Friday, May 31, 2019

May 2019 Pass Or Pages Entry #5


Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #5: NOTORIOUS

Query:

The California gold-rush is on and it seems like everyone is running a game. While the wealthy build mansions high on the seven hills, the desperate trek to the Women's Benevolent Society for aid. The ones with legal troubles come to see the notary, Vespertine Clement. She never expected Mrs. Adler, the founder of the society, to summon her with a crisis. [KU1] A mob discovered a fallen woman the society aided [KU2] kneeling over the corpse of a man, blood smeared on her mouth and hands. The  society's patrons are threating to withhold their donations. [KU3] [AT1]

Mrs. Adler gives Vespertine an edict to prove the woman innocent. [KU4] Accompanied by the amiably corrupt Sergeant Cuinn, she sets out to solve the murder. It may be unsolvable. The coroner refuses to cooperate with a woman. The accused cannot speak. Her uncle just wants her to settle down and blend in. If she fails, she'll lose her position and forced into a lifetime of professional domesticity.

Vesper tine believes [KU5] someone poisoned the victim before his throat was slit. With a chemistry text from her uncle’s bookshop, and some glass tubing borrowed from the dye makers, she arranges a test of her theory, with an audience, in the police station. 

The test is a complete failure. 

Caught in a covert battle between slavers and abolitionists, [KU6] she only has four days to discover what happened that night to save the Society from ruin and a woman from the gallows. [KU7]

NOTORIOUS is a completed 76,000 word adult historical mystery with series potential. Readers who liked The Agency mysteries by Y.S. Lee or the Sally Lockhart books by Philip Pullman [AT2] should enjoy this book.

**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] Vespertine never expecting to be summoned isn’t as strong as the murder. Cut right to the chase.
[KU2] This sentence felt a little bogged down in details and I had to reread to see if I was understanding the implications clearly.
[KU3] Does this mean the Society will go under without them? Make the stakes clearer. I feel like in this paragraph I’m being told what happens but not what it clearly means for the stakes and plot.
[KU4] This brought me back to the unclear stakes in the first paragraph. Is the woman being accused of murder outright and considered guilty, or do most still think she is innocent like Mrs. Adler does? And does Mrs. Adler truly think she is innocent or is she just trying to save the Society?
[KU5] I don’t know enough about the death or investigation to make sense of all the details about it or her theory yet. All I need to know is that her attempt to prove the woman’s innocence fails. This is another case of getting bogged down in descriptive details.
[KU6] Slavers and abolitions came out of nowhere and it’s not clear how they fit into the rest of the story.
[KU7] This is what I wanted spelled out earlier, that the Society would be ruined and the woman could hang for the murder. Lead in with these stakes instead of waiting until the very end to spell them out since this is what hooked me.


Ann's Notes: 
[AT1] Nice premise.
[AT2] Watch that comp titles won’t seem dated.



First 250 words:

Vespertine examined the jagged handwriting on the visiting card once again for some hidden meaning. She ran her gloved fingers over the engraving and sniffed the paper. A delicate dab of her tongue [KU1] on one corner revealed nothing but the gritty pounce used to blot the wet ink. To all outward appearances, it was an announcement that Mrs. Adler would receive visitors this afternoon delicately inscribed with a border of acanthus leaves. In reality, it was a summons for an employee to attend her superior. What she could not find on the card was why she was summoned. She returned the note to its envelope, removed her glasses, and leaned back in the horsehair-stuffed seat of the hansom cab. [KU2]

The gold strike at Sutter's Mill five years ago had lifted the Adlers to wealth beyond Croesus. While the desperate might call on Vespertine, the notary of the Women's Benevolent Society, Mrs. Adler had resources enough to prosper without her. [KU3] The afternoon wind freshened and Vespertine pulled her wrap tight against her best dress. The cab slowed then tilted as it ascended Telegraph Hill.

**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] This feels a little strange for her to be using her tongue on the card.
[KU2] Being summoned isn’t carrying enough tension for me since it’s normal for an employee to answer to their boss. It makes me wonder why she is so suspicious.
[KU3] Made me wonder why she has Vespertine if she doesn’t need her.


Ann's Notes: N/A


Results:


Katelyn: PASS 
Ann: PASS 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

May 2019 Pass Or Pages Entry #4


Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #4: WOMAN OF RUINOUS FACE

Query:

Woman of Ruinous Face, complete at 111,000 words, reimagines the early 20th Century Woman’s Club era. Bonnie Lipshutz is an uncommonly beautiful woman and female [KU1] psychopath who is done with male domination. Having moved to Denver from Chicago after being acquitted for the murder of her husband, she has a plan to first become the Woman’s Club of Denver president, and then use it to run for Mayor on a women’s ticket against the male dominated political machines and moral progressives. 

In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, 1912 Denver is half Wild West, half City Beautiful icon. Women have won the right to vote, but the city is run by corrupt officials and gambling bosses. Denver’s male politicos niggle over tax rates and corporate rights while the women fight for eight-hour work days, equal property rights, and the resources to survive, and thrive. 

As the elections heat up Bonnie has to deal with a stalker who feels he’s entitled to marry her, a club rival who thinks she is the best thing to come to Denver; the abusive husbands of a friend, who blames her for all his problems; and the new Deputy DA who in convinced she is an arsonist and murderer. [KU2] [AT1] Can Bonnie lead the women of Denver to a Women’s Ticket victory with the help of her dark side, or will it become another excuse to keep her down? 

This book has adult themes that include sex, light BDSM ala Venus in Furs, and a non-violent husband/wife rape scene. These are not gratuitous or graphic, but are important pieces of the character’s identities and experiences.

Woman of Ruinous Face will appeal to fans of Devil in the White City and Edith Wharton. [AT2] It deals with themes of female agency, male/female power, and the darkness within us all.

**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] We’ve already been told she is a woman so female isn’t needed.
[KU2] This paragraph reads like a laundry list of plot points and it doesn’t work for me since I don’t know how they all play into the plot or get in her way. As a list they are too vague.


Ann's Notes: 
[AT1] There’s a lot packed into this one sentence. Might break it up.
[AT2] Is that a relevant comp given rape and BDSM?



First 250 words:


Bonnie Lipshutz, as she now called herself, stepped out of an elaborately-decorated, two-story brick brothel and tucked her newly procured contraceptives into her embroidered handbag. Her boldness in entering and exiting through the front door, as opposed to through the alley as the few other daring women did, went mostly unnoticed except momentarily by those inside enjoying the music, spirits, and coupling. 

To the east, Denver Police raided a crib for the sake of appearances only. Scantily clad women waiting to be swept off the street by the cops waved goodbye to red-faced men in long coats, open and flapping in the breeze. 

Bonnie smirked [KU1] at the temporary chaos on the street many of her fellow clubwomen wished to clean up. She enjoyed visiting the seedy street for the sight-seeing, people-watching, and the unique opportunity to acquire condoms or a diaphragm without a husband or condemnatory questions.

On the adjacent corner, a thin man of 25, clean-shaven and baby-faced waved enthusiastically at her. 

Bonnie groaned. He was between her and the optimal route to the Woman’s Club of Denver, and as a rule, she refused to yield to any man. She switched sides of the street to avoid him. He too crossed over. Quickening the intention of her pace, she blew past him, hiding her face under the feather covered brim of her black velvet hat. [KU2]

Frank Perry, now positive of his identification, bucked the awkwardness of being on the bawdy street and gave chase.

**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] I’m confused about her character. If she finds this humorous and enjoys it then why be part of something that wants to clean it up?
[KU2] I find myself wondering if there is a reason she doesn’t want to stop for him other than him being a man. I want more information here to better understand her character and decisions.


Ann's Notes: N/A


Results:


Katelyn: PASS
Ann: PASS 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 2019 Pass Or Pages Entry #3


Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #3: AMERIKAA

Query:

Please consider my 100,000-word historical fiction novel, AMERIKAA. Told from multiple points-of-view with interwoven story lines, it encapsulates the lives of generations of women descended from Jacob Wolf, a poor Pennsylvania German farmer who purportedly played the fiddle for George Washington during the Revolutionary War.  

The story opens in modern-day Brooklyn, New York, with Jennifer as she prepares to move to Canada. While she is packing up her apartment she comes across a family heirloom, given to her by her mother Linda. The binder contains a series of old letters written by relatives spanning the early years of the Revolutionary War.

The letters, which appear as mini-chapters throughout the book, share the secrets and unique experiences of Jacob Wolf and his fiancée Christina Koenig during the war. Jacob was a remarkable fiddle player but illiterate farmer and member of the Northampton County Pennsylvania Flying Camp who narrowly missed the Battle of Brooklyn and brought supplies to George Washington and the continental army during the Valley Forge winter encampment. Christina was educated, joined the war efforts as a camp follower and went with the famed gingerbread baker, Christopher Ludwick on a secret mission to infiltrate the enemy Hessian soldiers. Back home in Bethlehem, she helped nurse the Marquis de Lafayette as he recovered from a leg wound.   

The remainder of the story follows the lives of the daughters, mothers, and grandmothers in chapters that move generation by generation backwards through time until they reconnect with a now elderly Jacob Wolf. Each vignette provides a window into the issues faced by Western Pennsylvania women of their time.
– 1984, When Linda takes her mother Dorothy to the hospital, Jennifer, Linda’s young daughter must stay in her Great-Grandma Helen’s house, and feels pressure to be pretty rather than smart. 
– 1968, Linda gets accepted to college, but discovers she is pregnant by her boyfriend who has been drafted to the Vietnam war. She wants an illegal abortion and is helped by her mother Dorothy and their church pastor.
– 1949, Dorothy, who was crippled by polio as a child, wants to get engaged, but is thwarted by her mother Helen who does not want her to marry a disabled farmer.
– 1921, Helen wants to join the Daughters of the American Revolution and enlists the help of her Grandmother Rachel whose Grandfather played fiddle for George Washington. Yet as much as Helen wants to conform to social norms, she is also seduced by her friend Ruth, who opens the door to exciting new experiences and relationships.
– 1890, With the blessing of her mother Rachel, Eva travels to Pittsburgh to see her childhood friend Pinky, known to the rest of the world as Nellie Bly, who is nearing the end of her race around the world.
– 1871, Rachel finds herself suddenly without income and expecting her ninth child after her young husband’s unexpected death. She must turn to her father George for help.
– 1838, Sarah, the pregnant servant on George Wolf’s farm, is told she should consider herself lucky after she is forced to become his next wife after his previous wife dies in childbirth. [KU1] [AT1]

The story concludes in a log cabin on a farm in Armstrong County with an elderly Jacob and Christina Wolf [KU2] and Jonathan Koenig, Christina’s brother, discussing their applications for military pensions and reminiscing about their youth. Jacob plays the fiddle for his grandchildren. [KU3]

**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] My concern with all these different stories is how well they are woven together since connecting this many women and story lines can be difficult to pull off. I’d be afraid it would feel more like an anthology especially since there doesn’t seem to be any overall plot or stakes that encompasses these stories other than the women being related.
[KU2] One of my concerns about how the stories get interwoven together is whether the mini chapters about Jacob are interesting enough to make this a satisfying ending to all the stories or if it only loosely pulls everything together.
[KU3] Overall this is a very long one nearing 600 words and that alone would cause me to skim if this landed in my inbox. Most queries in my inbox are between 250-350 words.


Ann's Notes: 
[AT1] Might try to summarize these details.



First 250 words:

Chapter One
2018
Brooklyn, New York

Moving to Canada had been a fever dream for American liberals since the 2016 election, so Jennifer’s brownstone Brooklyn friends thought she was kidding when she announced that she and her family were moving to Toronto. She and her husband Adam both had great jobs, although she was on maternity leave after giving birth to the twins. They owned their co-op on a tree-lined street within a half-decent school district, near a park and their synagogue. Despite their enviable middle-class New York City life, Jennifer and Adam saw headlines about white nationalism and xenophobia cross the screens of their phones, causing anxiety and fear that the United States was becoming an untenable place to raise a Jewish family.

When Jennifer went to college, she left the rural Pennsylvania town where her Lutheran family had lived for over a century, moved to New York and converted to Judaism. Still, she was the last person anyone expected to pull up roots and flee the United States. Her ancestors arrived on wooden ships through the Port of Philadelphia while it was under the rule of Great Britain. According to family lore she had a relative who played fiddle for George Washington during the Revolutionary War, another who was a childhood friends with Nellie Bly, and Amelia Earhart’s Grandfather had been the pastor of the church her relatives attended. Her family’s story spanned the entire duration of the history of the United States. [KU1] [AT1]

**********

Katelyn's Notes:
[KU1] This sample reads more like a biography than a novel. You are doing a lot of telling instead of showing. Cut down the backstory and focus on the present.


Ann's Notes: 
[AT1] Would suggest the opening does more showing and less telling.


Results:


Katelyn: PASS 
Ann: PASS 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

May 2019 Pass Or Pages Entry #2


Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #2: BINDLE PUNK GYPSY

Query:

BINDLE PUNK GYPSY is a historical fiction novel with speculative elements. Incorporating a loose retelling of an old Mexican folk tale, this #ownvoices story tells the tale of Luna, the mixed-race daughter of an immigrant gypsy who hides her identity in pursuit of owning an illegal jazz club [AT1]. Using her earth magic to negotiate with dangerous criminals in her climb up Kansas City’s bootlegging ladder could risk her family’s lives and everything she’s working for if her enemies discover who she really is.

Bootlegging. Police bribery. A minority owning a jazz club in the upperclass part of town. These are just a few felonies Luna Alvarado is willing to commit in her climb up Kansas City’s corruption ladder…as long as no one finds out who she is. [KU1]

If the crooked city councilmen and ruthless mobsters discover that her immigrant family lives in a boxcar community in the impoverished River Bottoms [KU2] of their cosmopolitan metropolis, she could lose everything she’s lied and worked so hard for, even with the help of a little earth magic. [KU3] Hell, they may even try to steal it.

Using her inherited charms and her shameless father’s looks, she adopts a new identity as Rose, a tough, unabashed flapper who loves challenging patriarchy from her part-time job at the newspaper to the soft lace in her bedroom. Her half-gypsy blood might limit her abilities, but she plans to make good use of what enchantments [KU4] she does have, even if it leaves her jaded. [KU5] 

The harder she tries to avoid scrutiny, the more odd friendships begin to form, finding herself helping others in the underworld who don’t align with conservative societal values. As she struggles to hold onto her true identity, Luna’s efforts capture the attention of every brand of bigotry she’s trying to avoid. Her isolated journey to spinsterhood may not be enough to save her when greedy criminals come calling [KU6]. As much as she hates to admit it, she may need love and friendship after all.

Clocking in at 94k words, BINDLE PUNK GYPSY is set in the lower-class underworld of the 1925, breaking laws and throwing magic like Born of Illusion, written with an attitude and voice similar to a grown-up Gentlemen’s Guide, exploring and reclaiming culture and heritage like Daughters of the Dust [AT2].

This story fuses my own family’s experience in Kansas City’s immigrant, boxcar community with my grandmother’s determination to assimilate her children into American society to avoid further persecution. Much of our language and heritage wasn’t preserved in the eras to follow, leaving my generation in my family wondering who we really are. I’ve poured my heart into Luna’s journey to reclaim herself and her heritage.


**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] This paragraph can be cut. It feels like a longer explanation of the last sentence in the previous paragraph and isn’t needed. I don’t need to know about her felonies. The query as a whole is also a little long and would benefit from the word count being trimmed back and the query tightened.
[KU2] It’s unclear to me as to why where they live matters.
[KU3] This also feels like a repeat over the previous paragraph and the last sentence of the first which made the sentiment feel repetitive. You only need to tell us once.
[KU4] The use of magic in this story wasn’t clear to me overall and almost feels unnecessary to the story.
[KU5] Other than mentioning she has adopted a new identity, everything else could be cut in this paragraph.
[KU6] The exploration here revolving around needing love and friendship feels like a different story than the starting paragraphs and the stakes don’t feel as strong as risking her families’ lives like in earlier paragraphs.


Ann's Notes: 
[AT1] Nice opening to pitch.
[AT2] There’s a lot to digest in this sentence. I’d break it up and also see if there aren’t some more current comps.



First 250 words:


A family of four living in a boxcar near the decimated Union Depot is unappealing enough. The humid sunset thickens the marinade. As my black Model-T idles in the rail yard, the breeze rushes through the open windows, sharing the pungent cattle sweat and ash from the nearby steel factory and stockyards, adding to my dismal mood. The more time passes between visits, the more I feel like a stranger in my own family. It’s not even their fault; I was born different [KU1]. Maybe no one has spotted me, yet. Fighting the urge to drive away, I pull the hand break with dread of soot-stained mud that’s sure to cling to the bottom of my heeled shoes on the way into the house.

House. With a groan, I cling to my handbag and step out onto the damp earth soaked by spring rains carrying the river from its banks. Heavy, sticky steps push me toward to the shoddy, double boxcar with crude windows cut beside the retractable door. Like the many others around it, dilapidated wood panels connect to front porches with hanging plants to make the community more livable for the wives and children. Not that there are many families out here, anymore. Most rail workers have moved on since the Great Flood of 1914. Earth magic is stronger by the river, but we can still use it anywhere. Why my family insists on staying in the industrialized flood zone after eleven years, I’ll never know.


**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] There is a lot going on here and I don’t know enough about Luna to fully understand all this. I need more character development first. Like how was she born different? What does she mean exactly?


Results:


Katelyn: PASS 
Ann: PASS 

Monday, May 27, 2019

May 2019 Pass Or Pages Entry #1


Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #1: VOODOO QUEEN

Query:

I am seeking representation for VOODOO QUEEN, a New Orleans-based, upmarket historical fiction with magical realism similar to MAMA DAY by Gloria Naylor [AT1] and THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI [AT2]. It is complete at 104,000 words. [KU1]

When Marie Laveau hands her free will to the voodoo spirits in exchange for power, her new ability to heal the sick, see visions, and communicate with ghosts catapults her to fame. The exchange seems more than worth it…at first.

Clients start knocking on her door with problems the spirits tell her not to fix. With great restraint, Marie obeys their will until her husband is unable to contact the ghosts of his deceased family after their murder in Haiti. As the voodoo spirits wail at her to stop, [KU2] she calls his family from the afterlife. [AT3]

The ghosts she’s summoned are bitter, cruel, and vengeful. Marie lives in a nightmare until they convince Jacques to leave her and return to Haiti. As punishment for her disobedience, the spirits revoke the power Marie abused and inundate her with sickness and bad luck. Devastated, Marie ekes out a miserable living as a hairdresser for wealthy white women. The memory of who she once was – of what she lost – haunts her every day. [KU3]

Yet the spirits still call to her. They’ve been preparing Marie for a greater destiny all along. She must decide if she will continue in her sad but safe life, or if she will become who she is meant to be: the Voodoo Queen.

**********

Katelyn's Notes:
[KU1] If this story is inspired by the real historical figure Marie Laveau it could be beneficial to mention that here for those who may not already be familiar with her. Since I didn’t recognize her name right away the era wasn’t immediately clear to me either and that’s something I look for in historical queries
[KU2] This paragraph as a whole left me feeling unsure of whether the spirits are trying to help or hurt. I had to rely on the next paragraph to clarify.

[KU3] The ending of this paragraph makes me worry there might be a lull in the story since the tension of the previous events drop off here and the stakes revolving around her husband feel finished. The stakes for what comes next, escaping her sad life, don’t feel as strong.


Ann's Notes:
[AT1] This reference is from 1988 so a bit too dated.
[AT2] This story was published in 2013 and is set in 19th century NYC so I do wonder if that is the best comp.
[AT3] Not quite following this key development.



First 250 words:

On the day I met Mama Lulu, I woke [KU1] to a nervous buzzing like a swarm of mosquitos. I swatted drowsily at bugs that weren’t there and reached out to pull the mosquito netting around my bed. My arm had been warm under my quilt, and as soon as the winter air shot goosebumps on my bare skin, I realized my mistake. It was January. The mosquitos wouldn’t be back until summer. And the buzzing wasn’t even a sound, but a vibration in the air, much like when a person’s leg bounces so rapidly that it shakes the floor. [AT1]

I sat up in my bed. Something had happened.

I was only ten, but already, I had been able to sense moods for a long time. My grand’mère said I could do it even as a baby. [KU2] It wasn’t unusual for me to crawl onto the lap of someone I barely knew and refuse to leave, and Grand’mère would discover that person was in need of comfort. If I wouldn’t let someone touch me, she knew to stay away. Once I could talk I starting asking questions about the emotions I noticed, and it unnerved people. Especially adults. They always had something to hide. But the buzzing that day was unlike anything I had sensed before.

**********

Katelyn's Notes: 
[KU1] Stories starting with the main character waking up is something I see so often that quite frankly it feels cliché. While I enjoyed some of the description of the opening paragraph I’d suggest finding a start that would be more unique to your story and characters.
[KU2] In this paragraph the story is starting to get bogged down in backstory and description telling us about your main character and that is slowing the present story down. Stick to what we need to know at this point. I’d rather see her abilities in action than be told about them.


Ann's Notes: 
[AT1] Very nice and evocative.


Results:


Katelyn: PASS
Ann: PASS: I am passing as stories about spirits and ghosts are not a good fit for me.

Friday, May 24, 2019

#QueryFriday


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 5/26 at 12 pm*.

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

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

See this post for additional rules. Good luck!

-Nathaniel

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Dear O'Abby - Can I send more pages than requested with my query?

Dear O'Abby,

I'm querying, and most agents seem to want either five or ten pages with the query, if they want pages at all.  My chapters are pretty short - only around 1500 words each, and all end with a hook leading into the next chapter.  1500 words is around six pages....

So my question is, if an agent asks for five pages, is it okay if I send the whole first chapter, even if it is over the five pages?  Or the first two chapters if they ask for ten? I feel like leaving the chapters a few hundred words shy of the end of each chapter doesn't showcase my work in the best light because  the hooks at the end of each chapter are almost always the best parts.

What would you suggest?

Yours,

One Page Too Long

Dear One Page Too Long,

Most agents ask that you past these pages into the body of an email along with your query, so they're not actually going to know exactly how many pages you've sent unless they count the words.  If you send the entire novel, or two or three times as much as they've asked for, they'll notice, but if it's only a couple of hundred extra words, they probably won't. And I don't believe any agent is pedantic enough (or has enough time) to count your words and reject you because you sent a page or two more than what was requested.

The purpose of sending pages is to show the agent what your writing voice is, your style, and that you can actually string sentences together in a coherent fashion.  Rather than focusing on the length of your sample, make sure it's the best possible example of your work.  Check for typos, grammar errors or spelling mistakes.  Make sure you've tightened the language so every word has a purpose and reason to be there.  Ensure the opening of your book is compelling enough to make readers want to read on.

You want the agent to be frustrated when they reach the end of your sample, wanting to read on enough that they will reach out and ask for the rest of your book to be delivered to their in-box immediately so they can keep reading.

If your pages don't do that, it doesn't matter if you send five, ten or twenty.

XX O'Abby

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Danielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Izzy in El Mareo by Danielle Ledezma


1- Can you share a tip on making new friends?

Focus on asking them questions and helping them feel accepted and comfortable with you as a new person versus focusing on whether or not they like you.

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

Great ideas and phrases and points come to you at any given time so have paper/pen or recording device nearby at all times! But you also must intentionally build time into your day to write. Even if you don't put anything new down, form the habit for your brain in a space that allows that creativity to flow. A room in the house or favorite patio at a coffee shop; whatever it takes make yourself go there and think, then let the words flow.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

The passion was more about getting the story out of my head and onto paper versus a desire to write. I've been a reader for much of my life, and felt that I had a book inside me, and it wasn't until I lived in Mexico and later found solace, almost therapy, in writing a story inspired by that time in my life that the book was finally born.

4- What's the best thing about where you live now?

It's home! I grew up in San Antonio and spent over 15 years away from it. Now that I'm back I feel at peace and confident and myself. There is so much growth and amazing change I get to enjoy at this stage in my life such as Historic Pearl and La Cantera and Boerne and all the areas that are developing all over the city!

5- What is your favorite summer activity?

The best summer activity is swimming at the river or lake! My husband and I love to try and visit new lakes and rivers each summer with the pups in tow whenever possible. Some of our faves include Boerne Lake near our house, Guadalupe State Park and Medina Lake! We're on a mission to get out to Marfa to see the observatory and check out Balmorhea State Park!

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

Danielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome
From Cancun:

7- What is your favorite saying or quote?

Love your neighbor as yourself; because to love your neighbor you must truly love yourself.

I also love Marianne Williamson's "Our Deepest Fear" poem!!! My favorite lines are "...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

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

These days running a company I'm motivated to read a lot of leadership books and women empowerment books like "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis or "Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown. I also have Michelle Obama's book on my nightstand!! When it comes to fiction I'm inspired to read when it's a story that captures me. Like "Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine" which is just a great story of a funny girl. I like real life type of stories that can take hold of your heart and effect you in ways you didn't imagine. Like "In Her Shoes" by Jennifer Weiner (before it was a movie) and "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie.

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:Jennifer Crusie
Title: "Bet Me"
Love because: It feels like an authentic story about a woman learning to love herself just as she is; and she isn't the cute skinny party girl that needs to learn she's actually beautiful. She's a normal woman of a normal size and dealing with how that doesn't match up with whatever vision society has placed on what beauty should be. And through love, she learns to love herself. All of herself. Super empowering and uplifting!!!


10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
A coworker/friend of mine named Aly who loves the character's flaws and mistakes and her general uneasiness about life. She says she really relates to her not because she experienced in her own life, but that she could imagine the feelings and it was exciting for her to read and picture herself in those same scenarios. It challenged her to think about how she might react or behave. And she wants to know what Izzy does next! She's asked so many times about a sequal or follow up blog. My other biggest fan in general is my husband. He was the person who helped me learn to create space in my life to write, encouraged me to keep going, helped me when I was stuck and even helped create the title! He's so excited to see my dream come to life and has been and always will be my greatest supporter and best friend. It took a while to find him (into my mid-30s) but he was totally worth the wait!!!


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 hope this book will draw out readers' own feelings of discomfort and pain and heartbreak, along with their own shame, so they can walk through it and leave it behind coming out stronger on the other side. My hope is this gives the reader a space with which to wrestle with what they think are poor choices, mistakes or regrets and, while walking alongside Izzy, learn how they can overcome whatever labels or stigmas they've assigned to themselves. By the time they finish, I hope they feel peace and contentment.

12- What is your favorite animal and why?

Dogs!!! I have two of them, grew up with them and absolutely love their personalities and energy. A dog is loyal and protective and is the happiest thing on the planet when you walk in the door whether it was only 5 minutes or 5 days.

13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?

From the beginning the intent for this book was to find a way to help readers learn to love themselves no matter what decision or mistakes or "poor choices" they've made in their lives. I am a firm believer that you cannot truly love another until you learn to love yourself. That is why God said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you don't love yourself, have grace for yourself, forgive yourself or take an interest in yourself, how can you possibly do that for others? I mean truly without any ulterior motives (like trying to get them to like you)? I mean truly be able to listen to someone who clearly opposes you view, your voting preferences, your orientations, or thoughts on subjects like abortion or gun control, and actually listen to them as another human being if you spend the entire time dehumanizing them? or finding fault and nit picking? Is that what you do to yourself in your head all day long? In short, I hope this book gives readers the space to allow themselves grace and forgiveness so they can overcome and find true contentment and love within their own hearts and minds.

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

Michael's confidence - he is so comfortable in his own skin he allows others around him to feel the same about themselves

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

Michael is a homosexual who is actually a critically significant character for the book because he represents someone who is comfortable in their own skin without apology, and it allows the others around him to feel the same about themselves. He isn't pushy about his beliefs or lifestyle, but also doesn't stop to apologize for it either. The entire book is filled with characters from different countries, cultures and viewpoints. We have Europeans including Germans (Gretchen), Mexicans (like Ximena and Luci and Felipe) and Venezuelans (Alejandra) to name a few. Izzy confronts these varied viewpoints, cultural norms and wrestles with them from her American perspective. It casts a fluorescent light on the differences between the characters through their social interactions and forces the reader to experience someone form another country through the reading.

16- Your Amazon book blurb states your debut is an "AMAZON BESTSELLER IN SINGLE WOMEN FICTION." When did you hit that mark and how did it feel?

Danielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome
this is the screen shot from my page but I didn't look at the actual Amazon page for where on the list i was. BUT it was crazy!! I kept reading it like "is that right?" Once I got past the shock and excitement, I hoped that it was something meaningful for the women who had purchased it which got me the designation. I started hoping they liked it and felt like they got something from it. I hoped it mattered.

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

I wanted a professional finish, and most importantly, professional editing and help with plot lines, so I knew self-publishing wasn't the route for me. A first-time author can have a hell of a time trying to get the attention of a large publishing house through the traditional method, and looses control of the final product. Finding River Grove was incredible because I could collaborate, learn and grow from their support, and retain all the rights to the work for future use. They are an amazing team that truly helped a first-time writer through the sometimes daunting process!

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

Reviews help tremendously to exposure and to someone's decision to support/buy that author's work. Just like Yelp and restaurant reviews might help you decide where to go out Saturday night, the reviews on Amazon or Barnes&http://Noble.com or other sites you can leave reviews will help other readers to get a feel for the book and decide if that's what they're looking for. Please leave me a review!!

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?

Tell me about a time you were courageous and brave, and how vulnerable you had to first allow yourself to be in order to get there

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

As a full time working wife and mom of 2 fur babies, I'm also running a fitness franchise called DivaDance and continue to write in between! Speaking, writing and empowering others are my greatest passions, right behind loving my amazing husband and my family.
Danielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation AwesomeDanielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Karaoke ~ Danielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome Karaoke in Puerto Vallarta -- this party really did happen
surfing ~ Danielle Ledezma's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome Surfing in Punta de Mita -- this part also really happened!


Izzy in El Mareo by Danielle Ledezma

Monday, May 13, 2019

May 2019 Pass or Pages Entry Form


We are now accepting entries for Pass Or Pages! Before you enter, be sure to check out the rules. This month's round of Pass Or Pages is for Adult Historical Fiction. Any entry not falling under that umbrella will be deleted. The entry window closes on Friday, May 17 at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility!


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dear O'Abby: How Long Can I Take Over An R & R?

Dear O'Abby,

I just received a revise and resubmit from an agent.  I've been querying this book for what feels like forever, and was just about to trunk it because no one seemed interested.  But now I have this agent wanting me to make some pretty substantial changes that I think may take me quite a while to execute.

She hasn't given me any timeframe in which to get back to her, so now I'm wondering if I need to drop everything and focus on this revision so I can it back to her ASAP.  Or is that not the expectation?  How long can I take over this?

Yours,

Timely

Dear Timely,

First off, congratulations on the R & R!  That's a fantastic step.  It means the agent has connected with your story, sees its potential and now wants to know if you can revise and make it shine.  Hopefully she has also given you a few helpful notes to guide you as you do the revision.  I also hope those notes align to the vision you have for the story.  I've seen R & Rs that writers have really struggled to get through because what the agent wanted the book to be didn't align with the author's vision of it.

So, if you are happy with the notes and prepared to do the work, you need to take as long as you need to in order to make the book the best it can be.  An agent isn't going to be impressed if you address only the specific things she mentioned in her message to you and send it back in two weeks.

She wants you to really take on board what she is saying and apply those things to the entire book.  And you've mentioned that the changes she's suggested are substantial.  Maybe changing a POV or amalgamating two side characters into one.  Maybe one of the storylines is underserved and needs to be pushed up in the narrative.  I don't know what the changes are, but it's important you do them well.

These things all take time, not just to write, but to think through.  You want to get this right, so you need to take time over it.  But you also don't want so much time to go by that the agent forgets she even requested you send it back.  So my advice is, take as long as you need to make the book as good as you can.  But don't waste time either.  If they're a good agent and really believe you can make the story shine, they are not going to mind waiting six months or so for something polished.  I've even heard of authors being signed after holding on to an R & R for a year.

But in reality, an R & R is a test.  You're being asked to show how well you can revise because this is important once you get into the editorial phase of publishing.  You want to be thorough, but you need to be able to turn things around to meet deadlines.

So really consider the notes she's sent.  Thank her for the feedback and let her know she can expect a new draft in X weeks/months.  Think realistically about how long you think it will take, how much time you have available to work on it, and then add two or three weeks to that number so you have a buffer in case life throws you a curve ball.

Now get to work!  You have a revision to do.

X O'Abby