Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
|Yes I know, that was a really bad joke|
|Yep, actual fire was here|
More importantly, this means the year 2020 is HALF OVER!
One of my goals for 2020, which was only slightly derailed because of current events, is that I want to begin querying my MG manuscript in September. So far, I'm still on track, although it might be October. But that's still 2020, right?!
Are you glad we're half-way to 2021? What are some of your goals for this year, and were they derailed?
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Entry 5: Gemini Divided
Jen is a mild-mannered fanfiction writer and obsessive fan of the TV show Gemini Divided who happens to moonlight as an assassin in order to pay for her mother’s chemotherapy. When Will Bryant, the star of Gemini Divided, becomes her next target, her cover job as his personal assistant subjects her directly to his charm. Her resolve to kill him crumbles from the first minute, and she is desperate to know how someone who seems so genuine could have ended up on a hit-list.
When Jen stumbles onto crates full of real guns, not props, and armor piercing bullets while snooping around on the TV studio lot late one night, she knows something is not right. The next day, Will mentions that he saw a closet full of unfamiliar crates the week before. He had thought nothing of it, but Jen makes the connection: Instead of being a monster, like her typical target, Will ended up on her list because someone thinks he knows too much.
Never one to question her orders in the past, Jen must now make an impossible choice. Either she saves herself and her mother by killing Will, an innocent man, or saves Will and puts herself in danger and her mother’s future in jeopardy. A note pushed under her hotel room door informs her that she has two days to kill him. Now she must decide who she is and what choices she can live with.
Told primarily through Jen’s perspective, GEMINI DIVIDED is a 95,000-word suspenseful romcom. It is a cross between Summer Heacock’s CRASHING THE A-LIST and the TV series Blindspot.
GEMINI DIVIDED is my first novel, inspired by my own experience with TV fandoms – which did not involve plans to kill any celebrities[RP1][TRM1].
[RP1] I don’t think this query missteps, necessarily, but there is a LOT of information packed into a short space. The fanfiction writing, the chemo, the assassin side job, the tv show—it’s a lot to explain in a few paragraphs. I feel like the first paragraph alone could’ve been expanded into the query letter. It also seems more like a Romantic Thriller than a Suspenseful Romcom, genre-wise, so I’m leaving the query a little uncertain of where this fits in the market, and wary of reading on.
[TRM1] Query is well written and gives the reader all the necessary information.
First 250 Words
Jen adjusted the scope and peered through the long-range lens, letting her gaze move once more over the crowd. A handsome man in a dark suit leaned in close to a brunette in a skin-tight emerald dress that was so short, it surely would have been impossible to sit down without exposing herself. As he did, a woman with disheveled red hair and smudged eye makeup jabbed him in the shoulder from behind. When he turned, she flung the contents of her drink in his face, then disappeared into the sea of people as he stood, shocked and dripping wet. Jen tilted her head a few degrees, studying him and frowning as if she expected an explanation. The brunette now tore into the man, and Jen’s attention wandered[TRM2].
Across the room, her eyes were drawn to the back of a woman’s black cocktail dress, which was pressed up against the window. From her angle, she could just barely see the woman’s profile. A man several inches taller tilted his face close to hers, his fingers tangled in her shoulder-length chestnut hair. They were close together, but not quite close enough to be kissing. The plunging back of the dress, which dipped low enough that Jen wondered if the woman could wear any undergarments with it at all, distracted her from analyzing their interaction. When the man’s hand came into view, blatantly groping at the woman’s bottom, Jen rolled her eyes and scanned onward.
[TRM2] The play by play here is a bit telling rather than showing which makes it hard to engage with the story and stay present in the narrative, so I'd stop reading here.
Rebecca - Pass
Tia - Pass
Friday, June 26, 2020
Entry 4: Flipping
I am seeking representation for FLIPPING, an adult paranormal rom-com. Think The Money Pit, but with a gay ghost and a psychic house flipper duking it out over a haunted house with an agenda of its own. Complete at 95,000 words, this enemies-to-lovers romance is told from the ghost’s point of view[RP1].
Charley Dalton did his time as a homeless man. He’s not about to be a homeless ghost.
When Charley died in 1975 in Savannah, Georgia, he got his second chance on life—the afterlife. Becoming a ghost was the best decision he ever made. He’s got a home now—a derelict haunted mansion—and he lives there with four ghostly companions, his chosen family. It’s idyllic with only one great threat: if the house is renovated or demolished, all he haunts for will come crashing down.
Austin Sparks can see ghosts. He hates them. They’ve been ruining his life since he was a kid. But he’s a house flipper now, and trying to get his life back on track. When good fortune arrives in the shape of a house left to him by his grandmother, he and his partner plan to fix it up and sell it, capitalizing on the rich history of ghosts in Savannah as a major selling point. Over Charley’s dead body.
Charley and Austin go at it hard, each one determined to get rid of the other. But when Charley seriously injures Austin, he puts the house at risk of being sold to a real-estate developer and torn down. Charley has to change tactics. He has to make Austin care about the house enough to never sell it. He has to make Austin love ghosts. Love him.
Probably shouldn’t have pushed him off the roof first[RP2][TRM1].
[RP1] Alright, this drew me right in.
[RP2] This query had all of the necessary information, humor, and an exceptionally weird premise for a romance…and I’m in.
[TRM1] This query is really well written and has a great voice!
First 250 Words
It’s a common misconception that ghosts haunt because they have unfinished business with living. Not true. When I died near the train tracks in Savannah, Georgia, in 1975, I was done with all of living. I stayed because heaven was boring and they hadn’t finished the fence around hell yet.
That’s my answer when they ask me—the four other ghosts I live with. They believe it. It’s as good as any of their answers. Charley Dalton doesn’t need a better one than anyone else.
The truth is far less interesting. It’s quite simple to become a ghost, really. Picture that you’ve just died, literally with your pants down in a sordid alley somewhere, shit running down your legs, and when you come to yourself after all the misery you’ve suffered, you see a door open in the air in front of you. You can’t see what’s beyond. It’s as dark as the place you’re coming from. Do you go through to the other side, or do you stay with the person you’ve known all your life—your corpse? When a man dies, he can go into the unknown or stay on the side he understands, even if it’s not a side he was particularly fond of in life. I stayed. That’s all there is to it. We all stayed for one reason or another originally, but the house is why we stay now.
People call it that eyesore at 633 Acorn Street. We haunt to keep it that way[RP3][TRM2].
[RP3] I’d keep reading!
[TRM2] This is really well written and a great opening that intrigued the reader. I'd love to see this as a submission!
Rebecca - Pages!
Tia - Pages!
Please email us at operationawesome6 [at] gmail [dot] com for submission information. Congrats!
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Entry 3: How to Seduce Four Princes
Once upon a time, Ovelynn, a lowly palace guardswoman, falls in love with a handsome prince. Even though they have to keep their relationship a secret from his strict mother, she adores him too much to complain.
Late at night, the God of the Sky appears before her. He says, “I have a task only you can do. If you succeed, I will grant you a wish.”
Feeling suspicious, Ovelynn says, “The tasks of gods always lead mortals to ruin. Pick someone else.”
The god says, “The infertile queen of this kingdom wished for more children, so I accidentally split the prince into four people.”
“If he can’t be cured by the next full moon, then he’ll die. In order to combine him back into one man, all four of him must sleep with the same person. I could just hire a prostitute, but you come for free.” The god shrugs. “The longer the different parts of his mind remain apart, the more violently insane he’ll become. The first person he’ll kill will probably be that bitch who four-timed him with all his brothers. Do your best not to die!”
Ovelynn says, “Oh great god, I have my wish. I want to kick you in the crotch.”[TRM1]
HOW TO SEDUCE FOUR PRINCES is a 73,000-word romance novel. Inside Out meets an R-rated Cinderella with gender-bending and LGBTQ+ romance[RP2]. The main character’s bulimia is based on my own experience. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.
[RP1] On the one hand, you’re taking a risk with this format, and some agents may appreciate it. For me, the device of a scene standing in as a summary doesn’t quite work, and goes on too long. I think there’s a way to work in the tone/humor within a standard query, because the premise is interesting, but I was distracted by wrestling with the format.
[RP2] I like this information/description quite a lot, and would rather it be at the top of the query, actually!
[TRM1] Try to avoid using dialogue/quotes from the manuscript in the query. The query should be more of a very short summary.
First 250 Words
If you would visit the flying island Avacasta, bring a broad-brimmed hat. This serves a dual purpose: keeping off the never-ending rain and using it to wave down the town guard if you become stuck up a tower with no stairs. The inhabitants of Avacasta have wings, and their city is not designed for poor Ground-Dwellers.
Guardswoman Ovelynn Oxgourd navigated her hover-cart to rescue yet another pair of tourists who hadn’t read their government-issued guidebook. She landed atop the observatory roof. A husband and a wife huddled together under a too-small umbrella, both shouting at her.
“The elevator only went up, then wouldn’t go down again,” the man cried.
“It hasn’t stopped raining since we got here,” the woman said.
Ovelynn sighed. “It never stops raining in Avacasta, not since the God of the Sky angered the Goddess of the Sea. You’re going to need a bigger umbrella.”[TRM2]
The wife pointed at Ovelynn. “It’s not raining on you.”
“I’m half Sea-Folk.”
“But you have wings,” the man said.
“Half,” Ovelynn stressed. They both stared at her.
Halves always took after only one parent, so Ovelynn looked pure Sky, from her big eyes to her slightly pointed ears. She was short even by Sky-Folk standards. Dark curls framed a heart-shaped face. Translucently pale skin gave her an otherworldly air which contrasted with her muscles. A pair of turquoise wings made of pure light stretched from her back. The only sign of Ovelynn’s paternal heritage was the dry bubble around her.
[TRM2] The tone reads a bit young here, almost like it's a children's book. I would stop reading because it doesn't have the voice of an adult project. The opening paragraph is okay but I think it's the dialogue that makes it feel young. This is especially true when the man and woman are first speaking, but continues when Ovelynn responds.
Rebecca - Pass
Tia - Pass
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Entry 2: The Way it Crumbles
Strapped for cash, a first year uni student rents out her apartment to her sexually active peers and one professor who just happens to be having an affair with the girl of her dreams[TRM1].
First year McGill student, Cassandra Baxter, wasn’t prepared for the cost of learning out of province. From tuition to housing, she’s facing a mountain of debt. She’s short on money, but not on machinations, and strikes up a scheme to rent out her apartment to peers in need of a private place for sex. Her financial situation taken care of, Cass turns her attention to wooing Finn, the girl of her dreams. It’s slower going there, stuck in the rut of a budding friendship, but Cass is willing to play the turtle to prove that they are soulmates.
When Cass’s Moral Philosophy professor learns about the apartment, he offers a new deal: exclusive use in exchange for an ‘A’ and a job working as his T.A. next term. It’s a little creepy, sure, but it’s a better deal than the one that has Cass nightly wondering while strangers romp around in her place. Or so she believes, until she learns that her professor is having an affair with Finn. A discovery that has her grappling with her own morality and the tangled webs of unrequited love.
THE WAY IT CRUMBLES is an adult rom com complete at 50,000 words[RP1]. Featuring a predominantly LGBTQ cast (#ownvoices) it blends the charm of a Nora Ephron film with the dark humour of Billy Wilder’s[RP2].
[RP1] This wordcount is about 20k too low for an adult romcom, which is enough to make me worry.
[RP2] These are also very non-specific comps, as opposed to a specific book/movie/author, which again makes me worry that the author is working in a genre they haven’t familiarized themselves with, and would likely keep me from reading
[TRM1] Great logline
First 250 Words
‘Meet me after class’.
The red words glare up at me from my essay on utilitarianism. They come coupled with the lack of a grade, the kind of absence that doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It agitates my stomach into a series of expert backflips off a balance beam that would impress Simone Biles. It sticks the landing. The four judges applaud, raise large rectangular cards above their heads. Instead of the perfect score I know my stomach deserves, they spell out in big red letters:
MEET ME AFTER CLASS
There’s a signature at the bottom of the page. Gavin Truedove. My Moral Philosophy T.A. I spot his messy mop of hair at the front of the lecture hall. He’s raptly attentive as Professor Sheldon drones on about the upcoming midterm which will require us to write two essays, but not to worry because he’s extending his office hours and blah-blah-blah. His speech becomes a muddled mess of unintelligibility as I simmer in a boiling pot of studious anxiety.
My attention span is dust while I await judgement. My eyes rove the mass of heads in absentminded surveillance. It’s not so aimless a wandering, finding an end when my gaze settles on the short tangle of chestnut brown curls belonging to the love of my life.
There she is, Finnegan Lowell, three rows down and three seats left of me as always[TRM2].
[TRM2] This opening is a bit wordy with multiple metaphors but not so much so that I stopped reading. I actually enjoyed this sample and the story sounds interesting. I'd love to see a submission.
Rebecca - Pass
Tia - Pages!
Please email us at operationawesome6 [at] gmail [dot] com for submission information. Congrats!
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Entry 1: Adventurous Als on Kayaks
Envision a long fluorescent kayak zooming down the slopes in the middle of winter[TRM1]. It’s a fun but radical vision, and it’s the basis of Adventurous Al’s on Kayaks[RP1].
This story was inspired by my son (Al-2) and his wife (Al-1) who are always on the go on some adventure. We stored their kayaks while they hiked the Appalachian Trail. When we were arranging for the kayaks to be picked up, I told my daughter-in-law that it was okay that they were getting them because Dad and I were done using them as sleds. I laughed and said, “Can you just picture that?” She laughed and replied, “It sounds like a kids’ story to me.”[RP2] And thus, the groundwork for Adventurous Al’s on Kayaks began[TRM2].
I am qualified to write this story because I know children’s books and what kids like to read. I am an avid reader and have been writing children’s stories for my sons and students since they were very tiny. I am retired from years working in education and libraries, sharing my love of reading with children. I am a published author of articles covering yard and tree care. You can read more about my writing experience at my blog: [blog address redacted]
I am searching for an agent and look forward to hearing about your interest in my attached manuscript[TRM3].
[RP1] While this might not stop me from reading, it is a device in queries that makes me wary; a writer instructing me to “envision” or “imagine if” rather than launching into their book’s stats/story.
[RP2] At this point, I still don’t know what the story is about, only that it involves a kayak. I don’t know what genre — YA, PB, or MG — and I don’t know the wordcount. I wouldn’t continue on to read the opening pages when a query letter doesn’t include this information.
[TRM1] This kind of opening actually makes it hard to picture the scene. Rather than starting with "envision," try describing the scene in a way that makes the agent envision without having to tell them to do so.
[TRM2] This is a really fun origin story!
[TRM3] Include word count in the query.
First 250 Words
Al Squared was a very adventurous couple[RP3]. They loved to be out in nature. You never knew what you would find them doing--hiking, biking, swimming, exploring nature centers, taking in the majestic beautiful of flower gardens, but their favorite activity was kayaking[TRM4].
Al Squared could kayak all day long. They would pack breakfast, lunch, dinner and lots of water, and eat picnics on the water.
This fun couple lived near Minneapolis. They usually kayaked in an area that seemed to have a hundred little lakes all connected by narrow canals. None were too narrow to keep Al Squared away!
The kayak season persisted from early spring until well into the fall. The season never seemed to last long enough for adventuring Al Squared.
When the weather was too frigid to kayak, Al Squared didn't waste away inside. They would bundle up and continue to explore and hike. When the land was graced with snow, they enjoyed many hours snowboarding on the local snow-white hills.
One day while Al Squared were eating breakfast, Al1 saw her kayak being stored on their frozen balcony. Sadly, she complained, "Oh, I sure miss using the kayaks. When will spring arrive?"
Al2 agreed with Al1. He also longed for thrilling days kayaking through the lakes. He thought for a minute and then exclaimed, "I've got it. I know how we can kayak today!"
Flabbergasted, Al1 questioned him, "What do you mean? Al2, there are eight inches of snow on the
[RP3] If I did continue onto the story, I would stop reading pretty much right away, because it seems like a children’s book about a grownup couple, and I can’t really imagine where to sell that.
[TRM4] I'd stop reading after this first bit because in children's books, the main characters should be children. It's hard to market a book with adult main characters to children, so it would be very difficult to get a publisher to take the project. I also read a bit further and the narrative feels a bit choppy, like there's no transition between ideas, which was jarring to read.
Rebecca - Pass
Tia - Pass
Monday, June 22, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
It's not only a bad idea to send a manuscript in a genre an agent doesn't represent, it's unprofessional. It's like saying to the agent that you know they have preferences, but you're choosing to ignore them. Angie Hodapp at the Nelson Literary Agency said it best:
At the end of the day, you shouldn't query an agent who doesn't represent your genre. Period."Dear Agent: I read on your blog that X doesn't work 99.9% of the time, but I believe my novel might be the exception." #doubtit #pubtip— Angie Hodapp (@angiehodapp) June 30, 2015
Thursday, June 18, 2020
I got an agent around two years ago after querying a YA romance. It sold to a publisher and will be releasing early next year. Now my agent is asking me for a new book and while I have written two more, they are both adult sci-fi novels, which is what I actually love to write. That YA was something I wrote in two months, pretty much just to see if I could.
I have no real desire to write another YA romance, but my agent isn't interested in my sci-fi at all. This is really disappointing because I queried two sci-fi novels before I wrote the YA and never got more than a handful of requests. I'm not sure what to do now. I felt like I'd made it when I finally got an agent, but now I feel like I'll either be stuck writing books in a genre I'm not that interested in, or back in the query trenches. Do you have any advice?
Dear Maybe Agented,
First up, let me congratulate you on your upcoming release. That's exciting news and you should celebrate it.
In terms of your problem, did you tell your agent when you had your initial call with her that YA romance wasn't your primary genre of choice? Did you let her know your other books were adult sci-fi and writing those books was your passion? When looking for agents to query with that YA, did you look for agents who also rep adult science-fi?
It's important that your agent knows these things. If you didn't mention them in your call, is it something you talked about later? If not, it may be time to have a frank conversation with your agent.
Some authors who write across genres have two agents, one for each type of book they write. If you think there's a possibility you might write more YA romance, you could stay with your current agent for those books, and ask if she would be happy for you to query your adult sci-fi and find a different agent to rep that. There may even be another agent within her agency who reps sci-fi and could take on selling those books for you.
But you do need her blessing to do this. You can't go out and query your sci-fi novels without telling your current agent. And if you really feel strongly about not writing more YA romance and this is what your agent specializes in, you need to have that conversation. It may be time for you and your agent to part ways. There's no benefit to either of you in staying together if you're not writing what she sells, and she doesn't want to sell what you're writing.
Hope this helps!
Good luck with the upcoming release.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Legends from Mom's Closet by Sasha Olsen
Sasha Olsen is an author, environmental activist, ballroom dancer, bookworm, pianist, and enjoys anything artistic. Oh, and she's 10-years-old. Get ready to meet a legend in the making:
1- Who is your favorite legendary woman from the past?
Cleopatra because she was mischievous, and I am a little bit too. Especially, because I like to sneak in my mom’s closet!
2- What is the best piece of writing advice you've received?
The best piece of writing advice I’ve received is to not be repetitive!
3- What is your favorite joke?
Question: What’s a shark’s favorite candy?
Answer: A jaw breaker.
4- How can someone best help the ocean?
By having a sustainable life, so to best help the oceans, we should not use fast fashion or single-use plastics. We should remake clothes or wear the same thing and not be ashamed to re-wear our clothes!
5- Would you share a picture with us of your favorite vintage piece?
My favorite vintage piece is this dress of my mom’s that I wore to dress up as Kusama!
I also love these vintage toys that my dad gifted me. They’re super special!
6- What's your favorite piece to play on the piano?
My favorite piece to play on the piano is called Comedian’s Dance by Dmitri Kabalevsk!
7- 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: Louis Sachar Title: Holes
Love because: The characters in the story are so brave!
8- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?
I hope my book inspires other kids to get creative and come up with their very own unique projects! I want it to make them feel like they can do anything and that nothing should stop them from chasing their dreams.
9- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?
Who’s your favorite legend and what’s something special you’d need to dress up as them?
10- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
I continue my project on my social media! You can see me dressed up as many more legends on my Instagram and Facebook @legendsfrommomscloset. I also post videos about both of my projects on my YouTube channel: Sasha Olsen.
Bio:Sasha Olsen is a 10-year-old author, environmental activist, ballroom dancer, bookworm, pianist, and enjoys anything artistic. She always finds new hobbies and things to do, which usually ends up in her trying to juggle everything. She lives with her family in Bal Harbour, Florida, where she also spearheads the conservation movement “I Want My Ocean Back.” Legends from Mom’s Closet is her first book.
Author’s Website: https://www.legendsfrommomscloset.com
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/legendsfrommomscloset
Author’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legendsfrommomscloset
Legends from Mom's Closet by Sasha Olsen
Monday, June 15, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
There seem to be an awful lot of contests for writers out there, all offering a mixture of monetary rewards or publication or both. As a relative newby to writing, I was wondering if it was worth entering contests, just to get some "runs on the board" so to speak. You know, so I have something to put into a query letter when and if I ever start querying my novel.
You're right. There are a lot of contests out there. And most of them won't do anything to boost your career or raise your credibility as a writer. Some of them might even lose you some as their rules give the contest-holders rights to your work you really shouldn't give up.
But contests can be fun, and some actually are worthwhile. The trick is to figure out which is which.
The first thing you need to do when you see a contest is read the rules very carefully. Make sure you know exactly how your work is going to be treated both if you win, and if you don't. Some contests ask writers to give them first right of publication even if their story doesn't win rather than relinquishing any hold on the piece as soon as the contest results are announced.
Make sure any contest you enter is being held by a reputable organization, especially if you have to pay a fee to enter. Personally, I don't pay to play, so if a contest has a reading fee or other charge to enter, I won't do it. Too often contest-holders rely on collecting entry fees to pay out their promised monetary prizes.
Any contest with a huge number of categories to enter sets off red flags for me. It feels like a way to make everyone feel like they're a winner, even if they aren't very good. Really think about whether winning an award for the best Australian sci-fi romance in verse from a non-Australian writer (fictional example of course) is worth anything in the long-run.
Writer Beware often has useful information about contests and often calls out those who have particularly bad terms and conditions, or are ripping off writers. I suggest checking there before entering anything you might have a weird feeling about.
Like everything, doing due diligence takes time and effort, but in the long run, you'll end up feeling safer and more confident if you take the time to do it.
Good luck with any contest you do decide to enter!
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
(Racism Scale: Where do you fall? source: https://racismscale.weebly.com/)
is vital for writers to read. The best writing advice I have ever received was
to read everything I could. One hundred books of what I wanted to write.
It is important in these times to educate ourselves on the meaning of words. What is individual racism? What is systemic racism? Are we using these words correctly? Do we truly understand what these words mean? Click here for more information on racism definitions and explanations.
I am still learning, and as a writer, editor, and reader, I read to learn. What are you reading today? Currently on my nightstand are: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo, and Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad.
are articles online, book lists, and sources available here to find book
titles, authors, and more to learn about #WeNeedDiverseBooks and how to be
antiracist. Here are a few.
Check out OA’s recent blog posts on how you can support #WeNeedDiverseBooks
This blog post is part of a series called Q: What Are You Reading? by Suzanna Anderson on Operation Awesome. Please note that this book list is not comprehensive. This list is a starting point, an introduction to Antiracism titles. Suzanna reads a book and usually finds at least ten more books to read. Use this list as inspiration to check out titles at your local library, support your local bookstores with purchases, or wherever you get your books. Please do read, share, and write reviews (if you want to). Comment below what you’ve read and what you’re excited to read next!
What are you reading?