Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Kaytalin Platt's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Living God by Kaytalin Platt

1- Given your skills in cover art, did you make your own cover?

In this case, I did not make my own cover. It was designed by the very talented Tim Barber of Dissect Designs. Though, I did make an initial cover for The Living God, (and there may be remnants of it floating around on the interwebs) Inkshares, my publisher, had a better plan. I actually found it much harder to design a cover for my own work compared designing one for a stranger.

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

Focus on progress, not perfection. Don’t get trapped in an editing loop, keep building your story. You can’t edit a blank page, so don’t stop writing.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

A small town, a shortage of books that interested me, and my mother. I grew up in a town of 450 people, and I burned through all the available science fiction and fantasy that intrigued me in our school library. We lived almost an hour from a bookstore, so I didn’t buy new books often. I’m still very thankful that the Scholastic Book Fair exists and travels to small, rural schools. My mother was a painter and dabbled in writing. She also let me listen to her music, which was mostly instrumental, and she challenged me to write what I imagined was happening while a certain song played.

4- Your resolution on your blog was to give up "self-doubt, laziness, and impatience" this year. How's it going?

For the most part, laziness and impatience have been relatively easy to give up. I still find impatience creeping in at certain times, mostly when I need to be somewhere or do something quickly. However, I think, as a creative, self-doubt will always be my personal boogeyman. It is a complex issue that, for me, hinges heavily on imposter syndrome. I oscillate from being extremely excited about my successes to mind-numbing terror that I don’t deserve them. When I approach an opportunity or a project and I am overcome with concern that I can’t do it or will fail, I push through those feelings and attempt it anyway. I’ve always believed that we are each capable of wonderful things, if only we try. Even failing is better than never having tried at all. Overcoming self-doubt will be a never-ending battle, I’m sure. But, I’m stubborn and welcome the fight.

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 @KaytalinPlatt. I have so many writer friends on Twitter I would love to shout out too. Seriously, the #writingcommunity on Twitter is absolutely amazing. But, if I had to pick two, it would be Liz Kerin @liz_kerin (The Phantom Forest) and Jaye Milius @jayemilius (Terminus). Both have offered me wonderful advice and encouragement and both have books releasing soon! Go check them out.

6- My fellow Pennsylvanian, would you share a picture with us of you book somewhere iconic in Philadelphia?

In front of Independence Hall.

7- What prompted you to start a Patreon?

Accountability and a desire to share stories in a new way! I have so many projects I want to work on at any given time, aside from The Living God and the follow ups to it. I’m often overcome be a sense of dread that I am running out of time or that I’ll never get to share all those different stories with others. The Patreon has two roles. First, it will act as a cattle prod to keep me focused on this project–I will have a commitment to fulfill for the patrons and an overactive conscience that will ensure I don’t break that commitment. Second, it will (eventually and hopefully) help fund the self-publishing work that will need to be done–professional editing primarily.

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

Like most people, I’m drawn to books with strong female characters and unique premises. However, as a graphic designer, I’m also drawn to cover imagery and more often than not will pick up a book because of that. Also, I’ve been so busy lately, that my to-be-read list has grown thanks to the suggestion of friends.

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!

One of my favorite authors is Robin McKinley, and my favorite book is the Hero and the Crown. A princess who desires to become a dragon slayer? What isn’t to love? But, I’m unsure if Robin McKinley has a Twitter handle (I could only find an unverified account), and I’d really like to recommend an indie author!
Author name: @acwestonwrites
Title: She Is the End
Love because: I liked the movie Jupiter Ascending but something nagged at me and left me wanting more. She Is the End was everything that I wanted in Jupiter Ascending from an emotional and depth perspective. It was an entertaining, well paced read that made me care very deeply for the characters and I’m itching for the next installment.

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

Aside from my mother-in-law, my biggest fan would have to be my best friend Kathy. She has been on this crazy writing journey of mine since I was in the 10th grade. She became my fan with a little story I posted on called “The Necklace,” and I’m pretty sure she would like me to revive it one day. We became long distant writing buddies (1,800 miles apart). Kathy has read almost everything I’ve ever written, encouraged and pushed me. I probably would have given up a long time ago if not for her. I write for me, but I love writing for her, too.
She’s also a sucker for a tortured character (honestly, who isn’t?), so she loves Keleir and the potentially doomed romance he has with Saran.

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 it evokes a range of emotions, as the emotional journey of the characters is really the heart of the story. There is action, but the emotional journey is what the story is about. It is complex, deep, and sometimes confusing–as most human emotions are. There is never one feeling, but a range of feelings at any given moment.
At a point in the story, where Keleir is hopeless and convinced that he is doomed–that no one believes in him or trusts trust him–he has all but given up on fighting the creature in him. Saran sets him straight by making a vow to rid Keleir of the beast and insists she trusts him. The emotion that radiates in that scene still makes me cry when I read it, and I’ve read it over and over in the editing process. If any scene in the book touches someone, I hope it is that one. I think we all understand hopelessness, alienation, or desertion, and what it means to us to have someone come in and remind us we are loved, trusted, and believed in.

12- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?
I love Some.Place.New’s #bookstagram. Those images make me want to go out and buy all the books and I love that she has found her creative visual voice. Just beautiful.

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

Sometimes life feels hopeless, sometimes we are faced with situations outside of our control, and sometimes we are bombarded by a hundred different problems at once. I hope my book inspires someone to carry on despite the heavy burden they bear. At the heart of this story, the true message is that some things in life are unavoidable and we simply have to keep going and work through it. Even if it isn’t the path we chose, even if it isn’t a life we wanted, just keep moving forward. Keep going. Sometimes the only way out is through.

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

Keleir was born with stark white hair and blood red eyes. Those traits define him as a monster in his world. In our world, he just looks like an anime cosplayer, so he gets his photo taken a lot. He doesn’t mind.

15- #WeNeedDiverseBooks What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?

My favorite book with a diverse main character would have to be Tahani Nelson’s The Last Faoii and her MC Kaiya. Seriously, that book is fantastic. Rich world-building and a strong female character (who happens to be black and gay). Who she is and her strengths are the central focus of the story, not her race or her sexual orientation.

16- How are you dealing with the heat this summer?

I love being outdoors in the summer, which doesn't make a lot of time for writing. Since there have been many days considered "dangerously hot", especially for an asthmatic like myself, it's created a great opportunity (or excuse) to stay indoors and devote time to reading and writing. I've made more progress than I thought possible on the sequel to The Living God, though I do wish it was cool enough to garden more.

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

I went with Inkshares because their publication model was intriguing. It mixed crowdfunding with traditional publishing. I knew that my story was kind of crazy-pants. It is genre-bending, complicated, and not usually what a publisher or agent would be interested in taking a chance on. It is kind of experimental. In many ways, that experimental nature is subtle in the first book, but the entire series is high fantasy meets Sliders (The TV show. From the 90’s? Anyone remember that one? No... Just me? Okay.) It will be a four part series following world-hopping elemental mages who race to save multiple universes from total obliteration. Like I said, crazy-pants. So I took a chance on a system that, if you garner enough reader interest and pre-orders, leads to publication. By some miracle of the Universe... here we are.

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

I think it helps other readers know if a book is a good fit for them. I also think the review process for each reader is very personal. Once this book is in your hands, it is ultimately your story too. It will inspire entirely different emotions in you than it did in me, or your friends, or your mom... No two people will have the same feelings about a book. Just like how I am one of two people who love the movie Waterworld.

Also, this is my first time being an author at the end of a book review from a stranger. I’ve been told by a few authors that I shouldn’t read the reviews, but I did in the first few weeks. Initially, there was this visceral gut-punch realization that it is out there in the world and real people are reading it and I can’t pull it back if there are things about it they don’t like. Its over, done, and free for everyone to form opinions about. Imagine spending years of your life working on this one creative project, building characters, molding their story and lives–basically living in that place with them–and then turning it over to the world without the ability to alter or change it anymore. It is utterly terrifying. I’ve learned a lot based off the reviews so far. Nothing will ever be perfect, but the few reviews I have read tell me what I’m doing really well and what I will work on in the next book.

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?

Oof! This is a question that took me some pondering. Lately, I’ve adopted #BeTheBiggestFan as my new motto. I want to support other creatives. I want to be their biggest fan. I think I’d love a discussion on ways we can support creatives, whether that be writers or artists of any medium. Reviews are one of the most important steps to supporting writers. What else can we do? How can we be the biggest fan?

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

I’m just a woman from a little town called Deer Park, Alabama, who fell in love with the North East and, on a whim, moved thousands of miles from home. I share my home with my supportive husband and our adorable rescue doggo, Mr. Bones. You can follow Mr. Bones on Instagram ( I’m sadly better at keeping up his Instagram page than my own, but feel free to follow me too (

Also, follow me on Twitter!(@KaytalinPlatt) I’ll try to follow back! I love discussions about writing, art, Star Wars... and of course supporting other creatives!

If you’re into dark fantasy stories, angels and demons, and life after death, check out my Patreon (!

Thank you so much for reading this. It means the world to me.

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Living God by Kaytalin Platt

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

What living abroad taught me about writing fantasy

For the past year, I’ve been living in the city of Mechelen in Belgium. It’s this gorgeous historical town halfway between Brussels and Antwerp, and I highly recommend visiting it if you’re planning a trip to Europe. It’s big enough that most people speak English, but small enough that it’s not “modernized” like a lot of major European cities I’ve visited. While the actual experience of living abroad wasn’t always amazing, my writer-brain was constantly active, soaking up the local culture and trying to relate it to writing fantasy. I mean, it was hard not to think about how much I love world-building while standing on the Grote Markt and staring up at a 700-year-old cathedral, listening to the carillonist playing songs so old nobody knows the lyrics anymore. I did find some things that I thought were relevant and helpful, so I hope y’all can learn a little something from what I figured out while I was there.


I know, I know, I’m constantly writing about languages and dialects, but they’re SO COOL. In Belgium, there are three main languages spoken – French, Flemish, and German – and a lot of people speak English as well, although it’s not an official language. That’s a lot of languages for a country that’s barely bigger than Maryland! Not to mention the fact that every city has its own dialect, and dialects are sometimes so different from “standard” Flemish that they’re completely unintelligible.

What this showed me is that, if I’m going to be writing a fantasy world that is Belgium-sized or bigger, there would probably be more than one language spoken. A lot of fantasy books I’ve read feature a variety of languages, often based on race (like Entish and Sindarin in Tolkien’s universe), and I do sometimes see languages based on geographical region. In these books, there’s usually a standardized language – I seem to remember several series calling it Common – and I always thought that was weird, but I now know that this makes sense. So I’d recommend taking that into consideration, especially if a character is a trader, nobleperson, or artisan.

Market Days

Market day was my favorite day of the week. Every Satuday – not just in Mechelen, I’ve also been to markets in Gouda, Dordrecht, Lier, and Haarlem – the entire city turns out to visit the market. The variety of vendors is incredible. Pretty much everyone turns out to go to the market. It’s not just for shopping, but also socializing. In Mechelen, there are stalls that sell mussels, with tall tables where people can stand around and drink and socialize. There are snack stands – things like pancakes and waffles – and vendors selling everything from raw meat and fish to live pet birds. People sell clothes, cheese, bread, vegetables, flowers, and plenty of other items. The city carillonneur (I’d explain but that would take way too long) plays the cathedral bells during market day as well, playing everything from pop music to songs from 500 years ago.

What I took away from this is that the market day is the central day of the week. People go to socialize, shop, observe other people, and get news. And speaking of which…


There’s this story about Mechelen where in the late 1600s, a drunk stumbled out of a bar in the wee hours and thought the cathedral was on fire. He roused the entire city, a bucket brigade was formed, and when they got to the top of the tower, they realized that the “fire” was just a red moon shining through a cloud, illuminating the cathedral tower from behind. This story spread across Flanders like actual fire, and before long, Mechelinians were being called “maneblussers,” or “moon extinguishers.” Most cities in Flanders have similar, slightly mocking names for the inhabitants of particular cities.

Anyway. My point is that news travelled fast, and led to some pretty funny nicknames. When writing fantasy, consider the spread of news and information. It might be faster than you think!

I hope you've learned something from all this. I mean, I moved across the ocean just to find this stuff out for you, so...ya know, I hope it was worth it!

Monday, July 29, 2019

LAST CALL for YOUR input for our next Pass Or Pages!

In case y'all were on vacation last week, we posted four YA Horror entries with agent comments [YAY to all of you who participated!].

Here's what we've done so far for Pass Or Pages:

January 2016 – Adult mystery & thriller
March 2016 – YA contemporary
May 2016 – MG speculative
July 2016 – Women's fiction
September 2016 – YA speculative
November 2016 – MG contemporary
March 2017 – Adult sci-fi/fantasy
May 2017 – YA contemporary
July 2017 – Contemporary romance
September 2017 – MG sci-fi/fantasy
March 2018 – YA sci-fi/fantasy
July 2018 – YA contemporary
September 2018 – Diverse YA fairy tales, folktales, & myths
May 2019 – Adult historical fiction
July 2019 – YA horror

Last Friday, we posted and also tweeted a request for you 
to suggest genres and age ranges for our next Pass Or Pages event.  Here's what we have as of the date I'm drafting this post, from the comments last Friday and as responses to our tweets:

MG fantasy – 2 votes
MG humor – 1 vote
YA mystery – 2 votes
YA mystery or sci-fi – 1 vote
YA thriller – 1 vote
YA fantasy – 1 vote
YA political contemporary – 1 vote
Adult fantasy – 2 votes
Adult urban fantasy – 1 vote
Adult thriller – 2 votes
Adult general/contemporary fiction – 1 vote

This makes 15 people who are engaged and participating.  Thank you!
I'm sure there are several others of you out there who have an opinion.  We want to know what it is!  Please leave a comment on THIS post, or respond to one of our tweets, RIGHT NOW BEFORE YOU FORGET OR GET DISTRACTED.  What genre and age range do YOU want to see for the next Pass Or Pages?

Thank you!

Friday, July 26, 2019

We want YOUR input for the next Pass or Pages!

The Operation Awesome team has chosen the genre for the past several Pass or Pages events. Now, we want to hear your suggestions! What genre and age range would you like to see us host next? Leave a comment here or respond to one of our tweets!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

July 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!



“Long Stories Short” [CR1] - one story pieced together chapter by chapter through short stories shared from the point of view of a handful of key characters. These characters’ unique voices shows how everyone’s perspective is valuable; everyone’s story matters [KP1].

The novel is comprised of roughly 70,800 words. Each chapter is in short story format, from a different character’s perspective. Their stories reveal that all events in their life have a purpose if they listen and watch for signs around them [KP2] [CR2].


Kelly's Notes:
[KP1] What is the collective meaning or purpose of this collection though? What do they all have in common? Why is this important and relevant in today’s world? Who are the main characters? Why should any readers care?
[KP2] Query is not really grabbing me, because I’m not sure what your over-arching story is actually about. You need to explain what the purpose and importance of this story is and why you wrote it in short stories to begin with. What’s the story about? Who’s telling the story or a part of the story? What are the stakes?

Cortney's Notes:
[CR1] Title should be all caps.
[CR2] This query tells me nothing about what the actual book is about. What’s the overarching story? Wants of the characters? Conflict? Tension? I don’t have any idea what I’m going to see in the pages, which is an immediate red flag for me. If I don’t like the first paragraph or so, then there’s nothing else for me to hold onto or be interested in, because the query didn’t give me anything.

First 250 words:

Mom is on the left, Jess is on the right.  Once again, I’m stuck sitting on the couch during another one of their fights [KP1].

“Why don’t you ever listen to me?!” Mom yells.

“Why do you treat me like a child?!” my sister screams back.

Turning my head from side to side like I’m waiting to cross the street, I’m surprised I don’t have a crick in my neck. I feel like I’m playing monkey in the middle, which includes that same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Flashbacks of pig-tailed little me, jumping up and down, praying that someone on the outside would take pity on me. That game wasn’t fun even when I was a kid.

“We can’t live like this, Jessica!” Mom continues.

“No one could live with a tyrant like you!” Jess screeches [KP2].

To many people, a battle between hot-headed redheads might be stereotypically humorous. For me, this argument is just another notch in the belt of fights between my sister and mom. Sometimes I wonder if they even hear what the other is saying when both raise their voices to see who can be the loudest.

“You’re just counting the days until you leave for college!” Mom runs her hands through her hair – a nervous tick during fights. It almost looks as if she’s massaging her head for comfort [KP3] [CR1].


Kelly's Notes: 
[KP1] This sentence is a slightly bland statement. In order to really reel in your audience, I think you can find something a bit more purposeful and powerful they can relate to while sitting in the middle of a fight between family.
[KP2] Looking at dialogue tags, your use of them is rather repetitive which is slightly endearing in this usage, but it can also get old very quickly and actually pull you away from your readers due to a lack of fluency and natural voice.
[KP3] I’m not exactly sure what the main character wants or who she is yet, and due to your query being not quite ready, I’m going to unfortunately pass

Cortney's Notes: 
[CR1] Not the right place to start. Too much is going on and since I know none of the characters, this fight falls extremely flat. It doesn’t mean anything to me right now. And since the query didn’t tell me anything about the story, I have no idea where this is headed and don’t have anything else to hold my interest and keep me moving forward.


Kelly: PASS
Cortney: PASS

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

July 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!



Sixteen-year-old Del is desperate to save her terminally ill sister, Addie. If her dead father’s stories are true, the answer lies in Eternum, home to an ancient fountain of healing. Unfortunately, one can’t simply waltz into Eternum, they must earn an invitation. 

Del's been collecting unwilling human sacrifices [KP1] but doesn’t find success until a headless body with a phone number tattooed on it appears in her family's desolate Texas field. This is the body Del’s been searching for, the one her father told her about. It's an invitation to Eternum, but Del quickly discovers her father only knew part of the story. The untold secret of Eternum is a monstrous one [KP2].

For the past century, the townsfolk have been sacrificing children to the Neffers, beasts who give the healing fountain its power who only remain satiated by cancerous blood offerings. The town needs Del to fatally spill Addie’s cancer-ridden blood to complete a ritual. Doing so, breaks Del’s promise to save Addie [KP3]. Doing nothing means the townsfolk will be massacred by the Neffers and the monsters will move their bloodlust beyond the boundaries of Eternum. As the line between monster and human blurs, Del must decide how many lost lives the person she loves most is worth [KP4].

FOUNTAINS, WISHES, and NEFARIOUS CREATURES is a 83,000-word Young Adult Horror. Fans of NINE and SLICE OF CHERRY will enjoy this stand-alone novel [CR1].


Kelly's Notes:
[KP1] So she’s been dragging people into a field and murdering them? Who/what is she sacrificing them to?
[KP2] Not needed.
[KP3] I’m not quite sure how all of this connects to her finally finding the invitation to Eternum. Wouldn’t the rest of the story be trying to figure out how to get there? I assume that’s what she went through all that trouble for, so how is the invitation now connecting to her sister and the sacrifices/beasts? How do the sacrifices and beasts save her sister? I’m a bit confused how all of this relates.
[KP4] Super cool last line. I like the stakes in this, but want clearer details as to how this all relates and flows. I’d also like to know if there’s anything Eternum can actually do to save her sister, because right now, it doesn’t look like it.

Cortney's Notes:
[CR1] Love that we get the personal stakes here, and details about the story that make it stand out. Query needs polishing and some details feel like they need tweaking to make it super streamlined, but overall this is solid.

First 250 words:

The foot tattoo on the headless body read: IF FOUND, CALL (512)555-1212.

Del wiggled an hourglass from the corpse’s bloated fingers, an hourglass that would not honor mortal time if the stories were true. All the sand sat in the bottom of the two clouded bulbs. With a flip of her wrist, Del inverted the hourglass [KP1].

Not a single speck of sand fell.

Five minutes passed. Then ten. The sand clung to the top half of the timepiece as though glue held it in place. Del stared until the dryness of the air sapped the last moisture from her eyes. She worried if she blinked, she’d miss it.

A full hour after turning the hourglass, a single, sparkling piece of white sand released its grip on the others and slid to the bottom glass bulb.
“It’s the same!” Del shouted. Her dad gave her an hourglass like this one on the day her little sister Addie was born. And Addie tried to steal it from her every day since.

Del tucked the hourglass into the back pocket of her jean shorts and pulled out her phone.

Call the cops? Not on her life. Or his.

Talking her way out of one dead body seemed plausible, but the police would canvas the field. The putrid scent of its occupants would undoubtedly betray her.

A turkey vulture glided around the decapitated body. “Get the hell outta here! He’s mine!” [KP2] [CR1]


Kelly's Notes: 
[KP1] I’d love to see just a LITTLE BIT MORE world building and character building on this one before she finds the dead body. I want to know that this dead body is important, and why the hourglass is important too. Because we have no back story, we don’t understand the significance.
[KP2] Rather interesting voice here! I’d probably take a second look and would be interested in reading more.

Cortney's Notes: 
[CR1] This feels like it starts too late in the story. We don’t see the MC before she’s set on her journey to save her sister and get to this other world. However, I like the voice and liked the query—interested enough to want to see more and see if the rest of the story is solid.


Kelly: PAGES!
Cortney: PAGES!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

July 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!



Yusei Yamada just turned seventeen and he’s started seeing some really odd things. A woman walking down the street with her mouth slit open from ear to ear, and a man dressed like a crow that seems to be following him. His fears that the Birdman is following him are confirmed when the creature attacks him after he comes home from celebrating his birthday with his boyfriend. After that things just keep getting weirder when he finds a Gollum-like little creature licking the walls of his bathroom while he’s in the hospital recovering from the attack. He’s also pretty sure that there’s someone else following him now and it’s not the birdman [KP1].

Kei Takamura is the one watching Yusei. He has some crazy news for his fellow teen [KP2]. When Yusei’s boyfriend Josue is kidnapped by the birds, Kei has no choice but to reveal the truth to Yusei. That he’s [KP3] an onmiyoji, a human with the powers of a yokai. That’s why the monsters are hunting him. They sense the magic in him [KP4] and now they want revenge on Yusei for the member of their bird-like flock that Yusei killed by accident.  He has no other choice but to trust Kei who claims he’s also onmiyoji. The birdmen are about to sacrifice Josue [KP5] to an angry ghost whose scream can kill and Yusei knows that he can’t do this without back-up [KP6][CR1].

Yokai Hunters is an 85 page, 9,000-word horror/adventure graphic novel set in modern-day Oregon.  It features creatures from Japanese folklore and features an interracial LGBTQ couple. This is the first in a series of graphic novels featuring Japanese monsters and hopefully some creatures from Central American folklore as well. I hope to try and introduce readers to the hundreds of fascinating Japanese monsters out there. Everything from shrieking ghosts to vampire trees and spider women. The story is Grimm meets Supernatural with a Japanese twist [KP7][CR2].


Kelly's Notes:
[KP1] This is a lot of people following him and threatening him. Can we condense this to a few shorter sentences so that we get the point that he’s in trouble, but we don’t have to go into so much specific explanation?
[KP2] “Crazy” probably isn’t the best word to use here. Is it news that will turn his life upside down? Kill him? End him? Why is this news considered so “crazy” that it has to get to a fellow teen through stalking?
[KP3] That Kei is a onmiyoji or that Yusei is?
[KP4] Who is “him?”

[KP5] Who is Josue?
[KP6] The POV’s in this paragraph keep switch back and forth, so it’s very confusing to read. I’m not sure who is what and what is whom at this point. Try to stick to one POV per paragraph.
[KP7] These are interesting comps and should be placed up front! 

Cortney's Notes:
[CR1] A lot of world-specific terms I don’t understand. It’s not making me interested, but confused, since I don’t have any context for what these words mean and what impact they really have on the MC.
[CR2] Here for the comparisons!!! Love SUPERNATURAL and Grimm fairytales, especially with a different culture’s twist. Great, short way to pique interest.

First 250 words:

Panel 1:
YUSEI YAMATO, a 17-year-old Japanese boy walks down the street. He’s wearing a long sleeve red and white plaid shirt over a white undershirt and black trousers. He carries a heavy backpack and has his face buried in his phone, smiling as he walks. The neighborhood he walks through is well maintained with small, well-kept houses.

Panel 2:
Yusei runs into a JAPANESE WOMAN who is standing in the middle of the sidewalk and looks up from his phone.

YUSEI: Sorry, I didn’t…

Panel 3:
The woman turns to look at him and Yusei recoils.
YUSEI: Holy s&$%!

Panel 4:
The woman’s face is split open at the corner of her mouth from ear to ear. She smiles creepily at him. She wears a black kimono and blood still drips from the terrible wounds.
WOMAN: Onmiyoji.

Panel 5:
A car behind them backfires and Yusei whips around to look.

Panel 6:
When Yusei looks back, the woman is gone.

Panel 1:
Yusei continues down the street, looking back at his phone. A CREATURE wearing a red robe who appears to be wearing a mask that looks like a crow with black feathers and beady eyes watches Yusei from behind a nearby tree [KP1].

PAGE 3: Portland, Oregon
Panel 1:
In a plain white hallway lined with dim, plain wall sconces, a JAPANESE WOMAN in a pink floral kimono holds a stack of golden plates in her arms. Her face is streaked with tears [CR1].


Kelly's Notes: 
[KP1] I don’t represent graphic novels, so I don’t feel competent enough to give feedback on the manuscript itself. I will also have to unfortunately pass because of this.

Cortney's Notes: 
[CR1] I’m not super well versed in graphic novels, but to me this feels like it starts WAY too soon in the story. We don’t see Yusei before the inciting incident and that makes it very difficult to care about him seeing monsters.



Kelly: PASS
Cortney: PASS [Between feeling like the story starts in the wrong place and feeling iffy about the query: Pass]

Monday, July 22, 2019

July 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!



I am pleased to submit a sample of my manuscript "The Sacred Flame" [CR1]
for your consideration. The complete manuscript is 50,916 words [KP1][CR2]
and would fit well in the Horror or Paranormal-Fantasy genres beneath the umbrella of YA fiction.

The story follows the character of Lisbeth Thomas as she fights to deal with the literal demons stalking her in the night
[KP2].  She is the descedent of an ancient race of guardians and the only one whose power can keep the devil contained in his Holy vault [KP3].  The path to victory over an evil that began before creation is bloodied and dark, but as Lisbeth begins to realize the full range of her gifts [KP4] she ensures the blood spilled is not just her own [KP5][CR3].

Originally written as a paranormal-romance
[KP6], The Sacred Flame has veered away from the light into the realm of demonic agendas and Holy justice [KP7].  I hope this preview warrants a further look at my manuscript and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Kelly's Notes:
[KP1] Low word count for this genre and age range. I would feel better in the 65-80k word range or higher, depending on the world building needed to bring the fantasy elements to life.
[KP2] What kind of literal demons? How are they stalking her?
[KP3] Does she know she’s a descendant, or is this a surprise to her? Is she a chosen one?
[KP4] What kind of gifts? Please explain.
[KP5] What are the stakes? What will happen if she fails? What is her goal? What is her drive? What does she want, and what will happen if she doesn’t get it?
[KP6] Delete this phrase
[KP7] How so? I’m not sure I understand what you mean…


Cortney's Notes:
[CR1] Book title should be in all caps, no quotation marks. Published books (for comp titles) should be all caps in italics.
[CR2] Still technically within the right word count range, but running a little low—this sets off a flag for me, wondering if something might be missing in the MS to keep the word count low?
[CR3] This is all very generic. There’s not really anything here for me to latch onto, nothing that grabs me and makes me think “ohhhh this is different, this is special, I want to see more”. It doesn’t have much voice, either—mostly it feels like a longer logline than an actual query. It needs more punch, more showing what makes this story unique, and more personal conflict and tension for the MC.

First 250 words:

Lisbeth stopped, as she always did, to examine the ferocious glare of the monster.  It's mouth was pulled back in a grimacing snarl, blank eyes regarding her with both curiosity and disdain in equal measure.  Lisbeth shivered.  She adjusted her bag on her shoulder before continuing up the steps to the oversized oak doors of Morgan Senior High School.

The old red building was suited to stone monsters: it's brick wall, with black iron spears threatening the sky itself, loomed around the perimeter, while the black bars along some of the windows told a story of the school's past Lisbeth shuddered to recall.  Even the way creepers had grown over the bricks, reaching longingly for the old clock tower – which was only used for storing old desks or busted lockers – gave the building the sense that it had been plucked out of a time of darkness.  Morgan Senior High had been a residential school for a while, after they had dismantled the sanatorium; both its previous guises had been places where nightmares were made real.  Now it was only a high school somewhere in the middle of North Vancouver.

The gargoyle's twin struck a mirrored pose on the column across the walkway, but somehow, it's menace was diminished by the stony nature of it's eyes.  Lisbeth had never been able to properly explain the differences between the two beasts, except that the one on the right never followed her with it's penetrating gaze [KP1][CR1]


Kelly's Notes:
[KP1] This is an interesting beginning, but it’s all expository details, and there’s not much to know ABOUT Lisbeth here besides the fact that she attends Morgan Senior High. I’d like to dig immediately more into Lisbeth and what she wants so that your reader has something to connect to. Then sprinkle in the details and build the world around her.

Cortney's Notes:
[CR1] For me, I didn’t get anything that attached me to the MC in these first couple paragraphs. We see a couple monsters, get a shot of the school—but I’m not grounded in the MC. I personally prefer to be firmly planted in the MC’s POV before digging into any conflict or worldbuilding.


Kelly: PASS: Query needs to be built upon, and the pages/voice needs to be less distant for my taste. 
Cortney: PASS

Friday, July 19, 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 7/21 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, July 18, 2019

Dear O'Abby - Synopsis Woes

Dear O'Abby,

I'm querying and to begin with, I avoided agents that asked for synopses as part of the query package, but I've reached the point where some of the people I'd really like to rep my book are synopsis-wanters, so I need to actually write one.  I've done some research, and there is a lot of contradictory information out there about how to write a synopsis.  Some say you need to put the character names in CAPS when you first mention them, others say don't.  Some say a synopsis should be three pages long, others five or even one.  Can you help me figure out how to do this?



Dear Long-winded,

I feel your pain.  Synopses are not easy.  But unfortunately, they are often required, so it's important that you write a good one.  Agents and publishers use them to ensure your story has a good shape and a coherent story with beats in the right places and character arcs that make sense.

So your synopsis needs to show them that.

Different agents want synopses of different lengths, so it's a good idea to have a variety of different ones at hand.  This is actually easier to do than you might think.

Start off by going through your book chapter by chapter.  Write a brief summary of what happens in each chapter - and I mean brief.  Focus solely on the important events.  This is the beginning of your synopsis.

If you're like me, you'll probably end up with around five pages of chapter summaries which you will then use to write a basic outline of your story, from beginning to end.  Yes, end.  You do need to give away your ending in a synopsis.  How else will the agent or publisher know the book has a satisfying ending?

Once you've done this, you will probably have a fairly long synopsis which may work for some agents who ask for longer ones.  For those who only want a two or one page synopsis, you will need to edit down this longer synopsis by cutting out any extraneous words, possibly some of your lesser sub-plots and any minor characters who might not play a role in the main thread of your story.

As for capitalizing character names, this is a preference thing.  Some agents will ask for it, and in that was you should do it - always follow directions, but others won't and probably won't care if you do or don't.  I like to do it, at least while I'm drafting a synopsis, because it makes me aware of how many characters I'm naming.  You don't want to have too many.  If it's a character who shows up once or twice in the story, and isn't key to it, don't name her.  Just explain who she is in relation to the MC (e.g. estranged aunt, waitress, bank teller).

Synopses are always in third person and present tense.  You don't need to worry about showing and not telling here either.  It's just telling the story in its most basic sense.  If you can capture some of the voice in there, that's good, but it isn't essential.  Just make sure the grammar is clean and there are no typos or obvious errors.  And make sure your story makes sense.

It's always a good idea to get someone else to read your synopsis before you send it out.  Someone who hasn't read your book.  They will be able to tell you if there are places they are confused, or they feel a character's behavior is inconsistent.  It might be a flaw in your synopsis, but it may also be something you need to look at in the book itself.

I hope that helps.  There is a lot of contradictory information out there, but as long as you get your story down on the page in a way that makes it clear you know how to write a story, you'll be okay.

X O'Abby

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

L.D. Crichton's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

1- What is your favorite mermaid quote?

‘I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depth, and a great fear of shallow living.’ - Anias Nin

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

If you get stuck on a particular portion of your manuscript and find writer’s block is about to strike, write the last scene in your book, or a scene that’s coming that you’re looking forward to writing instead.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

My dad was a writer. From very early on both of my parents read to me— my dad faithfully every single night. He used to travel for work and he made a tape recording (aging myself here)of him reading my favourite stories so when he was away, I could still get my fix.

Stories and storytelling have been an integral part of my life since I can remember, but what ignited my passion so much more seriously, is the death of my mom. It suddenly hit me so hard that time is never promised to us. I always wanted to write (more importantly—finish) a novel, but it wasn’t until she passed away that I actually accomplished it.

4- Why did you make the switch from New Adult to Young Adult?

It was actually the other way around. From my first book, I wrote young adult, however a few years back it seemed anyone and everyone was writing New Adult so I took a shot at it and wrote THE ENCHANTMENT OF EMMA FLETCHER, but Young Adult has always been my true passion, so it was nice to return to it for ALL OUR BROKEN PIECES.

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

I’m so original! It’s @LDCrichton. As for writer friends who I adore? There are so many but I will go with @MonicaBSanz, @karajmcdowell, and @ruthanne_snow

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

Here’s my book in Ubud, Bali.

7- How did you come up with the names Lennon Davis and Kyler Benton?

Years and years ago I read a book (shamefully I can’t even remember the title) and the male protagonist was named Kyler. He. Was. Awesome. I remember thinking then that when the right story idea came along, I was going to use the name Kyler because I loved it so much. I went through a few novels and names: Tristan, Mateo, Jackson, Xavier, Sebastian before the right story came along for Kyler.

As for Lennon, I like naming girls after musicians. I have no idea why. THE ENCHANTMENT OF EMMA FLETCHER has a Marley in it. When I was thinking about what name to give Lennon, Josh, her dad, showed up in my mind and started calling her Bug, at which point I knew she had to be named after a Beatle. And John Lennon is definitely the most recognized Beatle!

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

Same thing that motivates all of us who read, I suppose. To go somewhere else and lose myself even if it’s for just a few hours in time. Every new book holds the promise of a new adventure.

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!

Okay so I’m going with fav so far of 2019.
Author name: @karajmcdowell
Love because: It was fast paced, witty, sweet and very well written.

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

I’m not sure who the biggest would be. I’ve had a few bloggers connect with me who love the book very much. @BookaholicEllie was the first blogger to show the book a ton of love! She found it relatable and loved Kyler’s lyrics and the banter between Lennon and her guy! You get see her review (with amazing pictures) here:

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?

ALL OF THE FEELS. I really do hope my book has the ability to make readers laugh, cry, love, be sad, be angry but most of all I hope it makes them feel hopeful or inspired. My favourite scene in the whole book is when Kyler reveals his face for the first time which is also when Lennon tells him that she has OCD and about what happened to her mom…

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

Firstly, all bookstagrammers are amazing. I am just in awe at the images they create, but regarding a favorite, I’d have to choose @fromlibrarywithlove who did the most amazing pic by bringing to life, my cover!

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

I hope my book helps those who struggle with self acceptance. My wish would be that reading ALL OUR BROKEN PIECES may give someone a different perspective or appreciation for the things that make them unique.

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

Well— half of Kyler’s face is burnt. That’s a pretty big deal.

The diverse book movement recognizes all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

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

Lennon has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety. She’s constantly battling to prioritize her mental health like so many people do, and although Kyler would not be classified as a diverse character, he is physically scarred so he definitely brings an experience that is unique to him which I think compliments Lennon’s OCD very well.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

My fav bloggers are the book bratz! Jessica, Amber and Emily.
They are simply amazing and their support of 2019 debuts has been incredible.

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

There was no deciding factor. I suppose I chose to try traditional publishing first because I was raising kids, working full time, going to school and writing a book, it seemed like adding the additional work involved to self publish would be more time than I could add to the already lengthy juggling act I was going through at the time.

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

Because every time you read a book and don’t review it, an author looses a sliver of their soul :)

In all seriousness though, reviewing books is important for so many reasons. If you love a book, the best way you can thank an author is to review it. It drives visibility and sales which trickles down to then allowing the author another shot at their next book. If you hate a book and find it incredibly problematic, it’s well within your right to say so and maybe would help like minded people avoid reading something they wouldn’t enjoy.

That seems obvious though. Less obvious would be that it doesn’t matter what ‘level’ of your writing career you are on. Starting out, debut, 20 books under your belt, it’s the same for all: almost every single writer I know will go through phases where we question why we do this, etc. Negative thoughts can try to sneak in and tell you that everything you’ve ever written belongs in the trash. When you are feeling THAT down, look at your phone and have a review from someone who says your book changed their life—in a millisecond— your attitude is adjusted and your hope somehow renewed.

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

Mental health. Period. The stigma that comes sometimes when we talk about it freely and openly needs to end. Use your voice! Silence only perpetuates the stigma.

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

How about one of my favorite scenes? I love this question! Some backstory: Silas, Kyler’s band mate says, “She’s just a girl, bro” in reference to Lennon. Kyler repeats this in his narrative, when he is afraid he’s catching feelings. This scene is immediately after he shows Lennon his face, and she in turn reveals her OCD and what happened to her mother. I’ve always loved Kyler here.

I came up here to do a school project, and now we’re in the midst of an emotional hurricane filled with all the issues Lennon from Maine with Serious Issues Who Sews has. The storm of feelings I’m immersed in is maximum-force, category-five brand of bullshit.
Bullshit because we’re sharing.
Not my strongest point.
I showed her my scars.
She showed me hers.
And now we’re connected on some weird level that part of me wanted to avoid while another part of me wanted so see bloom. She’s shaking in my arms like crazy, sobbing, falling apart at the seams, and I’m just trying to keep all the broken pieces of her together. She smells like rain. I love when it rains.

Author Bio:

L.D. Crichton is the author of THE ENCHANTMENT OF EMMA FLETCHER, which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She’s a coffee devotee and lip gloss enthusiast whose infatuation with music is truly astonishing. If she’s not reading, writing, or checking her horoscope for signs from the Universe, you can find her by the water in search of mermaids because they're real. ALL OUR BROKEN PIECES is her first young adult novel. Represented by John Silbersack @ The Bent Agency.

Social links:


All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton