Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Critique Partners vs. Beta Readers

What is the difference between a critique partner and a beta reader?

It’s an oft-asked question. They seem to do the same thing – read your stuff and give you feedback – but there are subtle differences. Ideally, they should both be interested in the type of writing you do, whether it’s YA fantasy or adult erotica (although this isn’t 100% necessary – it’s good to get other perspectives too). The main distinction, though, is right in the name: partner vs. reader.

A critique partner (sometimes called a CP) should be another writer with whom you can share or trade work. They might write the same genre as you, they might not. Their first goal is to look at your work like a writer for issues with the plot, characters, worldbuilding, etc. You may want to provide them with specific questions about your manuscript. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to have a finished manuscript to start looking CPs; a good CP will see multiple versions of your manuscript anyway.

Having an honest, open relationship with your CPs is paramount. You don’t have to be BFFs who message each other until the wee hours of the morning, but you should at least be cordial. These are people who will be picking your manuscript apart, and you want to be able to have an honest discussion about their critiques. Remember, this is a two-way street; you’ll be reading their work as well. It’s also a good idea to have multiple CPs – at least three, so that you can have “tiebreakers” if two CPs disagree about something, but more than five or six might be too many opinions. Ultimately, it’s up to you how many people you want looking at your work.

A beta reader (sometimes called a beta) should, first and foremost, be a reader. They should answer the most general (and scary) question: What did you think? They are big-picture while CPs are looking at the nitty-gritty. You should, at the very least, have a finished manuscript to send to beta readers, preferably one that has been polished by critique partners already. (That’s why they’re called beta readers, not alpha readers.) Betas should be reading your work as if they just took it off the shelf at the library.

Of course, this isn’t to say that there can’t be overlap between the two groups; if a beta reader catches a typo that slipped past your CPs, of course they should make a note. For the most part, though, it’s best to keep them separate. A CP who has been with your manuscript through eight rounds of revision is probably not a good choice as a beta. Use your best judgment – this is your work, after all, and in the end it’s up to you.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • You may consider paying someone who offers editorial services (usually charged by the word or page) to look over your manuscript. While this is a viable option, try to get other writers to critique your work for free first. If you’re still struggling, you might look at paid options.
  • It’s okay to break off a relationship with a critique partner or beta reader if you’re not happy.
  • Your favorite published author probably won’t agree to read your work and provide feedback. One of my favorite writers explained why on her blog:
    • Many aspiring writers believe that published writers have more power than we do. My opinion is just that—one opinion, one set of biases…. What most writers can’t do—for a multitude of reasons, legal and otherwise—is read your manuscript, edit it, and get you an editor or an agent. We can’t give you the magical shortcut to publishing success. Trust me—If I knew what that was, I would have used it myself.

Where should you look for critique partners and beta readers?

As tempting as it may be, friends and family members are probably not your best bet. It can be hard for them to be objective about your work, especially if you have talked to them about it in the past. Keep in mind the fact that they may not like it, or that they may give you critique that you don’t want or agree with. Think of it this way: Are you willing to jeopardize your relationship with someone to get feedback on your work? If the answer is yes, you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with that person. If the answer is no, well, that’s where writing communities come in.

There are many ways to find writing communities. There are, of course, writing groups online (such as Operation Awesome!) that you can find through Google searches. Twitter has an amazing writing community, with many people hosting events that help you connect with other writers, get feedback, and even win free books. Competitions like Author Mentor Match, Query Kombat, and Pitch Wars usually have groups on Facebook or Slack where you can talk to other participants and look for CPs and betas as well. You never know – you may even meet someone through an online community who lives in the next town over!

You might also want to look into joining national or international writing organizations like the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Romance Writers of America, and the International Women’s Writing Guild. These sometimes require membership (which can cost money) or that you are already a published author, so be sure to research the requirements before joining.

If you’re more of an in-person…person, you may want to check your local Meetup community for writing groups. Don’t be discouraged if you only find groups where you get together for the explicit purpose of writing as a community; if you ask around, you may find a few like-minded people who would be willing to read your work in their spare time. Your local library may host events for writers or may even be affiliated with a local writing group.

Here at OA, we found our CPs and betas in a variety of ways: Query Kombat, Author Mentor Match, CP Match, Writing.com, professors from university, even through MMORPGs. So there really is no single Right Way!

When should you let a critique partner or beta reader go?

This is a tough thing to do, but necessary to keep in mind for your sanity and out of consideration for everyone involved. Let me tell a story from my own experience.

A while back, I had a CP named “Nancy.” We swapped full manuscripts, and I felt like I put in a lot of time and thought to her work. On the other hand, when I got Nancy’s feedback on my manuscript, I got a strong sense that she didn’t understand my work at all. I was frustrated. I felt that I had sunk a lot of time into helping her with her manuscript and got no helpful feedback in return. I tried to explain some of the things Nancy had issues with and point out where she had missed certain things, but she continued to disagree with me. After a lot of thought and agonizing over this decision, I didn’t send her any further material.

Now, let me be clear: negative feedback is just as useful, if not more so, than positive feedback. It’s not helpful to get responses that all say your work is perfect. But criticism should be constructive, especially when it comes to writing. For me, Nancy’s feedback wasn’t helping me improve my work, so I chose to set most of it aside. Another reason I ignored most of Nancy’s comments is that she was the only person who raised most of those concerns. I had six to eight other people who were also reading my manuscript, and when none of them missed the gender of one of my main characters, I realized that it was just Nancy.

If you feel like a CP or beta relationship isn’t working out, it’s okay to say so. You wouldn’t stay in a relationship that didn’t make you happy “in the real world,” and writing shouldn’t be any different. The goal with CPs and betas is to make your work better, and if someone’s notes aren’t helping you do that, you don’t have to take them. If a CP or beta is constantly slamming your work, maybe it’s time to step back. Don’t let anyone stand in the way of achieving your writing dreams.

Still have questions? Leave a comment or send us an email and we’d be glad to answer!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Flash Fiction Friday #39

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, this Flash Fiction Friday prompt is MENTAL HEALTH. Whether we are reading about a character struggling with mental illness or recovering from it, please be sure to tag any trigger warnings as appropriate.

The winner will be announced on SUNDAY 9/16 at 12 pm! Happy writing!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dear OAbby: What Does "I Just Don't Love It Enough" Mean?

Dear OAbby,

I had a full manuscript request from my dream agent, but she just rejected it, saying she "just didn't love it enough".  I want to keep querying, but before I do, I want to try and fix the book before I get other full requests.  But I'm not sure what the first agent meant by "I just don't love it enough", so I'm not sure how I can fix my manuscript.

Can you help?



Dear Confused,

There really isn't anything you can do to fix the manuscript when this is the only comment made in a rejection.  Agents and publishers are human, and just as subjective as anyone else.

"I just don't love it enough" means there is nothing glaringly wrong with your book, just that the agent or publisher doesn't feel passionate enough about it to want to read and re-read the manuscript over and over as you go through rounds of revisions.

They may also not feel passionately enough about it to fight tooth and nail for it on submission to publishers.  It takes a lot of work to get a book to the right editor and for that editor to push it through to acceptance.  Whoever is doing that pushing needs to really love and believe in a project to be able to successfully do that work.

So the best thing you can do in this scenario is to keep querying.  The next agent or publisher who requests a full might be the one who falls head over heels in love with your book and will be willing to go to the ends of the earth to see it published.

Good luck!

X OAbby

If you have a question you would like OAbby to answer, please email OperationAwesome6 (at) gmail (dot) com with OAbby in the subject line.

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 2018 Pass Or Pages Entry Form

We are now accepting entries for Pass Or Pages! Before you enter, be sure to check out the rules. This month's round of Pass Or Pages is for Young Adult Fairy Tales, Folktales, or Myths retold with diverse characters. Any entry not falling under that umbrella will be deleted. The entry window closes at 6pm Eastern time on Wednesday September 12.

The form will not allow you to show italics or other formatting, but if your entry is chosen you'll have time to let us know of any formatting you need fixed.

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Flash Fiction Friday #38

Labor Day was this past Monday. I hope everyone had a good time off. (Or not, as 1 in 4 Americans work on Labor Day...) Now that it's time to return to work, I'm sure everyone is dreading it and getting back into the swing of things. That's why this prompt is about JOBS.

Your piece could be about a nightmare teenage summer job, a career or you could take it in the opposite direction and write about a hit man's "job." What can you think of that has to do with jobs?

Submit your flash fiction piece in the comments below by SUNDAY 9/9 at NOON!

Winner will be announced on Sunday! Go crazy!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Introducing Kate, the newest OA blogger!

 Hello! Greetings! 

I’m thrilled to be here to introduce myself today and to join this amazing team of bloggers. I’ve been a long-time reader of Operation Awesome, so after many years of gobbling up the useful information shared here, I thought it was time to give something back.

My name is Kate and after spending most of my life moving from country to country (Austria, USA, Samoa, China, the UK, Australia), I now live in New Zealand where I work in the film industry.  As you might guess, I love film almost as much as I love books.  In fact, our annual film festival just finished and I saw 22 films in 17 days.  Heaven!

I have two sons, one who is eleven, and the other in his first year of high school – which is a great source of research for me as a YA writer.

I write contemporary YA that tends to focus on difficult or challenging subject matter.  My debut novel, An Unstill Life, deals with coming out and euthanasia, and my second published novel, Stumped, is about sex and disability.  I am currently working on a new novel instead of polishing up the six already-completed novels hanging out in my hard drive, and this one is about a boy being bullied and physically abused by his girlfriend.

My role here at Operation Awesome will be to take over the Dear OAbby role and to do synopsis critiques on occasion.  So if you have burning questions you need answered about writing and publishing, or are struggling to put together a compelling synopsis (aren’t we all????) please fire them my way.  I can’t wait to see what gets thrown at me.

And finally, a few useless, but possibly interesting facts about me to round out my character:

  • 1I have a broad and eclectic general knowledge, something that serves me well at the weekly pub quiz some of my workmates and I attend.  It also served me well when I was on the Australian version of television show The Weakest Link - I came second.  I would have won if I'd known something about playing Bridge.
  • My favorite vegetables all begin with the letter A – asparagus, artichokes and avocado.
  • I have two cats called Frankie and Lola.  A third cat, Alfie, lives down the road, but seems to think he lives here and just comes in and makes himself comfortable whenever he likes.  I never know if there will be two or three cats waiting for breakfast when I get up.
  • Odd numbers make me anxious (hence this fourth point).  I won’t stop reading a book, even if I’m exhausted, unless I’ve read an even number of chapters.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ellen Jacobson's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Murder at the Marina (A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery Book 1) by Ellen Jacobson

1- #TalkLikeAPirateDay International Talk Like A Pirate Day is Sept 19. Do ye 'ave a fav'rit pirate sayin', me matey?

I've always thought “shiver me timbers” was a cute expression. It's used to show shock or disbelief and means something like, “Oh my goodness!”

2- What ignited your passion for writing?

When my husband and I bought our first sailboat in New Zealand, I decided to start blogging about our experiences getting rid of all of our stuff, moving on board, and living 24/7 on a tiny floating home. Sharing our travel adventures, sailing mishaps, liveaboard life, and other tidbits about our nomadic lifestyle turned out to be a lot of fun.

My blog readers were so supportive and encouraging which prompted me to try my hand at writing a short story for the Insecure Writer's Support Group Hero Lost anthology contest. Then, my mother suggested that I write a cozy mystery. You can't really say no to your mom, can you? My experiences publishing my debut novel, Murder at the Marina, have transformed what was more of casual interest in writing during my early blogging days into a full-blown passion.

3- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

My Twitter handle is @Ellen__Jacobson. I'd love to give a shout-out to some of my wonderful beta readers and awesome writers—Tyrean Martinson (@TyreanMartinson), Elizabeth Seckman (@eseckman), and Angela Wooldridge (@angwooldridge).

4- Would you share a picture with us of your book on your sailboat?

I'm actually quite camera shy and rarely post photos of myself. However, I do have a great one of my lovely friend, Lucy from The Larks of Independence, reading Murder at the Marina on her catamaran. Our boat, Tickety Boo, is far less camera shy and asked if I'd include a picture of her too. This one is of her at anchor in the Bahamas.
Our sailboat, Tickety Boo, at anchor in the Bahamas -- Ellen Jacobson's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book
Ellen Jacobson's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book -- My friend Lucy reading Murder at the Marina on her catamaran #boating #reading

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

In the short-term, I'm focused on getting Bodies in the Boatyard, the second book in my cozy mystery series, published by the end of this year. I'm also in the midst of outlining the third book, Poisoned by the Pier, and hoping to release that one in 2019. In the long-term, I'd like to publish at least three more books in the Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery series. I also have an idea for another cozy series percolating away, as well as a dark fantasy series.

6- What is the best and worst local foods you've had while traveling?

Oh, this is a tough one to answer. One of the joys of traveling is eating local cuisine—so hard to pick a favorite. Eating our way through SE Asia was fabulous, our trips to Italy have always had a huge focus on food, and I have fond memories of trying yassa poulet for the first time when I was living in Senegal. We also love Ethiopian food and make it a point to seek it out in every city we visit. To date, we've dined at Ethiopian restaurants in Oslo, Rome, The Hague, London, and Toronto, as well as in several American cities.

As for the worst, there was this one time we had Chinese food in Paris. . .but I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, no one felt good later that night.
Ellen Jacobson's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book #food #travel

7- What's it like living on a sailboat?

It's a lot like living in a regular house on land, except smaller. A lot smaller. Our current boat is probably around 350 square feet. And when we're out cruising, our power comes from solar panels instead of the electric company and our water comes in 5-gallon jerry cans that we haul in our dinghy to shore to fill up. So, I guess that's a little bit different too. Did I mention the fact that we don't have a shower and that we have to manually pump our toilet into a holding tank? Sounds romantic, huh?

In all seriousness, living on a sailboat is a lot like living in an RV. It's a small, functional space that gives you the freedom to travel. One of the things we love about it is being able to take our tiny floating home to an isolated anchorage, soak up the peace and quiet, and enjoy being one with nature. It's nice to know that we can be self-sufficient and live off of the grid for periods of time.

I would add the caveat that there's no one way to live on a sailboat. What I love about the sailing community is that there are so many ways to live the cruising lifestyle. Some people go simple, have smaller boats, and live frugally (like us). Others are on the opposite end of the spectrum. But they all have an adventurous spirit.

8- Print books or ebooks: Has living on a boat influenced your preference?

I love print books, but we don't have the space on board to have many except for some reference books on really boring topics like diesel engines and a few paperbacks that we pick up at book exchanges at marinas. I originally scoffed at the idea of getting a Kindle, but now I'm a convert. It's perfect for storing lots and lots of books that I wouldn't be able to have aboard our boat otherwise.

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

My biggest fans are my husband, mother, and sister. I think they all love my debut novel for different reasons. My mom is a big cozy mystery fan, so she loved that I wrote in that genre. I think my sister loves Mrs. Moto, the adorable Japanese bobtail cat who happens to be the best clue-finding feline in the business. And my husband enjoys how I've drawn on our experiences sailing and cruising.

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

Beta readers are hands down the best thing to have come into my writing life. I'm so fortunate to have people who are willing to read drafts of my work and give me honest feedback about what works and what doesn't. Beta readers are the best!
Ellen Jacobson's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book - Murder at the Marina #mystery #read

11- What would people be most surprised to learn about a life at sea?

I think a lot of people romanticize life on a boat. They picture tropical islands, walks on the beach, the wind ruffling your hair, sunsets at anchor etc. Sure, there are some great parts about cruising, but there are also some not-so-great parts. The lifestyle is rewarding, but it's also challenging. Things constantly break (usually at the most inconvenient time), the weather can turn on you without warning (potentially putting you and your boat in danger), simple household chores on land can take hours at sea (doesn't everyone wash their clothes in a bucket on deck?), and electric and water consumption has to be managed carefully (or else you might find that you don't have enough power to charge your Kindle or enough water to take a shower).

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

I have a character who is what you might call a boat bum—unemployed, always scrounging for beer money, and hoping to fix up his boat and sail off to the Caribbean one day. He fancies himself a bit of a pirate and usually is wearing a t-shirt that sports pirate-related slogans like “To err is human, to arr is pirate.”

13- https://diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?

One of my favorite authors is Octavia Butler. She was an award-winning African-American science-fiction writer whose works address issues of race, gender, and class. All of her books are compelling reads (and I've read all of them more than once), but if I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with Parable of the Sower. The main character is a young African-American woman who develops a new belief system (Earthseed), gathers followers, and prepares for the day when humanity will travel beyond Earth.

14- Does your book hold a mirror up to society, and in what way?

Although many people might not normally think of cozy mysteries as holding a mirror up to society (they're typically fun, light reads), many cozies do weave in societal issues. In a small way, I think my cozy series highlights an alternative lifestyle, one where people focus on a life rich in experiences, rather than full of possessions. While my main character has no plans to embrace a full-time cruising lifestyle anytime soon (she didn't even want a boat in the first place), some of the other characters have given up their 9-to-5 jobs, sold their houses, downsized, and live aboard their boats.

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

Because book swaps are so common in the cruising community, I don't actually buy that many new books. Once I'm finished with a paperback, I put it on the book exchange shelf and pick out a new-to-me one. However, lately I've been buying books by fellow authors. It's a great way to show my support for them and I've found it fascinating to read books in genres I wouldn't normally gravitate toward.

16- How will you measure your publishing performance?

Probably the number of books sold is the key metric I look at. While I don't have any expectations of being a best-selling author, I would like to recoup my investment, make a little extra, and know that people around the world are enjoying my stories.

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

When I first thought about writing a book, I had no idea that self-publishing was a viable option. But the more I looked into it, the more I knew that going down the traditional route wasn't for me. I'm no spring chicken and the thought of the significant time lag between writing your manuscript and (hopefully) seeing your book published was a bit off-putting. Once I had set my mind to publishing, I wanted to see my book in print sometime before I was eligible for Social Security. So I decided to go indie. I love retaining creative control, being in charge of the publication time frames, and I don't mind managing the “business” side of things. To date, I've been happy with my decision.

18- What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?

I have got so much to learn about book marketing! I've found this to be one of the most challenging aspects of being an author, especially since I'm quite introverted and hate self-promotion. As a result, I don't think I've found a strategy that works yet, but I am experimenting with a few things.

The most recent experiment is with Amazon ads. I don't plan on seriously advertising until I have at least three books in my series published and can leverage read-through from the first book. But I've been having fun playing around with marketing on Amazon in a limited way (less than five dollars invested) and have even sold a few books as a result.

19- 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'd be really interested in hearing what everyone's favorite/least favorite foods on their travels have been. For authors, I'd really love to hear your ideas about book marketing in general, and Amazon ads specifically.

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

I've been doing a series on my author blog where I detail the good, the bad, and the ugly of my publishing my first novel. You can find posts on a range of topics including working with a professional editor, deciding whether to go Amazon exclusive or wide, working with beta readers, formatting ebooks and paperbacks, distribution channels, and why I chose to self-publish.

If you're interested in a light-hearted, humorous cozy mystery about a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth, then check out Murder at the Marina.


A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary—not very romantic. A dead body on board—even worse.

Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her husband presents her with a dilapidated sailboat. Just one problem—she doesn’t know anything about boats, nor does she want to.

When Mollie discovers someone murdered on board, she hopes it will convince her husband that owning a boat is a bad idea. Unfortunately, he’s more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set out to sea.

Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, investigates an alien abduction, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.

Can Mollie discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?

A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #1
Ellen Jacobson's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book

Buy Links

Murder at the Marina—A Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery #1
Release Date: June 21, 2018
Print ISBN 978-1-7321602-1-7
eBook ISBN 978-1-7321602-0-0

Available at:

Amazon (US) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CHXQ29Y
Amazon (CA) - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07CHXQ29Y
Amazon (UK) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CHXQ29Y
Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/murder-at-the-marina
Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-at-the-marina-ellen-jacobson/1128516692
Apple iBooks - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1373848719
Google Play - https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Ellen_Jacobson_Murder_at_the_Marina
Walmart https://www.walmart.com/ip/Murder-at-the-Marina/975926508

Author Bio & Social Media Links

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and sci-fi/fantasy stories. She is the author of the “Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery” series. She lives on a sailboat with her husband and an imaginary cat named Simon. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she blogs about their adventures at The Cynical Sailor.

You can connect with Ellen on:

Author Website - https://ellenjacobsonauthor.com/
Author Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/EllenJacobsonAuthor/
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17395138.Ellen_Jacobson
The Cynical Sailor Blog - http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/
The Cynical Sailor Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/TheCynicalSailor/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Ellen__Jacobson
Newsletter Sign-up - eepurl.com/dpy5sv
Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MTDDN8A
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/u/0/101543190543986457906

Murder at the Marina (A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery Book 1) by Ellen Jacobson

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September 2018 Pass or Pages Agent Panel

Meet the agents who are going to critique your Diverse Young Adult Fairy Tales, Folktales, or Myths entries!


Kelly Peterson

A recent graduate of West Chester University, Kelly earned her B.S.Ed. in English and went to pursue a career in teaching. Little did she know that despite all of her hard work, the environment she ended up in would be one she disliked. After taking a step back and reassessing her life, she realized that maybe she should have focused on the world of literary agents and publishing a long time ago.
When not working as a book nerd, Kelly can be found dancing, hiking, riding horses, perfecting her yoga technique, blogging, and writing her own manuscript. If you're lucky, you might even be able to catch her flying around the world, saving lives. She is superwoman after all!
With books, there's just something about strong female main characters holding their own against the world, in an environment that Kelly could never, in her wildest dreams, find herself living within. It tears at her heart and pulls at her soul, especially when the main character finds that she never needed another to complete her in the first place. You can find her on Twitter at @LitAgentKelly.


Saritza Hernandez

Saritza is the Sr. Literary Agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency and is known as the first literary agent to represent authors in the digital publishing landscape. She is also a geek with a passion for all things Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter. But her love of great storytelling is what has driven her work in the publishing industry for the past 15 years. An avid coffee-drinker with a Kindle book and audiobook obsession, she enjoys a steaming cup (or several) of strong Cuban coffee while escaping into worlds and stories from all walks of life. With a passion for romance and a strong advocate of the GLBT community, she enjoys fresh voices in Young Adult and Adult genre fiction. You can find her on Twitter at @epubagent .

Weronika Janczuk

Weronika broke into publishing in 2009, through a high school workshop that placed her with former young adult editor Brian Farrey at Flux (now North Star), a small imprint in Minnesota, where she pulled, from the slush pile, the lovely Out of the Blue by Holly Schindler, which received a starred review in Booklist. She then moved on to intern with Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency.Following the unexpected death of her mother, Weronika moved for one year to an agency housed in NYC, Lynn C. Franklin Associates, Ltd., before departing the world of publishing altogether to make space for her own grieving. Weronika is back now for the long-haul. You can read more about her on her blog, Lightning & Lightning Bugs.

Category/Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tales, Folktales, or Myths, retold with diverse characters

Details for September 2018 Pass or Pages:

Entry starts: Monday, September 10 at 6 a.m. Eastern
Ends: Wednesday, September 12 at 6 p.m. Eastern
Category/Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tales, Folktales, or Myths, retold with diverse characters
How To Enter: Fill out the entry form on the contest post when it goes live
What Is Required: Your query (NO BIO or personalization for agents), your first 250 words, a complete and polished MS

You can also read more about the rules here: https://operationawesome6.blogspot.com/p/passorpages.html

The winning entries with agent commentary will be posted on Operation Awesome the week of September 24th, one entry each day.
If you aren't comfortable with having your entry (which will be anonymous) shared on the blog, please don't enter Pass or Pages!

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments or tweet @OpAwesome6. Also, feel free to chat about the contest with fellow participants on the hashtag #PassOrPages.

Friday, August 31, 2018


Let's face it: The Query Trenches are unforgiving. Thankfully, you won't have to do it alone. Enter here for a chance to win a query critique by yours truly! Here's how to participate:

1. Comment on this post and at least one other post from this week by *SUNDAY 9/2 at 12 pm*.

2. Leave your email address in the comment or have it available on your Blogger profile. (Or else I can't find you!)

The winner will be announced in the comment section of this post on Sunday.

See this post for additional rules. Good luck!


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Adios, Adieu, Goodbye, and Thanks for Everything!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 20 months I've spent as an Operation Awesome blogger. Among other things, I've critiqued 27 synopses for the site, participated in a bunch of Pass or Pages rounds, and answered your questions as Dear OAbby. I've loved getting to know this writing community and helping writers get to the next stages in their careers!

It became clear recently that I have a few too many irons in the fire. I'm now faced with the difficult decision of what activities to cut, and sadly, felt I had to pass along my OA blogging duties in order to have more time for my own writing, as well as my obligations with other mentoring programs. I'm leaving you in extremely capable hands with veterans J. and Karis, along with our new bloggers, Kate, Nathaniel, and Amren. I can't wait to visit this blog as a reader and see all the cool things these folks are going to contribute to the community!

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter (@jkolin27) and I wish you all the best!!!


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lannette Cornell Bloom's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Memories in Dragonflies: Simple Lessons for Mindful Dying by Lannette Cornell Bloom

1- Memories in Dragonflies: Simple Lessons for Mindful Dying has a publication Date of August 21, 2018, which is my birthday. Do you have any comment on the cycle of birth and death?

That’s wonderful - Happy birthday to you!

I used to work as a pediatric nurse and saw babies come into the world on a daily basis. I saw the first gasps for breath, exhaling the first cry, the tiny fingers and toes, the bright smiles of the parents—life anew.

And I came face to face with the other side of the life experience when my mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness—which is the basis of my book, Memories in Dragonflies.

What I’ve learned is that each stage of the life cycle is special in its own way. It’s all how you look at where you or your loved ones are on their respective journeys across the metaphorical bridge of life.

It’s important to keep in mind that death is just as normal and inevitable as birth—though usually not as welcome. We all have to die one day, whether we like it or not, and I’ve found that the more you can slow down and become aware of the beautiful moments underneath the heavy, tough times, the more joy there is to be found in each stage.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

When I sit down to write, I tend to pour my heart out for pages upon pages without knowing exactly where my words are taking me. It requires trust to let the words flow out and not try to control them and form them into something they weren’t meant to be. So my tip is to sit down every day in front of your computer or a notebook and release all judgment—just let yourself write with no outline or clear intention so that the words can guide you. Write, write, write—and save the editing for later.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

When I was a little girl, there wasn’t email or cell phones—when you wanted to communicate with someone you called that person on the phone (and hoped they answered!) or wrote them a letter. I wrote lots of letters growing up, and also kept a journal. In a way, it has always been my main form of expression and also therapy.

Because writing was always so personal and sacred for me, I didn’t consider myself a writer until Memories in Dragonflies had become a reality.

4- Could you give a tip for the loved ones who will be left behind as to how handle watching an inevitable passing unfold before their eyes?

Whether you have years to say goodbye to your loved one or the passing is quick and unexpected, it’s important to accept that this was their time and it doesn’t discount all the memories and love shared between you.

Make the environment as comfortable and peaceful as possible. Allow your emotions and the emotions of those around you to flow freely. Be supportive to those also left behind and don’t be afraid to ask for support where you need it.
Lannette Cornell Bloom's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book - Memories in Dragonflies: Simple Lessons for Mindful Dying #life #death #nonfiction #book

5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

I’m much more active on Instagram @lannettispaghetti. But my twitter handle is @lannettecbloom.
I’d love to shout out to some of my She Writes Press sisters: @ktaylorauthor and @cathy_zane

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a photogenic, peaceful setting?

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

Since writing my book and going through the publishing process, friends and family have been opening up more about their own life experiences. I’ve bought them notebooks and encouraged them to tell their stories. Though it’s not my writing, it’s one of my goals to get the people important to me to write because, I think, it’s such a therapeutic activity and it means their stories will carry on through the generations.

Another goal of mine is to blog more often—a personal blog is such a great way to share your message and the wisdom you want to impart onto others. It’s my mission to help others find the simple joys in hard situations and so I will continue to share my experiences and advice through my blog regularly.

And my long-term goal is to work on a second book and do this whole process all over again!

8- What question about death should people ask experts, such as yourself, more often?

Death still tends to be a taboo topic in Western cultures. In my own experience of taking care of my mom there were moments when we tried to pretend everything was normal and other times where the reality hit us hard and there was no way to pretend that she wasn’t dying. I think the biggest question is:

Is it okay to talk about death with a dying person?

And unfortunately the answer is varied depending on the person. What’s important is to communicate, to not skirt around the topic, and to listen if and when the dying person tries to talk about it.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Title: Gift from the Sea
Love because: This is one of those books I’ve kept and cherish throughout the years. It’s a beautifully written story that relates shells from nature to human relationships. Each time I read it, I take something new out of it.

10- What was your inspiration for writing this book?

You probably wouldn’t know it from reading the book, but I did not write anything down during my time taking care of my mom. In fact, I didn’t even realize how much the experience changed me until years later. It was as simple as waking up one night with the overwhelming urge to write down my experiences. The memories were all there, as clear as the day they happened. I think I finally had enough distance from my grief that I could come to a new understanding and perspective of the experience. It was another level of healing I wasn’t aware I needed and yet I am so grateful for!

11- What might be the best use of time for someone who knows they will pass soon?

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

13- What's your favorite book with a diverse main character? https://diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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

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

16- How will you measure your publishing performance?

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

18- What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?

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

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

Memories in Dragonflies: Simple Lessons for Mindful Dying by Lannette Cornell Bloom

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

September Pass or Pages Details

It's time to announce the category and genre of our next Pass Or Pages contest! In September, Pass Or Pages will focus on: 

Young Adult Fairy Tales, Folktales, or Myths, retold with diverse characters

Please do not send us MG entries; we can tell the difference.

Here are the important dates for this round:
September 4th: Agent panel announcement
September 10th-12th: Entry window (via a form here on our blog)
September 24th-28th: Feedback reveals!

For a recap of the rules and links to previous rounds, click here. Best of luck!

Friday, August 24, 2018


Are you in the query trenches? Looking for a critique? Come join us on #QueryFriday for a chance to win a query critique! One lucky winner will have their query critiqued by us here at Operation Awesome. Here's how to participate:

1. Comment on this post and at least one other post from this week by *SUNDAY 8/26 at 12 pm*.

2. Leave your email address in the comment or have it available on your Blogger profile. (Or else I can't find you!)

The winner will be announced in the comment section of this post on Sunday.

See this post for additional rules. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Synopsis Critique #27: Adult Fantasy

And now, it's time for this week's synopsis critique! The author of DESERT AWAKENING, an Adult Fantasy novel, submitted this synopsis. My in-line comments are in brackets, and I'll include a summary at the end. Feel free to comment below!


Ella Dawson has spent her adult life documenting the deplorable state of the middle east [1] in her award winning photographs. Frustrated [2], she continues her relentless quest [3] until one day in a troubled Syrian city she witnesses terrorists [4] exchanging a package. When the transaction is interrupted by a group of soldiers, Ella opens the crate, and discovers an antique bronze idol of a woman. 

She takes it [5] back to her apartment, which is owned by her personal driver TAAMIR and is worried they will be followed encourages him to leave with his family for a few days [6]. Upon handling the idol alone in her room [7], it shows her a vision of unknown women dressed in robes chant and encircle [8] a stone altar with an eight-pointed star on it. A beautiful woman [9] tells her that she is called EDHUANNA and Ella she is now the guardian of the Bridge of Vela [10]; a portal leading to infinite knowledge in the city of the gods. 

When Ella awakens, she discovers a burn in the shape of the eight-pointed star on her palm. Confused and scared she feels she has no choice but to call JASON PRICE [11]. A lead operative for Division 12— a private contractor organization— he also is her ex-boyfriend. She tells him she’s in trouble and to come get her. He takes her to a safe-house where he leaves to contact Division 12, hoping to learn more about the stolen statue. 

Alone in the hotel room [12], Ella is attacked by the two Division 12 guards from downstairs. Reacting instinctively, she learns she has a new ability to super heat whatever she touches, burning the men and killing them. 

When Jason returns, Ella tries to explain what happened, but Jason says there isn’t time, and they have to leave now. They drive toward Baghdad, where Jason says there is one person he can trust as he suspects Division 12 has a mole. He apologizes for leaving her last Summer [13] in New York. As ten months have passed, Ella has forced herself to move forward and tries to reluctantly forgive him [14]. 

They arrive at an Arabian horse ranch in Baghdad where Jason introduces KATHERINE MAYBERRY. A retired professor from Oxford, she’s a witty seventy-year old who lives with her much younger and exotic girlfriend, ZALIKA. She finds Ella’s scar intriguing and agrees to help them. [15]

Jason and Ella rekindle their relationship, and Ella finds herself enjoying the seclusion of KAT’S [16] estate. KAT has an extensive personal library and they search it to learn more about the Bridge of Vela. EDHUANNA visits her dreams [17] on the second night and warns her she has until the New Moon to stop whomever is seeking it. She shows her the bloody devastation, another 5000 years of civil war in the Middle-East [18] should she fail to stop it from being opened. 

After venturing to the Baghdad museum to view the rare Cuneiform tablets, she [19] learns of the eight colored stones, that must be placed on the altar have been stolen [20]. KAT discovers the location of the ancient city EDRIS. [21]

The next day, Ella returns to find her apartment in ashens [22]. A note is left, [23] TAAMIR and his daughter will die unless she brings the statue to Damascus. She escapes with TAAMIR and his daughter by freezing the air inside a guard’s lungs. As they attempt to get in a vehicle, TAAMIR is shot, sacrificing himself so ELLA and his daughter can escape. ELLA drives the vehicle to a nearby town and calls KAT’s trusted driver ASSEM. TAAMIR’s daughter is taken to safety. She then calls JASON for help who asks where she is [24]. When suspicious men enter the cafe, she escapes out the back and steals a motorcycle. An SUV chases her through the congested streets of Damascus where she is eventually captured. 

When ELLA awakes, she finds herself on a private jet. A handsome man with a black fedora appears and tells her his name is DEREK KANE. Second in line to the Kane United fortune [25], he wishes to open the gate and use the power to grant him eternal life. He confiscated her bag and now has the statue in his possession. Ella is angry and tells him he is delusional. When Ella is carried off the plane, she is surprised to see JASON standing beside DEREK. Angry at the betrayal, Ella is forced into a holding cell. 

She feels her power waning and needs the statue to recharge. EDHUANNA appears in her dreams and she sees the entrance to EDRIS. In exchange for an innocent man’s life [26], she discloses the location to DEREK. He opens the entrance, and they descend into the side of the mountain. They trek through an ancient city toward the temple of Inanna. DEREK discloses to ELLA that the statue is now worthless, as all of its power has gone into her. She must be sacrificed on the altar for the bridge to open. ELLA struggles to fight, but the bridge opens. DEREK eagerly ascends up the translucent blue path of light, but JASON shoots him. ELLA discovers the enormous power she can now summon and splits the massive stone altar in two, severing the tie to the bridge. 

They escape. JASON tells her Division 12 had been trying for years to capture DEREK and needed him [27] as a double agent. A plane takes them to Cairo and eventually the U.S. Ella notices she still has the scar on her hand. A shimmer of magic ripples across it.


[1]: This should be ‘Middle East’
[2]: What is she frustrated about?
[3]: What is her relentless quest? To document the conditions of the Middle East? From the first sentence, it sounds more like a job/career than a quest
[4]: How does she know they’re terrorists?
[5]: Explain what ‘it’ is. The idol?
[6]: This is a run-on sentence. Redraft as something like “…TAAMIR. His worry that they will be followed encourages him to leave…” 
[7]: Make sure the reader knows you’re talking about Ella here (‘she’ is nonspecific). Is Ella alone or is the idol alone?
[8]: This should be ‘chanting and encircling’
[9]: Is the beautiful woman inside Ella’s vision?
[10]: This should be something like, “and proclaims Ella the guardian of the Bridge…”
[11]: Why does she have no choice? Couldn’t she contact someone else, or is he the only person she knows/trusts in Syria? Is Division 12 more than just a private contractor organization (which sounds pretty neutral on its face)?
[12]: Are the safe house and the hotel room the same place?
[13]: This should be ‘last summer’
[14]: This should be ‘and reluctantly tries to forgive him.’ She’s not trying to reluctantly forgive him (‘reluctantly’ modifies ‘forgive him’ in your draft) – ‘reluctantly’ is how she’s trying to forgive him.
[15]: You’ve got a number of named characters already, and Kat and Zalika don’t appear to be significant enough to merit naming (at least in the synopsis). Try to keep named characters to 5-6, and only the ones who recur repeatedly in the synopsis.
[16]: You can put a character name in all-caps the first time it appear in the synopsis, but after that, it should be in regular type. No need to re-capitalize any of these character names in the rest of the synopsis.
[17]: Whose dreams? Ella’s? Kat’s?
[18]: No hypen: ‘Middle East’
[19]: Who? Ella?
[20]: This doesn’t make sense as written. Rewrite as something like, “learns that the eight colored stones that must be placed on the altar have been stolen”
[21]: No need to put a place name in all-caps
[22]: I assume you meant ‘ashes’
[23]: This should be something like, “She finds a note telling her that Taamir…”
[24]: Rewrite this as, “She then calls Jason, who asks where she is.”
[25]: Is Kane United significant to the plot? We haven’t heard of it before in the synopsis. If so, introduce it earlier so this revelation has more of an impact.
[26]: What man?
[27]: “Him” is Jason or Derek?


This is a good synopsis in terms of tracing the main plotline from start to finish. I have a very clear idea of what this book is about, and the things Ella must do to get what she wants (to prevent District 12 from getting the idol and opening the bridge). You don’t have much work left to do to have a workable synopsis, from a plot standpoint.

Most of my comments relate to grammar and syntax. Just as you would for your query and the book, make sure you have time to carefully line-edit your synopsis (or work with a trusted friend or critique partner to do so). Then, read it again. Then, read it again. You’ll want to make sure it’s as clean as possible before it goes to agents.

Overall, good job and best of luck with this book!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Jacqui Castle's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle

1- Oxford Comma question! Did you do a book dedication like "THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO MY PARENTS, (a person) AND GOD"? Or did you avoid referring to a parent as a diety? 😄

Well, I only dedicated the book to two individuals, so hopefully, there is no confusion. The Seclusion is dedicated to my mother and my late grandmother. My main character Patricia, or "Patch" is named after my grandmother.

2- What ignited your passion for writing?

I've always loved to write and have been a freelance writer and journalist for going on ten years now. I enjoy taking a complex topic or something that I know very little about and learning through the process of breaking it down and writing a descriptive piece. However, for some reason, I never envisioned myself writing fiction and never even tried until a few years ago. I haven't stopped since.

3- How can people best support the Endangered Species Act, including preventing animals from going extinct by protecting critical habitats?

In my opinion, the most important thing people can do at this time is help rally others to vote in November. Wonderful candidates are running for office who will work hard to protect the Endangered Species Act and other policies that help protect and conserve. But, they can't if they don't win.

One organization I have been volunteering for in my spare time is Postcards to Voters, which sends election reminders to registered Democrats in crucial election areas. Just text 'Hello' to 1-484-ASK-ABBY and you will be walked through the process and can start writing postcards right away.

The Endangered Species Coalition (Endangered.org) fights to protect the Endangered Species Act. They recommend calling your representatives and writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. Their website provides a wide range of resources for those wanting to become even more involved.

4- Would you share a picture with us of your book with a cup of tea?
#tea #book Jacqui Castle's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book

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

Well, the publication of my book in September has definitely placed a big check mark on my list of writing goals. Past that, I would love to just keep writing, with the aim of publishing a book every couple of years. The Seclusion, if everything stays on track, is set to be a trilogy, and I'm working my way through the first draft of book two.

6- What is your favorite book (by someone else), and what do you love most about that book?

That is a tough question! It's like asking who my favorite child is, and the answer is the same in that it depends on my mood when you ask me.

I just finished reading the entire Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, and each book in the trilogy stuck with me for weeks after I closed the last page. The series has earned its place on my favorites shelf. American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver are also two of my favorites. For me, it is not necessarily about the genre of the book. I read all genres. If I find myself carrying the story with me and thinking about it weeks later, then that speaks for itself.

7- Dare I ask how my fellow Native Americans fare in The Seclusion?

Not great. Though Native Americans are not explicitly mentioned, their fate is implied. Like everyone else in the story, they are forced to comply with the rules of New America by moving to mass, easy-to-surveil urban centers, leaving their past and culture behind, and following the doctrine of The Board.

😞 So, history repeats itself. No surprise to me.

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

Writing, writing, and more writing. And also, reading. I aim to read at least three books a month, and regularly have an audiobook in the mix as well. I find that when I begin my writing sessions with ten to twenty minutes of reading first, then I am more motivated and inspired to work on my own projects.

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

The protagonist, Patch, has a nervous tell in which she spins a ring on her ring finger with her thumb when she is anxious.

10- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? https://diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Yes, representation is incredibly important, and I strived to create a diverse world that fit within the limits of the plot of The Seclusion.

It is revealed early in the story that a main character's ancestors were Mexican immigrants, and that becomes an important plot line. There are two same-sex relationships present in the novel. Oliver, my favorite character, is of middle-eastern descent, and another strong character is African American. It is tough to dig into the backgrounds of the characters in The Seclusion because the story is told from the viewpoint of a character who knows very little about the history of her country, or about other cultures in general. So, we are left exploring the world from her paradigm.

11- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

Definitely Oliver. We are introduced to Oliver in the middle of the book, and he is by far my favorite character. Oliver is eccentric and a bit kooky, but in many ways he is more grounded than anyone else in the story.

12- Your book holds a crystal ball up to America. What, in your opinion, is one thing people could do to make sure your book stays in the "fiction" genre, rather than turning you into a profit?

Throughout the entire publication process, I have asked myself this question. The Seclusion presents an extreme future that sadly, at the moment, doesn't really feel that extreme.

I can think of two points of action of vital importance right now, and they go hand in hand. The first is for people to demand transparency from our leaders above all else. Another is to protect the free press in every way possible. The world would be a far more dangerous place without them.

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

Usually a suggestion from a friend or fellow writer or reader with a similar taste in books. I have an active bookshelf on Goodreads and receive recommendations through that community. Also, I try to support Inkshares authors and other debut authors as often as I can. When I find an author I love, I often work my way through their entire catalog.

14- How will you measure your publishing performance?

Early reviews have started to roll in, and that has been an exciting process to witness. So far, they have been overwhelmingly positive, so for a debut novelist, I am breathing a sigh of relief. The Seclusion is a controversial book that some will resonate with and others, well, they may be rubbed the wrong way. That is alright. Art is subjective.

What I want is for those who enjoy the book to walk away still thinking about the story. To carry with them that thread of hope that is prevalent in dystopian novels. To be propelled forward by the feeling that no matter how bleak our surroundings, there is always a way to fight for wisdom and truth. There is always a path forward.

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

I took a non-conventional route and used a hybrid publisher. Inkshares operates as a middle road between self-publishing and traditional publishing. The author runs a crowdfunding campaign and presells copies of their book. Once a preorder goal is met, that signals to the publisher that this is a book people want to read, and they step in and provide all of the services you would expect from a traditional publisher — developmental editing, copy editing, cover design, bookstore placement, marketing, etc…

Breaking into the market as a first-time author is near-impossible. Because The Seclusion deals with timely subject matter, I knew that I wanted to get the work out there as soon as possible to see what people thought. So, Inkshares seemed like a good fit. I put up a few chapters from my original manuscript, then launched my campaign. The reception was incredible. During the 5-month campaign for The Seclusion, 750 copies of the book were pre-sold to backers.

Though the crowdfunding aspect was challenging, hybrid publishers like Inkshares are an excellent option for first-time authors. It's something to consider for those who aren't afraid to put in the crowdfunding legwork, want to get their name out there, and don't want to take on the editing and marketing responsibilities that come along with self-publishing.

16- What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?

You'll have to ask me again once the book has been out for awhile! During the publishing campaign, most of my pre-orders came through people I connected with on Twitter.

For the launch, there will also be a press circuit that includes live events, radio spots, giveaways, interviews, and guest posts.

Once the buzz dies down, I will continue to keep folks updated on future projects through Twitter and Goodreads. Readers are also welcome to send me an email (JacquiCastle@gmail.com) if they would like to be added to my mailing list.

17- Your in-the-works Apate book sounds fun and made me wonder... Have you been following @RogueNASA on Twitter?

Yes! I do follow @rogueNASA on Twitter, and that is a fabulous link to draw with my in-process novel, Apate. The story is still in the early stages, but I'm incredibly excited for it to develop. Apate will take place in the near future and will be told from two vastly different perspectives — a congressional intern's and a NASA scientist's. There will be an asteroid (named Apate after the Greek Goddess of deceit) plummeting toward Earth, and let's just say that all is not what it seems to be.

18- 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 am planning on hosting a discussion on dystopian literature in September, so I would love to know what draws dystopian readers to the genre.

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

Jacqui Castle's Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight and Emerging First Book
Twitter handle - @jcastlewrites
Goodreads Account - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38899614-the-seclusion
Join Newsletter HERE


“Jacqui Castle’s novel sets the hook in a wickedly-quick heartbeat. Not only does her eerily prescient story keep that hook in place throughout, it often leads to moments where you feel a chill that’s driven not only by her words, but also by the words we hear in the news and social media every day.” —Mike Rich, author of Skavenger's Hunt and screenwriter of The Rookie, Radio, and Finding Forrester

“If you love The Giver, you will love The Seclusion. Castle paints a well-developed world in a realistic future with a pair of unlikely heroes you want to cheer for. There are no easy victories in this dark, gritty dystopian that checks all the right boxes." —David Estes, bestselling author of The Dwellers saga and The Fatemarked epic


Jacqui Castle is a freelance writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. Her work has been published in a variety of online and print publications, including Mountain Xpress and WNC Woman. The Seclusion is her debut novel.

The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle