Monday, April 29, 2013

Photos That Inspire Words

So I'm also a photographer and a history buff, with a habit of ferreting out local ruins and old homesteads and recycling them into my settings. But one source of inspiration is not so secret since it can be seen for miles around: Preston Castle in Ione, California.

And as if Preston Castle (the proper name was the Preston School of Industry) wasn't cool enough on its own, it's been recast in my novel as Wilson Castle, occupying a weak spot on the border between our world and Faerie. All the local legends of ghosts and strange happenings are faeries and monsters leaking into our world in the town of Crow's Rest.

Here's how it's described in the opening of my book:

July air streamed through the car window, coating my tongue with heat and iron-rich dust. Nearly there. . . As we took that last curve on the approach, tree branches arched over the road, blocking our view until there it stood.

A castle, its ruddy bricks warmed by the afternoon light. Looming over the Gold-Rush-era town at its feet, the Wilson School of Industry reformed bad boys for nearly a century before the state abandoned it to vandals and ghost hunters. The usual mass of turkey vultures and ravens soared above, sinisterizing the turrets even more.

There really are vultures and ravens!
 And the inside is a creepy, writer's delight

What about you? Is there a real-life place that you've featured in your writing? Or maybe you've made the pilgrimage to settings of other books like Forks, WA? Share some links in the comments if you have pictures! There's a video I took yesterday over on my personal blog too.

And don't forget our Mystery Agent Contest coming up on May 1st! The agent's wishlist is over there on the top right of the sidebar.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Die Liste~~by Tom Gauthier

Happy Saturday Everyone!!! 
Today I would like to share with you a fantastic novel by my friend, Tom Gauthier. Tom is published by Patriot Media, Inc. Patriot Media specializes in the publication of unit histories, war veteran autobiographies, short story anthologies and novels with a patriotic military theme. 
Steve Berry, NY Times and International Best Selling Author says:

"Here's a voice that's original, animated, and refreshing. Tom Gauthier definitely knows what he's writing about --- and it shows.  You're there, amidst the action, feeling, hearing, even smelling the tension. Enjoy the adventure." 

DIE LISTE: Revenge on the Black Sun is an action/adventure novel. Amos Mead, WWII OSS agent, is building a life after the war when an old comrade-in-arms shows up and pulls him into a secret project of the CIA. Mead finds himself once again in a dangerous game of international intrigue. During the war he sought enemy agents. Now he faces a serial assassin of Nazi war criminals brought to the United States by the government in an experiment gone wrong. Mead begins an international chase, with friends who may be foes, while back home his psychologist wife, Brigit, provides insights about clues, and her growing suspicions. It ends with an explosive twist in a faraway lair of Nazi history.

Order your copy today!

About the Author

Tom Gauthier has written nearly every form of communication, published on various subjects in newspapers, and national and international journals, and has authored, produced, and directed four plays. His first novel, Code Name: ORION’S EYE, was released in 2008 and has become something of a cult favorite with World War II veterans and their families – especially those who fought in the South Pacific.Tom Gauthier - Author

Tom’s second novel, A VOYAGE BEYOND REASON, has received a “Notable Award for Literary Fiction” in the 17th Annual International Writer’s Digest Book Award competition (2009). Tom was introduced on national television during the finale of the CBS TV series, Survivor-Tocantins by the subject of his book, Benjamin Wade – a star (“coach”) of the TV show.

Tom was born in 1940 in California, and grew up after the war in Santa Barbara. As he writes, “Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s in Santa Barbara was a real life episode of Happy Days.” He is the oldest of five children of Donovan and Velma Gauthier.  After high school, Tom served first in the US Army as a combat intelligence analyst, and later in the Air Force Reserve as a Load Master on a C-119, “Flying Boxcar”.  Tom married young, and by his middle twenties had three children. In 1966 he finished his military career and began a civilian career that took him to every corner of the U.S. and Canada, and 20 countries. In the middle seventies he divorced, remarried, and added a fourth child to the mix. Tom also decided to catch up on the education he’d never started. In the ensuing years he completed a Bachelor of Science in Management, an M.B.A., and a Master of Science and Doctorate in Psychology. He is a member of Delta Epsilon Tau, an international honors society.

In retirement he is busier than ever. Besides making novel writing a primary focus, Tom serves on the local Airport Commission, the local hospital Foundation Board of Directors, and the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He also continues to consult with companies and government on organizational and communications issues. Tom is a private pilot, a member of the Elks Lodge, and the American Legion.
Tom and his wife of over thirty-seven years, Marlene, have built their dream home on a small ranch in the eastern High Sierras of Northern California, and enjoy the visits of thirteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Contact Tom's via his website : 
Or by Facebook (click on the link below)


Friday, April 26, 2013

May 2013 Mystery Agent Details

Let the countdown to May's Mystery Agent contest begin...

Five days from now...

On May 1st, we'll host a Mystery Agent contest here for the following genres:

Adult/YA (no MG

Magical Realism
Science Fiction
No romance or religious (category)
Especially looking for YA Horror and Mystery-- think creepy and dark.

This will be a one-sentence pitch contest. Winner gets a full manuscript request from the Mystery Agent. 

This contest will be open to veterans and newbies alike - so long as you have a complete and query-ready manuscript on your hands within the genres of interest, our guest agent would love to hear from you.

Contest will go live 9 AM central time on May 1st, and remain open until all entry spots are filled. The first 50 entries we receive will go on to our MA. Remember, this is a one-sentence pitch. Cheating with grammar doesn't count. Meaning that you can't have 3 sentences with commas between them. The sentence needs to work.

The official contest rules:
1) Entries must be one-line pitches. The length of the pitch is up to you, but remember, it's only one sentence.

2) Entries must be for completed manuscripts. No unfinished drafts, please!

3) Entries must be left in the comments section of the May 1st post, not this one (please don't email us your entries!). We'll close the contest once we've reached our limit.

4) You can only enter once this month (only one project). If you participated or won previous MA contests, you can enter this one as well!

5) The contest will close when we receive 50 entries.

6) The winner will receive a FULL manuscript request!

7) If the rules aren't followed, your entry will be disqualified.

So spend some time the next five days shining up your manuscripts and/or pitches! And enjoy your weekend.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unicorns Versus Darth Vader! Wonder Light Book Release Madness!

I'm just two weeks away from the May 7 release of my middle grade novel, Wonder Light: Unicorns of the Mist, and all kinds of fun stuff is happening. I've been doing school and Skype visits and signing pretty bookmarks . . .

and next week I get to sign the real thing. I'm having an early birthday party for Wonder Light at the Garfield Book Company at PLU near Tacoma, Washington. My friend, judo teammate, and pro baker, Karyn is working on some yummy unicorn treats for the party. She brought some samples and mess-ups to judo practice:

Yes, that is a white chocolate unicorn resting among white chocolate Darth Vader heads. I was sure there was some important symbolism here, but Karyn insisted she "just had a whole lot of leftover white chocolate." What better way to use leftover white chocolate? Now I have an inspiring image of my unicorns charging through the Death Star, horns clashing with the light sabers of the Dark Side!

If you're too far away to make the party, you can console yourself by entering to win a copy of Wonder Light. Five hardcovers are up for grabs at Goodreads! May the force be with you!

Deep in the heart of a mist-shrouded island, an impossible secret is about to be discovered.

Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for troubled girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible—someone who needs her.

Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.

A baby unicorn.

Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island's mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig's to care for. That she needs Twig's love and protection. Because there's something out there in the deep, dense shadows that's hunting for them...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Making Our Readers Care A Whole Awful Lot

Happy Earth Day!
Some people say that every day is (or should be) Earth Day.  For me, that’s true. My full-time job is environmental consulting.  This means that every day I’m writing about protecting the Earth for a variety of audiences.  A lot of the time, this is in the form of regulatory guidance for water protection (think manuals for EPA or state agencies).  But there is a very significant public outreach and education component to what I do. Like developing fact sheets that remind pet owners to scoop the poop or educational campaigns to prevent people from using the storm drains on their street as garbage dumps because it all drains directly to the local river or streams. (But you already knew that, right?)
I never really thought there were many similarities between what I do as an environmental consultant and what I do as a kidlit writer. Until now.
And I have the Once-ler to thank for that. (You know, that greedy, green gruvvolous gloved guy from Dr. Seuss’s THE LORAX.)
At the end of THE LORAX, the Once-ler finally gets why the griping Lorax lifted himself away by the seat of his pants, leaving a pile of rocks with only one word: UNLESS.  He says, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
And that’s the point of my outreach work as an environmental scientist, as well as a kidlit writer.  To make people care a whole awful lot.
When I write about a watershed—the land that drains rain and snowmelt to a specific river, lake, or stream—my goal is to make people care about that place and feel a connection to the problems facing the watershed.  Maybe it’s too much bacteria from pet waste or leaky septic systems. Or maybe it’s too many nutrients from people over-fertilizing their lawns. If I don’t succeed in this goal, people won’t feel compelled to take action…that is, getting involved and changing their behavior.
When I write picture books or middle grade, my goal is really quite similar.  I need to make the reader care about and feel a connection to my characters and the problems that they face. If I don’t succeed in this goal, readers won’t feel compelled to take action…that is, turning the page and continue reading.
So, here’s to using our words to make our readers care a whole awful lot.  And here’s to our words making the world a better place, today and every day.
My question to you…is there a story besides THE LORAX that you read or share in honor of Earth Day?  My two picks are Peter Brown’s THE CURIOUS GARDEN and I.C. Springman’s MORE with illustrations by Brian Lies. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Foolproof Process

After drafting my most recent novel, I think I've come up with a foolproof approach to writing fiction, sure to go down in the annals of history as the gold standard model of the creative process. To produce a book in easy, manageable steps, just follow along!
  • Read a shelf or two of nonfiction on pertinent subjects
  • Make things up
  • Start with vague vast plans of interlocking plots and intrigue
  • Daily wordcount goals ensure consistent productivity
  • Trash 20,000 words of directionless buildup
  • Start book again, vague vast plans unchanged
  • Trash 20,000 words of awesome actionpacked material that leaves you emotionally cold for undefined reason
  • Outline obsessively
  • Hate your obsessive outline
  • Create three separate equally obsessive outlines.  Feel unable to choose between any of them.
  • After con banquet, collapse in chair and read a new friend's short story collection.  Feel awed and intimidated.  Ice breaks open and continents shift inside you.  Write.
  • Daily wordcount goals are an unnecessary strain
  • Outline again
  • Introduce three new subplots completely unconnected to outline
  • Delete subplots on which outline originally depended
  • Daily wordcount goals ensure consistent productivity
  • Just keep flying
  • Realize characters' emotional entanglements have drifted dramatically from original intent
  • Build characters in favorite story-focused RPG system
  • Ignore said character builds.  Write anyway.
  • Stop every day in the middle of a scene so you know where to pick up tomorrow
  • Keep writing
  • More writing
  • Screw 'end in middle of scene.'  Always reach the end of a scene, so you know the next logical dramatic beat.
  • More writing
  • Adverbs!
  • Wait, no, no adverbs.  What were you thinking, adverbs?
  • Blog the process
  • Realize that you're boring your readers when you blog the process
  • Write with electronica because of the driving beat
  • Write with metal because of the incessant energy
  • Music just breaks up your flow, man
  • More writing
  • Oh my god it's so close keep going keep goingkeepgoing…
  • Stop.
  • Deep breath.
  • Write 'the end.'  You now have a 160,000 word manuscript.  Your target is somewhere around 120,000 words.
  • One day euphoria
  • Two days black depression
  • Two days video games
  • Roll up sleeves.
  • Edit.

I hope that helps!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Those Who Think They Know Everything Annoy Those of Us Who Do

Nothing pulls a reader out of a story like inaccurate facts. Or, even worse, coming to a scene and thinking, “That would never happen that way.”

We’ve all heard it before. Write what you know. It’s definitely true. No one wants to read a story by someone who doesn’t have their facts straight, but new knowledge is always easy to attain, especially with the internet. With a few clicks on the keyboard, a writer can find all there is to know about just about any subject.

But there are certain things that can only be learned through life experience. Now, I think that writers as a whole are a more empathetic group than most. We have to really get inside our characters’ heads and see everything through their eyes, but without having similar experiences in our own lives that we can compare them to, how can we put that emotional aspect in our writing?

A book about the basics of cattle ranching might be interesting to some, and written by someone who’s actually worked on a cattle ranch would be much more informative. But it would read like a textbook to me. I want strong characters, and turmoil in those characters’ lives. And I want to know how they react to that turmoil.

Rancher Bob is about to lose everything to the nasty new banker. I know, totally cliché, but I'm feeling lazy. So, we could go over all the technical aspects of that situation—posted notices about foreclosure, lawyer involvement, all the things Bob does to try to keep the ranch—but without getting Bob’s emotional reactions, and all the anger, frustration, and despair involved in a situation like that, the story, in my opinion, would be pretty boring.

And that is what I interpret write what you know to mean. It’s drawing on your own life experience to make your characters believable and their experiences believable. And being able to give the reader something to connect to in that character, to keep them reading. That’s the ultimate goal, right? To have our words read and appreciated, and our characters loved by others as much as we love them?

So, I’m wondering. What do you all think? Should write what you know be taken to mean just factual knowledge, or is there more to it than that?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Characterization exercises

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope that you and your loved ones are all okay. It's been a tough week for a lot of people, and if you guys could use a distraction as much as I could, you've come to the right place.

EDIT: And I scheduled this post last night, before the current situation developed, so I'd like to stress the above words in the strongest possible terms: I hope you and yours are okay. Praying that this situation in my beloved hometown of Boston is resolved very soon.

To me, characterization is one of the most exciting parts of writing. I mean, who doesn't like creating people from scratch? Some characters just show up in your brain, fully formed, and have voices that just gush from your fingertips. But sometimes, those characters are a little harder to get to know, and it takes several drafts to figure out who these people are.

In my recent review of Nova Ren Suma's 17 & GONE, I talked a little about why I loved her characterization so much, even for characters who were only there for a couple paragraphs. It was the specificity - even the most mundane details weren't the kind of generic statements that could apply to any stock character. You could tell that she knew all of these characters so well.

And one of my favorite ways to get to that place with my own cast? Character sheets, baby.

My first writing partner gave me these - a fairly basic but still comprehensive one, and an extremely detailed one that's perfect for your protagonists, or even your awesome villain. They're a bit long, so I set each of them up in a Google doc for you to play around with.

The basic one

The detailed one

I hope you guys enjoy these - they always make me smile! And it's a great way to work out some interesting, specific tidbits, even if you never use them in the story.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fun Stuff on the Interwebs

Since I have a book due tomorrow (EEEEPPP!!!) I thought I'd share a few quick links of some fun/good to know stuff going on that you might want to know. :-)
  • Entangled currently has an open call for submissions for a new line of stories. Check out the deets HERE.
  • Month9 is open for submissions again! Their guidelines are HERE.
  • The Scene 13 blog is currently running a fun giveaway with a TON of books, swag, crits, and gift card prizes. All you have to do to enter is like their Facebook page HERE.
  • Spencer Hill Press is celebrating the upcoming release of their author Kimberly Ann Miller's book Triangles by giving away a CRUISE. Yes, you read that right. Check out the deets HERE.
  • Enslow Publishers (a NF and fiction for education publisher) now has a fiction YA imprint, Scarlet Voyage, that is taking submissions. They are interested in any subgenre of YA, but most specifically in fantasy/sci-fi, thriller/mystery, contemporary/teen issues, dystopia, and paranormal romance. In an interesting twist, they ONLY accept non-agented submissions. Check them out HERE.
  • This cool site will suggest authors/books to you based on authors you like. You type in a name and out come the suggestions. It's fun. And cool. And sort of addicting. And possibly bad for your pocket book. But awesome to find new authors to read!! Check it out HERE.
And just for your viewing pleasure (and because it amused me because now that I always seem to be on deadline (which really cuts into the tv time :D ) I tend to watch a lot of shows this way.....)

Do you marathon shows? I've done it with Downton Abbey, 30 Rock, Firefly, and a few others. And I've got Game of Thrones and Being Human on the marathon list for when this book is done :D

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Letting The Story Rise

I love to do anything that involves making things. One of my favourite things, after writing, is baking.

It was while making bread that something struck me about the process of letting the dough rise. There's a brief amount of time where you have to take a step back to let the ingredients do their job before you can finish the loaf.

It's the same for writing.

The word mixture you've created needs time to rest. You need time to think about what you the final product to look like. We all know the importance of stepping back from your work. There might be lots of changes you know need making. Scenes that need trimming. That character who might seem a little bit flat.

Take a step back.

Spending time away from your story, even if it's just a day, can help you to see what work needs doing.

Do you let your manuscripts rest before edits?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hero Wars- A giveaway

Heads up for a fabulous contest at Entangled—HERO WARS

Wednesday, April 17th!

The heros are chosen (Go Leo!!) and this virtual coliseum awaits your attendance. Why, yes! There will be prizes! Entangled is giving a Nook to one lucky winner, along with several amazing runner-up prizes. (Team Leo!!)

Who are these spectacular heros? (LEO! LEO!) Marquess of Camryn "Cam", Leo Forrester (SQUEE!!!), and Justin Rodale. (from authors Diana Quincy, Michelle McLean (WOO HOO!!! Congrats, Michelle!!), and Robyn DeHart respectively).

Check out these swoon-worthy men (especially Leo, by our own Michelle McLean) and be at the Scandalous Facebook Page on Wednesday, April 17th, between 12-2pm EST.

Go Team Leo!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Christina Mercer and Arrow of the Mist

Today I want to introduce you to my critique partner (from back in the days when we were working on revising our first books), Christina Mercer.

 Christina Mercer writes fiction for children and young adults. She earned a degree in Accounting from California State University at Sacramento and a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central Regional Conference and was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest. Christina resides in Northern California enjoying life with her husband, two sons, four dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. You can find her at and she tweets at @cwritebuzz

About her new release, Arrow of the Mist:

Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia embarks on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. She relies on her herbal wisdom and newfound gift as a tree mage through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about her family.

“Ancient magic and herbal lore mark this engaging, fast-moving fantasy with a botanical bent. Lia, 15, is a winning heroine, discovering and wielding her magical gifts. Smoothly crafted writing conjures up a wondrous world where trees impart wisdom and dwarves tend ancient and powerful crystals. Well-developed characters, elegant dialogue, trickster creatures, exciting scenes of mystic battle and intriguing riddles stir up a powerful potion that will charm readers.” –Publishers Weekly

 I got to go to Christina's very first signing of her book, and I have some pictures and interview questions to prove it!

ARJ: You did a great job of incorporating your own herbalist background into Arrow of the Mist. How did you make the leap from studying herbs, and deciding herb lore would be the perfect twist in a fantasy book for teens?

CM: Thank you! I've read lots of fantasy where elements of the natural world were used to bring about magic, but for me, herbs and trees carried so much "real" magic that it wasn't too far a stretch to enhance their power. Plants have always had the ability to heal or kill, and tees were especially revered in Celtic mythology. I wanted to bring a little of that ancient lore back into the minds of readers.

ARJ: You joined the Indie-Visible group before you published Arrow of the Mist--what kind of benefits are there to belonging to such a group for you and your book?

CM: I honestly don't think I'd be having this interview had it not been for the consistent support by my fellow members at Indie-Visible. So many details are involved in the publishing process, from cover design to copyediting to formatting to promotion. The collaborative efforts through this process were/and still are invaluable to me. I am humbled by the many talents found there and honored to be a part of such a powerhouse.

ARJ: It seems like it's crucial in the world of self-publishing to release titles as close together as possible, and the sequel to Arrow of the Mist is scheduled for this fall. Has your writing process changed as you moved into self-publishing? Any tips you'd like to share for efficient drafting and revising?

CM: In addition to my regular critique partners, my fellow Indie-Visible members will help with vetting the manuscript for necessary revisions. I'm lucky in that the sequel was close to being finished before I published the first book, but I'm also well aware of how much work it is to revise. I would tell anyone who plans to self/indie publish to make sure you have solid critiquers and then hire a professional copyeditor to clean up errors. And yes, you have errors, no matter how much you've combed through the manuscript!

And now the fun questions!

ARJ:What's your favorite herbal tea?
CM: I drink tons of black and white varieties of tea, I love chai tea, and I enjoy a sleepy time blend of chamomile and mint in the evening.

ARJ: Your favorite honey treat?
CM: A giant spoonful of honey suits me just fine, though I love baklava because of all the honey & carb goodness combined.

Hope y'all enjoyed meeting Christina and her new book!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ordinary, at a Different Angle

Yesterday I was out walking, mostly looking at the sky and trees (I'm always looking for arborglyphs and other unusual tree forms). I almost stepped on this wildflower growing in the dried weeds in a ditch along the train tracks. I'm glad I did not. It's bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, a native plant I've only seen in identification guidebooks and never in person. It blooms for a very short time -- easy to miss temporally, even when you're in the right spot -- but I didn't expect to find it such a lowly, overlooked location.

In my writing, I've tried to make those same discoveries. I hope to write about ordinary things that no one has seen because they haven't looked at the right angle.

When I was a young writer, fresh from a creative writing program, many of the breakthrough books were from writers with extraordinary backgrounds. Not just memoirs but fiction as well seemed inspired by writers' lives much more unusual than my own humble, relatively drama-free, resolutely domestic life. So how could I write what I know? What I knew was just so small. No one would want to read it.

And so I didn't write it. 

Opening up to fantasy and magical realism helped me. It's not just what I know, but what I imagine, and I write it on a small scale -- the magic of homely objects. That bloodroot growing in a ditch in railway ditch is magical and transcendent on its own, but in fiction, it could be more, perhaps the  trace of a murder along those train tracks years ago.

I'll see where it takes me. And I'll remember to look at the ground right at my feet, and not just the distant sky.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Free Kindle Download~Murder and Motherhood!

A few months ago I blogged about an author and talented critique partner, Marie F. Martin. Her novel Maternal Harbor- published by 4D publishing- is free on kindle for a limited time. Hurry and download your copy today! 

This fantastic thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat!!!

Teagan O’Riley was pregnant and alone when she met three single mothers at an OB clinic. A few weeks later, two of them are dead and the third is close on Teagan’s heels, intent on a campaign of twisted murder and insanity. Teagan cannot risk entrusting the three infants to the police with her finger prints all over one crime scene and her foot print smeared into blood at another. She flees with the babies to a wilderness cabin belonging to her lost love’s grandmother, but is even this remote location safe?


About the author:    

Marie Martin lives in a fertile valley at the base of the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys a quiet life where laughter comes easy, love easier. Marie and her four siblings were raised on ten acres of clump grass and bull pine trees. They roamed nearby creeks, woods, and the cemetery. All places for good fun. Her father worked in a sawmill, and her mother was a librarian; an upbringing that fostered love for people and books. In her blog, Shady Nook, you may read stories of her exceptional childhood growing up in a rich, rural area filled with unique people and a magnanimous landscape known as the Big Sky County.
Marie is the mother of four grown children and shares her life with a side-kick cocker spaniel by the name of Katie Lou. Links to her two blogs are available at

Friday, April 12, 2013

Martial Arts Experts and their Frawesome Book Covers

A Clip Art Original: Everybody Was Kung Fu Tapestry

If you, like me, have always wanted to learn martial arts but haven't found the time, here's some vicarious martial arts in fiction. 

Wesley Chu, former Hollywood stuntman, wrote this:

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…


and Cole Gibsen, who practices Tae Kwon Do, wrote these:


Skater girl or supernatural samurai? Rileigh Martin wants to believe that adrenaline gave her the strength to fend off three muggers in the mall parking lot. But adrenaline doesn't explain the voice in her head giving her battle tips and warnings.

While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana--a deadly Japanese sword that's also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.

Praise: "An action-packed page-turner."--Booklist

Senshi Book Trailer from ZFilm Productions on Vimeo.

Have you read any martial arts action lately? Do you kung fu?

p.s. In case you missed it yesterday, Angelica revealed our April Mystery Agent and his DOZEN WINNERS.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April Mystery Agent Winners and Reveal!

Introducing our April Mystery Agent . . .

Pete Knapp joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011, where he has had a chance to work with many of the agency’s bestselling authors -- Nicholas Sparks, Emily Giffin, and Debbie Macomber included -- in all stages of the publication process. He has been actively involved in the company's film activities, helping to coordinate marketing and publicity efforts for The Lucky One (WB) and Safe Haven (Relativity, February 2013). Prior to joining Park Literary, he was a story editor and book scout at Floren Shieh Productions, consulting on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film companies, including CBS Films. He has also interned in the literary affairs and development offices of New Line Cinema, Overture Films, and Maximum Films & Management.

Peter is an avid reader of young adult and middle grade fiction, frequently trading book recommendations with his nine-year-old sister. Having graduated from NYU summa cum laude with a B.A. in Art History, he maintains a (mostly) healthy interest in the visual arts, particularly with animation. He is an advisor for Builders Beyond Borders, a nonprofit that organizes international humanitarian trips for teenagers, and though he loves to travel, he happily calls Brooklyn home. He recently signed Melanie Conklin and Chelsea Bobulski as clients.
Follow him on Twitter

And in keeping with his stellar, helpful reputation in the interwebs, Pete has selected a Grand Prize Winner, some First Prize Winners, and Honorable Mentions! I'll email the winners with the details of how to get your material to him, but here are the writers who Pete has made very happy:

Grand Prize Winner (full manuscript request!):
Toni De Palma
Title: Pieces of Me
Genre: Contemporary MG

When her mother dies, 13 y.o. Frannie is left with a box of letters, one disgruntled grandmother,two tickets to Italy and a lot of unanswered questions.

First Prize Winners (will be sending Pete the first 10,000 words of their manuscript, and will also get personalized feedback on their query!):

Genre: YA dark contemporary

It's Heathers meets Before I Fall in a non-linear timeline when popular Jenna falls for outcast Cass and everything starts to unravel - her parents' marriage, her friendships, maybe even her sanity...

Rita Russell
Funny, realistic middle grade fiction

Queenie, a quirky and impulsive ten year old girl with ADHD, moves across the country from small town Ontario to glitzy West Vancouver, where she desperately wants to be popular, but her outrageous behaviour constantly lands her into BIG trouble.

Mindy Alyse Weiss
Ruby Bella Brown, Super Average Girl
Humorous MG

An eleven year-old cartoonist would eat worms or kiss a gross boy like Stinky to make sure this birthday isn’t another suck-a-rama—but is forced to choose between her dream of art camp or avoiding another ditch-a-thon and helping her friend.

Lisa Rosenman
Title: Outside In
Genre: Contemporary YA

Underneath Alexis's perfect facade lies a mess of self-inflicted cuts and bruises; if she's discovered, she'll get kicked out of her elite boarding school.

Carter Higgins
Title: A Rambler Steals Home
Genre: MG Contemporary

Derby's fractured family rolls their food truck to the Rockskippers' minor league baseball stadium each summer, but since Franklin Mattingly, the beloved head groundskeeper, has died since last season, she and Franklin's widow June need each other to lay down some new roots.

Honorable Mentions (Pete would welcome the chance to review these queries and see them in his inbox!): 

Kimberly Ann Miller
Title: Case In Point
Genre: young adult contemporary

An eighteen-year-old girl who writes an anonymous column for her school paper gets death threats when she reports that a teacher is pregnant by a senior.

Artemis Grey
Genre: Contemporary YA

Shy albino Ansel prefers books to people but when an injured runaway shows up in his shed, he readily offers her help, unaware that he’s befriending a missing millionaire heiress who’s father will stop at nothing to get her back in a psych ward where he thinks she belongs.

Andrea Mack
Contemporary MG

Twelve-year-old Molly plans to help her mom de-stress by getting her mute 5-yr-old mute cousin to talk, but her dedication to her project could cost Molly her best friend and destroy her fragile family.

Robin Lemke
Talk to the Paw
MG Contemporary

Kendra can't make all the unfair things about her family come untrue, but when her vengeful neighbor comes for her dog with a breed ban and a muzzle, she knows it's her fight to win... or lose - and she can't lose her dog.

Sheri S Levy
Title: Dog Days of Summer
Genre: MG Contemporary

"Almost-twelve" Trina had the perfect plan on becoming the best service dog trainer ever, until their time together ends with her beach trip and causes her to wonder if her heart can be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle and allow her to train another. 

Liz Straw
Title: Mystery of the Fountain
Genre: MG Mystery

11 year old Jessie discovers that her mom has been dating her grade school art teacher behind her back, has her bike stolen, and discovers that someone is hiding something in the town fountain all in one day.

Congratulations to all the winners! Look for an email from Operation Awesome to be sent later today with instructions on how to get your requested material to Pete! And I know this is already a long post, but you want to know more about this agent, don't you? He kindly answered some questions for us.

1)What MG or YA books have you read lately that you fell in love with (your clients' or not)?
Well, of course my own clients’ books are at the top of my list – but it’s too soon to talk about any of that. But as for other people’s books: I read Bill Konigsberg’s forthcoming Openly Straight (Arthur A. Levine Books, summer 2013), which made me weep in public. I am still talking about Kat Zhang’s What’s Left of Me (HarperCollins) and I went on a Courtney Summers kick recently.

2)You're a proud nerd who's worked in the film industry--what are some of your favorite movies and TV shows?
and My So Called Life, not only because I love Claire Danes. Downton Abbey pretty reliably has me yelling at the screen, which is a good thing and a bad thing. For comedy: Freaks & Geeks, Parks & Rec, Wonder Years. I love animal movies – Carroll Ballard’s films and Out of Africa and Born Free. I love all of Studio Ghibli’s films, especially Whisper of the Heart and Kiki’s Delivery Service. I love Pedro Almodóvar’s films and Superbad and The Talented Mr. Ripley and Michael Clayton and American Graffiti and Gosford Park. I cast a wide net with film.

3)Any tips for writers struggling with their one-line pitch?
Look at other loglines or one line pitches on IMDB or the deals page of Publishers Marketplace. I read for character as much as premise, so I look for one-line pitches that convey a character-driven story while establishing the world and stakes. What is the emotional heart of your story? The part that makes it not just a good idea but a fantastic book? You have to make that promise in your one-line pitch.

4)Do you have any exciting agency news to share?
Check back soon!