Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tackling the Dreaded Synopsis: Part 1 (and Call for Submissions!)

I'm re-running my posts from last year about how to write synopses. I'm also reopening my synopsis critique service: Fill out the form here, and I'll post one critique per week. Thanks for participating! Hope to see yours soon!


Here's an increasingly common scenario. An agent has had your partial or full manuscript for several weeks, and you finally get a long-awaited email from her. Your heart pounding, you open the email. "Can you please send me a synopsis?" she asks.

Or you just found out about a contest you know you want to enter. The contest judges will be deciding which entries move on to the agent round based on a query letter, the first page/chapter of the manuscript... and a synopsis. The entry deadline is tomorrow. Your query letter and the manuscript itself are word-perfect, edited, beta-read, and revised. But can you write a great synopsis in 24 hours?

In this post, we'll discuss what a synopsis is (and isn't), how synopses are used by agents and authors, and the basic requirements for writing a good one.

Next week, we'll go through the mechanics of synopsis writing, and I'll post an example of a synopsis that works.

After that, I'll be critiquing your synopses - we'll add a form to next week's post so you can submit!

What is a synopsis? A synopsis is a summary of your manuscript's plot. It details the entire main plot arc (including the ending) and also mentions the most important subplots and characters. It doesn't include many character or setting details, and also doesn't include dialogue, metaphors, or detailed descriptions. Think of it as the blueprint for a house. You don't need to show the tablecloths and chandeliers, but you'd better make sure the dimensions of all the rooms are accurately represented.

Why does everyone hate writing synopses so much? Because it's hard! You've spent months (maybe years) writing your book, weighing every word, stressing over character arcs, settings, and plot points. Now you have to condense tens of thousands of words into a couple of pages? It's definitely daunting, but it's doable.

How is it different from a query letter? I like to think of a query letter as 'teasing your story' and the synopsis as 'telling your story.' It may not sound like a huge difference, but think about it: With the query, you want to say just enough to entice an agent, to excite her so much about your story that she just has to request pages. You don't want to give away the ending in a query - you want to end on an uncertain note, a cliffhanger, with the action or decision your main character will have to choose. You want to hook the agent, but you don't want to reel her in. On the other hand, with the synopsis, you're reeling her in by telling the entire story.

Why do agents and contest judges want synopses? An agent might be reading your full manuscript, but also have 100 other fulls to read. If she starts reading and knows right away she likes your voice, your writing, your characters, and the concept, she may request a synopsis so she can get a 'cheat sheet' for the plot without having to read the entire manuscript. It's a way for her to confirm the plot isn't going to go off the rails in the middle or end of the manuscript, and that you can sustain momentum throughout the book. Same with contest judges - they often have hundreds of entries to pore over. A synopsis helps cut way down on reading time.

How long does it have to be? The most common requests seem to be 'no more than two pages' and 'no more than five pages.' I've always started by writing a five-page synopsis, and then cut it down to two pages. The opposite works just as well. Once you've got both, you're ready to go, and can comply with a request for either a short or long synopsis.

What formatting should I use? Use the same font/size as your manuscript (12-point Times New Roman, etc.). For the five-page synopsis, double-space and indent paragraphs. For the two-page synopsis, you can single space and add a space between paragraphs instead of indenting.

What parts of my manuscript do I need to cover? All of it! Well, okay, that's not exactly true. You need to set the scene, introduce your main character, and run through the entire main plot. All of the significant events (and characters) from the main plot need to be included. Subplots and secondary characters can be included if they are directly relevant to the main plot. And you MUST give away the ending.

How many characters can I name? Rule of thumb is no more than 5. More than that, and it starts getting difficult for the reader to keep track. For all other characters, you can refer to them using their relationship to the main character (for example, John's brother, Mary's teacher, etc.).

Do I need comps, word count, genre, a bio, etc.? Nope. Save those for the query.

Does the writing have to be stellar? Why not? This is another opportunity to show the agent or contest judge that you've got the chops. Write your synopsis like you're answering the question, "What happens in your story?" You want that answer to be colorful, intriguing, and complete, and for it to showcase your writing abilities.

My book has a great twist at the end. I can't possibly give it away? Too bad. If an agent has requested a synopsis, then he wants to know how the plot of your book progresses, and that necessarily includes the ending.

When should I write my synopsis? I usually write my synopsis when I'm about halfway through the first draft of my manuscript (note: I do create broad outlines before I start writing, so if you're a pantser, you might prefer to wait until the first draft is done). Writing a synopsis while I'm writing the book lets me know whether the plot is working. Is there a clear through-line for the main plot? What's missing to connect Points A, B, and C? Does a character appear in the first chapter of the book and then isn't heard from again until the 50% mark? A synopsis helps you see the forest for the trees - you can make sure your main plot is working while you're writing the draft. Besides, after you're done editing the manuscript and sweating over the query letter, it's nice to know you've already got a draft synopsis waiting in the wings!

Got questions about the 'Tackling the Dreaded Synopsis' series? Feel free to ask, or start a discussion, in the comments. And tune in next week for more on the mechanics of synopsis writing, a sample synopsis of a novel 99% of you will be familiar with, and the official call for submissions!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Meet Carrie-Ann Schless in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Another Woman's Man


1- What does the library in your house look like?

There are books all over my house! I have a small bookcase in my living room, then a large one along my upstairs hallway, as well as books in all three bedrooms! My kids love to read as much as I do. They are all jumbled and have no order to them at all. Books are like my children.

2- What five words represent your most notable characteristic or values? #In5Words

HONEST, KIND, UNORGANISED, MESSY, FORGIVING

3- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?

When I was eighteen I was happy. I had a good group of friends, and all my time was spent either at work, training at a nursery or with my friends. I had no time for writing. We were always out at various pubs and clubs. Also, my best male friend Maddie had appeared back on the scene. We had always been close but it was one of those friendships that we didn’t see each other for months, even though we lived in the same street, then when we did it was like we’d seen each other yesterday. He was forever disappearing off to live in Brighton or Spain for a few months. I was falling for a guy and Maddie gave me his full approval. We always vetted each others choice in men. The day before my nineteenth birthday I was finishing training and heading to Maddie’s to make the final arrangements for my birthday weekend. I had missed calls on my mobile from my best girl friend Kelly so I rang her back and she asked me to meet her as she was picking me up. I thought it was odd, but kind. The second I saw her her face crumbled. Maddie had died that morning. I’d even seen the ambulance on the way to his house that morning. I was devastated. I still am. I’ve never got over it. But I started to write again. I wrote a speech and a poem to read at his funeral.

4- What ignited your passion for writing?

I come from a very artistic family. We are music lovers and lyrics are a huge part of that. Writing came very easily with me. My Mum was always writing poems and things and they must have rubbed off. We would always write a mushy message in our birthday cards to each other. I learned that I could evoke emotions from people with my words, especially when I made my English teacher at school cry, and it seemed to encourage me to carry on with it.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book with your cats and/or dog?
Meet Carrie-Ann Schless in this Debut Author Spotlight -- and her chug ~ Chihuahua cross pug~ dog!

This is my dog Crystal. She’s a 3 year old chug (Chihuahua cross pug) who is always snuggled near me when she can be.

6- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?

Short term is just to enjoy the experience of being published. It’s all very new to me at the moment and still very exciting. I’m starting to get feedback from readers now and have just signed a second book so I’m floating at the moment. The long term goal would be to be able to write for a living and never have to worry about childcare again, but it’s a dream. I write because i have to, it’s just nice now people are going to see it and it’s not stuck in a drawer for eternity.

7- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

Apart from my mum, who has to love it, and my children, who haven’t read it, my biggest fan is my friend Claire. She’s read the book twice over in the lead up to publication and was still one of the first to buy and read it. She just said she loves the story and couldn’t put it down even third time around. I’ll take the compliment.

8- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

My book will probably stir a few emotions with people. It focuses on different types of relationships. Not just the obvious ones like girlfriends and boyfriends but she has a strained relationship with her mum. It also shows us the seedy side of social media. I think the theme that will probably resonate with readers is Casey’s miscarriage. A lot of family’s are effected by this and not all speak out. I believe a miscarriage is a very personal thing that stays with a couple forever and everybody deals with them differently.

9- Is there anything you'd advise someone to say (or not say) to a woman who has miscarried and is seeking emotional support?

I think every woman who has a miscarriage firstly blames herself. You can’t help but worry about what you did wrong. I would advise to remind them that it is not their fault, but let them be sad. Grieving is an important process.

10- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?

The best way to get better at writing is to read. I love lots of different genre’s and tend not to stick myself to one type. Seeing how other people use words, both what you like and what you don’t, all helps to sculpt your work into something you can be proud of. Also knowing that a first draft is just that. Expect to rewrite it

11- Which do you prefer: Physical book or ebook?

I love the smell and feel of a real book. I cannot bear book with folded corners though! GET A BOOKMARK!!! And the new art of folding them into messages, it looks amazing but it makes me want to cry. Ebooks are so practical though and I do a lot of my reading on my kindle app on my phone. Doesn’t stop me buying the book too!

12- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

Good question. I don’t think any of my characters have big noticeable traits. Casey does argue with herself a few times, and even talks to herself of a few occasions, but who doesn’t? I do it all the time.

13- #DiversityBingo2017 What's your favorite book that covers a square on the card?

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters covers a few squares. It’s about a woman called Nan, and her self discovery whilst living in Victorian London. It’s been so long since I’ve read it i may have to dig it back out. It covers gender, sexism and class difference with lesbian sex and cross dressing. I watched the tv series first. I heard they turned it into a stage show too!


14- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

Casey is so smart, but when it comes to Danny she can’t help it. She lets her guard down. I think it shows the danger of instant messaging. It’s easy to be brave and pretend things aren’t what they seem when you can hide behind a screen. Telling herself she isn’t doing anything wrong until she’s in too deep.

15- What is it about Freya North's books that you love so much?

Where do I start? The first Freya North book I ever read was Chloe. I was about sixteen, on holiday with my family. I had been all upset because I was missing my boyfriend and although we were in a lovely villa in Spain I was doing a great job of being a stroppy teenager. Her book was on a bookshelf and I was hooked almost immediately. When I got back to England one of her books was free with More Magazine and I now have every single one of hers. She paints such a beautiful picture with her words. Her characters are so believable and they all have such fascinating themes. Through her stories I’ve been behind the scenes of the Tour-de-France, met a clown-doctor and a wonderful eccentric uncle that I want to adopt for myself. If you haven’t read her books do it now. You won’t regret it.

16- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to potentially benefit hundreds of other authors or readers?

I find it sad how many people tell me they don’t read! They’ve either never enjoyed it or just don’t have time. I tried to write a book that was easy reading with short chapters because I struggled to find time too when my babies were young. If only I could invent a machine to match people up to the perfect book for them. Oh, and reviews should be mandatory!

17- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

I’m a sucker for a good cover. If it grabs me I’ll read it. I’ve been guilty before of not even reading the blurb.

18- How will you measure your publishing performance?

This is difficult to answer as I haven’t been brave enough to ask my publisher yet. I have six 5 star reviews so far so I’m happy with that but as far as sales go I have no idea. My ranking graph doesn’t look too bad, but I don’t know what it should look like!

19- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I figured I would try to get published and if nobody had faith in it it would go back into the drawer. I was so shocked to be accepted by Crooked Cat, who were the first ones I tried. They have been so lovely and the support network of authors I’ve met has been amazing. Couldn’t have been happier.

20- What is one question (or discussion topic) which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

I suppose I would ask what is it that grabs your attention with a book from a new author. What would make you try somebody new?

21- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?


Meet Carrie-Ann Schless in this Debut Author Spotlight


What if you’re in love with Another Woman’s Man?

Casey Turner finds herself sad and single again after a seven-year relationship. Having suffered multiple miscarriages, she is adjusting to the realisation she will never be a mum, just as all her friends are all getting married and having children.

Feeling alone, she finds herself drawn to a man she can’t have: her ex’s best friend. Although he has a girlfriend, she can’t stay away. But does he really care for her, too, or is he just having his cake and eating it?

Torn between her feelings and her morals, is Casey destined to follow the wrong path, or will she see sense before time runs out?

Please feel free to visit my website at http://carrieannschless.com to read my blogs, learn more about me and find links to my social media.



Another Woman's Man

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Last Reading Roundup of 2017!


With NaNo and revisions going on, I haven't had a ton of time to read. That always makes me sad. But my revision is nearly finished, and I'm looking forward to reading some good books by the fireplace my husband just built!


If you're looking for a book to read, here's a few ideas for you:


 I love Doctor Who, and thought I would love a novelization of an episode I'd heard of but never seen. It was okay. I'm guessing seeing it play out on a screen would be better.
 I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train, and so I had high hopes going into this book. It did not disappoint! I think Hawkins has a real skill in making unlikeable characters sympathetic, and that's a real strength. Plus a great, eerie, mystery. If you like the show Broadchurch, you'll like this book.
 I am so sad this series is over. I really loved it. This book wrapped it all up perfectly except for one tiny detail that I won't say because it's a bit spoilery. I can't wait for my kid to be old enough to read a book this long on his own, ghosts are right up his alley.
I had to re-read this so I could read the second in the series. There are a lot of details to remember, so I was glad I did.










I like how this book upped the stakes and kept the story going. I'm definitely excited for the last in the trilogy.

I like the "fake engagement" trope as much as the next, and this was perfectly adequate.










Literary fiction is not my favorite, and literary fiction written in 3rd person present is especially not favorite. That being said, I did finish it, and it was not bad. There were some characters I really enjoyed, which is important for lit fic.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Peek Behind the Curtain: Being a Mentor

This year, I have the honor of participating in Author Mentor Match as a mentor. If you don't know about this program, it pairs aspiring Young Adult and Middle Grade writers who have completed manuscripts with experienced authors for mentorship (www.authormentormatch.com). This was AMM's third round (many writers from past rounds have already signed with agents, and the first AMM mentee book deal was announced last week), and the first time I've ever mentored in a contest or program like this. It's been a GREAT experience (and I'm beyond thrilled with the mentee I chose!). Below, I'll share a bit of a 'peek behind the curtain' that should be relevant to all mentoring contests like this one.


1) Choosing a mentee is really, truly, subjective. Sometimes, an entry's writing can be really polished, the concept interesting, and the characters fully fleshed-out, and a mentor still won't choose you. In many cases, it has absolutely nothing to do with the manuscript itself. When a mentor is wading through a inbox with dozens (sometimes hundreds) of entries, something will catch their eye, and it's impossible to say why. Could be something about the concept that resonates, or the main character's voice, or even something as minor as the setting. It often comes down to a je ne sais quoi, something undefinable, and that's obviously very frustrating for contest entrants. The best advice here is to keep entering contests with your strongest work and hope that it will eventually resonate with someone.

2) Some entries aren't chosen because their manuscripts are already query-ready. I always thought this was an urban legend: Sure, mentors will say this, but is it really true? I'm telling you, based on my own inbox in AMM this year... yes. It's true. I had a few entries where my only feedback was, 'Sorry I didn't pick you, but you don't need a mentor. Go forth and query!' It's maybe not the most helpful feedback, but I hope it was validating for those entrants.

3) A lot of entrants don't follow the rules. This came down to not attaching the right number of pages, forgetting a synopsis, attaching a query instead of pasting it into the email, etc. The biggest issue I found was entrants submitting a manuscript in a certain genre when I'd been clear in my mentor profile that there were genres I did and didn't want. This didn't bother me per se (I'm a contemporary writer, but it's FUN to read the occasional fantasy and sci-fi), but authors shoot themselves in the foot when they do this. I'm simply not the best mentor for fantasy or sci-fi, because it's not what I write, and I don't read much in those genres. You want a mentor who's really familiar with these genres because they'll be best situated to help you revise and query!

4) Giving feedback to all entrants takes a really long time. Before the submission window opened, I vowed to myself that I would give feedback to every author who submitted to me (as long as their entry wasn't chosen by another mentor). But let me tell you, that takes a LONG time. For each entry, I read a query, first 50 pages (sometimes more), and a synopsis, then wrote up 1-4 paragraphs of feedback. On average, it took about an hour per entry (and I'm a really fast reader, so it could have taken someone else quite a bit longer). I'm happy I did this, but it did amount to basically another full-time job over about ten days. So don't get angry if you submit to mentors and don't receive feedback for a long time, or don't ever receive feedback. I didn't realize until I did it myself that it's an extremely long process!

5) Gratitude means a lot to us. On that note, most of the entrants for whom I provided feedback sent back an email thanking me for doing so. That's in no way required, but it's really nice to know the feedback is appreciated. Especially helpful is when the author mentions what part of the feedback they found helpful, and/or what they expect to implement. That helps me hone my feedback-giving skills, which is something I, in turn, appreciate!

Do you have any questions or comments about the mentoring process? Feel free to drop them in the comments and I'll answer them!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Synergize!

Synergize is a fun word to say, and it's also the 6th Habit of Highly Successful Writers!



When you synergize, you bring a team's strengths to the table and achieve more than you could on your own. When we think of writing as a solitary pursuit, we miss out on opportunities to experience synergy in our creative process.

The ending of my (perpetual) WIP has changed at least five times. I have never quite been able to nail it. The last set of notes I got from my agent on this book were all fairly minor, except when we got to the ending. It was still not where it needed to be.

I consulted with a few of my CPs. My husband let me talk through the problems with him. I emailed my agent and got her input on a couple different ideas. Finally, I decided on an ending that worked for me and seemed like it would satisfy readers as well. Then I sat down to write it. It was like I was flying! The words just kept coming. Everything clicked, everything flowed. And I realized I was experiencing synergy in action. I used my team and their strengths and came up with something better than I could on my own.

Effective writers know when to bring others in to help them, and how to use everyone's strengths to get the best outcome. And when it works, it's glorious!

Friday, December 1, 2017

YA 2018 Releases



I stumbled upon this nifty list of 2018 releases for YA books, compiled by Book Birds, and thought I would share. Lots of great stuff coming out next year, and loooved seeing all those gorgeous covers.

Enjoy!

2018 YA Releases

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week Five


Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Five (and the last day of NaNo!), find the ending associated with your horoscope sign* and use it, subvert it, or incorporate it elsewhere into your book!


Aries: Everyone becomes friends and they ride off into the sunset together.

Taurus: Your main character kills your antagonist, but not before your antagonist reveals their plot/intentions.

Gemini: Your main character and their love interest get married.

Cancer: Your main character gets an exciting job offer.

Leo: A cliffhanger. Any cliffhanger.

Virgo: Your antagonist changes their ways and decides to become a better person.

Libra: Your protagonist goes back to their former life, but with different interests/desires.

Scorpio: A major character dies, and it's arguably your protagonist's fault.

Sagittarius: Someone has a baby.

Capricorn: Someone almost dies, but is saved at the last moment.

Aquarius: Your main character decides to be alone for a while.

Pisces: A dragon eats both your protagonist and antagonist.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Tercentennial Baron (The Bellirolt Chronicles Book 1)


1- What five words represent your most notable characteristic or values? #In5Words

#In5Words Honor yourself and honor others.

2- Will you continue doing audiobook narration?

Absolutely I will continue doing audiobook narration! That has allowed me the resources to publish my book the way I wanted. I plan to narrate for at least the near future.

3- Did you learn something new about audiobook narration from your new writer point of view? Or have you approached writing differently thanks to your narration skill?

I think I’ve always been best as a narrator when I perform the book as if I wrote it. That sort of ownership is essential when you take on the telling of any story. In terms of writing, I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for how a book SOUNDS when read aloud. Rhythm, pacing - that all clicks into place. If the book can’t be read aloud easily and fluidly, you need to edit more.

4- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?

A brief tale: I was obsessed with Star Wars as a kid; that was my first introduction to another UNIVERSE that someone else had created. So the first story I ever wrote was a total take-off on Star Wars. I think I even called it “Space Battles.” (I was in 3rd grade; give me a break.) It was literally a Luke vs Darth Vader story with different names, but somehow I knew I wasn’t just doing it for fun. I was starting to explore taking a world I loved and making it my own. I never finished that story, nor any other, until The Tercentennial Baron.

5- What ignited your passion for writing?

Reading other stories I loved AND watching movies. Probably movies even more! Just look at my previous answer. I knew as a young kid I wanted to create other worlds that people would want to be a part of.

6- What made you want to write a historical fantasy?

I love history, and I love fantasy. It really was that simple. I haven’t even read much historical fantasy, but to me history is a kind of fantasy in itself, because it concerns other worlds that have now fallen away - where lives were totally different - and yet parts of them still remain with us today. That, to me, is kind of magical, and the perfect set-up for a mystery.

7- Would you share a picture with us of a view of Scotland?

Glen Coe - one of my favorite parts of Scotland, with some of the most dramatic scenery. My fiancee and I hiked through there and fell in love with it.
Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight ~ Glen Coe, Scotland


8- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?

Short term, I want to reach the point where I can make a living solely on my writing. By which I mean, my own original stories - not writing on assignment. Long term, I want to expand my repertoire of written work to many different series, not just the Bellirolt Chronicles. I want to create a variety of different worlds that fans can explore, so many different kinds of readers can enjoy my work.

9- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

Oh boy… I’m sure it’s a toss-up between my mother, my sisters, and my fiancee. How do you measure such a thing? They each appreciate different things about my work. But I think one thing they can all agree on is they feel very connected to the journeys of the characters in the book. And they can’t wait to read more about them.

10- Have you ever used a sword, perhaps while acting?

I have, indeed. I was trained in 18th-century swordplay while acting at Colonial Williamsburg, and one of my best friends and I did a sword fighting scene there that ran for well over a year. We used the 18-century smallsword, which also makes a brief appearance in my book…

11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

There are many scenes I hope will resonate, but I don’t want to give any of them away! As for emotions, I hope readers feel fear for the danger the main characters find themselves in, curiosity to discover the truth, and the chilling sense of awe that comes as that truth is revealed.

12- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?

Learning to pursue revealing the story, not creating the story. I can create lots of things, but only one in a hundred of them will really serve the story and the characters. Once I learned to view the story as something to be discovered, all the pieces of it finally fell into place.

13- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

I would say the Baron’s green eyes. It’s never explained why his eyes have a tendency to glow a vibrant jade green, but they are what has marked him throughout history. And of course, eyes are the windows to the soul, and the Baron has quite a tortured soul.

14- #DiversityBingo2017 What's your favorite book that covers a square on the card?

I am forever a fan of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon”, as it had a tremendous effect on me when I read it in high school. And that certainly fits with Author of Color, Biracial, Black, and Person of Color on the Cover.


15- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

I can think of many personality contradictions in the Baron’s character, but I think my favorite is in the character of Granny McGugan. She protects the young hero, Percival (her grandson), by being exceptionally manipulative and tyrannical toward him. It’s all based on her deep desire to shield him from harm, but it manifests itself as outright cruelty sometimes.

16- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?

Honestly, I don’t think I know enough about the business to answer that yet. At the moment, the change I’m focused on making is introducing my book to the world, and I think that every enjoyable story encourages more people to read, to talk about it, and even to add their own contributions. And the more people are contributing, the more involved and connected we all feel.

17- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

I am most motivated by the description on the back cover, and if a trusted friend or two shares their passion about the book beforehand. If a friend can sell me on it (and I’m pretty skeptical by nature), I will probably check it out.

18- How will you measure your publishing performance?

Number of books sold, and the responsiveness of fans to the books (as in, they share it with others, they say they want to see more, etc.).

19- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I had been thinking about self-publishing for a while, as I was submitting the book to agents and editors. When I finally hit my 75th rejection, I decided to stop giving the traditional publishing world a chance, and take on the project as my own business. I was very attracted to the amount of control I could have over the final product compared to what I would be afforded as a debut author with an established publisher.

20- What is one question (or discussion topic) which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

How do you most often discover new books that you HAVEN’T heard about from friends? Examples could be ads (online, in magazines, on billboards…), reviews by a particular blogger, reviews in a particular magazine, recommendations by your favorite authors, etc.

21- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

I would love to share this one review that AudiobookDJ posted a few weeks ago - it was actually the first review the book received! Based on the overwhelming positive response the print version has received on Amazon, I don’t think this experience is unique to people listening to the audiobook, though you should certainly check that out if you like audio!

Here is the review: http://audiobookdj.squarespace.com/home/2017/10/15/the-tercentennial-baron.html

Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight
As for more about me, I am an audiobook narrator with over 200 titles recorded in the last few years, in genres ranging from fantasy to sci-fi, YA, literary, nonfiction, and thrillers. I have won an Audie Award (one of the highest honors in the audiobook business), two Voice Arts Awards, and numerous Earphones Awards. “The Tercentennial Baron” is my debut as an independent author, and it’s a story I’ve worked on since before I became a narrator. If you enjoy fantasy, the supernatural, Scotland and Scottish history, sweeping epics full of mystery, or even just spooky ghost stories, I really believe you’ll love this book.

You can find me on social media on Twitter @jwdamron, Instagram @jwdamron, and Facebook @Damron.Stories. Feel free to check out my website as well - http://www.willdamron.com - though it’s undergoing renovations right now and a brand new one will be going live within a few weeks!


The Tercentennial Baron (The Bellirolt Chronicles Book 1)

Meet Will Damron in this Debut Author Spotlight

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Blast From the Past #4

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

This one is just for fun. It's on using punctuation correctly to convey tone.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week 4

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Four, find the meal associated with your horoscope sign* and incorporate it into your book!


Aries: An all-vegetarian dinner with a bottle of root beer.

Taurus: Cheeseburgers, french fries, and avocado milkshakes.

Gemini: Spaghetti with ketchup instead of marinara sauce.

Cancer: Three bottles of wine.

Leo: Steak, potatoes, and 100-year-old scotch.

Virgo: Fried fish, coleslaw, and champagne.

Libra: Cereal and unpasteurized milk.

Scorpio: Banana bread, chili con carne, and oysters.

Sagittarius: Cans of beer, ice cream, and edible flowers.

Capricorn: Thanksgiving dinner, but with quail instead of turkey.

Aquarius: Hot tea and basil sorbet.

Pisces: Hummus and pita, tomato juice, and Boston Cream Pie.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Blast From the Past #3

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

Today I'm revisiting one of my favorite topics: Query letters! This post isn't about how to write query letters, but when to write query letters.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lockwood & Co. TV Series!



I am so excited to find out that my favorite series, Lockwood & Co., is hopefully going to be turned into a TV series!!! Which always brings about all the questions of how well it will be done. Will they stay true to character descriptions?

Take Lucy, our main character. She's described as a bit thick about the hips, and not exactly pretty. So will a blond, skinny starlet then be cast? I hope not! Lockwood is tall and slim. George is chubby, and really likes cake (me too).

Then there's the world-building, which is fabulous. Will we see that woven into the series? Will there be references to how the Problem (ghosts after dark) has affected the entire country, and to the earliest agents (ghost hunters) that fought them? And the profitable industries that have bloomed because of the Problem (iron & lavender- ghosts can't stand either of them)?

Will we see the different agencies that employ children to fight what adults can't see? Will they be in their snazzy uniforms (I need those snazzy uniforms, I really do).

And how will the ghosts be portrayed? Truly creepy, or cheesy?

So lots of questions!! If you haven't heard of Lockwood & Co., I encourage you to check them out! Right away! Go do it!

(You know how we bookish people are about pushing their favorite books on people...) ;)


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week 3

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Three, find the cliche associated with your horoscope sign*, flip it or subvert it or do something entirely unexpected with it, and go to town!


Aries: A prince saves a princess from a dragon.

Taurus: Your main character is 'the chosen one.'

Gemini: Your antagonist is a mustache-twirling, cardboard villain.

Cancer: Your main character is lamenting 'the one who got away.'

Leo: One of your female characters is different from 'all the other girls.'

Virgo: Your book starts with your main character waking up.

Libra: Your main character described themselves while looking in a mirror.

Scorpio: Your main character succeeds at everything they try.

Sagittarius: Every person your main character encounters falls in love with them.

Capricorn: Your main characters has at least one absent or neglectful parent.

Aquarius: Your main character has a dream with clear symbols that guide them through the rest of the plot.

Pisces: Your main character has no flaws and makes no mistakes.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blast From the Past #2

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

If you are stuck while doing NaNo (or just stuck at all, whatever), get the brain juices flowing by doing personality tests for your characters.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Flash Fiction Contest #37



Today is National Vanilla Cupcake Day! Are you planning on indulging in a vanilla cupcake? ;) (I actually had donuts for breakfast, so I think I've had my quota of sweets today...)

Submit your flash fiction piece about a vanilla cupcake in 150 words or less for a chance to win! Rules found here.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week Two

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week Two, find the new character associated with your horoscope sign* and go to town!


Aries: A young child with a too-large backpack.

Taurus: An elderly couple who finish each others' sentences.

Gemini: A woman who's the president of her company.

Cancer: A middle-aged man with an unusual hobby.

Leo: A teenage boy with a talent he's often mocked for.

Virgo: A dog who has a favorite person.

Libra: A cat who's traveled the world.

Scorpio: A teenage girl who's planning to run away from home.

Sagittarius: A baby who learns to talk way too early.

Capricorn: A hamster that gets lost in the house.

Aquarius: A cranky old man with a secret.

Pisces: A four-year-old girl who changes the world.


*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Meet Karen Osman in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Good Mother


1- Have you ever had a penpal?

I had so many pen pals growing up - it was an amazing way to experience the world before social media. I had penfriends in Canada, Germany, Ghana, France, and loved receiving their letters every month.

2- What five words represent your most notable characteristic or values? #In5Words

Hard-working, focused, determined, empathetic, and slightly obsessive!

3- Living in Dubai, have you been at the top (level 148) of the Burj Khalifa?

I have! My husband took me there and it was an incredible sight from the top.

4- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?

It doesn’t explain why I’m a writer but feedback is so important to me. I had one reader message me to say that she hadn't read for so long as she was so busy working and looking after her children. She told me that she enjoyed The Good Mother so much that she's now determined to get back into reading again and making a little time for herself again. It’s stories like this, that make all the hard work worthwhile.

5- What ignited your passion for writing?

I'd love to be able to tell you the answer to that - there's never been one moment or incident. Since I was a child, I have always written; diaries, stories, letters....it's more of a need. It doesn't quite make sense to me either!

6- Do you ever get recognized/identified in public as being on the "Ahlan’s Hot 100 People" 2017 edition?

No, however, that was a great moment and the photo shoot was a lot of fun. To be recognised as contributing to the UAE's cultural landscape was a great honour.

7- Would you share a picture with us of your book surrounded by luxury?
Meet Karen Osman in this Debut Author Spotlight

8- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?

I currently have a three-book deal with Head of Zeus and currently working on my second book. I have a goal to have a first rough draft written before Christmas and ready to send to my editor early 2018.

9- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?

That person is my husband. When I asked him this question, he replied: "Knowing the circumstances in which you wrote it." He is referring to the fact that I was pregnant with my second son and very tired looking after my toddler!

10- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?

The theme of motherhood is present throughout the book and I'm sure some of the scenes will resonate with mothers everywhere. But for me, books have always provided an escape - a chance to relax from work or obligations and I hope The Good Mother does this as well.

11- In your opinion, is it better for the average person with a small budget to engage in experiential travel or transformational travel, and why?

Any type of travel in my opinion is worth doing – you can always discover something new about yourself.

12- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?

My editor, Sarah Ritherdon – she’s fantastic and I really admire how she can take a manuscript and improve it.

13- Did you have other titles in mind for the book before it went to publication?

Yes, the original submission for The Good Mother was called Dear Michael.

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?

The colour red is mentioned a few times in The Good Mother for different characters and is a symbol of danger.

15- #DiversityBingo2017 What's your favorite book that covers a square on the card?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts


16- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

All three characters – Catherine, Alison, and Kate have personality contradictions and it’s difficult to choose one. Probably Kate though – she loves her children and wants to be a good mother but feels frustrated at the same time.

17- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?

It’s not a small change but using libraries regularly and supporting book shops is my way.

18- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?

It depends on the situation but usually the description on the back of the book is the deciding factor for me.

19- How will you measure your publishing performance?

As a debut novelist, I have had tremendous support from my agent and publishing house, not just writing the book but also promoting it. I will measure commercial success mainly by book sales and feedback in the market.

20- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

This was mainly taken out of my hands as I won the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Montegrappa Writing Award. As part of that prize, I had the support of an agent who helped me go down the traditional route of publishing as opposed to self-publishing.

21- What is one question (or discussion topic) which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?

Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?

22- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

http://www.karenosman.com
https://www.karenosman.com/bio
Buy The Book

Meet Karen Osman in this Debut Author Spotlight
Hello@karenosman.com
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The Good Mother

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blast From the Past #1

It's November. It's NaNoWriMo. I'm an ML this year. I got revision notes back from my agent last month that I'm still working on. My husband is completely renovating our living room, right before we have a bunch of family in town for Thanksgiving. Something's gotta give, and this month it's new content for Operation Awesome. So I've picked through some of my old posts and picked out a few to feature this month.

Today, I invite you to read one of my first posts for OA, which was on beta readers.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Notes from NaNo: Week One

Since I post here on Thursdays, I decided to use my November (aka NaNovember) posts to give all you NaNo writers some fun plot points, characters, and other to incorporate into your works-in-progress if you get stuck or fall into a writing slump. For Week One, find the plot idea associated with your horoscope sign* and go to town!


Aries: A tall, dark, and handsome stranger arrives in town. When he removes his hat and coat, your main character realizes he's a [fill in the blank].

Taurus: Your main character cannot live without [fill in the blank]... until they have to.

Gemini: Your main character gets into a friendly, yet competitive, game of [fill in the blank] with your antagonist.

Cancer: No one understands your main character better than [fill in the blank], so when that person goes missing, your main character has to take action.

Leo: A fair/carnival/circus comes to town. Your main character goes, accompanied by [fill in the blank].

Virgo: Your antagonist always wanted to [fill in the blank], but couldn't make it happen. This explains a lot about their motivations.

Libra: Your main character looks up [fill in the blank] in the dictionary, and it guides their actions through the next several scenes.

Scorpio: Your main character finds an abandoned animal at the side of the road. So your main character [fill in the blank].

Sagittarius: One of your characters slips and falls. Your main character reacts by [fill in the blank].

Capricorn: Your antagonist has a soft spot. It's [fill in the blank].

Aquarius: Someone deeply insults your main character, saying [fill in the blank].

Pisces: Your main character falls ill. Their symptoms include [fill in the blank].

*Note: I have no training or expertise with astrology. This is purely for fun!