An unselfish wish made on the horn of a unicorn will come true. Our wish? To support the writing community by giving constructive tips and criticism through submissions. Check out the submissions tab for more information. We can survive the crucible of fire together.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Agent Interviews

Hello, everyone!


This week I'm going to be sharing some interviews with agents. These agents graciously agreed to answer my questions, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate their participation. I really enjoyed corresponding with them, and I enjoyed the answers they shared. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did!


Sam Morgan ~ JABberwocky Literary Agency

http://awfulagent.com/agents/sam-morgan



Sam is the right hand of darkness at JABberwocky. He is a native of Shelby, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA of Communications - Media Studies and Production. Before joining JABberwocky in late 2012, Sam worked throughout New York City as a television critic, pizza guy, and several other glamorous positions. He's an active nerd across all media, from British television (Doctor Who and Black Mirror), to video games (Injustice and Nintendo), to SF and fantasy novels (Prattchett, Adams, Gaiman), to college basketball (Go Heels, Go America). Sam is also active in the New York comedy scene at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater and making his own little rinky-dink videos in his spare time. He is ridiculously handsome, gut-busting witty, and prone to hyperbole.


1.What do you represent?

I mainly represent adult science fiction and fantasy. But I also have a strong interest in humor and commercial fiction. But my tastes are pretty limited in those last two, so I'm pretty picky. But with sci-fi and fantasy, I tend to enjoy every sub-genre in them so I'm far less picky there.


2.What are you looking for right now?

Good books! I know that seems like a cop-out answer, but it's the truth. I read a couple hundred queries a week and I'm looking for that book that immediately speaks to me on a deep level. Super interesting premise, cool characters, and a voice that just sings. My clients tend to write really fun books, I highly doubt they'll be winning any prestigious literary awards any time soon. But that's ok! We'll be hanging out in the bar having a better time anyway.


3. What made you decide to become an agent?


4. Why did you decide to work with your current agency?

I'll answer these last two questions together because my path to becoming an agent is very unusual. Truth be told, I had no idea what a literary agent was before I started working at Jabberwocky and when I started working at Jabberwocky, I had no intent on becoming an agent. I moved to New York City directly after college with no real direction. Worked a couple weird jobs for a couple years but then suddenly found myself with ample free time and a strong desire for a steady cash flow (read: unemployed). One of my really good friends from college had moved up to NYC a few months after me to start working at Penguin as a publicity assistant. He eventually caught the eye of our boss here at Jabberwocky and was offered a job as a foreign rights manager. After he had worked here for a few months they needed someone to come in and do some data entry, so he asked if I wanted to do it. I said yes, of course, I'd love... what's a literary agency do exactly? Anyway, I came in and started with data entry. Now, I had studied story structure in college, it's kind of my nerdy passion. And I happen to really be into science fiction and fantasy (though I didn't know it at the time, it sort of hit me how much of a nerd I am when I started working at Jabberwocky). And it just so happened that Jabberwocky was entering a phase of expansion. So combine all of that - the luck of the timing, happening to know a lot about editing and what makes good story structure, happening to really be into science fiction and fantasy and having a good eye for talent and talent development, and also happening to be really good at negotiating thanks to being third generation of lawyers - and I just happened to be a really good fit for Jabberwocky at the exact right time. I would not recommend trying to recreate my path though.


5. What is your favorite part of the job, and what is your least favorite part?

My favorite part is helping make people's dreams come true. When I get to call them and say I'd like to represent them, when I get to call and say that they have an offer on the table for a major publisher to publish their book, when I hold in my hands their book for the first time or spot it out in the wild - it's amazing. I get to help fulfill their lifelong goal. And I know how weird this will sound, but I kind of get to validate people. Like, it's a weird responsibility I know, but when I say "hey I want to represent you" it means I think they're worth being on the same book shelves as the greats and I know that'd make me feel happy as hell and I like making people happy.

The least favorite part is the exact opposite of that. I have to tell people no all of the time. I have to shoot down their dreams and it crushes me. Especially the sheer amount I have to do it. There's just not enough time for me to help everyone that wants me to help them and it sucks. But the absolute worst is when I see something that's good, sometimes even really good, someone writes a book that hits all the right notes, has a great voice, does everything perfectly... but it just doesn't connect with me. And I know I wouldn't be the right agent for it because I would just be going through the motions. I hate telling people that but I know they'll be ok cause there are a lot of agents out there and there will be one that connects with it perfectly.


6. Sometimes authors develop misconceptions about agents or the publishing industry as a whole. What is one misconception you feel is common, and what would you say to dispel it?

I'm not sure how common this is but I think people don't realize agents work FOR the authors. They're our boss at the end of the day. Sure we might know more about the business in the beginning stages of a debut author's career, but at the end of the day, if the author says no then we say no. We only work in an advisory role. So let that be a lesson - you control your agent, not the other way around.


7. What makes you connect with a character?

Voice. They feel real, it's the character talking to me, not the author writing the character.


8. Most authors have "Dream Agents". Do agents have "Dream Authors"? How would you describe your "Dream Author"?

At first I thought this sounded like something you'd answer in an online dating profile, but the more I thought about it, the more apt I thought that metaphor. The agent/author relationship is just that - a relationship. So my "Dream Authors" are the kind of people I like to hang out with. They're cool and chill and write some amazing stories. And it also means that I'll like working with/for you cause we're going to be in the trenches of publishing together and if you're kind of a jerk, it's not going to be worth it.


9. What makes a query letter stand out for you in such a way that you HAVE to request more pages?

For starters, that it follows my rules. I ask all query letters to be sent to a specific email address (querysam at awfulagent dot com) and that they include the first five pages included after the body of the query. No attachments. If they follow those three things, and the book is in a genre I consider, then we're off to a GREAT start.

But as for what takes a good query to one where I have to request more pages? Your voice should come through the query. I should be able to understand WHY you wrote this book. You've probably spent many, many, many hours writing this book, breaking social engagements, ignoring people, locked in a dark room hunched over a keyboard. I should be able to know instantly WHY you felt compelled to do this. I should know the premise, a couple of the main characters, and the overarching problem they're facing. It shouldn't overload me with information, it should tease me with the plot.


10. Is there anything that will make you automatically reject a query letter?

Like I said in the answer before, if you don't follow the rules (no attachments, specific query email, first five pages) then you get rejected instantly. If you don't include the first five pages, then you get deleted. I try to respond to everyone that queries (because I respect how much effort it takes to write a book and if you give me the courtesy of considering your book, I don't want to be rude and not respond) but if you don't even follow the basic rules then you get no response. I also don't consider books for audiences younger than adult (so no middle grade, no young adult, no picture books, no new adult) so if you send me that you get automatically rejected. There are other agents at Jabberwocky that know those genres and they ain't me.


11. What are some common problems you see in queries or manuscripts?

Too much information! I don't need to know everything. I just need to know the juicy bits. Keep it short, sweet, and simple.


12. What words of wisdom would you like to share with an aspiring author?

You're a writer, not a marketer. This I understand, which is why I ask for the first five pages. But you are going to have to know how to market yourself if you want to survive in this industry. One thing I've found that helps is if you read your query back to yourself like you're a movie trailer announcer. If it doesn't sound like something you'd hear in a trailer, you're not marketing it correctly.


13. What are some of your favorite books by authors you don't represent?

THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben Winters. TAMPA by Alissa Nutting. CITY OF STAIRS by Robert Jackson Bennett. I wish I had more time to read non-client work though.


14. What is something you want authors to know about agents in general, or about you in particular?

The nature of my job requires me to be a really good arbiter of taste and because of the sheer volume of queries I get, I have to do this quickly. I know almost instantly if someone sends me something whether or not I'm going to be interested. Most of that is simple math - I wind up requesting less than 2% of everything that gets sent to me, and I wind up signing less than 1% of everything I request. So the odds are pretty good that I'm not going to be the agent for you. HOWEVER, this doesn't mean you aren't a good writer. It just means I'm not the right agent for you. And it also doesn't mean I'm some soulless bastard. I hate telling people no. I hate crushing dreams. But this is a business and it isn't personal. I don't like sending form rejections just as much as you don't like receiving.


15. The dreaded synopsis. How do you feel about it?

They're tough, but necessary. If you're looking for tips, this generally applies for fantasy and science fiction novels, but it can work for most books: Start big, give me the world that these characters inhabit. Next paragraph, give me some details about the main character, who they are, what their deal is. Next, move on to the problem they face and what they're going to do about it and who is standing in their way. Then end on the hook that'll compel me to keep reading. It's an art unto itself so don't slack on it.


16. What is something you absolutely DON'T want to see?

Well, I mentioned earlier that I'm not looking for young adult, middle grade, new adult, or picture books. But I still get people sending me that so I'll keep saying it.

However, there are some things that I keep seeing that feel a little overdone: fantastical police procedurals, I get at least five of those a week. Angels, werewolves, vampires, etc. Those kinds of mythical creature stories are a little overdone. I'm looking for something that uses new monsters or creatures or really uses these tropes in a super unique way - to the point that they barely resemble those creatures. People getting stuck in virtual reality, ancient gods in the modern world, people fighting stuff in a "dream world" or the "afterlife." I get those stories at least four or five times a week too. Your books are probably better than all of that, but you're fighting in a very crowded space. Why not fight in a unique world of your own?


A special thank you to Sam Morgan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions!

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Winners Are...

Patricia Moussatche 
and
Jeffery Bushman

These were our only two contest participants. 

Patricia is the author of SHROUDED GODDESS the winner of our reader's vote. She also submitted THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY and MY BEST FRIEND'S PRINCE.

Jeffery is the author of THE LION AND I.

This means they both get their choice of one of the following books...

 
Email me at charity.bradford@gmail.com and let me know if you want an e-copy or an audible copy. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Let the Voting Begin!

Now is the time to spread the word! Tweet, post on Facebook, whatever you do, and get people over here to read and vote for the first page that catches their interest the most.

Here are the ones you are voting on:

Entry #1--Shrouded Goddess
Entry #2--The Other End of the Sky
Entry #3--My Best Friend's Prince
Entry #5--The Lion and I

Voting is easy, simply read the pages by following the links and then choose your favorite in the poll to the right -->

1st and 2nd place will get their choice of the audio book FADE INTO ME or STELLAR CLOUD.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

First Page Entry #5--The Lion and I

Book Title - The Lion and I
Genre - Adventure/Drama
Current page count 213 (not finished)


First Page--
There are a few things I learned from the short time I spent living with the lion. Three of those of which were very important.

The number one most important thing was never eating in front of a lion.

The number two most important thing, never sneak up behind a lion while he is eating.

The last but not least never try to ride a lion like a horse.

Lions are not horses. They do not adapt well to riders and as such will claw your eyes out and eat your heart. Nobody wants their heart eaten.

It was purely by accident that I came to know the lion. I can assure you I think he might have been happier had he never met me but given the circumstance, neither of us had much choice in the matter.

I was a middle age adult, my waistline was living proof, and he was a lion.

I don't know how else to put it. I have no idea how old he was, I never asked him.

He wouldn't have answered anyways, he was always masquerading around as if he owned the place, tossing his mane back and forth and if I asked him a question he was always aloof and mostly ignored me, except when I had food, of course.

In my youth, I had watched many shows on the television about animals and not many of them graced the screen more than the formidable lion. They were always trying to eat a wildebeest or getting in fights with crocodiles and hippos. Frightful beasts in the least.

In my comparisons of this lion, which in time I came to call my lion, with the lions I had seen on TV, I would have guessed his age around three maybe four years old. I could tell by his mane mostly. The older lions on the TV always had long robust manes and my lion had a shorter more juvenile looking mane. That would explain his inability to listen to instructions and his wetting the bed - my bed that was. Our relationship was one built on trust. He had to trust me that I wasn't going to put him back where he came from and I had to trust him that he wasn't going to eat me. It was a one sided issue I can assure you. I didn't see any way that he was going back where he came from, but I did see plenty of ways he could eat me.

You might say that we became friends on that little island, at least I like to think so. Lions are social creatures and so are humans. Frankly without me he would not have lived long. Had he ate me he may have lived a short while but nonetheless he would have perished. So in a roundabout way we came to rely on each other quite heavily over the course of our coexistence. I was glad to have someone to share my thoughts with and he was happy to have someone to keep him alive.

He was a much-needed friend in those long days and without him, I would not be the same person I am today. You see, I was a vastly different person before I met the lion and the day that I stepped foot on that boat was a day that would forever change my life and his too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

First Page Entry #4--Rapier

It's not too late to send in your first page to be entered in the contest. The novel itself does not have to be finished. Send your entry to charity.bradford@gmail.com and include your:
Name, Title, Genre, Word count, and first page.


Entry #4


Title: Rapier
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Wordcount: 101,000

First Page -

I felt the other immortal before I saw him. Or her. Gender isn’t a factor in my twisted-gut reaction to another like me.

The middle of nowhere town was like many others I’d been in, smelling of hot asphalt and exhaust fumes. The town square had a beer garden in commemoration of Labor Day and the townsfolk were strolling with their kids. The elders were holding down the iron benches with their butts. A little something for everyone that day. Including me.

Several of the good people from Middle America eyed me—the stranger in their midst—but their attention soon wavered. It wasn’t polite to stare, especially at the ones who had answered their advertisement for a jolly good time at the celebrations. Supporting the local economy and all.

In addition to the locally brewed beer, munchies were everywhere. From deep-fried turkey legs to funnel cakes. I’d passed on the first and was just finishing the second when my stomach dipped as if my digestion was fighting off a bug. Like major, a knife plunged into my innards. It always hurt when I sensed another immortal, but after so many centuries, I’d learned to blow it off without so much as a stumble.

I licked the powdered sugar off my fingers and wiped my hands with the napkins given to me by young miss at the concession. She had given me an appraising look as I thanked her. Her fingers lingered on mine when she’d handed me the change for my ten spot and I’d rewarded her with a smile. She brightened for a moment but when she leaned forward, I turned away. So not interested.

My fingers cleaned, mouth wiped, I swept the crowd with a disinterested gaze, like I was looking for a bathroom. I couldn’t spot the immortal right off. Neither challenging hard glares nor scared rabbits looking to run. People—all humans except for one—were going about their business without giving me an obvious target.

The oldsters had their heads together speaking softly. Not them. For a moment my gaze rested on a jeans-clad twenty-something dude in a tight black T-shirt. But he didn’t look my way. Anyone who felt the presence of another immortal would be looking. Like the funnel cake gal who was still obviously interested. Or the brown-eyed beauty sitting on the rock wall across the grounds. That one was finishing an ice cream cone, glancing up as she did.

First Page Entry #3--My Best Friend's Prince

It's not too late to send in your first page to be entered in the contest. The novel itself does not have to be finished. Send your entry to charity.bradford@gmail.com and include your:
Name, Title, Genre, Word count, and first page.



Entry #3
Title: My Best Friend's Prince
Genre: NA Fantasy
Word count: WIP, aiming for 80K

First Page:

At this rate, my college fund would be spent in the first month—and not on school fees.

The old guy, with the same mattressman-of-the-month grin that adorned the wall behind the cash register, completed the paperwork before I had a chance at cold feet. Did he have to work every Saturday? If my parents hadn't ingrained in me the need to support small businesses, I'd have been at the mall right now. Even if restock fees were higher in chains, I would have welcomed the randomness of their staff schedules.

My insides twisted tighter than the French braid I wore for graduation. If I couldn't sleep, I wouldn't be getting the grades to keep my scholarship. Then bye bye med school. I couldn't let my parents down this soon.

An hour later, two delivery guys lugged away the soft twenty-four-inch mattress I had bought last week, leaving its firmer brother on my dorm room bed. At least my new deep-pocketed, seagrass green sheets still fit.

The full size bed occupied most of the double room, which was mine alone because Annabelle only needed a place to crash when there were parties on campus. Her twin mattress hid neatly under my bedframe, and the pair of desks that had come with the room bookended the window to complete the d├ęcor. Neatening the place on Saturday morning had become as much of a tradition as my trips to the local mattress store. Or Friday nights in the basement’s laundry room.

First Page Entry #2--The Other End of the Sky

It's not too late to send in your first page to be entered in the contest. The novel itself does not have to be finished. Send your entry to charity.bradford@gmail.com and include your:
Name, Title, Genre, Word count, and first page.


Entry #2

Title: The Other End of the Sky
Genre: Science Fiction
Word count: WIP, aiming for 80K

First Page:

Whoever thinks coming out of the womb after nine months is traumatic has never been revived after traveling through space in a hibernation capsule.

The rush of air burned as it filled my lungs, while the rest of me froze as if I’d fallen into a snow bank. A scream broke free and reverberated around me, my body convulsing repeatedly against a cold, hard surface.

Smooth straps tightened around my chest and thrashing legs, and I wallowed in the security of their confinement. My gasps subsided into the monotony of normal breathing as my back warmed the smooth surface underneath. The incessant beeping of a machine I wished I could unplug permeated the darkness, and an unnerving grinding and screeching shifted around me as if we were playing Marco Polo.

A warm blanket engulfed me when the straps released my stilled body. The plush fabric dried the sweat off my skin, and I curled into its comforting embrace. Licking my lips did nothing to quench my parched mouth. Like a newborn, I craved the silky texture of the milk I gave up drinking midway through childhood. But most of all, I craved the comfort suckling could bring. Laila, this world better be worth the pain.

I laid in the dark, my thoughts stretching like cramped muscles. The now foggy to-do lists Laila and I had spent months discussing could wait. Until I saw this new world with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe I wasn’t on Earth.

First Page Entry #1--Shrouded Goddess

It's not too late to send in your first page to be entered in the contest. The novel itself does not have to be finished. Send your entry to charity.bradford@gmail.com and include your:
Name, Title, Genre, Word count, and first page.

Entry #1



Title: Shrouded Goddess
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word count: 74000

First page:

Only Uncle Hector would hang a man then go fishing. The giant jatoba tree, where the noose is set, shades the corpse but doesn’t protect it from the heat. Winter is more merciful than our hellish summer, but only slightly. Noon is fast approaching, and the stench of emptied bowels permeates the village like early morning fog. I press an arm over my nose and quicken my pace to the bakery ahead. At least there is some advantage to being forced to wear long sleeves in warm weather.

Vultures circle the cloudless sky above the tree, but not even they dare to defy Uncle Hector. Why does Aryeea want me to get flour? I glance over my shoulder at the fortress’s four-story tower spiked on the Igjommi Hill. The fluttering white cloth, billowing like a sail in the valley breeze, can only be her skirt. My grandmother on the balcony, watching me as if I’d go anywhere other than where she sends me.

I enter the bakery and shut the door behind me. The warm scent of dough overwhelms the heat. Steps approach from an inside room, and the baker’s rosy face beams at me as he ambles through the doorway.

“Lady Sophia.” He wipes his hands on his tunic. “What do you like today?”

I’d like someone to cut down that man and bury him before he rots. But if I voice the request, the baker will feel obliged to carry out the order. No need to tempt another hanging.

First Page--Search For Knowledge

It's not too late to send in your first page to be entered in the contest. The novel itself does not have to be finished. Send your entry to charity.bradford@gmail.com and include your:
Name, Title, Genre, Word count, and first page.

This entry is NOT eligible for the contest. However, my sequel is coming out later this year and I'd like your feedback.

Title: SEARCH FOR KNOWLEDGE, Sequel to THE MAGIC WAKES (WiDo Publishing, 2013)
Genre: Science Fantasy
Word count: complete at 77,000


First Page:

Four tiny suns washed out the sky, casting a mauve twilight over the dragon council. The dismal planet had been the dragon’s first world. It resided in a cluster of dying stars that had long since drifted outside the galactic disk. Life had ceased, and only cold barren rocks existed in the perpetual dusk. The dragon lords never stayed long, but it remained the preferred meeting ground when they were between spheres.

Jewel shuddered at the thought of living here. There would never again be warmth from the suns or life to fill the air with sound or smell. She’d been here an hour and already missed Sendek. With a sigh she returned her attention to those around her.

Dragons of every age and size filled the amphitheater-like valley. The dominant green clan took the place of honor on the field, but equal numbers of reds, blues, and silvers lined the perimeter. The hiss of their steamy breath conveyed the underlying tension as they waited for her report.

Feeling small in the midst of so many other dragons, Jewel paced the center of the circle before two males. One green, the other blue. Their normally bright colors dulled in the dim light on the planet. She wished she could see them in the blaze of Sendek’s suns once more. In the brightness of that planet they had shone with glittery opalescence equal to the spirits burning inside the flesh and bone bodies. This was her chance to convince them to return to the home of her heart.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Callisto's Ghost Now Available for Pre-order

Don't forget to send in your 1st pages!
1. Email your first page to charity(dot)bradford@gmail(dot)com right now. That's right! Don't worry about going over it 100 times. Read through it, catch what you can, and send it in.
2. Include your name, book title, genre, and word count (estimate if you're not finished)
3. I'll start posting the first pages on Wednesday for everyone to read and comment on this week.
4. Next week we will vote and I'll let the top 3-4 entries repost with any revisions they might have made based on comments.

5. On Thursday we will vote again to get our reader's choice winner!

Now, just in case you missed it last week. L. Blankenship has a new book out! This woman knows how to suck you into a new world and hold you by the heart and throat until the end. 

She's seriously one of the best world builders I've ever seen.


Announcing...

a hard science fiction adventure novella
#1 of 3
on sale March 15, 2016

Shen took the long way home to Jupiter's moons. He got lost in a dark world of slavery for years and it left scars on his soul. In earning his freedom, he picked up an assortment of skills useful in certain parts of society and became a ghost in the machine. Shen gave his loyalty to those who showed him kindness and now he has to take on his toughest job yet to keep them safe: breaking into the powerful surveillance corporation that’s already looking for him.
Lena cut a deal with that same corporation to escape court-ordered mental reprogramming. The deal brought her out to Jupiter’s Callisto colony and put her to work tracking ghosts, but no hacker fits into cubicle life well. As she's chafing under the terms, she's handed a new hunt: someone who’s been eluding them for years.   
But he’s worth more to her as an escape from slavery — if they both survive.
 
Sample scene available at my blog on
February 15, 2016

It's been a while! I hope you'll join me in this new series of novels. They've been waiting for their turn in the spotlight while I was publishing Disciple. 

Cover art by Pierre Demet 





Monday, February 15, 2016

First Page Contest

I know this is last minute, but we haven't had a contest in forever! It's time we got down to the nitty gritty of writing and let you show us your stuff.

Here's how it will work. 
1. Email your first page to charity(dot)bradford@gmail(dot)com right now. That's right! Don't worry about going over it 100 times. Read through it, catch what you can, and send it in.
2. Include your name, book title, genre, and word count (estimate if you're not finished)
3. I'll start posting the first pages on Wednesday for everyone to read and comment on this week.
4. Next week we will vote and I'll let the top 3-4 entries repost with any revisions they might have made based on comments.
5. On Thursday we will vote again to get our reader's choice winner!

First and second place will win a free audio book. They can choose between STELLAR CLOUD: A Short Story Collection and FADE INTO ME.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Which Famous Novelist Are You?

Because when I run out of things to say, I like to find a fun quiz to post on Fridays (from the Oxford Dictionaries Blog)...



I ended up with William Faulkner. This time. How about you?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Words for Wednesday

It's my week again, and again I have no new book tours scheduled. Sigh. (If you have a book you'd like to promote during the week of April 4th-8th, let me know.) So, this week we're going to explore some reading and writing weekly bloghops.

Looking for a bit more of a challenge? Then you need to join Words for Wednesday. At the moment, it looks like Elephant's Child is the keeper of the words:
Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write.  Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image.   What we do with those prompts is up to us:  a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating them with ignore...  We can use some or all of the prompts. 
Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog.  I would really like it if as many people as possible joined into this fun meme.  If you are posting on your own blog - let me know so that I, and other participants, can come along and applaud.
So, if you need a bit of a start, or are just looking for a challenge, check out the words, phrases, music, or image and join in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#15tt Tuesdays

It's my week again, and again I have no new book tours scheduled. Sigh. (If you have a book you'd like to promote during the week of April 4th-8th, let me know.) So, this week we're going to explore some reading and writing weekly bloghops.

A couple years ago, I stumbled across Jocelyn Rish's Twitter feed and discovered #15tt.

15 Minute Tweet Tales
Link to Jocelyn Rish's blog

#15tt is short for 15 minute tweet tales. Jocelyn explained:
I’ve mentioned before how much fun I have with the Tweet Me a Story contests run by NYC Midnight. The challenge of creating a complete story in such a small space gives me a writer’s high (which thankfully involves much less sweat than a runner’s high)... Each [week] a new...word will be the prompt for a tale told in less than 140 characters. But since I tend to obsess over and tweak my stories to death, I’m giving myself a time limit for each one. Once I...reveal the new word, I'll only have fifteen minutes to craft my masterpiece, and then I’ll tweet the story, no matter how much it makes me cringe. 
I've been playing along for a couple years. This year, Jocelyn took this from a daily challenge to a weekly one. But it's still fun. Early in the morning (usually) she tweets the new word and its definition, and your challenge is to create a story with that word. In a tweet. 140 characters.

Yes, it can be done.

Some of my attempts are pitiful. And some go in directions I do not expect. But I still do every word. (Well, when it was daily, I would miss the odd day here and there...)

Today's word:
And my attempt: Bea resisted the gigil impetus, but Ann did not. Bea resisted the urge to laugh hysterically when the baby threw up all over Ann. #15tt

Come on, try it! You can post it here in the comments. I'd love to read them.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quote-Tastic Mondays

It's my week again, and again I have no new book tours scheduled. Sigh. (If you have a book you'd like to promote during the week of April 4th-8th, let me know.) So, this week we're going to explore some reading and writing weekly bloghops.

On Mondays, Anna from herding cats & burning soup hosts Quote-Tastic...


From the site:
Join us every Monday and share a favorite quote that's grabbed ya for one reason or another.

You can add a review or post just a quote. You can post other days of the week too. Totally flexible.

Everyone's welcome to join in. Authors, bloggers, readers. The more the merrier!

Just grab the button and toss up your post :) No blog? No worries, just leave your favorites in the comment section or in a FB post and link it up.

You know you want to share that wonderful book you've been reading. This is the perfect opportunity to do so.

What have you been reading?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hokey Smokes. A Cover Reveal, Callisto's Ghost

You know this author. She wrote the incomparable series, Disciple


The lady had me in emotional distress—she can tell you—from yelling at these characters to bawling my eyes out. An amazing gamut of silence, yelling, silence, and tears—the hubby can tell you.

L. Blankenship has a new series To Be Published soon and gave me permission to showcase the cover reveal. 

Honored? Oh YESSSSS!



Announcing...

a hard science fiction adventure novella
#1 of 3
on sale March 15, 2016
only through Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

Shen took the long way home to Jupiter's moons. He got lost in a dark world of slavery for years and it left scars on his soul. In earning his freedom, he picked up an assortment skills useful in certain parts of society and became a ghost in the machine. Shen gave his loyalty to those who showed him kindness and now he has to take on his toughest job yet to keep them safe: breaking into the powerful surveillance corporation that’s already looking for him.
 
Lena cut a deal with that same corporation to escape court-ordered mental reprogramming. The deal brought her out to Jupiter’s Callisto colony and put her to work tracking ghosts, but no hacker fits into cubicle life well. As she's chafing under the terms, she's handed a new hunt: someone who’s been eluding them for years.   
 
But he’s worth more to her as an escape from slavery — if they both survive.
 
cover reveal & sample scene available at my blog on
February 15, 2016

It's been a while! I hope you'll join me in this new series of novels. They've been waiting for their turn in the spotlight while I was publishing Disciple. 

Cover art by Pierre Demet 





Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No Rest: Dissecting and Discovery

Books have changed and guided my life’s choices since I was a youngster. I’ve read hundreds (thousands?), enjoyed and then forgotten them. This one is different and not just because after two years I can’t get it out of my mind. 

No, the big difference is that this one isn’t even published.

I critiqued No Rest for Marcy and was struck by the professionalism, the uniqueness of the tale, and the writing. Truly, this needs agented. It is a rare example of sci-fi that isn’t stereotypical in anyway.

I want to know why it fascinates me so.

Dissection and discovery of 
No Rest by Marcy Hatch.

I paddle out, breathing evenly in the early dawn, mist rising from the water.
Action and gentle, subtle description. I cannot think of an opening sentence from a NYT bestseller or current author who can write better. This sentence places you in the moment and gives context. The room disappears and I am there.
The whole place is quiet and still except for Grandfather.
More sensory description. And we have a new character to focus on and a mental image of him. I like that he is "Grandfather" not Grandpa. It adds a formality to it and I want to know why.
He tells me to hug the shore. The oars feel light in my hands. I’ve been practicing since the ice melted and now it’s paying off. My arms are strong.
We don’t know the gender or age yet, but we know the MC is a tiny bit happy with his or her ability. It is a character trait, subtle and easy to miss when the reader begins. But your subconscious noted it and nodded.
Grandfather points and I aim for the spot, a place where the marsh grass bends to the side. The current pushes against the boat, making me work harder, and it isn’t long before I’m sweating.
The breeze waves at the grass at either side of us. It’s close enough to touch but I keep my hands on the paddle, breathing deep the mud and brine. I pull the boat into the narrow inlet.
My senses are alive with smells, sights, and sounds. Note how Marcy breathes these descriptions on to her manuscript. No gale-force wind blowing every which way.
Behind me, Grandfather is silent. I resist the urge to ask him again where we’re going even though I want to. I just keep paddling until we run aground.
Ahhh, drama and a mystery. Note the delicate touch of backstory also.
Now I’m hooked. But why?
·       When the story puts you inside the scene
·       when you connect with the characters
·       when action moves you forward
·       when you bond
I’m caught and I don’t even know it. And I don’t even know the gender or age of the MC. Probably older due to the thoughts of this person. I’m sure I’ll find out soon. *G*

Continue here

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bonding, Sensory Descriptions, and Other Necessary Traits

When I start a new book, I know, almost in the first two pages whether I will continue. Although good writing begins the process—the absence of flowery adjectives and adverbs to muck it up—relating to the character pulls me in and I am gone.

Forget laundry. Never mind sleep. I gotta finish this novel.

Bonding with the character is a virtual handshake, a wink of knowing, and a familiar scene of understanding. The reader sees and feels the MC, invests their emotions, and cares what happens to them. To do this, the writer must give as well and construct personalities that are worth the effort.

As I’ve said in previous posts, one of the best tools is to take a novel you worship and pick it apart. What exact moment piqued your interest? Ask yourself why and use the answer as a learning tool.

The trick is to mingle the bond with a light touch of backstory, sensory flavors, names, and descriptions.

Easy peasy said no one ever.

Here is my process of breaking down a novel. 

Today it is Moon Called by Patricia Briggs.

“I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.”
Great first sentence. You know right away that this is fantasy.

“My nose isn’t at its best when surrounded by axle grease and burnt oil...” 
Can you smell it? Good sensory elements.

“I was burrowed under the engine compartment of a Jetta...”   
Oh ho. This is modern day for sure.
“...settling a rebuilt transmission into its new home.” 
Action. It moves the story and gives me an anchor. I am in the scene. The true bonding happens in the same paragraph. 
“One of the drawbacks in running a one-woman garage was that I had to stop and start every time the phone rang...It made me grumpy—which isn’t a good way to deal with customers.”
Now I’m hooked. Here is a modern gal who is working in a garage. She is repairing a car and knows a werewolf when she smells one. That makes her supernatural also.

She is grumpy when disturbed from her work. A werewolf is at her door, what will she do? And how does she know it’s a werewolf?

Deconstructing a book, asking why you like it, is one of the most powerful tools a writer has. Try it and see for yourself.