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Friday, April 30, 2010

Want to take a stab at my query?

Well, I posted my query over critique forums and got pretty good feedback but I thought it wouldn't hurt to see what you guys think. Is it at all gripping? Does it suck? Do you hate the idea? Be honest, I won't block you lol. I will appreciate the honesty because in the long run its help :)

Dear Agent,

Raised by his father to hate humans, Vitiosus is a dark Lassertian warrior feared by all. He secretly rescues humans from torture being inflicted upon them by his father’s army, only to see them murdered. His search for peace halts when he learns of his human mother, and that his impure blood could cost him his ambitions, his life, and the hopes of his nation.

Being the prince won’t help Vitiosus when he falls in love with Tiya, an imprisoned human girl. A group of rebels who threaten to attack the Lassertian kingdom see Vitiosus’ love for Tiya and take her hostage. Now Vitiosus has no way out except to surrender to the rebels, but on his way he meets with his long time adversary, Gabriel, a warrior on a mission to bring the Lassertian Prince to his queen dead or alive. During the ensuing battle, he discovers that Gabriel is his human brother. Now he must decide… to trust Gabriel and create a connection between their warring people to save Tiya and the kingdom, or to trust his own kind, that has been helping him all along. Battling for the rights of his people and humans, Vitiosus finds himself venturing a journey that leads him to discover the truth about himself, his people and his kingdom. He only has to keep his life, despite the fact that skulls appear everywhere he goes, warning him of the worst, his death.

OVERCAST SHADOW’S is a fast paced 89,000 word YA fantasy novel. I believe you’d be a great fit to represent my book because you work with fantasy, science fiction and YA and enjoy an action packed and intriguing narrative. Thank you for your consideration and time.



So what did you think?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Contest!! DUH!!

Here is another one of those chances to win a query critique by the awesome sensei and free chocolate! Head on over to and enter before time runs out!

E-Publishing. E-Books and thoughts.

When I think of E-publishing my novel I literally just want to scream. For some reason it seems worse off to me than not publishing at all. Maybe its because I think that no body will really get to read it or maybe its because it can't ever be a paperback again. My poor book. In some ways E-publishing is freedom for many writers. Some novels have such specific genres that writers know they won't be fit for the market. E-publishing is much easier than vanity. Its faster and you have better chances in finding a fit pressm but is it nearly as satisfactory? I don't know to be honest...Some authors I know decided to just go the E route because of fear of rejections and some because they realized their book wasn't fit for publishing. What about you? What is your take on E-Publishing? Would you consider to Epublish your book or would you rather get published by a small press?

Personally I favor reading real books over E-books. I don't have a kindle so E-books I can only read over the monitor and the brightness just sort of distracts me from the story. I like the feel of real pages, covers and even the scent of holding an actual book in my hands. And hey, maybe one day it will be my book I will be holding. So pick one..E-book or hard cover? Which would you rather read?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

**Interview with the author of the Mobius Striptease**

Woopie! Another interview! I love hearing other's success stories and today we have Carolyn Haley on the blog who decided to publish her book as an E-book. Also my next topic on this blog.
Firstly can you tell us a little bit about your novel?

The Mobius Striptease is a cross-genre story centering on psychic power. It weaves science fiction and romantic suspense around a metaphysical mystery involving star-crossed lovers, whose relationships cause an outbreak of supernatural forces that will unbalance the world if unchecked.

The heroine, who finds herself the centerpiece of the affair, is skeptical about paranormal phenomena. So first she must overcome her disbelief, then figure out how to harness extrasensory powers and restore cosmic balance before the situation explodes. Although the forces manifest through people, creating a good-versus-evil drama, the underlying story is about positive and negative energies and their long-term, rippling effects.
What is your writing background up until now?
I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. In early life, I wrote diaries and journals and did a lot of art. These morphed into novella-length teenage fantasies. I was on course for a career in illustration and graphic novels, but the combination of college, working lousy office jobs, and shared living arrangements took away the time, privacy, and will needed to sustain my art. So I channeled my energies into writing, aided by the arrival of computers. Since that turning, I’ve become a professional writer and editor -- and hope to stay on that path.
What inspired your idea for your current novel?
Two unanswerable questions bothered me: Do supernatural phenomena truly exist? and, What would I do if something supernatural actually happened to me?
Do you have any specific daily writing routines you stick to?
No routines, because I work as a freelancer, so every day is different. But I do write daily, mainly correspondence and mini-essays via forums and e-mail. Every second or third week, I compose an entry for my blog. All my commercial writing is driven by client schedules, and all personal projects are worked on when opportunity allows.
However, plots and concepts are always evolving in my head, and I consider that writing. I try to do creative work in the mornings when fresh, or the evenings when too tired to analyze. Regardless of timing, I first do a bad rough draft, then step away for a while, then return as often as necessary to revise and polish.
Why did you choose the E-book route rather than traditional publishing?
I took a hard took at reality and concluded that my novel doesn’t meet today’s publishing criteria. If you self-publish or vanity-publish, you can put out anything; but if you wish to be published by a commercial entity, then your book must have the potential to earn money. In general this means either something with mass appeal (ideally, a blockbuster) or genre appeal, so that an established audience will snap it up, talk about it, then stand in line for the next one.
The Mobius Striptease, as a hybrid, appeals to a small number of readers across several genres, so it can’t be vertically marketed. It’s also too esoteric to be a best-seller. I don’t have enough stories in me to pump out fast enough to build a genre audience. My choice, then, was to consign the book to the dustbin or find another means of reaching an eclectic audience.
My ego couldn’t accept vanity-publishing, and my pocketbook couldn’t handle self-publishing. That left e-publishing -- which, by the time I faced facts, was building up steam and opening new doors.
I had to be careful, though, because e-publishing is still so young that it lacks many of the quality controls that define traditional publishing. As yet, no brand-name, big-respect e-leader has emerged. Contracts, unusually unagented, are full of pitfalls. So I spent hours on the Internet, learning the players and the rules.
I compiled a list of e-publishers, then cross-referenced it to “writer beware” websites and any reviews or interviews I could find. That produced a (very) short list of candidates, at the top of which was Club Lighthouse Publishing in Toronto. This company publishes all the genres my book covers; lists its titles through major e-book outlets; offers a competitive royalty rate; and takes electronic rights only, for a limited number of years, leaving me free to pursue a print option. I also liked the editor's art portfolio, which offered the prospect of a good cover.All that homework paid off. Club Lighthouse accepted my manuscript and released it in December 2009 -- with a nice, zorchy cover!
How different do you think is the process in getting an E-book published vs. a hard back novel?The process is the same: study the market, compose a good query package, and keep submitting until somebody accepts. The difference lies in how easily the process goes, and how long it might take.
E-publishing has fewer gatekeepers, sometimes lower standards, and quicker response time. You can usually submit directly to the publisher, and often send the whole book on first contact. This combination is rare with print publishers, for which you usually need an agent. The query/response cycle can take weeks, months, even years and often requires installment submissions of query, synopsis, sample chapters, partial manuscript, full manuscript, in varying combinations.
The publishing industry is understaffed yet overwhelmed with submissions; meanwhile, the print marketplace is tightening. So the chances of publishing a first novel in hardback are akin to winning the lottery, unless you’ve got one of those blockbusters or genre-fitters mentioned above.
For your non fiction novel how many rejections did it take for you to finally land that agent?
Neither of my books required an agent, so I don’t have one. My attempts to land an agent for the novel, prior to switching to e-publishing, accrued dozens of rejections over 20-plus years.
Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s a two-sided equation. Nothing can happen without a finished manuscript, so you must (1) park butt in chair and write; and (2) understand your publishing options and their requirements. This is also twofold: You can (a) decide where you have the best chance of success, and write the sort of book that will take you there; or (b) write your book from the heart, then do the legwork needed to find its proper home. In either case, the name of the game is CRAFT. Learn to write well and appropriately for your market.
Would you have done anything differently?
Oh, yes! I wrote my novel backwards, glomming together a bunch of ideas then figuring out how to construct a story. Honing it to commercial standards took decades! Part of that came from not studying craft and market early. I learned everything the hard way and wasted a lot of time. Happily, I now have a better idea how to go about things, so the next book should come together a lot more quickly and easily.

Thanks so much Carolyn for doing this interview and I can't wait to get my hands on your novel! Though I personally have not had any experience with reading e-books...
For now, interested readers can learn about The Mobius Striptease through her page at Author’s Den or you can go ahead and read an additional story excerpt is available through the publisher’s website.

Don't we all LOVE updates?

Happy wednesday awesome people a.k.a writers! If you are wondering why that picture my answer is because i liked it. Apart from that here are some updates about what's happening with me, my blogs and the agents that rejected me. Firstly I want to say that I had another blog for a while. It's called Fantastic Fiction. I posted one post on it and then bam, I forgot about it. So now that CipherQueen reminded me I had that blog by telling me I won a makeover contest I decided to make use of it. Fantastic Fiction from now on will serve as a blog specifically for my personal stats, rejection posts and query critiques. Yes, I am going to offer to put up other's queries for ctitique, because I know the more opinions the more chance you have. So if you follow this blog follow fantasticfiction.
Secondly I just finished my second novel. Yay! It's a Paranormal Romance and yes it is YA. Actually its called the Drifter and its about Pip who is a drifter and has a special very cool supernatural ability. So what's going on with you guys?  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

**Interview with Sheila Lowe**

Today we have an interview with a great author, Sheila Lowe who has 4 mystery novels out there.  Firstly can you tell us a little bit about your very first published novel POISON PEN?[SL:] Poison Pen was my first novel, which took seven years to get published. I finished writing it in 2000, entered it in a competition (Southwest Writers), won third place out of 97 entries in mystery, and figured I was on my way! Not. I kept getting rejection letters that were complimentary, except they said, “it’s just not strong enough.” Unfortunately, they failed to tell me what that meant and it was a long time and many drafts later before I understood. Now, I’m happy to say, Last Writes, the fourth book in my Forensic Handwriting Mystery series, will be released July 6. There are sample chapters from each book at
What is your writing background up until now?
          [SL:] My first published book was non-fiction: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis came out in 1999. Until then I’d written a lot of technical monographs and articles about handwriting analysis (my avocation since 1967 and later career). A year after the CIG I was contacted by a publisher to write Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, which is a collection of 75 handwriting samples of well-known people from Galileo to Hillary Clinton, John Lennon, Ted Bundy, etc., etc., and my short analysis of each one.
What inspired your idea for your first (Poison Pen) published novel?
[SL:] I had always wanted to write fiction, but got busy raising 3 kids on my own and making a living, so the desire simmered for a long time on the back burner. Finally, around 1998 I got an idea for the book that became Poison Pen and started writing it. My first two books were best-sellers, but what I didn’t realize was, writing fiction is a whole different story (I know, groaner). I had to learn a whole new craft. What inspired the story was the sudden death of a woman I knew—the type of person you love to hate. She could stab you in the back and smile sweetly while she twisted the knife. Her death was ruled suicide, but nobody who knew her believed it. There were interesting things I knew about her background that lent themselves to a mystery plot. So I borrowed them and twisted them into a story that worked for me, and I began to write.
Why did you decide to expand into a series?
[SL:] I don’t think I deliberately decided to write a series. It was taking so long to get Poison Pen sold that I just started writing another story featuring Claudia Rose, my handwriting expert protagonist. When those two were sold, it seemed to follow that I would write more.
Do you have any specific daily writing routines you stick to?
[SL:] Yeah: email, email, email, all day long. Other than that, when I’m under a deadline I make sure I write a thousand new words a day after editing the work from the day before. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t, and being able to look at the word count helps push me forward.
So now that you have published are you planning any more novels that we should be looking forward to?
[SL:] I’m now working on a standalone mystery thriller, but Claudia will have a cameo role. Then I hope to write more Claudia stories.
After you completed your first novel that you published how difficult was it for you to land an agent?
[SL:] I didn’t have an agent to publish Poison Pen. After being unable to get it published after all those years (during which I paid a couple of independent editors to critique it and formed a critique group myself), I had an opportunity to show it to a small startup press. They liked it and had me send it to their editor. Finally, I learned what it meant for the writing to be “weak.” The editor, Ellen Larson, showed me where Claudia could be a stronger protagonist, and—very important—I learned to cut out most adverbs (“ly” words). Choosing a few strong verbs makes for better storytelling. When Poison Pen came out with Capital Crime Press, it got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, which was really, really cool, and led to Penguin making an offer for a two book deal. Then I got an agent. After that, I got another two book deal.
The moment you got a positive reply with an offer for representation, what were your initial thoughts?
[SL:] As I’ve said, I sold my first several books without an agent, but let me backtrack. During the time I was being rejected, I went through four different agents, none with well-known names and for good reason. When I finally got represented by an agent with a good reputation, I was very excited and hopeful. Sadly, that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hope, as it turned out that we had a different vision for the next couple of books that I plan to write.
How many rejections did it take for you to finally land that agent?
[SL:] I don’t even know. Maybe 20? And again—it wasn’t an agent who sold the first book.
Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?
[SL:] Yes, even though you want to be published by a big house, give some of the small presses a chance. And understand that getting published is only the beginning of the process. Even if you have a major publisher you will be expected to do most of your own PR and pay for it. No one will tell you that you have to do this or that, but if you don’t promote your own books, they aren’t going to sell, and then it’s a downward spiral. There’s tons of competition, so being aware of that from the beginning, and knowing that you will need some financial resources, even if you get an advance, can help you prepare. And, by the way, most authors these days get very small advances, if any. And one surprise I got when I signed with the big publisher was, the advance doesn’t come in a lump sum. You’ll get some of it on signing the contract, some more when you’ve delivered the manuscript and the publisher accepts it, and the final payment after the book is on the market. Sounds discouraging as I write this, but really, it’s better to be realistic.
Are you still with the same agent that you first landed?
[SL:] See above. Right now I’m talking with a very good agency and hope we go forward together. Everyone, wish me well!
Would you have done anything differently?
[SL:] I don’t know what I could have done differently. It just took me a long time to learn some of the lessons I evidently needed to learn. And really, it’s a process that continues over your career. What I’ve found is, from time to time I suddenly realize that my writing has reached a new level. And it’s still happening. Those moments feel really great.
Good writing!

Well, thank you so much to Sheila for doing this interview and good luck to her with finding the perfect agent! You can check out er site here:

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stretchy Minds

We writers are all about imaginations. About combining different puzzle pieces to create a whole. A different world, a unique person that readers adore and crazy circumstances to place our characters in. Technically what we do is all about creative thinking and of course the imagination centre of the brain. Ok to the actual topic...

As I keep on writing I keep generating weirder and yes you said it, weirder ideas. I mean no regular person would think of something like that, or would they? Writing has even stretched my imagination so far that I start thinking in a different way when I do regular things. For example, I am walking in the park at night (I am no freak I don't stalk people at night :D) and I start brainstorming ideas of what I would do if a pack of blood thirsty werewolves that walk on hind legs come out of the bushes. I know its not going to happen, (yep real life is boring) but I start making up scenes and what would happen and hey, I have an idea. (Yawn, another?).  So my question for today is, how much has your imagination stretched since you first started writing?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What rocks YOUR socks?

Personally I love to listen to music when I write. It helps me write so much. I mean I can't really write without it, well I can but I would rather not. I know this is rather different for many, but for me I love music. So here is my playlist.

  1. Still Loving you - Scorpions
  2. Boulavard of Broken Dreams, American Idiot, Know your enemy - Green Day
  3. Better than me, Lips of an angel - Hinder
  4. Wait and Bleed - Slipknot
  5. In the End, What I've done, Bleed it out - Linkin Park
  6. Pain, Break - Three Days Grace
  7. Lithium - Evanessence
  8. Devil on my shoulder - Billy Talent
  9. Fade to Black - Metallica
  10. Say Goodnight - Bullet for my valentine
So its interesting to know what music you listen to when you write or when you don't write! Comment guys, and of course rock on! :D

Friday, April 16, 2010

One more Contest!

I thought it was really nice of Rachele over at Freckle head to host this contest and to critique others query letters. She has an agent and her novel is on subbmission so she has experience with those nasties. Check it out over here on her blog:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My first rejection... :(

I just got my first rejection 30 minutes after I sent off my query. It was a form rejection. Blah! No dear author even and no name or personalization. Rejections are tough but for some reason this just made me laugh. Yes, I can be random like that. For one I sent out 5 query letters and got 1 rejection. I guess there is something wrong with my query if I don't get a partial request after 10 rejections or no replies right? But I didn't send out 10 query letters yet. I guess I am planning to. The only thing I want to know is if I will need to bo going back to the drawing board with my query...I hope not lol. Truthfully though I am not sad or unhappy or even mad because this is just the beginning of my query journey. So how did your first rejection feel?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interview with Janice Hardy - The Shifter

Today I am posting an interview with Janice Hardy. She is the author of THE SHIFTER which is a very cool supernatural novel which has a sequel that will be out soon. Today she will tell us a little bit about her novel which you can purchase here and her journey to publication. Firstly can you tell us a little bit about THE SHIFTER?
THE SHIFTER is an adventure fantasy about Nya, a war orphan with the unique ability to heal by shifting pain from person to person. When her younger sister disappears, this ability turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her. She risks exposing her secret to the enemy forces occupying her city, because if they catch her, they'll use her as a weapon against her own people.
That sounds very intriguing! What is your writing background up until now?
I've always written, though I've never really published anything before the book. A couple of short stories in magazines no one ever heard of, but that's all.
What inspired your idea for THE SHIFTER? Years ago I was playing with common fantasy ideas, turning them on their heads to see if I could find a new angle on them. I started thinking about healing, and how healing rarely has consequences. That got me thinking about the darker side of healing, and how you might take something usually good, and make it evil. That led to the idea of buying and selling pain, and I began world building just to understand this world and these people. The story developed from there.
Why did you decide to expand into a series?
Originally it was a stand alone book, but as the story developed I saw that Nya's sister's disappearance was only a smart part of what was really going on, and there was a much bigger story lurking there. I made notes about the other books, but didn't write them since I had no idea if I'd sell the first book. My agent asked for synopses of books two and three when she was submitting, so I worked out some general plots based on my notes. I guess the real decision to expand it was when my editor said she'd buy all three (grin).
Do you have any specific daily writing routines you stick to?
When I'm on deadline I usually write every morning, since my most creative hours are between 7am and noon. But ideally, I like to write a few days in a row, then take a few days off so I don't get burnt out. When I have to write every day for a few weeks in a row, I don't want to be anywhere near a keyboard.
So now that you have published THE SHIFTER are you planning any more novels that we should be looking forward to?
Book two, BLUE FIRE comes out October 5, 2010. The third and last book of the series comes out October 2011. After that, I have five ideas fighting to be next, but the winner is most likely going to be a YA supernatural thriller I had 60% written when THE SHIFTER sold. It got set aside so I could write the next two books in the trilogy.
After you completed your first novel that you published how difficult was it for you to land an agent?
Remarkably easy. I sent out seven queries, and had one in-person pitch appointment (I attended a conference the same time I sent out the queries). I received four manuscript requests and three offers of representation. I went from pitch to signing with my agent in ten days. Had I not had three other books I couldn't sell, I'd have thought this whole writing thing was easy, but I knew better. It took a lot of work to finally get to this point.
You must have had a stellar query to get such great results! The moment you got a positive reply with an offer for representation, what were your initial thoughts?
Holy $%#@! over and over. Then I had to remind myself to breathe. Once I got myself under control, I remembered all the advice about contacting other agents who had your work, thinking over which you'd like to sign with, asking questions and all the things you're supposed to do. All three offers were from great agents, so I was lucky, but it was a hard choice. Maybe harder because they were all so good.
How many rejections did it take for you to finally land that agent?
For THE SHIFTER? Three. (one form reject, one "not for me but I'm sure you'll sell this," and one no repose). Oh wait, four, because one agent who asked for the full passed. But before this, about 60 on other books. Up until THE SHIFTER, I'd never even gotten a full request before, and had very few partial requests. In fact, my eventual agent turned me down before this book. Twice.
Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write a lot, read a lot, and learn what makes both a great story and a great book. Don't rush, and take the time to sharper your skills, because you'll need them to make it. And don't give up. It's common for your third or fourth book to be the one that sells, so if one book doesn't land anywhere, write another and try again.
Are you still with the same agent that you first landed?
Yeppers. Agent Kristin Nelson. She's fantastic.
Would you have done anything differently?
I don't think so. I made my mistakes on the first three books, so by the time I had the "right" book I was ready.

Well Janice, thank you so much for your time and your interview. I wish you luck with the next installments and will get around to read your novel which sounds really cool!
Check out and follow Janice's blog here (she shares lots of great advice for writers here) and visit her site here.

ANOTHER great contest

I had to post this for you guys to let you know because this is an awesome chance to get a manuscript or query critique and its generated randomly. Here is the link to the contest:

Here is some pasted info about the contest and what you can win. Yippie :)

1 Lucky Winner will receive a critique of their first 30-40 pages by the fabulous Suzie Townsend + a pack of Twizzlers + a copy of Hex Hall

3 Lucky Winners will receive a query letter critique by one of these three agent extraordinaires: Kathleen Ortiz, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, or Colleen Lindsay (One agent will be randomly assigned to each winner.)

1 Winner will receive a writer's survival guide consisting of Twizzlers, a copy of Silver Phoenix and When You Reach Me, and a cute notebook and pen so you're never tempted to do this:
1 Lucky winner will score a lunch date with THE Janet Reid and THE Suzie Townsend. Um, yeah, that's not a typo. (I'm tempted to enter myself. Would it be so wrong?) Unfortunately, this is not a free trip to NYC. BUT if you live in the NYC area, or whenever you're visiting NYC? You. Janet. Suzie. LUNCH.
So Good Luck if you enter!

Writing Rebels

We writers, we have rules that we are told to follow and abide. Just like traffic, drinking and crime. Most people follow rules but some of us are rebels. Big question is: Is that a bad thing? The answer is beyond me. I have read many first time authors break the rules in their first books successfully and by rules I am talking of rules like first person present, too much adverbs etc. Keep in mind grammar can't be broken too much. As in you can't spell regular words wrong everywhere and you can't not know how to punctuate. So yes I am speaking of plot rules, character rules, and even basic length rules. So what rules do you rebel against and why?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 2010 Chain: Meeting V

     Early in the morning, rays of sun shine through the canopies of leaves above me. I take slow steps as I listen to sounds of nature that surround me. My heart thumps. Wasn't I just at my computer writing my latest novel? The sky high trees that surround me are covered in lichens and moss, damp and fresh. Ferns release a woody scent that drifts to my nose. I hear a twig crack nearly a meter away from me and I jump. I know what lurks in these forests, but should I fear it? It is all after all a part of what I created. Behind the thick foliage I see an eye. Light grey and inhuman. That’s when I know it’s him. Vitiosus. We stare at each other for long until he slowly emerges from the bushes. He is tall. Almost a head taller than me, yet he is just like I imagine him.

He is dressed in black clothing, his dark, straight hair hanging right above his shoulders. His sword hangs loosely off his hip. He is so close that I can smell the scent of the forest that is part of him. I see his dagger attached to his lower leg, glinting in the sunlight. A long scar runs all across the left side of his pale face and I feel a stab of guilt for inflicting him pain. He seems so real now and I reach out my hand to touch him. What if he is just an illusion? Maybe this is just a dream. But I stop when he starts to speak.

"What are you doing in these forests?" He asks softly, looking me over. He stares at my jeans and black coat in confusion. As if I have come from a different planet all together. I don't belong. His voice is sulky and mysterious. In fact everything about him sparks my curiosity. How could I know so little of the guy I wrote? My mind itches to warn him off what will happen but I can’t utter a word. I am rooted to the spot mesmerized by his image, by his strange eyes. We stare at each other both in curiosity and doubt. He kneels down to the ground and picks up a small colorful pebble from the ground. He wipes off the dirt and holds it out to me. The pebble has a purple glow to it.

"Take this, you have to leave now." He says to me nodding. I want to say more to him but I know he understands everything I meant to say without words. I look into his eyes one last time and I take the pebble from his cool hand. The minute I touch it, I am back at my computer desk, the pebble still in my hand. The scent of the forest is still tickling my senses. I smile. Could this really have happened?

This is my entry in the Absolute Write Water Cooler Blog Chain April 2010. This month's theme is "What would it be like to meet your novel characters?" I have always wanted to meet my new MC Vitiosus who went from an antagonist to a protagonist. I looked around the net to find any actors that resemble him (He is 18), but I found non that fit my imagination. What would it be like to meet your characters?


xcomplex: (ME)<<<
>>>>Frodo: (NEXT)
Forbidden Snowflake:

Enjoy all of these great blogs!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chopping away at the dictionary-heavy manuscripts

After reading lots of blogs, critiquing lots of queries and struggling with this in my last novel I found many ways how you can chop at your manuscript without completely chopping off all the meat and only leaving the bones. Many writers I know have a tendency to over write. Let’s just say some novels run up to 200,000 and over and that is way too long unless you are a known author. For me this current revision of Overcast Shadows I planned everything out chapter by chapter and ended a little fewer than 88,000 which was perfect, but how did I keep it so low, considering the amount of story I have packed up in like 350 pages. Here are my tips and I hope they can help you if you are running into this problem.

• Focus on the action and what is happening. Do spend time on describing the setting, emotions and the way your character thinks but don't spend ten pages describing the velvet cloth that covered the mahogany brown bed. Over description can dull the story down and will make you word count higher than needed.

• Some scenes are unnecessary. Keep scenes that are crucial for the story to move on. Also make sure that every scene keeps the story progressing because if it doesn't it simply shouldn't be there.

• Don't write things like: James noticed that or James saw this. Believe me once I took all that out and rewrote it with real prose it cut nearly 1,000 words which was quite surprising. Instead switch that with describing what James saw to the reader.

• Take out unneeded words. You have to be very clear and concise when writing so its easy for any level reader to follow the story. Some words which shouldn't be there way too many times. Search and find them and you will see how many you can really take out. Here is a list I came up wit from many different sources and from my personal experience. (In no particular order):

• Very

• And Also

• Extremely

• Basically

• Considered to be

• Kind of

• Literally

• The reason why is because

• On account of

• Strangely

• Unadvisable

• Thus

• Thusly

• Really

• of

• Regardless

• Quite

• Fairly

• Sometimes

• Often

• However

• Many

• Interesting

• Amazing

• Super

• Suddenly

• Hopefully

• Slightly

• Avoid Fragmented sentences

• And last but not least keep a very rough outline or synopsis that you can follow so that you won't go off course. So how about you? How do you keep your word count from exploding?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Interview with Stuart Nachbar, Author of Defending College Heights

So today we have Stuart here to interview and he has written a few novels published through iUniverse instead of through vanity publishing.  He also talks about why he chose that route. Leave a comment and your opinions if you have read the novel!
Firstly can you tell us a little bit about your novel Defending College Heights?

Defending College Heights is a story of an investigation into the murder of a U.S. Army recruiter on a college campus, Hudson Technical University in New York State. Anti-war activists are first suspected to be involved, but as the story unravels the truth about the murder and the future of the college are closely linked together.
What is your writing background up until now?
Defending College Heights is my second novel. My first, The Sex Ed Chronicles, is the story of a young reporter who comes to the aid of a teacher who is accused of teaching sex education and blacklisted by a conservative parent's group. That story takes place in 1980 New Jersey as the state board of education considers sex ed while politics are shifting to the right.
What inspired your idea for your currently published novel?
I worked for ten years in software marketing and college career counselors were clients. I learned a lot about on-campus recruiting as well as military recruiting through my work. I also followed education politics quite closely. I was curious to learn what might happen if a recruiter were actually murdered--such an event has never happened--and to compare Vietnam-era anti-war activism with anti-war activism today.
Do you have any specific daily writing routines you stick to?
I blog most mornings on education-related topics on my own site at and reserve the remainder of the day for writing and research for the novels.
So now that you have published Defending College Heights and a few other novels are you planning a next novel we should be looking forward to?
I am finishing the manuscript for a new novel, Tip Offs, about a young bank executive who reluctantly becomes a girl's high school basketball coach.
Very interesting. We will look out for that one. After you completed Defending College Heights or your very first novel how difficult was it for you to land an agent?
For The Sex Ed Chronicles, my goal was to complete and write a compelling story. I did not give consideration to seeking an agent. I felt that I had worked so hard on the story that I wanted to see it published. So, I went the print-on-demand route through iUniverse. My relationship with iUniverse was successful. Chronicles earned Publisher's Choice, their highest writing and design award, and the story got into Barnes and Noble and Borders stores close to home. For Defending I tried to get an agent. I went to a Writer's Digest "pitch-slam" that was a part of Book Expo America. I spoke to five agents, got five requests for chapters, but all rejections.
The same thing happened when I contacted agents I had researched though Predators and Editors, an excellent reference site. So, I went the print-on-demand route again. The story also won an iUniverse award as well as a presence in bookstores. Defending has reviewed very well, so I'm convinced that the next time will be the charmer. I have gotten considerable advice and criticism for Tip Offs that has helped make it a better story. I will go the traditional route for this book and work with an agent.
Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write about what you know. I worked with schools for several years, so I had a good understanding of their issues and politics. I had contacts who could help fill in the blanks in my knowledge. I want people to believe that I have added something new to help them understand some very complex issues. Find serious readers, writers and instructors. After my experiences with writing Chronicles, I invested in workshops conducted at Colgate University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and by Writer's Digest Online. I needed to know the basics about how stories must be told so that they hold the reader's attention. I received the best direction from instructors who are also professional writers. Develop a Web presence and learn as much as possible about marketing online. I had been in an Internet business before I started writing but I knew little to nothing about search engine optimization and search engine marketing, among other things. I discovered these were musts. The most cost effective way to sell and promote is online; the 'Net takes you to the largest possible audience. I'm now enrolled in a certificate program in digital media marketing at New York University, and so far that education has been worth every penny.
Would you have done anything differently?
Possibly. I might have been better served to take the digital media courses earlier, but the technology available to writers four-five years ago was not close to what it is today. I might have blogged earlier, too.
After doing Defending through print-on-demand, I worked with a very good editor to shape up the story. Had I worked with an editor prior to submitting the manuscript and remained persistent, I believe that I would have earned representation. Defending became that good a story.

Thanks so much for your time Stuart and I hope you guys enjoy!

What keeps you writing?

From the first day you start writing you being for yourself. Clearly for the love of well...writing. But as you read all these blogs and as you discover how to get your novel published that’s what your goal is. The simple joy of writing is well...gone. Admit it.

You still enjoy to write and it is still your passion but would you write that novel if you knew it would never be published? If only a few family and friends praised it and then you were forced to stash it in the drawer? As I think more and more of this, most of us do write to be published.

Most of us want to be those 1 in a million people that become famous with writing, even if we know its practically impossible. But when critiques come in and say that there is no chance how do you take it? If you really love writing you won't give up. Instead you will keep going and improving, using those critiques to improve but if you are writing to be published you might as well trash your novel now.

What about you? What keeps you writing when you are feeling rejected by agents?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Contest Alert!

''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Middle Grade and Young Adult (with agent Regina Brooks).  *This contest is being held by not me.  Check out their site for more information. I pasted the main things you need to enter below:


E-mail entries to Please paste everything. No attachments.


first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of middle grade or young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, I ask that you do one of two things: 1) Mention and link to this contest twice through your social media—blogs, Twitter, Facebook; or 2) just mention this contest once and also add Guide to Literary Agents Blog ( to your blogroll. Please provide link(s) so I can verify eligibility!


1. This contest will be live for approximately fourteen days—from March 31 through the end of Wednesday, April 14, EST. Winners notified by e-mail within 14 days of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.

2. To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.

3. This contest is solely for completed book-length works of middle grade and young adult fiction (kids novels).

4. You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again.

5. The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA's publisher, F+W Media.

6. By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms added by me in the "Comments" section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at


Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of 10 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to

Exclusive Query letters

We all want the greatest chance of getting an agent. Do exclusive queries really make agents pay more attention to us? In one way they are worse because we have to wait. But at the same time patience is everything in the publishing world. The other way if this is a reputable agency that you really want to land then maybe its worth the wait...Personally I sent out one exclusive query letter and am still waiting for a reply. The only reason I took that step was because the agent is surely reputable and because they are looking for a novel just like mine. How about you, what is your take on exclusive  query letters?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Query doomed to EPIC failure

This is how to NOT write a query. It's horrible and yes I am brave enough to share it with you guys because I admit to not having developed my skills when I wrote this and I certainly hope that my current query will not be dissected in such a manner for its epic fail. Also I will be posting the rejections I got for it which was 2 rejections out of a whole pool of 11 no replies. My manuscript is completely different now and I am practically querying a new novel but I though some hopeful writers can learn something from my experience...And now the awaited epic failure query...

Dear (Insert Agent name),
I am seeking representation for my fantasy adventure novel “The Coming”, complete at 90,000 words. I am enclosing a synopsis and a sample chapter. The sequel, “The Return”, is nearing completion and the third book in the trilogy “The Sacrifice” featuring the same characters, is in outline form. “The Coming” can stand as a stand alone novel, though can also be extended to a trilogy.

Like I usually say to everyone else. No reason to mention anything about trilogies or what not. First get your first book agented then you can talk.

Earth - A planet which is divided in two outstandingly different worlds…

Cliché Alert!!!

Millions of years ago the very first settlements of civilized humanity included one man which invented something brilliant, yet destructive and unwanted.

That sounds ridiculous since the nuclear bomb wasn't invented a million years ago. Back then I thought it sounded cool... Ha!

A nuclear bomb. The mechanism brought nothing but doom, resulting in a complete collapse of the opposite dimension and destroying all living beings and plants into the simplest of all particles - dust.

Dust isn't even the simplest of particles. I should have learned my basic science before writing this!

As thousands of years passed, the opposite dimension evolved into what humans are today, at the colossal year of 2024.

That isn't a colossal year and this becomes Very confusing. There is no hook and the main Character hasn't been mentioned. Rejection if I were an agent. I am not surprised I got so many no replies.

Not many know of the other dimension which lays right below our finger tips, except for the many scientists which had spent their lives work on research. Mutated humans and animals roam the opposite dimension, some created by scientists of the other dimension and some modified by radiation. The dust had long gone, but a completely different atmosphere evolved, leaving the isolated human settlements fighting for life, and simple survival.

This is all confusing back-story and the query doesn't even speak of the MC. Practically already a failure on EPIC proportions. This is probably what someone could come up with if they were competing in the worst query contests.

16 year old Fidencio finds himself in a military base.

And? Here is another cliché I know I have committed. The dude waked up with no memory and no thoughts making him COMPLETLEY and ANNOYINGLY clueless through the rest of the novel. When I revised the only thing that keeps me from not calling it a completely new novel was the fact that I used my antagonist for my new MC. Other than that this has nothing to do with my new story line.

His memories, and thoughts erased.

Cliché Alert!!!

As he plans for escape, he finds himself lost in the outskirts of the other dimension. With romance and suspense, he finds himself tangled in a war of wits, power and strength. Races of changed humans collide against one another, conquering the battlefield with blood thirsty swords. The adventure novel entangles a web of complex characters in a want for justice, freedom and love.

I am not even going to critique that. You know what I mean to say. Epic fail.

“The Coming” is my very first novel. I'd be glad to send you my complete manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 I sound like the amateur that I was.

All the Best,

So what do you think? How horrible is it really?

For me the verdict… The worst query you can EVER dig up.

Types of Rejections

Good Saturday morning and happy Easter weekend. I realize I just posted up my organization post and I have missed two days of blogging, but I do have an excuse guys. I was in Guam running far and wide from the CIA who believes I have started spreading a nuclear conspiracy far and wide to literary agents. All right, that's just a joke. Truthfully I simply didn't have much in mind to review on Thursday and no query stats for Friday. Other than a little update on my query which I will post at the end here. So today I wanted to talk about rejection letters, for I am afraid I am going to be getting some...There are quite a few of these babies that you may hope or not to get after you have sent your query. Here goes a list I have created.

Personalized Rejection: This probably means that the agent really liked your work. So good news so far. The only problem is that it most likely isn't right for them. Resend to someone else and hope for the best.

The Idea rejection: In this type of letter the agent will most likely ask if you have any other novels up your sleeve because they like the way you write but your idea either really compares to an already published one or simply your project is far from original. This is also good news for you as a writer but bad news for the manuscript you have been slaving off of.

The Revision Rejection: This is probably in my opinion worse than the personalized rejection but its still fairly good news. They like it. They only have a problem with the opening, ending, middle, climax, MC, plot holes, whatever. There is so much I can list, but either way all you have to do is revise like crazy and return to the agent hoping that they will accept, but keep this in mind. Some agent's revision suggestions are very personal and may not apply to others so don't accept what your gut tells you not to.

Last but not least...The dreaded form rejection: Ok, fine. The form rejection isn't so dreaded because at times the project isn't right for the agent. Still this is probably the worst rejection you can get, particularly if you got it from 10 or more agents. That’s a hint for you to stop querying, and take a look at your query. There are countless things in an idea or a query that can make agents reject. This is what I have come up with...

• They just don't like it and it’s boring. I hate to admit it but some *winning* queries I have read are great but the idea doesn't appeal to me. It sounds like a boring read. Just like us agents have personal opinions so respect them because if they don't like your novel better they don't represent you. Let me rephrase that... They will just hit the big red rejection button.

• You messed up with the guidelines. That seems just careless to the agent. No salutation, spelling issues, wrong formatting and so on.

• Your word count is too long. 120,000 is the highest word count for a first time author, unless you want to pile up on rejections just for your count. If your story is stellar and you have a higher word count you may have a chance but still I personally wouldn't risk it.

• You didn't mention the story in your query. Don't talk about how amazing it is and how epic oh and how amazing you are. If the story really is that amazing it will talk for itself.

• don't mass submit. That has been said so many time I don't even know why I am repeating it.

Anyways. There you go. So how do you react to rejections and what make you keep going when it looks like there is no hope. (I hope that you aren't in that situation. lol.)

My Query Stat: Ok so I have sent off one query and I may be too hopeful but I sent it off to one agent. Yes, its exclusive and I did mention it. I just want to see a first reaction because I feared blowing my chances with 10 great agents. The agent has preference and likes that exactly fit to my novel so I hope that goes well. According to people on AW they reply quite quickly so I will be looking forward to a reply and will update you guys. Again, I am not too hopeful and don't start thinking that I expect myself to be represented after sending only one query. I wish. Happy Easter!