Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Query-ness: Putting it into Action

I attended Elana Johnson's fabulous query workshop last week and got some great information (aside from the illegal candy that got me through the afternoon/evening). It inspired me to rethink my query.

As a general rule, writers hate queries. I'm no exception. But it's good to have an outline of what a query should have. Now, everything Elana taught us is copyrighted and I can't share it with you. Sorry! But I can share with you my knowledge of queries--and how it's improved.

First, your intro. Here is where you want to address the agent you're querying and tell them why you're querying them. I.E. "I read that you are looking for boy fiction" or "your agency is looking for writers to grow with them." Basically you want the agent to know that you sought them out for a reason. So if you don't have a reason, find one. This is also where you usually say your novel title, genre, and word count.

Second, your hook. This is kind of a one-sentence summary of your novel. You want to get it into your query as quickly as possible. Maybe at the end of the intro, or maybe a one-sentence paragraph right after. Ask yourself this: "What makes this story more interesting than the last romance/mystery/YA/thriller that this agent read? What is the whole point to my novel?"

Third, set the scene. Lay out in 3-5 sentences who your MC is, where this is, what's going on. Give the agent a picture of your book. (Figuratively.) You want YOUR VOICE to sneak into this paragraph. I've heard lots of people advise writing this and the next paragraph from you MC's POV so you get the right voice. Then change it back to the POV of your query, keeping the voice. I've tried it and it worked for me!

Fourth, the conflict. Your next paragraph should tell us what your MC wants and what obstacles are in the way. This is the reason you have a book and not a travelogue! (I hope it's okay to mention here that Elana said NOT TO FORGET THE CONSEQUENCE.) What happens to your MC if the conflict isn't resolved?

And fifth, your closing. This is where you mention all the great things you've accomplished as a writer. Probably not a good place to mention the five books you self-pubbed and only sold 30 copies of. If you have no bragging rights, leave it out. No problem. Be sure and tell your agent if this book is completed or not (which is silly to me, because nobody in their right mind would query if it weren't finished)!

Don't forget your contact information! And if you want to make your book title POP, put it in all caps instead of italics.

And finally, just to ice the cake, I'm going to make up a query following these examples.

Dear Heidi Bogart,

Since your website says you are looking for dramatic women's fiction, I thought you would be interested in my novel ROCK THE BOAT, a romantic drama that takes place in the 1980s. Carmen and Justin work hard to keep their marriage intact after a coworker begins to show an interest in Justin, and he finds himself returning it.

Carmen meets Justin on a starry night after a lakeside barbecue, and she thinks that romantic kiss in the moonlight meant they would love each other forever. Justin takes Carmen to a beautiful house in the country, where she spends all her time doing what she wants. She doesn't see much of Justin, but as he says, it's his job that keeps her at home with the kids.

But then Carmen finds the sexy text messages in his phone, she realizes that he isn't working late for the money. Furious, she starts her own investigation. What she discovers is that she doesn't want to lose him. So she does the only thing she can think of: Carmen fakes her own kidnapping. She just wants him to come and find her. And if he does, she has a special reunion planned.

ROCK THE BOAT is complete at 58,000 words. The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time!

Kristy Hatman
231 Ingletree Ave.
Beha, OH 89789
(232) 979-3987

And here's a video that made me laugh and cry and inspired me to write that silly query.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Strike of the Pregnancy Brain

Pregnancy brain: A temporary forgetfulness caused by pregnancy.

Its reality is debatable, and I've always been skeptical.

Up until this pregnancy. Actually, up until this week.

It all started on Tuesday. I left Asher with Daddy and dropped Jacen off at preschool, then hurried to my monthly OB appointment. I got there, signed in, peed in the cup, and waited. I got called back a few minutes later--only to be told that my appointment was last week.

Strike one.

Then today, we went out to our new condo and started unpacking things. We were in a hurry when we left, and I realized when we were on the road that I'd left the diaper bag there. It's a 40-minute drive from our current house and I didn't have plans to be back there until Saturday.

Strike two.

We had a church activity tonight that I was supposed to help set up for. I didn't forget. I planned my trip to the minute, knowing exactly what time I needed to leave so I could get there on time. Except I forgot one thing: the children. I realized when it was time to go that I needed to take them to the babysitter. I didn't show up in time to set up.

Strike three.

I'm already out, obviously. But I'm not done. I remembered to pick the children up from the babysitter (who luckily happened to be my parents!) and took them home. We pulled into the driveway and I reached around for my purse. Not there. I left it at my parents' house. And since it had my phone in it, I had no way to call them. No way to call my husband and ask him to bail me out again. And no way was I putting the kids back in the car and driving over there.

Game OVER.

I'm a believer.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Mormon Times linked back to my blog about the Whitney's. Isn't that cool??? Made me feel like a celebrity for a minute.

Photo from http://pregnancy.more4kids.info/118/forgetfulness-during-pregnancy/.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Storymaker Conference Hangover

I am finally getting back on track.

Several days with very little sleep, no transition before being back in the wife/mom routine, and today I was dead. I had to get up three times in the class I was subbing for and go to the vending machine, just so I wouldn't fall asleep.

Then I came home and took a nap with my boys. A long one. A three-hour nap.

I still have a headache, but I'm almost over my hangover!

Now. Let me tell you about this fantastic conference.

My day started Thursday afternoon with a drive to the Fort Smith airport, which has won my respect as the smallest airport I've ever seen. Three gates. I honestly thought I'd gone to the wrong place, to some municipal airport with chartered jets. However, they do have very nice restrooms that get voted in the top 10 airline restrooms in the US.

My Delta flight to SLC arrived at 9:15pm, five minutes before my brother got off work and ten minutes before M. Gray's flight arrived. So we met in the baggage claim, and right away, this girl and I hit it off. She is everything she seems to be. It was the best girly weekend I've had in years! Every night we'd go up to our room, dead tired, crawl into bed, and lay in our beds chatting for an hour. It was AWESOME. M. Gray was a major part of the trip for me.

We went to the wrong entrance of the Marriott and had to bang on doors for someone to hear us. We just didn't feel like walking around the block with our luggage in tow.

Friday morning, we woke up bright and early for our 6:30am Bootcamp. At this point, I was regretting signing up for it. Until I met my fabulous group. Our mentor was Kirk Shaw, senior editor for Covenant Communications, and other neat people like T.J. Bronley. (If the other four in my group have a blog, let me know and I'll link to you too!) This intense three-hour session each morning was pivotal for me to see how well I do as a critiquer, and how the first few pages of my WIP are perceived by the public.

After that was class time. As each class syllabus is copyrighted, I can't share with you what was taught. But some of the classes sparked creative juices, and I'm excited to share with you what I came away with.

On Friday I took two class: "You can be a Dot Com," by John Ferguson, Daron Fraley, and Darvell Hunt. While much of this class I already knew, I did walk away with a bluehost.com account and everything I need to start a website. (Now if only I knew some html...even basic!)

I also took "Writing a Killer Query," by Elana Johnson. This class was an amazing, two-hour event in which I reworded and rearranged my query, hopefully for the better.

Our keynote speaker was David Wolverton. The biggest thing I got from his address was not being afraid of public speaking. I think I was stuck on that note over the weekend. I am really excited to speak in public when my book comes out.

In between all the classes we had book signings. How fun to meet so many people! I'll picture bomb you later. I'm bad about getting pictures onto my computer.

On Saturday, we finished up Boot Camp. I would love to have that group of people in a critique group around me. The first class I took was "Press Releases" by Stacy Anderson. I had my laptop out and drafted a press release outline while she spoke. The second class I took was "The Marketing Power of Public Speaking" by C. S. Bezas. Wow! That class was amazing. I'm not afraid of public speaking, but I honestly had no idea what I would talk about. Not anymore. That inspiring class helped me build a platform. I now have a platform, that I'll share with you in another blog post!

In the afternoon I took "Marketing and Publicity" by Stacy Anderson. Really, this felt like the beefed up version of her other class, "Press Releases." And my final class was Dave Wolverton's "Writing for the Masses." Just as he said he would, he showed us little changes we can make to improve our appeal for an international audience.

The Whitneys were amazing, like I already blogged about here. I met several other WiDo authors--including M. J. Cunningham and David J. West. That was a definite highlight. We all hit it off so well, and have a special bond that I think only small press authors can have. We are so excited to boost and support each other. Here's a picture I stole from David's blog.

Sunday morning came way too early for M. Gray, who had to catch the shuttle at 5:30am. Not me! I met up with a dear friend, Jayme Hansen, who I hadn't seen since we moved from Provo two years ago. My sister-in-law Desree gave me a ride to the airport. Since I already posted about my adventures there, I won't post again.

It was a wonderful experience! I've already marked the speakers I must have for next year. It will be awesome!

If we met there, give me a shout out in the comments so I can find your blog!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Flying Home and Counting Stars

I bought a lot of books at the LDS Storymaker's conference.

Let me make sure you understand me. I bought A LOT. As in, I took my luggage to the check out counter and it weighed too much. $90 too much.

Luckily, I had another option: take 3-4 books out and carry them.

Can you guess what I did?

So I spent the flight home reading. And this is where it gets fun, because I have a ton of books to read, and thus share with all of you. The book I read on the flights was probably not the best choice--it was a tear jerker. I kept my face down, hoping no one would notice, but I was bawling through the whole book. Starting with page 1.
There's the book, up top. Counting Stars, by Michele Paige Holmes. I met her, by the way. She autographed it for me. The book caught my interest right away. First off, I'll admit I'm not a fan of romances. I LOVE romance, but not romances. The back of the book says something like this, "Paul's pickup line was a bit unusual. 'Hi, I'm Paul. I have terminal cancer, my wife died in a car accident six weeks ago, and I'm looking for someone to be the mother of my children."

Okay, definitely unusual. Like I said, the book made me cry. And cry and cry and cry. Michele really writes human emotion quite well. There were a few things I didn't like, mostly the many many different POVs. And one character POV that I thought was more of a hindrance than a help, and I skipped his chapters. I didn't like that character, he wasn't important to the story, and I really didn't care what he was doing.

But Michele's writing is very skilled. I enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it to everyone.

I am SO excited to read all the new books I bought.

What did you read over the weekend? Anything stellar? Or slightly less than?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Am Inspired

We are out there.

We have the awesome responsibility of molding the way the world thinks. The way educators teach. The way children play.

Tonight I attended the Whitney Awards ceremony. It was awe-inspiring. At one point, Dave Wolverton/David Farland (same person, if you didn't know) was presented with the Outstanding Writer award. Dan Wells stood up and quoted Dave as having said, "You can make a living as an artist."

You can make a living as an artist. Think it. Whisper it to yourself. Say it out loud. This is important. You can do it.

Our MC (for lack of a better term) requested that everyone in the room who had ever heard Dave speak, either as a professor or at a conference, stand up.

Many of us stood.

He then asked if anyone had ever read any of his books (such as Rune Lords) that they also stand. Few remained sitting.

And finally he asked if anyone had ever read any books by Dan Wells or Brandon Sanderson, two of Dave's students, that they stand.

Nobody was left sitting.

That is the impact an author can have. How many of you would still be sitting? One man has reached a huge audience, and he is not a Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling. But he is an artist. He is an author.

The LDS Storymakers Conference had more than 450 authors in attendance this year. Laura Rennert, Nephele Tempest, and Krista Marino heard pitches and asked for partials. Something amazing happened over the past two days at this conference. We found ourselves. We recognized something great in ourselves. We discovered our ability to shape our lives.

We are not a small group. We are not a fanatical group. We are a driven, motivated, and inspired group. We are not alone. We are proud of who we are.

We are writers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Packing Your Bags: Writer's Conference

Packing is always a daunting task, at least for me. Which shirt should I bring? Will I need my blow dryer? Should I bring my own shampoo?

Of course I always forget something. Grr! Which makes it doubly important when packing for something, like, say, a writer's conference, to have in mind everything you'll need.

Did you sign up for any specific classes? If so, is there anything special you need for those? For example, do you need six copies of the first ten pages of your manuscript? Double-spaced? Do you need your laptop? A hard copy of your query letter? Make sure you've got everything you need for you classes.

Are there any special events? Like, a formal dinner? Don't forget your nice clothing. And your perfume, your gum, your shoes, whatever floats your boat!

Did you pack your business cards? Don't forget them! You ordered them for a reason! Make sure you have them on hand when you meet people. They're like the grown up version of friendship bracelets!

Did you bring writing samples? This goes along with always being prepared. You don't know who you might meet. Of course you can always get an email address and send a sample later, but if you've got it on hand, it's better, right?

Do you have a pitch session? If you do, you need more than just a writing sample and a business card. Bring along an updated resume, also.

Did you remember your Sunday bag--I mean, big bag? If you're flying, chances are this is your carry on, so you've got it. This is bigger than a purse (for most of us, anyway). It's got everything. Your laptop, your cards, your writing samples--and your purse. This is also where you'll put everything you pick up--brochures, cards, books!

Do you have cash? You're going to meet authors selling books. Some might take check, most won't take credit card. If you plan on buying, don't forget to bring your cash!

Do you have a notebook? You're going to take notes, of course. Whether it's your laptop or something like that, make sure you've got a way to take notes on what everyone says!

Are you going to get hungry in between meals? AKA, are you pregnant? Then make sure you bring some goodies to munch on! Nothing worse than being unable to focus on the speaker because you're so hungry!

Is your pitch ready? This isn't something you pack, of course, but practice! For your camera, your spouse, your dog. Make it smooth.

Do you have specific questions? Think about when you're going to ask them. Write them down if you're afraid you'll forget at the last moment.

Are you prone to headaches? Don't forget the tylenol!

Are you bringing your cell phone? Then don't forget the charger! You'd hate to have a huge list of phone calls to make and then have to use the hotel phone!

Am I forgetting anything important??? I'm so stoked! This is going to be awesome. Flight leaves tomorrow, folks, so you probably won't see me for a few days! Unless you see me in person at the conference! :)

(ideas gathered from: resources for writers, the adventurous writer, and myself.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Countdown: 6: Assigned an Editor

(Do you see that 6?? That means, if we stay on track, we're about 6 months away from book release!)

It didn't take long after signing my contract before I was assigned my first editor. I believe in most publishing companies you have several editors, and WiDo is no exception. I was nervous, wondering who my editor would be, what he/she would be like. Would we get along? Would he/she have the same vision for my book that I did? Would he/she respect me as an author?

Shortly thereafter, I got an email from Allie Maldonado. It said,

I have been assigned as editor for your work. I am excited about your wonderful ms., and together we will make it absolutely as good as it can be.

You can email me any time with questions and comments, and I'll be fairly prompt in reply.

Please don't be dismayed by excessive notations on your ms, or by how long this can take. It's no reflection on your ability as a writer, it's simply the process of revision that can be quite tedious and lengthy. WiDo has high standards for what it publishes, and does not put anything out until it is completely and thoroughly edited.

I look forward to working with you!

Can you feel the tone of that email? Very upbeat. Even flattering--my 'wonderful' ms. Instantly I was relieved. Allie put me at ease, she treated me with respect, and she quickly showed me what a knowledgeable, competent editor she was!

Right away, she started throwing suggestions at me. Make the setting clear, introduce fewer characters at once, cut back on the dialogue and increase the action. But she also made it very clear that these were SUGGESTIONS. I distinctly remember one time when I wobbled on a change she wanted, and Allie and I talked about it until I felt comfortable with what she was asking. She always treated me with respect.

In short, my editor was a joy to work with! And I am so pleased with the way the book has turned out since I submitted it! Editors are great for their impartiality and stern eyes!

What has your experience been working with an editor?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Light on the Horizon

First of all, a big hug to everyone who made me feel better about kicking off a few burdens last week. Whew! I'm relieved.

Second of all, the LDS Storymaker's conference is almost here!!! I can hardly wait to kick back with my good friend M. Gray (who I've never met)!

And finally, my editor says I have probably just one more revision before we go to copy edits.

Sweet relief! There were times when we were revising my novel that I felt for certain WiDo was going to cancel the contract. No one ever said this, but sometimes I was afraid they were thinking, "The book requires too many changes, this author isn't easy to work with, this really isn't that good at all, what were we thinking offering a contract?" So for me, it's like, finally. We are in the final stretch. I can't wait until I turn in that last revision, when my editor says, "It's ready!"

I cannot wait to be done. I cannot wait to tell you all, "The book is at the press!"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Butter scraped across too much bread

Or something like that.

I'm doing too much.

I realized that over the past two days. Every day I teach ESL classes before my children wake up. I've been doing this for years and it's a part of my life. Sometimes I tired, but I can usually take naps during the day to make up for it.

But then I decided to do preschool twice a week with my child and some friends, often in my own house. I figured this was important for Jacen and good for me to have time off. I didn't count on the stress of planning lessons, doing crafts, trying to get several 3 and 4 year olds to pay attention to me.

And then I decided to start substitute teaching on my 'days off.' Or afternoons off. (Like today, I have preschool before noon and sub at the high school after that.) Just one more thing. No big deal, a few hours a week, a few extra dollars.

I was doing fine. Until I offered to babysit a friend's kids for two days a week for a month.

That was the final straw for me. I didn't think it would be a big deal. I thought it would be fine. But when she gave me the wrong schedule and I spent 30 minutes waiting at the enormous daycare for her son to come out (with four kids in the car), and then her daughter forgot her ballet stuff so I couldn't take her to class, and then her kids complained about what we had for dinner and wanted desert, I began to feel a little stressed. That was Tuesday.

Yesterday her class at the university got out late, causing her to miss the bus. Then her phone was turned down too low, so she didn't hear mine or DH's phone calls. At 9:30pm, I was trying to figure out if I should call the police or bunk the kids down for the night or both.

When she finally came and picked her kids up, I told her I couldn't do it anymore.

I felt awful saying this. I really did. I know she was relying on me, and I had told her I could do it. But I COULDN'T. I went to bed in tears because I was so stressed. It shouldn't have been too much for me, but it was.

Preschool's next. We're about to drop out.

And then goes subbing. I just want to be home.

Today I am exhausted, relieved, and feeling very guilty. I feel like a bad mom/friend. Or something.

Moral of the story: JUST SAY NO.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Backup Backup

You're sitting in front of your computer, feeling the rush of inspiration. The past week, your thoughts have been flowing. You've written over five chapters, and feel great about it.

You move the mouse over the 'save' button one last time, about to turn your computer off. When suddenly, your computer goes blank.

You stare for a moment, not sure what happened. Your heart starts to pound a little harder, but you say to yourself, "Don't panic. I saved it an hour ago. That's just an hour's worth of work." You hit the "on" button and wait for the computer to boot.

It doesn't.

Now you feel your head pounding, your palms getting sweaty. You tell yourself that you'll be able to retrieve everything on the hard drive, but inside, you're just not sure. You try to remember the last time you backed up your computer. Two months ago? You emailed a copy of it to yourself two weeks ago. But, you realize with a sinking heart, that means all five new chapters are gone. Not too mention anything else you had on your computer.

This has never happened to anyone of you...right? Of course not. You're too smart for that.

Well, it's happened to me! I paid $200 to someone one time so they could retrieve information off my hard drive after my computer crashed. Just about a year ago, I emailed my latest draft to a friend so she could look over it--and the next day the computer killed itself. And yet, in spite of these experiences, I consistently neglect to backup except maybe once a month.

There's a solution!!!! My friend Calista on Twitter introduced me to mozy.com, and I'm so excited about it I have to tell you. I signed up last week. This online backup program (not storage, but backup) will upload files you've selected from your computer to a server, as often as you'd like. Once week, three times a day. Then if your computer ever crashes, you just hit the 'restore' button on the website!

Is that cool or what??? Not only that, but the first 2 gigs are FREE. And while they're not paying me to blog about this, if you click on this link and sign up, you and I will both get an extra 1/2 gig of free space when you do your first upload.

I'm way excited about this. I just see it as a total win-win situation. And I won't have to worry again!!!

So, go ahead. Tell me you don't need this program. Tell me you always remember to back up and have never lost ANYTHING. I'm waiting. :)

Edited to add: Getting to the FREE plan is a little hard. First click on the referral link above, and then MANUALLY change the web address to mozy.com/free. Hope that works for you!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Apathy and Query Help

Is it such a bad thing?

When you are passionate, you are emotional. You want things to happen a certain way, and you get upset when they don't. You have drive, but there are consequences.

When you are apathetic, you don't care. Things roll off you. You do whatever people want with a shrug. You're easy going. In fact, life is easier.

What do you think? Is it better?

On the other hand, I've written another query and I'd like to get some eyes on it. Any volunteers? Just email me at tamara at byu dot net, and I'll send it over. Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Winning the Lottery

Well, okay, I don't have any lottery tickets to give away. Sorry!

But I am going to draw for the winners of my blog contest. RIGHT NOW. I'm super excited!

And the first winner is--holding my breath--


Ha, ha, that's too funny.

And the second winner is--


Congrats, you guys! I encourage everyone to check out their blogs and let them know how awesome they are.

Emily and Simon, if you could please email me at tamara at byu dot net and let me know if you would rather have a gift certificate or a critique (I'm sure that's what Emily wants), that would be great!

(These names were randomly drawn from random.org. Great website!)

As you can SEE, we didn't get up to 150 followers. I did reach 116, though, and I'm thrilled with that!

I'm not going to keep announcing it, but the 150 followers contest shall be ongoing. Whenever it happens, whoever led that person to my blog will get a prize. If no one led them to my blog, we'll have to try for 200 followers!

My friend Melissa Cunningham, a fellow WiDo author, is doing a contest to reach 100 followers. She's not desperate, though. Just anxious about her blog. :) Check it out here.

Thanks, everyone, for playing! We'll have to do this again soon!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Gig's Up

I'm on to you.

Sometime over the weekend, one of you replaced my 4-year-old with a demon look-alike.

Did you think I wouldn't notice? No child of mine would poke holes in all the screens with a screw-driver. Or pee in his toy chest instead of going to the bathroom. Or hide under the grocery cart at the store and eat stolen candy.

Ha ha. Very funny. April Fool's is over. I'd like my child back now, please. NOW.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Books and Presentation

Today is the last day of my contest! If you haven't entered, you can do so here.

A few weeks ago I ordered the book Ghost Waves, also published by WiDo Publishing.

I was very anxious to get this book because I wanted to see WiDo's publishing standard. Right off the bat, I was pleased. I opened the package and took the book out and said, "Oh, wow." It's beautifully done. The hard cover binding is durable and aesthetic. I opened the book up and the chapter headings are gorgeous. The font is lovely.

The jacket cover has bright, brilliant colors on it. The pages were evenly cut, no jagged edges and no pages that poked out further than others. All in all, the book was beautiful.

This pleased me. As my book will be released from WiDo in a few months, I wanted the presentation to be awesome. I don't know for sure, but I suspect my book will be released in paperback first, not hardcover. (It's a YA thriller, after all.)

We're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let's face it, we do. If I open a book at a bookstore and don't like the font, the book goes back. Or if the layout is all squished in the middle, I'm done with it. If the binding looks cheap or like it will fall apart, or the jacket feels like tissue paper, our relationship is over.

And that's without even reading a word.

I never thought about how important the actual book binding was. Selling book is hard enough; make sure the publishing company you choose can put together a pretty presentation.

What makes you put down a book without even reading anything?

Friday, April 2, 2010

First Impressions Blogfest

Here's what we're doing today: A blogfest! Post the first page of your manuscript (any ms) on your blog.

I've never done one before. So I'm excited!

If you want to participate, go here. Please participate! I'd love to read your first pages.

Here is mine, from my YA fantasy novel (this month's project) White As Snow.

Mid 18th century


The queen allowed the servant girl to help her remove the heavy overcoat. A draft blew its way through the fortress wall, and the queen shivered. Shrugging her shoulders, she jerked her head at the girl, careful not to touch her.. “Bring me some tea.”

“Yes, your majesty.” Keeping her eyes averted, the girl disappeared down a long hall.

The queen paused outside the great hall, listening to the king in audience with a few peasants. Someone complaining about a goat crashing through his fence. She rolled her eyes, not understanding how the king could have patience with such nonsense. The man was too soft for her taste. Were she on the throne, this province would be stronger.

Someone rapped on the exterior door, the sound echoing off the stones to her right. Probably another unhappy citizen. A curl of chestnut brown hair slid down her neck. She pushed it back into place, admiring the sparkle of the large ruby ring on her right hand. Warmth radiated from the stone, tingling as it made its way down her arm. A magical ring, it magnified her Power, allowing her to hear the thoughts of anyone she touched.

The man servant opened the door. She couldn’t make out the words, but the discussion grew heated. The queen made her way to the front entry, nearly bumping into the man servant.

“Your majesty.” His lips quivered in agitation, and he readjusted the ruffles of his blouse. “A man at the door insists on seeing you.”

She arched an eyebrow. Nobody insisted on anything around here. “Send him away.”

He uttered a sigh. “I tried. He said he will cause a scandal and rouse the street rats.”

A trouble maker. Perhaps something interesting. “Follow me.” She strode down the worn carpet, her pointed shoes making a light thump with each step.

Did you post one? Leave a comment so I know!

Oh, and if you haven't entered my contest, do so here. There's definitely still time to get people to follow my blog--we haven't hit 150 yet!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


So, ABNA posted their Quarterfinalists last week. The top 250 YA authors and the top 250 adult authors moved on, after having their excerpt read by top Amazon.com reviewers.

This is a big round. This means that the author's writing, not just the pitch, was good enough to rise above the other 5,000 entrants for that category (10,000 total). Whoever makes this round also gets the entire novel read and reviewed by Publisher's Weekly.

Wow. Big deal. Really cool.

For the previous round, ABNA emailed all the finalists to let them know. My husband didn't get any such email. I went and checked the list anyway, scrolling down through the Hs, looking for Mark Heiner. Nope. Nothing.

I didn't tell him. I knew he didn't know when the dates were, and I didn't want to mention it. Coward. I figured he'd realize in July that the contest must be over and he didn't make it.

Then today, he got an email from ABNA--just saying the quarterfinalists had been announced and the list was available. He got on and checked the list. No Mark Heiner.

But he's smarter than me. He also checked for his pen name, Markus Hawke.


He came in and told me this morning and I was shocked. And tickled pink. Let me explain why I was shocked: after he submitted, I read through his excerpt (and thus his entire manuscript) and found a horrifying amount of typos. Big errors, like, "He lifted his bloodstained his bloodstained sword." And "Are we leaving in the morning" he asked? So maybe I just didn't expect him to get in. Bad wife!

But the reviewers overlooked his typos. Rather, they noticed and chose to ignore them. One reviewer said, "This is a strong excerpt in need of some fine tuning and editorial work." Yeah, that! The reviews were overall so positive and wonderful! You can read the full reviews here. You can also download the excerpt and read it on your computer (using the Kindle app you download from Amazon). You can rate and review just as you would any other Amazon product, though we haven't reached the part of the contest where that's necessary yet.

For everyone else that made it, CONGRATULATIONS! I'm totally using this in his queries now.

Oh, and don't forget about my super contest. It's open through Saturday!

P.S. Here is an awesome interview about David J. West, a WiDo author whose book is coming out this month. He's got a contest going on. Check it out!
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