Thursday, March 28, 2019

Why publish short fiction if I'm a novelist?

As promised last week, here's the second part of that longer article, this time looking at why publishing those short stories is a good idea, even if you're certain writing novels is what you really want to do.

The scary thing is that moment when you know you’ve done as much to your story as you can. Because where do you go from here? Publishing feels like a big step, but writers write so they can be read, and a story hanging out on your hard drive is only going to be read by one person – you.  I’d jumped the gun with publishing, and had sent out a couple of those early, awful novels only to have them rejected, probably (hopefully?) unread. 

Before submitting a story to a publication, it’s a good idea to take a look at some other issues of that publication to get a feel for what they like.  It’s also a good idea to look at things like how often they publish new work, especially when it comes to online publications.   A site that publishes a new story each day is going to need far more content than a publication that might only publish one piece of short fiction per month or quarter, so is probably an easier place to get accepted.

I’m not going to lie to you.  Your story is very likely going to be rejected.  But this isn’t a bad thing.  Publishing is full of rejection (I’ve logged over 300 rejections in my career), and if you’re serious about being a writer, it’s something you need to learn to deal with.  And it’s way better to have a short story that may have taken a few days to write rejected than a novel that may have taken a few years.  I’m not saying it won’t hurt, or that it won’t be disappointing, but after the first few times, it does get easier. Honestly.  I wouldn’t lie to you.

And while your story is out in the world, waiting for its chance to shine in that literary journal or anthology, you can get to work on your next story.  Or your novel.  Just remember, the more publications you submit to, the more chance you have of getting published.  Rejections are just one of the stepping stones along the way.

As well as toughening my hide against the pain of rejection, publishing short fiction helped me build some publishing credits.  When querying a novel, having a publication history shows agents you’re serious about writing, and if you’ve been published in a well-known magazine or journal, it speaks to the quality of your writing. It also helps to build an audience for your long-form work.  If readers have enjoyed a short story you’ve written, they may also like a novel.  After reading the story, they might do some research to find out if you’ve written something else.

I don’t actually know for sure if any of the readers of my short stories have read my novels, or vice versa, but it’s certainly possible, right?

Which is a reason why it might be a good idea to continue writing and publishing short fiction even after your first novel is published and available.  Writing a novel takes a long time, and readers may be impatient to hear from you again.  Publishing short fiction keeps your name and your voice in the minds of your readers so they don’t forget you between novels.

Some publishers regularly compile anthologies of short or novella length fiction partly for this very reason – to keep their authors in the spotlight between novels. But also to discover new writers who might have unique and interesting voices. I’m lucky enough that my publisher is one of these, and last year I got to stretch my writing muscles with a novella-length story (Run to You) in an anthology of stories each of which started and finished with a kiss.  It’s called Kissed if anyone’s interested…

So, there are any number of reasons why writing and publishing short stories is not a waste of time for novelists.  So get out there and write yourself some short fiction.  I'd love to read it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Anstice Brown and Chelsea Marie Ballard Debut Author Spotlight #Giveaway #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Masquerade: Oddly Suited

Anstice Brown and Chelsea Marie Ballard Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome

1- Chelsea, what's your favorite Disney trivia question to stump others with?

Chelsea - My Disney trivia superpower lay in song guessing. Give me the first five seconds of any Disney song, and I’m already singing the chorus. But for this question, I’ll go with: What are the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty?

Don't worry, the answer is at the end! Think instead of seach, dear readers.
INFJ ESTP. Myers-Briggs. Anstice Brown and Chelsea Marie Ballard Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome

2- Anstice, you're an INFJ. I'm an ESTP. We're Myers-Briggs opposites. Do you ever use the personality test when writing fictional characters?

Anstice - I do, all the time! I think it’s a great tool for figuring out a character’s potential reactions to different situations. I have a huge chart I like to fill in to get to know my characters better, and it includes their MBTI type, Hogwarts house and Divergent faction.

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

Chelsea - A crappy first draft is better than a non-existent one.

Anstice - Read as much as you can, including genres and forms you don’t write in.

4- What was your inspiration for the story in Masquerade: Oddly Suited?

Chelsea - I have this whole anecdote about Bing images but I’ll simplify it for you. A few days before the end of the contest, I read about a lake you can windsurf on in Italy. It spawned an epic google hole and I thought it would be a really lush, exotic place for two love birds on the run. I sprinkled in some dystopian vibes, added a villain, and voila! Remedy.

Anstice - I was pondering the different meanings of the word ‘masquerade’ for weeks and I had a vague idea about a shapeshifter who was never seen in her true form, and how she felt alone and misunderstood. The feeling of loneliness led me to imagine a remote Scottish island. Then I began thinking of creatures from Scottish mythology like selkies and kelpies, and my main character shaped herself into a siren.

5- What are your Twitter handles, and do you have two friends each on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

Chelsea - My twitter handle is cecerumba. It’s a nickname my mom gave me when I was a wee babe. As for #WriterWednesday, I just did #febfrenzy with @LacieWaldon and she’s amazing. Also @jendwrites! She’s a local author I met at an expo, and she’s been a huge help with every step of the process. Definitely good follows.

Anstice - My twitter is @AnsticeBrown. Shout-out to @miladyronel who writes imaginative fantasy and folklore and @JazzFeathers, who writes unique historical fantasy set in the 1920s. Both are amazing writers who always leave thoughtful and supportive blog comments.

Anstice, I know Ronel and Sarah too! They're awesome. Small world.

Arcadia University, Grey Towers Castle. Chelsea Marie Ballard Debut Author Spotlight #Giveaway #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome

6- Chelsea, my fellow Pennsylvanian, would you share a picture with us of your favorite local food or place?

Chelsea - Fellow Pennsylvanian! Woot woot! You mean besides my local library, right? My favorite local place is my alma mater, Arcadia University. Specifically, Grey Tower's Castle. It’s beautiful and near Halloween, they give ghost tours about the tunnels under the campus and the general creepiness of the castle. There is also some delish vegetarian General Tso’s at Queen’s Sushi in Keswick if you’re ever in the area.

7- What's the best part of being in the Harry Potter fandom?

Chelsea - Oh man, I love the way the Harry Potter fandom transcends boundaries. You could be the sportiest jock or the smartest computer whiz but ask them what house they are from and suddenly everyone is debating Draco’s character arc. Plus, Hogwarts is always my home. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of rereading the series and experiencing the magic over and over again.

#HarryPotter fandom talk Anstice Brown and Chelsea Marie Ballard Debut Author Spotlight #Giveaway #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Anstice - I second what Chelsea said. It’s such an inclusive community where anyone is welcome. The mystery, magic and adventure in the books are something all ages can enjoy. Plus, there are spin-offs like Fantastic Beasts and a wealth of fan-fiction to keep us going forever.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Chelsea - This is going to be the worst thing I’ve ever said, but the cover. I know, I know! I shouldn’t judge, but I am a sucker for a pretty cover! Recommendations too. But if I pick it up and read the back I’m usually sold.

Anstice - A recommendation from one of my favourite book bloggers usually ignites my interest. But I get drawn in by beautiful covers too, especially if they have a mythical creature on the front.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Chelsea - Author name: @Marianne_Curley
Title: Old Magic
Love because: it’s a time travel young adult novel centered around realistic witchy-ness and out of control powers and angst. Realistically, it has everything anyone into paranormal young adult fiction could ask for. It’s also one of my all-time favorite books. I’m pretty sure I’ve read it a million times.

10- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Anstice - Author name: @lainitaylor
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Love because: it’s filled with interesting and funny characters, unique mythology and epic romance. I fell in love with Taylor’s beautiful, lyrical prose by the end of chapter one. All her books have the same dreamlike quality.

11- Anstice, congratulations on ten years of blogging. What's the best tip you have for a blogger who is just starting out?

Anstice - Thank you! My advice is not to put too much pressure on yourself to be “successful”. Most blogs don’t gain hundreds of followers overnight, it’s something that happens gradually when you build a relationship with your readers. You don’t have to post every day or say ‘yes’ to every review opportunity-go at your own pace and enjoy it!

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

Chelsea - Allmyfriendsarefiction is amazing. She legit made a book throne. Twice. Also, I’m a sucker for a good shelfie. I mostly just alphabetize because I’m neurotic so seeing beautiful bookshelf displays warms my heart.

Anstice - I love mo_the_bookish for her light and pretty pics filled with flowers. Foldedpagesdistillery always includes such interesting props and oliviascatastrophe is so creative with her editing.

Small world getting smaller! I follow Olivia on Pinterest!

13- Anstice -Would you share a picture with us of something with a "Pride of Britain" style?

Anstice - Here is a picture of the quintessentially British Bondville Model Village in Yorkshire which I visited a few years ago.
Anstice Brown Debut Author Spotlight #Giveaway #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome

14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters from Masquerade: Oddly Suited?

Chelsea - I’d have to say my characters masks. We’ll go with Remy. He’s got this pigeon mask and the way I imagined it, it was made of drab, gray feathers but when he turns his head, the feathers had a rainbow sheen. Kind of like him: full of hidden beauty.

Anstice - Probably the way the sirens in Sea of Sorrows communicate telepathically with each other. They have a very close bond and can sense each other’s emotions.

15- In what ways are the characters in your story in Masquerade: Oddly Suited diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Chelsea - Diversity, in my option, is more than race or skin color. It bridges mental and neurodiversity as well. In Remedy, one of my characters suffers from an anxiety attack of sorts, despite looking “normal” on the outside. Despite being strong and sassy moments earlier. I think it’s important to be aware of #ownvoices and anxiety is something I’ve always struggled with, so it felt the most organic to incorporate that kind of diversity into Remedy.

Anstice - Sea of Sorrows is centred around the female experience and could raise questions about how young girls are expected to appear and behave, and how they can be used by those who seek power. But Mairg’s feelings of being isolated and treated as ‘other’ by those who don’t understand her could relate to many diverse experiences. The story was also partly inspired by my own past struggle with depression.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

Chelsea - I’m a big fan of my friend from college, Meghan Wright at #ohwrightreads. Her reviews are short enough that I can read them while browsing Instagram or Facebook but through enough to convey plot and feel of the book. I’ve picked up many a book because of her and crossed some off my TBR list too.

Anstice - There are so many book bloggers I adore, but my must follow blogger is Amber of The Literary Phoenix ( ). Her tastes are so similar to mine and her reviews are always detailed and well considered. I’ve read several books on her recommendation.

17- What's your favorite part of the IWSG?

Chelsea - The support. After I finished my first draft of my first novel, and I went …uh now what? I found the IWSG. I read about imposter syndrome and how I wasn’t alone in feeling like I wasn’t a “real” author. I wasn’t alone in feeling like my work wasn’t good enough or being cripplingly insecure. So, I stalked the posts and gathered up every bread crumb of advice I could. Now, I’m a little bit more involved and busier, but I still like to check in for the first Wednesday of the month posts and read the articles posted on Twitter.

Anstice - I agree with Chelsea; the IWSG is so supportive and always there to provide helpful advice and constructive feedback. Taking part in the various challenges has encouraged me to ‘come out of my shell’ as a writer and have the confidence to share more of my work. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in feeling insecure about my writing sometimes.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

Chelsea - I didn’t understand the importance of reviews until I wrote a book. Yes, reviews help sell. Yes, reviews boost ratings and turn other people on to a novel. But as an author, I just want to know what people thought of my book! If they had a favorite character or if they especially hated the car in scene three. It boggles my mind that we can reach out to authors and let them know what we thought of the musings from their head. The world is a magnificent place.

Anstice - Reviews are a great way to help your favourite authors gain more visibility, and also to introduce others to wonderful books they may not have heard of. I always read reviews on Goodreads before I buy a book to get an idea of whether I will like it or not. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to read reviews of my own work, though!

19- What is one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
And hey, Chelsea, what was the answer to the trivia from question one?

Chelsea - Get at me with your Harry Potter comments! I ship Dramione and I am ready to defend its honor with my life! But seriously, what do you guys like to see from your authors? Pretty bookstagrams? Blog posts? Funny tweets? What makes you feel connected with not just their book but them?
The answer is Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite princess because napping is what I wish I could do every day and Maleficent is the legit best Disney villain. If I didn’t get invited to a party, I would totally curse an entire kingdom too.

Anstice - Who are your favourite authors? I’d also like to know what topics you enjoy reading on author blogs. Do you like to read articles about the writing process, discussions of other books or do you prefer excerpts and flash fiction?

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

Chelsea Marie Ballard Debut Author Spotlight #Giveaway #IWSG #20Questions at Operation Awesome
Chelsea -

Short Blurb for Remedy by Chelsea Marie Ballard:

Born with privilege in the Protected Lands means money, power, and ease. For Remy, it means forever being apart from Rudy. On the night of the Masquerade Ball, Remy must choose between duty and heart. Which will prove stronger?

Excerpt from Remedy by Chelsea Marie Ballard:

“Are you sure you want to do this?”
Rudy always asked rhetorical questions. Are you sure? Did you mean that? Can I kiss you? He meant well. He was sweeter than the chocolates we stole from the kitchens. Sweeter than the apple pies the cooks made, their fingers calloused and dried from the years of servitude. Sometimes, that sweetness grated on me.
Though I would never have said that to his beautiful face. His face remained pristine and unmarked despite the time he’d spent as a pigeon.
Most of the time, masters marked their pigeons; often on their faces. The brands showed ownership and status. The more important the master, the more pigeons he owned, scattered throughout the city, as they delivered messages.
But Rudy’s face was gracefully unmarred. Smooth, olive skin. Playful, green eyes. Dark, tousled hair. A sloping nose carved his face in half trailing down to his full lips.
Lips he bit now as he waited eagerly for my answer.
“What?” I asked with my eyes as I raised my brows. I gave him a look with raised brows I hoped said, “What?”
With those eyes on me, I forgot where I was; who I was.
The hued light from the ball filtered through the stained windows, casting colors over his soft skin. His eyes sparkled in the light as he dissolved into soft laughter. Everything about him was soft, his hands, his eyes, his laughter. The product of an eternity of blending into the background.
He leaned in close, the laughter still sparkling in his eyes. “I asked if you were sure about this, my beautiful wanderer?”

Bio- Chelsea Marie Ballard:

A student of all things, Chelsea has turned her passion for flowery prose, angsty television, and biology toward her writing. She enjoys rare vines, quirky people, and a good love/hate story. This gold-ranking gamer lives in Bucks County, PA with her family, anxious dog, and fat cat.


Anstice -

Short Blurb for Sea of Sorrows by Anstice Brown:

A shape-shifting siren named Mairg sets out to reunite a handsome young man named Erik with his missing fiancée, but she soon finds herself falling for him. Will Mairg fight against her own kin to save the girl Erik loves? Or will she embrace her monstrous nature and keep him for herself?

Excerpt from Sea of Sorrows by Anstice Brown:

I ease myself from the sea floor with a flick of my tail, and a flurry of dark sand turns the water murky. As I swim toward shore, my tail sears and splits into limbs and my gills heal over. I push towards the surface, desperate for breath, and propel myself forwards until I collapse onto the dark sand.
I stagger towards the cliffs on my webbed feet, the icy wind clawing at my bare body. I retrieve my lantern from a crevice in the rock and light it with a match. The soft glow of the candle comforts me, though a creature such as me has nothing to fear from the darkness.
Settling myself onto a rock, I sing. I wish I didn’t need to do this. But the promise of release is irresistible and soon my pain pours out of me and into the melody of the song, rising high into the night like the crest of a wave. This is no love song, no elegant ballad. It is the song of the abandoned, the hopeless, and the forgotten. The notes rush out of me like a restless tide, plummeting lower and lower until they reach the depth of my loneliness and fade away into silence.

Bio- Anstice Brown:

Anstice Brown has had her nose in a book and her head in the clouds for as long as she can remember. A geek/hippie hybrid with a love of all things retro, Anstice enjoys doodling, gaming and raving about books on her blog, Dusting the Soul. She adores speculative fiction and is currently working on a science fantasy novel.

Anstice has a BA in Literature and Philosophy and currently works as a school administrator. She lives on the East coast of England with her wonderful husband, daughter and their mischievous cat, Magical Mr. Mistoffelees.


Masquerade: Oddly Suited Tour Banner

Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Masquerade: Oddly Suited, a young-adult romance anthology from The Insecure Writer's Support Group which is coming out on 30th April 2019!

About the Anthology

Title: Masquerade: Oddly Suited
Release date: April 30th, 2019
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
Genres: Young Adult Fiction: Romance – General / Paranormal / Contemporary
Print ISBN: 9781939844644
EBook ISBN: 9781939844651


Book cover for Masquerade: Oddly SuitedFind love at the ball...

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…


eBook / Paperback / Goodreads / Blog /
Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest


Stories Featured

Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.

Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher’s mound?

The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King
The new girl in town falls in love for a mysterious boy who is maybe, probably, most definitely, a vampire.

The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Falling in love, saving the day, and a masque—oh my! Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince?

A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown
You can be anything you want in the online world of Cumulus. A human. An elf. A powerful beast mutation from your wildest imagination. But can you be in love?

Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
What if life's price of servanthood could be changed?

Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
Is he a figment of her imagination conjured to keep her sane, or is he something else…something more?

Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian
Can two worlds come together and find love?

Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?

Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Everything is against Remy and Rudy, but on the night of the Masquerade Ball, they must choose: each other or their lives?

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.



The authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one winner. To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open internationally from 12:00 am GMT 17th March to 12:00am GMT 6th May.

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Tour Schedule

Visit the other blog tour hosts below to find out more about the stories and authors featured in Masquerade: Oddly Suited.

Buy Link

Masquerade: Oddly Suited

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Word Snobs Are the Worst

I recently got into a one-sided argument on the internet about whether one could say “pierogies” as the plural form of the word “pierogi.” Their view: mortal sin because that’s not how one would say it in the original language. My view: IDGAF I’m gonna say what I want.

Obviously both sides here have a point. On one hand you’ve got preservation of a language in its original intended use. I mean, what are traditions and traditional food without the words to go with them? On the other hand you’ve got the common current colloquialism of the same word (and my Slovenian grandma said it that way, so there, internet person). I checked Wikipedia for the plural form of the word, and they cited a book in which it was written that both are correct. So who’s right here? And what does this have to do with writing?

I’m getting to it, I promise. This isn’t just a rant about That One Guy on the Internet.

What this disagreement made me think of was Kory Stamper’s WORD BY WORD, which is a nonfiction but extremely voice-y book about how the dictionary definitions are written. She wrote a chapter about the word “irregardless” and the vitriol surrounding the word. Some people get quite worked up and insist that it can’t be a word, that it must be some modern oddity that needs to be eliminated from the lexicon. But the thing is, “irregardless” has been in use for over 150 years. Doesn’t that make it worth including in a book that chronicles language and its current use? “Irregardless” is used to mean “regardless,” and regardless of what naysayers might…well, say, people do use it that way in modern parlance. Why can’t we just accept this and move on? Somehow “inflammable” and “flammable” mean the same thing, and yet nobody’s up in arms about that.

I know this sort of word snobbery comes naturally to a lot of writers. (Personally, my big thing is misuse of the word “entitled.” It doesn’t mean the same thing as “titled,” and…sorry, I’ll leave it at that.) I’ve seen this in works ranging from my favorite author’s books to the manuscript I’m critiquing. What I’ve found to be most common is that one character is a grammar snob and continuously corrects another throughout the manuscript. What do we as writers hope to accomplish with this? Nobody likes a grammar snob in real life; why would a reader sympathize with them on the page?

I’m no authority (on anything, really), but I think this comes down to a combination of insecurity and arrogance. We want to prove that we know what we’re talking about, that we’re familiar enough with the English language and its “proper” usage. We want to look like an authority so others will read our work and say “Ah, yes, clearly this person is well-versed in the English language.” But the thing is, as anyone who had to read Shakespeare in high school will tell you, language is not fixed. Phrasing changes, words are invented, and meanings shift (why on earth does “cleave” mean both “split from” and “join to”?).

What I’m getting at is that we all need to back off. It’s not cool to tell other people how to speak or how to write. It’s not cool to tell others, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I mean, come on, The Princess Bride is a treasure and shouldn’t be used for putting others down. We need to take a collective deep breath and remind ourselves that the way we use the English language is as individual as our fingerprints, and that’s okay.

Now leave “irregardless” alone so I can eat my pierogies in peace.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Why write short fiction if I'm a novelist?

There were no questions for O'Abby this week, so I thought instead I'd share an excerpt from a longer article I wrote a while back about why, as a novelist, writing short fiction can be valuable.

Next time we're without a question for O'Abby, I'll share the other part of this article, which is about why publishing that short fiction is equally valuable.

Hope you find it useful!

I wrote my first novel when I was still a teenager.  Barely a teenager.  I’d never written anything except stories for school before, and had no idea what I was doing.  And the finished novel was a complete mess.  So were the next two I attempted, and the fourth.

It wasn’t until I took a step away from pouring myself into novel after novel that I learned how to be a writer.  And what taught me those valuable lessons, was writing short stories.

Writing short fiction has many benefits for novelists, whether you’ve written your first novel or your fourteenth.

Writing short fiction helps you discover what you love writing.  There are thousands of publications out there asking for stories in every genre from crime thrillers to romance to fantasy and beyond.  Why not test your ability across a range of genres and styles?  Find out what you truly love to write before you invest the hundreds of hours required to write a novel.

While I figured this out for myself, I wrote sci-fi, fantasy, horror, erotica, historical fiction and more.  And throughout all this, I think I knew my heart was always going to be in YA, but I don’t feel at all like I wasted my time by writing more broadly.  In fact, I think writing all those different genres helped me find my own unique voice because I tried so hard to change it when writing stories that weren’t wholly my own.

Writing short fiction is also a valuable tool for honing your writing craft.  When a publication is asking for a story of only five, three or one thousand words, there’s no room for waffle.  The story itself needs to be focused and crafted so it has a beginning, a middle and an ending.  The writing must be powerful and evocative.  In short fiction, every word must have a purpose and pull its weight.  There is no room for flabby writing.   Nor is there room for a cast of thousands or myriad subplots.

I like to keep this in the back of my mind when I’m editing longer works.  Each chapter can be looked at like a short story, and each word in that chapter needs to push the story forward, not send it off into some dark alleyway with no exit in sight.

As a writer, I find writing short fiction is fantastic for keeping my writing tight. Novels give us the freedom to explore subplots and side characters and elaborate on worlds, but sometimes it’s valuable to go back to short fiction and try to get to the core of the story in as few words as possible.  Once you get back into the habit of making every word count, it will transfer into your novel writing and make your writing there stronger and tighter too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Natasha Tynes' Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes link

1- Would you tell us something about Jordan that many people don't know?

Do you want to hear a fun fact? Do you know that it actually snows in Jordan? When I first moved to the US people kept asking me if it was my first time seeing snow. Of course not. I played with snow all through my childhood.

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

Write everyday, writers block is a myth.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

I have always known that I was going to be a writer. As cliché at it may sound, writing was my true calling. I just knew it very early on, maybe when I was nine or ten years old. That’s why I pursued journalism as a career, because I was attracted to the writing aspect. I only started writing fiction in my late twenties after I read a profile of Yiyun Li in the Washington Post. I was really impressed by the fact that when she moved to the US she hardly knew any English, and that she first majored in science, and later on switched her major, pursuing her love for writing. I started writing and publishing short stories, before I wrote my debut novel.

4- Do you believe that fans of the movie "The Invisible" or The Lovely Bones will enjoy your book and why?

Yes, for sure. Just like the Lovely Bones, my novel is told from the perspective of a dead person, and just like the Invisible the narrator is trying to solve her own murder and will do anything in her might to help in the investigation. It’s a murder mystery with supernatural elements similar to the plot of the Lovely Bones and the Invisible.

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

My Twitter handle is @natashatynes. The writer friends that I would like to give a shout out to are: @Christinamac79 and @smariedowning

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book?

Natasha Tynes' Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

7- How excited were you to see yourself in Writer's Digest? Did you know about it beforehand?

Being published in Writer’s Digest is definitely a dream come true. Yes, I knew about it beforehand. They contacted me a few months before the publication after they found out about my book on Goodreads.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

I pick books mostly based on friends’ recommendation. I still believe that word of mouth is the best marketing strategy out there.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Imbolo Mbue
Title: Behold the Dreamers
Love because: I loved it because it was very well written and tackles issues I’m interested in like immigration, race, and the pursuit of the American dream.

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

I think my biggest fan is my publisher Robert J. Peterson. He believed in me and acquired my book, and he is always supportive as you see in this twitter thread:

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

I think the biggest takeaway I want is a better understanding of the identify of Arab women and the struggle that they face both at home and elsewhere. Also, I wanted to shed light on the hurdles people face when they move to a different country and how they battle issues of identify race, and the need to belong. It’s like being in purgatory. You don’t belong anywhere anymore.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

I like DC based bookstagrammeer:

Your blog article stirred my belly and made me nod along as I sighed with understanding.
13- Do you have any suggestions for a way to increase tolerance via online communities and social media?

I truly believe that fiction can combat racism and promote understating and tolerance of other races. When you get in the character’s head especially a diverse character, you develop empathy, and you truly get a better understanding of people of different races, cultures and ethnicities.

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

Wyatt has a birth mark on the back of his head. Siwar died by falling from a building. She cracked her skull. Any link between the birthmark and the location of the skull fracture? The readers should be the judge of that.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

My book has characters from all over the world: There are Jordanians, Americans, a Greek an Italian, an Indian, a German. My characters have different racial backgrounds and speak different languages.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

I’m so grateful for all the book bloggers who reviewed my novel. A special shout out to

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

I tried to get an agent for over a year with no luck. I went with California Coldblood Books mostly because they believed in the novel, and were very excited about it and also because they were open to unagented submissions.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

I love book reviews, and I wrote some myself. I think book reviews are extremely important because that’s one way for authors to hear from readers, and see what resonated with them and what didn’t work. I read every single review about my book (on Goodreads, Instagram, blogs, etc) and I want to continue to do so. I want to see if I succeeded in stirring emotions in the readers. I want to know what annoyed them and what they truly hated. I want to be a better storyteller.

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

One issue that has been on my mind lately is the challenge Own Voices writers face. We are criticized for showing the faults in our own culture and also for commenting on other races and cultures. We are always in the position of damn if we do and damn if we don’t. I wonder if readers of this interview agree and would like to shed light on this.

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


Natasha Tynes is an award-winning Jordanian-American author and communications professional based in Washington, DC.. She has appeared on a number of national and international TV programs, including Larry King Live, PBS's Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal, Paula Zahn show, CBS's This Morning, Scarborough Country, and BBC's Up all Night. Her byline has appeared in the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, and the Jordan Times, among many other outlets. Her short stories have been published in Geometry, The Timerbline Review andFjords. Her debut novel They Called Me Wyatt will be published in June 2019 by California Coldblood Books, an imprint of Rare Bird Books. Tynes was born in Amman, Jordan. She moved to the US when she was 28 years old.

Natasha Tynes' Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome
new cover

They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes link

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#FirstPageImpressions 03/19/19

It's time for...

#FirstPageImpressions is here again! That first page is so important, and I hope this event will provide some solid feedback that will help you improve your work. I'm so excited to see your first pages!

Here's how to participate:

1. Comment on this post and at least one other post from this week by Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 12:00 pm EST.

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

For a rules refresher, please visit this post.

The winner will be announced in the comment section of this post on Thursday evening. Best of luck!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Writing Journey #atozchallenge Theme Reveal

Theme Reveal #AtoZchallenge Tenth Anniversary 2019


The 2019 Operation Awesome Team has two guys and three girls. So our theme is a play-on-words of the show "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place."
We would LOVE if you'd help us out by voting for one of the two three images below. Oliver, Banner, or Olive pizza?
Tell us what you love or loathe about them in the comments, please!

Olive Pizza

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

Friday, March 15, 2019


It's that time again, everybody! Enter here for a chance to win a query critique by yours truly! Here's how to participate:

1. Comment on this post and at least one other post from this week by *SUNDAY 3/17 at 12 pm*.

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

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

See this post for additional rules. Good luck!


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dear O'Abby: How do I deal with a major plot twist in a synopsis?

Dear O'Abby,

I'm currently querying my novel and have discovered that many agents seem to want a synopsis as well as a query.  So I read up on how to write synopses, and it appears a synopsis of a novel tells the whole story, beginning to end.

My book has a major plot twist toward the end, and revealing this in the synopsis seems like a really good way to make sure the agent won't bother reading the MS.

Do I really have to give away this major piece of plot in my synopsis?



Dear Twisted,

I'm afraid so.

Agents and publishers use synopses to make sure your novel has clear story and character arcs, a plot that hangs together and makes sense, and a plausible ending.

I know it's tempting to hold back something as important as a major plot twist, but by doing that, you're actually weakening your synopsis by not showing the agent reading how genius your plotting or character development really is.

Just make sure you seed hints to this twist through your synopsis the same way you no doubt have through the novel.  I've read synopses for novels with big character reveals or twists in them where they appear, in the synopsis, not to make any logical sense because the seeds haven't been planted earlier in the synopsis.  And these were for books I'd read and knew the author had very cleverly pointed toward the twists throughout the book without making it obvious that's what they were doing.

It makes writing your synopsis harder, but yes, you do have to reveal that twist in your synopsis.

Hope that helps!

X O'Abby

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Gail Shepherd's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins by Gail Shepherd

1- What was the best and worst part of being a middle-grader (or a 12-year-old) for you?

Twelve was a big year. I broke up with my best friend. Went steady for the 1st time. Got my period. Smoked my 1st cigarette, rolled up my skirt, wore my sweater backwards, stuffed my bra with socks. I was trying to grow up. But what an awkward, hellish year. My teachers hated me. I was always wondering if I smelled.

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

Figure out what has the deepest, most resonant meaning for you in life. Write that.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

Enthusiastic encouragement from my fourth-grade teacher. Teachers and other adults should never underestimate the power of mentorship on children.

4- The car nicknamed The Blue Bullet sounds interesting. Would you please tell us a little more about it?

The Blue Bullet is Lyndie’s ticket to adventure—it speeds her away from the oppressive rules and manners of her southern grandmother. Riding in it with her daddy is like being shot out of a canon.

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

@dgephartwrites @stacieramey and @joycesweeney have been my life support. There are so many, though!

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book with the flag?

7- In your opinion, how could people better support teachers?

Lay off with the constant carping—teaching is *really hard*. Lobby your legislators to pay teachers a really good salary.

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Word of mouth recommendations, reviews, and lists. I try to read as many new middle grade and YA books every year as I can.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: @jackiewoodson
Title: Harbor Me
Love because: we desperately need to provide safe harbor for kid humans in this moment.

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

My wife. Now and always. She loved most about my debut: how many of her jokes I stole.

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

Empathy. You never know what another person is going through. I most love the scenes where Lyndie is taken aback by what she failed to see or understand even about her best friends and close family.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?


13- Shows like Homecoming, and books like yours, are shining a light on veterans. Is it getting any easier for veterans to get help these days, and is there less stigma now for needing help?

Yes, absolutely. My book takes place in the mid-80s, when most people barely had a name for PTSD. Now we know so much about the causes, the physical changes induced by trauma, ways to treat it. Particularly when veterans can help veterans, there is far less stigma attached to seeking treatment.

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

DB has heterochromia, his eyes are different colors.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks
Alternative question: What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?


Because it can be impossible to think of even one, that's why we need more diverse books. Anyway...
16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

I’m pretty fond of Middle Grade Mafia.

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

I’m traditionally published. I don’t have hutzpah or the confidence to market myself in the way self-published authors have to do.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

Ideally, so they’ll have to really think about the books that they’re reading in some depth. At least, that’s why I write them.

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

I’d love to know what expectations readers bring to a book. Do you read to feel more deeply? To have an adventure? To escape? To learn about worlds or things that are foreign to you? To fall in love with a specific character?

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

Middle grade. Pub date: March 26, 2019.
“A one-of-a-kind voice lights up this witty, heartwarming debut set in 1985 Tennessee about the power of homespun wisdom (even when it’s wrong), the clash between appearances and secrets, and the barriers to getting help even when it’s needed most.”

Twitter: @gailshepherd

The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins by Gail Shepherd

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

We Need to Talk about New Adult

New Adult, sometimes abbreviated to NA, should be what exists to fill the gap between young adult and adult literature. It is meant for readers approximately between the ages of 18 and 25, and features characters within that same age range. Some people refer to it as literature for college students, and in that vein, a lot of the major works address issues like leaving home, finding ones’ place in the world, and developing meaningful relationships with other people outside of the constraints of school.

So…where is it?

No NA over here, no NA over there...

A lot of major publishers are uninterested in pursuing NA as an age category because they see it as a category without a reading base, and I get it, sort of. YA is incredibly lucrative, and it has readers of all ages (my own grandmother often read the same book that I was reading, or would suggest books for me, when I was in high school). Because of YA’s proven profitability, NA characters will often get “aged down” to YA with a simple find-replace in the manuscript. Bada-bing, bada-boom, YA-ified, Make Me Some Money.

The thing is, this ridiculous practice is as transparent as having 25-year-old actresses play high school students in movies (looking at you, Mean Girls). No high school junior looks like Rachel McAdams – and no 15-year-old acts like a 25-year-old, either. Believe me, I remember being 15, as much as I would like to forget how much of a dork I was. It’s misleading and irresponsible to age down characters who very much act like adults and pretend that they’re just “mature” teenagers. It’s an extraordinarily short-sighted move that’s pushing YA readers out of their own space.

My face when I read YA high school students acting like my graduate school buddies.

The other issue with this belief from publishers is that…ya know, people between the ages of 18 and 25 do, in fact, exist. I am one of them (gasp!), and as far as I can tell, I am very much alive and interested in reading books. Every time I head to the library to find something new to read, I’m faced with a dilemma: Should I head to the teen section and grab a book with a protagonist almost ten years younger than me and whose main concern is what they’re going to wear to prom, or should I go to the adult section and read something about a 35-year-old woman who’s struggling to take care of her aging parents in the wake of her messy divorce?

(Yeah, I know that’s not all there is to YA or A, but bear with me here.)

As someone in the NA age range, it’s frustrating. I want to read about other people going through the same struggles as me. It’s the same problem I had when I was growing up, never seeing LGBT characters in the literature written for my age. I thought we were past this already. The NA books that exist are 90% romance, mostly due to the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, with some Sarah J. Maas thrown in because she has the reading base to be able to properly categorize her books. I want NA fantasy, NA mystery, NA thrillers. NA deserves its place on bookshelves because the reading base exists, the people who want these books exist, and I know the people writing these books exist.

NA writers and readers are a people without a genre. If you’re a NA writer, don’t give up. Fight for your manuscript and for the readers who want it. If you’re a reader, support your writing friends. I sincerely hope that this is something we can look back on and laugh about in the future, because the current lack of NA is truly sad and a loss for writers and readers as a whole.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Dear O'Abby: Should I Enter Twitter Pitch Contests?

Dear O'Abby,

There's this thing called #PitMad happening on Twitter this week.  I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's a thing where you tweet a pitch for your book and agents and publisher request the things they like the look of.

Are these kinds of contests a good idea?  The word limit on Twitter is so small, I can't quite figure out how an agent or publisher can figure out what's worth asking for.

Do you have any thoughts about this?

X Twitchy

Dear Twitchy,

I actually got my agent through a Twitter pitch contest, so I'm evidence that they work, at least sometimes.

Like any contest, these Twitter pitch parties are another way to get your project seen.  They are also a really good way to distill your story down into a really tight, punchy longline that will catch attention.  If you can get people re-tweeting and favoriting your pitch tweet, chances are you've managed to write a compelling pitch.

The key is to just focus on the main details of your story and make them unique and interesting.  For example, here's the pitch that got me my agent (and is for my recently published novel, The Sidewalk's Regrets):

When Sacha's sheltered life entwines with sexy rocker Dylan's, she gives him her cutting-edge sound; he gives her his drug habit. #PitMad #YA

Or this one, for a project I've been re-working recently after several agents requested it and gave me feedback on why they didn't think it worked:

A trans-boy and a pregnant stranger struggle to survive in the woods after an earthquake. But are they as alone as they think? #PitMad #YA

Like any other contest, it pays to do your due diligence on any agent or publisher who favorites your tweet before you send them the material they're requesting.  Just because they like your idea doesn't mean you have to send them anything.  If you don't think they're someone you want to work with, just ignore their interest.

So my advice would be to do it if you want to, but don't get too hung up on whether your pitch gets noticed or not.  You can always query.  That option is always there.  And even if you do get noticed in the pitch contest, you still have to send a query to the agent.

There are no shortcuts, I'm afraid...

X O'Abby

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Metl: The Angel Weapon by Scott Wilson

1- We hear you're a fan of OA. Thanks! What do you like about our site?

What first got me to follow OA was the Pass or Pages series. Like all authors, I went through the joy of writing query letters, sending dozens of them out with a twinkle in my eye... and smiling through the pain of getting nothing but form rejections and radio silence.

Pass or Pages, with its great feedback from real agents, was a huge help. I even made it in at one point! Getting swiftly passed by all the three agents was an awesome and humbling learning experience.

You can see my incredibly lackluster performance here: (for a different book that never got published)

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

Getting constructive criticism sucks, and it always hurts, but it's the only way to get better. Never blame a reader for not understanding—just make it clearer.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

Back in 2000, 13-year-old Scott had a big problem: the fifth Harry Potter book was taking too long to come out. So I was inspired to write my own fanfiction version of the Order of the Phoenix… and a fanfiction sixth book too… and half of a seventh, because when you don't have friends in middle school you have a lot of free time.

After that I didn't do much creative writing until college. I was on a summer internship in Tokyo where I made cold calls to Japanese businesses, asking them if they wanted to purchase my company's fringe benefits plan where their employees could essentially save 12 yen on cans of squid paste. For some reason I was suddenly hit with an idea for a book while walking home one night.

So I wrote that book. And no one wanted to publish it. So I wrote another. And another. And another. And another. (No one wanted those either.)

But the sixth time was the charm!

4- What's the best part of working for SoraNews24?

For my job that pays the bills, I'm an editor/writer/translator for the Japanese news entertainment website SoraNews24, bringing all of the best Japanese current events, social media explosions, and funny cat videos to a Western audience.

The best part of working for SoraNews24 is being able to set my own schedule. Since I work from home, I get to pick when my butt is in the chair working. As long as everything that needs to get done actually gets done on time, everyone's happy. Oh, and I get to work in my pajamas! It's the best.

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

My handle: @scottdoesstuff

Erika David @ErikaDavidCAN Erika was my writing mentor in the query contest that got my book Metl noticed. Her advice was incredible, and she is still one of my most valuable beta readers. When one of her books gets published, she's going to be a name that everyone knows.

Erica Deel @EricaDeel Erica is a viewer on my creative writing livestream that I do on Twitch three times a week (ScottWritesStuff). She's written some incredible short stories, one of which is about her rare "supertaster" tastebuds that will soon be published in the online digital health community The Mighty.

Chris @Totes_Coax Chris is also a viewer on my livestream who writes/draws a weekly comic strip called MONDAYS. If you're a fan of puns and/or anthropomorphic toasters, then definitely check it out.

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a fun setting?

Here's Metl with some nutcrackers!
Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome

7- What entertainment technology is better in Japan than anywhere else?

Too many good choices! The video game arcades that make you feel like you've tripped into the future, the private soundproof karaoke rooms with thousands of songs in Japanese and English. The list goes on. But as far as "entertainment technology" goes, Japan has everyone else beaten at just good old fashioned TV.

Japanese TV has a knack for taking pretty much anything and spinning it in a way that makes it seem like the most amazing thing ever. In the U.S. every news show is crammed full of stories meant to send your blood pressure through the roof, and the dramas are the same. But in Japan, you get stories on TV like this:

A Japanese girl goes to find her Iranian grandfather.

A guy visits a museum where there's a "gold bar challenge."

We need wholesome stuff like this in the U.S. too!

8- What most motivates you to read a new book?

I am a horrible reader. If a book isn't one-hundred percent grabbing me by both my heart and my eyes, then I lose interest and think about all the other things I could be doing, or more often, the things I should be doing. I only finish about one-fifth of the books I start.

I know, shame on me.

So while it takes a lot for me to finish a book, I have a pretty low threshold for starting one. All it takes is a recommendation from a friend or someone I know and then bam! I add it to the TBR list.

Whether or not I actually make it past chapter three, however, is a different story.

9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Brian Katcher @BrianKatcher1
Title: Almost Perfect
Love because:Brian Katcher was the author who got me into YA. Before I read Almost Perfect, I thought YA was just "kid's stuff." He showed me how wrong I was. It was the first book in years that I read the whole way through in a single day, because I had to know what happened next. I loved how the story made me feel like my insides had been scooped out and pumped full of concrete, never to feel anything again… in a good way!

The book is so good I even did a video about the opening first pages on my livestream:

10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome

My wife, Abbey.

My book takes place in a future without technology, where society has reverted back to Pilgrim-era ways of living, so horses are how people get around. The main character Caden is responsible for taking care of the horses where he lives, and one of them in particular, a small white horse named Deber, has grown up with Caden and sees him as his mom, master, and best friend all rolled up into one.

Abbey grew up around horses, so she loves Deber. Every chapter that I had her read, she asked: "But what about Deber?!" It was thanks to her that the horse grew from a very minor role in the book to a major player!

Also, Abbey drew the first official fan art for the book, starring Deber:

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

More than anything I hope to inspire a sense of wonder about our world. I want readers to question why things are the way they are, what their own purpose is, why we exist on this planet in the first place, and not settle for the usual vague and boring answers.

12- Could you offer some travel tips for people headed to Japan?

Go to Shakey's! It's my favorite restaurant in the world. Period. There are a few in the U.S., but they're all over Japan. Say what you want about going to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet in Japan, but I believe that Shakey's shows off Japanese culture through pizza toppings:

Take a look at this slice of purple sweet potato (satsuma imo) with matcha, pear, and pistachio on the left, and the slice of fried-pork cutlet (tonkatsu) with sweet sauce on the bottom...
Japan #Food Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome Japan #Food Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome

…these slices of okonomiyaki pizza, based on the savory Japanese pancake made with cabbage, pork, ginger, mayonnaise, seaweed, and basically anything else you can find…
Japan #Food Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome Japan #Food Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome

…and of course dessert pizza, like these slices of chocolate mint, banana chocolate, and apple/walnut.

And that's just scratching the surface! There's corn/mayonnaise pizza, squid ink pizza, ginger and wasabi pizza, and so much more. No trip to Japan is complete without going to Shakey's.

13- Are there religious aspects to "Metl: The Angel Weapon," or does angel have another meaning in your book?

ANGEL has another meaning, but it is meant to bring religious imagery to mind. In the book, the Church asserts its authority over all parts of society, trying to gain the favor of their god that lives in Metl in the sky, to ensure that another technological apocalypse doesn't destroy the world.

The only problem is, a giant red X starts glowing on Metl, so there's probably gonna be some problems.

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

The glowing red Xs across main character Caden's palms.

Or, actually, maybe his overalls. They are quite stinky and covered in horse manure stains.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks (Alternative question: What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?)

Caden himself, as a white male teenager, isn't a terribly diverse main character. However Annika, his friend and companion throughout the story, is an Indian girl. There are plenty of characters in the book that I hope people from all walks of life can identify with.

My favorite book with a diverse main character is Brian Katcher's Almost Perfect. (Can you tell I really like this book?) In the story, Sage is a transgender teen girl that the main character falls in love with. Never before had I had my heart so thoroughly dismantled by a YA relationship.

16- What's your favorite vending-machine food in Japan?
Japan #Food Scott Wilson's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions and #contest at Operation Awesome

Even though nearly every street corner in Japan is blessed by a vending machine, the vast majority of them don't have food; they only contain drinks.

Instead, if you're looking for quick cheap snack, going to the closest convenience store is your best bet. There's basically just as many convenience stores as there are vending machines here, and they're so much nicer than in the U.S. You can get everything from fresh fruit to ready-made meals to even collared shirts and ties.

But my favorite guilty pleasure has to be the chocolate-monaka Jumbo. It's essentially a frozen waffle filled with ice cream and chocolate. Every bite is bliss.

Pair one of these bad boys with a black coffee and you will achieve Japanese convenience store nirvana.

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

The process of submitting, waiting, and getting dream-crushed in order to be published traditionally is miserable and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but for me personally there was no other way. Yes there's a lot of luck involved with it, but I felt that if my story wasn't good enough to be noticed by agents/publishers, then it likely wasn't good enough to be published yet. So I just kept writing book after book until I finally did that, only losing about 32% of my soul in the process.

18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?

How else are we going to find out which books will grab us by the hearts and eyeballs?

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

If you were a flavor of ice cream, which would you be and why?

(Note: this is not asking what your favorite ice-cream flavor is, it's which flavor embodies you best. For example, I'm pistachio. No one is ever excited about it, but everyone's grandma has a half-carton of it hanging out in the depths of their freezer, the expiration date blurred out by spilled soup and peeled-away stickers from boxes of old macaroni and cheese. Your turn!)

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

If you like creative writing but don't have a workshop nearby you, then feel free to pop into my Twitch livestream. Together we do writing exercises, prompts, and have freeshare where anyone can get feedback on their work.

Twitch Livestream:

And finally I want to give a shoutout to the amazing Monika Viktoria (@mossdolls on Instagram), who was the illustrator for my book. Not only did she knock it out of the park with the cover, but there's several black-and-white full page illustrations throughout the book that she did which really bring the world to life.

The opening spread blew me away when I first saw it, and I hope readers enjoy it too!
Monika Viktoria (@mossdolls on Instagram)

And now for the BIG CONTEST NEWS:

The author will pick one random winner of the ebook from the people in the comments!

Please be sure to leave Scott a way to contact you if you win.

Metl: The Angel Weapon by Scott Wilson