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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 19 July 2014 · 10 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://www.rclewisbooks.com/"]http://www.rclewisbooks.com/" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.<br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s400/NewestSatSlash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg" height="320" width="247" /></a>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to&nbsp;punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.<br /><br />If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/" target="_blank">AgentQueryConnect</a>. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">green</span>.<br /><br />You didn’t joke with Principal Rodriquez – all the teachers at PS 463 knew it. But when Rodriquez asked me about the vandalism that occurred in my classroom, I quipped that she was the culprit. “I will cease treating you with kid gloves,” she told me. “Every mistake will be documented. I do not appreciate your diarrhea of the mouth.” <span style="color: #6aa84f;">I don't know a lot about writing&nbsp;queries for memoirs, but even so I can't imagine that using dialogue in a query is a good idea.</span>&nbsp;I wanted to cry out, “It was a joke!” But I knew she wouldn't buy it. If Rodriquez had imagined that I was her ally, in the early days when I was her favorite, she had been mistaken. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Kind of an odd backtracking in time here that I don't understand -- why is the imagine alliance important enough to&nbsp;mention in a query?</span>&nbsp;I admired her brilliance and commitment, and I was grateful that she hadn't lopped off my head, and impaled it on a mast, as a feast for urban flies. But did I like her? Only the way a tourist hails an awesome totem. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Again, I'm not seeing a lot going on here other than good guy / bad boss.</span><br /><br />Bad Goddess Boss is a 58,000 word memoir about a predator boss, <span style="color: #6aa84f;">errant comma&nbsp;</span>who exposed my weaknesses <span style="color: #6aa84f;">what weakness? how was it exposed?</span>, forced me to face my fears and find my allies <span style="color: #6aa84f;">what fears, how were they exposed, why did you need allies?</span>, including a budding love interest. Finally, she uncovered my dirty secret: I was teaching for money to support my wife and daughter, not love. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Is this wife the same person as the&nbsp;budding love interest? I have no concept of the passage of time occurring here.</span>&nbsp;No wonder that, on my commute, I wrote an allegory casting Rodriquez as Sekhmet, Egyptian goddess of destruction. Could I forgive her for flushing me out, and sending me back to the only job I ever loved: itinerant musician?<br /><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;">Definitely confused - are you querying the allegory, or a memoir about the guy writing the allegory? There are a lot of questions at work here, and while I freely admit I don't know a lot about writing a query for a memoir (or even if a query is&nbsp;the place to start for non-fiction) I&nbsp;do know that all these questions need&nbsp;to be&nbsp;answered in order to gain interest.</span><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;"><br /></span>I am an award-winning children’s musician and recording artist who has worked as a teacher in the South Bronx, and as a criminal lawyer in California – all in one incarnation! I tour June-September, and could simultaneously promote the book. For now, I'm building community around the concept of Bad Goddess Boss with a blog and website: <a href="http://www.badgoddessboss.com/">www.badgoddessboss.com</a><br /><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;">One word of caution - on your site it says that your memoir is Soon-To-Be-Released, which an agent who finds your site or uses the link you provide might find off-putting. Using that terminology implies that there is a release date scheduled - which means that either you have a traditional&nbsp;contract or that you have decided to self-pub. If neither of these things is true it's potentially misleading and / or confusing for the agent.</span>[/url]

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Successful Debut Author Talk With Tara Dairman

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 15 July 2014 · 13 views

Toay's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is Tara Dairman. Tara is the author of the foodie middle-grade novel <a href="[url="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18289482-all-four-stars?ac=1"]https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18289482-all-four-stars?ac=1">ALL FOUR STARS</a>, which was published on July 10 by Putnam/Penguin.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1380568400l/18289482.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1380568400l/18289482.jpg" width="212" /></a></div><b>Are you a Planner or Pantster?</b><br /><br /><i>I've become much more of a planner in recent years. For me, the scariest thing about trying to write a novel is the hugeness of the project, so if I can use an outline to trick myself into thinking that I have a handle on what's coming next, that helps.</i><br /><br /><i>I also find that I can write a first draft much faster if I'm working from a detailed outline. &nbsp;<a href="http://taradairman.com/2013/09/19/first-drafting-now-96-faster" target="_blank">96% faster, to be precise!</a>&nbsp;</i><br /><br /><b>How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?</b><br /><br /><i>My first novel, ALL FOUR STARS, took about seven years from first words to polished, queryable manuscript. But I would put the project down for months at a time to focus on my day job as a magazine editor, or producing my plays in festivals, or getting married, or going on a round-the-world honeymoon.</i><br /><br /><i>I'm able to write much faster now, thank goodness. The sequel to AFS took about five months to draft, revise, and turn in to my editor, but there will be a few more months of edits before it's ready to be published.</i><br /><br /><b>Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?</b><br /><br /><i>I'm terrible at multitasking; I can't even listen to music and write at the same time. So, it's one project at a time for me.</i><br /><br /><b>Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?</b><br /><br /><i>Oh, of course. And every time, really. But I've learned that you can't be a perfectionist, at least not while writing early drafts. And these days, fear of missing a deadline often trumps fear of failure for me, so I manage to get the work done.</i><br /><br /><b>How many trunked books did you have before you were agented?</b><br /><br /><i>Zero, though I do have a trunked screenplay.</i><br /><br /><b>Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?</b><br /><br /><i>The manuscript I was working on in the year after I sold ALL FOUR STARS is currently in a drawer, though I hope to pull it out again eventually. I stopped working on it because it was making me dread sitting down and writing to an extent that no other project ever had. I think I was trying to write in a voice that just wasn't really mine. But I might rework it someday.</i><br /><br /><b>Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?&nbsp;</b><br /><br /><i>My agent is Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary. She spotted my first page in a Secret Agent contest at Miss Snark's First Victim and requested that I query her. I ended up with a few other offers through querying and another contest, but Joan was the best fit for me.</i><br /><br /><b>How many queries did you send? &nbsp;</b><br /><br /><i>According to Querytracker.net (awesome site for agent-hunters!), I sent 34 queries, and also had six requests from contests.</i><br /><br /><b>Any advice to aspiring writers out there on conquering query hell?</b><br /><br /><i>Query in small batches (5-7 agents) so that you can pull back and revise your query and/or pages if you're not having any success. Get your query critiqued, preferably by an author who's been through query hell before (such as our own Mindy McGinnis, in her <a href="http://writerwriterpantsonfire.blogspot.com/p/query-critiques.html">Saturday Slash</a> series!). And, of course, make sure that your manuscript has been through &nbsp;many rounds of critique and revision before you start to query it.</i><br /><br /><b>How did it feel, the first time you saw your book for sale?</b><br /><br /><i>Seeing it for presale online was really exciting, and seeing friends get excited, too, and start preordering with gusto was so heartening. I can't wait to see ALL FOUR STARS on bookstore and library shelves—thanks to my last name, it should be right next to books by one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl. :)</i><br /><br /><b>How much input do you have on cover art?</b><br /><br /><i>I expected to have zero input, so when my editor asked me for some ideas, I was pleasantly surprised. I created a short PowerPoint presentation featuring other middle-grade covers I loved and pointing out what elements I thought might work for ALL FOUR STARS. I was hoping to see a girl, food, and a city skyline on the cover, and all three of those elements are there, so I couldn't be more thrilled.</i><br /><br /><b>What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?</b><br /><br /><i>Generally, I'm a fan of learning as much as possible about the world you're working in—in this case, the world of publishing. But sometimes, I fondly remember the days when I didn't know anything about starred reviews, notable book lists, mock Newbery blogs, etc. It's surprising how crappy it can feel to have your book not be considered for certain accolades—especially when, a year ago, you didn't even know those accolades existed! But mostly I try to focus on the joy and accomplishment of actually publishing a book, and having another one on the way.</i><br /><br /><b>How much of your own marketing do you?</b> <br /><br /><i>I have a <a href="http://taradairman.com/blog/" target="_blank">blog</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/TaraDairmanAuthor" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="https://twitter.com/TaraDairman">Twitter.</a></i><br /><br /><i>I've been doing a fair amount of outreach over the last few months to bloggers and reviewers, setting up a mini-blog tour. I've had new headers designed for my social media sites and swag like bookmarks and temporary tattoos designed by the terrific Amber at <a href="http://www.memyshelfandi.com/">Me, My Shelf, and I.</a> I also made an appointment to introduce myself to the children's staff at my local indie bookstore, and worked with my publisher to set up launch parties in New York and Colorado. And I'm attempting to line up school visits for the fall.</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>It always feels like there's more I can be doing, but I have to balance marketing with writing and my other work.</i><br /><br /><b>When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?</b><br /><br /><i>I think that it's smart to be on Twitter (since so many agents are) and have a basic website while querying. The website is especially useful if you have other writing credits, or art to show off; I was able to link to mine in the bio section of my query so that agents could check out my playwriting credentials. And when we sold ALL FOUR STARS to Putnam, my editor checked out my blog and was impressed that I was already building an online presence.</i><br /><br /><b>Do you think social media helps build your readership?</b><br /><br /><i>Social media has definitely helped me connect with fellow writers and form a strong community with them—which is really helpful when it comes time to launch your book. Kidlit writers are the most supportive people I know! I've also met most of my critique partners online, and connected with several librarians and book bloggers. Plus, I enjoy interacting with folks online and sharing snippets of my writing and publishing journey—so for me, being active on social media feels natural and worth the effort.</i><br /><br /><br />[/url]

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 12 July 2014 · 45 views

<div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><div style="color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://www.rclewisbooks.com/"]http://www.rclewisbooks.com/" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.</div><div style="color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><br /></div><div style="color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s400/NewestSatSlash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg" height="320" width="247" /></a>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to&nbsp;punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.</div><div style="color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;"><br /></div><div style="color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium;">If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/" target="_blank">AgentQueryConnect</a>. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">green</span>.</div><div style="color: #222222;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;"><br /></span></div><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="color: #222222;">Kesh had never encountered death before the day everything changed. </span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">Hmmm.... this might be a little too vague to be a really gripping hook. A lot of people never encounter death, so it's kind of meh.</span></span><span style="color: #222222; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: small;"></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="color: #222222;">After that, it greeted him when his entire family was either kidnapped or killed. </span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">Yeah, I think you need to get this into the hook so that the stakes are clear and not vague. Why was his family taken?</span><span style="color: #222222;">&nbsp;It stared him in the eyes when he became the commander of an army. It matched him stride for stride when he marched that army into the city that held the remnants of his shattered life. </span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">I like the phrasing here, but I feel like I have no idea what's going on. Was Kesh a child when he lost his family? Is he leading an army as an adult? what kind of army? And why is he marching it into a city? Who are they fighting? What kind of city? Is this sci-fi or fantasy?</span></span><span style="color: #222222; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: small;"></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="color: #222222;">Despite&nbsp;having his world wrenched out of his hands, Kesh&nbsp;desires&nbsp;to stand up to the trials before him.&nbsp;&nbsp;He rescues his younger brother Noren, </span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">from what / who?&nbsp;</span><span style="color: #222222;">but that only marks the beginning of the battle to come. To get his loved ones back, Kesh might have to give up control of his own fate.</span></span><span style="color: #222222; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: small;"></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;">Kesh must balance his need for family&nbsp;with&nbsp;his family's need for a hero, lest everything he fights for be lost to the love of power and the claws of chance.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;"></span></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal" style="background-color: white; margin-bottom: 0.0001pt;"><div style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="color: #222222;">THE RISE is complete at 70,000 words.&nbsp;&nbsp;It is the first in a planned fantasy series, including the titles THE KING and THE FALL.&nbsp;&nbsp;It is my debut novel. </span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">The debut part is assumed, so no need to clarify. Also, querying a series is always tricky. You''ll want to try to make this first novel be capable of standing alone with series potential.</span></span></div><div style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;"><span style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 12pt;"><span style="color: #6aa84f;"><br /></span></span></div><span style="color: #6aa84f; font-family: Times New Roman, serif;">Overall this query is very, very vague. I know there's a city, an army leader marching into it who doesn't&nbsp;have a family... and that's about it. This could be the Civil War, present-day Syria, set on&nbsp;another&nbsp;planet or a&nbsp;peasant&nbsp;uprising in Medieval England. You need to be clear about the setting, beyond the&nbsp;statement at the end that it is a fantasy, and also definitely more details. Fighting hazy bad guys isn't compelling. They might be fleshed out in the novel, but the query isn't&nbsp;portraying that. And why was his family captured in the first place? There are a lot of questions here that you'll need to answer in order to make your query less generic - good luck!</span></div>[/url]

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Demitria Lunetta On Writing The Next One & IN THE END Giveaway

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 08 July 2014 · 22 views

Welcome to another of my fabulous acronym-based interviews. The second novel is no easy feat, and with that in mind I put together a series of questions for debuts who are tackling the second obstacle in their career path. I call it the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent 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.<br /><br /><a href="[url="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IKyaJMRxCB8/Us-AOOu_KAI/AAAAAAAAArY/xY35nOo1du4/s1600/Book+Nerd2.jpg"]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IKyaJMRxCB8/Us-AOOu_KAI/AAAAAAAAArY/xY35nOo1du4/s1600/Book+Nerd2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IKyaJMRxCB8/Us-AOOu_KAI/AAAAAAAAArY/xY35nOo1du4/s1600/Book+Nerd2.jpg" height="320" width="273" /></a>Today's guest is fellow <a href="http://classof2k13.com/" target="_blank">Class of 2k13</a> member Demitria Lunetta.&nbsp;Demitria is the author of the YA Sci-fi duology, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12157407-in-the-after?ac=1" target="_blank">IN THE AFTER</a> and <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18140842-in-the-end" target="_blank">IN THE END</a>. She holds a BA in Human Ecology and has spent countless hours studying the many ways in which people are capable of bringing about their own destruction. In case the end is near, she always carries a good book and a chocolate bar -- the two items essential for post-apocalyptic survival.<br /><br /><b>Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?</b><br /><br /><i>With your first novel you have all the time in the world to write it and the deadlines only come when you find a publisher and when you have to edit. For the second book, you have a deadline for EVERYTHING and life becomes very stressful. My second novel, IN THE END is the continuation of IN THE AFTER, so focusing on new characters/new plotline wasn’t really an issue. What was hardest was making the second book something fresh and new while also including all the things that readers liked from the first book.</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>I started writing IN THE END before IN THE AFTER came out…so I was doing EVERYTHING at once. I don’t think I diverted energies from promotion, exactly, but it was important that I made sure my attention was given to everything that needed doing, which is not always easy! Usually it was my house/personal hygiene that would suffer…who needs to brush your hair when you’re stuck behind a computer all day!? But really, I knew it was time to get out when my husband started referring to my pajamas as my work uniform.&nbsp;</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 wrote my first book for myself…and I think I’ll always write for myself. A lot of people say that they write what they want to read…and I do as well. I also have all these ideas bouncing around in my head at once, so it’s good to get them out on paper. Is it too cliché to say I write for my characters? Let’s just say I write for my sanity. I’m just happy when other people want to read the crazy-ness that pops out of my head.</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>I never knew all the hats that a published author had to wear; writer, editor, blogger, social media queen, and giveaway guru. As I mentioned earlier, time management can be a huge issue. Now, I try to chop my day up into time segments and allot a certain amount of time to writing/editing and to promotion. I also make myself find the time to read because a) reading makes you a better writer b) I like to know what stories are out there and c) I just love it so much. I can’t imagine my life without books.</i><br /><br /><b>What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?</b><br /><br /><i>When you write before becoming published, you don’t know what an editor will say and what advice they will give. For my second novel, I had to think about editor input..before my editor even looked at it, which is not actually a bad thing. I learned a lot from editing my first book. I felt like the “rookie mistakes” I made on my first draft of IN THE AFTER weren’t present in IN THE END, which made the editing process a lot easier.</i><br /><i><br /></i> Thank you to Demitria for giving us her time so soon after the release of IN THE END! Checkout the Rafflecopter below to enter to win an ARC!<br /><br /><a class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/20718165/" id="rc-20718165" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a><br /><script src="//widget.rafflecopter.com/load.js"></script><br /><br /><br />[/url]

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Just Me And My Canoe (Also The Boyfriend & Wildlife)

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 07 July 2014 · 29 views

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div>I have been writing like a madwoman.<br /><br />I'm also writing about a madwoman, but that's a different blog post.<br /><br />In the past week I wrote over 25,000 words. In the past two days alone I added 34 pages to the YA novel that will be releasing from Katherine Tegen in the Fall of 2015. My brain is rolling, my fingers are flashing, and this book is very nearly at its close.<br /><br />But so is my social life and ability to function in the sunlight.<br /><br />So, the boyfriend put me in the canoe for the Fourth of July and we just went away for about five hours. The novel has hijacked my brain and demanded all my time, so I haven't been paying as much attention to the blog as I usually do.<br /><br />I'm making it up to you with pictures of animals. This is how we make things better on the internet.<br /><br />One of the &nbsp;awesome things that happened was jumping a few deer. They didn't think it was awesome but I did. The first was a buck, that came busting through the woods down to the stream. He must've been super thirsty because he hopped out into the water without taking any notice of his surroundings whatsoever. When he finally did look up, I swear to you that deer's face actually registered shock. I don't know if he'd seen people in a boat before, because he debated for about twenty seconds before snorting at us and bolting.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="[url="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-r7ckoo-Pn2A/U7rOUo-2BMI/AAAAAAAAClc/aMSw6o6qB-8/s1600/IMG_6364.jpeg"]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-r7ckoo-Pn2A/U7rOUo-2BMI/AAAAAAAAClc/aMSw6o6qB-8/s1600/IMG_6364.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-r7ckoo-Pn2A/U7rOUo-2BMI/AAAAAAAAClc/aMSw6o6qB-8/s1600/IMG_6364.jpeg" height="300" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">That's my hand while I show the boyfriend a really large mollusk.<br />Meanwhile something awesome is happening behind me.</td></tr></tbody></table>So that was pretty cool. The only other time I've seen an animal actually look shocked was back in high school when I came driving over a hill too fast and took a skunk by surprise. That story didn't end as well, and you don't want to see the pictures.<div><br /></div><div>Further on down the line I got to see a very feral member of my favorite species. I assume he was fishing. I wanted to go to the bank and say hi, but judging by the look on his face I think he might have tried to kill us.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wId7dFMO5yA/U7rPTkWD1JI/AAAAAAAACls/tq3_1TYvtE0/s1600/IMG_7230.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wId7dFMO5yA/U7rPTkWD1JI/AAAAAAAACls/tq3_1TYvtE0/s1600/IMG_7230.jpeg" height="300" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This kitty no want pet.</td></tr></tbody></table>Oh, but it gets better. Just when I thought life couldn't be more awesome, I totally got hit in the chest with the canoe while I tried to move branches out of the way. I got them out of the way. The canoe was so very grateful that it conveyed this by a surge of forward motion that knocked me down. It was actually kind of cool because I have canoe-bow shaped bruise on my chest now. There are no pictures either of the incident (boyfriend thought I was drowning) or the bruise (boyfriend said that's in bad taste).<div><br /></div><div>My last critter picture for you is a baby beaver. Yep, a bitty baby beaver who I believe was also quite shocked at seeing people in a boat. You can see in the picture he's got his tail up, debating whether or not slap. He didn't, and I was thrilled because then we got to surprise his mommy and daddy downstream, who DID slap and I'm sure he got a pretty serious talking to about stranger danger later on.</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qcKvup-3wIQ/U7rQZtfquNI/AAAAAAAACl0/ZDGxkgHALII/s1600/IMG_0459.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qcKvup-3wIQ/U7rQZtfquNI/AAAAAAAACl0/ZDGxkgHALII/s1600/IMG_0459.jpeg" height="300" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">So, that's what I did this weekend, along with a ton of writing. I could blog to you all about my writing, but that wouldn't have cute pictures involved. A writer at work is not a pleasant picture. There's a lot of staring at nothing and occasional grunting. I also tend to gesticulate while I work out dialogue so I appear to be quite insane.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Not that you didn't already suspect that.</div>[/url]

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 05 July 2014 · 20 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://www.rclewisbooks.com/"]http://www.rclewisbooks.com/" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.<br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s400/NewestSatSlash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg" height="320" width="247" /></a>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to&nbsp;punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.<br /><br />If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/" target="_blank">AgentQueryConnect</a>. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">green</span>.<br /><br />When Amanda Bennett took a job at the cult rehabilitation camp that had helped her deprogram, she didn't expect to get caught up in a whirlwind of events designed to bring about the end of the world. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Oh cool. You've&nbsp;definitely got my&nbsp;attention&nbsp;with the concept, but I do think that the opening sentence itself is a bit longish.&nbsp;That could be personal&nbsp;opinion though.&nbsp;</span>Boyfriend, best friend, and trusted director; someone has nefarious intentions and it's up to her to find out who. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">I think you need to use "or" instead of "and" in the previous sentence, unless the b/f, best friend, and director are all the same person.</span><br /><br />DIAMOND DUST is a 50,000 young adult novella <span style="color: #6aa84f;">definitely don't call it a novella. It can be a novel with that&nbsp;word count and&nbsp;there's no traditional market for novellas</span>&nbsp;with a paranormal twist. It follows the story of Amanda Bennett <span style="color: #6aa84f;">you don't need to use her full name twice</span>, a young woman working at the cult deprogramming center Camp Invicta. Previously a member of the local Janus cult “New Beginnings,” Amanda's journal entries show first hand knowledge when it comes to what these kids have experienced. Amanda is reassigned and no longer working beside her best friend, Marie Davenport. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Again you don't need to use proper names in a query except for your MC. It's her best friend, that's all we&nbsp;need to know.</span>&nbsp;It's all good because that means she can spend time with her resident crush, Assistant Director David Lennon <span style="color: #6aa84f;">same thing here</span>. &nbsp;It becomes evident that Camp Invicta isn't what it appears to be. Several campers have gone missing after graduation, including Amanda's friend Annissa. Pieces fall into place that make Amanda afraid that someone is attempting to sacrifice these kids to raise The Keres, ancient Greek vulture women. Someone close to her has been lying the entire time. Someone she cares about will die.<br /><br />I'm a 27 year old military spouse and stay at home mom to two rambunctious boys. A book lover my entire life, writing has always been something important to me. This is my first full length story. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">I wouldn't worry about including a bio if I were you. If your bio isn't relevant to the novel content and you don't have previous publishing experience I would skip it.</span><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;"><br /></span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">You have a&nbsp;really interesting concept here that sounds pretty original. There's nothing specifically wrong with the query, but I&nbsp;would consider restructuring. A lot of the material in your body paragraph is reiterating what you used in your hook, but in more detail. Also, it's not clear how raising the Keres &nbsp;could bring about the end of the world, which is a big part of your hook. Also you mention your MC's reassignment, but it's not clear what she was doing first, what she's been reassigned to, or what that move has to do with the plot. You've got a good body to work with, just do some restructuring and you&nbsp;can have a strong query.</span>[/url]

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Looking For A Manuscript Critique?

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 03 July 2014 · 42 views

I've said before that you can't swing a cat in Ohio without hitting a YA writer, and that's the truth. One of those is Leah Clifford, author of the <a href="[url="http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Mortal-Leah-Clifford-ebook/dp/B0045U9WEG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1404398862&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=leah+clifford"]http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Mortal-Leah-Clifford-ebook/dp/B0045U9WEG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1404398862&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=leah+clifford" target="_blank">A Touch Mortal</a> series. Leah is a fantastic writer, a hilarious person and the kind of girl you just like being around. Trust me. I've sat through hours upon hours of festivals and author events where the crowd might be a little thin and you're questioning if it was worth the travel expenses to be there. But if Leah is there too, it's worth it.<br /><br />A few days ago Leah had a frightening medical emergency, which I'm going to simply cut and paste from her Tumblr here:<br /><br /><i>Most of you guys heard through twitter and fb, but yesterday my left eye basically stopped blinking. When I smiled, only the right side of my mouth moved. Needless to say, it was pretty terrifying. When I got to the Emergency Room, they diagnosed Bell’s Palsy, but had to rule out a stroke because my symptoms didn’t quite match (My forehead was still moving at that point, but stopped soon after.). Because of this, they had to do a CAT scan and EKG. In addition to medical bills, I’m looking at a 2 - 6 week recovery time. I have insurance and a job, but unfortunately, my left eye is blurred and has double vision, which means I can’t drive the 40 minutes to my day job. It could be a couple of days to a couple of weeks before my vision comes back properly. I have no vacation. No sick days.</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>I’m trying to do what I can to supplement my income and basically survive until this goes away. If you know ANYONE who is looking for a critique of their novel, could you please pass my info along to them. Even just reblogging this message will help.</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>I have three books out with Harper/Collins, and have been critiquing for friends for five years, with most of those books ending in publishing contracts. I’ve just started to take on freelance work. I’m linking to my critique prices below. Right now, I’m offering a $50 discount on full manuscript critiques to anyone who mentions this post and if you yourself are a writer, please keep in mind for each referral, you’ll receive a $25 credit to use when you book your own critique (in addition to the $50 off). If you have any questions, I can be reached through my ask box or at CliffordLeah at gmail dot com! THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!&nbsp;</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>http://leahclifford.wordpress.com/critique-services/</i><br /><i><br /></i>If you're in the market for a critique, definitely consider Leah![/url]

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Debut SF Author Karen Akins Talks Cover Art For LOOP

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 01 July 2014 · 23 views

I love talking to debut authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.<br /><br />Today's guest is <a href="[url="http://www.karenakins.com/p/about-me.html"]http://www.karenakins.com/p/about-me.html" target="_blank">Karen Akins</a> is a self-professed geek whose debut YA sci-fi novel LOOP is coming out October 21, 2014 with St. Martin's Press.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hxJkT3cnsnU/U7LLxFXBAfI/AAAAAAAAClI/zTp0xTrWwKk/s1600/Loop.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hxJkT3cnsnU/U7LLxFXBAfI/AAAAAAAAClI/zTp0xTrWwKk/s1600/Loop.jpg" height="640" width="426" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.&nbsp;</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i>But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.&nbsp;</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><b>Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?</b><br /><br /><i>I had some hazy ideas but nothing definite. It’s a story that could have taken several directions with the cover. They could have gone light and funny or more actiony and futuristic. I love where they landed. It’s romantic and swoony with a hint of sci-fi.</i><br /><br /><b>How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?</b><br /><br /><i>Hmm…I think we started talking about the cover around November…ish.</i><br /><br /><b>Did you have any input on your cover?</b><br /><br /><i>I did! If you look at the two O’s in LOOP, they form an infinity symbol, and that was actually my idea.&nbsp;</i><br /><br /><i>The only change I asked for after they showed it to me was for them to chop off my main character Bree’s hair.&nbsp;</i><br /><br /><i>Honestly, I loved it from the first moment I saw it, down to the texture of their tee shirts. (Okay, that’s a funny story. My editor has a lot of romance on her list, and the art department is used to her requesting steamier covers, so in the first version, Finn had no shirt on. She had to go back and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not that hot!” Some day, I’m going to track that version down.)</i><br /><br /><b>How was your cover revealed to you?&nbsp;</b><br /><br /><i>I happened to be in New York the day that they delivered the cover art to my editor. She surprised me with it when I walked into her office. Needless to say, there was much squeeing.</i><br /><br /><b>Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?</b><br /><br /><i>Yes and no. Griffin Teen does a monthly cover reveal on their Facebook fan page.</i><br /><br /><b>How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?</b><br /><br />Three months.<br /><br /><b>Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?</b><br /><br /><i>Do unicorns poop rainbows? (That’s a “heck yes!”)</i><br /><br /><b>What surprised you most about the process?</b><br /><br /><i>How fun it was to keep the secret! Yes, I can’t believe I just said that. But there really was this exciting energy that built up when I had to keep it on the down-low.</i><br /><br /><b>Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?</b><br /><br /><br /><i>Talk to your agent. Talk to your editor. The clearer you are about your ideas and expectations, the less wrinkles you’ll have to iron out later on. I know it sounds cliché, but have fun with it!</i><br /><div><br /></div>[/url]

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The Thin Line Between Fiction & Reality

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 30 June 2014 · 43 views

I'm working - hard - on my book for 2015. It's a Gothic historical, and as I am the nit-picky research-loving librarian that I am, I refuse to leave any stone unturned. The other day someone needed to call the cops in this book, and I didn't finish the sentence because I first had to go find out what cops were called in 1890's Boston. Are they policeman? Coppers? Constables? Fifteen minutes of research went into finding the right word to end that one sentence with. I also got distracted by the origin of the word "cops" - policeman's badges were originally made out of copper, so they were reffered to as "Coppers" which became shortened to cops. Now you know. I do too, and I just lost another ten minutes where I should've been writing.<br /><br />I bought a map of the real town where my novel is set ($25.00 gone) from the right time period so that I could look at street names, locations of shops vs. residential areas, the locations where bridges crossed the river, etc.<br /><br />Then I came to a line of dialogue where my main character and her partner in fighting crime are bemoaning the size of the population and their inability to catch a killer within such a large group. So I checked the 1900 census data for this city so that my line of dialogue was completely accurate... and hit a huge roadblock.<br /><br />The city was much smaller than I had expected, population wise. In fact, it was so small that finding a killer within it would actually be a fairly easy proposition, given that his method of operation definitely points to a man of a certain occupation. I was wretched. Truly wretched. I'd built my entire plot around this city, researched for a year before even starting the book and literally have a map of it in my head so that when I visited a few weekends ago I could guide the boyfriend as he drove.<br /><br />And now it was too damn small during the time period my book is set.<br /><br />I seriously felt like puking. I shut the laptop, stomped downstairs and the boyfriend takes one look at me and says, "What's wrong?"<br /><br />I tell my horrible story. All the wasted work and knowledge that now means nothing, the restructuring of the plot that's going to have to happen if I switch to a more metropolitan area. And the boyfriend leans back on the counter, looking horribly confused and says, "Well, this is fiction right? Just make the city bigger in 1900."<br /><br />And this tiny fact that should have in no way been a revelation pretty much turned me on my head. I was ridiculously happy to realize, that yes, if I wanted to inflate the population of a city in the 1900's to serve my purposes I can, in fact, do that, because it's fiction.<br /><br />Sometimes writers need to realize that while the research and dedication that goes into our writing is admirable, we can't let it dictate to us the parameters of our world - because it is, in fact, a fictional one. My 2015 release is my first historical novel, and I've been doing my damndest to keep it as accurate as possible. But the truth is that even with years of research poured into this thing, I'm going to have to tilt the mirror a little to make the picture fit the plot, and I'm also going to get some things flat wrong that I thought were right. And, of course, there are probably going to be points that I know I'm right about that people will think are wrong.<br /><br />And that's okay - because it's fiction.

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 , 28 June 2014 · 45 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="[url="http://www.rclewisbooks.com/"]http://www.rclewisbooks.com/" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.<br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s400/NewestSatSlash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg" height="320" width="247" /></a>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to&nbsp;punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.<br /><br />If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/" target="_blank">AgentQueryConnect</a>. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">green</span>.<br /><br />I saw on your agency's website that you are currently seeking new young adult stories, and I thought you might enjoy my young adult novel, THE CHANGE. This novel is complete at 65,000 words and was a finalist in the LUW (League of Utah Writers) Oquirrh Chapter Selection Contest 2013. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Normally I say put this information at the end, but you've done a good job of introducing the basics and then also your finalist info is good. So I say leave it :)</span><br /><br />In Piper Dashton’s world, who you are is defined by the color of your eyes. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">And this is a great hook. I love the idea, original concept.</span> No unusual eye colors were <span style="color: #6aa84f;">your tense changes here with "were"&nbsp;</span>expected to appear at the Copperfield Orphanage during the week of the change, just the colors that were prevalent in the area: orange, pink, and silver, to name a few. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">I'd dash your last hang-on here in this sentence.</span><br /><br />But Piper’s world flips upside down when her dull, grey eyes, the color of the unchanged, turn gold, a rare color that thrusts her into the crosshairs of warring sects that want to use her newfound psychic abilities. Hunted down by rebels, Piper’s on shifting ground, questioning everything she’s ever known about the world and the people within. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">I feel like we need to know&nbsp;more about the sects and their goals here - are there good guys? bad guys? Where to the&nbsp;rebels fall in this? What are their goals? And her just&nbsp;questioning everything is very vague - what is she questioning? Did she used to think&nbsp;rebels were good and now they're bad? Vice versa?</span><br /><br />Among the country’s elite,&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">why is she among the elite now? Is&nbsp;this part of the warring sects?</span>&nbsp;Piper desperately searches for the truth about the power she holds, the family she has never known, and her heart’s true desire. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Meaning which side to choose, or is there a love interest?&nbsp;</span>She is torn, not only by the corrupt capitol officials who have taken her in, but also by the rebels bent on capturing her and all other gifted individuals. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Aha - so they "took her in" - as in,&nbsp;she's a prisoner? Or a guest? Or under house arrest?&nbsp;</span>With lies surrounding her, Piper needs to choose a side before she becomes a pawn in the hands of those that want to control her and her power.<br /><br />This novel will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS trilogy or Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT. I’m currently working full-time on my next young adult novel. As per your guidelines, I have enclosed my query letter for your review. The full manuscript is available upon request. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Be careful about using big titles for your comps -&nbsp;everyone wants to be like something huge. And they probably see 100 queries a day that use DIVERGENT as a comp title.</span><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;"><br /></span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">You&nbsp;have all the right information in here, but in the wrong order. You'll see that I ask&nbsp;questions early on that you then answer later. The second paragraph isn't really&nbsp;necessary, as most of&nbsp;what you say there is reiterated in the third, using&nbsp;different language. Also, it's really important to know more about Piper - how does she feel, other than torn and confused? Is she thrilled to have a power? Scared? Give us some feel for her personality, and&nbsp;also more of an indication of why these sects are fighting and what they want to use her power for, specifically. Being psychic is cool, sure, but how are they&nbsp;going to use it?</span>[/url]

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