Monday, May 30, 2022

June is Audio Book Appreciation Month!
Which audio book icon do you like best?

I've written before about my memorable experience with the audio version of The Martian by Andy Weir.

I first tried to read it in e-book form from my local library, but the science descriptions bogged me down and really slowed the pace.  I couldn't get past chapter 5.  But the movie was coming out soon, and I'd heard good things about it, so I tried again.  At the time, I worked in an office about 35 miles from my house, and my commute time was over an hour each way.  So I checked out the audio book from my library.

I specifically remember one day I had to pull over on the side of the freeway because I was laughing so hard I couldn't see where I was going and almost crashed my car.

The narrator can make or break the book.

How many minutes is the average audio book?
How much does an audio book narrator earn?
See this site!

Is listening to a book "cheating"?

The 20 best audio book narrators.  Neil Gaiman has narrated most of his own books!  I've read audio books narrated by George Guidall, Scott Brick, and Lorelei King from this list.  What about you?

How to become an audio book narrator

Audio book performance master class [includes Scott Brick!]

The secret life of an audio book star

What is the best or most recent audio book you've read?  Tell us in the comments!

Friday, May 27, 2022

Query Friday: Query Manager: Friend or Foe?

Happy Friday Query-ers!

Chances are that if you are currently querying you have submitted a query through Query Manager. Query Manager was created by the maker of Query Tracker and is a way to allow agents to answer queries in a more streamlined manner (theoretically). 

When you fill out the form to submit your query you are required to submit info on:
  • Title
  • Genre
  • Word Count
  • Name
  • Contact Info
On the Pro side it makes it almost impossible for you to actually forget any of these details. πŸ‘

Once submitted, you will get a confirmation letter that says that your query was received, and a link to check the status of your query, so you can obsessively click to your hearts desire. πŸ‘πŸ’—πŸ‘

As you can see below the queries come in and are arranged to look like a traditional inbox; but the title, author, genre and word count are highlighted, so they are available to the agent at first glance.

Query Manager allows agents to sort and filter. So if your agent is particularly interested in YA that week they can sort for any queries in that category. This could mean faster response timesπŸ‘, or maybe lack of response if you didn't do your research and the agent doesn't rep your category.

Speaking of research- Query Manager allows agents to auto flag things that may be of concern (like an exceptionally high word count). Food for thought...

It also allows for flags in other categories:

But these can be positive flags too... If an agent is hankering for a SciFi with Found Families, they can filter for these key words and your query may rise to the top! πŸ‘ Of course, this is dependent on how much the agent is utilizing these features as well.

Agents, are also able to see if you have submitted to them before via Query Manager.

Which can be beneficial, but can be something to note if you attempt to re-query with a different title or slightly reworded queryπŸ˜‰.

After viewing your query agents can opt to send templated replies. Kind of a bummer if you were hoping for a personalized rejection   πŸ‘Ž, but it probably does wonders for efficiency.

You can also, just click a button to withdraw your query- if you change your mind for any reason (sudden brainstorm about how to make the ending 9000's times better anyone?). And if you get an OFFER OF REP from another agent- there is a button for that too!πŸ‘

It's free for everyone, and data collected will help improve the accuracy of the Query Tracker platform. I love some data

so I'm a fan!

All info and images were sourced from Query Manager's website at Check it out, watch the tours, learn even more!

What are your thoughts on Query Manager? Share in the comments below. Happy Querying!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Dear O'Abby: What are some useful writing resources to help me build a career?

 Dear O'Abby,

I'm fairly new to this writing gig and am looking for some resources to help me along the way.  Obviously I've found this site (which is super useful, thanks - I especially love the Pass and Pages contests although I haven't entered one yet) but am wondering what other sites you might recommend.

Can you point me toward some sites I might find useful?

Best wishes,


Dear Resourceless,

There are so many wonderful sites out there that cover all kinds of different aspects of the writing journey.  I'm sure you will find many of them on your own as you continue on your journey, but here are some of the sites I personally use regularly and find useful.

If you're querying, I think this site, MS Wishlist, is among the most useful.  Agents put up profiles and list what they are actually looking for and you can search for agents that are likely to want books like yours.  I also like Query Tracker although I think a lot of the best features are behind a paywall now.

If you're interested in small presses or looking for places to publish short fiction, Authors Publish is a great resource.  Sign up for their newsletter to get regular tips sent to your inbox.

If you're interested in self-publishing, get some useful how-to information at Ingram Spark and find out more about how it works at Self-Publishing School.

If you're looking for a community to write with, I have been with Writing.Com for over 10 years now and have found almost all my critique partners and beta readers there.  They also have regular contests and challenges to keep you creatively on your toes.

Hopefully those will give you a good starting point.  If you search the web, you will find thousands of other great sites that might suit you better.

Best of luck with your writing journey.

X O'Abby

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sara de Waard answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight Plus a Book #signedcopy #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

White Lies by Sara de Waard

1- Please give us two truths and a lie:

  • I worked alongside Paul Stanley of Kiss.
  • I’m one of 9 siblings.
  • I lived in Maui for a year.

Whte Lies Sara de Waard answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

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

Just get it done. There are millions of masterpieces sitting half-complete in folders. Be brave and finish yours.

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

I hope my book evokes a full spectrum of emotions in its readers. I want people to feel sadness, joy, pain, relief, embarrassment and resilience along with Missy.

4- In your opinion, what makes Wordle a fun game?

Wordle is a fun game because when you just go with it and plunk in 5-letter words you know (or words you are surprised are words), you get instant feedback that either declares you a winner or taunts your intelligent quotient. The international aspect of the competition is cool, too.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a fun setting?

Sara de Waard answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

6- How do you support your fellow debut authors and have any of them supported you?
Sara de Waard answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

Social media has played a major role in how I support fellow debut authors, and how they support me. Considering I dove into this process in the heart of a world-wide pandemic, options were little to none for meeting people face-to-face. So, we took to Twitter and Instagram (mainly) to increase social currencies, offer words of encouragement and share away. I feel like the world is challenging enough these days, so when you’re in a position to interact with fellow artists, hold back on criticism and choose kind.

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 is @deWaardSara and I’d like to shout out to: @pauljcoccia , @melissahilfers and @nicsigni for their talent, support and sense of community.

I have to give a huge shout out to @CBCBooks for their bookstagram work – I was thrilled when they announced White Lies as a must-read for May because I’ve long respected and followed them, keen on learning about the books and authors they highlight. Then, I was one of them! Surreal!

8- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?
Sara de Waard answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

I would say it takes a lot of creativity to plan engaging lessons for my students and when I have full ownership over a successful task or unit, it feels satisfying.

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

The love interest of my book is Metis and the supportive characters integral to the story include Chinese, Indian and Black ethnicities.

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

I’ve always said, and maintain, that my goal is to evoke a variety of strong emotions in my readers. I want them to be present with the material and ride an emotional roller coaster.

11- What was the query process like for you?

I researched how many Canadian publishers were accepting unsolicited manuscripts at the time and there were SIX. I looked at their criteria, wrote them an email and attached my manuscript. One said yes. The rest is history.

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

This novel deals with mental health issues post traumatic events. Missy is in therapy for her tendency to dissociate from reality. What are some ways you know of to stay present/in the moment, and enjoy life so it doesn’t pass you by?
Sara de Waard answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

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

My intention behind this book was to show the reader that despite grave trauma and dysfunction in a person’s upbringing, life can still be beautiful. It may take therapy and some hard work, but life will throw you a rope with supportive people in the least-expected ways. Be open to healing and look for those who seek to build you up. The reason why I care so much about this is because I had a traumatic past and now at my age, I find myself with very few memories of my childhood, teens and adulthood because I wasn’t living in the moment. Only now, as I do the work to heal, am I able to embrace the good and bad of my days, and truly live. I wish I had known what I know now, then. White Lies is my gift to readers that will hopefully remind them of the importance of self-love, compassion and forgiveness.
Please find me on Twitter (@deWaardSara ) or Instagram (@saralee_dw) to interact and build each other up. Life is too short, for otherwise.

Which was the lie from #1? I did NOT live in Maui for a year… however, I wish I could live there forever.


You'll need to answer question 12 in the comments of this post in order to enter the giveaway on Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Teacher's Guide and more:

White Lies by Sara de Waard

Reading Goals for 2022


A writer must read, and a reader must write.

Well, sometimes.

I am inspired by what I read, and with the trackers on Goodreads, and the occasional Amazon Kindle Challenge, it is always interesting to see what I read over the course of a year. Themes usually emerge for me, sometimes a exploring handful of writers or even a particular genre. 

This year is no different.

While my Goodreads goal is 90 books, and I've finished 32, I am "3 books behind schedule." My Kindle book goal is 45 books, and I've finished 19. 

Maybe I need to go to the library and curl up with some books.

What are your reading goals? Do you have patterns of what you tend to read? What are you reading right now?

Monday, May 23, 2022

May is Short Story Month

We're in the back half of May now.  Have you read any short stories this month?  Have you written any short stories this month?

What's a short story?  Usually between 1000 and 15,000 words.  Most common is 3000-5000 words.

How to write a short story

A close reading of the best short story ever written

Short stories online

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Do you have a favorite short story?  Have you written a short story?  Tell us in the comments!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Query Breakdown: The Subject Line


In theory, the subject line should be the simplest part of the query process. 

And it is- as long as you don't overcomplicate it. 

You ask.Well.....

Say my book is titled "The Adventures of John Smith."

Typical wisdom would have us include a email subject line that says

                                     Query: The Adventures of John Smith

Easy-peasy. Of course, it's always good to read the directions of the agent your querying. Perhaps, they prefer

                                    Query: The Adventures of John Smith Attn: Agent of my dreams


                                    The Adventures of John Smith, YA Adventure, 98K

What we shouldn't be seeing is:

                                    The Adventures of John Smith- the best book you've ever read 

                                    Want to make $$$$$: Rep The Adventures of John Smith


                                For a limited time only: For your πŸ‘€'s ONLY- The Adventures of John Smith


While a large part of the query is selling your book, you want to be carefully about the impression you leave on your prospective agent. Above all, you want to come off as professional, confident, and as someone who can follow simple instructions.

Happy Querying!


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dear O'Abby: How do I transition from kids' books to books for adults?

 Dear O'Abby,

I am a kid-lit author with several published MG and picture books to my name.  I have also published a couple of YA  novels for younger YA readers.  I love writing for young people, but the new book I am working on is very different and will definitely be for adults.  

I'm wondering if you know anything about how to transition to this new audience without having to use a pseudonym.  With such an extensive publishing history, I don't want to lose the name recognition even though I'm targeting a different audience.

Yours truly,


Dear Transitory,

Darn it!  You've already eliminated the most obvious answer here - to use a pseudonym.  But I understand your reasons for not doing this and respect them.

Firstly, I would ask if you currently have an agent representing your kidlit projects?  If so, do they also represent adult books?  If they do, they will be in a far better position to guide you through this transition than I.  But given you've asked here, I suspect you either don't have an agent or your agent does not represent adult books.

So...  If it's the latter, you need to talk to your current agent.  Let them know that your new book doesn't fit in the wheelhouse of your previous work. Depending on your working relationship, she may be willing to explore new avenues on your behalf.  Or there may be another agent at the agency who could represent your new project and the two agents could work together on your career.

If you don't already have an agent, or your current agent doesn't have any leads for you, you will probably want to query your new book when it is ready.  Research widely for agents best suited to your new work. Make sure that when you query you let the agents know that you have a body of work and (if it is the case) and agent already representing this facet of your career.  This will give you a leg up on authors that don't already have a track record of publishing and working with an agent.

Obviously the whole querying thing is a lot of work and if you feel like this book is a one-off and you probably won't write another adult book, you may not want to do this.  It may also be harder to get an agent for the project because agents tend to like working with writers' careers, rather than single books.  If this sounds like you, there is always self-publishing or even working with a small press that doesn't require an agent to submit.

There are so many variables!

Hopefully this is helpful.

Best of luck with finishing the new book.

X O'Abby

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Eve Ainsworth answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight

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

Duckling by Eve Ainsworth

Today's author has gone from children's books to debut in books for adults.

1- Duckling is your debut into adult books. What was the motivation to write for this age group?

I’ve always wanted to write a book for adults and have been playing around with a few ideas for a while. Then one day I was sitting in the bath and suddenly wondered “what would I do if someone asked me to look after their child and then didn’t come back? What if I suspected they were a good person but calling the police could cause problems for them…”
And the idea for Duckling was born

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

My main writing tip is quite a boring one, but it’s to try and write a bit every day. Even if it’s just a few words - get them down! Don’t delete, don’t read back. You can do the editing later! Just concentrate on getting words on the page.

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

I hope that readers will feel empathy for my characters and perhaps widen their understanding for people living in tricky and complex situations. I also wanted to break some of the tropes involving working class characters and show the positive side of living in these communities.
I want readers to be moved but also to feel ultimately uplifted.

4- Are there plans to make Duckling available for sale in other coutries?

I would love Duckling to be sold in other countries! I know my publishers are working hard to try and make that happen, so fingers crossed!

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

Eve Ainsworth answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions

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

I supported other authors by setting up the Debut2022 group on Twitter and Facebook. Im so proud of this group and how supportive and kind we are to one another. Being an author can be a lonely business so it’s important to reach out to others. I also set up the Working Class Writers network to support writers from underprivileged backgrounds.

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 is @eveainsworth and my Instagram is @eveainsworth

I’d love to shout out @EmmaPassAuthor @CaronMcKinlay and @morganowenya

I want to boost @icarriebooks

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

For downtime I love reading! Cooking! Walking my dog and sewing (I’m just learning how to properly)

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

I have diverse characters in Duckling as it’s set on a south London estate. It’s also working class as I’m a working class author and the main character, Lucy is socially awkward like me (possibly neurodiverse). Afro Caribbean and African characters in the book (as supporting character).

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

I would love to see one of books turned into a film or TV show. That’s the ultimate I think.

11- What was the query process like for you?

I had a long query process because I had to find a new agent to represent my adult book (my previous agent only looked after my childrens books) it was a very up and down journey and lots of tears were shed, but I never gave up! Fortunately Duckling was taken on it the end

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

What do you think of the title Duckling? What sort of book do you think this will be?

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

Eve Ainsworth is a working class award-winning and Carnegie nominated children’s author who has written for both middle grade and teen readers. Her debut novel for adults, Duckling, will be published by Penguin Random House in spring 2022.
Eve has vast experience working as a public speaker and creative workshop coordinator for schools, libraries and other events both nationally and internationally. She also is an experienced mentor and is very passionate about helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Eve was born and raised in Crawley, West Sussex and is one of seven children. After her degree, she had a varied background working within HR and Recruitment roles, before landing a job she loved – mentoring and supporting challenging and vulnerable students in a large secondary school. This inspired her first teen book 7 Days. Eve is fiercely proud of her working class roots and her large, loud family. She still lives in Crawley with her husband, two young children and crazy pets.

Eve Ainsworth -- Amazon

Monday, May 16, 2022

May 22 is Sherlock Holmes Day

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator and author of the Sherlock Holmes books, was born on May 22, 1859 in Edinburgh Scotland.  Therefore, May 22 is celebrated as International Sherlock Holmes Day.
Official Arthur Conan Doyle site

Baker Street wiki

The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia 

10 little known facts about Sherlock Holmes

An essential guide to Sherlock Holmes 

Sherlock Holmes Day

A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes story, was published in UK in 1887.

What's your favorite Sherlock Holmes story?  The stories that I remember most are (1) The Red-Headed League [the 4th story], (2) The Speckled Band [the 10th story], and (3) The Hound of the Baskervilles [the 27th story].

Tell us your favorite in the comments!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Flash Fiction Friday


Flash Fiction Friday


It's Flash Fiction Friday! For this week's contest, go to HuffPost's Weird News page and write a short piece based on a headline! 

Catching my eye this week is


 Read all about it here.

But feel free to choose any of the many lovely offerings.

Length: 2000 words
Deadline: Sunday, May 15th , 2022, 2am Central Standard Time

Leave your entry in the comments, please. As always, the winner will get a badge and bragging rights!