Epic Fantasy Giveaway

I have teamed up with 20 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Epic Fantasy novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!

Oh, and did I mention you’ll receive a collection of FREE reads just for entering?

You can win my novel, The Key of F, plus books from authors like D.K. Holmberg, Graceley Knox, and Jennifer Ellision.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here:  http://bit.ly/epicfantasy-nov18

Good luck and enjoy!

~jenn

Summer Reading Contest 2018- Two months to go!

The Books and Questions:

(Keep your eyes open, these books are occasionally free, discounted, or up for giveaway!)

1

 

 

 

In The Key of F, name three powers Fale reawakens.

https://www.amazon.com/Key-Freedom-Fight-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B079P7DMQ4/

lucifer

 

 

 

In Lucifer: Soldiers, Serpents, and Sin, what’s the name of the place where the Oralians are born?

https://www.amazon.com/Lucifer-Soldiers-Serpents-Lightning-Thunder-ebook/dp/B01BX862UO/

daddy

 

 

 

In Daddy’s Baby, what is the baby’s name?

https://www.amazon.com/Daddys-Baby-Landis-Lain-ebook/dp/B01IS68LQC/

The Contest Details

Email HASKIN.AUTHOR@GMAIL.COM with the answers to the above questions from the selected books. Each correct answer equals one entry into the drawing. Tell us if you have left an Amazon review, as each review will equal another entry into our drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, bookish gifts, author swag, samples of upcoming chapters, and other fun items. Contest ends September 30th. You do NOT want to miss this!

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If you prefer not to receive emails from the above authors, please add the word “private” to your email subject line.

Summer Reading Contest 2018

2018-06-27 (2)

https://www.amazon.com/Key-Freedom-Fight-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B079P7DMQ4/
https://www.amazon.com/Lucifer-Soldiers-Serpents-Lightning-Thunder-ebook/dp/B01BX862UO/
https://www.amazon.com/Daddys-Baby-Landis-Lain-ebook/dp/B01IS68LQC/
Email HASKIN.AUTHOR@GMAIL.COM with the answers to the following questions from the selected books. Each correct answer equals one entry into the drawing. Tell us if you have left an Amazon review, as each review will equal another entry into our drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, author swag, samples of upcoming chapters, and other fun items. Contest ends September 30th. You do NOT want to miss this!
1, In The Key of F, name three powers that Fale reawakens?

2. In Lucifer: Soldiers, Serpents and Sin, what’s the name of the place the Oralians are born?

3. In Daddy’s Baby, what is the baby’s name?

If you prefer not to receive emails from the above authors, please add the word “private” to your email subject line.

Agent Questions Volume Fourteen- When to Get an Agent

close up photo of man wearing black suit jacket doing thumbs up gesture

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When do you start the process of getting an agent?

What should my expectations be?

 

In my opinion, when the book is fully written, then you begin edits and research for an agent. There are different ways to do this. One, you can look up www.manuscriptwishlist.com, www.mswishlist.com, www.querytracker.net, etc. Search Google. You will be lost in searches for quite a while. You do not want to submit to an agent until your book is fully edited. Agents expect to edit your work, but they are looking for a manuscript with one more revision, tops. They want to run through one round of edits with you and then pitch your book to publishers. They also do not want you to send them manuscripts in genres that they don’t read. When you go to the first site above, agents and editors list what they are looking for, so you know who to send your manuscript.

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Another way to find agents is to spend a day at the bookstore or library and pick up a bundle of books that are in your genre and relate closely to your book. (Keep track of the names as these books are also your comps.) Go to the back of the book, where the author gives thanks to their agent and publisher. Write this info down. These agents are getting things done, and when you get a new agent, you want someone who can put you in the bookstores and libraries. And when they ask what publishers you might be looking for, you have a list of those as well.

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When querying (see previous post about how to write your query), you will get many responses. This article by @YAFantasyFan (Kelly Peterson at Corvisiero Literary Agency) gives insight into some of the rejections you may receive:

  1. “I’m not connecting with your character.” Your character isn’t deep enough for readers to connect with emotionally. They may also not be making realistic and logical choices in the readers’ minds. Take another look at your character and evaluate their emotionality and choices.

 

  1. “I’m not connecting with your voice.” This could be a lot of things, but it’s usually a lack of fluency and an overuse of dialogue or description. There needs to be a balance between description, dialogue, and action, as well as fluency of words. No balance = no connection.

 

  1. “It’s just not pulling me in the way I want it to.” You’re probably starting at the wrong part of your story. Either it’s too much action or not enough. Or it’s too in depth or too much information or not enough. Or it could quite possibly just be your writing style. See above!

 

  1. “I didn’t love it the way I wanted.” This is subjective and usually just means it was good, but we didn’t connect with it enough to be emotionally invested in its future. Try looking over your character’s emotionality and drives and see what you can alter for deeper connection!

 

  1. “Your word count is too high for this age range and genre.” Literally, your word count is too high to sell. We’re sorry, but you’re unfortunately not Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J Maas, or George R. R. Martin. Please go back and edit your word count down and take proper time to do so.

 

  1. This isn’t for me.” If the agent represents the genre and age range, this usually means we’re not interested/wanting to be involved with something in your manuscript. Is it a YA Fantasy w/ a suicidal MC? Sorry, my avoidance of emotional turmoil marks this as a NO.

 

  1. “This wasn’t a good fit.” This rejection is very similar to “This isn’t for me” and “it’s just not pulling me in the way I wanted.” See above for further help with this rejection!

 

  1. “Unfortunately, the submission wasn’t a good fit for us at this time.” This is very similar to “This wasn’t a good fit” but can usually relate to the agent’s current list as well. Or maybe it’s an idea that just isn’t selling right now within the publishing cycle. See above!

 

  1. “While I found much to admire here, I wasn’t ultimately convinced I would be the best possible advocate for this project.” This is so subjective, and it usually means the agent just isn’t quite in love with it (see above) or doesn’t know how or to whom they would sell it!

 

10. “I love the concept, feel free to try me again.” Ah, this usually means that an agent loves your creativity and your concept, but that the writing just isn’t quite there. They see some sort of potential though, so they left the door open for you in the future.

 

11.”We found *insert thing in manuscript* problematic.” This usually means it’s not a good fit for the agency but using “problematic” is troublesome. Find beta and sensitivity readers if you don’t see the problems, and if they specifically point out the problem, listen to them.

**Side note: if this is own voices, it’s probably not as problematic as they would have it seem, but rather they’re telling you they don’t know how to represent your own voices story and the voices, realities, and power it could raise. Keep their thought. Let it fuel you forward.

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When you get a yes, and the agent calls you or emails with your acceptance, celebrate for a minute. You’ve managed to get representation. This is a big deal. When I would get a new author, I used to send them a checklist of things to do, or things I needed for the future. It looked something like this (some items have been deleted):

  Make sure to give Jenn all your contact info: mailing address, phone number, social media links
  Give Jenn your birthdate and Social security number for payment
  Send Jenn your bio for the website
  Send Jenn your author headshot (It’s okay not to have a professional one yet. It’s for the website, as well.)
  Make sure you have given Jenn a good query and 1-2 page synopsis- this will help with emailing publishers
  Also make up a short blurb about your book- a tagline, not necessarily your pitch- that will interest readers
  Give Jenn a list of your favorite publishers- find books in your genre at the bookstore, look in the front to
see who their publisher is, and look in the acknowledgements to see who their (acquiring) editor is.
  Put “Author of __[title]__, repped by @haskinauthor (on Twitter). Also add to Facebook, Instagram,
Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads, etc.
  “Friend” Jenn on her social media sites, and/or add her link as your rep:
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/1haskinauthor
Google + http://plus.google.com/+jenniferhaskinauthor
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-haskin-b767a29
Twitter http://twitter.com/haskinauthor
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36341262-the-key-of-f#bookDetails
Instagram http://instagram.com/haskinauthor (book)
Facebook www.facebook.com/jenniferhaskinauthor
Website http://www.jenniferhaskin.com
  Self-edit using Jenn’s links and pages of helpful tips
  Right away, start to build your platform- make your own social media site IDs- use Jenn’s list above for ideas
If you already have sites, but they are not “author” pages, change them or make new “author” pages

 

close up of text on wood

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Now that you have an agent and you know what they are looking for from you, what can you expect an agent to do?

  1. They will fall in love with your manuscript. They must have a “passion” for it, because they must be its champion in pitches to publishers.
  2. Free editing (Agents will most likely have edits for you, but they should be free. They may offer you referrals to outside editors, but you do not have to use them. It is your choice. In my opinion, paid editing is done BEFORE you submit to the agent to get the book in the best possible shape for publishing.)
  3. Give advice and answer questions. Your agent is your partner in the publishing industry.
  4. They should announce you on social media to the world and to their team. Your bio and photo on their website. Your agent is your champion. They will help you determine your correct genre, your marketing plan, and share with you any information about your publishing process.
  5. They will come up with a list of publishers (through acquiring editors) that are possibilities for you. Do your research. Know who the publishers are and if you want to be one of their clients. You researched your agent, so research your publisher. Do you like their covers? Do you like the other books they have out?
  6. Then they will pitch your book to the list of editors, but it is a SLOW process. They cannot pitch to imprints that are in the same house at the same time, so they pitch in rounds. If the editor passes, they are free to contact another imprint from the same house. The top 5 houses are: Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin/Random House, Hachette, and Harper Collins. Publishers can take months to respond, and not all give reasons for their rejection. The road is long, be prepared.
  7. You should be able to be as involved as you want to be in the process. Let your agent know if you would like to know every response, or just a weekly update, etc.
  8. When you are accepted by a publisher, your agent will mediate. They will help you by negotiating the contract. You may ask any question you have about the contract and have it explained to you.
  9. The publisher pays the agent. Your agent generally takes 15% and will pay you the remaining amount.

10.It does happen that the agent cannot sell your book to a top 5 house. You have the option of accepting a smaller house, but make sure your questions are answered. In some events, the agent and author decide to “shelf” the book. This simply means putting it away for a bit because it either needs too much editing than there is time for, or more commonly, the market is already full of the type of book you have written, and it needs to wait awhile before being pitched again.

11.There are so many behind-the-scenes things that an agent does, I won’t list them all. They are ultimately the key to getting you published by a traditional publisher. Be you, be professional, be kind, and understanding.

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Remember to ask questions. Know what you want. Make goals for yourself, your book, and your career. Know if you want to publish for yourself, for your family, or if you strive to be a bestseller. It might sound silly but map out your success. Your agent is your partner and can help you achieve these goals, but you must make them first. I hope that answers your question. If you want to know more, leave me some questions in the comment section and I will try to elaborate.

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Good luck wherever you are in your publishing journey!!

~jenn

For YOU. For Everyone. You need to read this, or you know someone who does.

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I quit smoking after 32 years. I was a light smoker, but I enjoyed the taste. And the relaxing rush of serotonin that never failed to calm my nerves. I quit mid-pack. I put it in my safe and promised myself I would not buy a new one.

Yay me. Right.

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I have done great. The cravings are manageable. Yes, I’ve had a few. But then one Sunday I had a revelation.

I was feeling a little groggy, I’d had a nap, it was a lovely summer day. And I felt out of place, like I was missing something. I wanted something. I got tea from my fridge and saw my hard lemonade. I thought, Do I want that?

I closed the fridge and continued thinking, I could cheat on my diet with the alcohol or I could go to the safe and have a cigarette.

Hmmm? 

close up photography of a person holding cigarette

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That’s when it happened. A voice in my head said, You know, they’ve proven that causes cancer, right?

Bells, lights and whistles went off in my head!

It causes cancer. In small doses, but it’s proven. If I smoked a cigarette, it would be exactly like going to my kitchen and taking an arsenic pill. With the exception of my little dose of serotonin, it would do the same thing to my body… kill it slowly.

brown haired woman with pink lipstick biting white cigarette stick

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Arsenic, if you’re wondering, is a chemical compound. Wikipedia says: Arsenic poisoning is a medical condition that occurs due to elevated levels of arsenic in the body. If arsenic poisoning occurs over a brief period of time symptoms may include vomitingabdominal painencephalopathy, and watery diarrhea that contains blood. Long-term exposure can result in thickening of the skin, darker skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heart diseasenumbness, and cancer.

Yeah, gross. But the point is, in small doses they will both kill you. It’s a proven fact. Don’t believe me? Look it up. You obviously have connection to Google, if you’re here.

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I am not going to shy away from this. Keeping your serotonin rush is understandable, but selfish. It’s a selfish desire to rebel or to feed your need for relaxation. Either way, YOU are the one who is going to get cancer and make your loved ones have to watch you go through all the symptoms of cancer before you die and deprive them of more time with you.

How relaxing does that sound? Awww, can’t handle it? How about a pill or a stick full of cancer? Same thing.

I know, that was mean. I want to shake you up a little. Because now you have two choices: find a new way to cope with the loss of serotonin and the hand- to- mouth connection by picking up another habit (albeit good or bad), OR getting some help from your psych, your doctor, your church, the quitsmoking organizations, your family, your spouse, your best friends, and your social media family.

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Include everyone when you quit today. If the revelation didn’t hit you like it did me, think of cancer. Do you know anyone in your life suffering with it? Have you lost anyone special? You are next if you don’t quit smoking today. We are not guaranteed time. None of us. I thought of a pill, you think of any mode of ingestion and add a cancer causing chemical. Having a cigarette could mean the same to you as a shot of jack with arsenic.

Which would you choose? They’re the same.

You just don’t know it yet.

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I never even wanted to quit. I knew they cause cancer, yada yada. But I smoked them anyway. Kind of a middle finger to death attitude, a self-destruct mechanism maybe?

But then my daughter said, “Mommy I care about you. I want you to know my kids.”

And I thought, Me too.

My other kids had shouted at me, “Smoking kills.” But I already knew that. Maybe I was thinking about how it wouldn’t actually kill me. Maybe I was kind of wanting it to? I don’t know, but I wasn’t thinking of all the things I have to live for.

If someone came to you today with a life or death choice, we would all choose the “life” option. But then why do we make a death choice every time we smoke?

You can’t any more. You just can’t.

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From today: STOP. Be Well. Whether you feel no one out there cares whether you live or die, You and I do. You are worth it. If you don’t believe me, smoking is not even your issue. You need to find your self-worth before you can quit. There is help out there for that.

~Jenn Haskin

haskin.author@gmail.com

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Here are some resources on how to quit smoking and a video you need to watch on what happens to you after you quit:

http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/i-want-to-quit/

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-quit-smoking-4157296

https://smokefree.gov/quitting-smoking/steps-manage-quit-day

https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/quit-smoking#1

Agent Questions Volume Thirteen- All About Voice

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“Although the story has promise, I just didn’t connect with the voice. It needs to be stronger. It’s a pass. Sorry.”

As an agent, I pitched books to acquiring editors at publishing houses. Rejections came concerning connection of the story itself to the editor, but the one I see the most regards voice.

So, what is voice? Is it important? Why do editors want a “strong voice,” and how do I get one?

Wikipedia says, “Not to be confused with Character voice or Grammatical voice. Writing coaches, teachers, and authors of creative writing books often speak of a writer’s voice as distinguished from other literary elements. However, as voice is often described vaguely, this distinction may be only superficial. In some instances, voice is defined nearly the same as style; in others, as genre, literary mode, point of view, or tone.”

Every author has a voice. It is the way a story is told. It’s the way a writer phrases things, describes scenes, and structures sentences.

What about the character? There is something called Character voice, and it is different than the writer’s voice. The character’s voice is expressed in the way the main character views the story, how they see their world. Each character should have their own distinct voice.

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Can voice change? Yes.

“Just as you dress differently on different occasions, as a writer you assume different voices in different situations. If you’re writing an essay about a personal experience, you may work hard to create a strong personal voice in your essay. . .  If you’re writing a report or essay exam, you will adopt a more formal, public tone. Whatever the situation, the choice you make as you write and revise. . . will determine how readers interpret and respond to your presence.”(Lisa Ede, Work in Progress: A Guide to Writing and Revising. St. Martin’s Press, 1989)

Different genres often have different voices. That’s natural. Imagine sharing a story with someone else. You wouldn’t tell a horror story in the same voice you would tell a light fairy tale retelling. It makes sense that your voice would change between these types of tale.

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Are there other kinds of voice beside character and writer? Yes.

Stream of consciousness voice– In literature, stream of consciousness is a method of narration that describes happenings in the flow of thoughts in the minds of the characters. The term was initially coined by psychologist William James in his research, The Principles of Psychology.

https://literarydevices.net/stream-of-consciousness/

Unreliable voice-An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. The term was coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction. … Sometimes the narrator’s unreliability is made immediately evident.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unreliable_narrator

Epistolary voice-An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, or documents to convey the story…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistolary_novel

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Subjective voice– shows the thoughts and feelings of the characters

Objective voice– gives unbiased and objective report of facts

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Active voice- Active voice. In most English sentences with an action verb, the subject performs the action denoted by the verb. These examples show that the subject is doing the verb’s action. Because the subject does or “acts upon” the verb in such sentences, the sentences are said to be in the active voice.  i.e. “The girl goes to school.”

https://www.towson.edu/ows/activepass.htm

Passive voice–  A verb is in the passive voice when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. For example, in “The ball was thrown by the pitcher,” the ball (the subject) receives the action of the verb, and was thrown is in the passive voice.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/passive-voice

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Voice and POV-

First person= (I/We) “I went to the store.”

Second person= (You) “The first time I saw you, I knew we’d be friends.”

Third person omniscient= (All knowing) “He was the kid who hated math more than anyone else.”

Third person limited omniscient= (POV of one or two characters with partial knowledge) “She felt strange telling him all her secrets.” Later, “He had appreciated her sharing with him.

Third person objective= (Surface info told objectively) “The field was alive with people and fabric of all colors and sizes. The band could be heard for miles.”

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But you haven’t told us how to have a strong voice.

Here’s the key: As attitude, tone and personal style are parts of a writer’s voice, you need to keep the style and description of your story, but edit out the monotony, boring scenes, unclear language.

A strong voice is cultivated in the editing process with concise language, sensory words, and emotional expression. Do not think the word concise only means “short.” The definition of concise is: giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive.

So, you want to focus on brevity, clarity, precision, and language style.

For a strong writer’s voice, focus on being clear with your descriptions, use language that your target readers use, use words to make pictures in the reader’s mind, and finally, vary your sentences. Add rhythm to monotonous lines that are all the same length.

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Carefully choose your tone of voice. Tell the story your unique way, then edit it to be clear, brief and comprehensive. You can do it!!

Have more to add about voice? Put it in the comments.

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Twelve-30 YA Tropes

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Question: I write YA. How do I know what to steer away from?

Answer: The following YA tropes

  1. The Brooding loner that no girl can resist OR perfectly handsomepexels-photo-1065098.jpeg
  2. Protagonist full of angst
  3. Rebellious princesses- or clumsy princesses with weapons skills that beat the evil master. pexels-photo-235488.jpeg
  4. Inauthentic dialogue- overdoing slang, dumbing-down, including trends, preaching moral lessons
  5. Overly odd character names
  6. One dimensional BFF
  7. Purely evil villains with no motive. pexels-photo-64699.jpeg
  8. Surprise royalty or powers
  9. Love trianglespexels-photo-192329.jpeg
  10. Trilogies
  11. Insta-love
  12. Life changing kisses
  13. People are killed for not conformingpexels-photo-433935.jpeg
  14. Soul mates without a choice
  15. The only makeup the girl wears is lip balm
  16. Over elaborate plot with a life changing mission
  17. Characters built on quirks/stereotypes
  18. Beautiful girl who thinks she ugly until some angsty boy tells her how beautiful she is- now she can do anything!!
  19. The chosen one- you are the only teen on earth capable of outwitting a league of demons
  20. Strong female protagonist who hates all girly stuff i.e. clothes, crying, makeup, girly actions, she’s a total tomboy with combat skillspexels-photo-92129.jpeg
  21. The head cheerleader- she used to be the protagonist’s BFF and one incident in the past turned her into a diva and they lost touch
  22. Omniscient government that controls everyone
  23. Super rich teenagers with race cars and live alone in mansionspexels-photo-1079337.png
  24. Best guy friend ends up being Romeo all along
  25. NO parents- dead parents (Orphan protagonist), abusive parents (protagonist in foster care), negligent or oblivious parents (protagonist runs around with absentee parents, no curfew, no one to call if they leave town).
  26. Mary Sue/Gary Stu- protagonist has high standards, tries to do the right thing, villain endangers their loved ones, they sacrifice themselves to save everyone, won’t intentionally kill, won’t choose one life over another, won’t let someone harm themselves, won’t leave anyone behind, thinks villain is likewise honest.pexels-photo-236287.jpeg
  27. Hero’s journey- hero realization, explaining mentor, adventure road trip with 3 trials/terrors, face-off, hero wins
  28. Unqualified teen protagonist succeeding over qualified adults
  29. Hero refuses to fight in an uncomfortable world, intervention by mentor changes their mind, they overcome fear, hero faces the ordeal, gets ready to fight (weapons training), wins the reward (love), there is chase scene on the road back home, hero saves the day.
  30. Hero wins via a magical talismanpexels-photo.jpg

 

Can you think of more? Add them in the comments below…

Have a great day!

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Eleven- What is a pitch?

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This week’s author question:

What is a pitch? What exactly goes into a pitch, how do you pitch, and how do you decide whom to pitch?pexels-photo-291630.jpeg

As far as a “pitch” goes, let me try to explain. When an author wants to hook an agent, they write a query letter. But when an agent wants to hook an (acquiring) editor, we write a “pitch.” This pitch letter is a different style than the query. We introduce the author and give information that makes them relatable to the publisher, as well as tell why they are the best one to write this particular book. We introduce the manuscript itself and give it a good hook to interest the editor. We tell the editor what type of audience will love this book and why, what its comp titles are, and why we think it will be a success, also describing the author’s platform and how we know it will sell.

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The agent compiles a list of editors that they know will be interested in your book. The best way to know what editors are looking for is to know them, but another way, is to know what is on the editor’s wishlist. Some of them are listed on http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com, and some are on http://www.publishersmarketplace.com. When the agent has found a list of editors that would be interested in your story, they have to develop “rounds” to send in. One cannot send to more than one imprint in the same house simultaneously. For example, you may send to one Simon & Schuster imprint in round one; then, after they have answered in the negative, you may send out to the next Simon & Schuster imprint in the next round. After receiving a rejection for round two, the agent may then send to a third Simon & Schuster imprint in round three. Etc. Etc.

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A pitch can be done in person, over the phone, on skype, or by email, the same way you query to agents. Many emails go out, and then it is a waiting game to see who answers back. I advise not rushing to change a manuscript with the first editorial advice you are given, as it is one person’s opinion, and the right editor may be out there looking for exactly what you have. However, if many people offer feedback that has the same, or similar advice on how to make the book more appealing, it is worth it to consider making those revisions before sending out to the next round, in my opinion.

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Then the waiting game begins again. This part can be a short sell, or it could take a very long time. There are authors who have been in a “pitching” phase for years. Editors are very busy people. Don’t lose hope or faith when you do not get an acceptance right away. That is a purely lucky occurrence. Tell your agent if you want to be notified “per answer,” or “every five rejections,” or only when there is advice, or only if there is an acceptance. Some agents have a system that works for them and they will let you know when it is convenient for them. However, it never hurts to talk about this when pitching begins.

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Some people call querying to agents “pitching.” Some people call pitching to editors “querying.” The terminology can be interchanged, but for the most part, I have heard and personally use, the two terms as “query” for agents, and “pitch” to editors. When in doubt, ask your agent what their preferred terminology and methods are, just to be sure.

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Make sense? It’s really easy, but not commonly explained. There is more research involved and one must know the houses and imprints, as well as each house’s editors and their wish lists, to make all that happen. Trust in your agent and while you wait for answers…write a new book!

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Also, some things to discuss with your agent when it comes time to pitch:

  • Where do you see your book being published? What publishing house(s)?
  • The “Big 5” publishing houses are: Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.
  • Is your heart set on a “big 5” publishing house only? Or would a small press suffice? (Small press does not denote “low quality.” Do your homework, to make sure.)
  • If your agent pitches to “big 5” publishers and gets only rejections, would you rather revise your manuscript and send to more “big 5” imprints, or would you be amenable to selling to a lesser known press at that time?
  • Your agent needs to see your vision. If the agent pitches and gets no takers, are you more likely to try a different book, or try another agent?
  • Business is business and agents understand if we aren’t getting anywhere that you may choose to find a new agent who may have different contacts, or be more passionate about the story. No one wants you to feel that you are stuck with no way out. If this is the case, PLEASE discuss with your agent and make up a plan of action. Your agent should be happy to answer your questions and plan with you.

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What is your experience with agents, and pitching? Have you been through the process before? Going through it now? Do you have any advice to debut authors waiting for that one acceptance that will make their dreams come true?

Happy Writing!

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Ten- The Illusive Author Bio

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Do I need more than one bio?

Writing an author bio is a daunting task. How do I do it? What goes in it? How long should it be? That all depends. They are widely different, but a writer actually needs three versions of their author bio. A long, or extended, version for your website, media kit and publisher. A medium length for queries and use for being a guest on a website. And a brief bio, fit for bylines and social media. Let’s dig in.

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The query bio:

A query letter is comprised of three parts: the intro paragraph, a couple of summary “hook” paragraphs, and one bio paragraph. If you have nothing and a query needs to go, rather than spending 2 minutes on your bio and clicking “send,” Writer’s Digest suggests you list your writing as part-time or full time and add that the manuscript is complete.

What do agents want to know in a query bio? It goes without saying, the “brief” bio should be, you guessed it, brief.

 

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Do’s versus Do Not’s for query bio inclusion:    postit-scrabble-to-do.jpg

  • Include writing credits- any time you are paid to write, this includes your job only if your job pays you to write or you work in a bookstore or literary capacity. Short stories, and articles would go here by their publications, NOT the titles of each article you’ve written. Italicize titles of works, do not add quotations. Poetry generally does not impress in a query bio.
  • Do write in first person.
  • Add contests and awards especially those relevant to the literature you are presenting.
  • Include education if you have an MFA or something that adds credibility to your book. i.e. “I studied psychology of Rwandan women, and my book is about Rwanda’s women and their cultural taboos.”
  • Let us know if you are part of a National writer’s organization. You do NOT need to include your Mommy & Me classes, even if the theme is literature. And online writing groups need only be added if they are well known, such as SCBWII.
  • If you have had an experience which lends authenticity to your book. For example, “I lived with a strictly Mormon family for a year, because my book is a Mormon romance.”
  • Be professional!

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  • Do NOT include random subjects like what you ate for breakfast (don’t laugh, it happens), or the names of all your pets, or your favorite location for writing.
  • We don’t need to know your Nana was your greatest influence for writing, how long it took you to write the novel, whether this is your twenty-fifth publication (including whether your book is a debut), or which draft the manuscript is on.
  • All work is copyrighted as soon as it’s written, so we don’t need to know that your manuscript is copyrighted or what the number is. (If your book has a copyright because it has been previously published somewhere else, that is of note; but not in the author section.)
  • Your personal history “in a nutshell” is not necessary, or how you feel about querying itself. We don’t need to know the entire list of pen names you’ve come up with (that is either done before the query, or comes later), or that you think that may be why you’ve been rejected before.
  • I know your friends and family loved your story, of course they do, but the query is not the place to talk about it. Even if your fiction is based off your real-life family. All fiction is based loosely on real-life, so we don’t need to know all the connections, or who little Suzie is in your life. As queries are made to “hook” your potential agent, you don’t need to include quotes from others about how great your book is. Save that for the book jacket.

*Tip: These suggestions listed are for a fiction manuscript. However, in a non-fiction proposal, the bio is the most important part. This is where you give credibility to your work and list ways in which your non-fiction is authentic. That type of bio includes more technical information than fiction.

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For extended bios:

Your long bio is going to be one page of double-spaced type, about 250 words. You also want it to sound professional, but this is the document where you want to sound interesting, exciting even. Gasp! Is that allowed? Yes. Write your long bio in 3rd person.

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Addition:

Your long bio will include the items above, but here you may expand a bit on them. After these items, you may add your experiences and hobbies; work history, where you live, education, other things that might make you newsworthy (Are you a sword swallower? While tap-dancing to the National Anthem?), list your online presence, anything that gives you writing cred, but only include your family if it adds authenticity to your story (example, “My grandfather suffered for a year with brain cancer before he passed, so I’m writing a cancer grieving memoir/devotional.”). Remember, make it sound interesting, or entertaining, with professionalism.

You can include a photo with your long bio, but only do so if it has been professionally taken and represents you well. You do not want to over-filter your photo to look beautiful, and then be unrecognizable in person. Or worse, disappoint people who “don’t think you look like your picture at all.” It’s a fine line, but you will eventually need to have a good, professional author photo taken for use in your book jacket, on your website, as your avatar for social media, and for your press kit (which is used to announce the release of your book to the public and/or media).

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Finally, as time goes by, you will become a member of more groups, and your career will advance. Don’t forget to change your bio to update your new accomplishments.

Have you written your bio yet? What did you struggle with? What was easy? Have any fresh tips? Tell us in the comments…

Happy writing!

~jenn

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Apology~ish

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Hi all! Please excuse my lack of post last week. I will have another volume of Agent Questions very soon. I do ask that you send in more questions! I feel like I have over-run several subjects, but there are so many to choose from, I like to have choices that are relevant to you!

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Now, why was I gone? Good question. I had been experiencing some terrible back pain, to the point of using a walker in public and having no control of my leg muscles. I called many doctors who said to keep my April appointments and that if it was that bad to go to the ER.

Not only is that an expensive ($753) option, but I knew they would try to unsuccessfully help my pain and send me home with a doctor’s appointment. Thus, my refusal to go in, and my many ineffective attempts to get an appointment sooner.

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After my doctor ordered me three series of painful spinal injections, things became much worse in the span of two weeks. I was falling several times a day, and barely able to use my stairs with help. So I told hubsalot that they were never going to take me seriously unless I went in to the ER.

We went the next day and as they were unsuccessful with my pain, they took an MRI and admitted me for “overnight observation.”  It was not long after the MRI when my surgeon showed up. He said I needed emergency spinal surgery.

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Oh, and I’m also a MRSA carrier. Surprise! Happy birthday. pexels-photo-260234.jpeg

Gee, thanks. They ended up cutting out the disk that was spilling its nucleus, relieved the pressure from the spinal cord being squeezed, and fused L2 to my L3/L4/L5 fusion. No, nothing happened. No car accident or trapeze stunt gone wrong. Its all genetic. My poor dad has had over 6 back surgeries, two hip replacements, two new knees, and now that one shoulder has been fixed, the other one is acting up.

He gave me: spinal stenosis (neck to tail), degenerative disc disease (top to bottom), lumbar osteoarthritis, and all by myself I got a reverse curvature in my neck (Reverse cervical lordosis), and kyphoscoliosis (where my spine twists from side to side, AND over exaggerates front to back curves). And I have a spinal stimulator implanted in my hip. At least the rechargeable battery is there. Yes, it charges through the skin. Yeah, the kids call me a cyborg.

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Whew! I know, that’s a lot. It’s okay. It makes me a chronic pain warrior. And I have a handicapped parking pass, because it’s for people who can’t walk 3,000 feet (or something close to that) without assistance. Sometimes my walker is my assistance; no one notices then, or if I need my cane. But days when it’s just the stimulator and a brace…people comment. The biggest thing I hear is, you don’t look handicapped. Or, where’s your wheelchair?

That’s just hurtful and divisive.

Soapbox over. Hey look, squirrel!

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So, I stayed in the hospital for a few days and came home to find out that my incision was infected. I rolled on the couch in a fever for a few more days and found that I cannot stay awake long enough to do anything.

That’s my apology~ish. I’m sorry I didn’t post last week, but not only do I have a good reason, I will follow this with another writing post tomorrow! Yay! If you’re still with me, good for you- you have patience and maybe a fascination with surgery and gross stuff.

Me too.

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Have a great day! See you tomorrow!

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Nine- How to Write a Query

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How to write a query letter-

or the Haskin Query Formula

See the query letter as many things. It is the hook to woo your potential partner in the publishing business, it is partly that blurb that you need to have memorized when someone asks you what your book is about, it is also the first and sometimes only chance to communicate with an agent/publisher. Is it important? Yes. How do you write one? Keep reading.

Query letters have a formula. They can be divided into three parts: the intro, the info, and the bio. In the intro, you will state how you know the agent and how you know they’ll like what you’ve written. This is your formal addressing. You’re going to have researched your potential agent on www.manuscriptwishlist.com, www.mswishlist.com, or www.querytracker.net (there is also agent tracker), where you can see what agents are looking for. Hopefully it’s exactly what you’re writing (the most current wish lists are on Twitter at #MSWL). You are going to say, “Dear Mr./Ms. Smith, I noticed from your profile on _________, that you acquire steamy romances with a dash of horror (quote something from their wish list). As such, I thought you might enjoy my 86,000- word romantic thriller titled GUNS AND ROSES (Make sure you capitalize your title the first time it appears. And round your word count to the nearest thousand.).” Feel free to embellish this paragraph a little, but make sure that all this information is there: title, genre, word count, and why you chose this agent.

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Next is the “info.” This is the section where you will summarize your novel. Don’t use more than two, possibly three if they’re small, paragraphs explaining the main concept of your plot. *Do not include the ending.* This is your opportunity to hook the agent and make them want to read your synopsis (where you will give the entire scene by scene description of your story, including the ending). Make the book really shine here, if it’s mysterious, show us; if it’s humorous, make us laugh. Showcase your work briefly. I generally read the query letter to see if I like the book’s concept, the synopsis tells me if you can write a whole story, with rising action, a climax, and resolution. Then, your sample pages tell me if you can pull off that story in your synopsis by your writing style.

Make sense? So, each part of your query arsenal is important for a different reason. Also make sure to capitalize any character’s name the first time it appears in your query. Capitalizing too many names? Then there are too many characters in your query. Limit introductions to the three or so main characters.

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The final paragraph of your query is going to be your bio. I wrote a separate blog post on this subject that will post next week. In just one paragraph, we want to know anything that has to do with your writing experience. Did you write for the school paper in high school and it began your love of prose? Were you a Young Author Award winner? Do you publish poetry in your spare time? Do you write songs for your church? I do not need to know the names of all three of your show cats plus what you like to eat for breakfast when it snows, and yes, that does happen. Your five kids’ names and favorite sports do not go here, leave that for your bio in the back of your book. Make sense? That is not to say you can’t make it personal and tell me you like writing journal after journal by firelight in your mountain cabin, that you share with your family, or that the scenery inspires you to create your colorful fiction about living in the 1800s, but make sure you are letting me know about you and how you got to be writing this query. Make your bio relevant to the query. That’s what your agent is interested in. Make sure to follow up with a “thank you for your time and consideration,” then Sincerely, and your name. All this should fit onto one sheet of paper. Single spaced, with paragraph indentions. With the advent of email queries, if your query letter is a LITTLE over one page long, the agent will not be able to tell when you copy and paste it into an email. However, if it is two pages, or so dry that it drags on and on, the agent will lose interest and that is not to your benefit.

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Don’t forget to check your formats and follow submission guidelines exactly. Some agents want your items attached, and others want your entire submission inside one email with no attachments. This issue is serious enough to get your query deleted, if done wrong. Many companies have virus caution and never allow attachments. So double check the submission guidelines for the agent, and the company. Most often they are the same, but if not, go with the request of the agent in question.

And finally, please do not ever query more than one agent in an agency at the same time. You will shoot yourself in the foot. Let me explain, if two agents like a manuscript, they ask to see the “full.” If one agent is interested and makes an offer, the author has the responsibility to contact the other agents they have submitted to and inform them that an offer has been made. If the other agent(s) also like the manuscript enough to put in an offer, they are now in competition with one another. Agents are friends, but business is business. No two agents at the same company want to be put into this position. It is awkward and, for the most part, against company policy. You risk not being taken by either. They are not going to draw straws for you or anything, but it’s a limbo that you don’t want your manuscript in. If it is a company where agents share, your query will get passed around anyway, or the agent you queried may pass it to someone at their agency if they think it’s a better fit. If I see that you have already queried every other agent in my company and they have all rejected you, it doesn’t scream “I’m for you!” at my face. Honestly, I think, wow, no one I work with liked this manuscript, it must not be very good, or I would have heard about it. If your writing is good, it will speak for itself. Let it.

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I hope that answers a few questions. As always, if you have more questions about queries, or publishing in general, let me know. Do you have query disaster stories? Have you been part of a “shark tank” before? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below. I need to hear from the readers of my blog! If you join my mailing list, I send out prizes and author swag once a month to a lucky winner.

**Also as a gift to my blog followers, if you would like me to critique your query, I will accept them for the following week (March 4th through March 11th , 2018). Email me at: Jenn@corvisieroagency.com with “Blog query critique” in the subject line.

~jenn

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Purely Olivia’s Review of The Key of F

ARC REVIEW: The Key of F, by Jennifer Haskin

Hello lovely readers!

Today I’m here with a very exciting post- a review of The Key of F, a thrilling Young Adult fantasy that I was lucky enough to get an ARC of. This is my first ARC to review for my blog, so as you can guess, I’m hyperventilating just a little excited.

Let’s get right into the review!

arrowBut first, a huge thank you to Jennifer Haskin for giving me this opportunity! It was definitely an honor to read her book, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of The Key of F‘s journey to becoming a famous novel. 😉

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Title: The Key of F Author: Jennifer Haskin Expected Publication Date: May 8th, 2018 Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy from the author in exchange for an honest review!

Though Fale has never discovered who murdered her parents and left her orphaned as a child, she attempts to lead a normal and peaceful life. After all, she is training to be a peacekeeping warrior under the direction of her adoptive father. But, when she starts having strange visions that predict the future on her 18th birthday, it turns her life into anything but ordinary. Alongside her best friends and the man who rejected her three years ago, Fale must discover the truths of her past to achieve her true destiny.

Can she harness her inner warrior to save her people? And can she prove that she is no longer an innocent child to the man she loves along the way?

-Goodreads synopsis

First off, I want to say that I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s pretty unusual for me to read fantasy for fun- usually I go for a contemporary or historical fiction, but books like this make me remember why I always end up looking fantasy.

There’s something about fantasy- the worldbuilding involved, the magical qualities, and the unpredictable plots- that draws me in every time. And The Key of F successfully hit all of these points.

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I want to talk first about the worldbuilding and plot. After all, as I said above, those are key in fantasy novels, at least for me. 😉

I’m sure that as an author, it’s incredibly challenging to introduce an entire new world to the reader. That’s probably why I like to write realistic fiction. But the worldbuilding is done really well in The Key of F!

Sometimes when I’m reading the first book in a fantasy series, I truly feel as if I’m reading a history textbook. I can’t take in all the new information, so then I’m confused for the rest of the book. As a reader, I appreciated how spread out the introduction to the world was in The Key of F, and how a lot of it was blended in with the character’s natural conversations.

It wasn’t overwhelming at all, which gave it major points in my opinion.

AND THE PLOT. The plot, y’all.

I don’t want to say too much, since of course spoilers are the best worst, and the Goodreads synopsis above (and here) already gives a basic outline, but let me tell you, it is a crazy ride.

Unpredictable! Twisting, and turning! It was like being on a rollercoaster, in a good way. I truthfully could not have predicted anything that happened. That being said, with so much happening and a lot of new characters being introduced along the way, I sometimes felt confused and had to take a moment, reread, and reanalyze what was happening.

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I really liked the writing style. The writing style appealed to me, making reading The Key of Fenjoyable. I liked the use of dialogue to move the plot along- it worked nicely.

I also ended up liking the third person narration more than I thought I would. I love reading and writing in first person, and I always feel way more connected to the characters when it’s first person and I’m actually inside of their head.

I probably would have preferred it if it had been in first person, but that’s just always been my own personal preference. The third person definitely still provided me with plenty of insight into Fale’s character (and occasionally Keron’s).

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The main character, Fale, was definitely my favorite. I love her character. IT IS AMAZING to read a book with such a strong female character!

me when I realized how strong Fale was!

Fale is independent. She’s strong. She’s a warrior (literally- she’s a warrior in the book). I find it amazing that after all the hardships she’s faced, after being orphaned as a child, she’s still willing to face more. She wants to fight, and I love that.

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Besides the fantasy aspects of the book, romance also plays a pretty large role. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the love interest, Keron.

As the reader quickly finds out, Fale and Keron have a history between them. I started off disliking Keron because of this history, but as the book progresses I did grow to like him more. As he and Fale rebuild their relationship, he does become more likable.

However, I didn’t like how he was so controlling of Fale. It’s his job to protect her (his task is to be her bodyguard of sorts), but I felt like he spent too much time telling her what to do instead.

At the end of the day, I personally felt like he was stifling Fale’s desires to be independent, and that’s why I just couldn’t grow to love him.

arrowSome of the other parts I particularly liked were:

  • Fale’s friendship with two of her friends, Izzy and Lisle. I enjoyed seeing Izzy and Lisle come up again and again throughout the book and gain more of a role.
  • The slow introduction of magic.

Harry and I are alike in this way. We both love magic. If there’s magic in the story, I’m automatically drawn in, and I’m glad to say that The Key of F definitely provided some magic.

  • The descriptions. As I said before, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. Not only was the dialogue superb, but I loved reading all her descriptions of things as well. I could definitely form mental images throughout the story.

arrowTo sum it all up, I award The Key of F…

4star

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It provided great fantasy elements, a strong main character, and overall just kept me on the edge of my chair. I can see myself rereading it, and I’m excited for more books in the series to come in the future. 🙂

There were a few things about it that kept me from giving it five stars, like that the romance wasn’t my favorite, and that I got easily confused because of all the action. But this book still deserves an extremely high rating and to be added to your TBR!

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Thank you again to Jennifer Haskin for the ARC! I’m so glad my first ARC experience was with The Key of F. Now, everyone, go and add it to your TBR right now. 😉

Do you want to read this book now? What do you like about fantasies? Do you like strong female characters? Let’s chat in the comments.

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via ARC REVIEW: The Key of F, by Jennifer Haskin

Agent Questions Volume Eight- The Secret to Getting Published

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What’s the number one thing I can do to get published?

What’s your best piece of advice?

 

Authors ask these two questions the most. Interestingly enough, they have the same long answer. But in short: Strength. Have you heard the words “strong” manuscript yet? If you’re a writer, you will. Why? That’s what agents look for. I’m coining the phrase. A strong manuscript is one with good use of language, good sentence structure, no plot holes, a complete manuscript, they have a clear beginning with rising action to a climax and resolution, a strong voice (another post), showing action, not telling the reader things they’d rather “see,” and above all, they need a great concept.

Not just a good one. Agents get hundreds of good books that come close, but are not quite ready. “Good” is a debatable and subjective term; “great” means simply better than “good.” You can’t know what every agent’s stance and tolerance level is. Just to be sure, make yours as great as you can.

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Agents are looking for a book that is either ready to publish, or one revision away from publishing. So, edits never hurt. Use your beta readers. If you need an editor, NOW is the time. The agent doesn’t have time to sign you and then wait for your manuscript to be edited to greatness. It needs to be there already for the agent’s signature. They will have edits for you right away, and the publisher may do multiple rounds of edits for/with you.

Hire the independent editor before querying the agent. Do all you can to make sure that your manuscript is ready to go. From the internal killer sentences, to the format of your manuscript. Look here for a checklist of items for completing your publish-ready manuscript: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ibpa-online.org/resource/resmgr/docs/IBPA-checklist-FINAL.pdf

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You are the one who makes your manuscript a dynamic story. When you have a strong manuscript, it will capture an agent. That’s your job. The agent will help you find the right publisher and negotiate the contract. But what you have at the starting gate will determine the outcome of your “race” to the finish line.

Your query (How to Write a Query is next week) is mostly about communicating your concept to the agents, and to show your level of professionalism, and how well you follow directions. Agents do reject on queries alone sometimes due to their volume, so it’s always good to have yours look professional, it gives the appearance of experience and forethought. This is a business and your query is your book’s resume, so treat it as such.

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THE most important piece of advice is this: make sure your book is different. Every idea has been written at least twice. Trust me, it has. No “but’s.” I have typed this a lot this week. Every author, yes, I am one, wants to believe that their story idea is completely unique because “I have never heard it before and the whole thing came right out of my brain, word by word, which by definition makes it unique.” Right? Um, no. That’s not what I’m talking about. That idea you had, someone else has already had it, written it, edited it, queried it, signed it, pitched it, and gotten it published. Sorry, but you’re late to the party. Actually, it probably happened before you were born. People have been writing stories since the dawn of time.

That’s the trick with writing. Find the most unique combination of ideas to string together in the most interesting of ways and present it to the world. This is your challenge.

Publishers want something “different.” Something new and fresh. Yes, “regular” and “tropey” books make publishing deals, too. A lot are self-published or taken by small presses. That’s not to say they are bad. They all have readers. However, if your goal is to be traditionally published by one of the Top 5 Houses or their imprints, you are going to have to look for something new. Try two ideas together that you wouldn’t expect.

Cinder (Marissa Meyer)-a Cinderella retelling with cyborgs in space; Throne of Glass (Sarah J Maas)- a girl assassin who happens to be a fae queen; Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)-a vampire that can’t go into the sun because he sparkles; Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)- a child killing-game; Angelfall (Susan Ee)- Angels that hate and kill humans. Or classic stories and retellings, with a surprise twist. One of my clients has a book about Peter Pan in space opera form. Now, that sounds intriguing.

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Some people cannot write within set parameters and insist on writing only what they feel passionate about. My suggestion is to write that book. It’s a learning experience. But when you are brainstorming your next story, think about your theme and do some research on what publishers are looking for. What’s the market looking for? Get a few ideas from those parameters. By the time your story comes out, it may not be on trend… but it might be. Either way, you’ve got a new book to be passionate about. To stand behind. One of the best ways to figure out what the industry wants, is to look at what agents are asking for.

A site I send everyone to is: www.manuscriptwishlist.com There you enter your genre and search for agents or editors (these are acquiring editors for publishers) who are wishing for just what you are writing. But occasionally on their wish lists, there are subjects that you notice are a common theme. Those are especially of notice. Other times their wish lists have specific ideas. Write one of those stories, and you already know an agent you’ll want to query when you’re ready. Here are a few on there today:

  • Looking for queer gang ensemble casts in any YA genre/sub-genre that kick ass physically, mentally, at the arcade or in a high-stakes heist
  • Bonus points if they are set in the South or offer a diverse spin on a classic tale.
  • [Folk] witches/psychics
  • I want to see more mental illness stories that aren’t just about diagnosis and LGBTQIA+ stories that aren’t just about coming out.
  • Books that defy genre lines and is a total sucker for vivid descriptions of California

So, am I asking for perfection? The publishers seem to be. If writing a strong, compelling manuscript means perfection to you, they are. But you want nothing less for your bestseller, do you? What publishers want is what they’ll contract for, so that is what agents are looking for. Sometimes you fit the mold, and sometimes you make yourself fit the mold. If it’s the success of my book in the balance, I am sure going to try. Wouldn’t you?

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Finally, I encourage writers to google such subjects as: words to cut, writing killer sentences, plot structure, and showing, not telling. Knowing these things will make your writing stronger. Also, after you write the first draft, put it aside and read another book, get it out of your mind. Better read two books. Then, go back and look at your manuscript with the eyes of an editor. And when you think you’ve seen about all you can, there’s a trick.

Change your manuscript somehow. Change the font, or the color of the text. It makes the text unrecognizable to your brain. You’ll see it as a new document, and the errors become so much clearer. My secret is to mail the document to my kindle and read it like a “real” book. That’s when the glaring mistakes jump out at me. Fix me! Fix me! It sure makes editing less straining. Maybe do the same thing for your beta readers when they read different drafts?

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Tell me in the comments what you think. Am I asking for too much? How do you know when it’s perfect? Do you have any tricks for making writing stronger? What other questions do you have? Ready, go!

~jenn

 

 

Agent Questions Volume Seven- Comp Titles

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Comp Titles

 

“Comp” titles, or comparable titles, are often requested or required from agent in their queries. Mostly, I believe, because comp titles are important to publishers. Unless it is required, you do not NEED to have comp titles in your query. Let me be clear here, even if you don’t research and find comp titles for your query, you will be asked at some point by a publisher, a fellow author, and/or your agent. If you are asking how many titles you need, the answer is: from one to three titles should suffice.

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First, why do agents even need comp titles? The titles you give your agent are going to tell them: A. if you did your research B. if you know the industry C. what editors might be looking for a book like yours. (Editors meaning “acquiring editors” at publishing houses. They are the ones who choose your book and offer it to the publishing house for a decision on publishing it or not.)

Publishers want to know your comp titles because they tell your team who your audience is, and how big your book’s potential might be. Your marketing team will consider sales trajectories, and your sales team (who has about thirty seconds to convince a rep to take your book), can relate your style of writing, or similar plot, or characters by saying, “Fans of Lucy’s Diamond by Scott Hildengarten will enjoy this book because…” Or they can say, “This book is a cross between (or like) Lucy’s Diamond by Scott Hildengarten and Shimmer by Jamie Hassenphlatt.” This gives your book the attention it deserves and shows it possible sales potential.

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Okay, it’s important. So how do I choose my titles? Any tips you can share?

  1. Choose a recent title, published by an industry publishing house between one and three years ago.
  2. Choose realistic titles. Books that have had relative success, to show that you are on to something. But avoid big brands (i.e. Harry Potter, Divergent, etc.) and classics (i.e. Moby Dick, Catcher in the Rye) as comparable titles.
  3. Make sure to actually read your comp titles! Industry people will know if you haven’t.
  4. Choose titles that are in the same genre, same form (paperback vs. hardback), and same target audience (unless you are stating that your book is the “teen version” of a certain book).
  5. It is even better if you can add a description of how your book is different (and/or better) than the comp title(s).
  6. Use the tools available to you. Goodreads has an option to put in characteristics of a book and it will show you similar titles. You can also use Amazon’s advanced search function, or look at the bottom of a book listing for “people who liked this also liked…”
  7. You can use authors themselves as comps. i.e. “My writing style is similar to John Green, but my book includes the edginess of Jennifer Wilson’s stories.”
  8. Tip* Movies and tv shows can also be used as comps, but I would refer to the book it came from, and include one other solid comp.

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I hope that helps you with the subject of comp titles. Have you chosen your comp titles yet? Did you add them to your query? Do you have any great tips for new authors? Let’s discuss.

All my best,

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Six- 7 Do’s for Writer Success

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7 DO’s for Writer Success

 

The bad news is that some writers begin their literary careers doing all the wrong things. How do you know if that’s you? Well, the good news is that making mistakes is important and even beneficial to moving forward. You are going to make mistakes, the question is, are you willing to learn, adapt, and flourish with new skill sets that will catapult you to the finish line?!

 

  1. So many writers think that calling yourself a writer, makes you a good one. In order to succeed at your publishing goals, you must learn the craft. Am I talking about how to conjugate an adverb? Maybe. I am saying that it can’t hurt to understand the basics of sentence structure. Learn from other writers, read books, soak up all the writing advice you can get. There are great books that can tell you how to do this. With a sense of humor, even. Try this one: It Was The Best of Sentences, It Was The Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande

 

  1. “I’ll learn as I go.” These people are the kind who think all the advice they need to query can be found on Twitter. To be honest, you can find a lot of information on Twitter, if you are paying attention. Read editor and agent posts, find out their pet peeves, along with their advice on how to do things the right way. Let me make this clear: the right way is to be professional, and do your research. You need to know how to query, but it’s just as important as knowing WHO to query. When you are trying to kill a spider, do you hit it with a tennis racket? (And I’m not talking about those handy, electric ones made for killing bugs.) No. You target your spider, to get the best possible chance of squishing it. You need to know what agents are looking for and where to send your query. Who wants extra rejections from agents who don’t even accept what you’re writing. It’s a waste of your time and theirs. Do your homework. Try making a list from manuscriptwishlist.com, then go to www.querytracker.com and record your list of queries.

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  1. “That’s a great agency. I’ll just query every agent in that office, someone’s bound to like my book.” No! Never query more than one agent per office. Some agencies will let you query another agent if one says no, but in some agencies, a “no” from one agent equals an office-wide “no.” Only one agent can take your book, and if more than one agent is interested, they are in competition for your book. No one wants to be competing with a fellow officemate. You could possibly lose out on all your queries by querying people in the same agency. Don’t query every agent name you wrote on that cocktail napkin at the writer’s happy hour. Be organized! Know who you queried, their company name, where you contacted them, and what the date was. That way, when you get a response, you can record the response and date. Plan your strategy. By knowing what agents expect of you, you can make the best plan.

 

  1. Don’t be gullible. Writers are largely emotional people. It fills our cup to hear someone say they love our book. When a publisher says you’re the next thing since J.K. Rowling, and all you have to do is pay a measly $1200 to get published, run. There are dangers all through the industry. Marketing, editing, and publishing scams; people are people, no matter their business, so you have to be smart. Are you seeing a trend in this advice? Educate, inform, teach yourself, and ask intuitive questions. I know it feels good to have someone “love” your work, but you must also have honest writing partners. Look up a “Meetup.com” writing group that meets near you, and join a group that will give you honest critiques. You must hand in a finished manuscript to agents. Not a first draft, not the draft your Nana loved the most, not the book your mom edited for you, unless your mom is a professional editor, without bias. Try this book: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

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  1. “I am going to write a space opera, seven books long. Here’s book two, but I haven’t written anymore.” Um, nope. Pass. Do you know why? First, no one, agent or acquiring editor, will take a book out of series. Whoever publishes book one owns its rights. So, the publisher of book two won’t own the rights to the beginning of the series. They won’t take it. And forget trying to go from a small publishing house to one of the Top 5, it just won’t happen. Though there are always exceptions, don’t hang your career on the hope of being an exception. You are welcome to write series, but plan them out. Have synopses for each book ready for the agent/publisher who wants to know what the whole series entails. Once you understand the “rules” and consequences of the business, though, don’t limit yourself by thinking that books can only be in a series. (Or think that only single books are acceptable.) Challenge your own beliefs, challenge your writing, your editing, push yourself as an artist of words.

 

  1. “I’m the next L. Ron Hubbard.” / “My book’s not very good, but will you review it?” Which attitude is the correct one? Answer: Neither. You need balance to be a good writer. The most arrogant people often overlook their own mistakes; but will publicly humiliate the authors they know who make their first misstep. They don’t learn because they think they have nothing to be taught, or they don’t know anyone they would take advice from. Conversely, those with too little confidence don’t reach out and take chances. Sometimes they are too timid to submit; and are unable to handle the amount of rejection that every author faces, taking those declines very personally. Your book baby is important to you, it is your child, the art you created from nothing. The piece you have been toiling over for the past five years of your life, through your divorce and your kids’ birthday parties, it almost has a life of its own. For you, querying is personal. Agents seem callous and uncaring. But for an agent, your book is business. It is one of the fifty queries they’ve received so far this morning. If it isn’t a well-written original idea, edited, professionally queried, thought out, and backed by your confidence and passion, it isn’t going to sell. And an agent will know. Most agents can only take on a certain number of books at a time, a certain number of books a year. They must decline up to 98% of their queries. That’s a very narrow window of opportunity. They are looking for the book that is one revision away from going to a publisher and obtaining an advance with a great contract. It’s a business, don’t forget.

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  1. “My publisher is going to make sure that I am the most popular book ever.” At this time, it doesn’t matter if you are self- or traditionally published, you need to be prepared to market your own book. Small publishing houses may offer a blog tour of their own existing authors; or have them swap reviews. A large publisher may help you get into brick and mortar stores, and libraries. But book signings, national book clubs, book subscription boxes, literary bloggers, book tours, author swag, anything and everything that you can do for yourself, you will be called to help with, if not do yourself. Use your website, make spreadsheets of contacts/names/dates, call people, spend time on the web… there are two gazillion ways to market/promote yourself. Think outside the box! Try this book: Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl

 

Good luck on your publishing journey! Be strong, be sure, be wise.

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~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Five- Prologues

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The Truth About Prologues

I was asked this week for the truth about prologues. I gathered up what I had to say, but what I came up with was most easily summed up by the following article by Michael McDonagh. So, this week, your agent advice is not by me, but another author. I apologize. But I think everyone will benefit from this retweet.

 

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The Truth About Prologues

The second rule in Elmore Leonard’s ten rules of writing is “Avoid Prologues.” At first this sounds like Mr. Leonard is telling us not to use prologues. Until you realize that the Rule 1 and Rule 3 don’t start with the word “avoid.” They start with the word “never.”

 

Avoid means steer clear of, think twice about, shy away from. Never means, well, never. Ever. Not even once. That’s a big difference. Particularly when Mr. Leonard’s comments about that rule consist largely of John F***ing Steinbeck brilliant use of a prologue.

 

The entire prologue situation (both the problem itself and the extent to which writers exaggerate that problem) was summed up beautifully by Angela James, an editor for Carina Press (a Harlequin digital first imprint). She said:

 

Of course, I’m an editor, and if you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it from an editor or agent: we’re not always fans of prologues. I think this has morphed into authors saying that we HATE prologues, but that’s not true. What’s true is this: we see a lot of stories come through our slush pile that start with prologues, and 9 out of 10 times, they’re not necessary.

 

I’m willing to bet she speaks for virtually every agent and editor in the business when she says it begins – and ends – with “We’re not always fans of prologues.”

 

That’s far from “never do it or you will immediately burst into flames and the souls of your loved ones will be doomed for all eternity,” which is how a LOT of writers tend to treat the issue. Still, it’s a really good idea to avoid them if you can.

 

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Prologue Problems

Prologue problems come in two flavors: Problems with the prologue itself (which we will call problems with other people’s prologues, because, seriously, I’m sure yours is wonderful) and problems intrinsic to having and querying a novel with a prologue (which we will call the real problems with having a prologue).

 

Problems with Other People’s Prologues:

 

  • They are often used as info dumps, with all the attendant problems of info dumps.

 

  • One of the most common agent/publisher complaints about beginner novelists is that they start the novel two or three chapters too early, before the story really gets going. A prologue adds a fourth chapter of “too soon.”

 

  • Readers imprint on the first MC they meet, like baby ducks imprint on the first thing they see and follow it around assuming it’s their mama. The prologue MC usually isn’t the book MC, so readers feel cheated when you switch to your real MC.

 

  • Many readers skip them, which means they need to literally be prologues — the story needs to stand on it’s own, completely independently from the prologue. So, by definition, it has to be extra stuff.

 

  • If it’s not an info dump, it’s probably backstory, and backstory is generally a very bad way to start a novel.

 

Compared to working the prologue information in through flashbacks or directly through the narrative, a prologue is an easy way to get it out there (which is why the info dump/backstory concerns are so valid).

 

Chapter One has to manage to introduce characters and setting and lay a lot of groundwork for a story. That’s hard to do without being boring. Some people use prologues to throw something exciting on the table first, in an attempt to “hook” the reader.This often fails — it comes off as a gimmick, then you leave the reader with your boring Chapter One (possibly more boring, since you think you’ve taken the pressure off) and the reader goes from exciting prologue to boring chapter and thinks “the first real chapter of this book sucks.” It’s like having a date show up in a Ferrari but then having him drive you to Taco Bell.

 

There are certainly more, but that gives a decent idea of why, as Ms. James put it, “9 out of 10 times, they’re not necessary.” Worse than not necessary, the things those other writers are trying to do through the prologue – provide backstory and worldbuild, start with something interesting, etc., are the things that separate great writers from the good. Great writers build incredible worlds and provide deep, rich backstories throughout the narrative core of their books.

 

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The Real Problems with Having a Prologue

The real problem with having a prologue, even if it’s both necessary and brilliant, is: Seriously, prologues are tricky.

 

For starters, they present logistical problems. You’re ready to query and the agent you are querying asked for the first three pages or your first chapter or whatever. Does that mean your prologue, or Chapter One?

 

According to literary agent extraordinaire, Janet Reid a/k/a the Query Shark, “your first five pages” or “first chapter” obviously means the first part of the novel, not your prologue:

 

The five pages you attached don’t mention either character or any of the plot you cover in the query letter. It’s as though you sent five pages that have nothing to do with this query.
That’s one of the (many) problems with prologues. When you query with pages, start with chapter one, page one. Leave OUT the prologue.

 

Nathan Bransford, on the other hand, says that “first 30 pages” obviously means the first 30 pages that are part of your book:

 

I want to see the first 30 pages as you want me to send them to the editor. If that involves a prologue… let’s see it.

 

Oops. Those are agents (well, in Nathan’s case, now an ex-agent) who blog a lot about what they expect and want to see, and the advice is diametrically opposed. If I had to guess, I’d say more agents probably agree with Nathan, but that’s a guess. I doubt Janet is completely out in left field, so it’s safe to assume a significant portion of agents agree with her take as well. [They do. **Interjected by Jenn] Either way, having a prologue creates a new, possibly unnecessary problem.

 

There’s also the issue of Pavlov’s agent (or, worse, reader). Imagine having 200 queries and sample pages to wade through in a day. Ten of those had prologues, and all ten treated you to worldbuilding, backstory, and info dumps. You open your 200th query, and discover it’s the eleventh to start with the word “Prologue.” At this point, you expect it to suck. There’s a 90% chance you’ll be right. You’ve been conditioned to expect it to suck. Maybe even conditioned to think it sucks.

 

It’s not your prologue’s fault. It those ten other, stupid, needless prologues that came before it. But you’ve been tainted by association. Now, at best, the reader is looking to see how much of an info dumpy, backstory filled piece of sh*t your prologue is, not objectively looking at how good or bad it is. Prejudice is an ugly thing, but it’s also a real thing.

 

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The Bottom Line on Prologues?

In this case, it’s also the top line. Prologues are tricky. If possible, you should avoid having one. I don’t think agent’s and editors hate them, I don’t even think most readers skip them (although I’d bet that’s more of an issue with YA readers, for example, than with lit fiction readers). But I do think they bring a host of new problems to the party, even if they don’t suffer from the problems that are endemic to prologues generally.

 

Put differently, there is the way you dress for a job interview, the way you dress on your first day of work, and the way you dress when you’ve been working the same job for a few years. Prologues are a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Even if that’s how you’ll be showing up the third week, when you’re interviewing and it’s probably best to clean things up for one day. It certainly won’t hurt.

 

UNLESS, you absolutely understand exactly what I’m saying here, see the problems, are positive you aren’t providing background, worldbuidling, info dumping, garbage, and know that your story really, really needs a prologue for a very specific reason that can’t be handled through the body of your narrative.

 

Because there are some jobs – lifeguard, surf/snowboard/skateboard sales, marijuana dispensary clerk and/or gardener – where you just look like an idiot showing up for the interview in a suit.
Prologues fall into the huge category of writing issues, ranging from adjectives to introspective monologue, where the shorthand “DON’T” is inaccurately used instead of the accurate “MAKE SURE IT’S REALLY NECESSARY.” If a prologue is the best way to execute and it’s executed well, there’s no option other than using one. The confusion arises because they are often tacked onto the beginning of novels where they aren’t truly necessary and there are better ways to accomplish what the writer is trying to accomplish through a prologue.

Michael McDonagh lives outside Boise, Idaho.

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Happy Writing! And have a great week!!

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Four- Submissions

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Why do agents ask for a query, plus a synopsis and a sample of my manuscript? Isn’t one enough?

I have had a lot of questions about submissions, so let’s back up and get into some detail. First, and I can’t stress this enough, you need to run your story through beta readers and/or an editor before you submit to an agent. Your writing partners are the ones who will be honest with you about what you need to fix, etc. Agents won’t take a book that needs a lot of work. It is not the agent’s job to fix your book. They don’t “see the potential” and sign you. They are looking for a book that is one revision away from going to the publisher. And publishers want perfection.

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If you are querying all the agents in query tracker, that’s your first mistake. You are wasting your time and energy on sending out to people who are not looking for what you have written. My advice is, and I will probably tell you this over and over, go to www.manuscriptwishlist.com and www.mswishlist.com, then search for agents who are looking for your specific genre. You can click on the “agents” box, and then click on your genre, and it will bring up a list of agents who are looking for your type of work. Read through their wishlists to make sure yours fits. On their page, they should tell you their submission guidelines, or where to find them, along with their contact information. The most up-to-date wishlists are on Twitter at #MSWL.

When you have a list of people who are looking for your style of story, and a polished manuscript, send your queries to those people only. Up to eight agents at a time. Agents can be rude if you send them things they are not looking for. They want to see that you have cared enough to look them up, and you know what they want. They want to know why you picked them. There’s a very personal relationship between author and agent, and you need to start out on the right foot. Also, NEVER query more than one person per agency. Only one person can represent you, so if two agents in the same company liked your book, they would be in competition with each other and that’s a bad place to be. They could possibly both reject you for that reason. In some agencies you can resend to another agent after one has declined, but some agencies (like mine), say that rejection from one agent, is a “no” for all their agents. You really need to do your research. Spend your time on the preparation, not on querying random agents.

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Each agent has their own way of sorting queries, and they all have different submission guidelines, even inside agencies. Rule number one, follow submission guidelines to the letter, no matter what they are. For myself, I ask for a query, one-page synopsis, and first 50 pages as a sample of the author’s work. The reason I do this is because each component has a different purpose. Let me explain.

Query

A good query letter is important. Even if the agency has Query Manager (in which the author fills out fields labeled: query, synopsis, and sample), it is in the author’s best interest to have a formal query written, that they can copy and paste into the fields.

What is a good query letter? More on that in Agent Questions Volume One.

The query letter itself tells me your concept. Do I like what you’re selling? Is this a fresh idea? Does this new book fall into the current publishing trends? If I am attracted to the concept, I read on to the synopsis.

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Synopsis

Your synopsis is a list of the events that take place in your book. I generally tell people to get out that outline that you used to write your book, if you have one, and put those scenes into sentences. Now you’re on your way. The synopsis tells me the bones of your story. Are there plot holes? Is there rising action? Is there a climax and resolution? In the synopsis, you need to include the ending. The query letter is your hook, where you do not give the ending away, but your synopsis needs to show the agent that you can tell a good story from front to finish.

How do you write a good synopsis? More on that in another post. It’s kind of annoying, isn’t it? Sorry.

Once I have read your synopsis and I know the “story” to your manuscript, I will go on and read your sample. In the sample, your first page is the most important. Readers will either keep reading, or put it down right away, if you are not snagging them pretty quickly.

Sample

The sample of your work is where I see for myself if the author will be able to pull off the complicated synopsis I just read. Is there a strong voice? Am I sucked into the story right away? Do I enjoy the writing style?

Put a lot of thought into your first line. Do not begin a book with someone waking up. Not the dream, not the mode of alarm, not looking in the mirror. Try not to open a book with someone speaking, because the reader knows nothing about the speaker yet and doesn’t know how to picture them or get the sub-context of what they’re saying. There are exceptions to every rule, but let’s face it, we probably aren’t one of them. Narrating to oneself, or thinking, is also a form of dialogue, so it’s wise not to begin with a character ruminating, either. Another wrong way to open is with a weather report. That’s just boring, unless you are a meteorologist. A description of the setting, is nearly as slow. An unspecific, general statement, that is true for most people, will not entice your readers to continue. Basically, anything that is not a puzzle-piece, or intended to make the reader curious enough to plow on, just won’t work. Make the reader ask who/what/where/why/when? Use an interesting, or unique detail of your theme, character, or setting that captures your reader from the first line.

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Offer

If your submission has checked off each of these items on my checklist, I will ask you for the full manuscript. I need this because, after sending the first three chapters to agent after agent, and revising over and over, your first three chapters are going to shine! However, many people would be surprised at how many manuscripts go quickly downhill beginning with the fourth chapter. When you are given advice by agents and /or critique partners, make sure to carry that advice all the way through your story. I have also gotten all the way through a manuscript to have the climax fizzle out, or the ending mangled. Some have no ending at all. They abruptly end mid-scene. There MUST be a resolution. Even if it’s half a paragraph long, each story requires an end that satisfies the reader’s curiosity enough to feel that the book is a complete story, but curious enough to continue, if it is a series.

So, you see, each part of the submission is necessary for an agent’s judgement concerning which books they will represent. Because we don’t just represent books, we represent our authors. They are our clients, business partners, the writers of books we are passionate about, and friends. And don’t you choose your friends wisely, and with thought?

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I hope my information makes it easier for you to find the agent of your dreams, and make them all come true! Happy submitting!

~jenn

Agent Questions Volume Three- Twitter

B6BnyMwIQAAs5z9.pngWhy should I use Twitter and what do I tweet?

This is a page that I give to my new clients when discussing the importance of having a social media platform. The entire literary world is on Twitter. I did not like that at all last year (2016) when I made up my account. At the time, Twitter scared me. I didn’t “get” it. My profile page did not resemble Facebook at all, and I thought, “I don’t have anything quippy to tweet, and I’ll never get this off the ground into anything resembling a platform.” Then, I got started and I figured out a simple way to do it. My account has grown exponentially from 18 followers in January to over 2K by the end of the year.

Step one: either go make a site with a fun and kitchy name, or find and activate yours if you are one of the many of us who made an account 2 years ago, got your best friend to follow you and never posted a thing.

Next step: “follow” me. @Haskinauthor 

To get the ball rolling, troll the homepage until you find someone who posts about writing and/or your specific genre. When you see a post you like, simply retweet it. You don’t have to write anything, it will show up on your page as it is. After a while, add little comments to your retweets, or type someone’s name to direct it toward them. Try to make sure you are choosing tweets from different people. Go down each person’s page and it will suggest other people to “follow” who have similar things in common, so check out their pages for good posts to retweet. All I did in the beginning was retweet what I liked. When I got comfortable, I tried to add some things of my own. If I’m on another site and read a good article, I look to see if there is an option to “tweet” it.

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People will follow you if you retweet their posts and/or like the things they say. I began with the policy to only follow people who followed me first, but I follow them all (unless their page is written totally in Japanese, Arabic or Swahili, or some other language I don’t understand). Lots of people will turn around and “unfollow” you just to have gained you as a number, and that just irritates me beyond all words. Eventually, I go through my “followers” and unfollow the ones who have dropped me as well, but it’s a pain when your followers reach higher numbers. That’s what they’re counting on.

 Have I thoroughly confused you? I’m sorry. It really is suuuuper simple. Retweet. Follow back.

Check out my Twitter page, from bottom to top, and see what I retweeted. When my other clients join and they don’t know what they’re doing, a lot of them just follow whomever I am following. I don’t necessarily advise that, because I follow anyone who follows me first and there are some creepy guys on there that know I’m happily married, BUT “they’re waiting for me.” Ugh. Like 65-year-old widowed, supposed military men with teenagers at home, who are all conveniently in Afghanistan on “peacekeeping missions.” I can see a handful of men with that job description, but I am counting in the hundreds. Even their stories sound the same. And every one of them, black, white, purple, or Pakistani, calls me “Dear.” I hate that. You will find, as an author/public figure, that this comes with the territory. Just DO NOT REPLY.

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I digress, most of these wonderful, unique people are contacts. They are part of your platform. If you have 2K followers, when your book comes out and you announce it on your page, that’s exposure to 2,000 people. If any of them “like” it, the announcement goes on their feed for even more people to see. Then, when everyone on our team shares it to our pages, each of our 2,000 followers see it, as well. Does it drive up your sales? Maybe. Does it make you a household name? No. Does it give you exposure? Absolutely. Does it make your book recognizable? Yes. Do people buy a book they know a little about, versus one they know nothing about? You betcha.

Plus, you will find other writers in your genre to connect with on Twitter, groups to join, people to critique for you, read for you, provide services, and more writing advice than you can shuttle to Mars. It’s worth your while. In no time, you will be setting daily time limits for yourself, not to get sucked in. LOL.  Let me know if you have any problems-you know where to find me!       

–jenn (The Helpful Agent)

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(**The following information is from an article I was given at a conference and I do not have the author’s name. If you know who wrote this, please let me know, so I can cite my references.)  

7 ways to smarten-up your book promotion on Twitter:

1. Longer tweets get more clicks. Internet marketers like to tell you to keep things short. But a tweet is only 140 characters, so it’s one of the few cases online where you actually benefit from using all the space you’re allotted.

2. Use more verbs. Less nouns. We’re emotionally stirred by action! So make your tweets sing, screech, punch, and dance.

3. Tweet in the afternoon and evening. After 2pm, Twitter traffic increases fairly dramatically. Maybe folks feel like they’ve got enough work done for the day that they can afford to sneak in 5 minutes on Twitter. So schedule your tweets with those people in mind.

4. Tweet closer to the weekend. As the workweek draws to a close, Twitter traffic soars — with Friday being the busiest day. So your heaviest Twitter activity should be on Thursday and Friday.

5. Ask for the retweet (“pls RT”). A lot of times in life the simplest way to get something is to ask. The same goes for Twitter. People are far more likely to retweet your content if you ask them.

6. Spread tweets out by at least 1 hour. You want to get the most people possible to see your tweets. By spreading out your Twitter activity by at least an hour, you’re increasing the likelihood of different folks seeing your activity. Plus you’re not annoying your followers by cluttering up their news feeds all at once.

7. Try putting the link towards the beginning of the tweet. Sure, 60-80% of your tweets should link to interesting content. But there’s also evidence to suggest that you should place that URL towards the beginning of your tweet. In many A/B tests between similar tweets, the one with the URL up front performed better.

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Go start your platform, and happy tweeting,

–jenn

Agent Questions Volume Two- Author Websites

What do I put on my author website?

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  1. Newsletter sign up- Your newsletter is not just another thing you have to do to maintain status as an author. Many authors will attest to the benefit of having a mailing list, and will tell you that a majority of direct sales come from that venue. Think of a captive audience, don’t we all love to get mail? What if it’s got cute stationary? If it’s hand written like someone actually cares about them as a customer? How many people would be happy to receive a coupon, or an invite to order your book, getting an exclusive gift-with-purchase? Are you seeing the possibilities?
  2. Blog- things you’ve learned as a writer, your publishing journey as a diary, snippets of your personal life, info that corresponds with the subjects in your book, education on issues that your characters face, think outside the box. Look at other author blogs and get more ideas.large-10.jpg
  3. Novels page- list all your writing. Once you’ve published a handful of books, or even one, this is the place where you will list your book, add the hook (info on the back of the book), and its link to Amazon for purchase. Until then, call this page “Writing” and list all the writing you’ve done, especially any published works. You can list here any education you’ve had in the writing field and what you’ve been writing. Tell us about the book you’re trying to publish, get us excited.
  4. About the author- put anything about yourself and/or your writing process that is appropriate.                                                                                                                                                                                large-9.jpg
  5. Guide for study & book clubs- Have you made a study guide for your book to use in book clubs? Research this topic and create one to post here. Then, if you happen to know of book clubs reviewing your book, list them here as well.
  6. Contact info- Whatever information you are comfortable sharing as far as contact goes. Many website templates come with a “contact” page that requires the visitor to fill out their own information for you, and sends you a message to contact the reader. This could give you more reader contacts for your newsletter. You can also answer questions on your blog as FAQ, for everyone.18948-To-Read-Or-Not-To-Read.jpg
  7. News and events- mention favorite conferences you’ve been to, or are going to; classes you are taking, or would like to take (tag people); book signings that you will be having, or that you will be present at. Again, use your imagination. If you’ve just found out writing news that is about someone other than yourself, this would be the place to put it, until you have enough information about yourself to share.
  8. Book reviews of your favorite books– in your opinion, add reviews of others’ books. Maybe contact other authors and make a deal to review their book on your site, if they will review your book on their site. Or review other books in your genre, books that you think are good matches for yours. Kind of like an “if you liked this book, you’ll love mine” type of deal.wanatah-public-library.jpg
  9. Contests- really think out of the box here. What contests could you do? The chance of a prize for anyone who reviews your book in a specific month? Gift with purchase for all customers in a certain month? Like, share, and follow to receive the chance at a free book? Search other author contests to get creative ideas.
  10. Reviews of your work, awards won- this is the page where you will list the reviews you get for your own book. One of your best friends is “the book blogger,” and Instagram has regular bookstagrams made by book bloggers. Whenever, or wherever, or from whomever, you can get a book review, post it here.

 

Happy posting…

–Jenn

 

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Agent Questions Volume One- #MSWL, Queries, Fulls, What NOT to DO, and More

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#MSWL- How Does it Work?

The link is to a Twitter grouping. Agents and Editors list what they desire to see in their inbox (their ManuScript Wish List), and mark it with #MSWL. These tweets show authors what an agent is looking for, sometimes on a daily basis. Some agents change their list by the direction of the wind, others remain static. You can also look to the following websites for more detailed lists, though not revised as often: http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com or http://www.mswishlist.com

When you see a tweet that seems to ask for just what you have written, speed yourself to that agent’s site to find their submission guidelines and how to contact them.

Do include in your query, any of the #MSWL traits that that they desire, and how those relate to your book. (More about this later.)

You will get to know people as you continue to read their tweets. If you really like an agent, but they are not looking for what you’ve written, keep watch on their #MSWL thread and hopefully it will change in your favor. In the meantime, query the agents who match with you now.

*Do not query agents over Twitter- if they answer you at all, it will most likely be a form response to query them according to their submission guidelines, so start there.

*Do not tell agents, “I know you’re looking for zombies, I don’t like zombies. My manuscript is about vampires, but it’s okay, because they’re both undead.”

 

What Agents Look For in a Query:

First, I want to talk about what I call, the query “formula.” Occasionally, I give authors help with queries and I begin by telling them this:

A query, after all the formal addressing at the top, consists of sections. The first section is the intro. You’re going to have researched your potential agent on http://www.manuscriptwishlist,com where you can see what agents are looking for exactly what you’re writing (the most current wish lists are on here at ). You are going to say, “Dear Mr./Ms. Smith, I noticed from your profile on _________, that you acquire steamy romances with a dash of horror (quote something from their wishlist). As such, I thought you might enjoy my 86,000 word romantic thriller titled GUNS AND ROSES. (Make sure you capitalize your title and the names of your characters, the first time they appear.) Feel free to embellish this paragraph a little, but make sure that all this information is there: title, genre, word count, and why you chose this agent.  

The second section is the section where you will summarize your novel.  Don’t use more than 2, possibly 3 (if they’re small), paragraphs explaining the main concept of your plot. Do not include the ending. This is your opportunity to hook the agent and make them want to read your synopsis (where you will give the entire scene by scene of your story, including the ending). Make the book really shine here, if it’s mysterious, show us, if it’s humorous, make us laugh. Showcase your work briefly.  I read the query letter to see if I like the book’s concept, the synopsis tells me if you can write a whole story, with rising action,  a climax, and resolution. Then, your sample pages tell me if you can pull off that story in your synopsis. Make sense? So each part of your query arsenal is important for a different reason.

The final chapter of your query is going to be your bio. Just one paragraph, we want to know anything that has to do with your writing experience. Did you write for the school paper in high school and it began your love of prose? Were you a Young Author Award winner? Do you publish poetry in your spare time? Do you write songs for your church? I do not need to know the names of all three of your cats, and yes, that does happen. Your five kids’ names and favorite sports do not go here, leave that for your bio in the back of your book. Make sense? That is not to say you can’t make it personal and tell me you like writing journal after journal by firelight in your mountain cabin, that you share with your family, or that the scenery inspires you to create your colorful fiction, but make sure you are letting me know about you and how you got to be writing this query.  That’s what your agent is interested in.  Make sure to follow up with a “thank you for your time and consideration,” then Sincerely, and your name.  All this should fit onto one sheet of paper. Single spaced, with paragraph indentions.  With the advent of email queries, if your query letter is a LITTLE over one page long, the agent will not be able to tell when you copy and paste it into an email. However, if it is two pages, or so dry that it drags on and on, the agent will lose interest and that is not to your benefit.

I hope this helps you a little when it comes to forming your query letter. There are many excellent articles about query writing online. Writer’s Digest (www.writersdigest.com) has every article under the sun for aspiring authors. Make sure to use your resources.

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What Are Publishers Looking For in 2018?

This is kind of a loaded question. Lately there is a huge push toward books with all things diversity: dealing with social and economic oppression, anything LGBTQIA+, cultural books that deal with real-life issues, and #ownvoices (Which is a book about people of a non-white ethnicity, writing about and through their culture).

I’m also seeing lots of witches on wishlists. And normally light things like mermaids and faeries, with dark twists. If you are keeping your eye on the current wishlists, you will eventually see the patterns. Agents will be asking for the current trends, because that’s what editors are looking for, and they acquire books for publishers.

 

How Long Does it Take to Read a Full Manuscript Submission?

Chip MacGregor takes two to four months, and has readers.

Janet Reid tells us on her blog that she has had fulls and partials for a year or more.

Mary C. Moore admits to holding on for too long, like many of us, because she believes she might miss a gem if she doesn’t give each book a fair chance at being read and responded to.

This is a personal question whose answer changes from one agent to another. We all have different amounts of queries coming in, but believe me, there is always a full box. Your full box may have thousands of queries, and my box may have hundreds, but they are both full boxes depending on the agent. If you want to see current patterns of reading time for your favorite agents, check out http://www.QueryTracker.net.

Many authors do not realize that a lot of agents have full time jobs outside of agenting, which only pays when we successfully contract an author with a publisher. We all have families and friends, like you do.

I recently read an article by Janet Reid, where she explains:

The first question is what you really need to know though: how long does it take an agent to read your work. And the answer is a whole lot longer than you think.  Remember that she’s going to read your whole manuscript AND give you notes, or at least feedback. In other words, she’s not just skimming along with “do I love this, can I sell this.”  That kind of read takes time. (Read, not reading for my eagle-eyed proof readers out there)
Agents prioritize their reading. The rule of thumb is: the closer you are to the money, the faster you get read.
Thus, things I read right away are: contracts. Contracts trump everything.
Next: books on editorial deadline. Those books have contracts and production deadlines. I read those as close to instantly as I can. Often getting that book to the editor triggers a payment and we like that a lot.
Next: books/proposals ready or close to ready to go on submission. Revisions to books on submission are here too.
Everything else comes after those three categories.  Your book isn’t under contract, and it’s not on editorial deadline. It’s not on submission. That means you’re probably not going to be read as soon as you wish (or your agent wishes either–trust me, I’d love to have eight eyes and a robot brain most days.)
What will surprise you here is often I’ll read queries and requested fulls before some client manuscripts. That’s because I can often get them an answer pretty quickly. I don’t have to do more than say yes/no and I don’t have to read the entire manuscript on a request if by page X I know I’m not going to take it on.
It can feel good to get something done, and off the to do list at least once a day, even if it’s not the most important thing on the list. Sometimes mental health requires that. (At least it does for me. Other agents might be more mentally balanced.)
And just to make sure everyone is having a good time here, there’s the really fun moment when you’re just about to read something that’s eight weeks overdue, and a client pops in with a manuscript on editorial deadline. Or a contract for a short story they sold. Or an editor calls with an offer to be negotiated.
Sayonara reading plans.
With manuscripts like yours I have to respond in detail and that means time.
Blocks of time are increasingly hard to find. Any kind of schedule is a fervent hope at best.
Bottom line: don’t get on the rodent wheel of panic. Don’t assume your agent is a slacker nincompoop. Do not assume she’s lost interest in you.  Stay in touch with her gently. Have patience. Keep writing.

Finally, Fiona Mitchell gives us advice on What Not to Do When a Literary Agent Asks For Your Whole Novel:

It’s going to be a nail-chewing, neck-tensing, grumpy-mood-inducing time, so here’s some tips:

1. Don’t start monitoring the literary agent.

Googling her name, looking up other people who she’s offered representation to. Sound familiar? Force yourself to look away from the screen, and stop logging onto Twitter every five minutes to see if she’s posted. Put your energy into starting something new. A short story. A new novel. Read or collect ideas for future work.

2. Don’t bombard the agent with emails.

Coo-ee, just wondering how you’re getting on with The Masterpiece? Then two days later: Me again. And, don’t phone. That’s the equivalent of repeatedly ding-donging someone’s doorbell when all the lights are on, but no one’s opening up. Reading a full takes time. Some agents take about three months to reply to an initial submission of three chapters and a synopsis, so how long is it going to take to read your 90,000 words? A few weeks ago I read an account by a published author that went something like this. I wrote to a literary agent and 24 hours later she offered me representation. Two days after that, she negotiated me a three book deal with Penguin. I lay my head on the desk and almost muttered the words, I’m unworthy. I ate a scone instead. Thing is, it doesn’t happen like that for most writers. Exercise patience, distract yourself, keep writing. Agents who’ve requested a full can take anything from one month to six to reply.

3. If an agent who requested a full hasn’t replied after three months, do email and say you’d welcome some feedback.

Sometimes when an agent requests a full they don’t reply at all. Yep, this happened to me with an early version of my first book. It’s happened to other writers I know too. Try not to take it personally, it’s more of a reflection on the agent than on your writing. So there!

4.When the agent turns your book down with feedback, don’t do anything apart from flaring your nostrils and swearing.

Don’t bash out an instant reply. ‘Thanks for your patronising comments, but…’ Step away. Go for a run. Punch that pillow. A rejection usually comes with pointers. ‘The narrative wasn’t taut enough,’ for instance. ‘The plot lost direction halfway through.’ File the email somewhere other than in your inbox, so it’s not staring out at you for the next few miserable mornings as your damp cornflakes slap onto your keyboard. When you’ve calmed down, read the email again, process it and adjust your manuscript accordingly. Send it to an editor too – you might think that’s a waste of money, but the fact that anyone has requested your full means that there’s some magic to it. An editor could be just the genie you need.

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5. When the reply doesn’t contain any feedback, write back saying you’d welcome some.

Most agents will be more than happy to give you their thoughts. Don’t expect compliments. Do expect constructive criticism.

6. When an agent reads a full, and asks for a second read once you’ve made changes, definitely send it back to her.

Once you’ve made changes, you could send out more submissions too – to up to eight agents at a time – after all, by the time your MS has risen to the top of the slush pile, your almost-agent might have signed or rejected you anyway. Alternatively, you could stop sending your book out. But remember, this is limbo land – an exciting yet anxiety-ridden place. Do whatever feels right for you. But whatever you do, eat scones, don’t cyber- stalk, and keep writing.

The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 16th November 2017.

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How Can Authors Increase their Chances of Having Submissions Read?

The best thing you can do is have a great book.

What I mean, is to have the characteristics of a good book.

Isn’t that a bit subjective? Different people like different things in a book.

Bingo. Every agent has a different set of credentials, but many of them are similar across the board have: strongly voiced characters, detailed world-building, no plot holes, unique plot or familiar storyline with a twist, correct word count, good grammar usage, dynamic first sentence and page, and grips you emotionally somehow from the start.

After they come to the table with a quality manuscript, I enjoy kind, respectful business people in my clients, just like in any job; but here I get to choose my coworkers. I like friendly people who understand my time constraints on top of family, my other jobs and hobbies, not chewing me out for having a family emergency and not getting to your query on time. Lol.

Other things I look for personally, are: completion of the manuscript, editing, clear genre, revision, character development, a full synopsis (generally 1 – 3 pages), uniqueness, follows current literary trends, has lots of action, and no prologues. It’s not as easy as just making a list, though. Agents and editors who have been in the business will tell you that it is an indescribable ability to read a query and inherently know that it is acceptable or not, according to your own tastes.

Agreeing with me and elaborating on the subject of needing to have a great story to win at the publishing “game of chance,” is the website: http://www.Farrellworlds.com:

I hate to tell you this, but there are no outside forces at work in the publishing business other than the simple economics of the business. The publishers want to sell books. If they think your story can do that, they won’t care whether you’ve sold twenty books or none. Remember: every established writer out there, all of those multi-published authors, once had to sell their first novel or their first story. They managed it. You can too. If your manuscript can’t find a home, then I am suggesting that the best place to look for the problem is in a mirror.
Let me repeat: the publishing business is not a lottery and there are no odds. If it were a lottery, the editors would dump all the slush manuscripts into a big bin, give it a good spin, and reach inside to pluck out a single manuscript, proclaiming “Here’s the one we’re going to publish this month!” That’s not how they do it. They actually read the slush, at least until they know they don’t need to read any more…
Nor is it a closed club for the glorious Previously Published: if it were, the markets wouldn’t even bother to allow unsolicited manuscripts or even agented ones — why bother to go to all that trouble, time, and expense if the only people you’re going to publish are the ones you’ve already published?
Here’s the truth: If your manuscript is poorly presented — if it isn’t in proper manuscript form, if it has five mistakes in the first paragraph, if the prose is riddled with cliches, if the characters are wooden and the dialogue forced and the plot obvious, if you can’t write a complete sentence or you switch tense and viewpoint at will — then you have 0% chance of being published.
It won’t matter how many times you send out that manuscript to the professional markets. Your story will never sell… because it isn’t good enough. Period. Note that many of the qualities I’ve just cited are simple technical aspects that anyone can learn, like ‘proper manuscript form.’ I’ve heard from editors that a surprisingly high percentage of the manuscripts that come in over the transom ignore that one little rule, and as a result get bounced. In fact, I tell my students this: want to learn how to substantially increase these mythical odds’? Then learn how to do proper manuscript form. It’s easy. Honest, it is.

 

That’s all I had for this week. Tune in next week for more questions, I hope. If you have publishing questions that you’d like some candid answers to, send me a message, or join my tweet- in- progress. Before we leave though, I wanted to share with you the following list of reasons manuscripts are rejected, so you know NOT to do these things!  Have a great week!

~Jenn

 

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17 Reasons Manuscripts Are Rejected by Editors and Agents

After I list the reasons manuscripts are rejected, I offer several writing and publishing tips from a literary agent and a book editor. Julie Scheina (Little, Brown editor) and Haile Ephron (writer and book reviewer at the Boston Globe) joined Janet Reid for a 90 minute session about sending queries, editing manuscripts, and publishing books.

The writer uses the phrase “fiction novel.” “The writer uses the phrase ‘fiction novel’,” says Reid. Misusing the English language is why she – and many editors, publishers, and agents – stop reading and reject manuscripts.

The manuscript doesn’t seem organic or authentic. “If you’re trying to follow a trend, you’ll lose your voice,” says Scheina. “If I feel like this is something I’ve already read, I’ll put it down.” (Read How to Write Authentically From Anne Lamott for tips on better writing).

The book is too complicated to be published. “If there are too many characters and I have to make a list to keep them straight, then I’ll put the book down,” says Ephron. Your manuscript will be rejected if it doesn’t flow or transition easily.

The book is boring (immediate manuscript rejection!). “If your opening paragraph is someone driving and sleeping, I’ll put it down,” says Reid. “Most writers need time to warm up – but I don’t want to read that. Make sure your story starts in the first sentence.” (Read Grabbing Your Reader by the Throat for tips on writing introductions).

The writer offers no reason to care about the character. “Why do I care?” asks Scheina. “Each character has to be unique and special, or I’ll want to close the book.” The first day of school, moving, or packing your boxes aren’t gripping leads. “Prologues are really boring most of the time,” she says.

The writer slips into a sliding point of view. “You get one point of view character per scene,” says Ephron. “Every scene should be narrated by one character in that scene.” Don’t shift the point of view. Stay with one specific character’s perspective throughout the scene.

The writer includes too many stock characters in the manuscript. Beautiful blonde bombshells, evil billionaires, and hookers with a heart of gold are all stock characters – and Reid is tired of them! Limp descriptions are also boring. “I want complex, nuanced characters,” she says.

The book is too “moral” to be published. “Don’t send me fiction books that give moral messages, because neither kids nor adults will reason them,” says Scheina. “If you have a message, it shouldn’t be on the first page or in the first chapter.” She also says readers don’t want to be preached to; morals and messages should occur to the reader after they put the book down.

The writer keeps saying how great the book is. “When I don’t know what the book is about, I’ll stop reading your query,” says Reid. She urges writers to describe what your book is about, but don’t brag about how great it is.

The writing is too flowery. Ephron says that writers should show what the character is feeling through their physical behavior – not through phrases like “she whimpered morosely.” It’s the classic “Show, don’t tell” — and get rid of adverbs and adjectives, or your query letter will be deleted. (Read Tips for Improving Your Query Letters for help).

The writer sends illegible or handwritten queries. Make sure your queries are professional and easy to read. “When you’re sending an email query, include white spaces,” says Reid. “Don’t send big blocks of text in a query, because that’s hard to read. Remember, you have 15 seconds to catch my attention.” She suggests sending your query to several different people first, to make sure it emails properly.

 

The writer uses too many cliches in the manuscript. “Show emotions in a stronger way than ‘butterflies in my stomach’”, advises Scheina.

 

The writer incorporates graphic violence, profanity, and explicit sex. “I feel as if a writer has to earn the right to go there with me,” says Ephron. “Develop your characters, show me you can write, before we go there.” She doesn’t necessarily reject those books, but she’ll want to stop reading if graphic violence happens right away.

The writer has an unpleasant tone and attitude. Reid says she gets a lot of queries from writers who don’t like agents, and those writers are often open about their dislike. She suggests not revealing that you dislike literary agents.

The book’s pacing is off. “Don’t write your slow parts too slow, or your fast parts too fast,” says Ephron. If the pace of your novel is off, then your manuscript is more likely to be rejected.

The writer is a stalker (immediate manuscript rejection). Don’t send agents, editors, or publishers anything that’s clever or cute. Reid wants to read queries and know about your book, so you don’t need to bribe her with your gifts. “And, don’t disrespect yourself in your query letter by saying ‘I know how busy you are,’ – you’re important and busy, too!”

The manuscript has an improper word count. “Make sure your word count is around 100,000,” says Reid. Manuscripts under 50,000 or over 200,000 words don’t meet the common industry standards – so aim for the general target of 100,000 words.

 

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*Don’t forget- you can do this! ~jenn

Christmas is over… now what?

So, the festivities continue… I am lucky enough to have four Christmases every year. My in-law’s farm, our family of seven, my parent’s house, and my ex-in-law’s. When the kids were little, they were in such gift-shock by the fourth Christmas, they couldn’t appreciate anything they got. Now that they are older, it’s more fun. We are on our way to my parents’ house for “third Christmas” today.

But my mind is already on next week. Looking for an agent (more on that later), doing my job (more on that too), and family appointments, etc. I have to stop myself to be present, aware, living my joy.

One of my big goals for this year is to live in the moment. Be happy, right NOW… and the next moment… and the next… I have been thinking all my life that one day I will be happy and appreciate my life. I will start to enjoy living. I thought, I will get married and live happily ever after… then it was, one day I’m going to have children and be happy, or one day I’ll retire and we’ll be free of stress and happy, we’ll be old and gray together.

Honestly, getting married made me happy, but it was temporary. My children give me great pleasure, but especially now that four out of five of them are teenagers, it often does not make me happy. I have a lot of stress, being an author, an agent and a portrait artist. I have to figure out how to be happy and stressed, at the same time. “Happy” is a state of mind, not a feeling. It’s an outlook-a way of positively seeing the world and your circumstances.

Yes, we will retire one day, and time flies over the good and bad, so it will seem like tomorrow. I know I will be happy, because I am learning how to be positive again. Those people you know who are always happy? They wake up and decide to be that way, everyday, so often that they probably don’t even think about it anymore. But originally, it may have taken practice, it may be hard for them some days to be happy in the face of their lives.

I don’t want to be old and happy, though. I’m not ready to be old; I mean, I could die any day, and I’m not ready. I want to have “spent” my life, really used it up. Enjoyed it, loved it, regret nothing.

I want to be so old that I get tired of life before I’m gone. I believe in an afterlife, and I know where I’m going, but isn’t it in our nature to doubt sometimes? At any rate, I want to spend the rest of my life being happy about living it. Whether I’m gone half an hour from now, or fifty years in the future, I want happiness and I am the only person who can give it to myself.

So, my wish for you all, is to find your happy places, and build your real life around them. Actually LIVE your life. Have a ggrrreeeaaaaattt day!!

Short Story Contest entry

Today I am sixteen, and a murderer.

“Name?” Bored, relaxed eyelids turn up to see me. The lady in her mid-fifties gently runs a fingernail along her scalp, tucking a tendril of hair back into place.

“Ivy,” I whisper.

She just stares at me, expectantly.

“Oh, ah, Ivy Killian.”

Her hands hover over the keyboard, dropping fingers like bombs to make each key clack, clack, clack.

“Have a seat.” She points to a chair. “Next?”

I sit in the closest chair to the door. The fabric is woven in shades of aqua and brown. It makes me think of the ocean. I wish I was at the ocean. Under the water, where my ears are filled with roughly salted water, the shoosh of waves deafening me to the orca’s song miles away.

The lady next to me picks up a magazine from the seat between us and it crinkles. Who wants to read Fisherman’s Life here? I try not to move my head, only my eyes, to see the full waiting room around me. The back of my knees sweat. Even though it’s pleasant in here, it’s like my body has a faulty thermostat. The air in here is nothing like it is on the other side of the tinted windows.

“Ivy?” She smiles. A young brunette with a file crooked in her elbow gestures for me to follow her. I do.

I can’t tell if the corridors are narrow or I am getting more claustrophobic by the second. My vision fades in and out. I do not want to be here. I have no choice. I almost giggle to myself. Having all the choices I want still makes me feel like I have none.

I walk into the tiny room, my sneakers squeak as I round the corner. The young woman slides the door closed with a click.

“You understand what I’ve told you, right?”

Oh crap. Was she speaking to me all this time?

“Sure,” I answer. I don’t. I don’t understand any of this. I don’t want to be here, but I don’t want to be at home, either. Nowhere is safe for me now. Hopelessness feels like a burlap sack being shoved over my head and tied around the neck. Tighter… tighter…

“Put this on, and I’ll be right back.” She smiles genuinely as she hands me a light blue folded paper square the size of my math binder. She turns to leave, and stops, like she has something to say, shakes her head and leaves.

I wait for the click of the door before taking off my soft purple shirt with the fabric ruffle at my shoulders. I toe off one shoe at a time, and then stack them in the chair with my shirt and underwear, and jeans. I shake out the square until it resembles a paper gown and imagine myself as Cinderella in her light blue dress as I put it on. Where is my fairy godmother when I need her? I’ve never done this before. My mother is a natural at it.

I sit on the paper covered table. Crunch, crunch, I wrinkle the paper. Two women come into my tiny room at the same time as they knock. I don’t even have time to say, “Come in.” Or stay out. I smile to myself. Nothing to be nervous about my mother told me at breakfast this morning. My father doesn’t speak. I don’t want him to. I kind of hate him right now.

The ladies chatter on to each other, it’s like they know I have no desire to talk to them. One pushes my chest backward until I am laying down. While she puts a hairnet on me, the other one holds my hand.

“Ouch,” I say.

“Oh sorry. I’m new at this.” She pushes the needle into my hand and threads the plastic into my vein, then tapes it up like a pretty birthday package. She’s done. She starts to look at me with sympathy, but I glare at her. It’s the same look I gave my mother right after she dropped me off.

“I’m going to the department store, Ivy. I’ll be back in an hour to pick you up. You’ll be fine, right?” She had leaned over to see me through the window of the door I slammed.

“Sure.” I surprised myself by answering at all.

The strange woman turns away from my stare and looks at the syringes lined up on the table. She chooses one with the kind of care you take when opening a box of Russel Stover’s at Christmas. She plugs it into the tube that is an extension of my vein, and squeezes.
The liquid is cold. The air is cold, and sharp. I am cold under this light blue paper grocery sack. I hope they let me keep on my unicorn socks. I want to leave on my socks. I try to tell this to the women, but my tongue won’t move. It lies in my mouth like a dead, dry fish. No flopping. I swallow just to make sure I can.

I am rolling now. The lights pass overhead shining on my feet and traveling up my body as we go down the hall. One light, two lights, three lights, four lights, double doors. No windows.

This room is frigid. I tremble, but I don’t know if it’s from the cold, or how I feel as the darkness begins to overtake me. I am in space, cold space, flying past big bright lights that play outside my closed eyelids. A muffled voice greets me. I can’t hear it. It speaks again. Male. Soft and gentle, but male. I feel a twinge of panic, but it flows away as cold ocean waves wash over me.

They move my body. I am still conscious. Why am I awake? I don’t want to be awake for this. I don’t want to be here. I try to tell them that it isn’t working, but my face won’t move, my eyes won’t open, my mouth is taped shut. I feel the tube in my throat. I want to gag, but I don’t. A cold tear streaks down my cheek and into my ear. I pretend I am flying. I don’t care where I go, anywhere but here. I fly someplace warm. A sunny afternoon, a safe place, fire crackles, I can hear silverware tinkle as knives clink together being set for dinner, a warm blanket. I am enveloped in a warm bed. Hot tea with honey that lingers on my tongue, burns my lips. My book is cast aside, I smell burning. Must be the candles. Warm hands on my body, caressing, turn suddenly cold.

I am brought back to this nightmare by the scraping. I feel it, hear it. Soft tissue, never marred, is mercilessly cut and scraped until the blood runs hot from my body. It hurts. It hurts like swallowing a ball of barbed wire the size of my volleyball. From my throat, through my stomach, all through me, like I sat on an ice pick, the pain cycles through me. The cycle runs until I can take no more and then I let the blackness of space, and the atmosphere, void of air, take over me.

I wake in warm, downy blankets. Everyone is smiling. Men and women come to my bedside and check the machines that beep around me. I feel sick. They take the tubes out.

“Are you okay?” The kindness of a grandmother lights this woman’s face. Though I can’t speak, I smile at her. I clear my throat.

“That soreness will go away in time,” she says. I don’t think it will. Actually, I’m sure it won’t.

“Thank you,” my gravelly voice rasps.

“Of course, sweetheart.” She pats my hand and it feels warm and soft. I want to stay here with her.

They dress me in my clothes and I wonder what is happening. A wheel chair big enough for two of me is pushed up against my bed. There are tiny pebbles stuck in the grooves of its wheels. I’m not ready to go yet. It’s too soon. I didn’t want to be here, but I still don’t want to go home. I want to flip the silver lever that brakes the wheels, but I don’t.

I am wheeled to the door opening to the frigid air outside. I see my mother’s car, I see my breath billow clouds of steam, I see the dull sun shining in the winter sky. I’m not ready.

A man comes to my side, his voice vaguely familiar. “Are you ready?”

No.

I nod.

“Congratulations,” he says. I can’t stop looking at the small spot of blood on his white coat. Is it mine?

He clears his throat and says words I never want to hear again.

“You are no longer pregnant, Ivy.”

Beware the Bones

Daniel will give a digital copy of Beware the Bones to one randomly drawn commenter.

Title: Beware the Bones

Author: Daniel Lance Wright

ISBN: Ebook: 978-1-62420-342-8

POD: 978-1977864017

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 3

Buy at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

TAGLINE

Lowell Strudemeyer had a death wish. Then, he runs head-on into the bad attitude of Jasmine Chandler. Now he has a project.

BLURB

Forty-three-year-old archaeologist, Jasmine Chandler, is decimated by an abruptly failed marriage and throws herself obsessively into her work. Meanwhile, several hundred miles away on the California coast, retired oncologist, Lowell Strudemeyer, struggles against his own demons by drinking and surfing with an apparent death wish. With help from her friend, Barbara Sullivan, their worlds collide over an ancient burial site and it takes a little magic for these two people, Sweetpea and The Strude, to confess their obvious attraction.

EXCERPT: Beware the Bones

Becoming concerned that the trip may have been wasted time, she backed away and thought, now what?

The only thing left to do was walk around to the back of the house and check there. But before she could take a single step the front door swung open with a jerk and whoosh. There, swaying side to side, was a man who appeared drunk, just past middle age, sporting a scruffy five or six-day growth of salt and pepper whiskers, red eyes framed in dark circles and thick shoulder length unruly silver hair. Sort of a James Brolin meets W. C. Fields look. But that silly smile is Clark Gable for sure.

Straightening to a formal posture, “I’m here to see Mister Strudemeyer. Is he in?”

The man grinned and swayed.

This guy may have broken into the Strudemeyer home and, maybe, even harmed the doctor. She took a tentative backward step.

“I’m sho shorry. The doctor is dead.” He dropped his head with a pitiful sad look.

She took another step back becoming out-right scared. “When…did he die?”

“A few sheconds after I told the hospital board I was retiring.” He snickered, blowing spit from between pursed lips. He stabbed the air with an emphatic finger. “I am a phoenix. From Doctor Strudemeyer’s ashes rose Mishter Strudemeyer.”

Jasmine flushed with anger. “Doctor…Mister Strudemeyer—”

“Call me Lowell.”

Ignoring the request, “Mister Strudemeyer, I’m here as a representative of the archaeology department from the University of Southern California. I have a release form—”

“What’s your name, darlin’?”

“My name is Jasmine Chandler and I prefer you not call me darling.” Like most men, he was rude, arrogant and, on top of that, soused. Suddenly, it occurred to her, an angry response might jeopardize getting his signature. Taking measured breaths, she closed her eyes and recomposed. “Look, all I need is for you to sign this release form. “Would you please read it and—”

“Jasmine is shuch a beautiful name.” He stared off into space over her head and leaned against the door jamb. “Jasmine…shuch a shweet smellin’ flower.” He sucked in a large breath, as if smelling the blossom.

“Mister Strudemeyer, please. I need you to hear and understand what I’m saying.”

He shook a finger at her. “Do you know what shmells better than jasmine, though? Shwee’pea…the most divine of all fragrances.”

“Sweetpea…you’re trying to say sweetpea.” Like it or not, she was drawn into an unwanted conversation. She folded her arms in the first challenge to his less-than-courteous attitude.

“That’s what I shaid. Shwee’pea.” With a finger that seemed to float unattached, he pointed toward the unkempt mass of blossoms around the fountain. “If you don’t believe me go shmell for yourself.”

She glanced back. “I just came from over there and I know what it smells like. I’ll not be sniffing it again.” She took an aggressive step forward to press her cause but his liquored breath hit her in the face before she could speak. “Maybe the stench of the fountain wasn’t so bad after all,” she muttered twisting her head to the side and returning to her beginning spot on the porch. “Mister Strudemeyer, I’ve driven over an hour to get here for a simple signature. Would you please extend me the courtesy of just one minute to explain why we need it?”

Swimming eyes that couldn’t focus was all she saw. He probably didn’t comprehend the question.

Jasmine’s rosy cheeks darkened. She bristled, moving closer to losing control. Lack of alternatives propelled a worsening attitude.

The drunkard responded out of synch. “May I call you Shwee’pea?” He leaned his head against the door jamb in a mock show of adoration.

Inevitably, it happened. She redlined and hit that point of no return, barreling toward an angry explosion.

“No sir! You sure as hell may not call me Sweetpea, or darlin’, or—or any other pet name that tumbles out of that liquored-up brain! My name is Jasmine Chandler and you, sir, are a drunken, arrogant ass!” She leaned in and got in his face. “Care for me to repeat that? You’re a drunken arrogant ass!”

Author Bio:

A lifelong Texan, Daniel Lance Wright is a freelance fiction writer and novelist born in Lubbock, Texas now residing in Clifton, Texas. He lives with Rickie, his wife of 46 years, has two children, and four grandchildren. Having spent the first nineteen years of his life on a cotton farm on the South Plains of Texas and the next thirty-two in the television industry, he has seen the world from two distinctly different angles. Daniel has received recognition for writing skills from The Oklahoma Writers Federation in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011; from Art Affair in 2008; from Frontiers in Writing in 2004; from Canis Latran of Weatherford College in 2011; and from The Indie Excellence Book Awards in 2013.

KEYWORDS

paranormal romance, spirit possession, spirit animal, Olmecs, archaeology, alcoholic

SOCIAL LIINKS

Website URL: (blog serves as website)

Blog URL: daniellancewright.blogspot.com

Facebook page: facebook.com/DanielLanceWright

Twitter handle: twitter.com/dlw1150

 

BANNER-BewareTheBones

 

Review of: The Key of F – from Bookshine and Readbows

THE KEY OF F – JENNIFER HASKIN

*I received a free ARC of this book.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

36341262Blurb:  Though Fale has never discovered who murdered her parents and left her orphaned as a child, she attempts to lead a normal and peaceful life. After all, she is training to be a peacekeeping warrior under the direction of her adoptive father. But, when she starts having strange visions that predict the future on her 18th birthday, it turns her life into anything but ordinary. Alongside her best friends and the man who rejected her three years ago, Fale must discover the truths of her past to achieve her true destiny.

Can she harness her inner warrior to save her people? And can she prove that she is no longer an innocent child to the man she loves along the way?

This book is labelled as Young Adult fantasy, but I felt the characters and plot matured into adulthood as the story progressed.  From starting off with schoolyard gossip about boys and lessons, the protaganist soon finds herself running, hiding and fighting for her life in some very adult situations.

There is a large romance element to the plot, with a traditional love triangle causing internal conflict to rival the external ‘lost magical princess’ tension.  As usual, most of the romantic strife is down to lack of communication between the relevant characters, but here there are also some legitimate concerns related to the paths their lives must take, which creates a more adult and authentic relationship trial.

The secondary characters are interesting, in that every single one of them has plausible motive and opportunity to betray our protaganist, so the reader is constantly left second guessing the support network, even as Fale must rely on them.  Fale herself is an excellent main character, with natural flaws and strengths, and a genuine ability to rescue herself from tricky situations via mental and physical prowess, which had me rejoicing!

There were some odd moments amongst her journey to independent womanhood, where she expressed desires to be ‘owned’ by Nelson and then Koren, which sat strangely with the freedom motifs expressed by and through Koren, Effailya’s Garrith subjects, and even Fale herself in their various oppressions by the aptly named Control.  I actually found this apparent dichotomy quite true to life, as it is unsurprising for Fale to long to belong with her history of loss, even as she fights for control of her own life as she works toward adulthood.

The plot is superb.  In summary it sounds like your standard YA fantasy plot:  lost princess finds magic and has to save her people from an evil wizard against huge odds.  However it is the detail that differentiates, and in this case the detail is exciting, chilling and fascinating.  The magic factions are distinct; the setting a mixture of Hunger-Games-esque districts; and the idea of what happens to dissenters actually kept me up at night afterwards.

I am very excited for the rest of this series and hope Fale manages to resolve her love life relatively swiftly so that we can enjoy their great partnership tackling their corrupt, powerful enemy and saving the world!

Rowdies stood, cocking their heads in interest, shifting their weight from foot to foot like skittish wild animals.  Fale felt a familiar tingling down her arms and body.  This time, pictures flashed through her mind.  Vivid scenes of blood and danger, telling a story, played in her head and she knew what she needed to do.

– Jennifer Haskin, The Key of F

You can find more from Jennifer Haskin at her website here, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

The Key of F is scheduled for release on 8th May 2018.

via- The Key of F – Jennifer Haskin

Love Sick Love

 

BANNER-LoveSickLove

DAVID WILL GIVEAWAY A DIGITAL COPY OF LOVE SICK LOVE

Title: Love Sick Love

Author: D. A. Cairns

ISBN: 978-1-62420-340-4

Genre: Family Life / Marriage & Divorce

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 4 (contains a scene of rape)

 

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

 

TAGLINE

 

Lovesick is a brutally honest and confronting story of love, sexual obsession and hope.

 

 

BLURB

 

Angus has battled an obsession with sex throughout his adult life. Although outwardly a model husband and father with a respectable life and a well-paying job, he has a shameful secret life which he has become highly skilled at hiding.

 

Cassy is married to Angus and has no idea about his secret life. In fact, with her own worries she has been pulling away from him, emotionally and physically which is making his behaviour worse. Although she does not know it, Cassy is fanning the flames of an inferno which threatens to destroy their marriage.

 

Lovesickness: the eternal bane of humanity, the inescapable affliction which we simultaneously crave and fear. For Angus and Cassy, already in the thirteenth year of their marriage, the painful journey to true happiness has only just began.

Lovesick is a brutally honest and confronting story of love, sexual obsession and hope.

 

 Love Sick Love

EXCERPT

 

She seems agitated, and although I know she is a nervy, jittery type of character, I sense heightened tension on this occasion and naturally so. I feel it too. She’s watching me furtively as I return to her with a schooner of beer in my hand. I offer it to her, and she smiles. Her actions are quick but indecisive. As I settle, I detect reticence.

“Is everything okay?” I ask. “Is this spot all right?”

Her nodding head juxtaposes her words. “Maybe over there is better.”

As she scurries to the other side of the room, I follow, exploding with anticipation. She sits in one chair, then moves before I can join her, and I’m just about to sit down when she moves again.

“Are we playing musical chairs?”

The meaning of the question, and its allusion to childhood games eludes her, and by the time I have settled she’s moved again and is now sitting on a stool directly in front of me. Our knees almost touch, and she leans forward, wide eyed as though she has something exciting to say. I wait, but she retracts, averts her eyes, then quickly glances back to me.

“Talk to me,” I say. “What’s on your mind?”

I study her face and note her blemishes and the lines which quietly assert her maturity. She’s in her late thirties, thirty-eight maybe, but she looks younger. Her expression changes rapidly through numerous emotional displays, but I can’t read anything except uncertainty. She wants to speak, but either won’t or can’t.

“I want to be with you. You like me too, so there is nothing to stop us,” I say.

“Except you are married.”

There is no conviction in her tone. No reproach. It is a statement of fact, which is perhaps not as meaningless to her as it is to me.

“Okay,” I say, cautiously. I’m convinced if I play this right, I can seduce her and make her my secret lover. There is an element of moral ambivalence. “Let me explain why I am chasing you when I’m married.”

She looks away, and sips her beer. I have nearly finished, while her glass is nearly full. My head and heart are also beyond capacity, verging on chaotic inundation. I’m going to justify my adulterous intentions, or at least attempt to.

“My wife and I have been married for twenty years, and we’re friends. We get on well most of the time, but our marriage is really more like a business arrangement. We both work and have little time together. Time we do have is taken up with shopping, and cleaning and visiting, or arguing about money or our children. She’s unwell. Mentally. She’s been diagnosed with depression, but I think she’s bi polar as well. We’re often at odds over little things. She tends to be very negative and critical. She’s miserable actually, and at lot of the time she makes me miserable.”

With the painful realization I’m slandering the woman I love—or perhaps once loved— and have committed to spending the rest of my life with, I pause and take a mouthful of beer. Lying too, with frightening ease. Cassy isn’t sick and we haven’t been married for twenty years; not even close. Chao-xing’s watching me intently, fascinated I suspect. I don’t want to speak ill of my wife. Actually, I don’t want to talk about her at all, but some of this is necessary so Chao-xing will understand where I’m coming from, and not think badly of me. Adultery is a bad thing to do, but I’m not a bad person. I blame circumstances. Years of neglect and sexual frustration. I blame my wife though I would never say that out loud. I don’t want to blame her but am less inclined to blame myself. The uncomfortable truth is I can’t help myself. I’m out of control, but rationalization is a better option than accepting the facts.

“I need some fun and excitement and I need sex.”

Chao-xing is typically unruffled by my directness, but she moves seats again, shifting to my right where she reclines as though tired. She’s staring at me, examining me, interrogating me with her eyes.

 

AUTHOR BIO

 

Heavy metal lover and cricket tragic, D.A. Cairns lives in Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, where he works as an English language teacher and writes stories in his very limited spare time. He has had over fifty short stories published (but who’s counting, right?) He blogs at Square pegs http://dacairns.blogspot.com.au and has authored four novels, Devolution, Loathe Your Neighbor, Ashmore Grief, and A Muddy Red River which is also available from Rogue Phoenix Press.

 

 

KEYWORDS

 

love sick love, lovesickness, sexual addiction, obsession, divorce

 

SOCIAL LIINKS

 

Website URL:           http://dacairns.weebly.com

 

Blog URL: http://dacairns.blogspot.com

 

Facebook page:       https://www.facebook.com/devolution.dacairns

 

Twitter handle: @da_cairns

Writer’s Digest Spotlight

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/new-agent-alert-jennifer-haskin-corvisiero-literary-agency

New Agent Alert: Jennifer Haskin of Corvisiero Literary Agency

1

Reminder: This agent spotlight features Jennifer Haskin of Corvisiero Literary Agency. Remember, newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is likely building his or her client list.

 About Jennifer: Jennifer Haskin is an agent, author, and portrait artist who lives in Olathe, Kansas. She began working for The Corvisiero Agency in October of 2017, following her time at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. She assists in a Creative Writing workshop and runs weekly author writing groups. She is a member of Saavy Authors, RWA, Missouri, Kansas City, and Nebraska Writing Guilds. She has a B.S. from Friends University, but took her English coursework through the University of Missouri. Her debut novel, The Key of F, was named a winner in the Ink & Insights literary contest in 2016, and is scheduled for release May 8th2018.

She is Seeking: Young adult literature, fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian fiction. (She is a sucker for romance, too.) She is drawn to faulty heroines with strong voices, real friendships, and super skills with a weapon. As well as a hunky love interest with a tangled plot of his own. Currently not accepting: screenplays, poetry, picture books, or nonfiction.

How to Submit: Query directly at http://QueryMe.Online/jennhaskin.

Interview with Crystal Otto

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Meet Jennifer Haskin – Author of The Key of F

Jennifer Haskin is an author, and portrait artist who lives in Olathe, Kansas. She began working for The Corvisiero Agency in September of 2017, following a year at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. She assists in a Creative Writing workshop and runs weekly author writing groups. She is a member of Saavy Authors, RWA, Missouri, Kansas City, and Nebraska Writing Guilds. She has a B.S. from Friends University, but took her English coursework through the University of Missouri. Her debut novel, The Key of F, was named a winner in the Ink & Insights literary contest in 2016, and is scheduled for release May 8, 2018. She is seeking: Young adult literature, fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian fiction. (She is a sucker for romance, too.) She is drawn to faulty heroines with strong voices, real friendships, and super skills with a weapon. As well as a hunky love interest with a tangled plot of his own. Currently not accepting: screenplays, poetry, picture books, or nonfiction.

Instagram: http://instagram.com/Haskinauthor

— Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: First of all congratulations on your forthcoming  novel, The Key of F! You are one very busy lady and apparently you are unstoppable. So tell us, what is your writing process and how do you make time for it? Do you have a space that inspires you?

Jenn: My home office is my place to be. I have a massage chair and everything I need there. I work on paper first, then type it into my computer. I am a “plantser.” I plan out my story by writing a scene or a piece of dialogue on each index card, then I put them in order and use a ring to hold them together. Then I just write, using my prompts, until I reach the next card and flip through them as I go. So I plan an outline of sorts, but I also write by the seat of my pants as I go through it, sometimes shuffling the cards or adding/ripping them out. Most of this is done after 9pm, when my family settles down for bed. When writing, I’m a night owl.

WOW: What role does social media play in your marketing plan for The Key of F? Do you have advice for other authors when it comes to social media, marketing themselves, etc.?

Jenn: Social media is used by most authors, I believe, to begin a platform. To gain exposure for your book and garner interest from your desired audience. Every follower is a potential sale. You must excite them, build relationships with your followers and be honest about who you are. Especially in the YA market, where teens can sense falsehood from a mile away. Gather your followers, show them who you are, tell them about your book, and when it comes out, announce it. Not only announce, but ask for readers, reviewers, have giveaways and contests. Aim all this toward your genre’s audience.

WOW: How do you find time to write when you have a family and busy schedules? How do you articulate your author needs to your family so they understand how important it is for you to concentrate? Advice for others?

Jenn: I have 5 children and a husband who all need me in some form or other. I have to communicate how important this goal is to me. It’s like my daughter’s theater, or my son’s music, or another child’s art, it’s my passion. They understand that. Not always when it’s leftover night AGAIN, or the house is a crime scene, and Mount Laundrymore has taken over the hallway, but that’s okay. People all make sacrifices in a big family like mine. Someone else, or several others, are needed to take up the slack. I work, too, so I try to be present after school and after dinner, but people start winding down, playing video games or talking on the phone, and I get out my work. Then after they’ve all gone to their rooms, my teapot comes out with my phone on “I heart radio” and I WORK. Sometimes, I laugh the next day when I can see the moment I fell asleep and my pen made several loops before going off the page. But if there’s a story in you that needs to come out, it’s all worth it.

WOW:How did you deal with rejection and nay-sayers? What advice would you give other authors as far as overcoming objections and rejection?

Jenn: An author friend of mine said to me that her life motto got her through, and I have adopted the saying, “Take no sh*t, but do no harm.” In other words, grow a backbone, don’t be a floormat, but keep your claws in at the same time. I like that. Stand up for yourself, do your best, and let it roll…

WOW: Who has been most influential in your writing career and how so? Also – how do you plan on giving back or how have you encouraged other up and coming authors?

Jenn: I was most inspired by Sarah J Maas’ series, Throne of Glass. It made me want to create new worlds, with new heroes, and lots of magic. I give back by being a literary agent and helping other authors get published. And if they don’t make the cut, I try to help somehow with a piece of advice, or just a friendly voice to guide them.

WOW:I understand you are part of Saavy Authors, Missouri and Nebraska Writing Guilds? What advice would you give for making the most out of a group, whether critiquing or networking?

Jenn: You can never network “too much.” Build relationships, in your field, in your genre, build connections with people who will read your work and be honest with you, get to know others who will exchange their work, people who will help with edits, and use conferences to pitch your book. As an agent, I do give consideration to authors I meet face to face. They have paid to show me their work and who they are. That takes bravery and passion for your work. I admire that. Conferences often have editors present, as well. Don’t knock on their hotel room door, but introduce yourself, and find out about their company so you can have your agent pitch to people you respect and admire.

WOW: I can’t wait to read this next book of yours! As a busy mom, you’ve inspired me to stop making excuses and get back on track – thank you!

Thank you so much for your time today and we can’t wait to hear more from you when The Key of F is released and hits bookshelves everywhere.


Not final cover image

 

About The Key of F: 

In an alternate history, in the Industrial District, we meet a teenaged girl named FALE. A Takanori warrior in training, she has been having visions. While at lunch with her friends IZZY and KERON, Fale intervenes with one of her visions, changing its course and saving her older friend Keron’s life. The certainty of her precognition begins to change.

Concerned, she confides in her guardian, NELSON, a college professor, regarding her visions. Nelson tells her that her late father warned him that she would inherit a gift of sight. Fale begins to wonder if the key her dying father gave her and instructed her to protect, has any connection to her visions. Keron, a young man with a biomechanical arm and leg who she is harboring feelings for, accompanies her since he was the object of the vision she changed. Fale also shares her story with LISLE, her best friend who is also an apprentice wizard. While at his place, she astral-projects and switches consciousness with a boy in an unknown location. The danger that she and Keron are in for changing her vision and cheating death, rises as men hunt and attack Fale and Keron, ransacking her apartment and accosting her at night.

Fale begins to research the Key of EFFAILYA thanks to books provided by Nelson. The books tell her that the key works with a machine that will set Princess Effailya’s subjects free from a place called Garrith, where they were sent by an evil wizard named GRYNDOLL as a revenge against Effailya’s rejection of his marriage proposal.

The stakes continue to rise as Fale’s visions take darker turns…

Stocked full of romance, friends and enemies alike, suspense, danger, mystery, trust and distrust, and a young girl finding her way in a world that has changed radically ever since her father
passed away, The Key of F is the start of a trilogy that seeks to entice readers and root for Fale and her friends to not only save the people of Garrith, but also keep themselves alive in the process.

Find out more about The Key of F at Jenn’s website: www.jenniferhaskin.com

  1. Jennifer:
    Congrats on your book. It sounds interesting and complex–and readers LOVE trilogies! 🙂 I like what you said about how you can never network too much. I didn’t know there was a Nebraska Writers Guild and I am on the board of Missouri Writers Guild, so nice to meet you. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Nice to meet you as well, Margo! I didn’t know there were any writers conferences in Kansas, but I went to one this weekend! It’s hard to keep up with them all! I was a guest agent this year at the Missouri Guild’s conference in Columbia. I really enjoyed it, and meeting the staff, as well as making friends with other speakers, and writers. I hope to come back next year, as well.

Accidental Lawyer

Kim’s book is not only funny, it gives the layman a view into the life of an Injury Lawyer and follows rookie Jessica Snow on a slew of adventures as she tries to solve a murder mystery. It’s a quick and enjoyable read that you won’t want to miss!!

An interview of me with Geeks WorldWide…

LEARNING THE KEY OF F – AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JENNIFER HASKIN

Learning The Key of F – An Interview with Author Jennifer Haskin

Jennifer Haskin is a portrait artist who lives in Olathe, Kansas and does contract childcare work. She is a member of Saavy Authors, Missouri and Nebraska Writing Guilds. She won the Young Author’s award two years in a row, and has had poems published in school magazines, Lodestar, Inklings and Read. She has stories that need to be told to the world.

Her upcoming fantasy novel The Key of F is due out in May of 2018. It will be the first in the Freedom Flight Trilogy series of books set in the fantastic world of Algea.

The Key of F is about an eighteen-year-old orphaned girl being trained as a Takanori warrior. Fale starts having visions that come true, but when she changes one to save the life of a biomechanical man, strange men start following her… with weapons. Her only clue lies in the ancient key she wears around her neck. Can she discover the plans against her, learn her own powers, and keep from falling hopelessly in love with the biomechanical man trying to help her, as well as fight for her own life? Or is there more at stake than she could have imagined?

Jay Sandlin (GWW): Hi, Jenn. Thank you for granting me an interview. I’m excited to learn more about you and your novel. Thank you for the privilege of your review and the time you are spending on me! Some of the best tips come from other authors. What tips do you have for new authors?

Jennifer Haskin: Write every day. Lots of people will tell you this one, but let your mind wander. What is a book no one has written? What was that dream you felt so involved in. Keep a notepad by your bed. Most of my best ideas start out as dreams. Then, write without stopping. Don’t get one chapter written and go back to fix it. You will never get past chapter one. I have seen it many times. You have to write that whole, sloppy, terrible first draft down. Put it away for a week. THEN, go back to the beginning and fix it all. Have your friends read it. Find some beta readers to help you content edit, by filling in holes you didn’t notice and keep everything plausible. I was on my 11th draft when I found my agent, so don’t be discouraged that no one is buying your book on the first draft. Keep editing until they do. And never settle, this book is your baby, you have built it from nothing. Half of the people will love it and half of the people will hate it-usually for the same reasons- so write out your passion and stand tall behind it. Good luck!!

GWW: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Did you always want to be a writer?

JH: have been writing all my life. When I was in the fourth grade I won the Young author’s award with a book called, “Why Rabbits Have Short Tails.” It was a fable. I was so excited, that I put effort into my next book. In the 5th grade, I won again. This time with a fantasy called, “Rainbow on West Avenue.” (Rainbow was the aliens name.) I wrote a lot of poetry in my spare time, and one day, my freshman year in high school I got a package in the mail from my 8th grade English teacher. She had submitted one of my poems to “Read Magazine,” and they published it. Her note said, “Now you are a published author.” It felt so good that I began submitting all of my (dark and dramatic) high school poems. I was published by High School and District-wide publications several times.

Then I put it down and didn’t touch writing for many, many years. It’s never to late to pick it up. Then one night I had a dream of The Key of F, and as I woke up, I saw credits scrolling. It was like God was saying, “It’s a book, stupid. Get up and write it.” So I did.

GWW: I’m often surprised by what inspires my stories and where those ideas lead. What gave you the idea for your novel?

JH: I saw one scene in a dream, but I knew the MC and her friend, and lots of backstory. I decided to get up (at 6 am on a Sunday) and just write out the scene and all the understood backstory. I wrote for the next 13 hours without stopping. At 7pm, it was time for dinner, and I was finally done. It was all out on paper, and for the next two and a half weeks I worked to write fast enough to get the words down as the story came to me. Then I set it aside, read a few books, and went back to begin fixing it. Thirteen drafts later, I found an agent and a publisher.

GWW: In what ways does your novel set itself apart from other similar stories?

JH: That’s a good question. I think I define wizard magic, and mage magic differently than other books, but really it’s a classic tale. Two people, against their will, falling in love and being forced by circumstance to save the day. There is no couple like Fale and Keron, though. There are just a lot of twists that (hopefully) the reader doesn’t see coming.

GWW: Which of your characters is your favorite? Why?

JH: It’s really a tie between Fale and Gasten. In book three, the reader learns about Gasten’s past and what made him who he is today. I love the journey through his life from sweet boy, to evil dictator of a secret battle. Fale, though, is me in part, especially when I was a teen. She is transparent, very headstrong, acts without thinking, can love everyone except herself, and believes in the greater good.

GWW: What will fans of the genre love about your story?

JH: It has not only magic but wizards AND mages. There is a whole world of alternate history as if Pangea never separated. There are so many secrets! The author is uncovering secrets until the very last paragraph. And hopefully, the battle scenes kick butt.

GWW: When you’re not writing what do you like to do with your free time?

JH: I am a mom of 5, so I’m busy driving a lot, but I love to read and you can take books anywhere. I am a junior literary agent at the Corvisiero Agency, so I help other authors get published. I love crafting, I can make anything out of shrinky-dinks! And I am a portrait artist, I draw and paint people using pencil and watercolors. You can see more at: www.facebook.com/HaskinOriginals

GWW: Several of the authors I’ve interviewed were drawn to other creative pursuits. Are you the creative type? Any painting, woodworking, or other creative endeavors?

JH: Ha ha. Yeah, see above. My dad is a fabulous woodcarver, he is often on a woodcarving magazine cover. www.wildlife-woodcarver.com . I tried to be carver when I was a kid, but the third time I put a knife through my thumb, I gave it up. I do have a few pieces that I made, though. I enjoy sewing, and crochet, as well as jewelry making. I’m kind of a Jill-of-all-trades.

GWW: What three books are you most likely to recommend to a friend?

JH: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, made me want to write. Sanctum by Sarah Fine, made me laugh, cry, and love characters. Ember by Tess Williams, it is in need of edits badly, it was self-published years ago, and I knew the author. But she died in an unfortunate taxi crash while helping poor children in India. The story though, got me excited in fantasy.

I recommend each book’s series, as well.

GWW: Any new projects in the works for fans to keep an eye out for?

JH: Ooh, yes. I am writing a YA dystopian that is exciting, and complicated. My friends say it is miles above my current trilogy.

You can find Jennifer Haskin and all her work HERE:
Website: www.jenniferhaskin.com
Twitter: @haskinauthor
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferhaskinauthor
Pinterest: 1haskinauthor
Instagram: @Haskinauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferhaskinauthor
www.facebook.com/HaskinOriginals
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17200901.Jennifer_Haskin

Child of the Heathen

child of the heathen

Child of the Heathen

 

by

Lucia Carter Keates

 

is the newest release from

Rogue Phoenix Press

 

 

 

1968

 

People are dying inexplicably in Maskek and the local police are divided as to the cause. It’s been happening for centuries.

 

For Deacon Pierce who has grown up with the legends and mythology of the First Nations Cree, a visit to his teacher’s home unlocks the door to his father’s tortured past.

 

In 1750 Jonathan Sparkling Eyes Hare signed away his mortal soul and those of his

unborn children, for life eternal: a deal with a demon or a creature of ancient Cree legend?

 

When nightmares and darker visions begin to affect Deacon’s health and sanity, his white, adopted mother is forced to reveal the truth about his bloodline and the sinister events surrounding his father Jonathan and his lover Damien Drew.

 

Can past and present combine to prevent Deacon’s death?

 

 

Available at  AmazonBarnes and Noble

 

On the Prowl– hunting for my intern

Opening for Literary Agent Intern
Company Information Metamorphosis Literary Agency
www.MetamorphosisLiteraryAgency.com
Interning for Jennifer Haskin
JennHaskin.agent@gmail.com
Twitter @Haskinauthor
www.JenniferHaskin.com
How to Apply Sign agreement (it will be emailed to you)
Email resume/or history in publishing experience
Why do you want to be an intern?
What are the last 10 books you read?  Contemporary- no classics
What is your favorite genre?
(You will be dealing with mainly Young Adult fantasy, sci-fi, and some romance)
Details You will work 1 on 1 with the agent
Expect 10-15 hours of work per week
Internships generally last for 6 months, unless agreed upon differently
It is okay to be a writer
It is okay to have queried me
It is not acceptable to intern with another company that would be a conflict of interest
Possible Duties Database manager- knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel
Social media handler
Author liaison
Reading queries/ synopsis/ manuscripts
Managing Twitter pitches
 Total Pluses  Passion for YA books/ great sense of humor/ chill in the face of pressure/ discretion

His Eternal Promise

Sheri Lynn will give away a digital copy of His Eternal Promise to one randomly drawn commenter.

Title: His Eternal Promise

Eternal Gifts Book Two

ISBN: 978-1-62420-329-9

Author: Sheri Lynn

Email: rivermoone@gmail.com

 

Genre: Paranormal romance; vampire

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 4

 

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

TAGLINE

 

She never imagined that a peculiar encounter with Maxim, followed by a night of extraordinary passion, would result in His Eternal Promise.

 

BLURB

 

Carlee put everything into her family and her job over the last couple of years, sacrificing any personal life. After a rare evening out with a few girlfriends, she encounters a captivating man under inexplicable circumstances. Against all rational judgment, they share an evening of the most fulfilling and erotic sex she’s ever experienced.
Maxim hasn’t wanted a woman, especially a mortal, in over a century, but he wants Carlee. He intends to keep the truth from her in order to build a relationship first, but a woman from his past complicates things forcing him to reveal the truth. He hopes Carlee chooses to keep him in her life, because he can’t leave, her life is in danger.

 

PLEASE PICK ONE EXCERPT:

EXCERPT:

 

He didn’t sleep. Carlee breathed deep and steady, so he knew she slept. He should not have followed her. In a whole century, he never interacted with mortals other than business. The desire to be with one, sexually or in any intimate manner, never appealed to him.

Something about this one human reached out and into the dark, lonely places inside him. He couldn’t let her go. He knew that. Looking into her eyes, hearing and feeling her blood circulating through her lovely body, he knew he found the exception. For her to accept him, want him, and take him as she did, just reinforced it.

Her light hair spread out inches from his face. Rubbing his nose in it, he breathed in the scent, reveling in the reactions her smell conjured in him. Many women attempted to attract him, entice him, and he always rejected them. After he fled Annika, he lost interest in women. Until Carlee. The need to seduce, cherish, protect, and indulge her consumed him.

How would she see him this morning? She could have regrets. She could obsess over what she saw behind the building. She could decide to end any further interaction with him. There were so many questions, and he needed to decide what he was and wasn’t ready to divulge. With all certainty, he knew she belonged with him. She would remain his.

Without any sleep, and enraptured in the beauty of the woman lying beside him, his impatience mounted. Let the spoiling commence. Without disturbing her, he got out of the bed to put some coffee on. She probably drank coffee.

As he entered the kitchen, a coffee pot came into view. Now to find filters and coffee.

“Right upper cabinet, over the sink,” informed Carlee. He didn’t hear her enter the kitchen, but the sight of her standing there, just waking up, tousled hair, and nude, made him want to reclaim her right then and there. As if she read his thoughts, she grinned, lifting her arms awkwardly to semi-cover her chest.

Approaching her, he took both her wrists and pulled her arms to her sides. “Kotyonok, don’t you ever hide from me…especially that exquisite body.” Leaning in, he brushed his lips over hers. Her round, hazel eyes never leaving his. “What is it you normally do on a Sunday?”

That produced another grin from her sweet mouth. “I don’t do anything before coffee.” Scooting around him, she said, “I’ll make the coffee.” Filling the carafe from the sink, her back to him, the questions began. “So…your accent, is it Russian, or thereabouts?”

An easy one first. Good. “Yes. I grew up in a small village just outside of Saratov.” Plagued with an inner turmoil of what truths to expose and what to suppress, he realized a human part of him still existed. He made the decision to hold onto her…build a trust…protect her, and if that meant withholding, that’s what he would do. He wouldn’t lose her.

Enjoying the sight of her moving about the kitchen invigorated him. These feelings were nonexistent since the change and before he became tainted. He resigned himself to the fact that he lost this forever. Her shoulder length hair swayed with her movements. Her beautiful soft skin with live blood flowing underneath it, her narrow hips, all of which he intended to worship…forever. Her plump rear bore light marks from his belt. The need to take her again, now, challenged his restraint.

Opening his mouth to speak, anything to subdue his yearning, she turned to face him and asked. “Before we take this any further…I need to know what was going on last night.”

Not his initial impulse, but he decided to toy with her. He sensed she could handle it, and wouldn’t accept it for long before she demanded the answers she really needed. “I had the pleasure of feasting my eyes upon you, Kotyonok. I followed you home, and to my ultimate surprise, you left the key in the door, allowing me access to your home.” Placing her hands on her hips, she pursed her lips, but he continued. “You were in bed, in all your naked glory, and I couldn’t resist tasting and feeling you from the outside in…and spanking your lovely needy ass.”

His recount of their evening altered her breathing, and he heard her pulse quicken. She even paced in front of him before she scolded him. “Maxim…you know damn well that isn’t what I’m talking about. Are you a fucking murderer?”

Surprised by her outburst, he answered in a calm, authoritative tone. “Language, Kotyonok, very unbecoming from someone so lovely.” He hated lying, and prided himself on only doing so to survive. For now, he must do it out of necessity, necessary to keep her as his. “No. I am not a murderer. That was James. He drinks too much, and never learns. He is killing himself. I would not normally have treated him so shoddily, but I was worried about you.” The lie executed, he hoped this won more time with her. He decided he better continue, remove any possible concerns from her mind. “His girlfriend was on his way to take him home. I attempted to have him walk it off a little.”

Considering this, her brow furrowed, resulting in a cute crease in her forehead. “To answer your earlier question…on Sundays I go and see my father. Usually, I get him out of the house. Take him to eat.”

That let him off the hook. His self-control waned, as thoughts of taking her as his again dominated his mind and body. He must handle this right. Scaring her off was not an option. She was his. Moving in front of her, he placed his right hand in her hair, tilting her face to look at him. “Though I would love nothing more than to spend the day with you, you have plans, and I also have an engagement.” Gazing into her beautiful face, it bewildered him how much she affected him, reaching places he believed died in 1917.

He placed his cheek on her forehead. He savored her sweet warmth. Clearing his throat, he pulled back, giving her a quick kiss. “I very much want to pick you up…say around 6:30 this evening and have you attend a small art show at a gallery downtown with me.”

Smiling, she nodded. “I would very much like that too.”

 

EXCERPT 2:

 

 

There were other women in the bathroom, but she located an empty stall. Her mind begged her to take a moment and think about all this. If Maxim appeared in front of her at that moment, she knew the pleas of her mind would go unanswered. This whole situation was beyond crazy. Who does this? Chucking to herself, she decided that would be most women—if pulled from their beds and their body worshipped and awakened by Maxim, that’s who.

This couldn’t all be in her imagination. The way he looked at her…touched her…considered her, he must feel it too. According to Greta, she never saw him with anyone, so—it wasn’t his “thing” to go out and lure women in to just leave them. Or was it? What did she really know about him? He lives in Canada and sells his grandfather’s art.

“Carlee…are you ok?” Maxim’s voice reached her from the other side of the door.

She must have sat in the stall longer than she realized. Adjusting her dress, she flushed the toilet and unlatched the door. There he stood with a genuine look of concern across his handsome face. Glancing around, two other women at the sinks stood frozen in place watching this unexpected exchange. Grabbing his hand, she squeezed it then released it. “Yeah. I’m sorry.”

Moving to the sink, she placed her hands under the faucet to trigger the water sensor. Soaping up her hands, she kept her eyes low, avoiding any contact with the other women who remained immobile, gawking at the exchange between Maxim and her.

He moved in behind her, placing his arm around her waist. She looked up into the mirror, and his eyes caught hers. “What is it? Do you feel well?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. Let’s get back out there.” Grabbing a hand towel, she dried her hands, threw it in the basket and walked to the door. Glancing over her shoulder at him, she gave him a big smile. “Come on. You should be out front.”

Just as she stepped into the hall, he grabbed her wrist, pulling her back hard into his chest. Her breath caught as she looked up at him. “I’m where I should be,” he said huskily as his mouth claimed hers in a sweet, passionate kiss.

Cupping Maxim’s face, Carlee encouraged him to return to the showing. “Go on now. You said you wanted to finish up and get out of here.” They re-entered the showroom together, but she waved him off as several people circled him, commenting and asking about the paintings.

The crowd thinned. Carlee kept her distance, letting Maxim answer potential buyers’ questions and deal with Chester and Greta. It warmed her that she felt his eyes on her, no matter where she stood in the gallery. She sipped her champagne. She hadn’t eaten since lunch, and she didn’t need or want it going to her head. Not having spent much time in this area of the showroom this evening, she noticed something…rather someone…in each of these paintings.

Not the main focus, she appeared more in the background, a part of a crowd, but visible. With long, straight black hair, pale skin and the same silver eyes as Maxim, she held an obvious presence. Reading the details of these pieces, they were all post Russian Revolution. The locales varied from the Russian area in prior paintings, to other European regions and possibly the Mediterranean.

“Are you ready? Thanks for coming with me, and I hope I haven’t neglected you.” His cool breath hit right under her left ear, sending shivers along her spine.

Stepping away from him, as she recognized that any proximity with him rendered her mindless, but sent her senses ablaze. “No, no…I’ve enjoyed it. Learning about your ancestors has been interesting.” Pointing at the painting in front of her, at the mystery woman, she asked. “Who is she? She is in a lot of the pieces in this era. A relative…your great grandmother?”

Catching a glowing silver flash in his eyes, she turned to face him and his body went rigid. “No. She is not.” Leaving her standing there, his words rushed out as she stared at his retreating back. “I’ll get your coat.”

Hating that she hit a sore spot with him, for whatever reason, Carlee kept quiet during the drive back to her place. He drove in silence, no attempt to engage her in any conversation, and probably all for the best anyway. Whatever it was they were doing…was too strange, and undoubtedly temporary. With that knowledge already bothering her, smart to let it end before she got more involved.

Pulling into a parking place, he put the car in park and pulled Carlee to him. His nose circled in her hair, and she heard him inhale her scent as he spoke. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean nor do I want to shut you out like that.” Nuzzling her neck, he continued, “I told you I have no living relatives. I have no one I can ask anything about the paintings. My knowledge of them, the people, the locations…is limited. I tend to get frustrated.”

Rubbing the back of his head, it pained her to realize how alone he must be. She understood. All she had left was her dad, but at least she did have him. “Do you want to come up?”

Lifting his head from her neck, he brushed her lips with his again. She closed her eyes awaiting his answer. “I didn’t get you anything to eat, Kotyonok. I’m failing you…but would like nothing more than to come up.”

That admission caused her eyes to fly open, her face flush, and a breathy sigh escaped past her lips. “I can scramble some eggs.”

 

AUTHOR BIO:

 

I grew up an Army brat, so my childhood involved moving every three years. However, truly a southern gal, I currently reside in Alabama with my husband, two Chihuahuas, a mean cat, turtle, and a teenage daughter. I have two sons, who live on their own, and a stepson and stepdaughter.

 

Romance novels have always been my first reading choice. I’m a hopeless romantic, and that trait materializes in every aspect of my life. “Wearing your heart on your sleeve” has been a common phrase repeatedly heard throughout my life. Writing romance and happily ever afters comes naturally.

 

Whether a result of my childhood, or not, I love to travel. Warm weather and beautiful beaches are always my choice destination.

 

 

Keywords: Romance, paranormal, vampire, contemporary

 

Blog URL: https://sherilynnauthor.wordpress.com

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sherilynnauthor

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/sherilynnauthor

 

 

The Strange Horizon

 

 

Greg  will be awarding an ebook copy of one of his titles to one randomly drawn commenter.

 

Title: The Strange Horizon

Glimpses into the Mind of a Dreamer

 

ISBN: Ebook 978-1-62420-324-4

Print     978-1548336950

Author: G. L. Didaleusky

 

Genre: Short Stories (mystery, suspense, contemporary, horror, science fiction and fantasy)

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 1

 

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

TAGLINE

 

A Collage of Short Stories emerged from my imagination–a few actual experiences–and some possibly conjured from a previous life, if you believe in reincarnation and Edgar Casey.

 

BLURB

 

The Strange Horizon ranges from stories less than a hundred words to over four thousand words. There isn’t any profanity, gore or sexual innuendo in any of the short stories. The genre varies from mystery, suspense, contemporary, horror, science fiction and fantasy. You may smile, chuckle, express a tear or two, feel a sudden chill or feel a warmth at the end of the story. Emotions are in the mind of the reader and the heart cuddles or rejects those emotions.

 

 

EXCERPT

 

Guiding Spirit

 

Adam leaned forward and slid his shovel between the sidewalk and six inches of snow. His peripheral vision saw someone walking toward him. He straightened up and gazed at an elderly man wearing a parka. A cold northern wind gently blew at the man’s white hair and long white beard. Adam threw the shoveled snow next to him and said, “How are you?”

“Just fine, thank you.”

“I’m Adam Morris.”

“Please to meet you. I’m Ben Stanton.”

“Didn’t you and your wife move into the old Kramer house last month.”

“Yes. We did.”

“Is everything all right there? It sat vacant for a few years.”

“It’s just fine. We’re very comfortable.”

“I heard you’re going to play Santa Claus at the family shelter on Christmas Eve,” Adam stated.

“Yes. I’m looking forward to it”

“You sure do fit the part. Don’t need an artificial beard.”

“No. I don’t,” Ben said, pulling at his beard.

“I understand you retired a few years ago.”

“That’s right.”

“What kind of work did you do?”

“Public relations for a large global company.”

“Did your wife retire too?”

“You ask a lot of questions. You must be a newspaper reporter.”

“Yes. I am. How did you know that?”

“You’re standing in front of the Northern Star Newspaper office.”

Adam rolled his eyes, grinned. “Never was good as an undercover reporter.”

Ben placed his hands on his large protruding abdomen and chuckled.

“You laugh from your belly just—”

“I know,” interrupted Ben. “Just like Santa on TV or in the movies.”

“Didn’t mean to offend you.”

“You didn’t. It doesn’t bother me at all. Matter of fact, I take it as a compliment.”

Two teen-aged boys approached them. “Hey old man, where’s your reindeers?’ asked one of the boys. The other boy snickered.

“Get out of here you juvenile delinquents.” Adam scowled at them.

The boys kicked snow on the shoveled sidewalk in defiance and took off running.

“You little brats.”

“They mean no harm,” interjected Ben. “They got good hearts. Their attitudes just need some guidance.”

“Being in public relations, I would think you’d have negative judgments of people.”

“No. I try to see positive attributes in people. It’s the way I am. Too old to change now.”

 

~ * ~

 

About a week before Christmas, the Santa at the mall became sick. Adam heard about it when the manager of the mall came into the newspaper office to place an ad in the paper. He contacted Ben, who accepted the position.

Ben sat in a large, adorned chair. A woman in her late twenties, holding the hand of a girl around six-years-old, walked up the red-carpeted entranceway and stopped a couple feet away from him.

“Hi, Santa,” said the little girl.

“Well, Jasmine, how are you today?”

“How did you know her name?” asked the woman, frowning.

“Santa knows all the boys and girls of the world. Although, I heard you call her name a few minutes ago when you walked behind me.”

“So, Jasmine. What do you want for Christmas?”

“A daddy. Mine died when I was a baby.”

“I’m not sure if Santa can promise you that.” Ben glanced at the mother. A tear ran down her cheek.

Jasmine’s face saddened, as her shoulders slumped. “That’s okay, Santa Claus. I still love you.”

“Bless your heart. What else can Santa bring you Christmas morning?”

“My own bed.”

“Do you share your bed with someone else?”

“Oh. No Santa. The shelter owns my bed.”

The mother leaned forward. “We’re staying at the family shelter in town. It’s just temporary until I earn enough money for a place of our own.”

“I hope things work out for you and your daughter. Have a Merry Christmas. And God bless you.” Ben handed Jasmine a candy cane.

 

~ * ~

 

On Christmas day, Adam sat at his dining room table surrounded by family members.

“I heard that Ben and his wife suddenly left town two days ago,” Carl remarked, Adam’s brother. “No one seems to know where they went.”

Adam frowned. “That’s strange. Ben was looking forward to playing Santa Claus at the family shelter.”

Maybe they wanted to spend Christmas with relatives in another town or state.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why’s that?” asked Carl.

“Ben and his wife were ‘only children’ and didn’t have any relatives. At least that’s what he told me a while back.”

 

~ * ~

 

“Jasmine, get over here.”

“Karen. She’s okay,” said a young man in his late twenties, sitting next to her on a bench in the mall. Across from them, they were dismantling the Santa Claus stage.

“I still can’t believe how we happened to meet after not seeing each other since high school.”

“Me either. The elderly man that was playing Santa here at the mall came into my store a few days before Christmas. He asked me if I would go to the family shelter on Christmas Eve dressed up like Santa. I couldn’t believe it when I saw you there.”

 

 

Email address: gosky1@outlook.com

Website URL: www.gregdidaleusky.com

Blog URL: NONE

Twitter handle: NONE

Triberr: NONE

Unmasked

 

Title: Unmasked

Author: Maggie Mundy

ISBN EBOOK: 978-1-62420-323-7

ISBN POD: 978-1547054831

 

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 4

 

 

TAGLINE

 

Corrupted magic is hard to fight when you’re the only one who believes something is wrong. Daria faces a battle to save her world.

 

 

BLURB

 

Six hundred years of peace are destroyed when Daria’s settlement is attacked. It is the start of problems for the land of Majura. Daria saves people with magic and must join the magic wielding Mask wearers who rule the land. Her dreams have warned if she became one it would be the end of Majura. Are the Mask wearers keeping secrets or is she the only one who can see the power in the land is changing. A Mask wearer called Alenze believes her and offers to go on a quest with her to fix the Essence where the magic comes from, but he is keeping secrets from her that could be the death of them all.

 

EXCERPT

 

If most of the other Masks were like Alenze, then she was never going to fit in. He didn’t have a hair out of place. His clothes were grey but of the highest quality, with a beautifully fitted long tunic and breeches and well-made knee-high leather boots.

“During the travelling, you’ll be placed in a trance. This is done so you’re not alarmed by the experience. I’ll be in control, and you’ll not be aware of what’s happening around you.”

He spoke to her as if she were a child. The fact he was at least a head taller than her didn’t help matters as he peered down.

“I assure you growing up here has made me resilient.” Daria crossed her fingers behind her back at the lie.

“Many people struggle with the experience. I myself was glad I wore brown britches the first time. I agree though. I sense you’ll not be alarmed easily,” Alenze replied.

For a second Daria saw a smirk on his face. He had a sense of humor, who would have thought. He even almost looked handsome when he smiled.

“Traveler Quatrome, the sun is setting,” her father interrupted. “The Chamber is ready.” He bowed his head to both of them.

Alenze offered his arm to escort her into the Travelling Chamber. Daria stared at his hand as her heart pounded in fear, but knew she had no choice but to eventually take it. Pell stopped outside the Chamber and smiled at her, then looked to Alenze.

“Take care of her, and warn your fellow Masks to watch out for her temper; she didn’t inherit her mother’s green eyes and red hair without reason,” Pell warned.

“You have my word, Master Gallo,” Alenze replied as he shook her father’s hand.

Atia and Chelle hugged her with tears streaming down all their faces.

“It won’t be long, and I’ll be back, especially if they don’t want me, which is highly likely,” Daria soothed them as she tried to get her tears under control.

Alenze coughed and Daria couldn’t delay any more. Again, his arm was offered and this time she accepted. He escorted her into the chamber and as the doors shut behind them, she could hear Rumus howling and her breath caught in her throat.

Alenze let go of her arm and walked into the center of the circular, windowless room. With the doors closed, there was an oppressive feel to the space, with the only illumination coming from the oil lamps placed about the walls. The floor was covered with a beautiful painting. The tales were that the settlement had been built around this place.

Alenze was studying the markings on the floor. Daria’s breath was catching in her throat and the room was getting smaller. She couldn’t go through with this, they couldn’t make her go. Her chest was getting tight as her panic increased. She ran to the door of the chamber and raised her fists, thumping hard again and again. The yells coming from her throat blanked out the pain as her fists started to redden and bleed.

“Let me out.”

A hand touched her shoulder, causing her to spin around screaming, her clenched fist aimed at Alenze. Placing his hand over hers, he brought her fist down. He stared intently at her with his dark grey eyes as he spoke.

“When I went to the Domain in Denarius, I believed no one would want someone like me. Those who came with me at that time were filled with a confidence I never had. I didn’t feel I’d ever belong, but now I do. Becoming a Mask has given my life meaning beyond what I would ever have thought possible. I’ve grown to love what I’ve become. You must trust me, and believe you’ll feel that, too.” He paused. “Are you ready?”

Daria nodded as he let go of her hands and walked over and stood over the open mouth of the winged serpent painted on the floor. She stood on the outside of the circular floor painting and thought her eyes must be playing tricks on her. The painting was starting to move as the serpent’s coils began to entwine one upon another hypnotically.

“We can delay no longer. Stand on the mark of the moon.” Holding out his arm, Alenze beckoned her to move forward.

She took the step, her breath coming in gasps. The outer circle had symbols of the sun, moon, stars and the Goddess Ikrar. The Goddess stood with her hands clasped around a crystal.

Alenze removed a small, plain brown mask from a pouch hanging around his neck and put it on his face. It had no hooks or fastenings, but melded to him on contact.

“Enter the circle, Daria.”

Daria stepped forward onto the moving picture. Alenze took her hands in a firm grip, and needing something to hold onto, she gripped equally as hard around his wrists. She wondered if he could hear her heart beating. He should, as it felt as if it was going to explode through her chest.

“I don’t want to do this. My life is here, Crane is here, I love him and I want to stay.” Tears flowed down her face.

“Trust me, Daria, and you’ll be safe,” Alenze instructed.

“I don’t want to trust you. I don’t want to go and no one there will want me. They think I’m bringing doom with me because I touched the crystal,” Daria sobbed, but Alenze wasn’t listening anymore. His eyes were shut and he was chanting strange words over and over. There was a humming noise making her dizzy, and then something touched her foot. She jerked her knee up. Peering down, she let out a scream as the coils of the snake picture on the floor started slithering over her feet and around her ankles – where was the trance Alenze had promised? The Mask was no longer solid on his face; the flat surface was bubbling as though something was trying to erupt. Then the small heads of two snakes broke free from the surface and bit into his temples. If he felt any pain he didn’t react.

More snakes oozed from the Mask until the whole of his head was a wriggling mass moving down his back and entwining around his arms. Two vipers separated from the others encircling his arms. The snakes stopped their movements at his wrists and raised their bodies up as though to get a good look at her. They swayed hypnotically. Daria tried to pull free of Alenze’s grip, but he was too strong. Then without warning, both snakes struck at her wrists in unison.

“Alenze,” his name burst from her mouth as the pain hit her arms and the poison burned into her. His eyes opened, looking first to her face and then at the vipers injecting their venom. She could hear his thoughts.

Forgive me, Daria.

 

AUTHOR BIO & LINKS:

 

I live in Adelaide, Australia with my husband, one cat, two dogs and a snake. I have a motorbike that I would like to ride more than I do and I love walking at the beach and listening to the waves. I’ve always loved reading all forms of fiction from high fantasy and paranormal to contemporary and decided the stories in my head needed to be written down. It was either that or start on medication. Unlike many, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years back. I started off doing a degree in drama but soon realized my love was in writing, though there is a play lurking somewhere on my computer. My day job is as a nurse in the operating room. I believe romance can be fun to read and write but it’s exciting to spice it up with the uncertainty that comes with suspense where the rules can be broken.

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

Website URL: www.maggiemundy.com

Blog URL: http://maggiemundy.blogspot.com.au

 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieMundyAuthor

 

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/MundyMaggie

A Place of Learning

This book is by one of my fellow Rogue Phoenix authors.

 

Catherine will giveaway a digital copy of A Place of Learning

 

Title: A Place of Learning

A Teacher’s Story

ISBN: 978-1-62420-320-6

Author: Catherine DePino

 

Genre: Fictitious Memoir

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 1

 

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

TAGLINE

 

This tell-all book about teaching relates triumphant stories of kids achieving against all odds and staff members who refuse to give up on their students.

 

BLURB

 

Imagine what it would be like if you could see everything that goes on during one teacher’s day. A Place of Learning: A Teacher’s Story, a fictionalized account based on my experiences in three city high schools, spans three decades. Those who have read the book tell me the anecdotes are outrageous, poignant, funny, and sad all at the same time. Best of all, the book comes off as wild and quirky. Events similar to those in my story continue to play out every day in urban classrooms across the nation. The players are different, but the events remain the same: violence, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, and rampant academic failure due to lack of school funding, pervasive poverty, and dysfunctional families.

 

EXCERPT

 

There’s a picture on my wall, faded now, of my students marching down the aisle of our city’s largest university’s auditorium where our local high schools stage their graduations. Parents, grandparents, and children wave lollipop colored balloons in the bleachers. Sophomores and juniors jump up and shout out names of seniors as they enter the massive hall in their blue and gold robes. “Sheree, Willie, Jonette…”

The graduates march slowly down the aisle, right foot first, then the left foot meeting the right, then the left again, like a quaint wedding march. Mendelssohn isn’t playing. Instead, it’s the Sounds of Blackness singing “Optimistic.”

Dr. Leeds strides up to the podium. He doesn’t shout out his usual, “Looking good, feeling good, and smelling good.” Instead, he tells the graduates how he knows many of them are the first in their families to earn a high school diploma and that the act of their coming to school each day in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, such as teen parenthood, poverty, violence, and drug addiction, is an act of profound courage on their part.

“So, stand up now and applaud yourselves.” He is openly crying and gesturing with open arms to the audience. “Applaud each other.”

The crowd waves banners and balloons in a flurry of crayon colors. Restless babies squirm in their mothers’ arms and cry out for it to be over. Weary grandparents fan themselves. Dr. Leeds calls the graduates up one by one. He tries to say something personal to each one as he hands them their diplomas.

“Anna, you come back and see me when you finish community college. Maybe we’ll have a job for you here.”

“Demetrius, if I ever need a lawyer, I’ll be sure and look you up.” He smiles and whispers. “First, you need to go get a new haircut, and get rid of those ugly plaid shirts.”

Demetrius smiles widely. He is proud to be valedictorian.

Next Dr. Leeds moves toward Samuel, who beat up Mr. Parks, the security guard. He speaks in a low voice so the audience can barely hear. “Personally, I don’t believe you deserve to graduate, but I’m sending you off anyway. Got no choice. Others need to take your place, but if I see you anywhere near this building, I’ll take care of you myself. You hear?”

Dr. Leeds ambles back to his seat, his red velvet-stole draped over his black doctoral robes. Miss Janel, the choir director, approaches the dais. Mothers rub their babies’ backs to keep them from crying. Sisters and brothers stop waving their balloons. Relatives stop calling out names of their graduates. Their voices trail off. “Terrelle, Rosita, Malik…”

Miss Janel’s lone alto voice resonates through the hall. “When you walk through the storm, hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark…”

Everyone stands. We join hands and sing along with her. Dr. Leeds gives the signal, and the graduates begin to stride slowly down the center aisle.

No pomp and circumstance. No hoots and hollers, merely the hushed bustle of shoes brushing the glossy hardwood floors and voices in synchrony singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”.

Purple and gold robes blur into sun and sky as the class of ’93 marches out onto the city sidewalk and into the world.

 

 

AUTHOR BIO:

 

Catherine DePino, Ed.D, has published 15 books about bullying, grammar/writing, spirituality, and women’s issues. Her background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a master’s in English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many years as a teacher, department head, and disciplinarian in the Philadelphia School District. After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student teaching supervisor. Catherine has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer. Her self-help book, Fire Up Your Life in Retirement: 101 Ways for Women to Reinvent Themselves, recently appeared on the market. Cool Things to Do If a Bully’s Bugging You, debuted in 2016. Visit her website and contact her at http://www.catherinedepino.com.

 

NY Times Best Seller’s List to Focus on their Core Books

What was the point of the NY Times cutting 10 categories from its Best Seller’s list? Would it possibly make sales more difficult for smaller publishers and new authors?

It began February 5th, 2017 when the New York Times cut the following category/ genre lists: Manga, paperback and hardcover graphic novels, Children’s middle grade paperbacks and e-books, Young Adult paperbacks and e-books, e-book fiction and nonfiction, and paperback mass market fiction.

Felix Torres comments, “By cutting the number of slots, they reduce the number of featured titles which adds (artificial) scarcity value to the slots.  If there are less [sic] titles that can claim being an NY Times bestseller, getting on the list becomes more of a bragging point.”

However, Kevin Kochman, editorial director of Abrams ComicArts, says that comics publishers are concerned.  “If we have to compete against the sales numbers of fiction and nonfiction, it’s only going to be the outlier titles that will hit the list. We can’t compete with the numbers of, say, the self-help category or mass market airport fiction. Comics need to be measured against themselves, not the larger whole of books. Going forward, this decision is going to have a significant effect on how a graphic novel is considered a success.”

That seems to be the general consensus. Each side has its followers. Some claiming that the exclusivity of the fourteen remaining categories will be beneficial.  The NY Times itself defends its decision by stating, “the change allows us to devote more space and resources to our coverage beyond the bestseller lists.” New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul also commented via three tweets that “The Times is not cutting back on coverage of these genres/formats but rather expanding on coverage in ways that reach more readers than the lists did. To wit: new graphic reviews by comic artists, more reviews and more news and features about then [sic] genre and it’s [sic] creators. We are big fans, and want to recognize growing readership. Stay tuned.”

Either way, the literary world is in turmoil. What is your opinion and where would you fall in this year’s list of NY Times Best Sellers?

Today’s Special

Jonathan Dimmig picToday's Special

I would like to introduce a new book called Today’s Special.

The author, Jonathan Dimmig, will be giving away a digital copy of Today’s Special

 

ISBN: 978-1-62420-318-3

 

Genre: Inspirational Romance

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 3

 

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

 

REVIEW:

 

Today’s Special

Author: Jonathan Dimmig

 

Reviewed by Catherine DePino

Five Stars

Today’s Special touched my heart. The plot kept me reading, and the characters were realistic and engaging. The book showed the indomitability of the human spirit and its resilience in the face of the grave difficulties life can bring, often unexpectedly. I felt that I knew each character personally and would enjoy sitting with them at the restaurant to get to know them better. The book is full of surprises and will keep you glued to the page until its satisfying conclusion.

 

 

We’re sometimes forced to face impossible circumstances. Tom’s story shows why true love is the answer to life’s most difficult questions.

 

What’s your version of an ordinary day?

 

For Thomas Danielson, it’s the constant strain of keeping the restaurant he owns from going under. His friends and family depend upon his success but the outlook is dismal. It demands his entire focus until tragedy strikes and his soul-mate is ripped from his arms.

 

Can Tom recover from the absolute worst event that could possibly happen?

 

A twist of fate crushes Tom’s world and sends him on a journey of discovery for what’s truly important in life. With guidance from friends, loved ones, and an unassuming chalkboard there just may be some hope in his struggles.

 

Nothing in life is guaranteed and we are sometimes forced to face the impossible. Tom’s story shows how, even in the darkest times, there is a ray of light shining though the clouds.

 

 

EXCERPT

 

A thunderous roar erupts from the Camaro’s engine. Tom puts the pedal to the floor and races past traffic on the highway. There’s no destination in sight. Speeding through obstacles is the only outlet within immediate range to channel the anger and frustration pumping through his veins. He weaves left then right. After finding a straightaway in the right lane, his rage comes to a boil as he attacks the steering wheel with a barrage of blows from his fists. Nearly clipping a semi-truck with his driver-side mirror, the escalating danger of the situation suddenly floods his mind. Confronted by this realization, he jerks the wheel and swerves onto the shoulder in an attempt to slow things down. While his vehicle comes to a skid in the dirt, a horn from the car traveling behind him blares loudly into the night as it passes by.

He shuts down the engine.

“Why can nothing work out the way it’s supposed to? This was the last good thing left that was ours.”

Tom’s words echo in the car. The silence that answered was a reminder of just how alone he was. Defeated, he crosses his arms upon the steering wheel and lays his head between them.

Several minutes pass and the only sound that can be heard, apart from the distant highway traffic, is the rhythmic cooing of an owl. He lifts his head and peers out the windshield to find the source of the noise. In the faint moonlight, he can barely make out the shape of a bird perched upon a tree branch. He flicks on the headlight switch and the blast of light causes the owl to take flight and come to a landing on top of a sign about thirty yards to the front left of Tom’s car. The sign, now illuminated by the headlights, reads “Allegany Mountains – 30 Miles”.

It was immediately clear where he needed to go. With a turn of his key, Tom starts the engine and pulls back onto the highway.

 

~ * ~

 

The sound of twigs snapping, combined with the rustling of leaves, was cause enough to scatter a pair of foraging squirrels. Tom clears a path through the dense forest and emerges from the bushes to the small lake.

He pauses and scans the area, remembering the many times he’s visited this place. It was as if the unrelenting force of time was rendered powerless in this one speck of earth. Throughout his entire life, not one shade of detail had changed in any discernible way. The placement of the rocks, the slope of the water bank, the positioning of the trees; all remained unyielding to time’s grasp. Digesting the thought left a pit in his stomach.

How can it be that God has the power to leave this spot unchanged but does nothing to keep the good things in my life untouched?

The stars were shimmering brightly upon the lake. Tom approaches the water’s edge and squats down to look into its glassy surface. The stars surround his reflection and he’s soon enveloped in a blanket of sky. He slowly becomes lost in the space. His eyes close and the melding of space and time becomes a cozy bed that he wishes he could remain in forever.

Michelle leans down beside him to gaze into the abyss. She’s so close that he can feel her next to him. The hint of familiar perfume and warmth radiating from her body is overwhelmingly comforting. He instinctively reaches to caress her face but she disappears into ripples of water.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

 

Jonathan Dimmig was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He earned a BA and MBA from the University of Rochester. After graduating, he worked in the field of Corporate Finance for nearly a decade before quitting his job and moving to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player. In 2014, he won a World Series of Poker event that had almost 8,000 players. Around that same time, he had an unusually vivid dream that inspired him to write “Today’s Special”. He hopes the story in this book will impact others as much as it has impacted himself. Jonathan currently resides in Las Vegas, NV. He is often found at the poker tables, playing ice hockey, or working on creative inspirations that can positively impact the world. He can be reached at zpuckman@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Reviewed by Jeffrey Ross

Five Stars—Eerie and very interesting!

Readers of author Dimmig’s Today’s Special may be hard-pressed to place it in a specific genre. On one level, this text is a case study of the Gilded, a struggling restaurant in Buffalo. The lives and relationships of the major characters are intertwined both in the past and present—and at work and play. But this thoughtful book is far more than a slice-of-life-study of chefs, servers, food critics, menu boards, and invoices. The tragic death of the owner’s wife inspires him—and the restaurant gradually moves forward because of his amazingly-creative homage to her. Jonathan Dimmig proves to be quite knowledgeable about recipes, community, support, and enduring love in his powerful—and pleasing—novel.

 

 

 

Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.dimmig

 

 

Twitter handle:

 

https://twitter.com/zpuckman

 

Email address:

 

zpuckman@gmail.com

Testimonials for The Key of F

The world you’ve created is quite fascinating. Robotic parts, sector differentiation, wrist band scanners- it’s all something the modern reader can picture easily and relate. You’ve almost created an alternate -reality of our own world, which is utterly fascinating to experience.
–Morgan Stemberger (professional editor)

Overall, this was just a really great read! I enjoyed it so much and I think that if the rest of the book is as solid as this section, it will soon be ready to go out to agents and publishers. Congratulations on a great book!
–Jessica deBruyn (Abbott Management )

The fantasy setting is well-developed and I enjoy the mixture of fantasy, contemporary, and futuristic elements. The necessary thought and planning to do it well is there, and I appreciate the inclusion of the maps at the beginning.
The story is likewise developed in a way that makes good use of the setting. Fale and her back story make a compelling focus for the novel.
–Aaron Kaiserman (Literature professor)

The plot premise seems to be, “young woman who has recently come into newfound power, must figure out what her gifts are and how to use them before what she doesn’t know kills her.” I think it can carry the story. There are some fairly interesting people, and lots of interesting undercurrents I don’t fully understand yet, so that makes me want to keep reading.
–Rachel Hoff (English teacher/editor)

Add your review/testimonial in the comments, please. Or use the “Contact” tab to PM me.

Battles with magic

When I sat down to write the end of my trilogy, I knew there was going to be a big battle. You know, good guys vs. bad guys, mages vs. wizards, magic vs. swords.  I was at a loss.  How do I mix them all up?  I had a few ideas, but no one wants to be cliché. So I googled “magic battles,” and was anxiety-ridden at the multitude of sites and advice that was available.  I began to take notes and noticed that a lot people agree with each other on how it should be done.  So I threw a few together and made up some more.  Then I thought, who else wants a comprehensive list of Magic Battle “do’s?” Well, if that’s you, this is the right place.  The following is a list I made up from the many sites I visited on the web.  I would love to give credit to each one who influenced this list, but that list is even longer than the one I made up. (LOL.) Want to know what I wrote and how the battle goes? Sorry, you’ll have to buy the book when it comes out.

*Magic has rules- before you can have a magic scene, you must know the rules to your magic, and then stick to them religiously. Who can have magic and who cannot? Why or why not?

*Magic takes a lot of energy- whether your character has magic inside themselves or uses energy from nearby sources, or even an object like an amulet, the magic should be finite or have a cost. Maybe using magic can give you warts, or brain damage?

*If you are going to use elemental magic, that is, magic of the elements (Fire, water, wind, earth, or consciousness- think telepathy), then you should come up with unusual ways to use it. i.e. wind can suffocate the enemy or blow out all the windows and stab someone with the pieces, wood and metal can be controlled from nearby buildings, use of the soil can knock someone off their feet, or create a sink hole in front of an enemy, electricity can cause static energy-hair can stand on end, shocks can ignite tinder, water controllers can call the water from a person’s body and shrivel them, or freeze them solid.

*Follow the rules of leverage, force and weight as well- but never forget David and Goliath.

*Make clear before the fight, the price of your protagonist’s failure.  These are the “stakes.” During the battle you can have a little thought about it, but when fighting, there is not time to ruminate on things. Fighting is told with short sentences and quick thoughts.

*What do your characters feel? Tension, fear, confusion, inadequacy?  Do they enjoy the fight? When their moves are thwarted, do they get angry? Again, don’t turn this into a paragraph of thought right in the middle of a fight scene, keep it short and to the point to keep the action going.  (Unless you are trying to slow the action down, or give pause, then this is a great thing to spend a paragraph on.) Does your protagonist get distracted by their teammates and get injured? Keep the reader on their toes.

*No matter what your type of magic is, if it’s in the book, and you have a battle happening, then you need magic there. So, get interesting with your imagination. Are fireballs blazing? Are wizards throwing potions or chanting spells? Someone could be turning members of the enemy into other creatures, or making inanimate objects come to life?

*Use a lot of descriptive language with verbs. Do not rely on adverbs.  Maybe she stuck him swiftly with a knife and slowly drew it out, but what if you said instead that she plunged her blade in his chest to the hilt and drew it out like a sigh? Use your words carefully, and use your thesaurus.

*Magic can clear or cloud the mind of the user. And reactions to magic can tingle, burn, tire, or turn you inside out. It’s all up to you. Surprise/ create/ be unique/ be unpredictable

*Know your weapons- do your research

*Keep trash talking to a minimum- there’s no time for witty repartee in a fight scene; a sense of humor, yes, but not an analysis of what’s happening. Keep it fast and sharp.

*Brainstorm lists of how your magic does and does not work to make it authentic and believable.  Give your characters differing skill levels, as well.  Not everyone is a ninja from birth, and somebody has to make a rooky mistake now and then.

*Don’t ignore your environment. Use windows & doors, bridges and closets.  Where is your fight taking place? See the surroundings and be inventive.

*Use “subject- verb- object” structure. i.e. She threw Gasten into the wall. Battles are not a time to get fancy with language. Write each action in a chronological order, but don’t analyze the reason for each action.

*Plan the battle beforehand. Be clear for the reader.  If you don’t know what’s happening, the reader will definitely be lost. If you have to draw a crude map and put Lego people on it, go ahead, just know in your mind how the battle takes place.

*Write the scenes rough, get those words on paper. Then read it aloud, maybe ask a friend to listen for believability. Then go back to make it perfect with the help of your beta readers; and make changes that will make your readers gasp. You’ll be so glad you did.

A little more about me…

MY EVENTS:

March 25: Kansas City Writer’s Guild Conference- Kansas City, MO

April 7-8: Nebraska Writer’s Guild Conference- La Vista, NE

May 5-7: Missouri Writers Guild Conference- Columbia, MO

July 16: All Write Now- Cape Girardeau, MO

September 29: Penned Con- St. Louis, MO

 

January 24, 2017

Freedom Fight Trilogy Quotes:

The Key Of F– “A real woman can do it all by herself, but a real man won’t let her.” -Keron

The Queen’s Heart– “Sometimes following your heart means losing your mind.” -Fale

The Final Rescue– “Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” -Lisle