Monday, February 28, 2022

March 2022 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 FRIENDS OR ENEMIES TO LOVERS ROMANCEAny entry not falling under that umbrella will be disqualified.

The entry window closes on Friday, March 4 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! Best of luck!


Friday, February 25, 2022

Query Friday: Querying Strategically

 Does your query strategy ever feel like this...

Oprah Give Away GIFs | Tenor

Sure- it's fun while it lasts, but after you've sent out all your queries what do you have left? Well, if you're Oprah, billions of dollars, but the rest of us may not be so fortunate.

Sometimes in all the excitement of querying

Oprah Giveaway GIFs | Tenor

we forget to think strategically. 

You've spent hours, days, weeks, or months crafting your agent list. 
You've attempted to find common ground or a way to personalize each query. 
You've format your letter by agent preference
  • book info at the beginning or end
  • 5 pages, 10 pages, 30 pages- in body of email
  • synopsis (oh dreaded synopsis) attached

After all that work, are you going to query every agent and perhaps blow your chance with a subpar query?

 𝑵𝒐𝒑𝒆 | Facebook

Not today. 

You've got to work with strategy in mind. 

When I query the first thing I do is to separate my list into rounds. I've already vetted all the agents and feel like they'd be a good fit before they make it onto the list, so it's not a question of ranking. I like to mix in bigger agencies with smaller, those who seem like they'd be a good fit along with agents getting positive buzz, newer agents and more established agents.

I like to use Query Tracker to help me build my query list. In addition to other features it lets me track agents by response time. I usually send out a first round of 10 queries and try to make at least half of them fast responders, from days to a couple of weeks. 

If I get even a couple of nibbles- I'll consider the query solid and continue querying with it. In this case, I like to send out a new query for every rejection to keep the momentum going.

However, if my first round of 10 queries results in zero interest, it's back to the drawing board on the query.

The saying 'Back to the drawing board' - meaning and origin.

I'll rework the query, get some opinions, and keep up that cycle until I'm getting some requests. Once the query is solid I feel free to send out as many or as few queries as I'd like at a time.

Do you have a query strategy you follow? Please share it in the comments below.

Happy Querying!!!


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Dear O'Abby: Do I need a trigger warning?

 Dear O'Abby,

I'm about to start querying a new book and it deals with some pretty intense subject matter (abuse, date rape, drugs) and while these things are deeply embedded into my story, the query doesn't directly address them.  Do I need to include a trigger warning in my query in case agents are traumatised by such subject matter?



Dear Untriggered,

That's a hard no.

The point of a query is to entice an agent to request pages and read your book.  If an agent has something they don't want to see, it's up to them to make that known and then you can cross them off your query list if you think your book sits too close to that thing.  You don't want to warn them that they might find something in your book offensive - they'll never ask to read it.  And that would be a shame because you may have written the next great masterpiece of modern literature, but because you warned them it had content they might find triggering (without them asking for the warning), they'll never find out.

So unless an agent specifically says they don't want to read about animal cruelty or sexual abuse, consider them open to your query.  If they find they can't handle the subject matter, they'll stop reading at that point and politely decline to represent the book.

Good luck with your querying!

Do let us know how you get on.

X O'Abby

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Christine Herbert answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight with a #giveaway

Operation Awesome Spotlight #13Questions of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6 2022

13 Questions shine Operation Awesome's Spotlight
on this
2022 Debut Author

The Color of the Elephant by Christine Herbert

1- What is your favorite cheese? 🧀

Ouch! First question out of the gate and you go right for the jugular. My favorite cheese (of the moment) is Humbolt Fog, a ripened goat cheese with an ash midline. It’s complex, gorgeous, and a bit funky. (Much like yours truly.) Just keep this on the down low and don’t tell the other cheeses out there that I have a favorite. I’ve already told them I love them all equally. I don’t want any of them to develop a complex.

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

Don’t wait for the “perfect idea” to arrive before writing. Just get those fingers on the keyboard. The ideas will come.

3- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

Above all, I want the readers to laugh. Hard. In my face. (Okay, not literally. Please don’t show up at my door, point to a page in my book and guffaw. That would be weird.) Because my book deals with a challenging time in my life—namely living in a mud hut in the middle of Africa by myself—there’s going to be a lot of emotions flying around. There are some truly soul crushing moments in there; I’m not going to lie. But mostly I wrote the book as a way to laugh at myself, and I hope the reader will too.

4- What is something about Zambia that most people probably don't know?

Gosh…everything. What have your heard about Zambia through international news coverage? Nothing comes to mind? Thought so. It is truly the hidden gem of Africa for this reason. It’s such a peaceful country it doesn’t make headlines often. Which is astounding considering it is one of the most majestic places on earth and home to one of the “Seven Wonders of the Natural World,” Victoria Falls.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book with something from your adventures?
Christine Herbert answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of my time in Zambia. I am attending the Mutomboko Festival in Luapula Province (in which the local chief illustrates the mighty victories of his people through a traditionally costumed “dance off” with other tribes). It illustrates my utter “out of place-ness” and the excessive amount of attention I would draw, just by being my plain-old, pigmentally-challenged self.

6- How do you support your fellow debut authors and have any of them supported you?

One of the great things about being published by a small indie press which showcases new and emerging writers is that we all have ample opportunity to get to know each other and support one another. I have loved reading and reviewing my peers’ debut releases.

7- Time to double-down on social media! What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
Also, can you please recommend a favorite #bookstagram account profile?

My twitter handle (and my instagram handle, wink-wink, nudge-nudge) is @authorherbert . I’d love for you to give a #WriterWednesday shoutout to these fabulous writers and human beings on twitter: @rebeccazornow and @MarilynKriete and to the lovely bookstagrammer Heather, who goes by @booksbyheath on instagram

8- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?

When not writing, I can be found with my nose someone else’s book or curled up in a movie theatre seat, enjoying stories that other people have created. (Hello, my name is Christine, and I am a story-a-holic.)

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

My story is an exploration of Zambian culture, as seen though the eyes of a white American. It is multi-cultural by nature, though it does not attempt to “unpack” any weighty social justice issues, nor will you find any “white savior” elements in the storytelling. I often refer to my memoir as “Bridget Jones Goes to Africa”—what you learn about Zambian culture will be through my own bumbling attempts to understand and navigate it. It is a story about people who are different—mostly because of how and where they’ve been raised, rather than the color of their skin—who learn from each other and, ultimately, love one another (despite the protagonist’s many, many flaws).

10- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime? #WriteGoal #BucketList #WriterBucketList

Finally being a published author feels like I’ve achieved my #BucketList as a writer, so let me enjoy that for the space of two breaths. Okay. That was nice. Now on to the next goal! I’ve been working on a novel (also set in Sub-Saharan Africa) for several years. My bucket list now involves taming this “pantsed” literary monster into some kind of actual storyline and achieving publishing success as a fiction writer.

11- What was the query process like for you?

I have had mixed success with query letters. I was often able to get a full or partial manuscript request, especially if I’d had the opportunity to meet the agent or editor in person beforehand at a writer’s conference. But, ultimately, no one offered to sign me. I had all but given up on traditional publishing and was ready to self-pub when I learned about #PitMad on twitter, a quarterly event when unagented writers pitch their completed manuscripts in 160 characters or less. A “like” from an agent or publishing house is an invitation to query them (and rise above the slush pile). During the time of COVID, when gathering for in-person conferences was a bust, this turned out to be the perfect way to pitch my story to a wide, somewhat-captive audience (it’s hard to lose someone in 160 characters). I was offered a publishing contract within weeks.

12- Would you please ask our audience an intriguing question to answer in the comments?

I like bonkers questions that make me think creatively—questions you never thought someone would ask and you have no idea the answer to until you start talking (or typing) it out. So here goes: if an interpretive dance troupe offered to express your current work in progress through movement, what’s that looking like on stage, and more importantly, what are they wearing?

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

Christine Herbert is a part-time writer, part-time bodyworker, and full-time space cadet currently living in the Pacific Northwest. A dyed-in-the-wool introvert, she occasionally surprises everyone—especially herself—by chucking it all and living an adventurous life of service overseas, once as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia and later as a manager for a non-profit organization in Nepal. When not adventuring off to distant lands, she can be found holed up in her glorified oubliette under a pile of lap blankets surrounded by a multitude of storybooks and wheels of cheese.

Christine loves connecting with fellow writers, readers, globetrotters, and woolgatherers. She can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for news about upcoming releases, the latest scoops that uplift and encourage the human spirit, and travel snaps of her adventures abroad.
Twitter @authorherbert
Instagram @authorherbert

Praise for "The Color of the Elephant":

The Color of the Elephant is the kind of book you stay up past midnight to finish. I loved how often I laughed out loud at Christine’s courage to be so imperfectly and wonderfully human as a visitor to another country.
Shelly L. Francis, author of The Courage Way and Damocles’ Wife.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Color of the Elephant by Christine Herbert

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

March 2022 Pass Or Pages Agent Panel Reveal!


Meet the agents who will critique your FRIENDS OR ENEMIES TO LOVERS ROMANCE entries!



Annalise Errico

Ladderbird Literary Agency

Annalise is a graduate of Lesley University where she earned a B.A. in Creative writing with a double minor in Literature and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. She is excited about uplifting stories by authors with marginalized voices and intersectional identities, ultimately making room for the diverse voices that have long since been ignored and suppressed in the literary world and beyond. When she isn’t agenting, Annalise spends an excessive amount of time snuggling with her cat, Mittens, and writing romance novels that are more swoony than strictly necessary.


Rebecca Podos (Author of The Mystery of Hollow Places)

Rebecca Podos

Rees Literary

Rebecca Podos is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College. Her Young Adult fiction (The Mystery of Hollow Places, Like Water, The Wise and the Wicked) is published by Balzer+Bray/ HarperCollins. In the Young Adult and Middle Grade categories, Rebecca loves everything from high fantasy to horror, contemporary to historical, and rom-com to magic realism, as long as it has a strong voice and memorable characters whose humanity shines through. OwnVoices Jewish and LGBTQIA books,  stories exploring multi-generational relationships, novels featuring marginalized voices and cultures across genres, and a sci-fi about a queer spaceship captain are high on her wish list. She is also now acquiring Adult romance in the vein of Well Met, Red White & Royal Blue, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, and Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, as well as Adult sci-fi and fantasy. Send your sweeping, sexy Kushiel’s Dart-style epics, please! She is thrilled to represent books by authors like Reina Luz Alegre, Ashley Herring Blake, Rin Chupeco, Sonia Hartl, Mackenzi Lee, London Shah, Rebecca Kim Wells, and more. 


Details for March 2022 Pass or Pages:

Entry starts: Monday, February 28 at 6 a.m. Eastern

Entry ends: Friday, March 4 at 6 p.m. Eastern
How To Enter: Fill out the entry form on the contest post when it goes live on February 28.
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 

The winning entries with agent commentary will be posted on Operation Awesome the week of March 21, 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 with the hashtag #PassOrPages.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Fairy Tales
Do you know which fairy tale this is?

February 26 [Saturday] is Tell a Fairy Tale Day!  When I think of "fairy tale" usually it's a Disney story but not always.  Here are a few fun fairy tale sites:

Here are 17 famous fairy tales

This site claims to tell you the top 10 fairy tales ever.  Which one do you think is #1?

The Princess Bride: 30 timeless morals from the greatest fairy tale movie

Are Grimm's fairy tales too grim for children? The original Cinderella, for example, is definitely NOTHING like the Disney version!

Fairy tale retellings

Fairy tale retellings are popular.  Have you ever written, or read, a retelling?  Tell us in the comments!

Friday, February 18, 2022