Thursday, August 30, 2012

A BOA With the Girls of Honestly YA

The ladies of Honestly YA were awesome enough to let me come over to their corner of the internet to talk about my boobs yesterday. Today I'm letting them play a little on my blog, as part of the ongoing BOA series.

My original intention for the series of interviews I do here was to focus on agents (BBCHAT) and successful authors (SAT). In the course of internet wanderings though, I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.

This particular BOA is even more awesome because it's a BOA WoW! (We're Ohio Writers). Yeah, that's right. We grow 'em here.


BBC:  So you run an excellent blog over at Honestly YA. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?

Melissa: We agreed from the get-go that the way to make our blog stand out from the masses was to keep it personal. We share secrets with our readers—embarrassing, poignant, and sometimes hilarious experiences from our teen years. And we have a helluva lot of fun doing it!

Lorie: What Mel said.

Carey: Author Shelley Coriell deserves some serious credit for the honestly approach. When we were first talking about forming a grog, Shelley shared her marketing plan that focused on organic activities. It fit into our overall concept of rehashing our teen angst, not to sell books or ourselves, but because teen experiences connect YA readers.

BBC: I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time.  Honestly YA is a group blog, do you find that helpful in balancing the time investment?

Melissa: Um, blogging every six weeks versus blogging every week? Yes, please! Group blogs are the way to go. You just have to find a combination that works.

Lorie: Absolutely! Blogging on a six person rotation is not only helpful from a time budgeting standpoint, but it’s also a great moral support. I was extremely leery about blogging, especially on personal topics, but being part of a great team makes it easier. 

Carey: If helps that try to have our rotation topics locked in 6-12 months in advance. With Blogger, I can write my posts and schedule them to publish at a later date. So hypothetically, I could spend 1 day to write and load a whole year’s worth of posts. Geez-I wish I was that organized! But I do try to draft 3 or 4 posts at a time…What’s 6 weeks times 4 posts??? ANYONE? Well, anyone except Lorie. We’re so not math girls.

*breaks down and asks hubby* ME: “What’s 6x4?” HUBBY: “24” ME: “What’s 24 in months?” HUBBY: “I don’t understand the question.” ME: “If I have 24 weeks, how many months is that?” Hubby begins a long explanation of why it’s not exactly a round number of months and how it depends on—I wonder what unicorns eat? Did my son pack sock for gym class tomorrow? —blah, blah, blah— Why are dust bunnies devouring that brain shaped eraser? Are they zombie dust bunnies?—hubby stops talking. ME: “So how many months was that?” HUBBY: “5 and a half.” Wow, that nearly half a year of posts!

BBC: Do any of you have personal blogs as well? Do you approach them differently than you do your group blog?

Melissa: Yes, my blog is called The Unrepentant Escapist. It’s where I promote my entire body of work (my adult romance in addition to YA). I don’t blog there regularly, but that’s where I run all my giveaways and link posts when I guest blog at other sites.  

Carey: Mine is My Own Brand of Madness and it’s geared toward my indie publishing experiences as a YA author. 

BBC: Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?

Melissa: Eh…sometimes I think blogging helps. Other days, especially when nobody comments on a post, I wonder if we bloggers are just talking to ourselves. But you know what? It’s free, so why not partake? You never know who you’ll reach.

Lorie: I was skeptical at first, but yes, Honestly YA has given me an online presence that I couldn’t have achieved on my own. 

Carey: What they said. Our agent/editor interview series does get us a lot of attention. But we’re also always eager to read our blogmates takes on a topic—so if we’re the only ones talking, that’s okay.

BBC: Sometimes social media feels like a do-or-die. How do you approach Twitter or Facebook on days when you really don’t feel like you have much to say?

Melissa: It’s simple. On days when I don’t have much to say, I shut up. J

Lorie: I don’t say anything. J I post most days, but I don’t feel pressure to tweet or post on facebook every single day.

Carey: Ditto – I take a weekly, when I’ve something of quality to say, approach. J

BBC: What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?

Melissa: I highly recommend the Absolute Write forums for everything from connecting with beta readers to learning the best query strategies.

Lorie: Storywonk.com has excellent online classes that are entertaining and informative. http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ is a blog I’ve followed for years and it continues to be a source of inspiration for me. 

Carey: I’m a fan of Literary Rambles. And I visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab or OWL on a daily basis. 

BBC: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

Melissa: Don’t get so bogged down with building an online presence that you neglect your writing. You can’t tweet your way into a book deal.

Lorie: The keys for me are discipline and determination.

Write every day, even if you have dishes piled in the sink or laundry to do, make it a priority to write at least one paragraph every single day. You’ll find that some days creating a single sentence is painful. Do it anyway. Most of the time once you start writing you won’t want to stop and you’ll end up writing much more than a paragraph.

I can’t stress determination enough. Don’t let rejection break you, stare it in the face and keep walking. Keep reading, writing, and perfecting your skills. In short, don’t ever give up.

Carey: One great project will net you more than a dozen mediocre ones. Don’t rush to submit/indie publish your early drafts or first manuscripts. Hide them under your bed and keep writing. Leverage your writing community to perfect your craft and ensure your manuscripts shine. Once you reach mastery, you can dust off the early stuff and rework it into something brilliant.
_____________________________

Bios: Check us out on Honestly YA 

Lorie Langdon A few years ago, I left my management job with a Fortune 500 company to satisfy the voices in my head. Now a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, I spend my summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into my cozy office, Havanese puppy by my side, working to translate my effusive imagination into the written word. My work is represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads and Pinterest

Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in February 2014 from Disney Hyperion. You can learn more about her on www.melissa-landers.com, and she’d love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf! 

Carey Corp’s debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction. It is available in print and eBook. For more information, visit her at careycorp.com.

l-r: Carey, Melissa, Lorie

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Me, Honestly

I'm guest posting today over at Honestly YA, a great group blog that includes some of my fellow Ohioans that I get to hang with occasionally. They have fun. I have fun. Together, it's double fun. They're asking all their guest posters to talk about summer flings, but those are kinda alien to me. Why? Well, boobs of course.

I'm also up over at From the Write Angle today, where I'm talking about genre bending. What does that mean? Head on over there to find out. But I'll give you a hint - the two posts aren't related. :)

And lastly, just FYI I'm giving myself the gift of sight tomorrow. Yes, LASIK and I are about to become close personal friends. As evidenced in this vlog, it's about time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An SAT with CJ Flood, Author of INFINITE SKY

Today's guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is fellow Lucky 13er CJ Flood, author of INFINITE SKY, a family story about betrayal and loyalty, and love. When a family of travellers move into Iris Dancy's overgrown paddock overnight, her dad looks set to finally lose it. Gypsies are parasites he says, but Iris is intrigued. As her dad plans to evict the travelling family, Iris makes friends with their teenage son. Trick Deran is a bare knuckle boxer who says he’s done with fighting, but is he telling the truth?

Writing Process:
BBC: Are you a Planner or Pantster?

CJF: I am a pantser, with big splashes of planning. I tend to write and write until I get completely stuck/confused/lost and then I start drawing up colourful character arcs and trying to discover that mysterious Big Theme. Doing the character arcs is fun. Each character gets their own colour, and I draw a line with all of the things that happen to them, pyschological and physical, then I try to weave all the character arcs together in interesting/dramatic ways. You should definitely try it!

BBC: How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?

CJF: Having only completed one, I will say, with total confidence and no need for maths, it takes three years. But, that was not writing full time. I’m hoping to complete my second book in half that time. (Wish me luck!)

BBC: Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?

CJF: I have aspirations to be a multi tasker, but I seem to work best on one thing at a time. Certainly one thing is absolutely prioritised anyway. I’m not very good at multi tasking in every day life – I struggle to hold a conversation while cooking for instance – so this might be one dream I never achieve.

BBC: Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?

CJF: Not really. I have always written so it felt completely natural. Reading my own stuff in public has been the biggest obstacle for me. When I started out I would get such a whack of adrenalin that I couldn’t remember what had happened afterwards, let alone remember to breath and pause in the right places as I read! I am so glad those days are over. It’s actually one of my biggest achievements, that I can stand up in front of people nowaways and talk and read and appear – hopefully – to be a normally socialised human being!

BBC: How many trunked books (if any) did you have before you were agented?

CJF: I started two books, at least. Plus the Famous Five rip offs I use to write in the school holidays. I finished none though.

BBC: Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?

CJF: I quit on the ones I mentioned above because they were rubbish! I bored myself! It took me a long time to realise that you need to actually have a story to tell – whether that pivots around a simple change in a person’s outlook or a series of magnificently plotty events doesn’t matter.

Less easy was giving up on my first idea for my second book. When I started writing it (under contract) I did a lot of flailing around. I went a long way with my initial idea before I settled on something quite different. But all of the flailing brought something to the new idea: characters, events, scenes and places. None of it was wasted. (Except about 40,000 words…)

I knew it was time to give up because I didn’t know enough about what I was writing about. I felt lost, and not in that good, half magic way that is key to writing.

Querying and Agent Hunt Process:
BBC: Who is your agent and how did you get that "Yes!" out of them?  (traditional query process, referral, met at conference, etc.).

CJF: My agent is Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan Associates. I met her at a meeting organised by my university. (I did an MA at the University of East Anglia, and they have great industry contacts.) She reps some of my favourite authors, including Meg Rosoff and David Almond (though I hadn’t read him back then), and so we had a chat about them. I wasn’t ready to send anything – I couldn’t even talk coherently about my book at that point! – but we stayed in touch, and when my manuscript was ready I sent it to her. She loved it and offered representation, so the agent-hunt was all quite quick for me. There were more complications along the way, and it’s all a bit longwinded, but if you want to know anymore, I wrote this story up in much more detail recently on my blog.

On Being Published:
BBC: What's something you learned from the process that surprised you?

CJF: Publishing takes a loooong time. There’s lots of waiting. Be prepared to work on lots of other things in the gaps between the many stages of getting a book out there.

Social Networking and Marketing:
BBC: How much of your own marketing do you?  Do you have a blog / site / Twitter? (I'll insert the links here)? 

CJF: I have a blog and I blog as one of the Lucky 13s and I’m on Twitter too. I also have an author Facebook page

Saying all that though, I am not that confident/comfortable with marketing. Like most writers, I dream of the old (no doubt fictional) days when you just tap tap taperood at your desk and the pound coins and acclaim came looking for you. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy meeting all the lovely people I meet social networking (the Lucky 13s have been an absolute godsend).

I think the whole marketing thing will make more sense to me when I actually have a book people can buy.

BBC: When do you build your platform? After an agent? Or should you be working before?

Personally, I would say focus on the writing first. If you want to be a good writer, that is.

BBC: Do you think social media helps build your readership?

CJF: I don’t know yet. I suspect not if I am anything to go by, which I have to assume I am. I only follow authors online that I’ve already read. I only really buy books by new authors after I’ve read reviews or interviews or heard a prize shortlist/longlist or because they are referenced in a book or on personal recommendations. I have never yet bought a book after discovering the author via social media. Maybe that’s just because of my expendable income though! I want to buy people’s books all the time!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Focus on Followers - Success Stories!

Last week I made a general call for my followers to share their successes with me so that we could all celebrate them. And some of you took me up on that offer! Be sure to drop by their social media hangouts and let them know we're all proud!

Michelle Hauck signed with the small press Divertir last month to publish her epic fantasy, KINDAR'S CURE. The tentative release date is March 2013. Check out her blog or tweet to her @Michelle4Laughs to show her your support!

Lindsay Smith inked a deal! SEKRET is a YA historical thriller, and it will be published by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's in Winter 2014. It's about psychic teens in 1960s Soviet Russia who are forced to spy for the KGB. Sounds awesome, right? Check out her blog and tell her so, or shoot her a tweet.

Julie Anne Lindsey of Musings From the Slush Pile has a lot of her plate! BLOOM, the first in her Seeds of Love series, is available now from Turquoise Morning Press. The sequel LOVE BLOSSOMS, will be available 9/2. The last novella in the series will release in December. She also has two print length sweet romances coming to the Honey Creek line for TMP in 2013. Plus, TMP contracted her Contemp YA mystery for their Barefoot Books line. It will arrive in April 2013. AND she's got a YA suspense and a cozy mystery currently out on submission with her agent!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Saturday Slash

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
http://femboost.tumblr.com/
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch  them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!

And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in yellow.

Prince Agmund dreams of a kingdom united, but a mysterious sorcerer pictures something else, and his visions don’t include the Ordinal prince. Decent hook, the one thing that's not quite working for me is that we don't know what an "Ordinal" is. If it's explained later on in the query I think that's fine.

Agmund knows his kingdom’s past, how his ancestors conquered an evil king. He’s also painfully aware of the present, how Ordinals despise their neighbors, even after Otherkin assimilate the ways of mortals and lose their magic. Looks good, this doesn't lay it out in black and white about what each race is, but it definitely covers a lot of area.  Life is much colder interesting choice of words. I like it. since the death of his mother, and in his father’s eyes, he does nothing right. Hope lies in the upcoming celebration of virtually virtually 100? Like it's "not quite" 100 years? I'd drop "virtually." 100 years of peace. It’s a chance to reconnect with his father, for races to come together, and for everyone to move forward.

But Agmund’s hopes mean nothing to the mysterious sorcerer. The sorcerer for better flow here I'd combine these sentences and use "who" for the second "the sorcerer." invites the spirit of the dead king back to the land of the living, and the two become one. Their It's not entirely clear who "their" refers to here. And is it really a reward, or more like a goal?  reward…renewed health, revenge, and power, but every bargain I don't see how it was a bargain. In a bargain someone is either losing something or not getting everything they want. Here it sounds like the sorcerer is getting power and the dead king is getting life back - so who is losing in their particular bargain? has a price, and someone has to pay.

Agmund’s father pays with his life If the king's death is part of the bargain, the phrasing isn't quite working for me here. It doesn't cost the sorcerer anything for the king to die, throwing the kingdom into turmoil. A despised uncle why not our prince? is crowned King Regent, but the sorcerer pulls his strings. Promotion of Ordinals to preferred citizen(s) leads to nightly roundups and unexplained disappearances of anyone "different." Otherkins must pretend to be Ordinal or cease to exist. This is a cool twist, I like it.

Agmund’s rebuttals are feeble. He looks forward to the day he replaces his uncle on the throne, but getting there and living is another matter. Aha - here we come back to our prince. He really hasn't been in the query for a few paragraphs. 

I think in order for this to work you need to explain why the uncle takes Agmund's place. Also what's the connection between the uncle and the sorcerer? The uncle comes out of left field and is suddenly in charge, with the sorcerer pulling the strings. Who is in charge? And why is Agmund's life in danger? Because he is arguing? What's his relationship with his uncle? With the sorcerer?

Keep your MC as the main focus, and pare down. I need you to add some elements and this query is already bordering on too long. A good goal for a query is around 300 words. There's plenty of room here for pruning, which will leave spaces for the elements I think are missing. Look hard at *every* word and see if you can't rephrase more simply.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Talk - BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys' debut BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY illuminates a part of history that few people know about - Stalin's deportation of Lithuanian people in the 1940's. The main character, Lina, is in the middle of writing a letter to her cousin when her family is taken. Shoved onto a truck along with her little brother and mother, she is relieved when they stop at a hospital, thinking that the wounded who struggled with the soldiers are going to be treated. Instead, a young Lithuanian mother, still wearing bloody bedclothes and carrying her minutes-old infant is dragged screaming from the hospital.

That is only the beginning of Lina's journey. She finds emotional solace and a possible form of communication with her Father - separated from them in a men's work camp - in her artwork. Lina is a blessed artist, and she works in whatever mediums he can find, sometimes tracing in the dirt of the traincar floors or hasty sketches on a handkerchief to be passed from one hand to the next.

Not even the frozen Siberian tundra can take away Lina's determination, as her mother and brother both fall ill, she continues to dig beets, make holes that may be her own grave, and wrestle with others for the food to stay alive. 

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is deftly delivered, with enough detail to be harrowing yet never gratuitous. The reader feels the passage of years along with Lina, as she grows up in a work camp. But everyday survived feels like a small victory. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kasie West Talks Covers & PIVOT POINT ARC Giveaway!


Addison Coleman's life is one big "What if?" As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It's the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie's parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with–her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the "Norms," or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it's not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school–but she never wanted to be a quarterback's girlfriend. When Addie's father is asked to consult on a murder in the compound, she's unwittingly drawn into a drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she's willing to live through... and who she can't live without.

I love talking to my fellow authors. Our experiences are so similar, yet so very different, that every one of us has a new story to share. Everyone says that the moment you get your cover it really hits you - you're an author. The cover is your story - and you - packaged for the world. So the process of the cover reveal can be slightly panic inducing. Does it fit your story? Is it what you hoped? Will it sell? With this in mind I put together the CRAP (Cover Reveal Anxiety Phase) Interview.

Today's guest is my fellow Friday the Thirteener Kasie West, author of PIVOT POINT available February 12th, 2013 from HarperTeen! But GUESS WHAT - one of you won't have to wait until then to read it. Kasie is fantastic and is giving away an ARC along with this interview. Giveaway is US only  please, and will run until 12:01 AM on 8/25. Winner will be announced on 8/27.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


BBC: Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?

KW: Yes! And this fact terrified me. I had a very clear picture of what I thought would be an awesome cover.

BBC: How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house? 

KW: It was October of last year. So what is that? 16 months before my pub date? That’s a long time.

BBC: Did you have any input on your cover?

KW: Yes. Like I mentioned in question one, I had a very clear picture in my head which I spelled out word for word to my editor. Ha. She was very patient with me. My cover isn’t like the picture in my head but they did use the basic concept and then made it a lot cooler than I imagined.

BBC: How was your cover revealed to you?

KW: I had gone to New York with my husband who was traveling for business and was able to meet my agent and editor for lunch. My editor surprised me with a mounted picture of my cover. Do you know how when you’re opening presents in front of people and you feel like you have to be extra animated and grateful? Like, “Oh, who got me the nose hair trimmer? It’s exactly what I wanted!!” That’s how I felt as I was getting ready to open my cover in front of my editor and agent. Lucky for me, it was exactly what I wanted.

BBC: Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?

KW: No, there wasn’t. I knew it would be about six-eight months before my publication date, but I had no idea when exactly.

BBC: How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?

KW: I saw my cover for the first time December of 2011. So about 14 months before my pub date.

BBC: Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?

KW: Yes! And then after a while I kept forgetting that other people hadn’t seen it yet. Then I thought it wasn’t going to be as exciting to reveal it because it had been sitting on my shelf for six months. But I was wrong. It was still very exciting.

BBC: What surprised you most about the process?

KW: How much I loved my cover.

BBC: Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?

Deep knee bends?? No, that would only make you sore. I guess my advice is to be vocal. If you have good ideas, share them. If something about your cover bothers you, speak up.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Focus on Followers

So obviously I do a lot of promotion of my fellow authors on the blog. Most of my interviews are geared toward helping aspiring writers learn how to conquer the pitfalls and struggles of writing. I started the blog thinking I would ask all the questions to published authors that I always wanted to ask before I was one myself. And honestly, I learn something from every interview I do, whether I'm published or not.

I'm aware that a lot of my followers are also writers, and I want to focus on that for a little bit. Summer is crawling to it's inevitable end, my garden is almost canned away and the root cellar is in decent shape. The library is calling me back, and it won't be long until I get to be surrounded by books again, and call it work.

When that happens, you'll see the return of the usual format for the blog. Thursday Thoughts will be back, and some new book talks for those of you who are burning for a good new read. You'll get some Mindy-centric Monday posts about things going on in my life that you may (or may not) be interested in.

But until then I want to talk about you. Have you had anything cool happen to you lately? Did some of you snag an agent? Are your self-pub sales going well? Did you ink an offer?

I want to know, and I want to help celebrate that with you. Send me an email at bigblackcat97(at)gmail(dot)com and tell me about it. I'll be sharing my follower's successes on the upcoming Monday posts until I'm back to normal.

Well... let's make that until my schedule is back to normal.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Saturday Slash & Book A Day Giveaway Winners

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Book A Day Giveaway! Winners are below, if you're listed  please email me - bigblackcat97(at)gmail(dot)com - with your mailing address and I'll get your books out to you pronto!

Day #1 - TWILIGHT - Marin McGinnis
Day #2 - FAT KID RULES THE WORLD - Carole Anne
Day #3 - DOLORES: 7 STORIES ABOUT HER - Matt Sinclair
Day #4 - LOVE, FOOTBALL & OTHER CONTACT SPORTS - M Fantalis
Day #5 - WHO THE MAN - M Fantalis
Day #6 - THE WARRIOR HEIR - Myrna Foster

Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
http://femboost.tumblr.com/
We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to punch  them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect. You'll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!

And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in yellow.

When a nearby supernova blasts away life on Earth with waves of radiation, a shield of magic shelters one farm. In that isolated fortress of life, a lonely boy yearns for a friend and a rabbit transforms. Nice hook. I like it, although it leaves me wondering where the magic comes form? Is the child magic, or the farm? Has it always been this way or is this an impromptu thing? The hook definitely has my interest, but I feel like these things need to be addressed in order for  reader to get a feel for the book.

Nine years later, seventeen-year-old Little Bit weeds the garden barefoot to feel the grass while her heart questions what’s on the other side of the wall. What kind of wall? Physical? Magical? Can she see through it? Memories of her past and how she got there are nonexistent. The magic anklet fastened on her by the young mage, Garrett, keeps her in the compound—keeps her from knowing why cows outnumber humans. So where did Little Bit come from? Is she the rabbit? Is Garret the boy from the first paragraph? When you say "compound" it feels more like a community than just the two of them, even though I know you're referring to the area itself. 

Garrett turns aside her questions with jests. Infuriated, Little Bit decides Garrett can fetch his own tea. Was she his servant? She outwits the anklet to escape into a world corrupted by magic Again, the question is raised of where all this magic is coming from? A supernova scorching "our" earth isn't that far outside the limits of reality, but where does the magic come in? A side effect of the blast? It almost feels like it was there before that, the way this is reading, which wouldn't be "our" world as we know it. and scorched by the unfiltered fury of the sun. Traveling by night, she evades Garrett to stumble upon mutated beetles and mega-sized possums. Worse, predatory survivalists skulk in the shadows as Little Bit follows rumors to a human colony in New Chicago.

When Garrett catches her, she learns the truth about herself. Only the renewal of his magic keeps her on two legs instead of four. So she is the rabbit - I think that needs to be clearer, sooner. Also, if she needs him to remain human, does she start transforming back as she travels? New Chicago wants Garrett’s magic Why is his magic so great? It sounds like there's magic everywhere; they’ll exploit his affection Hmm... it hasn't felt much like affection so far, more like he was using her to do his bidding and bring him stuff. for Little Bit to get it. Now she has to free them both and discover what sacrifice it takes to stay human all while dodging the sun’s deadly rays. I wasn't clear that the sun was still deadly. I thought she was traveling at night to stay undercover from Garrett. 

I think the idea here is fascinating and really cool, but I need more clarification on the elements of magic. How did it get here? Was it on Earth before the supernova blast? Or did it come after? Was Garrett magical before the rays? Why is he special? And is there a love story between the two, or is it just friendship? I definitely need their relationship explained a little better, as I wasn't getting "affection" out of his treatment of Little Bit at all. 

The query is well-written, and the premise is catchy. You just need to get the elements I addressed above in there and I think you'll be looking good.

DODGE THE SUN is a YA fantasy novel in a dystopian setting, complete at 75,000 words. My epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, will be released by Divertir Publishing spring 2013.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Book A Day Giveaway - Day #6


I cleaned out my house this summer, in a big way. We're talking moving furniture, crawling under things with vacuum attachments and making use of dumpsters. I'm in the habit of grabbing books I don't really need, particularly at library clearing sales. I can't STAND to see a book go in the trash. So you guys are going to benefit from that here in the Book A Day Giveaway. Each of the books I'm giving away is not new (with the exception of the big, fun kicker on Friday). These books are either former library books or reading circle copies. Not shiny, not new - but still a good read.

On FRIDAY I will be giving away a SIGNED copy of THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williama Chima. In order to win this nice little cherry-on-top prize, you must've entered to win one of the books given away earlier in the week.

In order to participate in the Book A Day Giveaway all you have to do is a be a follower of my blog, and comment on the post of the book you'd like to have. Remember, in order to win the signed Cinda Williams Chima book you must've entered yourself (commented) on a book from earlier in the week.

Winners will be chosen by random.org and will be announced at the next Saturday Slash!

Today's giveaway:



Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great - until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game - a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he's not just another member of Weirlind - he's one of the last of the warriors - at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Book A Day Giveaway - Day #5

I cleaned out my house this summer, in a big way. We're talking moving furniture, crawling under things with vacuum attachments and making use of dumpsters. I'm in the habit of grabbing books I don't really need, particularly at library clearing sales. I can't STAND to see a book go in the trash. So you guys are going to benefit from that here in the Book A Day Giveaway. Each of the books I'm giving away is not new (with the exception of the big, fun kicker on Friday). These books are either former library books or reading circle copies. Not shiny, not new - but still a good read.

On FRIDAY I will be giving away a SIGNED copy of THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williama Chima. In order to win this nice little cherry-on-top prize, you must've entered to win one of the books given away earlier in the week.

In order to participate in the Book A Day Giveaway all you have to do is a be a follower of my blog, and comment on the post of the book you'd like to have. Remember, in order to win the signed Cinda Williams Chima book you must've entered yourself (commented) on a book from earlier in the week.

Winners will be chosen by random.org and will be announced at the next Saturday Slash!

Today's giveaway:


Earl got big. Or did big get Earl?
Earl Pryor is the biggest thirteen-year-old anyone ever saw. He's taller than a lot of grown-ups. He's got a hairy chest. He shaves.

Everyone thinks Earl's such a tough-guy troublemaker. They come to him looking for a fight. And Earl will fight them. But he's not so tough. He loves his moms, loves his dad. Still, a man's got to take care of himself, especially when his world is falling apart.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Book A Day Giveaway - Day #4

I cleaned out my house this summer, in a big way. We're talking moving furniture, crawling under things with vacuum attachments and making use of dumpsters. I'm in the habit of grabbing books I don't really need, particularly at library clearing sales. I can't STAND to see a book go in the trash. So you guys are going to benefit from that here in the Book A Day Giveaway. Each of the books I'm giving away is not new (with the exception of the big, fun kicker on Friday). These books are either former library books or reading circle copies. Not shiny, not new - but still a good read.

On FRIDAY I will be giving away a SIGNED copy of THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williama Chima. In order to win this nice little cherry-on-top prize, you must've entered to win one of the books given away earlier in the week.

In order to participate in the Book A Day Giveaway all you have to do is a be a follower of my blog, and comment on the post of the book you'd like to have. Remember, in order to win the signed Cinda Williams Chima book you must've entered yourself (commented) on a book from earlier in the week.

Winners will be chosen by random.org and will be announced at the next Saturday Slash!

Today's giveaway:


Here are stories of students from one end of the social spectrum to the other. Jock to loner, academic snob to outcast, Carter explores and shatters the stereotypes behind the relationships, friends, rumors, peer pressure, sports, bullies, and other assorted forms of mental anguish that come with high school.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Book A Day Giveaway - Day #3

I cleaned out my house this summer, in a big way. We're talking moving furniture, crawling under things with vacuum attachments and making use of dumpsters. I'm in the habit of grabbing books I don't really need, particularly at library clearing sales. I can't STAND to see a book go in the trash. So you guys are going to benefit from that here in the Book A Day Giveaway. Each of the books I'm giving away is not new (with the exception of the big, fun kicker on Friday). These books are either former library books or reading circle copies. Not shiny, not new - but still a good read.

On FRIDAY I will be giving away a SIGNED copy of THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williama Chima. In order to win this nice little cherry-on-top prize, you must've entered to win one of the books given away earlier in the week.

In order to participate in the Book A Day Giveaway all you have to do is a be a follower of my blog, and comment on the post of the book you'd like to have. Remember, in order to win the signed Cinda Williams Chima book you must've entered yourself (commented) on a book from earlier in the week.

Winners will be chosen by random.org and will be announced at the next Saturday Slash!

Today's giveaway:


"There was more to do than music, of course. She was a good human."
That's what Dolores's brother Jimmy thinks about her when she's seven years old and can scream Nirvana lyrics at the top of her lungs in a voice just as angry and knowing as any teenager's. Dolores is a force to be reckoned with. As she grows up through these seven stories, you can call her what you want -- strangely beautiful, weird, quirky, a loner, brave -- it doesn't matter. Because Dolores always will be, quite simply, Dolores.