Monday, December 31, 2012

Giveaway: A Memory of Light

In honor of the last volume of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, I'm giving away either a free copy of the first book or the last. What better way to celebrate and mark the last day of the year than a contest? One lucky winner can choose to either a new copy of The Eye of the World or A Memory of Light.

"The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the third age by some, an Age yet to come, an age long pass, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."

Epic fantasy is my favorite genre of fantasy, and I'm hoping to add a few more fans to these fabulous set of fourteen books. It's a series I've been following since 1990 when I unwittingly bought the first edition of what would become my favorite series of all time. Now the last book, A Memory of Light, releases on January 8 and I'm jumping in my winter snow boots with anticipation.

My original, much tattered copy

So it has been epic, not only in genre, but in timeline, over twenty-three years, two authors, and countless days waiting for the next installment. All that is about to end. To enter just fill out the doohickey down below and leave a comment on this post. You can follow me on twitter, facebook, and this blog for additional chances to win. So tell your friends and come back on January 8th for the winner announcement.

"Till shade is gone, till water is gone,
into the Shadow with teeth bared, 
screaming defiance with the last breath, 
to spit in Sightblinder’s eye on the last Day."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snow and A Little Catch Up

I promised snow pictures for my friends in those warm climates who never see any of the white stuff. (Grumbles under breath about lucky SOB's in warmer climates. You know who you are!) We got our first snow fall on Boxing Day, not that we celebrate Boxing Day, but it's such a cool name. It was only a small amount of snow for us in Northern Indiana, about three inches. I'm sure we will get plenty more. So if anyone wants more pictures, shout out in the comments. I could mail you a few boxes of it, but they'd be soggy.

Here are some equal time pictures for my two dogs. The brown one is Robin--not named for the superhero, but for the bow and arrow guy. He doesn't like the wind. The black one is Pippin--yes named for LOTR's Pippin. And he is a pretty princess who doesn't like to get his feet wet. He also wouldn't look at me until I took twenty pictures. My fingers were freezing. You might be able to see Pippin is sticking his tongue out at me.

I did get to see the Hobbit movie. I liked it a lot, but I didn't love it. It seemed like they stretched the material a bit. Three hours is pretty long even for LOTR. We went the Saturday after the tragedy in Connecticut so that might have been on my mind also. I will definitely see it again and maybe it will strike me more favorably. 

In other news, I'll be starting the contest to win a copy of a Wheel of Time book this weekend, either the Eye of the World or A Memory of Light. I'll let the winner pick which one they want and whether an ebook or a paper version. Not sure whether the post will go up on Saturday or Sunday because my motivation is as uncertain as the weather. So stay tuned for that.

Oh, and Kindar's Cure is now on Goodreads in anticipation of a March 2013 release. I'll probably do another announcement about that. You can friend me here  or add Kindar to your 'to be read' list here. My editor is healing up after some surgery so there hasn't been much movement by the publisher. I wish her well and healthy and back to work soon. I wouldn't be surprised if the release date gets pushed back a little bit which give me more time to prepare.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Getting the Offer: Stephanie Diaz

I'm really glad to come back from my short blogging break in a big way. I've always wondered what it would be like to be on submission and I'm sure others have too. Here's your chance for an inside look. Thanks so much, Stephanie, for sharing. You bet I've added EXTRACTION to my Goodread's lists.


A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an author event in San Diego called “YA in the Sun.” I met some wonderful writers, both published and unpublished. A common question people asked me that day was: What are you? Reader or writer? My response was: I'm an agented writer on submission. I received lots of (sarcastic) replies of: OH MAN, fun times. And: ugh.

I heard stories from people who were on sub for months and months, and were even still on sub. I heard stories of lightning-fast submissions. These were all stories I'd heard before, but let me tell you, it's scarier when you've already been on sub for an excruciatingly long month, and writers are telling you they've been on sub for nine months with zero offers. Or that they had their first offer in a couple days. It leads you to horrible thoughts like these:




That day at YA in the Sun, I had actually already received the news from my agent that we had interest from two editors. Except, that didn't make me feel much better. It scared the crap out of me. “Interest” does not necessarily lead to an offer. The whole process of editors acquiring a manuscript has multiple steps:

1. They have to like the pitch enough to read the manuscript.

2. They have to fall in love with said manuscript (and believe that people will buy it).

3. Other people in their office have to read it and fall in love with it (and believe that people will buy it).

4. The entire team has to put forth an actual offer.

At any point along the way, that “interest” could turn into absolutely nothing. So, that day at YA in the Sun, I wasn't bouncing on my feet. I was terrified. And I remained terrified for the next two weeks, until on the lovely morning of Tuesday, November 19, I received an email from my agent (because the phones were out of commission in her office) that we had an ACTUAL OFFER from St. Martin's, an imprint of Macmillan. An offer for a three-book deal, which meant I'd be able to write the sequels I'd been dying to write.

I was literally about to walk out the door to drive to school when I received the email. I didn't want to be late for class, so I quickly responded with something like AHHHH and arranged with Alison to call her as soon as I got to campus.

The thirty-minute car ride consisted of me smiling giddily and singing loudly. I got to school, called Alison, and we talked the offer over. When I hung up with her, I called my mom right away. Then I had to attend college classes and pretend like everything was normal. I didn't tell anyone about the offer that day except for my parents because I was afraid of jinxing everything.

The next day, we accepted the offer, and I spilled the news to some of my closer friends and critique partners. I couldn't concentrate on anything else for the next couple days. I basically died of happiness when Publisher's Marketplace announced the deal.

I've wanted to be a published author since I was seven. Not just like, “Oh, hey, it might be cool to get published someday,” but more like, “THIS IS MY GREATEST DREAM.” I sent out my first query letter at thirteen. It took me six whole years and hundreds of query letters before I signed with an agent. Yes, I know nineteen was a pretty young age for that, but six years is still a long time. And it was really more like twelve.

In a little less than two years (assuming all goes well in editorial land *crosses fingers*), my novel EXTRACTION will be on shelves. I'm not sure I've ever been more excited for anything, or more terrified. People will actually be able to READ it and carry it with them in their purses and spill food on it and tell their friends about it. Maybe they won't pick it up. Or maybe they'll read it and hate it.

But you know, even if one person reads it and loves it, that will make me smile. EXTRACTION is a story that fell into my head one night when I wondered what life would be like if the moon were poisonous. I wanted it to be something thought-provoking and possibly heart-wrenching, and I hope I've accomplished that. I hope you'll give it a chance.

Of course, I have to finish making it shiny first. I should really stop writing this guest post, as it is allowing me to procrastinate.

To stay up-to-date on my journey to publication, you can follow me on:

Twitter - @StephanieEDiaz.
And you can add EXTRACTION on Goodreads  -

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blogging Break

In light of the recent tragedy in Newtown, I don't really feel like chatting about movies or holding contests so I will be taking a blog break until later next week. Please enjoy your holidays with family and friends and keep the people of Newtown in your prayers. I am reminded how fortunate I am every time I go to work and see twenty shining first grade faces that are safe and healthy. Don't forget to thank the teachers in your life. They do their jobs out of love. 

Some notes:
The Memory of Light contest will start a week later than planned. 

I have a pitch for Dodge the Sun up at KTCrowley's blog as part of the Baker's Dozen Non-Chosen Entrants. It is number 37. 

If it should happen to snow before Christmas, I plan to share some pictures for friends in warmer climates. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Hobbiting I will Go

Just dropping a line to say I can't wait to see the Hobbit! Only one problem: schedules. 

Suddenly everyone wants to have a family party--just a few hours drive away. My son started a job at his high school and may or may not have to work. Since he can't drive yet, this falls on guess who. Daughter is still getting over the cold she caught from (oops) me. This on top of Christmas baking, shopping and merry making.

I see my Hobbit chances this weekend sliding into oblivion. Ugh.

Me: *Lifts chin* Will find time. Will slap the schedules around until I find a window. 

Gandalf schedule wizard: You shall not pass.

Me: Move over obligations. I'm being selfish this time.

Gandalf schedule wizard: The darkness is deepening.

Me: Don't bet on it, bub. I wish none of this had ever happened.

Gandalf schedule wizard: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

To be continued ...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Memory of Light and A Contest

It's no secret that I love epic fantasy. I read it and write it. One of the greatest epic fantasy series of all time and a favorite of mine is coming to a close. January 8, 2013 is the release date for Memory of Light, the last of a fourteen volume series. Yep, that's right. Fourteen volumes over thirteen years of the Wheel of Time. (Or WOT to its admirers.) Thirteen years of dedication to one set of characters. An incredibly intricate mass of world building that encompasses dozens of invented countries and cultures. And what impresses me the most is the individuality of the huge cast of characters.   

This series has a tragic history. The author, Robert Jordan, died after the eleventh book, Knife of Dreams, was finished. Knowing he had a short time to live, he wrote detailed plans and dictated notes, included whole pieces of future novels and most of the grand ending. His editor and wife Harriot help hand pick Brandon Sanderson to finish the series. The last three books are coauthored by Sanderson, using Robert Jordan's notes. In my opinion, Sanderson has done a pretty close job of matching the style and tone of Jordan.

It takes an entire shelf on my bookcases to hold all the volumes plus, the prequel called New Spring. Back in 1990 I bought a book titled, Eye of the World. It was a first edition trade paperback. I had no idea that I'd be hooked for the next decade. Waiting on each new release. Soon I'll have to make room for the very last addition.

My favorite aspect of the WOT series are the clues Jordan put everywhere. Using prophecy and dreams, he hid clues to future book in plain sight. I do love trying to unravel events before they happen and WOT is the best around. There's nothing to equal the joy of finding your predictions coming true two books down the line.

In honor of this much awaiting book, I've decided to have a contest. I'll be giving away a new copy of either Eye of the World or Memory of Light. (Yep, you won't be getting my ratty old copies, but new ones.) Next weekend, I'll have a sign up for a chance to win. The winner will be announced on January 8th.

So what I need from you are comments on which prize you'd like to see. Are you new to the series and you'd rather have a chance at Eye of the World so you can start from the beginning? Or are you a longtime reader and want a copy of Memory of Light? Put your answers in the comments and let me know why you love WOT, then come back next weekend for the announcement.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Reaping Me Softly

I hope you'll help me welcome the new release of a wonderful lady. This book is at the top of my 'to be read' list. From my bookshelf it is daring me to get done with this post and get busy reading.

Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.

At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?


Arianne gave Ben a sidelong glance as they walked on the grass embank­ment running parallel to the road. Weeds tugged at his baggy jeans. The set­ting sun dyed his foul ball t-shirt orange. He’d picked up a stick and some pebbles and played “pitch and hit.” The bill of his Braves baseball cap smiled upside down over his boy-next-door face. Every properly timed whack plucked at Arianne’s nerves. The whole day she’d imagined how her conversation with Ben would go. One scenario ended with her running away in tears. Another involved Ben never speaking to her again. And in the last one, her personal favorite, an asteroid would end the world before she could confess everything.
“Did you change your hair?” he asked after his third imaginary homerun.
Arianne jumped at the sound of his voice.
“Boy, you’re nervous.”
“Mom decided to trim some off the tips.” Arianne twirled a length of the red strands, attempting to act natural and failing when she didn’t notice a protruding root and stumbled over it. She righted herself and said, “Split ends and all that.”
“It looks nice.” Doubt invaded Ben’s grin. He loved to smile. Even when he didn’t feel like it, he smiled. Sometimes, as exampled by this moment, other emotions would creep in and the result looked less than natural. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah.” Arianne laughed away her uncertainty, and failed in that too, managing to come off more awkward than before. She returned to the topic of her hair. “In this heat, I want to chop it all off. My hair, I mean.”
“Don’t!” Ben paused and checked himself. “I mean, you’ll regret it. Re­member the time you decided you wanted to look like Marilyn Monroe and your hair turned orange instead of blond?”
She shuddered. “Don’t remind me.”
“What are best friends for if not to warn you away from potentially devas­tating actions? Remember, you’d have to live with whatever you do to yourself, no one else.”
She considered what Ben said. Maybe telling him isn’t such a good idea.
“So,” he continued, tearing her away from her hesitation, “what are you going to tell me?”
Arianne scratched an itch on her arm that wasn’t there. “Who said I wanted to talk about anything?”
This time, Ben let go of his grin entirely and regarded her with full on skepticism. “I’m insulted. We’ve known each other since kindergarten and you still think I don’t know when you want to tell me something?” He grimaced. “Normally, we’d take the bus, but when you want to talk, you always suggest we walk the three miles home.” Just as Ben emphasized the distance, the school bus carrying their rambunctious classmates passed them, adding to his point. “Not that I mind the exercise.”
“Am I really that transparent?” Arianne shuffled her sneakers and adjusted the strap of the bag on her shoulder.
“I just know you better than anyone else.”
She smiled a small, shy smile. “You’re right. I have to tell you something.” She collected her thoughts like scattered clothes on her bedroom floor then said, “There’s no easy way to tell you this…”
All signs of life drained from Ben’s face. Eyes wild, he grabbed her shoul­ders. “Is it Carrie? Did something happen to her?”
At the mention of her sister, she held on to his wrists like she was about to fall off a cliff. “What? No! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you have to chill. No more coffee for you, mister.” She extricated herself from Ben’s death grip. “This has nothing to do with her.”
He took off his cap and ran his fingers through his sandy hair before jam­ming it back on. “Don’t scare me like that.” He huffed and strode away. “And I don’t drink coffee!”
Arianne pulled on her earlobe before scrambling to catch up. “You’re the one who jumped to conclusions. And if anything happened to Carrie, you’d be the first to know.” She came up to him until her steps matched his. “I’m trying to tell you that I see dead people. Well…technically, I see their souls.”
Ben kept marching on.
“Hey, did you hear me?”
“Happy April Fool’s to you, too,” said Ben.
“It’s September, you ninny.”
“Well, it sure sounds like April to me.”
Arianne grabbed his sleeve. Ben searched her face, and her gaze fell. An afternoon breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees lining both sides of the road. The sunset stabbed shadow knives all around them.
“As in M. Night Shyamalan ‘I see dead people’?”
Reluctantly, Arianne nodded. “It sounds crazy — ”
“You bet your ass it sounds crazy.” Ben paused. He heaved a long and weighty sigh. “Look at me when you’re revealing freaky things about yourself.”
She lifted her gaze. “I’m sorry I haven’t — ”
“Since when?” he interrupted.
It felt like melted ice dotted her brow. “What?”
“Since when can you ‘see dead people’?”
“A couple of years back.”
“A couple of years.” He took off his cap, ran his hand through his hair again, then replaced it on his head — his helmet against all things freaky. “Jesus, Ari. I thought we promised to tell each other everything.”
“Okay, not the reaction I was looking for.” Disbelief exploded in her head. “You mean to tell me you’re pissed because I took so long to tell you?”
“We’re best friends. That has to count for something. Isn’t listening to each other’s secrets what best friends are supposed to do?”
“So, you’re saying you believe me?”4
 “Why would you lie about something like that?” He engulfed her with his body, strong arms securely around her waist, his Dial scent coating her lungs. “Ari, you should have told me sooner. I’m sure you were scared the moment you saw the first ghost.”
She giggled. “On the contrary, it wasn’t scary at all. I was visiting Pops at the nursing home when I saw the woman. I pointed her out and Pops told me there was no one there. I did some research — ”
“Of course you did.” Ben broke the hug. “So, what are you? Psychic or something?”
“I wouldn’t say that.” Arianne dug her nails into the strap of her bag. “I don’t see the future or anything. My research says I’m more like a Medium, although I can’t speak to the dead. Or I haven’t tried. I don’t think I will, FYI. And I see them only for a second or two. They disappear pretty fast.”
“You’ve put a lot of thought into this.”
“Wouldn’t you?” She rubbed her forehead. “I mean, it doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s like having extra people walking around, you know? Well… they’re naked — ”
“Whoa!” Ben surrendered. “Too much information.”
“But it’s true!” she insisted.
“I’ll take your word for it,” he said. Then he crossed his arms. “Why tell me now? Why wait so many years?”
Arianne challenged the tangerine sun to a staring contest until the fading light made her close her eyes. A yellow orb still floated at the center of the darkness. She breathed in the post-summer air and said, “Seeing dead people, you know? I guess I’m just tired of keeping it all to myself.”
Ben wrapped his hand around hers. “Come on, I want to get home some time before dinner starts.”
Arianne thought she must have had an aneurism between the time she’d told Ben her secret and when he’d accepted it as nothing special, because it seemed so surreal that all the scenarios she’d played out hadn’t happened. Especially her favorite one.
“Thanks,” she said as Ben tugged her toward home.

Author Bio:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn’t going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master’s courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Author Website:
Twitter: @KateEvangelista

Find Reaping Me Softly on Goodreads

Buy Links

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bond is Back and Back and ...

I hope everyone is surviving the shopping season and having a good time with family and friends. I promised a quick post about how the James Bond movies give a great example of a successful and enduring series. Truthfully, I wanted an excuse to post more pictures of Bond.

The Bond movies succeed because they form a blend of the familiar with the new. They give us what we love and include something we haven’t seen before.

First off, the Bond movies stay true to the cast of characters. They create memorable characters, and they aren’t afraid to reuse them over and over, keeping their personalities intact. Besides Bond, there are M and Q, Moneypenny and Felix. Those characters are the foundation of the series, and it doesn’t matter whether the actors change as long as the characters remain essentially unchanged.

The core plots are always the same as well: A villainous mastermind out to destroy the world, only to be stopped by the physical and mental manipulations of the seasoned spy. Viewers know to expect grand action scenes, culminating in one vast final coupe of explosions and death.

But Bond always blends the known with the new and improved. There are always new gadgets to impress with their technology. New heights to which the action reaches in an unstoppable bid to outduel the last movie.

Thought many characters remain the same, we can always count on new and exciting additions. Almost each movie introduces a new villain. There are new beauties to admire and conquer.

Obviously there is much to be learned for writers about balancing content from previous works while keeping it all new and fresh. The scope should always be trying to be bigger, more impressive. It’s a can’t lose combination.    

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting the Call: E. B. Black

We are switching gears this week to hear from a writer that decided to go the self-publish route. It sounds like E. B. Black knows a thing or two about marketing and promoting. I'm sure her new book will go far.

Some authors publish their book after getting a call from an agent, other authors publish after getting a call inside themselves. The second kind of call was the one I received.

Most people don't know this about me, but years ago, I ran a general talk forum that was somewhat popular. My friends all tried to do the same and their forums died quickly. I expected that to be the case with me as well.

Instead, my forum lasted for two years, until I deleted it. It had hundreds of thousands of posts and hundreds of members. How did this happen? Because I advertised for my forum every day. I added content to it regularly and held contests on it. I was obsessed with it and got lucky finding the target audience for it.

When I decided that I wanted to be a writer, I began by writing every day. I dreamed that someday I'd be published and in every Barnes and Noble store, until I met several members on AQConnect. I was trying to write my first query letter and needed advice.

I heard about how many of them had self-published. I read their books and was impressed by the quality of them. I realized that although it's very unlikely that a self-published book will sell a lot of copies, it's no less unlikely than me getting a publishing contract and becoming a bestseller.

It reminded me a lot of running that forum and I was thankful for that experience. Advertising is very similar. People get just as annoyed with spamming links to your forum as they do with spamming links to your Amazon Buy page. I learned basic HTML and graphic design in order to keep the lay-out of my forum nice. Now, I use those things to create cover images and format my e-books.

Self-publishing is not for people who don't like doing everything themselves. It's a lot of hard work that doesn't always involve typing out stories. I find it relaxing, but not all writers will feel the same. Because everyone's path in life isn't identical.

Your heart and experiences will call you in the right direction. Follow it.


E.B. Black lives in SoCal with her family and two rottweilers. She daydreams about dressing up like a necromancer for Halloween and fantasy worlds she can throw her characters into.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Robbed, Jipped, Bamboozled: Blasted Dream Sequences

How many times have you heard not to start your manuscript with a dream or vision? The advice goes even further and says keep them out of the first chapter, and maybe out of your first fifty pages. I’ve heard over and over that agents hate them. I’ve seen agents say exactly that on twitter.

Dream scenes are overdone. Avoid them. Never. Never. Never do it. I didn’t really understood why the hate. Now I do.

I went to a big budget movie with my sister yesterday. I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers for someone who hasn’t seen the movie or read the book, but I can give you my impression. The movie built and built to a climatic action fight scene. It was the whole point of the picture.

The scene came and it was everything a person could hope. Good characters died in shocking and unexpected ways. Bad characters got what they deserved. Though I went to the movie as a favor to my sister, so she could have someone to sit with, I found myself invested. I cared. I was shocked when a favorite character died. I rooted for the bad guys to get it. Then you guessed it—the whole elaborate fight was a vision. A trick.

My immediate reaction was relief. The characters I liked weren’t dead after all. That was speedily followed by consternation. What! Jipped. Robbed. The bad guys didn’t get theirs. They were allowed to walk away. Stalemate. No big fight. A goody-goody resolution that left no one completely happy.

Maybe it was clever. The author got to pretend people died without having to actually kill anyone. The villains are still there if another sequel should ever be produced. However, my trust was broken. I couldn’t believe anything I saw. The author got to have it both ways, but I felt fooled.

This ruse wasn’t pulled on viewers until the end. Imagine if it happened in the opening pages. How could the reader ever believe anything they read? It could all be a trick. And that, I believe, is why dream sequences should be avoided. Readers don’t like feeling deceived and neither do agents.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting the Call: Jennie Bates Bozic

Here's a dose of inspiration just in time for Thanksgiving. I'm sure this author is very thankful to be handled by a great agent. Welcome to the latest success story from another AQC regular, Jennie Bates Bozic. She has just recently got the call and is now on submission for her novel, Damselfly. Good luck and best wishes!  

My “Getting the Call” story is different than most because, to those who don’t know my full story, it probably looks like everything worked out for me in record time.  But it’s true that every overnight success is ten years in the making.  In my case, it was eleven.

I began working on my first novel during my sophomore year of college in 2001.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I did know that the world coming together in my head wouldn’t let me go.  For the next nine years, I worked on it from time to time, but would give up in frustration.  I had no idea how to write a novel and I didn’t have the self-discipline to really go after my dream.  But I still wrote in pieces.  I jotted down pages worth of notes.  I shared my scraps with friends and their responses encouraged me to keep trying.  I bought lots of books on writing and storytelling and spent hours wandering around bookstores, trying to get inspired.

After dozens of false starts, I set that book aside and tried a different one.  That went a little more smoothly… until the hard drive of my computer died and I wasn’t able to retrieve my work.  It was gone forever and all I had left were the chapters I had emailed to friends. 

Two years ago, I got married and my husband got fed up with me constantly complaining about how much I wanted to be a writer.  “Why don’t you actually write then instead of talking about it?”

I was mad at him for about an hour, and then the truth of his words sunk in.  So I started writing.  I went back to my first book and cranked out a rough draft.  I took a class in writing for children and young adults.  A year later, I had an extremely rough draft and a terrible query letter. 

I really wanted to make sure everything was completely ready before I sent my first query letter, so I started revising.  As I chopped and sliced and rewrote, the sad realization that my writing reach exceeded my grasp settled down on me.  My skill still wasn’t at the level it needed to be.

I knew at that point that it would be all too easy to give in to frustration and self-pity.  I had worked SO hard, often getting in my daily thousand words even if I’d worked twelve hours that day, and it still wasn’t enough.  But feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to get me any closer to my goal of being a professional author. 

So I sat down and thought long and hard about the kind of story I could write next and I came up with Damselfly.  I wrote the query first and ran it by several people to see if it sounded appealing.  The feedback was encouraging, so I poured myself into writing that novel.  Seven months later, it was finished and I sent out my first queries.

To my great surprise, the first response I got from an agent was not a rejection – it was a full request.  Three weeks and two more full requests later, I woke up one morning and checked my email.  There was an email from one of the agents who was reading my novel.  My heart sank and I opened it. 

And then I screamed.  My husband came running in from the other room, convinced I was dying because I am so NOT a screamer.  All I could do was babble incoherently and hold up the phone so he could read the email himself.

Steven Axelrod wanted me to call him at my convenience to discuss representation. 

It took me a couple of hours to work up my courage, mostly because phone calls with anyone other than family and close friends make me incredibly nervous, which was why I had not included my phone number in my queries. He offered representation right away and then we spent some time discussing what that would mean.  I asked most of my questions, but in my nervousness I forgot about half of them.  Then I told him I would get back to him in about a week because I needed to let the other agents know.

And thus began the longest week of my life.  Eight days later, after an extended deadline due to Hurricane Sandy, I was thrilled to accept Steve’s offer.  I couldn’t be happier and I can’t imagine a better agent for my book and my career.

Hopefully I’ll be getting another call soon – this time with the news that my book has sold!


Bio: Jennie Bates Bozic’s first "book" was a short kid's story about a brother and a sister who are sent to Saturn as astronauts and meet an alien named Kleppy. Bestseller material there, I tell you! She has a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Hillsdale College and a diploma in 3D Animation in Visual Effects from Lost Boys Learning. She has spent the last four years creating visual effects for film and television. If you've watched shows such as The Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy, The Event, Heroes or Greek, chances are that you've seen some of her work. She is married to a wonderful man that she met in the World of Warcraft and they live in Los Angeles with their two cats.

Jennie's website -

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November Ask an Agent

I had planned to do the follow up James Bond post today, but then I stumbled across an active #askagent on twitter. I spent an hour reading messages while waiting on laundry at my dad's house. Our washer gave us an early Christmas present by refusing to spin. I figure those answers would be of more interesting than talking about creating a series.  Most of the agents involved represent YA, MG, and children’s genres, though they also rep adult genres.

Since I’m always braver when not face-to-face, I asked four questions and got answers to all of them. I want to add grateful thanks to the agents for sharing their knowledge. Here we go:

If you’ve nudged on a full request and gotten no answer, do you let it go? Molly Ker Hawn and Julia Churchill both responded with nudge again, then move on.

What should I read into a form rejection on a full request? Is it a bad sign? Juliet Mushens said it’s a subjective industry so don’t read too much into it. Sometimes we are too busy for proper feedback.

Is dystopian dead for YA? I’ve heard it is a tough sell. Two agents agreed. They said it was tough but not impossible if they really loved it. I saw many answers to questions about genre and number of POV’s that the answers basically boil down to it depends on the pages and the query letter.

Is it better not to query in December because of the holidays? Juliet Mushens said in some ways it is better as it’s quieter. Interesting answer! You know what I’ll be doing next month.

Some other questions that were asked that I found interesting:

Is swearing okay in YA (excluding the F-bomb)? (Kelly Harvey asked this I believe. Great question!) Answer was swearing should be in keeping with the situation in the manuscript (if it fits the scene), but be aware it might be toned down by an editor.

Should I mention winning a contest? Go ahead and mention but it depends on the query and the pages. Sounded like they didn’t care either way.

Also if you didn’t win a contest but got a request from a small press should you mention that fact? Answer was yes. They’d want to know.

Does being referred by a client give you an edge? It might get you read sooner, but it still depends on the pages and query letter.

Do you need to have a blog? This one made me perk up my ears. Most answered they don’t care. Two said they don’t follow the links in the query letter to check out a writer’s blog. Many said they had clients who didn’t even have a Facebook page.

Does your YA ms need to be part of a series? Are stand alones gaining ground in fantasy? Editors are interested in stand alone books. They also like series.

How many query letters do you get a day? Most responded around 20 a day.

Have you ever been queried on Christmas Day? Yes, but they didn’t read it until a week later.

I’m sure there were many more questions that got answered, but those are the ones that stand out in my memory. If anyone else remembers more, please shout out in the comments. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting the Call: Tony Thorne

Welcome to a special Getting the Call on a Friday, coming to us from all the way across the pond as they say. We've heard from many writers, but this has to be one of my all time favorite writer success stories. If this doesn't give you a dose of inspiration to keep querying or finish that NaNo project, then you picked the wrong hobby. Thank you, Tony, for sharing your dedication to growing and improving as a writer.    

Where amateurs are concerned, fiction writing is a hobby, a spare time art-form. An alternative to one's regular occupation, i.e. the day job. Indulged in, perhaps, as a form of therapy, or even for a spot of light relief. I’m using the word 'amateur' to imply non-professional, defined as 'unpaid labor', which brings me rapidly to the subject of Speculative Fiction.

Most editors, nowadays, probably suspect there are more writers around than readers ... and the art of genre fiction writing is becoming a form of therapy mostly indulged in by amateurs. Perhaps not just as a hobby, but a way to express and analyse one's feelings about the world, and where it's going, and communicate them too. There are easier ways to relieve one's feelings when it comes to pure therapy. In some countries they sell little clay idols, hideous to behold. With just a little imagination, a suitable one can be identified with the galling frustration of the moment. Rage and indignation does the rest. One's trials and tribulations presumably scatter in the breeze with the dust of the manikin as it crumbles in a hairy fist, or shatters against a convenient stone wall.

It seems a lifetime ago when to become your own psychiatrist, the minimum you needed was pencil and paper; but nowadays, a laptop computer is more convenient. Anywhere can become a couch and it's more socially acceptable than talking to one’s self… or beating up your partner.
So put it all down ... scribble away, unbutton that creative belt and let it all hang out. Put all your frustrations down in a story. Develop your characters and let them tell your conscience how you feel.  Above all be honest with yourself, even if it hurts. You may discover that it often does.

That's how I got into all this, with the success I've experienced to date. I'd like to be a really wealthy writer, but I suspect I’ve left it too late in life.  More important to me though, is the fact that I recognize  and have adjusted to, my own limitations.

I spent about twenty five years, in different companies, designing and building up product lines, travelling the world, setting up distributors, crumpling the competition, getting the best out of my staff, listening to their problems, and solving them. Occasionally even my own when I had time. The closer I got to the top of the tree, the more I longed to turn in my collection of emotion-screening masks for an axe, and hack away at the plastic feet of all the false idols I seemed to be worshiping  I was fed up with the commercial rat-race, and the way it submerged my appreciation of the simpler things in life.

I resented the never-ending battle, necessary to just stay level let alone to advance, and I was filled with remorse at the neglect of my home-life and family. Worst of all, my conscience was wearing me down. It refused to believe my contrived excuses and justification for what I was doing. I eventually realized that I really wanted to give it all up, but I needed the money. Some kind of Do-It-Yourself therapy was the only solution that appealed to me.

On aircraft, in trains, restaurants, waiting at airports, anywhere I had the time and the inclination I made notes and kept them. Some of them later turned into cynical poems, several with scientific themes, and I had many of them published. I was also well received whenever I could fit in time to give readings, on various club evenings, as well as radio and TV.

I did have a few short stories accepted, a long time ago, back in my SF fan days, but my first new project was a soul-searching, experimental, self-published, semi-autobiography work, entitled HOW TO BE A CHIEF EXECUTIVE. It took two years to write, and get off the ground, in between all the time I spent developing, and promoting international exports of advanced technology instruments and equipment. Well, last century, I did get a medal from the Queen for that day job, and the book did modestly well too, but whatever I spent marketing it, always brought in orders that almost exactly balanced my costs. This century however, it is available from Amazon and other outlets as an eBook and a paperback, and the revenue arrives at no cost to me at all.

Then one day I finally threw in my executive job and went to work for myself, as a computer programmer and instructor, specializing in developing AI software, which could generate business programs. With no more international travelling, I soon I found I had more time to start writing genre fiction again, and this century I’ve managed to complete over a hundred stories, including shorts and novelettes.

Relevant magazines, anthology publishers, and websites began to take my work, and I had success in several competitions. I’ve also won awards for a couple of my self-published collections, TENERIFE TALL TALES, and MACABRE TALES.

My first novel, POINTS OF VIEW, was published just before my 86th.birthday this year, by Eternal Press, in the USA. Yes, I’m still progressing, and in addition to being nearly ready with my second novel, I believe now that there can be contentment in approaching the limits of one's abilities. The trick is to get as far as you believe you can, or maybe even stop just before that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing (Week 24)

I was tagged by critique partner and friend, Sean Jenan. You can visit his blog here to see his answers

Rules: Answer these ten questions about your current WIP on your blog.
Tag up to five other writers/bloggers with their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Anklet from the water park

1- What is the working title of your book? 

Dodge the Sun

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came from a cheap ankle bracelet I bought at a water park one summer. The unaccustomed weight on my leg made me wonder what it would be like if a girl was held captive by a magical anklet. The rest of the story evolved from there.

3- What genre does your book fall under?

YA Fantasy in a dystopian setting

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I can’t say I give any thought to actors for my characters. My characters’ personalities are so much more important than detailing their looks. I’m pretty generic with my written descriptions. I did base one of my characters on Wilfrod Brimley. It's his fantastic mustache. I couldn't resist.

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

You would ask that. I’ve don’t have one, thought I do have a three sentence hook. Seventeen-year-old Little Bit doesn’t have mutated possums or nursery-rhyming cannibals on her farm—only cows. Her predictable life changes when a deteriorating shield holding back the sun’s radiation forces her to seek the distant haven of New Chicago. Oh, and the infuriating mage, Garrett, forgot to mention she isn’t a hero, or even human—he conjured her from a pet rabbit.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Not self-published. I'm not brave enough to go it alone. It will either be trunked, shopped to a small press or (crosses fingers) I’ll find an agent.

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Dodge the Sun started as a short story in August of 2011. When I decided to expand it, I worked on it off and on until the end of May 2012. Editing probably took another four months. I’m not a fast writer.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s tough. I don’t really know of anything that compares. Not many rabbit-girls stuck in the middle of an apocalypse stories.

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book? 

Actual anklet used for DTS
Like I said above the ankle bracelet inspired the story. All the characters are bits and pieces of me. I always lace my background scenery with actual places I've been. So one place might be something I saw in Yellowstone or places I've drove by on my way to Wrigley Field in Chicago.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? 

Another hideous anklet
Let's see? Cannibals. Mutants  Denied love. Vicious twin villains. Magic. And through it all, a girl trying to figure out herself.

Tagged for next week (Week 25) are some of my very talented writer friends. Check out their blogs next Wednesday, November 21st, when it's their turn to post answers to these same questions about their own works-in-progress!

Carla Rehse, YA writer at Cats 'n Books 

Lori Sjoberg, Paranormal romance writer at her blog
Rhiann Wynn-Nolet, YA writer at A Nest of Words 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Release Day to Sid Hamer

There is always a still, quiet space before tragedy, when the future is known to the spirit and the soul quakes with the coming.

In an age before the great flood when the world was new, the beauty of one young woman drew more than admiring glances. Atarah saw the stranger in her troubled dreams before he approached her. All he wanted was a drink from her jug of water, or so he said. But of course, a drink was not all he wanted.

She escaped the Watcher, Semjaza until after her marriage to her father’s wealthy relative, Naaman. Semjaza came to her in a moment of weakness, a moment when she needed a kind touch, and with the lie she told her husband her journey to the abyss began.

How could one mistake change the course of her life? And how would she escape Semjaza and find redemption for her indiscretion?

THE POISON JAR is now listed on, soon to be available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle, The Book Depository (UK) and Divertir Publishing. There are links on my website or just type in Sid Hamer or The Poison Jar.

I want to thank my publisher, Ken Tupper (Divertir Publishing) for taking a raw manuscript and turning it into a novel of which I am very proud.

My five years of research into the antediluvian time period and people was and is an experience worthwhile in its own right. If I hadn’t written a word, I would still feel blessed to have taken this journey but having said that, my joy is magnified because I can share it with all of you. The Poison Jar is just the first installment in a series that will cover six generations and I am hard at work on the second manuscript.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skyfall: Bond, James Bond

I’m fortunate that my husband and I share many of our tastes. We lean the same way politically and have similar values. Irish football Saturday is a given. There’s no fighting over the remote as we both like science fiction and fantasy along with a dose of action movies. Romantic comedy has it place and so does reality TV. So while he may pick steak over chicken and forgo my chocolate for his health shakes, we agree on James Bond.
I don’t know where it started for him, but I was too young to appreciate the first Bond movies. That’s where cable came in. Once the number of TV stations exploded, there were Bond marathons everywhere taking us back to those slightly campy early ventures. We liked the gadgets, the cars, the overdone villains, the dry innuendos. We became fans for life.

So it went through the ‘80’s with Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, though we agreed Sean Connery was our favorite. Into the ‘90’s with Pierce Brosnan playing a slightly more haunted Bond. Then came that relatively long break where the series lay dead. Suddenly, a newcomer burst onto the scene. We were skeptical. A blond Bond? Hmmm.

Casino Royale was a revelation. It was modern. It was hard. Who was this dark troubled James Bond? This character mixed regret with dedication to duty. Queen and Country didn’t necessary mean a lack of feeling. Not only us, but the world had a new favorite Bond.

That included our children. What’s the point of having kids if not to brainwash your tastes onto them. And as they grew to teens, who’d rather sit in their rooms than do anything with their parents, we still have Bond in common. In a parent coup, the whole family went to Skyfall together.

To avoid spoilers I’ll just say the Skyfall had all the Bond ingredients. The huge edge-of-your-seat-chase scenes. The Austin Martin. The fun reminders of previous movies. Iconic characters and a really creepy villain. (This villain was the best of the three Daniel Craig movies.) Exotic locations that have been ‘shaken, not stirred’. Destruction and mayhem galore. But unlike previous decades, this Bond has back story. More light is shed upon his character with each installment.

And speaking of installments: how does the Bond success provide lessons to writers that are looking to create their own series? Stay tuned. That will be the subject of my next post.