Thursday, July 28, 2016

Four Questions with #Pitchwars SFF Mentors- Part 2

As you know, there are a few #PitchWars mentors with a preference for SFF this year. Some of the Adult SFF mentors got together and decided to answer some fun questions. There are other mentors accepting adult SFF, so please don’t take this as a comprehensive list. But here’s hoping that our answers to these questions will help you narrow it down.
See the first part of this question and answer session over at Dan Koboldt's blog
Here are the participating mentors, with links to their #PitchWars wish lists:
Question 1: Name the one SFF character you'd like to meet, and briefly say why.
Michelle Hauck: Yoda. I want to learn the ways of the Force.

Dan Koboldt: Lews Therin, because the guy was awesome/crazy.

Holly Faur: Does Doctor Who count? Because why not?

Michelle Hazen: Zuzana from Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Because I think she might be the fictional equivalent of me. If I were a puppetmaker in Prague as well as being tiny, fierce, and terrifyingly creative in revenge schemes against people who hurt my friends.

Nazarea Andrews: Severo. (Red Rising) um. He's amazing. And awful. And loyal but utterly complex and I just adore him.

Carrie Callaghan: Yvaine, from Stardust. She was a star! Think of the amazing things she saw and decided to give up for love.

E.B. Wheeler: Merlin from the BBC's series, because I love his character, and he needs a hug.

Haley Stone: This question is just not fair. Okay. Um. At the moment? Margaery Tyrell. I'd love to pick her brain about politics, discuss marketing strategies (I just feel like she'd have great insight into self-promotion?) and also go shopping with her because damn, girl can pick out a flattering dress.

Michael Mammay: Ender

Question 2: You have three PW submission and all three are really, really good. Do you go with the Space Opera, the Epic Fantasy, or the Urban Fantasy?
Michelle Hauck: All things being equal, I'd go for the epic fantasy. I read more of that genre.

Dan Koboldt: Space Opera

Holly Faur: AHHHHH....I'd have to decide from the first two with a chocolate duel. (I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro, don't you?)

Michelle Hazen: Urban Fantasy

Nazarea Andrews: Depends on the story. I know that's a cop out answer, but it's also true. I love everything about all three but the story has to sell me on the book.

Carrie Callaghan: So hard! But I'm a sucker for Epic Fantasy, especially if it has a literary touch.

E.B. Wheeler: Urban if it has a historical setting, otherwise, epic.

J.C. Nelson: THIS year, I'd go for the Space Opera, because I love it and want to see more.

Haley Stone: Epic Fantasy

Michael Mammay: Space Opera if they're equal

Question 3: Favorite fantasy or SF world?
Michelle Hauck: Wheel of Time

Dan Koboldt: Midkemia

Holly Faur: The one I really *felt* was Arrakis. Though I DO NOT wish to live there. Maybe somewhere I can get second breakfast.

Michelle Hazen: Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series. I love how she dealt with the political repercussions of a world with multiple magical species. 

Nazarea Andrews: Narnia of Middle Earth. Classics and a childhood favorite.

E.B. Wheeler: Alternate England in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

J.C. Nelson: Hyperion

Haley Stone: I'm really fascinated by Terra D'Ange of Kushiel's Dart. But if we're talking more generally, the Star Wars Galaxy.

Michael Mammay: I find the world from Mirror Empire fascinating. 

Question 4: Favorite male SF Character?
Michelle Hauck: F'nor from Dragonriders of Pern. I have a soft spot for this secondary character.

Dan Koboldt: Quinn Bradley. WINK.

Holly Faur: Paul Atreides or Thomas from Maze Runner

Michelle Hazen: Mark Watney from The Martian

Nazarea Andrews: Spock. I have a thing for brilliant, socially awkward creatures who don't really get the 'normal' people around them. And Spock's relationship with Bones and Kirk makes me happy. Like. Ridiculously happy.

J.C. Nelson: Ian Malcolm in the Jurassic Park Novels

Haley Stone: Garrus Vakarian

Michael Mammay: Rico from Starship Troopers

That's it for today!
Be sure to visit Haley Stone's blog for more Questions and Answers on Friday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Query Questions with Lauren Spieller

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a series called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.

How about an interview from a brand-spanking new agent! This is a real opportunity as Lauren Spieller with TriadaUS has just started looking for clients. 

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query? 
I’d never hold a typo or two against someone, especially if the book sounds promising. That being said, your query is your first impression. Dress to impress!

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
I always look at sample pages, but I also read every single query. If you’ve written a concise and dynamic summary, I’ll read your pages with particular interest.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
Nope. I read them all myself.
If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?
Yes. If your book can stand alone without the prologue, then you should rethink whether or not you actually need one.

How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query?
I find comp titles helpful, but they aren’t a necessity.

Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?
The agents at TriadaUS regularly share queries we think are a better fit for another agent.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
I appreciate a personalized query. It shows me that the author has done their homework on what I’m looking for.

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?
I agree—it doesn’t matter where the word count is, as long as you include it. But a query without a word count? That would make me nervous…

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?
I appreciate a unique title that shows the author is aware of the conventions in their genre, but a bad title isn’t a deal breaker. We can always come up with a new one together.
Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?
I encourage writers to include links in their email signatures! It saves me the work of Googling them! ;)

What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?
Authors stress too much about this aspect of the query. Just include where you live and what you do for a living, plus maybe a hobby if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’d also be interested in hearing about any experience that’s relevant to your book. If you wrote a book about mountain climbing and you’ve been a climber for years, let me know!

What does ‘just not right' mean to you?
“Just not right” might mean the voice doesn’t speak to me, or perhaps the conflict isn’t as gripping as I’d like. I try to be specific when I reject a project, especially if I’ve read more than the sample pages.

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
I’m very editorial. I worked as an editorial consultant for multiple years before I started agenting, so it’s a big part of my process. That being said, the author always has the final say. It’s their book, and they have to believe in every word of it.
What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
I’d love to see a funny, magical Middle Grade or a Middle Grade along the lines of BETTER NATE THAN EVER by Tim Federle, a high concept YA fantasy with a female friendship at the center, and a diverse contemporary Young Adult novel along the lines of ALL AMERICAN BOYS by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and THE HATE U GIVE by Angela Thomas.


Literary Agent Assistant Lauren Spieller comes to TriadaUS with a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She is seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, as well as commercial Adult fiction. Whatever the age group or genre, Lauren welcomes diverse voices.

In MG, she’s drawn to heartfelt contemporaries, exciting adventures, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism. Some of her favorite recent novels include Rules for Stealing Stars, George, My Seventh-Grade Life In TightsThe Seventh Wish, and Rooftoppers. In YA, she’d love to find authentic teen voices in any genre. Her recent favorites include Dumplin’, Scorpio Races, Since You’ve Been Gone, Feed, The Lunar Chronicles, Six of Crows, and Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

In Adult, Lauren is seeking commercial fiction, particularly twisted thrillers in the vein of Lauren Beukes and Gillian Flynn, and immersive fantasies, such as The Night Circus, The Miniaturist, The Rook, and A Darker Shade of Magic. She is also interested in Women’s Fiction and pop-culture non-fiction.

Happy Release Day to MACHINATIONS

Perfect for fans of Robopocalypse, this action-packed science-fiction debut introduces a chilling future and an unforgettable heroine with a powerful role to play in the battle for humanity’s survival.

The machines have risen, but not out of malice. They were simply following a command: to stop the endless wars that have plagued the world throughout history. Their solution was perfectly logical. To end the fighting, they decided to end the human race.

A potent symbol of the resistance, Rhona Long has served on the front lines of the conflict since the first Machinations began—until she is killed during a rescue mission gone wrong. Now Rhona awakens to find herself transported to a new body, complete with her DNA, her personality, even her memories. She is a clone . . . of herself.

Trapped in the shadow of the life she once knew, the reincarnated Rhona must find her place among old friends and newfound enemies—and quickly. For the machines are inching closer to exterminating humans for good. And only Rhona, whoever she is now, can save them.

Praise for Machinations:

"A tension-filled story of loss, loyalty, and forgiveness, with abundant Terminator-style shoot-em-up scenes and a snarky, kickass female warrior. I inhaled it!”
Jennifer Foehner Wells, bestselling author of Fluency

“This violent, bloody, romantic tale is full of awesome mechanical foes and authentic characters you love or hate, like real people . . . The nuances of the title promise more than meets the eye, and the prose delivers.”
- Perihelion

“An SF techno-thriller with heart and soul.”
Alex Bledsoe, author of The Hum and the Shiver

Machinations is an action-packed SF thriller loaded with fantastic characters and gut-wrenching emotional twists. [. . .] The prose is stunning, the action is non-stop.”
Linnea Sinclair, RITA Award-winning author of Gabriel’s Ghost

Machinations is a thrilling fusion of action and heartbreak, with quick pacing, rich characters, and a one-of-a-kind story. A great debut.”
G.T. Almasi, author of Blades of Winter

Order your copy of Machinations today!

And don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads!


Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as a graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento.

Machinations is her debut novel from Hydra/Random House. Its sequel, Counterpart, releases October 11th, 2016.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting the Call with Kelly DeVos

This story is interesting in so many ways. It shows something about contests and how agents work together. Kelly also gives us a huge does of inspiration right before Pitchwars starts. Enjoy!

Here are the two words I would use to describe the feeling of getting the call: MORTAL TERROR.

Not that my agent, Kathleen Rushall, is at all terrifying. She is amazing and helpful and great to speak with. It was just that the stakes of this call, which would be only a few minutes out of my whole life, seemed impossibly high. Not only is Kathleen a very successful agent with a strong sales track record, I’d spent what seemed like a billion years in the query trenches. It was possible that this could be my one and only chance to make an agent connection. And it was equally possible that I could say or do something totally idiotic.

Backing up a little bit, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, which will be published in August 2017 by Harlequin Teen (shameless plug: I will love you forever if you add it to your Goodreads TBR shelf), was not my first book. When I decided to start writing seriously again, I worked on a YA mystery. In retrospect, I can see why I wasn’t successful in landing an agent with my first book. It contained elements I later recognized as over utilized in young adult fiction and there were pacing issues I never managed to fully resolve. But I spent the better part of two years writing, rewriting, querying and re-querying it.

Once I made the decision to shelve that book and move on, I decided I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made the first time around – especially querying way too early. To combat this, with FAT GIRL ON A PLANE I decided, early on, to enter an online contest, Michelle’s New Agent Contest. I recommend these kinds of contests, and Michelle’s specifically, to any querying writer. While contests don’t work for everyone and there are many, many success stories from conventional queries, these events are a great way to meet other writers and receive mentoring (as I received from the wonderful Natasha Raulerson). For me, New Agent was a safeguard against beginning the query process too early. I thought if I could get past the contest judges, I was probably in okay shape to approach agents.

During the contest, agent Patricia Nelson requested my MS. I had been a fan of Patricia’s for a long time. I followed her on social media and loved her taste in books. A few days after sending along my files, I got a message from Patricia saying that she enjoyed my book but felt it might be a better fit for her colleague, Kathleen Rushall.

I’ll admit, this surprised me. I’d read that, within many agencies, the agents work collaboratively. But I always thought that when agents said they’d pass work on to someone else if they believed it would be a good fit, they were giving a gentle brush off. It was the publishing equivalent of, “We’ll keep your resumé on file.” But Patricia did me an incredible favor for which I will always be grateful.

About a week later, Kathleen e-mailed me and said she’d like to set up a time to talk. I thought, “I’m getting the call! I’m getting the call!” The is where the mortal terror comes in. After I read the e-mail, I’m pretty sure I went around asking every writer friend I have what is okay to say and not okay to say. I fully charged my phone, made sure I had a back up phone, set an alarm, checked and double checked the volume of my ringtone and even cleaned my desk.

I’ve got kind of a Type A personality. I even wrote out a little script for myself so that I didn’t start blathering about my knitting projects or obsession with the TV show Pretty Little Liars.

Kathleen was so gracious during our conversation and told me what she loved about my book. It was such an amazing rush to have someone with expertise in publishing validate my writing. But as the call went on, she also began to talk about things she didn’t like about the MS or things she felt that editors would not respond to positively. I had the sinking feeling that this was not quite THE CALL. At the conclusion, she offered me an R&R.

At first I was sort of depressed, I wanted to get THE CALL. The kind where you get your agent and go out and get 5,000 cupcakes and dance all around. But I realized progress was being made and the changes Kathleen suggested made sense. I got back to work. I sent her my revised version and she liked the changes. A few weeks later, we had a for real THE CALL that ended in an offer of representation.

It’s kind of funny because I did so much prep work for the first conversation, but when I got the real call I was in the carline at my daughter’s school, waiting for the release bell to ring. My dog, Cocoa, jumped out of the car window right as I finished speaking with Kathleen. The first thing I did after landing an agent was chase my Yorkie all across a middle school campus.

In retrospect, I’m glad things progressed the way they did. When you’re out there in the query trenches, one of the hardest things to accept is that there is no real advantage to landing an agent if your work isn’t in a place where he or she can successfully sell it. So I ended up feeling very positive that my offer was based on a draft Kathleen felt good about. It was also a lesson in being patient, which I think is essential during all stages of publishing. The path to publication can be lined with long waits and delays and, during the process, patience really is a virtue.

I am so excited to say that, in 2017, my dream of becoming a published author will come true. And if you’re still querying, take heart and #keepgoing! I hope I’ll be reading your “Getting the Call” story next.


A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in August 2017 by Harlequin Teen.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cover Reveal for DECOHERENCE

Readers of Blake Crouch's DARK MATTER and Wesely Chu's TIME SALVAGER will love Liana Brooks' DECOHERENCE--the thrilling, time-bending conclusion to the Time & Shadow series!
Samantha Rose and Linsey MacKenzie have established an idyllic life of married bliss in Australia, away from the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, away from mysterious corpses, and—most of all—away from Dr. Emir’s multiverse machine.
But Sam is a detective at heart, and even on the other side of the world, she can’t help wonder if a series of unsolved killings she reads about are related—not just to each other, but to the only unsolved case of her short career.
She knows Jane Doe’s true name, but Sam never discovered who killed the woman found in an empty Alabama field in spring of 2069. She doesn’t even know which version of herself she buried under a plain headstone.
When Mac suddenly disappears, Sam realizes she is going to once more be caught up in a silent war she still doesn’t fully understand. Every step she takes to save Mac puts the world she knows at risk, and moves her one step closer to becoming the girl in the grave.

Liana Brooks write sci-fi and crime fiction for people who like happy endings. She believes in time travel to the future, even if it takes a good book and all night to get there. When she isn’t writing, Liana hikes the mountains of Alaska with her family and giant dog. Find her at or on Twitter as @LianaBrooks 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Picture Book Party 2016 Agent Round

I don't have enough words to say how much I've enjoyed this contest. Once again, the entries just blew Sharon and I away. They are beyond adorable, heart touching, hilarious, sweet and informative. I don't know about Sharon, but I felt like I was in the middle of a group love hug while reading them. Something we all need in these difficult times.

Commenting on entries is for agents only. If you'd like to cheer or rave about a favorite, please hop over to twitter at the hashtag #PBParty. The party continues there as we celebrate and support our fellow writers.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned to the blog or sign up for my newsletter for future contests. 

Note: If you want your entry taken down after the agent round, please email the contest address or ask me on twitter. 

PBParty 1: Karina the Dancer, Character-driven, multicultural PB

Genre: Character-driven, Humorous, Multi-cultural PB
Word Count: 640

PBParty 2: Three Pickles Downtown, Humorous PB

Title: Three Pickles Downtown
Genre: Humorous picture book
Word Count: 778

PBParty 3: Mary Anning and the Colossal Fossil, Non-fiction

Title: Mary Anning & the Colossal Fossil
Genre: Non-fiction
Word Count: 670 

PBParty 4: My World, Concept, Early PB

Genre: Concept, Early Picture
Word Count:  220

PBParty 5: Standing Up While Sitting Down, PB with wheelchair

Genre: Picture Book includes wheelchair use
Word Count: 820

PBParty 6: Ants in Space, Character-driven

Genre: Character-driven, Funny, Picture Book 
Word Count: 800

PBParty 7: Don't Fret, Fred, Humorous PB

Genre: A humorous picture book
Word Count: 800 words

PBParty 8: Knights of the Neighborhood, CB

Genre: Chapter Book with series potential, adventure mystery with touch of magical realism
Word Count: 5,300

PBParty 9: The Uncool Friendship of Pablo and the Knitting Club, CB

Title: The Uncool Friendship of Pablo and the Knitting Club
Genre: Chapter book 
Word count: 8,400

PBParty 10: Hippo Wants a Brand New Butt, Humorous PB

Genre: Humorous Fiction
Word Count: 300

PBParty 11: Little Miss Thunder Foot, PB

Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 360

PBParty 12: How Can I Get A Bed For Bear, Literary Fiction

Genre: Literary Fiction
Word Count: 760

PBParty 13: Billy Lends a Hand, PB for reluctant readers

Genre: Picture book aimed at reluctant readers, particularly boys
Word Count: 670

PBParty 14: Jerrie Mock: Queen of the Ocean Skies, PB Biography

Genre: Picture Book Biography
Word Count: 950

PBParty 15: My Dragonfly Grandmother, Realistic PB

Genre: Realistic fiction picture book
Word Count: 690 words

PBParty 16: Mess Monster, Humorous PB

Title: Mess Monster
Genre: Humorous Picture Book
Word Count: 480 words

PBParty 17: A Thousand Slimy Things and I, Fairytale Retelling

Genre: Picture Book, Fairytale Retelling
Word Count: 1000


PBParty 18: Mustache Zoo, Interactive Rhyming

Title: Mustache Zoo
Genre: Interactive Rhyming
Word Count: 225 Words