Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Reads: Dearly, Departed

A few months or so before Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel was released, I stumbled upon it on Goodreads (if I remember correctly). But I was in a rush and didn't write it down. A few weeks later, I was still thinking about it. I couldn't remember all the details so I tweeted, rather frantically, looking for the title and author of a "futuristic steampunk... maybe with zombies?" Lia, the sweety, somehow saw my tweet and cleared it up for me. And, to my delight, I HAD remembered correctly.

Loooove, by the way
Futuristic steampunk with a Victorian society AND zombies.

If that isn't the coolest genre mash-up ever, I really don't know what is.

Synoctopus: (yes, I did just say synoctopus)
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.
First Line: (prologue) "I was buried alive." The prologue is from Bram's--the love interest--POV, and this is a prologue I really enjoyed. He dies in the prologue. But, of course, from the back cover blurb, you know he's not actually "dead" (just mostly dead).
Kinda like this, but with no magic nut in sight to save him. Dum dum duuum!

First Line: (first chapter) "I slipped a white hand between the heavy velvet drapes." Okay, not terribly exciting as first lines go. BUT. I like how the first scene really paints the world in which Nora lives. You get a great picture of who she is expected to be, who the people are around her, what the world is around her, and the true self inside of her that can't be free (it's New Victoria after all).

Brownie Points: The relationship between Nora and Bram. Hands down, one of my favorites. It wasn't love at first sight (cue gagging). It was slow and steady (more or less). Built on trust above all else. They connect on a deep level (not just hormones because, well, I did mention the mostly dead part, right? And not as in Vampire sparkly mostly dead. Rotting from the inside mostly dead--but don't worry, it's tactfully done and not at all gross).

Recommendation: If you've never read a zombie book, a post-apocolyptic, dystopian, steampunk, etc, this is the one to start with. Also, I just think everyone should marvel at the genre mashing.

Would I represent it? So fast it'd make your head spin. I would love a great genre mash. In my inbox. Now.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Requests: FAQs

Last month, I wrapped up January Query Month with a FAQs post. Found it so successful, decided to do it again with February Requests. Real people asked real questions, and I answered them. In this post. "Requests" covers the time between when an agent asks for a partial or full based on your query, to the offer/rejection. What to do when the offer actually comes, will be covered in another topic month.
  • If an agent requests a certain page count and I include a title page, does that count as part of the total pages? What about if the page request cuts off almost at the end of a scene? Is it okay to send the rest of the scene?
    • Firstly, no the title page does not count into the the total pages. Secondly, you are giving this matter way too much thought. Relax. I can answer your second two questions two ways: 1 It's so rare the agent will get to the end of your partial that they won't ever notice how you leave off (harsh, but true). 2 We'll be so riveted by the story that if you end in the middle of a ... we'll be screaming for more (by the way, do you see how annoying that is?). My preference is for you to end the scene, the sentence at the very least. If you've set up your scenes properly, we'll be wanting to know what happens next, more so than if you end in the middle of a ...
  •  I know agents expect (unless otherwise noted on their guidelines) for writers to multi-submit when querying. But is it acceptable to query agents and e-publishers at the same time? And if so, what would be the proper Nudge Etiquette if an agent has your full and an e-publisher has made an offer?
    • This is a huge pet peeve of mine.It doesn't make sense to me for a writer to query both agents and small /e presses at the same time. You need to decide what you want. Big press or small press? By querying both, you're sorta saying "I'll just nab the first thing that comes along." Not necessarily the best thing (not saying that e-pubs or small pubs aren't the best thing--it's apples and oranges, and you can only have one). Of course, this is just opinion and I'm sure many other agents and professionals will tell you it's perfectly acceptable. I won't discriminate against a writer if they nudge me with an offer from a small/e press.
    • The Nudge is the same as if you'd had an offer from an agent, except instead of Agent it's small/e-press. Blog post here.
  • Do you typically ask for R&R via phone or email?
    • Email. I've mostly sworn off springing huge news on a person over the phone. I love hearing their squees, but they usually censor themselves way too much for me to get a really good kick out of it. Plus, they need time to process information before we talk particulars. Usually, I'll send an email with my general thoughts and an R&R request. If they agree to the general revisions and terms, I'll send particulars and talk via phone if we both want/need to.
  • How far into a manuscript does an agent get before they know it's one they want to represent?
    • Usually by ten pages in, definitely by 50, I can tell if I'm going to read the whole ms. Depending on how voice, characters, and plot hold up, I'll ask for an R&R or offer representation. Rarely do I get all the way to the end of a ms and just reject it. I got to the end for a reason.
  • If an agent sees a query & 1 ch and gives feedback, saying fix this and send it to me, do they want you to query them again?
    • Sorta. You're going to send another email, with something like "Requested: Revised YA Romance" in the subject, a recap of previous correspondence and revisions (include query and paste all correspondence in the email below the important stuff). Attach or paste (depending on the format previously requested) the revisions (if they only read and commented on the first chapter, probably just send the first chapter). OR, you can do all of the above except for sending the revisions and wait for the agent to ask for it. But if an agent spends that much time on it and says "send it to me," they WANT to see it again.
  • If you pitch an agent at a conference (or bathroom stall), and they request it, does this replace the query letter? In other words, do you need to query the agent--should a query be included if the manuscript is requested?
    • Include the query. Even though we didn't see the query, just heard your pitch, we need a recap of what it is and a query is the best way to do it. If you gave us a one-line zinger that we responded favorably to, make sure that's included too. Anything to spark our memory and original interest. Do not assume the agent remembers your pitch (I remember very, very few pitches, and usually remember the worst ones the best).
  • Some months ago I had an agent request my full manuscript and request 8 weeks to read it. They confirmed receipt of my manuscript and I politely waited 9 weeks before sending a nudge email. The nudge email was quickly responded to, stating that they were still reading my manuscript and would let me know as soon as they made a decision. It has since been 4 weeks since the nudge response and it is somehow more difficult to wait without an expected date for their response. I've heard from several sources that I should now wait, at least, 3-6 months before sending a second nudge email.
    • This question actually doesn't come up that often (read, never), so I can only speak for myself and cannot attest to the opinions of other agents (catch an #askagent discussion on Twitter or ask on other agent blogs for a diversified answer). I'd say 4 weeks for a second nudge.
Questions and answers added 2/29 (happy Leap Day!)
  • An agent passes on one project but asks to see future projects. Do we need to attach the old correspondence as a reminder, or is it enough to highlight that fact in the query - especially if it's been, say, a year since? (And can we highlight the fact in the subject line somehow?)  
    • To be on the safe side, yes, paste the correspondence in the email. I personally can swing both ways on this, but it's nice to have a reminder, especially in our own words. And yes, put it in the subject line. You'll get a much faster response that way. We requested more for a reason. We WANT to see more. You're a safer bet than everyone else in the slush pile, and worth our time.
  • I nudged an agent after 6 months. She responded with enthusiasm and asked for more time. Six months later, I nudged. She responded with enthusiasm and asked for more time. Rinse and repeat for the last two years. 
    • Either nudge a lot sooner, or give that agent up as lost. Do you really want to work with an agent who takes that long to respond? Or even an agent who obviously isn't in love with your ms? And, from an agent's POV, if your ms isn't eliciting a "gotta have it" response, you may need to revisit your ms or work on something new. You've probably fallen into the dreaded Middle Pile (post here) and need a little spark to jump you out of it. 
  •  A question on fulls-- if an agent has your full for a long time, is it ever a good thing? Unfortunately I stalk query-tracker, and saw that an agent who has had my MS for over 4 months requested a full and rejected it the next week. This was a week or so ago. I have nudged, but to no avail. Could he be hanging on because he's waiting for the right time? 
    • There are lots of reasons he may not have responded. Wait two-four weeks after that nudge and nudge again. He may not have received your email. He may be waiting for a break in his schedule to spend a bit of time on a rejection/revision request/offer. He may be finishing reading it and meant to get to you sooner. He may have jotted a note on a sticky note to respond to you, but it got stuck to the bottom of his shoe. Point is, nudge again. It could be a good thing, it could be a bad thing, it could be a meh thing. No way of knowing.
That's it!

If you have more questions about this process, please leave them in the comments of this post and I'll add to this post.

Happy writing!

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    February Requests: The Nudge

    Your query was successful. Congratulations! So, the agent asks to see a partial/full ms and you send it off in the requested format with a short note included either in the email thread or with a proper subject line (see links if you haven't been following my February Requests series--FAQs to come Tuesday).

    Then you wait.

    And wait.

    And wait.

    And.... wait.

    Step away from the Girl Scout Cookies.

    How long should you be waiting to hear back? Firstly, if you've done your research, most agencies and personal agent blogs give an amount of time you should expect to hear back by. It can be anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, and some say that if you don't hear back it's a no (generally that's only for queries, not manuscript requests).

    So wait that amount of time before stressing. Actually don't stress at all. Just because we didn't answer, doesn't mean we hate you. It means we were so busy we didn't have time to get to your ms yet. Most likely, it's sitting happy on our e-reader, waiting, just like you. However, there is a chance it got lost and never made it to the agent. It happens. Sometimes we forget to answer. Sometimes we think we answer but actually didn't.

    That's the reason for The Nudge.

    The Nudge, when done properly, is perfectly acceptable and a common practice. Don't sweat it. Don't think, "OMG this agent is going to HATE me for bothering them."

    No, no, no.

    Here's an example of a Nudge:

    Dear (agent's name),

    I sent you (so many pages) of (title, genre) on (date). I'm just following up to see if you've received the materials and if you've had a chance to read it yet. Our previous correspondence is below. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    (closing signature)

    Or some slight variation. But short, sweet, to the point. No flowery apologies, no badgering, no "look what I've done since I sent it to you, fancy awards, yippee!". If anything of significant note happens, yes you can slip it in, but by this point, it won't change my mind to whether I love your ms or not.

    By the way, my response time is about 2 months. So if you haven't heard from me in 2 months, you may nudge me.

    If you have any questions for my Requested Manuscripts FAQs post on Tuesday, please leave them here or on Twitter and I'll do my best to answer them all. Thanks!

    Happy writing!

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Wednesday Reads: Hounded

    Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. A very nice change of pace from women-centered Adult Urban Fantasy, comes a rich, multi-folktale/myth, male-centered Adult Urban Fantasy. With a really cute (big) doggy.

    Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

    Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
    First Line: "There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to rare birth of genius. It invariably goes like this: Someone shrugs off the weight of his cultural traditions, ignores the baleful stares of authority, and does something his countrymen think to be completely batshit insane. Of those, Galileo was my personal favorite. Van Gogh comes in second, but he really was batshit insane."

    I had to give you the full first paragraph. Atticus has a really fun, witty, at times wry, at times in your face, voice. It's always consistent, and I felt immediately connected to Atticus, despite his experience and gender. (Sometimes older beings can come off really superior and *not nice word*)

    Brownie Points: I already mentioned the doggy. Who has his own awesome voice, combination silly dog and intelligent being. And yes, I said the dog has a voice. Don't worry, it isn't wacky. It ties in with Atticus's powers and works really well.

    Also, I love the world. It's complex and involves names, gods, powers, and names that I've never heard of and cannot pronounce, but I was never lost. Plus, so many different myths and gods are pulled in and introduced you can't help but laugh out loud and marvel at the intricacy of it all.

    Recommendation: For readers looking for a fantastic UF but a change of pace, plus a complex world and great characters. For writers, if you have a male voice that readers are unable to connect with--either too masculine for a female audience, or too feminine for a male character--you must read this.

    Would I represent this? Yes! I'd love a male-centered, or even partial male-centered UF. The key to a really great UF is the world building. Must. Be. Done. Amazingly.

    Happy reading!

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    February Requests: Format

    Agents will request partial or full manuscripts in one of two ways: paste it in the email, or attach it. And it's usually pretty clear how they want it. They'll say paste or attach.

    Pasting materials:
    1. Hit "reply"
    2. Add your note: (agent's name), Thanks for requesting (so many pages) of (title). You'll find the requested material pasted below. I look forward to hearing from you. (closing signature)
    3. Press "enter" a few times
    4. Go to your manuscript and copy the desired number of pages (you can go over a few to get to the end of a sentence or scene)
    5. Go to your email and paste the desired pages
    6. Send
    Attaching materials:
    1. Save the desired number of pages in a .doc document (try not to use .docx as some ereaders have difficulty reading it)
    2. Don't use fancy graphics as it detracts attention from your manuscript and can show up funky on some monitors and ereaders
    3. Refer to my blog post Formatting for Ereaders if you want your manuscript to look pretty whether on a computer or ereader
    4. The file name you save your document under should be the title of your manuscript. Be sure your name and email is on the title page of your manuscript (so I know who it belongs to)
    5. In the email thread hit "reply"
    6. Add your note, (agent's name, Thank you for requesting (number of pages) of (title). The requested material is attached. I look forward to hearing from you. (closing signature)
    7. Attach requested material
    8. Send
    It may seem pretty self explanatory, but you'd be amazed at how many people don't do this. It's simple. I need nothing else. No explanations of how you came up with the idea, how I shouldn't just the first 50 pages because it picks up after that, how much you worship the ground I walk on, etc.

    Remember. Simple is good. It's your ms that needs to speak volumes. Not you.

    Happy writing!

      Friday, February 17, 2012

      February Requests: The Return Email

      I love organized chaos as much as the next person... But this is one of my biggest pet peeves. And it comes down to being an organizational issue.

      Let's set it up.

      You query me.
      I hit "reply" and request pages.
      You hit "reply" and attached requested pages.
      I hit "reply" and ask for more pages, materials, etc.
      You hit "reply" and send requested materials.
      I hit "reply" and offer representation.
      You hit "reply" and etc, etc, etc

      Get the picture?

      This makes it super easy on me because now I have all of our correspondence in one location, one email thread. I can easily toggle back through our conversation to refer to certain information.

      Or you can do it this way.

      You query me.
      I hit "reply" and request pages.
      You begin a new email thread with "Requested Partial" and title in the subject heading, with the original correspondence quoted in the email so I can easily refer to it, with attached or pasted pages.
      I hit "reply" and ask for more pages, materials, etc.
      You hit "reply" and send requested materials.
      I hit "reply" and offer representation.
      You hit "reply" and etc, etc, etc

      In a case in which you need to inform me of an offer of representation:

      You send me a query.
      I "reply" and ask for a partial manuscript.
      You "reply" and send pages.
      I read the pages but meanwhile...
      You "reply" (to the same thread of emails) and inform me that you have an offer
      I "reply" and ask for the full manuscript.
      You "reply" with the full.
      I "reply" within the allotted time with my answer.

      Or you can do it this way:

      You send me a query.
      I "reply" and ask for a partial manuscript.
      You "reply" and send pages.
      I read the pages but meanwhile...
      You begin a new email thread with "Offer of Representation" in the subject, with all original correspondence between us in the email and a short note informing me of the offer.
      I "reply" and ask for the full manuscript.
      You "reply" with the full.
      I "reply" within the allotted time with my answer.

      Whew. That was hard. Not.

      You should see my inbox. It's a mad house in there. If I see a new message in an email thread I've already responded to, I will pay attention to it. And it makes it really nice if I need to go back through my inbox for our correspondence and I don't need to toggle through multiple email threads for the info I need. And, hopefully, this will make it nice and easy on you too, in your own crazy writer inbox.

      Now, I'm not going to write you off entirely if you deviate from my lovely setup here. But please, make it easy on everyone.

      Happy writing!

      Wednesday, February 15, 2012

      Wednesday Reads: Bright Young Things

      Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen. So my December blog hiatus got an unexpected goal--read all of Godberson's available novels. I've finished the Luxe series (loved, loved, loved), and I've already read both available BYT novels (can't wait for the next!). Gobserson does history right. Her characters are so true to their time period (biggest pet peeve while reading historical novels is when a character is ahead of her time--unrealistically feminist or willful). Astrid is my favorite--she's one of those girls that, if she had existed now, you probably would have hated her guts in high school. She's selfish, naive, beautiful, out for a good time, horrible with relationships even though she's in love--yet you can't help but like her, root for her, eager to see what happens to her next, or see what she will do or say next.

      The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
      Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star. . . .
      Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.
      The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
      Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.
      First Line From Prologue: "It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer." Another reason I love Godberson's novels--her narrative voice is at the same time whimsy and straightforward, easy to connect with despite the 3rd person narrative, very indicative of a gossip column of the time. And each prologue of each book gives you a taste of what to expect--which makes you want to read even though you don't really know what is going to actually happen. 

      First Line From first chapter: "The handful of wedding guests were already assembled in the clapboard Lutheran church on Main Street, and though they had been waiting for a quarter hour, any stray passerby might have noticed a lone girl still loitering outside." Like, whoa. I'm not giving anything away here. Cordelia is such a rich character, and Godberson such a clever writer. Most writers, I'm sure, when in a situation with a character who does not wish to be married, would have them leave before the wedding. Ah, no, not Cordelia. She's selfish, but you feel her pain and desires so acutely.

      Brownie Points: The characters. I've already gushed. But they're so rich, so complex. Products of their time, written in a way we all can relate to them.

      Recommendation: Everyone should read it. Historical at its best.

      Would I represent it? Yes!

      Happy reading!

      Tuesday, February 14, 2012

      Happy Valentines Day!

      I'm interrupting you from our regularly scheduled programming to direct yourself attention to fun stuff.

      Namely, Oasis for YA: YAmore Blogfest. Writers were encouraged to post 250 words of a swoon worthy scene from one of their projects  over the weekend.

      I, uh, might have read them all over the weekend. It was just so much fun!

      Two of my favorites, of course, were from two of my clients which I think everyone should check out because. Well. Wow. Katy Upperman's is a scene of, not so much forbidden, as wrong in all the right ways, and ya, read it here. Taryn Albright's scene is from the ms that I signed her for, and the characters are hilariously rational, read it here.

      To celebrate Valentine's Day, I'm going to settle in with some chocolate pie tonight and read about some star-crossed zombie lovers (don't worry, I'll Wednesday Reads it sooner rather than later).

      How are you celebrating?!

      What's your favorite all time romance?

      What's going on in the blog and Twitter world today, Valentine's related, that everyone should know about?

      Happy loving!

      Friday, February 10, 2012

      February Requests: The Note

      Let's start February Request month with what I like to call The Note. It's not a letter. Not an explanation.

      When an agent requests some pages from you, 20, 50, 100, the whole thing, you attach (or paste in the email as instructed) the pages and add a note in the email.

      A Note.

      Why do I repeat myself? Because some people use it as an opportunity to explain why I shouldn't be put off by the first few pages and if I just push through I'll see why it's so great, or where and when they came up with the idea, or that it's based on a part of their life that meant so much to them, or a million other little things that frankly, the agent neither needs nor cares to know.

      You know the expression, you never get a second chance at a first impression? Or first impressions matter most? Don't forget, second, third, fourth, fifth impressions matter too. Let us fall in love with your manuscript and start seeing dollar signs before you let the crazy out of the bag. Go back to my "don't" list for queries (here and here). These will apply to almost every step of the process. Forever.

      So, the Note.

      (agent's name),
      Thank you for requesting (title). The (so many) pages are attached. I look forward to hearing more from you.
      (closing signature)

      Ain't it purty? Of course, put your own spin on it. You don't have to use my exact words. The agent has already decided he/she is going to read your ms, so you just have to deliver and wait. You can add more personal notes if you have a deeper connection to the agent (for example, it makes me smile if a writer references a joke we've shared on Twitter), but again, not necessary. Most likely I'll forget who you are once I start reading the ms. You don't exist.

      Why should it matter if you're professional or not since I don't care about you while I read? Because I care about you after I read. Or, in some cases, a very unprofessional writer can turn me off from reading their ms at all--because I already know I don't want to work with them.

      Happy writing!

      Wednesday, February 8, 2012

      Wednesday Reads: Nightfall

      I started this book sometime in the middle of the day a couple weekends ago, got through a good portion, read some more in bed and... stayed up till four in the morning to finish it. Nightfall: A Dark Age Dawning novel by Ellen Conner. Adult Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal Romance.

      Their instincts will save them.
      Their passion will transform them.

      Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought, in her wildest nightmares, that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her-one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

      The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna's father. Skilled and steadfast, he's ready for the Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and the mutant dogs attack-vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

      When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion-a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age. 
      First Line:
      From Prologue: "In the mid-twenty-first century, the power grid collapsed." Begins with a brief history of the world. Somewhat necessary, not too thrilling.
      From First Chapter:
      ""Don't move."
      The hot rush of breath against her nape made Jenna juggle her keys and then drop them."
      Starts off right away with Jenna, wily, calculating, endearing, sarcastic, and Mason, her for-her-own-good kidnapper. There really isn't a better way to start a ParaRom, is there? Kidnapping? Duct tape? End of the world?

      Brownie Points: One of my favorite of all time romance story lines: woman tames man, teaches him how to get in touch with his softer side, man heals woman's soul. With demon dogs, hilarious spare characters, and a main character who ends up being more badass than the guy (in my opinion).

      Beefs: Have I ever mentioned that I hate epilogues? I might have only just realized that. Not that this one ruined the book or anything, it was actually a very nice epilogue. But I can do without them.

      Recommendation: If you're getting sick of vampire romance, or contemporary paranormal romance, try this on for size. It'll have you at the edge of your seat (their lives are in danger every single moment).

      Would I represent it? Yes! Creative. Sexy. Great character growth. Great spare character personalities (you can always tell the strength of your characters by the weakest link). It's exactly the kind of ParaRom I'd love to work with.

      Happy reading!

      Tuesday, February 7, 2012

      February Requests

      Last month was query month. This month, I'll talk about specifics once your ms full or partial is requested. This will cover email etiquette, stalking etiquette, formats for submitting, what to do while you wait, etc.

      But first, I want to reiterate something I mentioned in my Query FAQs. I calculated a .19% chance of being signed from the slush pile. But then I negated all of that awesome math with this:
      HOWEVER. If your query is captivating, you've done your homework, your writing is solid, your characters unbelievable (in a believable sort of way), and your plot rockin, you will get noticed and signed. Which is to say, it's not about luck at all--it's about passion, dedication, and skill.
      Are you guys getting sick of people telling you to keep persevering? If at first you don't succeed, try, try again? People say it, because it's true. As callous as it may sound, if you're not being published, it's because you're not ready, because your writing isn't at the same level as those who are getting published. But that's not to say you can't get there. Or that published authors haven't been where you are now.

      Also, remember. If you're at this stage, your query is getting requests, that means agents like your idea. Your pitch. You. That's half the game (maybe an eighth). Coming up with an idea to captivate your audience.

      Happy writing!

      Friday, February 3, 2012

      Cupid's February Blog Contest

      If you're looking for an amazing contest in which agents fight over your work, check out Cupid's BLIND SPEED DATING.

      You may remember I mentioned I was in Cupid's January contest against John Cusick, and we found some amazing entries. Plus, the trash talk was fun.

      I had so much fun I'm participating again. This time against TEN OTHER AGENTS.

      There are two windows of opportunity to submit your work for this month's contest TODAY AND TOMORROW.

      The contest is open for ADULT, YA, and MG.

      Go to Cupid's Literary Connection here for more details.

      Hope to see you in the ring.

      Happy fighting--I mean writing!

      Wednesday, February 1, 2012

      Wednesday Reads: Anna Dressed in Blood

      Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Boy narrators are really tricky to get right (I don't like it when they're so over the top boy--gross, sex obsessed--that they don't appeal to a wide range of readers), but Cas was very relatable. Confident in himself and he knows how to blend into new places to get a job done--then of course we watch as he encounters something new and has to find his way through it while staying true to himself. (by the way, I'm in love with the cover--there is just something about black and white and red that gets me every time)

      Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
      So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
      When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
      But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life. 

      First Line: "The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway--no pun intended." Cas is so matter of fact about death and ghosts, it eases you right into the supernatural without making a huge deal out of it. Plus, the beginning scene is a huge Save the Cat moment, while staying true to his character.

      Brownie Points: I'm going to give it to Anna actually. A ghost, by the way. Blake does a fabulous job at making Anna so human, but we never once forget that she is, in fact, a ghost.

      Recommendation: If you think all paranormals and supernaturals have gone the way of Twilight, guess again. And read Anna. I think you'll be suckered in.

      Would I represent it? I do have a ghost story on my list already, however if it's unique and unlike anything I'd ever read (while being everything I love in a ghost story) I'd definitely take a look. Possibly a tall order, but that's why I love writers you know. As for Anna, if she had been in my inbox, I'd definitely would have snatched it up.

      Happy reading!