Friday, December 30, 2022

Query Friday and New Year's Resolutions for 2023

 Downtown New Year's Eve - Owensboro Living

It may have something to do with my love of lists but they New Year always feels like a time of opportunity.

This year I have a ton of things I want to happen in the New Year but in terms of resolutions I'm going to stick with what is actionable.

1) Writing: To write and completely revise and edit two new novels.

I feel like this is a doable goal for me and pretty much the speed I'd like to be running once I'm published so... just putting that out into the universe.

2) Read at least three books a month.

I'm a huge reader but I tend to pause when actively drafting. Hopefully I can keep momentum. I don't think 36 books is outlandish goal wise.

3) Attend two writer's conferences. At least one in person.

I always enjoy being surrounded by like minded people and think conferences are a great way to learn and grow, and meet new friends.

4) Have my own personal writing retreat.

Run away from home for a long weekend and do nothing but write? Yes, please.

5) And coming back for another year is to make more friends in the writing community. 

I've been more active on Twitter lately, and am following for signs of impending implosion but I am happy to connect there, I'm @MidlifeCreative, here, or anywhere else.  

Here's to a year of amazing writing and success for all of us!


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Dear O'Abby: What are some good resolutions?

 Dear O'Abby,

I'm new to writing, but I love it and I want 2023 to be a year in which I really dedicate myself to my craft.  I know myself and know I can easily get distracted, so I want to set myself some good resolutions to keep me on track for 2023.  Do you have any insight into what the best resolutions for writers might be?



Dear Resolute,

Resolutions are a personal thing and need to be tied to your own, personal goals as a writer.   So I can't give you anything specific here, but I can offer some advice you can use while formulating the resolutions you will use to guide you through 2023.  Hopefully these are helpful!

Firstly, keep your resolutions realistic and manageable.  While it's wonderful to dream that this is the year your book will hit the New York Times Bestsellers' List, that's not something you have any control over so should not be a resolution.  Anything you resolve to do should be something actually achievable and something you have the power to influence.

So rather than resolving that 2023 will be the year that you get an agent, resolve to query your novel to a certain number of agents.  That's something you have control over, while getting an agent is in someone else's hands.

If your goal is a big one, like to complete a novel in 2023, break it down into smaller parts so it feels more manageable.  Facing an entire novel each day is huge, but if your resolution is to add 500 words to your novel manuscript each day, it feels much more achievable and you're far more likely to actually sit down to do what needs doing.

The most important thing is not to give up or to beat yourself up if things don't go the way you planned for them to go.  If you miss a day's writing, don't let that derail you.  Just pick up where you left off and keep going without all that internal recrimination.  We're all human and taking a day off every now and then is not going to keep you from reaching that goal if it's something you really want.  Most people end up quitting on their resolutions because they feel like if they break them, there's no point going on.  But there is!

Have a great New Year.  I'll catch you all in 2023!

X O'Abby

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Debut Author Year-End Wrap Up

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

This year we asked our authors:

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

I'm always open to sharing what I've learned about the book writing process. There's so much more to writing a book than seeing ideas develop into words on the page. I relied on a handful of seasoned authors to guide me through my writing journey, and I'm available to do the same for anyone who'd welcome my advice.
- Matt Wilson

I’ve been at this for a dozen years so I’ve seen a lot of my fellow writers become debut authors, and I do anything and everything I can to help spread “the love”. I used to utilize my blog for this, but my activity level for blogging has fallen off as I pushed towards publication, so I rely on other social media outlets.
- DL Hammons

I happily share and read other writer's posts. I have purchased many books by fellow authors and shared the book info with friends. We all need as much exposure as we can get.
- Karla Jordan

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.
- Christine Herbert

If I ever see a tweet with a debut author release I always try and retweet, give them a shout out and check out their book. You never know what gems you will find.
- James L Graetz

I’m a member of a private online author’s group and when they ask questions, I try to provide them with some guidance. The greatest support I received was with a generous testimonial for Finding Grace from a debut author who had made the Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller list.
- Gary Lee Miller

I can't think of any new authors who have supported me, but I can think of several veteran authors. Twitter is a great way to connect with them. Lots of people have retweeted things for me and vice versa. Social media can be great if used for the right reasons.
- Cole Poindexter

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.
- Eve Ainsworth

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.
- Sara de Waard

I love talking up my fellow debuts! There are so many fantastic books to talk about. It’s a little overwhelming - and it's overwhelming my TBR! Yes they have. There has been so much support, I’m humbled. If we are sticking with debuts, The #22debuts and #2022debuts group alone have been such a huge support. My fellow debut authors at @CityOwlPress are ROCK STARS. Debut authors with my agent and agency have been amazing.
- S.L. Choi

As mentioned in question 4, I’m part of a couple of debut groups. The one I am most active in is mostly UK and Ireland-based authors, and we have a very active Twitter chat group for the highs, the lows, the tears, and the celebrations. Just knowing that whatever we are experiencing, someone else in the group is probably going through too, is so supportive as it reminds us we aren’t alone. I try hard to promote their books as often and honestly as I can, and have made some great friends in the group. For me, being with a small publisher, I often feel like the small-fry, but I have learned to much from them all and am incredibly grateful to be included.
- Jinny Alexander

Firstly, I’ll happily share any tips or hints I may have with anyone who asks, I’m very much in favour of passing it forward and I hate it when people are successful and pull the ladder up. It’s not a zero sum game, you know? Other people’s success doesn’t dull yours!
As well as that I’m in chat groups with other 2022 debut authors and they are the most supportive group of people! We share advice, get each other through the hard times, celebrate the good times, retweet for each other, read each other’s books. It’s lovely.
- Kenny Boyle

I buy & recommend their books & RT praise so they don't have to!
- Jacquie Bloese

I’ve read two 2022 debuts so far, and loved them (I’ve also let the world know!)
- Shameez Patel Papathanasiou

Second Star to the Left by Megan van Dyke and A Song of Silver and Gold by Melissa Karibian.
I plan on reading more debuts, but aside from reading, I RT and like and share and do anything I can to help.
- Shameez Patel Papathanasiou

Leslie Johansen Nack wrote the book, Fourteen, about living with her father and two younger sisters on a sailboat while preparing to travel and voyaging to The South Pacific. We connected online due to the similarity of our stories, began to talk on the phone, and recently met in person for the launch of her second book, The Blue Butterfly. She has become a dear friend and huge support and guide for me not only in writing and publishing, but also in life. I hope that my support for her is similar. My continued involvement in several writing groups, volunteer positions in writers conferences, and reaching out to other authors who I am inspired by and relate to has been foundational in creating a support network akin to family. I love to help support and share others works in any way I can, and have been blessed with support by so many.
- Rebecca Stirling

I’m in a Twitter group with lots of other 2022 debut kidlit authors who are all wonderful! We chat most days, asking qs and sharing advice about our experiences. We boost each others’ competitions, go to launches and generally shout about each others’ books as much as we can. I also started a primary-age #ReadingAdventure - a summer holiday booklist that describes books as holiday destinations. It features SMALL! and 15 other debuts from the group.
- Hannah Moffatt

The greatest gift you can give any author is to read and leave reviews, so I’ve been supporting my fellow debuts by buying their books or checking them out at the library and leaving honest reviews on all the big sites. It helps other people discover their wonderful books, and I’ve also had so much fun getting to read stories from authors that I now have a connection with. We also do a lot of joint amplification on social media to show our support—it’s been amazing to see how supportive the 22 debuts are about celebrating each other’s work.
- Stacy Stokes

I find the writing community incredibly supportive. One author helped me create a website whilst another invited me onto their podcast. They are a constant source of advice and encouragement. I feel very lucky. There’s no judgement or comparison, just understanding about the highs and lows of publishing a book. I find any opportunity to shout about their books too, especially at work.
- Kate S Martin

Oh wow, the blogging community is so supportive! I love hosting blog tours and guest posts whenever I can.
There’s also a great community on
- Deniz Bevan

I was part of a writing group for many years and several of us have recently published memoirs or are in the publication process. We celebrate each other on social media and have remained in each others’t lives.
- Caitlin Billings

The writing community of my debut year is amazing, and we are very supportive of one another! We reshare eachother's exciting book news on twitter and instagram. We also read each other's ARCs and provide honest reviews. We share tips too. For example, I found out about operation awesome through another author sharing about it in a 2022 debuts author chat group.
- Anita Jari Kharbanda

The ’22 debuts have an extremely supportive Slack group! We all support each other by preordering each other’s books, shouting about them online, listening to each other vent and cry, and offering each other advice. Many of them run our social media and create Most Anticipated lists, and as a busy mess of a human, I appreciate them more than they probably know.
- Misty Wilson

My Pitch Wars class (2020) is still very much in touch, and the debuts among us retweet each others’ book news whenever we can. We touch base with feelings/questions about our publishing journeys in the Discord that a few of our class members very wisely organized. I’m also really interested in holding the door for folks who are still querying or on sub. I try to be available for manuscript reading and feedback as time allows; there are so many people out here writing excellent stories who don’t have representation yet, and it’s HARD shopping your work without a teammate to tell you you’re doing great! I’ll never, ever forget the slog of it, and I want to be a cheerleader whenever I can.
- Briana Una McGuckin

Absolutely they’ve supported me and I hope I’ve been able to support them, too. I’ve met a number of them through our publisher, plus some others online, as well as some of my own writing clients. I love “blurbing” their manuscripts—offering quotes of praise they can use on their books, and I promote their efforts and events on social media, and they’ve done that for me. Most importantly, though, we have informal book chats to talk through our challenges and successes. Appreciating that others are going through the same experiences makes all the difference—it’s so helpful to know we’re in each other’s corner.
- Jen Braaksma

I follow as many as I can on social media, and many do the same for me. More importantly, when several individuals approached me about considering writing, I offered as much encouragement as possible.
- Joseph D. Pianka, MD

I am a part of the 2022 Debut Authors group. It has been so supportive- celebrating each other’s wins and sharing books on Twitter etc etc. The thing I was proudest to do was to give away a residency I won. I won a week writer’s residency that I couldn’t attend due to my health but I was able to give it to another debut author. I was so glad it went to good use.
- Ross MacKay

I've been really lucky to be in a brilliant Twitter group for debut kidlit authors and I've had enormous support from many of the members. We try to celebrate one another's writing and promote it where we can but it is also a safe place to ask tricky questions that you might not ask publically.
- Emily Kenny

Yes, I belong to writing groups that meet here in Southern California and have author friends who trade work with me. We support each other like that. I also read indie authors who are self-published.
- Dori Aleman-Medina

I’m in a super lovely Debut twitter group which is lovely and reassuring (I’m only here answering these questions because Hannah Moffatt posted about it!) I’m reading a lot of debut fiction, and of course buying multiple copies of the books to gift to small friends and readers and I’m not great at social media but I’m trying to keep up and shout about the ones I love!
- Jennifer Claessen

Monday, December 26, 2022

December 26 is Thank You Note Day!

Today, December 26, is Thank You Note Day!  Time to send a thank-you to those who blessed you with a gift this holiday season, or blessed you by simply being in your life this year.

We here at Operation Awesome want to say THANK YOU to all of our awesome blog readers. You are AWESOME!

We’d also like to know what you’d like to see here on the blog next year.  If you have ideas for next year, please let us know in the comments!


Friday, December 23, 2022

Query Friday: Building Your Agent List- Where to Start

 Querying can be stressful. It is stressful. You are putting yourself and your work out there time and time again and expecting rejection. But we just can't help ourselves...

 Angel Kurenai — Imagine accidentally confessing to Dean how you...

 Truth be told while querying itself can be hard on the soul, building a solid list of agents can help decrease the chance of rejection and dare I say it, can be fun.

If you have no idea where to start I'd recommend QueryTracker where you can filter by genre and age group and come up with a basic list. 

I recently discovered a site called AgentQuery that does something similar in this regard. And Jericho Writers has a subscription program that includes Agent Match. 

After you've got a basic list together I'd use the Manuscript Wish List site, Twitter (using #MSWL), or agency/agent websites to get specifics on what the agent is truly looking for. 

For instance you might find an agent that represents YA fantasy but hates portal fantasy, or doesn't love talking animals. Querying said agent might net an instant rejection when you thought you were querying someone who repped your genre. Save yourself the pain. 

I think walking through those steps should give you a reasonably defined list, but if you want solid background before you query you can always look for agent interviews, personal websites, and Publisher's Marketplace to see what kind of deals they have represented in the past. If you find yourself interested in a newer agent don't discount them- just research the agency that will be supporting them.

Best of luck out there!


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Interview with Amazon First Read Author Damyanti Biswas

There were no questions for O'Abby this week, so instead I went out and asked some of my own questions of debut novelist Damyanti Biswas whose book The Blue Bar was selected as an Amazon First Read for December.

So please give a big OA welcome to Damanyti!

How do you become an Amazon First Read?

My US debut literary crime novel, THE BLUE BAR, is published by Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon Imprint for crime fiction. My editor submitted my book into the Amazon First Reads for approval, and it was picked up. I'm not sure if a writer can initiate the process--in my case it was done by my excellent editor, Jessica Tribble.

What are the benefits?

Amazon First Read e-books are emailed to Amazon's massive list of readers, and they can download it for free, which increases its chances of being seen.

Are there any downsides?

Since the emails are not targeted and are sent to all Amazon Prime members, it exposes the book to readers who are not its primary audience. In my case, a lot of readers picked it up expecting an all-American thriller, and have responded with racist comments like "Couldn't finish because this book has strange names."

What do you hope this programme will do for your career?

Since the book already has more than 500 Amazon ratings two weeks before its release, and almost that many on Goodreads, I'm hoping it will prove an auspicious start to my career in the US publishing industry. At any rate, it seems to have introduced me to new readers, readers I definitely wouldn't have found on my own.

What's next for you?

THE BLUE BAR is part of a two-book deal, so I'm working on the edits of the next book in the Blue Mumbai Series. I'm also working on other proposals, and already have a project almost ready to submit after a quick round of edits!

Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?

THE BLUE BAR is set in Mumbai, a megapolis of 21 million people. It homes the most expensive private residence in the world worth 2 billion USD, with 400,000-square-feet area divided into 27 floors.

The city also features Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in the world--2 million people crammed into 0.81 square miles.

About the Blue Bar:

So the contrasts are extreme, and everyday reality is overwhelming to the senses. In terms of color, sounds, scents, and the sheer density of humanity, this city has few equals. With this novel, I try to take you to this megacity, its skyscrapers and its underbelly, its stories of love and hate, its beaches and swamps, its movie sets and police stations. I hope you'll come along for the journey.

On the dark streets of Mumbai, the paths of a missing dancer, a serial killer, and an inspector with a haunted past converge in an evocative thriller about lost love and murderous obsession.

After years of dancing in Mumbai’s bars, Tara Mondal was desperate for a new start. So when a client offered her a life-changing payout to indulge a harmless, if odd, fantasy, she accepted. The setup was simple: wear a blue-sequined saree, enter a crowded railway station, and escape from view in less than three minutes. It was the last time anyone saw Tara.

Thirteen years later, Tara’s lover, Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, is still grappling with her disappearance as he faces a horrifying new crisis: on the city’s outskirts, women’s dismembered bodies are being unearthed from shallow graves. Very little links the murders, except a scattering of blue sequins and a decade’s worth of missing persons reports that correspond with major festivals.

Past and present blur as Arnav realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer and that someone wants his investigation buried at any cost. Could the key to finding Tara and solving these murders be hidden in one of his cold cases? Or will the next body they recover be hers?

About the author: 

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Australia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. Her debut crime novel You Beneath Your Skin has been optioned for screen by Endemol Shine, and her next, The Blue Bar, will be published on Jan 1, 2023 by Thomas & Mercer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Jennifer Claessen 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

The October Witches by Jennifer Claessen

1- Are there animals in your book, and if so, what role do they play?

Yes! There is one very, very small pony called Bobby. And she is extremely important to the plot in a way I didn’t plan when I started writing.

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

Go for a walk.

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

I hope for The October Witches to be a very cosy fun read. It is an adventure and it’s about our ‘young hags’ finding their own way so if any young readers feel less self-conscious and a little less alone after reading, I’d love that too. But there’s no right response of course, all reader reactions are valid.

4- Did the Druids, pagans, or religion of Wicca play a part in your choice to use October in your story?

Not necessarily no, I don’t know a lot about Wicca but I do think October as a time of year just has a magical feel.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book in a pumpkin patch?

Jennifer Claessen 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’m in a super lovely Debut twitter group which is lovely and reassuring (I’m only here answering these questions because Hannah Moffatt posted about it!)
I’m reading a lot of debut fiction, and of course buying multiple copies of the books to gift to small friends and readers and I’m not great at social media but I’m trying to keep up and shout about the ones I love!

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 is @jclaessen_
I’m really excited for @LucyAnnUnwin’s debut next year
One of my favourite reads of this year is The Whisperling by Hayley Hoskins.
I just met bookstagrammer @pagesofpiper in person for the first time and she’s so lovely and supportive.

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

I love cycling, does that count as creative?! I have a wobbly yellow bike I ride all over London and it definitely helps me think up story ideas. I love the theatre, especially children’s theatre and go a lot with my children. I love dancing, mostly in my kitchen at the moment, and icecream, also mostly in my kitchen. My family is half-Dutch so we travel quite a lot too. I also love climbing trees very badly (I always get stuck on the way down), forest walks and of course reading. In October, I love crafting extremely elaborate and absurd Halloween costumes.

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

As a cis white female writer, I personally don’t have much ‘own voices’ diversity to offer. The October Witches takes a lot of Arthurian legend and flips it in a fun, feminist way. There are no male characters in my book (there was one but he got cut early on) and after all the centuries of male-dominated narratives, I love books which are unapologetically female. My characters live in a matriarchy and there’s nothing remarkable about the absence of male characters at all, they’re just not necessary.

I love the diversity of the work of Katie and Kevin Tsang in their Sam Wu and Dragon Mountain series. And I love reading adventures with black joy like Janelle McCurdy’s Mia and the Lightcasters.

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

I have a little list which includes taking my writing group away on a retreat, going to a literary festival etc and I’ve ticked off some great ones this year. A total dream would be a stage adaptation. My background is in theatre and that would be two worlds colliding in the best way.

11- What was the query process like for you?

I queried projects years ago, got a lot of full requests and a lot of rejections too and ultimately no offer of representation. My rejections from agents probably ran into the hundreds in 2012. Then, after writing The October Witches very quickly in 2019, I was also offered representation by my agent very quickly. They are the Andrew Nurnberg Agency and I just started at ‘A’ and was going to query down the list but my agent is amazing and I didn’t need to! It’s that old case of slow-slow-slow-wow-so-fast.

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

If you had magical power for one month a year, what would you do with it?

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

My twitter is @jclaessen_

Jennifer Claessen answers #13Questions in OA's Debut Author Spotlight #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2022Books #13Questions #pumpkin

The October Witches by Jennifer Claessen

Friday, December 16, 2022

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

Who is Kevin?

Read all about it here.

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

Length: 2000 words
Deadline: Sunday,  December 18th , 2022, 2am Central Standard Time

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

Last one of the year!!!