Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Avery Ames' Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

Cambiare by Avery Ames

1- Are you doing #NaNoWriMo this year, and if so, how are you preparing for it?

Yes! This will be my fourteenth NaNoWriMo! I've managed to win every year so far. This November, I'll be drafting the Cambiare sequel, so I have a pretty solid idea of the plot already. But even with an outline, NaNoWriMo always involves a few left turns, and I'm ready to think on my feet if I need to.

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

Develop a routine and stick to it. Whether that's 15 minutes in the morning before the kids wake up, or 30 minutes twice a week between classes. Most of my work is written on lunch breaks.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

I think my answer is similar to a lot of writers; I've always been a storyteller. I love the magic of creating something from nothing, of using stories to connect to other people. I started even before I could recognize letters on a page, making up my own fairy tales for my parents. Eventually, I moved on to writing it all down, and I just never stopped.

4- What is your favorite beverage?

I'm a huge tea fanatic. I love making my own blends, including some inspired by my books. My current favorite is an almond blackberry earl grey. I also enjoy going to antique malls to find old teapots and teacups.

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

You can find me at @AveryAmes, and I'd love to point people in the direction of my online writing buddies @DCMcNaughton and @ReneeSue.

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

I recently got to participate in my local library's Local Author Day event, which acted as a small debut even though my official on-sale date isn't until September 17th!

7- What's one positive and one negative about your protagonist and antagonist?

Cirelle, my protagonist, is incredibly tenacious. When she puts her mind to something, she won't back down. Her major setback is the bipolar disorder that causes her emotional stress and sometimes leads to rash decisions. The antagonist, Adaleth, is quite clever but is very xenophobic.

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

Compelling characters. That's the long and short of it. I can become invested in just about any genre or any plot, as long as the characters are intriguing and complex. Although enthusiastic word-of-mouth from friends will motivate me to read anything.

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: @RobinHobb
Title: Assassin's Apprentice
Love because: Hobb does character-driven fantasy unbelievably well. I've reread her books many times and I still feel emotionally invested in her characters every single time.

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

@naominspired on Twitter has been so amazingly supportive of my book from the moment she read it, and has sent me some lovely compliments on the romantic tension in the novel.

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 want to evoke the sense of atmosphere and wonder that all great fairy tales capture. I also love to torment readers with a frustratingly slow-burn romantic rollercoaster. I hope the scenes where Cirelle struggles with her intrusive thoughts will strike an emotional chord with readers, both those who are fighting their own battles with mental illness, and those who are not.

12 - What is your favorite thing about autumn?

I love the smell of fall. Fallen leaves and rain, apples and pumpkin and spice. It's so warm and cozy. As soon as I catch a whiff of an autumn-themed candle, it makes me want to curl up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and a good book.

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

I wrote a book I would have needed to read in the worst parts of my life. A story about a how someone with mental illness can still be a hero, and how a woman can still be strong and powerful without knowing how to fight.

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

Ellian, Cirelle's faerie employer, has eyes that act as mood rings, changing color alongside his emotions. He also doesn't like to sit still and fidgets with his hands often.

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

As well as sharing my bipolar II, Cirelle is unashamedly bisexual. Her love interest, Ellian, is pan. Most of the other characters fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella as well, though some of those will be detailed further in later books.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

I watch most of my book reviews on Youtube, and Thoughts on Tomes is a personal favorite

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

I chose to self-publish because this story seemed better-suited to it. Cambiare toes the line between adult and new adult, and the romantic fairy tale atmosphere was a good fit in the indie market. Also, I loved getting to choose my cover artist and editor as well as setting my own deadlines and schedule. It's not easy, though, and you definitely have to be self-motivated!

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

Reviews are so crucial ; think of the last time you took a chance on an unknown author with 2 book reviews. Then think of the last time you impulse-bought a book because it had dozens (or hundreds) of reviews with a decent rating. Plus, in the end, getting more people to read the books you love just means more people to made headcanons and geek out with.

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

My book is heavily influenced by fairy tales and folklore; what's your favorite classic or modern fairy tale and why?

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


I'm a graphic designer currently residing in the United States. A lifelong lover of lush fantasy, I write novels that toe the line between glittery and dark, for lovers of fairy tales and everything gothic. When not writing, I can be found playing video games, creating replica costumes, making candles, or concocting new tea blends.

To find out more about me and my books, check out or follow me on Twitter @AveryAmes


Cambiare comes out on September 17th, 2019!

Barnes & Noble:
CAMBIARE Avery Ames's Debut Author Spotlight


Everyone knows the fae are dangerous. Beautiful, capricious creatures, they are as enticing as they are forbidden.

When Princess Cirelle’s brother falls deathly ill, there’s only one sure way to save him: a secret bargain with one of the fae folk. The cost? A year of servitude in the mystical faerie realm. But Cirelle’s new fae master, Ellian, holds secrets even deadlier than his charming smile.

Caught in the glittering and blood-soaked world of the fae, the hedonistic Unseelie Court kindles something new—something dark and delicious—within Cirelle, even as it twists Ellian ever more inhuman. Can Cirelle unravel Ellian’s mysteries and survive long enough to return home before she succumbs to the decadent depravity of the fae?

Cambiare by Avery Ames

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What to do when an agent wants to schedule The Call

Hello all! As you may have seen on Twitter, I am now represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis!

Image result for celebration

When I was trying to navigate The Call, I really struggled to find info on the internet, so I thought I’d write today about what all happened once an agent contacted me to schedule The Call and everything that came after.

Getting the First "The Call" Email

I was first contacted by an agent who had my full manuscript after they’d had it for about three weeks. I'd never gotten that far in the query process before - with my previous manuscript, I did have an agent email me to get more info but they said "no" once I told them my plan - so it was an exciting but also really scary time! I didn't want to mess it up.

The agent and I set up a time to chat on the phone. I did some research about the agent, looking up other works they'd represented and such, and also researched what to ask. I recommend the list of questions found here. I also found that it was helpful to ask how the agent would prefer to work on the manuscript (Google Drive, Word, etc.) because I have strong feelings about Google Drive. But that's just me.

When we got on the phone, the agent told me what they enjoyed about my manuscript and why they wanted to represent it. They even gave me some suggested edits, which I was surprised about; however, I'm glad they did that because some of the other agents I spoke with also gave me notes, and it made the choice easier once I had an idea of their editorial styles. At the end of the call, the agent offered to represent me, at which point I basically lost the ability to speak. It’s a good thing my partner was in the room to remind me to say, “thank you!”

Informing Other Agents

The agent gave me two weeks to respond to the offer. As soon as I’d gotten myself together, I wrote up an email with the subject line "Offer of Representation" for the other agents who had my full. It went something like this:
Dear [Agent],  
I am writing to inform you that I have received an offer of representation. I have until [deadline] to respond, so if you are also interested, could you please inform me by [earlier date]? Thank you.
Almost every agent who had the full manuscript responded within a day or so and let me know that they would read the manuscript as soon as possible. (Side note: using the phrase "Offer of Representation" in the subject line is a good idea because agents may do a search in their inbox for this phrase. If they use QueryManager, it's easy to send a notification that you have received an offer.) I asked agents to reply by a week before the deadline in case they also wanted to schedule phone calls, which seemed like a fair amount of time to me.

I also reached out to the agents I had queried but hadn’t heard back from yet. Here’s the gist of what I wrote to them:
Dear [Agent],
I am writing to inform you that I have received an offer of representation. I know you might not have seen my query yet, but if you are interested in my work, I can give you until [earlier date] with the full manuscript. Otherwise, I understand that this is a short turnaround and don’t want to rush you.
About half of the agents who had my query replied. Most of them replied with variations on “thanks, but no thanks,” although a couple requested the full manuscript. I never heard back from the remaining few. It was definitely worth letting them know!

In the end, I scheduled a few phone calls and had some awesome conversations with several agents. Like I said above, almost everyone offered feedback (one agent declined and told me that she'd only give me notes if I signed with her, which was fair). I definitely recommend asking if you can see a copy of the agency agreement before you sign, which agents may or may not agree to do. It's not that any of the agreements were sketchy, but they were all so different with respect to the agent's and my responsibilities.

Making a Decision

The hardest part by far was making a decision. I'm a people-pleaser, so it was really hard to tell anyone "no," even though I obviously couldn't sign with multiple agents at multiple agencies. I chose Christa in the end because I felt like she understood what I wanted to accomplish with this manuscript and her interests were well-aligned with where I saw my writing career going. That's not to say that the other agents weren't also a good fit for me, it's just that I thought Christa was the best fit.

Once I'd signed with Christa, I had to do the tough thing: send an email to the other agents who had offered representation to let them know. Here's what I said:
Dear [Agent],
Thank you for reading [manuscript] and for taking the time to chat with me. While I enjoyed talking with you about [manuscript] and your vision for it, I've decided to work with another agent. Thanks again, and I wish you all the best!
So now here I am! I'm working with Christa on my revisions, and hopefully you'll hear from me again soon with more good news!

For now, this is my life

If you have questions or you'd like more info, drop a comment below! You might also check out the O'Abby post from February of this year on this topic :)

Monday, September 16, 2019

Do you know where your local indie bookseller is located?

Is there even ONE indie bookseller near you?
The Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, 2016
I visited, typed my zip code, and selected “within 10 miles”.  It came up with THREE bookstores within 10 miles of my home.  The first two are university bookstores.

That leaves one.  It's 8.1 miles from me, which isn't that far.  It specializes in mystery and suspense books.  Hours are Tuesday thru Saturday.  I don't write in that genre, but I do read it.  I think I'll visit in the next few weeks.

Expanding the search to 20 miles [I used the 50 mile selection and stopped reading when I reached stores 20 miles away] results in 22 bookstores.  In addition to the one 8.1 miles from me are the following:

One is open two days a week on weekends.
One is open four days a week.
Two are open six days a week.
One is open seven days a week.

The rest are university bookstores or online only.

Honestly, six brick-and-mortar bookstores within 20 miles of me was more than I expected in today's market.  Most indicate on their website that they specialize in a certain genre.  Apparently, a generalized bookstore is no longer available in my area.

Expanding out to 30 miles yields several more options, but I do live 30 miles from Los Angeles, so that's probably why.  The Last Bookstore looked particularly intriguing and HUGE,
altho driving to downtown Los Angeles to visit it is not something I'd like to do that often.  But wow it looks like a great bookstore.
Maybe I'll check it out the next time I go to the downtown courthouse.

Where is your local indie bookstore located?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Dear O'Abby: Are Contests Worth My Time?

Dear O'Abby,

There seem to be so many writing contests out there and I was wondering if it's actually worth entering any of them.  No offense meant.  I know Operation Awesome runs its own contest, but that's kind of what made me ask the question.  Does anyone ever actually get an agent or a publishing contract out of these contests?  



Dear Contestable,

It's really up to you whether you want to enter contests.  They're not compulsory for any writer, but they are a lot of fun, and a really good way to meet other writers who might end up becoming beta readers or critique partners.

And yes, people do sometimes get agents or publishing contracts through these contests.  I actually got both.  In the same week.  But I ended up passing on the publishing contract in favor of working with the agent in the end.  That was one crazy week, I'm telling you!

But even if you don't get picked by the agent or editor judge, entering contests is a good way to see how your work stacks up against other peoples'.  Most contests ask the judges to leave feedback, so even if you don't win, you have notes from a professional on your query and/or first page.  And you can use those notes to help polish both up, and often the rest of your MS too.

Sometimes readers of the blog are also asked to leave feedback which means you don't just get one opinion, but many.  If something about one particular piece of feedback resonates strongly, you can reach out to that person and thank them.  You may even become friends with that person or decide to work together as critique partners or beta readers.  I met several of my very favorite writing buddies this way and we are still critiquing each other more than 10 years on.

But if you're not interested in entering contests, it's not going to be the end of your writing career.  You can still query traditionally, and your chances are probably no better or worse than if you'd entered the contest.

Good luck, which ever way you decide to go!  And if you're thinking of entering our Pass or Pages, you have about a day left to do it.

X O'Abby

Monday, September 9, 2019

September 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 Middle Grade, any genre! Any entry not falling under that umbrella will be deleted. The entry window closes on Friday, September 13 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, September 5, 2019

Dear O'Abby: Do I Need to Punish My Characters?

Dear O'Abby,

I've written a book in which several characters do things that are morally questionable and I was wondering if, for readers to feel satisfied, they need to suffer in some way as a result.  I know that in times past, it was unusual for a character to break social mores without some kind of retribution, but in this modern day and age, is this still the case?



Dear Ambiguous,

This is a very interesting question.  You're right that anti-social behavior is usually punished in fiction, even if it's a subtle punishment.  I think even if this is not entirely intentional, it's human nature to try and set things right and make sure people who break rules, even unspoken ones, pay for their sins.

It even has a name: poetic justice.

Fairy tales are built on this principle, as are fables.  Good behavior is rewarded; bad is punished.  So I guess it's no surprise that this continues through most fiction.  It's the basis of our storytelling tradition.

But as for it needing to be this way to be satisfying, I'm not entirely sure.  I'm struggling to think of a book in which a character does something terrible or immoral in which they don't receive some kind of punishment for it - usually something that forces them to change their ways.  Or kills them.

I guess it really depends on which character is breaking society's code and for what reason. If they have good, well-drawn reasons for their behavior, they may be able to get away from the situation without punishment.  It would need to be a really good reason though...  Something like murdering a pedophile to save a child.  Doing something evil for the greater good is an acceptable trope.  Especially if there's a healthy dose of guilt and remorse around the event.

Yet, if the anti-social act is sexual, rather than violent, I think it might take more than guilt and remorse to redeem the character.  For some reason we seem to consider anti-social violent acts more acceptable than sexual ones.

But let's take this to the readers.  Can a book be satisfying if anti-social behavior isn't punished?  Can you name a book where this happens?  I'm now kind of fascinated by this question and will be looking to answer it with every book I read from now on.  And probably every one I write too!

X O'Abby

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Jennifer Camiccia's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #20Questions at Operation Awesome

Debut Author Spotlight from @JLenniDorner on @OpAwesome6

The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camicciak

1- How did you spend your summer?

I spent my summer taking care of my new rescue puppy, Nova.

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

Once you finish a project, let it sit for a couple of weeks. Seeing it with fresh eyes can make all the difference when you're revising.

3- What ignited your passion for writing?

I've always daydreamed and made up stories, even before I could read or write. So, in that sense, I would say being read to from an early age ignited my imagination and made me want to make up my own stories.

4- Did you make any of the food you found on Pinterest over the summer? If so, what and how did it go?

I made gluten and dairy-free banana bread and it turned out, surprisingly, delicious!

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

@jencamiccia, @_CoryLeonardo, @leeseray, @LindsayWrites.

6- Would you share a picture with us of your book at a fun summer spot?

I had the amazing experience to go to the first SoCal NerdCamp this summer. I also had my first book signing!

7- Would you please tell us more about winning the #goldenheart?

I won the Golden Heart for a Young Adult book, LISTEN. Later we changed the title to BIRDY'S SONG. It's a story about a teenage girl who's devotion to her younger sister helps her overcome crippling stage fright in order to perform in a singing competition that could be the answer to their future. The RWA conference was also my first conference and I loved every minute of it. It's still weird to see a picture of myself accepting the award because I have no memory of walking to the stage.

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

Lately, it's been to support my fellow debut authors. I love reading all the ARCs! There is so much talent in this year's group. I, also, admit that I'm a sucker for a beautiful cover :)

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!

I have a hard time picking a favorite book. I love so many. One of my favorites is The Princess Bride. I found that book hilarious when I was a teenager, and it still holds up. A recent favorite is Sadie by Courtney Summers.
Author name:Courtney Summers @courtney_s
Title: Sadie
Love because: I loved it because she takes this impossibly difficult, complicated story and dares you to look away from it. You can't. It's a heartbreaking look at how easy it is for a girl to disappear. The podcast aspect really makes the book hard to put down. It was not an easy or comfortable book to read, but it was brilliant.

10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
Is it cheesy to say, my daughter? She is the first person to read all my books, and she is my biggest cheerleader. I'd say she loves the mystery aspect of the book the most.

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 touches readers and makes them value the people in their lives. I love the last story in the book--the one Lulu writes for her baby brother.

12- What's your favorite autumn dessert?

My favorite autumn dessert is Dutch Apple pie. My grandmother taught my mom how to make the perfect crust, and she passed it down to me. It’s one of those foods where every bite brings back so many treasured memories.

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

I hope it will help readers to be honest with their families. Sometimes we think that keeping secrets is protecting our family. But, sometimes, it's really distancing them from us. Obviously, every family is unique but I do believe honesty, if at all possible, is best.

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

My main character has a Highly Superior Biographical Memory. This is the kind of memory where a person remembers everything about their own lives.

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

My favorite diverse middle-grade book right now is Lisa Moore Ramee's A Good Kind Of Trouble

16- What's your favorite song and why?

My favorite song is The Story by Brandi Carlile. It makes me cry every time I hear it.

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

I've always dreamed of being traditionally published. It took a lot of hard work and patience—it definitely did not happen overnight. But the whole experience has been educational and, I'd even say, life-changing.

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

If a reader enjoyed a book then reviewing it is really one of the best ways to thank the writer. It helps other readers to find the book and helps it to stand out in the marketplace.

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

I'd love to know other people's favorite book review bloggers

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

All Lulu Carter wants is to be seen. But her parents are lost in their own worlds, and Lulu has learned the hard way that having something as rare as HSAM—the ability to remember almost every single moment in her life—won’t make you popular in school.

At least Lulu has Gram, who knows the truth about Lulu’s memory and loves her all the more for it. But Gram has started becoming absentminded, and the more lost she gets, the more she depends on Lulu…until Lulu realizes her memory holds the very key to fixing Gram’s forgetfulness. Once Lulu learns that trauma can cause amnesia, all she needs to do to cure Gram is hunt down that one painful moment in Gram’s life.

With her friends Olivia and Max, Lulu digs into Gram’s mysterious past. But they soon realize some secrets should stay buried, and Lulu wonders if she ever knew Gram at all. It’s up to Lulu to uncover the truth before the only person who truly sees her slips away.

The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camicciak

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September 2019 Pass or Pages Agent Panel

Meet the agent who is going to critique your Middle Grade entries!

Image result for kelly peterson mswl

Kelly Peterson

Kelly Peterson is a West Chester University graduate with a B.S.Ed in English and Literature. She worked as a Junior Literary Agent for two years before moving to Rees Literary Agency, continuing to champion her authors and the manuscripts she loves. Kelly seeks manuscripts in various genres within Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult age ranges. In Middle Grade, she loves fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary that touches on tough issues for young readers. Her Young Adult preferences vary from contemporary to high fantasy, sci-fi (not the space kind) to paranormal (all the ghost stories, please!), and historical all the way back to rom-coms. Kelly is proud to continue to represent Adult manuscripts in romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. She is very interested in representing authors with marginalized own voices stories, witty and unique characters, pirates, witches, and dark fantasies.

Category/Genre: Middle Grade, any genre!

Details for September 2019 Pass or Pages:

Entry starts: Monday, September 9 at 6 a.m. Eastern
Ends: Friday, September 13 at 6 p.m. Eastern
Category/Genre: Middle Grade, any genre
How To Enter: Fill out the entry form on the contest post when it goes live
What Is Required: Your query (NO BIO or personalization for agents), your first 250 words, a complete and polished MS

You can also read more about the rules here.

The winning entries with agent commentary will be posted on Operation Awesome the week of September 23, one entry each day. If you aren't comfortable with having your entry (which will be anonymous) shared on the blog, please don't enter Pass or Pages!

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments or tweet @OpAwesome6. Also, feel free to chat about the contest with fellow participants on the hashtag #PassOrPages.

Monday, September 2, 2019

It's Labor Day in the US!

It's Labor Day here in the US, a day set aside to celebrate the American worker.  I have the day off.  I took off last Friday too.  Four day weekend!  Woo hoo!  Every year my family attends a family camp [cabins, not tents] over Labor Day weekend.  As you're reading this, we are probably driving home.
Cabins are similar to this
Of course I brought a book.  This year it's THE PLOT WHISPERER by Martha Alderson.

When your family goes on outings, what types of books do you bring along to read?