Friday, May 26, 2017

Flash Fiction Contest #30

In honor of those who lost their lives serving their country, this flash fiction is about soldiers. Please include the word somewhere in your entry. The winner will be announced Sun. 5/28, after the noon deadline.

For those in the US, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend! And to all those that have served, thank you.

Rules can be found here.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Synopsis Critique #10 - Adult Suspense

And now, it's time for this week's synopsis critique! The author of ELEGY FOR THE LIVING, a 75,000-word Adult Suspense novel, submitted this synopsis. My in-line comments are [blue and in brackets], and I'll include a summary at the end. Feel free to comment below!

If you'd like a primer on how to write a synopsis, see my posts here and here. And if you want your synopsis critiqued on this website, fill out the form here, or email your 1-2 page synopsis to me at, and I'll post one critique per week (NOTE: I'll email my critique to the author as soon as I'm done, so the author won't have to wait to see his/her synopsis on the site). Thanks for participating!


It’s 1945. [Where? A lot of things were going on in 1945, so adding the location will help situate the reader quickly] Celia Turner is content working as a nurse and living with her mother, Pamela. [How old is Celia?] She dislikes the seedy town and the small-minded people who have labeled her a ‘spinster.’
Celia and her mother share a secret - Pamela is really Celia’s grandmother. [I'd add ', her Nana' here if you want to refer to her as Nana throughout the rest of the synopsis] Because Celia was born out-of-wedlock, Pamela moved the two of them to Manchester hoping to start a new life free from gossip and rejection. Pamela is Celia’s Nana. [You can delete this sentence, because you told us Pamela is Celia's grandmother in the first sentence] Celia has a secret of her own. She grieves for the father she will never have. [What happened to her mother?] [Also, Celia's grief for her unknown father never recurs in the synopsis. Either delete that sentence or describe how it impacts her actions and/or decision-making throughout the rest of the novel]
When she reluctantly (at first) becomes involved with David - a physician completing his residency – her world is flipped upside-down. [What specifically happens to cause her world to flip? Because she's fallen in love with him? Because he's not who he says he is? Add a little detail here] After a hasty wedding, they plan to move to his home-town of Elegy, a place no one has ever heard of. But when Nana falls [Pick either Pamela or Nana to refer to her consistently throughout the synopsis], breaking an ankle, he reluctantly agrees to take her with them - temporarily.
The mountain-locked village seems perfect – at first. After David discovers she’s [Celia's] pregnant, [I'd change this so the focus remains on Celia: 'After Celia tells David she's pregnant...'] he grows distant and uncommunicative - as do the people of Elegy. The residents are harboring a strange secret and Celia and Nana set out to learn what it is.
As Celia’s pregnancy advances, her marriage deteriorates regardless of [despite] her efforts to salvage it. And when she unearths the deadly secret, she is torn with indecision. The residents believe that the surrounding mountains form a magnetic vortex where the souls of the deceased remain until reincarnated at birth. [Is there any evidence that this is actually occurring? In other words, is it accurate to label this novel as magical realism, or are the townspeople's beliefs about the vortex false, and Celia's goal is to discredit them and/or protect herself (rather than utilizing magic in some way)?] To maintain the fragile ecological balance, with each birth, the eldest person must die. [Do the mountains somehow cause the deaths or do the townspeople actively kill the elderly?] Celia’s dream of raising her child in a clean, safe community with a loving father has become a nightmare. Initially heart-broken, her sadness turns to anger. [What does she do to manifest that anger?]
The residents, fearing Nana will reveal the secret to the rest of the world, make it clear that she cannot leave. [Why are the residents concerned about Nana, as opposed to Celia? And if Celia left and gave birth elsewhere, wouldn't that protect Nana?] Nana’s name is entered on the list of those next to die – the second from the top.
Winter is coming. There is only one other pregnant woman in town so Nana and Celia devise a plan for Nana to escape in the spring. But when Celia discovers she is carrying twins, the date must be moved up. [Again, why doesn't Celia just leave? Is she still loyal to her husband, who has tricked her into coming to this town and doesn't seem to speak to her anymore? If she is still loyal, why?] A sudden blizzard approaches and the only road out will be blocked for months. Celia and Nana have no choice. They must leave tonight. After dark.
On the way down the mountain, the car slides into a snowbank. Nana is injured. Labor begins but Celia manages to walk back into town where she discovers that the woman she thought was her friend intends to let her die and take the babies. And the woman she thought was her enemy, comes to her rescue. [Who are these women? Consider introducing them earlier in the synopsis, because then the role-reversal described here will have more of an impact] [How specifically does her enemy come to her rescue?]
Spring. The ground thaws and Celia stands at the grave of the only mother she’s ever known [So Nana dies? We definitely need more detail about how and when that happened] holding twins that bear no resemblance to either her or David. [So... there is a magical element here? Or did someone switch the babies? If Celia knows what's going on by the end, so should the reader]


This is a short, tight, well-written synopsis for what seems to be a truly creepy, suspenseful plot! Most of my critiques involve needing more in terms of character motivations, ensuring consistency throughout the main plot-line, and adding more detail to certain plot points to fill in the blanks for the reader.

Also, I'm not sure based on the synopsis whether the plot contains a fantasy or magical aspect, or whether it's purely psychological suspense/horror. If the former, you should emphasize that in the synopsis and make sure you note it in the query so agents will know what kind of book you've written (a suspense novel with a magical realism or fantastical element would be marketed differently from a realistic suspense novel).

If you want to stick with a one-page synopsis, then you can combine the first two paragraphs (as they're all set-up) and delete some of the content there. That'll leave you with some room to address some of my questions (about Celia's friends, about why Celia doesn't try to leave Elegy earlier, and especially, what happens at the end), should you choose to do so.

It sounds like an exciting book! Best of luck to you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Meet Lindsey Frydman in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Heartbeat Hypothesis

1- You took part in Raimey Gallant's Nano Blog & Social Media Hop. Was it an enjoyable experience? Did you learn anything from it?

Yes, it was tons of fun! It’s always great to make new connections with other writers. I’d say I learned that blog hops and social media hops are effective. It’s a good way to get writers (and readers) involved and interested.

2- Will you be taking part in NaNoWriMo in 2017?

Absolutely! I haven’t missed a year since 2012. It’s always a crazy time—hair pulling and weeping into my coffee—but it’s SO much fun. Drafting without care is therapeutic at times.

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

Alright, so when I was 9, I discovered Harriet the Spy and decided I wanted to write. I picked up a journal and started writing things down. They weren’t stories. They were just rambling of a young girl. That ended when my younger sister read something I wrote about her and tattled!

Then when I was about 12, I was making up fictional people in my head. Yep, imaginary friends. (No 12-year-old should still have imaginary friends, but…I did.) I’d imagine them walking with me, doing things with me, talking to me. It sounds crazy, but it kept me sane in my not-so-great childhood. Reading any book I could get my hands on also kept me sane. After that, I went on to write fan fiction—mostly about boy bands. ;)

4- What ignited your passion for writing?

After discovering Harriet the Spy, I got myself a journal and started writing whatever came to mind. Sometimes I’d walk down the street just writing about the scenery. That all stopped when my younger sister found my journal, saw something I wrote about her, and tattled on me. Ha!

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

It’s a toss up between 3 different critique partners. But one of them – Katie – has read this book at least 5 times during the process of editing. She’s a Rockstar, and claims to love that Audra’s new heart is almost its own character in the way Audra talks about.

6- What is your favorite episode of Supernatural? Who is your favorite character?

Oh gosh, I don’t think I can pick a favorite episode! But Dean is sooo my favorite character. (Are you surprised?)

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

I hope readers will laugh a little, empathize with my characters’ pain and trauma, and I’m really hoping for some tears! ;)

8- There are a few pins that mention cigarettes on your board. Do you smoke?

I used to, but I don’t anymore. Some of my characters do though.

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

This one almost feels like cheating, but the scar running down Audra’s chest from her heart transplant is absolutely the most visual oddity.

10- I read that you perform in a burlesque show. What's that like and are there any pictures you can share?

In a word, burlesque is life-changing! As a serious introvert, performing for the first time was absolutely terrifying. One of my friends even asked if I had the guts to do it. But I did! Being able to come up with a character and short story to act out on stage is an amazing part of burlesque. I love the crafting aspect, too! And yes, I do have some photos to share.

11- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

Jake – he’s definitely humorous, but also melancholy. His personality has so many contradictions. He’s laughing and interested, then he’s stand-offish. I do love that back and forth. ♥

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

Most of the time, it’s because one of my friends told me how amazing a book was. (And they’re usually right!) Covers of course catch my attention, but I never judge books by their cover.

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

I queried this book to agents for over a year, and while I had a ton of agent interest, they ultimately said no because new adult is incredibly hard to sell. But then I submitted it to Entangled and found an editor who said YES. I’ve been one happy girl since.

14- What are some of your favorite Entangled Publishing books that are out now?

Anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Pintip Dunn, and Jus Accardo!

15- Care to drop a meme of your choice to share?

Dean wink gif supplied by Lindsey Frydman

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

Do you have a favorite organ transplant story to share? Maybe it’s something personal or a YouTube video you stumbled upon. Or even a Pinterest pin! (Like the one I found that inspired The Heartbeat Hypothesis.)

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

Lindsey writes romance, though sometimes there’s an added sci-fi or magical realism twist. She lives in Columbus, Ohio (where the weather is never quite right). Her Fine Arts degree has granted her a wide assortment of creative knowledge that serves as inspiration (and not much else). When she’s not crafting YA and NA stories, you'll likely find her spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, playing a video game, or performing in a burlesque show—because she enjoys giving her introversion a worthy adversary. (Plus, it's the closest to Broadway she’ll ever get.) THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS is her debut novel.

Audra Madison simply wanted to walk in the shoes of Emily Cavanaugh, a free-spirited teenager who died too young. After all, Audra wasn’t supposed to be here.

Thanks to Emily, Audra has a second chance at life. She’s doing all the things that seemed impossible just two years ago: Go to college. Date. Stargaze in the Rocky Mountains. Maybe get a tattoo. You know, *live*.

Jake Cavanaugh, a photographer with mysterious, brooding gray eyes, agrees to help chronicle her newfound experiences. She makes him laugh, one of the only people who can these days. As they delve into each other’s pasts – and secrets – the closer they become.

But she’s guarded and feels like she can’t trust anyone, including herself.
And he’s struggling with the fact that his beloved sister’s heart beats inside her.

Barnes & Noble

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reading With My Kid: A review of THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY, by Adrienne Kress

A few months ago a publicist from Penguin Random House contacted the Operation Awesome team, inviting us to participate in a blog tour for The Explorers: The Door in the Alley. He also offered an ARC of the book, and while OA typically doesn't do book reviews, my son is a middle grade reader, and I couldn't pass up the chance to do something cool with him.

He was very excited when I told him we had an advanced copy of the book and got to read it before anyone else did. However, the art inside the book wasn't filled in for the ARC, and that disappointed him! I might have to buy him a finished copy for his birthday later this month...

My son is 7 years old, and just finished second grade. He is a pretty average reader for his age and grade level. I flipped through the book, and felt that the vocabulary was a little too advanced for him, so I read it to him. We did a couple of chapters every night, which was fun for both of us.

Hardly anything happens in the first chapter, and as a writer, that bugged me. The whole first chapter is carried by a strong narrative voice, similar to that of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but perhaps even more twee. When we finished the first chapter, I looked up at my son.
"What do you think so far?" I asked, afraid that he might be bored.
"I like it!" He nodded his head with enthusiasm and poked my leg with his foot. "Can we read one more chapter?"

And because this is a book written for children, not adults, I deferred to the child. Luckily for my sanity, the voice toned down a lot as the book went on, which I felt was a good thing. The action spoke for itself.

My son loved the bad guys, both of whom have unique physical features. He was captivated by the action sequences, and liked both the male and female main characters. One part in particular made him laugh out loud, and then he made me stop reading so he could reenact that part for his five-year-old brother. He did not like that the book ended on a cliffhanger, though. I have a feeling he'll be asking me when the next book comes out many times over the summer.

Both of us would recommend this book to any middle grade reader, especially if they like action and adventure more than high fantasy.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How Long is Too Long for a Book Reading?

At a local sci-fi/fantasy conference over the weekend, a couple of the authors discussed book readings. How long is too long? How many different readers are too many?

We’d all attended book readings that went on too long. Fidgeting sets in.  Phones are covertly checked for the time. At some point, people simply stop listening and zone out. For this reason, I tend to err on the side of taking up less time rather than more. It seemed to be consensus that five to ten minutes was reasonable and fifteen was far too long.

I often attend book readings, and I’ve found that hearing three or four people giving five to seven minute readings works well. Any more than that and I get restless, and it seems, others do too.

Attention spans have gotten shorter, and I think we need to be conscious of this. I feel it’s better to give a shorter reading from a high-energy piece than to read on and on and have people stop caring about what you’re reading. I always want to leave readers wanting more.

What do you think? How long of a book reading do you enjoy? 

Melinda Marshall Friesen writes YA and adult speculative fiction from her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bookworm Fun!

To start your weekend off right, how about some fun bookworm memes today?

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Synopsis Critique #9 - Adult Fantasy

And now, it's time for this week's synopsis critique! The author of THE BOY IN THE HAWTHORN, a 150,000-word Adult Fantasy, submitted this synopsis. My in-line comments are [blue and in brackets], and I'll include a summary at the end. Feel free to comment below!

If you'd like a primer on how to write a synopsis, see my posts here and here. And if you want your synopsis critiqued on this website, fill out the form here, or email your 1-2 page synopsis to me at, and I'll post one critique per week (NOTE: I'll email my critique to the author as soon as I'm done, so the author won't have to wait to see his/her synopsis on the site). Thanks for participating!


In his first days as a freshman at Auburn University, Ryan Aleman is eager to begin his education to become a veterinarian. [Just a quibble, but stating he's a freshman (which implies he's in undergrad), yet also beginning his education to become a vet (which implies he's in vet school) might confuse the reader as to how old he is] As he refuses to be separated from his dog, Ryan lives in a house in the country, renting from a retired professor. The house is very old and the owner claims the hawthorn tree on the side has magical powers. [Does Ryan believe this or does he question it? Is there precedent in this world for a tree with magical powers?] Every night, strange dreams about the hawthorn trouble Ryan’s sleep. As Ryan learns the campus and starts attending classes, he meets Michael, an often drunk older student who courts Ryan to join his budding fraternity, DEP. [I would spell out the Greek letters the first time you introduce the frat: Delta Epsilon Pi?] Ryan soon finds himself hosting all of the newly-forming, multicultural fraternity’s events. [Because he has a house off-campus, right? I'd specify. Also, you already described the frat as 'budding,' so you don't need to also describe it here as 'newly-forming] Though unsure he even wants to join himself, Ryan is glad to meet the other students the parties draw in. Twice, Ryan returns home to find Dr. Featherstone loitering oddly around the house with no explanation. [Who is Dr. Featherstone? The owner of the house? Since you don't reference him much below, if that's who he is, I'd leave out his name here and just say 'the house's owner.'] One evening, when Ryan steps outside a party, he finds a naked boy sobbing underneath the hawthorn tree. The boy is more than simply drunk, as Ryan soon finds a crystal cave where his bedroom should be. [Whose bedroom - Ryan's or the boy's? Add a little detail here to connect these dots] The boy uses smoke magic to learn modern English and reveals that he is the wizard Merlyn. [How does Ryan initially react to this reveal?] Once Ryan is sure that Merlyn is real, Merlyn moves in with him while they try to retrace how Merlyn arrived in Auburn, Alabama—trapped inside a hawthorn tree—and what released him during the party after a thousand years imprisoned. [Is Merlyn in danger? Trying to get home? There should be some incentive spelled out for why Ryan is helping him] Ryan and Merlyn both attend classes at the university and Ryan joins several service projects for DEP, learning that they are only a colony until they reach the required membership, dues, and service hours. [Is this info about DEP relevant here?] He and Merlyn find themselves attracted to two girls, Rebekah and Mary-Kat, who attend parties at their home. Though Ryan is not sure Merlyn is being truthful with him, they are growing closer as friends and Ryan introduces Verne, his father, who quickly takes to Merlyn. [Verne is your seventh named character. You don't need his name in here. Just refer to him as Ryan's father.] Ryan wonders if passing classes and becoming a veterinarian is still relevant in a world of magic. [So far, it seems like Ryan and Merlyn are enjoying college life, but not working too hard on figuring out Merlyn's situation. If this isn't the case, add some detail about what they're doing to achieve their goal] For instance, Merlyn shows him that someone has woven a magical net over the earth which keeps magical forces away. He breaks one line, so men can do magic, but leaves the rest intact. [I'm a little confused by this. What does it mean that 'men can do magic'? All humans, but no supernatural beings? Only men, and not women? And if men can do magic, what magical forces are being kept away? Add some clarification here]
Clues to the hawthorn’s history come in the form of other dreams had over the years from Ryan, the retired professor, his wife, and his daughter. [I'd rearrange this sentence to '...other dreams Ryan, the retired professor, his wife, and his daughter have had over the years.'] They piece clues together by tracing important stories of hawthorns from throughout history and around the world. While in the tree, Merlyn was worshiped by druids, sailed across the sea as a mast, caught a German U-Boat, and saved a young boy from drowning. [I still need to know what Merlyn's ultimate goal is. Also, do they know yet how Merlyn came to be in the tree?] Ryan juggles his adventures with Merlyn, his often-missed classwork, and his new friendships. Merlyn turns metals into gold in backyard alchemy lab, giving them money to pay rent. [That's an ideal roommate, right there] Ryan grows frustrated with his new group of friends, as he feels Michael and the fraternity are forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do. [Like what?] At a Halloween party, Merlyn does a powerful spell to save Rebekah from a date-rape drug, drawing everyone there into a magical state where they dance and burn their clothes. [These seem like two different events, unless the magical state was to distract everyone and get Rebekah away from the drug] The next day, Merlyn reveals that he murdered the boy who tried to rape Rebekah. Ryan has to weigh his own feelings for Rebekah against Merlyn’s actions, as the police begin investigating the boy’s disappearance. [What are Ryan's feelings for Rebekah? And if they're romantic feelings, then his feelings would be somewhat aligned with Merlyn's actions, even if he didn't agree with the murder] Merlyn’s mentor, Blaise, [no name needed here] appears to tell them that Merlyn was released [from the tree?] because Nimue committed suicide. [Who's Nimue?] Ryan learns about research his teacher is doing into native languages. [Is this relevant?] When a bar they are in accidentally catches on fire, Verne convinces Merlyn to use his magic to save people. Photographs are taken of him leaping from the flames and Merlyn because famous around the city. Ryan worries over Merlyn’s new found fame, but Verne encourages Merlyn to use his magic openly. Ryan learns that all of the money from the DEP bank account was stolen, and unless they could [can] find it, the colony could never afford to [will never be able to afford to] become a full fraternity. Verne continues to act strangely, interrupting an evening with Ryan’s mother to demand that Merlyn return to Auburn to defend his reputation. [Where did Merlyn go?] Later, they find that Rebekah has committed suicide. Ryan comforts Mary-Kat and Merlyn disappears. [This feels a little abrupt. Ryan had feelings for Rebekah, right? Tell us a little about his emotional state, whether he blames Merlyn for murdering her would-be rapist, and sending Rebekah over the edge, etc.] Ryan is now dodging inquiries about two deaths. When Merlyn reappears, they discover that Verne has been controlled by Merlyn’s demon father—Turiel—all semester, and the demon brought Rebekah’s body back [he brought her body back where? to whom?] to taunt Merlyn into traveling [to] Hell to retrieve her soul. Though he is able to temporarily free Verne from the demon, Merlyn’s magic leads him too far and he steps down into Hell. Alone now, and searching [yearning?] for the non-magic part of his life, Ryan grows closer to Mary-Kat and throws a fundraiser to replace the stolen DEP funds. He discovers that it was Turiel, in Verne’s body, who killed Rebekah, all to trick Merlyn. The demon returns to Ryan’s home to meet Merlyn, [I thought Merlyn was in Hell?] who is trying to reopen the portal home. With the help of his teacher’s native language research, and a spell Merlyn taught him, Ryan helps Merlyn confront the demon. A soul Merlyn brought back from Hell occupies Rebekah’s body and joins their fight, helping them to finally destroy Turiel once and for all. Verne is killed in the process. Rebekah’s appearance changes to Nimue’s, as it was her soul Merlyn brought up from Hell. [I definitely need to know more about who Nimue is if he/she plays a major part in this plot] Merlyn is too weak to defend himself as she transforms him into a falcon and he flies away. After tracking him down, [how do they do this?] Ryan, his teacher, and Mary-Kat turn Merlyn back into a man.


This is a nicely-written synopsis and it sounds like a really interesting book! Here are my main critiques:

- What does Ryan want? Or, in other words, what's the main plot of the book, as it pertains to Ryan? I'm assuming he's trying to help Merlyn discover why he's on Earth in modern times, but is he also trying to help Merlyn get back to his time, or are they trying to fight a bigger foe, or something else? Once you make clear what Ryan wants and what's standing in his way, you can move on to...

- Be sure to trace the main plot arc throughout the synopsis. If the main plot is Ryan's attempt to help Merlyn get back to his world, then we need to know how they plan to do this, what actions they take to implement the plan, and what obstacles stand in their way. If you include information about subplots in the synopsis (here, I think the subplots are the budding romances with the girls and Ryan's attempt to remain a normal college kid through all the magical happenings around him), make sure to relate it to the main plot. But the most important thing for a synopsis to achieve is letting the reader see the beginning, middle, and end of the main plot.

So, again, start by answering these questions:

1) What does Ryan want (this can be more than one thing)?
2) What does he do to achieve these goals?
3) What stands in his way?
4) How does he overcome (or succumb to) those obstacles?
5) What's the ultimate outcome?
6) How does that outcome affect/change him as a person?

- You have a lot of named characters here and it gets a little confusing. I'd limit the names to Ryan, Merlyn, Rebekah, Nimue (once you describe who he/she is), and possibly Verne. See if you can reference everyone else generically (Rebekah's best friend, Merlyn's mentor, etc.)

Great job, and best of luck with this manuscript!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pass Or Pages May 2017 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 Contemporary novels. The entry window closes at 6pm Eastern time on Wednesday May 17th. May the Force be with you!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Flash Fiction Contest Winner #29

Thanks for taking time out of your Mother's Day weekend to stretch those writing muscles! Our winning entry is below:

The grappling hook sailed over the side of the Seeker and grabbed the mahogany railing. All up and down the deck, as hooks latched onto the boat, my crewmates scrambled for knives to saw at the ropes in futile attempts to free the Seeker from the pirate ship’s grasp.

“Saw, you dogs!” I yelled, my dagger working frantically, the muscles in my arms burning, tears clouding my vision. Behind me, my father, the Queen’s captain, lay motionless, a wooden splinter protruding from his chest. His blood soaked my clothes and the once-pristine deck, but I would not let them take this ship.

But sheer determination wasn’t enough. The pirates sailed gracefully through the air suspended on the ropes that bound our ships, and when their boots hit the deck, the Seeker’s crew was against the opposite railing, swords at the ready, my father’s body the only thing between them and the invaders. I kneeled over it, my eyes a warning to the snarling men.

The pirate captain stepped forward. Her tricorn hat sat at a mischievous angle on her head. There was something familiar about her eyes, something that reminded me of what my father said. “You have her eyes, the same color as the restless sea. I fear you will be as wild as your mother.”

Then the woman’s gray eyes found mine and it was like looking into a mirror. She was a dream, an illusion, a nightmare. She had the nerve to hold her arms out as if I would run into them. Well, my forgiveness was not so easily won.

“Mother,” I said, the word a curse, unfamiliar on my tongue. My father’s rapier sang out of its sheath, its weight familiar to me, and when I stood, I brought the sword down to meet hers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Flash Fiction Contest #29

After a bit of a break, we are back with our #OA Flash Fiction contest, and what better prompt than our dear mothers? Write a piece of flash fiction, 300 words or less, about your mom, someone else's mom, or an imaginary mom. It just has to be about moms! Have your entry in by noon on Sunday, 5/14, with the winner announced later that evening.

Rules can be found here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Synopsis Critique #8 - NA Paranormal Romance

And now, it's time for this week's synopsis critique! The author of DEFINING LOVE, a 67,000-word New Adult Paranormal Romance, submitted this synopsis. My in-line comments are [blue and in brackets], and I'll include a summary at the end. Feel free to comment below!

If you'd like a primer on how to write a synopsis, see my posts here and here. And if you want your synopsis critiqued on this website, fill out the form here, or email your 1-2 page synopsis to me at, and I'll post one critique per week (NOTE: I'll email my critique to the author as soon as I'm done, so the author won't have to wait to see his/her synopsis on the site). Thanks for participating!


LUCINDA risks her life by venturing into the Blood Moone pack territory to find her friend, MIA. [I'm assuming the Blood Moone pack is werewolves, but it's worth being specific about that up front] Instead she stumbles across DYLAN, her childhood best friend, turned mate, that rejected her and is the single reason she’s a lone wolf with no pack, aka a rogue. After her encounter with Dylan, Lucinda’s first reaction is to leave the territory immediately, abandoning her soul [sole] purpose for being there - seeking help to escape her psychotic ex-lover that is tracking her. [I thought her reason for being there was to find Mia? Or is she finding Mia to help her escape her psychotic ex-lover? In other words, this is a little confusing as written] However, she piques the interest of the pack Alpha, CAIDEN, and he takes her wolf on a run in the forest, where he convinces her to stay for a couple of days. [There are a lot of characters introduced in this paragraph. I'd suggest leaving out Mia's name, since she seems the least significant (barely appears again elsewhere in the synopsis). Instead, just refer to her as 'her friend' or 'her best friend' or whatever is accurate. Then we're only introduced to Lucinda, Dylan, and Caiden in this paragraph, and that's manageable]
FELIX, the nightmare of a man Lucinda is desperately trying to escape, cross[es] paths with Lucinda and Mia while shopping in a public and very crowded mall. [When does this happen? Give readers a little more to help orient them and connect the dots with the preceding paragraph: 'A few days after her run with Caiden...' or 'Weeks later...' or something like that] In a desperate attempt to protect the innocent from bloodshed, Lucinda reluctantly agrees to leave with Felix. Though the entire time she’s plotting her escape. [This is a sentence fragment. You can just add it after a comma to the preceding sentence, though I'd change the syntax to '...agrees to leave with Felix, though she's plotting her escape the entire time.'] After an eerie conversation with another captive, [where does Felix take her? How is she being held captive?] Lucinda hastens her escape. Dylan is sent to free Lucinda, however by the time he finds her, Felix has already whipped her over good. [Does that mean literally whipping, or is it a less-specific phrase that means physical abuse?] She agrees to return to the Blood Moone pack until she is fully healed.
Caiden is a broken man. Haunted by the dark secret of a raging beast that resides within him, and guilt-ridden over the death of his mate, whom he couldn’t protect. [Either combine the preceding two sentences (use a colon after 'broken man' and follow with 'he is haunted...') or combine the last sentence with this next one] Caiden puts distance between him and his pack. When he meets Lucinda, he sees a chance at redemption from his prior failures. He struggles with the choice of protecting his pack and shunning Lucinda, merely a rogue wolf whom [who] desperately needs his help; or putting his pack in danger by helping Lucinda, redeeming himself from self-imposed guilt and reclaiming his self-worth. [How would helping Lucinda put his pack in danger? Because of Felix? Be specific here]
Attitudes in the Blood Moone pack escalate [what does it mean to have attitudes escalating? Tempers could escalate, or tensions, or possibly bad attitudes, but just saying attitudes isn't descriptive enough] and certain people of power have their own agenda, which is not favorable to Caiden. Despite his resistance, Lucinda and Caiden have grown close. With Mia’s prodding, Lucinda reluctantly agrees to stay in the Blood Moone territory and help strengthen the pack by encouraging confidence in Caiden’s leadership. [Why is she reluctant to stay? It seems like she doesn't really have another option]
Felix returns and captures Caiden by surprise. He hopes to persuade Lucinda into a trade. [What is the trade? Caiden for Lucinda, or something else?] Caiden’s raging beast is released and the slaughter Felix planned is ruined, [who was he planning to slaughter?] but not before Lucinda is injured. Felix flees during the chaos. During Lucinda’s recovery, Felix proposes a peace treaty: Lucinda in exchange for the pack’s safety. Lucinda overhears a conversation between Dylan and Caiden, both men state they will not take Lucinda as a mate, but they can think of no other way to protect her from Felix. [Why are they resistant to taking Lucinda as a mate? Because she's a rogue? It seems like Caiden already likes her, so we need a short explanation here]
As an attempt to save Caiden and his pack from ultimate destruction, and to mend a broken heart, Lucinda leaves in the middle of the night. She goes to Felix and makes him promise he’ll leave the Blood Moone pack alone if she agrees to the mating ritual. But he is not to be trusted. He holds Lucinda captive and sends a raiding party with a single instruction: bring back Caiden’s head on a stake.
Lucinda frees herself and attacks Felix. Successfully knocking him out in a fit of rage but before she can finish him off, Felix’s disgraceful band of followers turn on her. [I would change these sentences around a bit. Combine the first sentence with the first part of the second ('...attacks Felix, successfully knocking him out in a fit of rage.') and then use the second part of the second sentence as its own sentence ('But before she can finish him off...')] Having survived the earlier ambush, Caiden and Dylan head to Felix’s camp and arrive in time to save Lucinda. They bring her back to the Blood Moone pack with an order to rest and heal.
In the midst of a heated argument between Lucinda and Caiden, he [Caiden] breaks pack tradition and declares his love to her. Pleading with Lucinda to stay, Caiden asks her to be his mate. Caught in a moment of passion, Caiden marks Lucinda, claiming her as his mate. [And then what happens? Felix is still around, right? Does their mating make the pack safe? Is Lucinda okay with Caiden claiming her? And if Dylan is the reason she's a rogue in the first place, is there any resolution to that part of the story? This paragraph ends a little abruptly, so a little more detail here would be useful]
DEFINING LOVE is the first book in a planned trilogy. [You don't need this detail for a synopsis. It's enough to include it in the query, while also specifying that this book stands alone, as written.]


You've got a clear beginning and middle here, but the synopsis doesn't provide a thorough ending. I was left wondering what happened with several of the characters and whether any events transpired after Caiden claimed Lucinda. Even though this is the first book in a series, you'll need to make sure all the plot loops specific to this book are closed. It would be enough to note, say, that Felix flees into the forest, that Lucinda runs away to another part of town to get away from Caiden and his pack, because she didn't want Caiden to claim her, etc. (note I have no idea what actually happens in the book, but these are suggestions of ways to assure an agent, in the synopsis, that this book ends in a satisfying way. Tailor it to your actual plot.).

Also, since this is paranormal, you've got a bit of world-building here, but I think you can add a bit more. I was curious about how the mating ritual works, in terms of protecting the rest of the pack, and why, once Lucinda was rejected and deemed a rogue wolf, she wouldn't have been welcome among the pack. These may be things that are very obvious to someone reading the manuscript, but for purposes of the synopsis, assume the reader doesn't know anything about how werewolf worlds work, and add a little explanation.

Nice job, and good luck with this manuscript!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Meet Jilly Gagnon in this Debut Author Spotlight

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

#famous by Jilly Gagnon

1- Welcome to our second Debut Author in the Spotlight with a hashtag book title! Do you suppose that will be a #TitleTrend we'll see more of in the next few years?

I think it probably will! Social media isn’t going anywhere, and hashtags seem to have infiltrated every variation. Especially for YA contemporary, I’d wager you’ll see a lot more titles with a # in them in the next few years.

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

I always knew I wanted to do something creative—at least once I outgrew the stage of wanting to be a horse when I grew up, around age…let’s pretend it was pre-K—but when I was really young I figured I’d do visual arts. I was always the craftsy kid, drawing, knitting, hand-sewing extremely crooked outfits for my dolls, you name it really.

It wasn’t until senior year in high school (when, after a long break for resume-building class schedules, I signed up for an art class) that I realized I just wasn’t that GOOD at art. Picasso’s play with perspectives is great if it’s deliberate, not so much when it surprises the artist at the end. But I’d always been a writer. I started keeping journals around age 4 or 5, dutifully recording what I ate for dinner and whether I was mad at my best friend Perek, and continued them all the way through high school. I think it was then that I first seriously thought about writing as a career.

Of course when I was rejected the first time I attempted to get into one of the highly-competitive creative writing classes at my college, my fate was sealed. Telling me “you can’t” is basically a red flag in front of a bull.

3- Was the Valentine's Day release date intentional and how did that come about?

It was! Originally, #famous was going to be an early summer release, but I managed to get edits in a little ahead of schedule. Once my editor mentioned winter/spring as a possibility, it seemed like a no-brainer to pick Valentine’s Day. It was already falling on a Tuesday, after all, and the dust-jacket free cover of my book DOES have a “heart as wi-fi signal” logo on it…

4- What ignited your passion for writing?

I honestly don’t know the answer to this—it was just always the only thing I could legitimately see myself doing. I remember in one of my college writing classes, my professor (the phenomenal Amitav Ghosh) looked at all of us and said “how many of you think you’re going to be writers?” Probably 75% of us raised our hands. Then he said “if you can do literally anything else and be happy—teach, study the law, start a business—that’s what you should do. Only be a writer if there’s nothing else you can do and be happy.” (I’m paraphrasing, obviously.) That has always felt true to me. I want to create things that exist outside of me in the world, that other people can pick up and experience and have emotional reactions to. I think any other path for me would feel like a compromise.

5- Would you share a picture with us of a pic of a cat with your book?
The cat asks  #WhyDidYouWakeMeUp?

Caption: #WhyDidYouWakeMeUp?

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

Short term, I want to sell another book. Long term, my most important goal is simply reaching enough readers that they continue to let me turn my ideas into books. Though I wouldn’t be upset if they adapted one of my books into a movie, or if I saw my name on a bestseller or awards list some day ;)

7- Some people use hashtags outside of social media. What's your take on that?

My knee-jerk reaction is to roll my eyes, but then I remember my own high school days, when internet speak was JUST dawning on the horizon (yes, I’m old). A few friends of mine thought it was utterly hilarious to say “jk” and “lol” in real life—how cheesy, right?—and then, before we realized what we’d done, all of us had those things legitimately in our vocabulary. We’d become the thing we hated.

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

My book is still so new, so the only honest answer to this is “my mom.” I think the thing she loves most about it is the fact of its existence, though she’s probably also excited that I set it in Minnesota (where I grew up).

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

I think more than anything I hope readers realize two things: that the way you treat other people has consequences, even if you’re only interacting digitally, and that you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s head…so hold the judgment. There’s a scene after the photo goes viral, when Rachel (one of my MCs) has fled her writing class and is hiding in the parking lot. Emma, the ex of the boy in the photo (Kyle), spots Rachel and stops, comforts her briefly, and drops the biggest piece of wisdom I have: “[when] people are awful, it’s not about you. It’s almost always about them.”

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

It’s a boring answer, but writing. I wrote three novels that never sold before writing this one, but the third one is a LOT closer to being a book than the first one was.

That, and reading. You need to constantly immerse yourself in books that are doing things RIGHT until you sort of absorb the ability to tell a story by osmosis.

11- Will there be more "choose your own" books co-written by Mike MacDonald and yourself?

There will! We turned in the third installment, CHOOSE YOUR OWN MISERY: DATING, to our editors just before the new year. It should be out in early 2018!

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

Probably Rachel’s untameable mane. She has a massive explosion of curls that kind of defy her long-standing goal of high school invisibility.

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

My absolute favorite diverse book to date is WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST, by Jason Reynolds. Ali, his MC, was so incredibly well-realized you felt like he was sitting next to you, telling his story. As far as books coming up in 2017, I’m counting the minutes until my copy of THE HATE U GIVE, by Angie Thomas, is in my greedy little hands.
(NOTE: my MC is Jewish, but it’s not a major part of the story, so I’d rather spotlight these books)

14- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?

I think my favorite contradiction is Rachel’s tug between wanting to disappear from sight—which is visceral and emotional—and secretly desiring the spotlight. She’s a playwright, after all—she wants recognition and acclaim…and also not to be noticed by her peers in high school.

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

I’m a huge fan of voice and character. Books with a lot of humor and super-identifiable, voicey writing are always high on my list, as are books from authors who create characters that jump off the page. It doesn’t matter what Rainbow Rowell is writing about, I’ll always read it.

16- Has #AlexFromTarget read your book?

Not that I know of, but I’m hoping to get a copy into his hands soon!

17- How will you measure your publishing performance?

Obviously all those things would be amazing—who wouldn’t want to be a bestseller with universally glowing reviews? But I’ll count myself as a success, especially with my very first novel, so long as two things happen: at least one reader out there falls in love with my book, and I do well enough that the publishing gods allow me to write another.

The first has already happened, so I’m feeling pretty lucky. Hopefully that means the second is coming any day! :)

18- Any tips for hoping-to-debut authors on how to avoid an epic #fail?

Seek out and listen to valid criticism.

I don’t think you need to enlist 200 betas to try to iron out every wrinkle in your book—you can’t please everybody, and at some point, too many voices will make it hard to know what book YOU want to write. But you absolutely need to seek outside opinions, listen to tough criticism, and be willing to make changes. No one gets it perfect the first time out of the gate. And other people have valuable, even necessary, opinions to offer. So seek those opinions out, and find ways to integrate them into your writing. If the criticism is tough to hear or makes you feel defensive, that might be a sign that it’s right.

That’s probably even more important once your book is getting published. So practice now!

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

I’ve always wanted to go the traditional publishing route—my goal has always been to make writing my career, and there are so many elements in making a book successful (design, professional editing, marketing, knowing the market in ways I never can) that are just beyond my capacity if I really want to keep that focus. Traditional publishing has a lot of support for you as an author, which allows you to keep most of your focus on writing the next book. Especially as a debut, it was important to me to have that guidance and support.

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

I’d love to hear about their favorite viral moments online (or the ones they found most inexplicable), or about times when something in their life blew WAY out of proportion. #FAMOUS is a fun, fast-paced read about virality and cyberbullying (and falling for someone). I want to hear about readers’ experiences with any or all of those things!

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

Debut author Jilly Gagnon bursts onto the scene with a story equal parts bite and romance, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Jennifer E. Smith, about falling for someone in front of everyone.

In this modern day love story: Girl likes boy. Girl snaps photo and posts it online. Boy becomes insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent photo turns into a whirlwind adventure that forces them both to question whether fame—and love—are worth the price…and changes both of their lives forever.
Told from alternating points of view, #famous captures the sometimes-crazy thrill ride of social media and the equally messy but wonderful moments of liking someone in real life.

Bio: Jilly Gagnon is currently based in Chicago, but is originally from Minnesota, a fact she’ll likely inform you of within minutes of meeting you. When she’s not writing, she’s probably either deep in a video-game rabbit hole, talking to her cats like they understand her, or practicing her violin, which for some inexplicable reason (masochism) she took up recently. Jilly’s short humor, personal essays, and op-eds have appeared in all kinds of places that it’s too tedious to list. She also writes the adult comedy book series Choose Your Own Misery, coauthored with Mike MacDonald. Visit Jilly at @JillyGagnon

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 2017 Pass Or Pages Agent Panel

Meet the agents who will critique your Young Adult Contemporary entries!

Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights writing proposals of the entirely unromantic variety. She graduated in 2011 with a BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards. 

Whitley likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, and vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right. She has a soft spot for the goofy guys, awkward ducks, April Ludgates, and devout fan girls of the world. Manic pixie dream girls will be turned away at the door.

For more details on Whitley's #MSWL, visit her blog here. You can also read more about the other genres she represents on the Inklings Literary Agency webpage.

Associate Literary Agent Laura Crockett is interested in a variety of YA and adult fiction.

​In YA, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (such as study abroad experiences, strong female friendships, falling in love, mental health, diversity, LGBTQ) and fantasy (particularly with excellent world-building, authentic characterization, fantasy inspired by fairytales and other cultures' mythology, and historical fantasy). Some favorite titles include Fangirl, The Lie Tree, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, All the Bright Places, Shadowfell, When We Collided, Anna and the French Kiss, A Shadow Bright and Burning,The Star-Touched Queen, and The Winner's Curse.

Before joining Adams Literary, Lorin Oberweger served as a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter for more than two decades, helping to shepherd hundreds of books—including many bestsellers—to publishing success. She is particularly known for her one-on-one story development and workshops for writers of all genres of fiction and creative non-fiction. Lorin is a popular speaker at conferences around the country, including many appearances at SCBWI events. 

An award-winning author, Lorin has written for a wide variety of periodicals, and her ghostwritten books, commissioned by major publishers, have received glowing notices from the New York Times and Kirkus Reviews. Lorin is the co-author of BOOMERANG, REBOUND, and BOUNCE, under the pen name Noelle August. 

Details for May 2017 Pass or Pages:

Entry starts: Monday, May 15, 2017, at 6 a.m. Eastern
Ends: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 6 p.m. Eastern
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
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.

The winning entries with agent commentary will be posted on Operation Awesome the week of May 29th, 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.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

#AtoZChallenge 2017 Reflection Post

The #AtoZChallenge 2017 Theme at Operation Awesome was the Publishing Journey.

The challenge was a real team effort. We each took a few letters to post about or to hunt down guests. Then we took turns visiting the blogs of others, signing our comments from the team. Here are our reflections:

1- Did you enjoy writing an alphabet-worth of posts about the publication journey?

J Lenni Dorner: In addition to writing posts for my own blog and co-hosting at the A to Z blog... it was a real challenge! But yes, I enjoyed it. I hope visitors learned something. Even those people who aren't on the publishing path hopefully got a chuckle out of the quiz post or voted on their favorite debut book.

Jaime Olin: Yes! First off, it was fun trying to use the letters of the alphabet to figure out topics relevant to our theme. Then, I enjoyed writing posts that would be accessible to a wider audience than usual. I hope everyone learned something new or found a tidbit they could relate to.

Kara Reynolds: I'm glad we split up the work at OA :0) I'm not sure I could have done it on my own! But I love the concept, and how it makes you think outside the box about a topic you *think* you know backwards and forwards.

Melinda Friesen: I enjoyed it. The only apprehension I have is that it dates those posts. Most posts on our blog can be shared weeks and months after posting them. Labeling them for this specific event, makes it obvious when sharing them in the future that they are older posts.

2- Was it fun to leave comments on the blogs of other participants?

J Lenni Dorner: I left hundreds of comments this month. It's always fun.

Jaime Olin: Definitely. It was neat to see how many different topics and themes were being explored this month.

Kara Reynolds: I don't typically comment on blogs, so at first it felt like a chore. But as the month went on and the commenting went down, I felt like commenting was more valuable to the blogger.

Melinda Friesen: I only made a handful of comments, but it was interesting to visit other blogs and seeing what they have going on. 

3- Do you feel the challenge brought more people to the blog?

J Lenni Dorner: The Blogger Stats says we had "Pageviews last month= 19,116." I think that's a jump in numbers. So yes, I believe it did.

Jaime Olin: I think so.

Kara Reynolds: At first, yes, but we definitely saw blogging fatigue toward the end of the month. Much fewer page views at the end than at the beginning.

Melinda Friesen: While it may have brought more people to the blog, the big question is, how many will return? Only time will tell. I always feel that trying a new venture is worthwhile. You never know until you try.

4- Will you want to do the challenge again?

J Lenni Dorner: Absolutely!

Jaime Olin: Yes!

Kara Reynolds: As part of the team? Sure!

Melinda Friesen: Blogging the A to Z challenge with the OA time was definitely enjoyable. I'd be game to do it again.

5- Any other thoughts or feelings about the A to Z challenge 2017?

J Lenni Dorner: I love the challenge. I think it brings people together, creating a community in cyberspace for bloggers who might not otherwise have found one another. I believe it helps bloggers reach goals, make connections, and learn from one another.

Jaime Olin: It was a great opportunity to meet new readers and bloggers. Also, having a very specific challenge like A to Z made creating blog posts fun and interesting.

Kara Reynolds: I think a month is too long to sustain the momentum. Now, obviously you need the whole month to do the whole alphabet, but I wonder if there's another way to fit the alphabet in? 

Melinda Friesen: I agree with Kara, that excitement wains as the month goes on. 

As promised, here are the results of the Debut Book Survey:

Favorite Debut Author Survey #atozchallenge Operation Awesome 2017 WINNER: Harry Potter

#AtoZChallenge 2017 badge

Friday, May 5, 2017

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior

« “[A] dazzling interplanetary fantasy . . . that will easily appeal to fans of Naruto or Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

« “With sensitive writing, gorgeous artwork, and riveting plot, this is a series to keep an eye on.”
Booklist, Starred Review

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .
  • The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.
  • A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
  • Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?
When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!

MARK SIEGEL has written and illustrated several award-winning picture books and graphic novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sailor Twain, or the Mermaid in the Hudson. He is also the founder and editorial director of First Second Books. He lives with his family in New York. Follow Mark on Tumblr at @marksiegel and the 5 Worlds team on Twitter at @5WorldsTeam.

ALEXIS SIEGEL is a writer and translator based in London, England. He has translated a number of bestselling graphic novels, including Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, Pénélope Bagleu’s Exquisite Corpse, and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (into French).

XANTHE BOUMA is an illustrator based in Southern California. When not working on picture books, fashion illustration, and comics, Xanthe enjoys soaking up the beachside sun. Follow Xanthe on Tumblr at @yumbles and on Twitter at @xoxobouma.

MATT ROCKEFELLER is an illustrator and comic book artist from Tucson, Arizona. His work has appeared in a variety of formats, including book covers, picture books, and animation. Matt lives in New York City. Follow him on Tumblr at @mrockefeller and on Twitter at @mcrockefeller.

BOYA SUN is an illustrator and co-author of the graphic novel Chasma Knights. Originally from China, Boya has traveled from Canada to the United States and now resides in the charming city of Baltimore. Follow Boya on Tumblr at @boyasun and on Twitter at @boyaboyasun.

“This stellar team has created a gorgeous and entrancing world like no other!”—Noelle Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Nimona

“Epic action, adventure, and mystery will draw you in, but the heartfelt characters and their seemingly impossible journey will keep you turning the pages.” —Lisa Yee, author of the DC Super Hero Girls™ series