciate hearing from me in the middle of the night (especially since she’s not on the East Coast). I couldn’t contain my excitement, though, so I scanned the contracts and sent her an email at around 5:30 a.m. Then I sent another email to the first agent, who was very gracious and sincere in responding with her congratulations. I know that I would’ve been in good hands with either of them, but my gut told me to pick Jen Karsbaek, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Laura writes women’s fiction, represented by Jen Karsbaek at Foreword Literary. She wrote her first "short story" when she was five years old, detailing a family's Saturday morning on their Commodore 64 (it may have somewhat auto-biographical). She’s been writing ever since. In her spare time, she loves playing board games, baking, and binge watching anything by Joss Whedon. She also really likes parenthetical phrases (but not in fiction) and the Oxford comma.

Follow her on Twitter.

CONGRATS LAURA!!! You're an awesome presence on Twitter during our contests even when you already have an agent. It means a lot to us, truly! Congrats again and good luck with everything!!!!!



Plotting Without Explosions

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 28 July 2014 · 14 views

by Jemi Fraser

Have you heard any explosions lately? No? You must not live in Northern Ontario. My brain has been exploding randomly and quite loudly recently.


I'm attempting to plot out a rewrite of a story.



  • I'm NOT a plotter
  • I need more tension between characters
  • the external tension needs some polishing to make it more realistic
  • the characters are too sweet


  • I came across a post by Rula Sinara over at Kelly Steel's blog the other day talking about the synopsis
  • Hmmm. I could write a synopsis BEFORE I start the rewrite
  • this worked out pretty well, and helped me add in some tension between the characters, BUT it also pointed out new...


  • saggy middle
  • most of the conflict comes to me as I'm writing. How am I supposed to know the middle before I get there???

  • google 'visual plot outlines'
  • find this post by Chuck Wendig
  • celebrate a little because writing the synopsis first is there (proving I'm not completely losing it!)
  • find new ideas (writing backwards sounds BRILLIANT!!! I always know my ending before I begin so this might work)
  • feel better when I see story bibles (I've done those - maybe I can do this plotting thing after all!)

  • not sure if any of this will work

  • give them a whirl! I won't lose anything by trying (plus I LOVE trying out new things)
  • if I can't deal with the explosions any more, maybe I'll just Pants out a new version and hope all this thinking helps me make that version stronger!

So how does any of this help you out?

  • some new ideas on plotting
  • a reminder to keep open to new ideas. You never know when something will send you scurrying in a new direction. For me, the best learning experiences have been when I learned something I'd never even considered before
  • another reminder that none of us work the same way -- and that's okay. Writing is a creative exercise and we should approach it that way. There is no one tried and true method that works for everyone. Don't be afraid to be unique! And, conversely, don't be afraid to borrow from others.

How about you? Are you a plotter? What has sent you in a new direction lately? Any other non-linear plotting techniques that might help me out?

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of contemporary romance. In between cranial explosions, she blogs  and tweets while searching for those HEAs.



Painful Plotting

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 28 July 2014 · 10 views

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about Plotting. As I'm not a plotter, this should be interesting!

I'm attempting to plot out a rewrite. I love the story and the characters, but there are huge issues with the story - mainly lack of tension between the 2 MCs. It's a contemporary romance so (d'uh!) I need tension. They're both too sweet and nice and get along and... yeah, no tension. There's lots of external stuff to keep it going, but it's not enough. Not nearly.

Hence the need to plot! Hope you'll pop on over and join the discussion - I could use some suggestions!



Summer Break At Last! Let's Start With a Nap.

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 27 July 2014 · 18 views

I finished summer school on Friday afternoon, not one minute too soon. I hadn't realized how tired out I was until I tried to run a nine-miler yesterday morning. To say the least, it didn't go well. I got about 2.5 miles in and just knew something was wrong. I was nauseated, dizzy, and more fatigued than I was at the end of last week's 8-mile run. My legs felt leaden. And to top it off, I was 2.5 miles from my parents' house, where I'd dropped my dog and started my run. So I turned around and trudged back. I don't normally nap much because it messes up my sleep pattern, but after I sat for a while, catching my breath and cooling down, I felt like I'd been drugged, so I went and lay down. Almost two hours later, I awake from one of the deepest, longest naps I've ever had. It was one of those naps you used to have as a kid where you wake up and aren't sure where you are or even whether it's the next day or not. The kind where you sit up and you're bleary eyed for five minutes. The kind I probably haven't had since I was in my early thirties and I'm fifty. 

As I said, the reason I don't nap is that I usually can't sleep that night. Well, that wasn't the case last night. I went to the grocery store (because I had to), then home and tried to do some stuff around my house, but still, even after an extreme nap, felt like I was walking through waist-deep mud. I couldn't even gather the energy to read for very long because I kept nodding off, so I gave up and decided to crash in front of the TV for the evening. I barely moved other than to do what I had to--feed my dog Baili and take her out, go to the bathroom, get something to eat or drink--until bedtime. I figured I wouldn't be able to sleep well, but I went to bed a little after ten anyway because I was just still so tired.

Flash forward to a little after eight this morning. Almost a two hour nap, almost nine hours of sleep overnight, and yet I still feel tired and even a little achy. Tired enough that I decided not to go to church, something I just don't like to miss. In all seriousness, if I don't feel better by tomorrow, I may need to see a doctor. But what I hope is true is that, between getting up early every morning since spring break ended in March and exercising (running and lifting weights) more than I have in a long, long time in the hopes of being ready to run in the half marathon in August, I've just been burning the candle at both ends. Add to that my church softball team, which seems to chronically have just barely enough people to play and the fact that it's rained more than any summer in a long time, causing my yard to continue to grow well into the summer when it's usually brown and dry by now, and I have just overextended myself.

So I'm turning off my alarm for a few days. I'm going to bed at night and sleeping until I wake up. And if I want to nap, I'm going to. I'll go for walks, but I'm also taking a week off from the running and lifting. As big as I am, my knees and back just need a break. I'll still do some work around the house, but, for this first week of my almost-three-week break, I'm keeping it light. I'll catch up on the reading I've wanted to do (books I want to read, not need to read) and do some writing, but I'm not going to put myself on a word schedule like I usually do. Next week, it's back to normal, but this week is stay-cation time.

If you'll excuse me, I think I'll have some lunch and maybe take a little nap.



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Posted by williezhang2014 in Nike roshe run femme, 24 July 2014 · 79 views
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YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday: Which Bookverse?

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 23 July 2014 · 26 views

This week's topic: What book universe do you wish you could live in?
Wow, so many ideas popped into my mind as exciting choices.
At the top of my list was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with its enchanted castle and all the magic capable of doing just about anything. Still, as I thought about it, it's probably a world I'd much rather experience through a book (and movies) than actually live in on a daily basis.
Another bookverse I've gotten into lately is the Lunar Chronicles, a sci-fi fairy tale series. So far, I've read CINDER and SCARLET. Again, with a world under the threat of war, I'm not sure I'd want to actually experience that one, either--though I highly recommend checking out the books!

I've also been enjoying Tamora Pierce's series based in the fantasy world of Tortall--the Protector of the Small series about a feisty girl who becomes a Lady Knight, and the Beka Cooper series about a girl who becomes a police officer and her adventures pursuing criminals along with her mentors/partners. 
The ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series will always have a place in my heart, and I love, love, love the idea of a voyage to a new planet in another solar system. If that voyage didn't have a power-hungry dictator, a psychopath murdering the frozens, phydus, and pterodactyls, I'd be more excited to actually go on that journey to Centauri-Earth.

Honestly? With all the sci-fi and fantasy I read, it's much more fun to read about adventures and danger. Actually having to go through it? Probably not so much.
I think I'm torn between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, just to experience that world, or living in the world of the DIVERGENT series as an Amity.   
What bookverse would you choose?





je demande que vous acceptez

Posted by jjenny814 in jjenny814's Blog, 22 July 2014 · 30 views
new balance 1500 homme

Non, Monsieur le Président, je nage. Ils se trouvent dans le bateau, on peut nager entre les vagues. "" Le bateau offshore un quart de miles, vous connaissez ? « Herbert a dit. "Je suis une personne être un new balance 1500 homme nageur expert, Herbert. "Je vous dire, que c'est la vie en danger. « Dit l'ingénieur. « Take it easy, » répondit le Ayrton. "M. Smith, je demande que vous acceptez ma demande, et je pense que c'est peut-être mon nouvel homme une chance. "" Aller de l'avant et Ayrton. "Les ingénieurs ont répondu qu'il était convaincu que si vous rejetez sa demande, redresser les criminels se sentira profondément triste. "Je vais aller avec vous. « Ladite pencroft. "Juste ne pas confiance en moi ! «

Ayrton dit instantanément. Puis il soupira timidement: "Oh, Oh ! « « Ne fais pas ça ! Ne fais pas ça ! « Loud avec encourageant Smith dit, » ne vous méprenez, Ayrton, pencroft n'était pas méfier vous. Vous comprenez mal son sens. "Oui," sailor dit, "J'ai juste offrir le Ayrton aux petites îles. Même si la possibilité est très faible, mais il pourrait new balance 1300 homme avoir été à terre. Dans ce cas, l'alerte s'arrête à lui, deux personnes ne s'élèvent à beaucoup. Depuis, il a proposé de formeSeul, je l'attendais sur la petite île, le laisser seul sur le bateau. "Perfectionné plus tard, Ayrton était prêt à aller. Son plan est risqué, mais la nuit était très sombre, ou il y a une possibilité de réussite.



  Posted by Stephanie Diaz in Stephanie Diaz, 21 July 2014 · 31 views

I spent all of my childhood reading and loving stories, scribbling down my own in the journals that are still stuffed in my closet. Later, I frantically typed them into word documents.


Ever since I was six, it was my dream to walk into a bookstore and find a story I'd written on the shelf.

And now it's actually coming true. Like. For real.


It's pretty scary. And awesome. Also I can't quite believe it.

I'm so grateful to all the people who helped me along the way: those who supported me and cheered me on, and those who inspired me even if they didn't know it.


I hope some of you readers will pick it up and enjoy it, and maybe even love it. I'll never be able to explain how much this book meant to me while I was writing it. It was a promise of better things to come, and it kept me going through a lot of scary moments. I'm so grateful I got to tell this story and continue telling it in the sequels. I hope you'll stick with Clementine to see where she ends up.

If you'd like to buy Extraction, you can find lots of purchase links here.

If you do buy it, or check it out from the library, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your support means the world. <3




The Beginning

Posted by MelGrinder89 in Writing woes and wants, 21 July 2014 · 33 views

The last time I was at the beginning, the very beginning of writing a book, was about six years ago when I first started working on Dark Fantasy. (Terrible title I've been told, and others have told me it fits, but only time will tell if it will stick.) I wrote the first draft, then spent weeks, writing down all the ideas that popped in my head. The lore, back stories, outlining, ideas of what I wanted to happen and ideas of what could happen, creating the creatures and the world they lived in. Months I spent doing this, months. However, almost six years later, I have some edits left to do, then I'm done. I will literally be unable to do anything else with the story besides finish it.
Now, I've started something entirely new. Still fantasy, but this is going to require more research than it will thoughts coming directly from my imagination. Dark Fantasy was strictly that, it was dark, and it was fantasy. There was nothing about it that I really needed to do research on. (Though now that I think about it, I might was to do a little research for it. :/)
For this new story, Legends, it's about angels, corrupted priests, and scattered segments of History. So I will HAVE to do research for this story.
Something new for this person right here, never had to do that before. But if I want to get this story right, I will have to.
Okay, now I've vented, I have a long road of research and stuff ahead of me, so I better get to it!


Big Announcement!

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 20 July 2014 · 37 views

If you haven’t heard my news already then get ready to put on your happy face! My women’s fiction, FRAGMENTS, has been picked up by Lake Union Publishing and will be published in February of 2015! Lake Union is an imprint of Amazon Publishing and here is the link to their web site because I know you all want to check them out and see how cool they are: http://www.apub.com/imprint-detail?imprint=13

Signing my contract electronically. What will they think of next??

Signing my contract electronically. What will they think of next??

If you would like to read the whole story then pull up a chair. I couldn’t talk about it for almost six weeks so now I’m ready to spill.

So lets start at the beginning. Well, maybe not the beginning. Let’s start the day after I signed with my super agent, Marlene Stringer (http://www.stringerlit.com) back in February. We spend two months getting FRAGMENTS ready to be submitted to publishers. This included some editing and a lot of changes to the title (I think we went through 20 or 30 possibilities before settling on FRAGMENTS which I LOVE). There were a few other timing issues in there but the submission packet was finally ready by the second week in April and went out to a hand full of editors for a first round of submissions.

I can be a pretty patient person (when I try very very hard). When the kids flushed a rock the size of my fist down the toilet, I learned how to remove the toilet and reinstall it as well as what a “wax ring” does in that whole situation. But waiting to hear back from editors was a kind of nervousness I’ve never really experienced before. There was no googling a diagram of this situation so I could learn how to fix it. All I could DO was wait.

After three weeks Marlene emailed me to say that one of the publishers had “shown interest” and she’d update the other publishers. Then there was more waiting…and a lot of  questioning everything I’d ever written. It took a little while for me to stop obsessing about submissions and start focusing that nervous energy on my new project. Once I started writing my new WIP I almost forgot how nervous I was about everything else.

Nearly five weeks later I received the email I’d been dreaming about. I was at scout camp with my boys doing fun stuff like this:


I’d stopped checking my email obsessively two weeks earlier so it wasn’t until some time after lunch that I happened to glance at my email. My heart jumped. It was an email from Marlene with a subject line of: Need to speak–news

I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, completely aware that news is just as often bad as it is good, but when we finally got in touch Marlene told me that I had an offer from Lake Union Publishing!! We had a few other details to go over but before we hung up Marlene said something that will stick with me forever. She said, “Emily, you know what this means don’t you? This means you are going to be a published author.”


So, while Marlene worked out some of the details of the deal I was a good little author and kept my mouth shut. It took five weeks to get a deal finalized but now I can yell it from the rooftops! It’s super liberating but more than anything I’m ready to get to work. It will be a busy few months but with the guidance of an amazing editor and a team of professionals from Amazon I know we are going to put out a the best book possible and I’m so excited to share it with you all!


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