Monday, May 29, 2023

Week #22 – A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #22 – A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Kinsey Millhone, 32, former cop turned private detective in Santa Teresa California [fictional Santa Barbara], investigates the death of prominent divorce lawyer Laurence Fife. His murder eight years earlier was blamed on his wife, Nikki. Upon her release from prison, Nikki hires Kinsey to find the real murderer.

Author Sue Grafton wrote 25 books in the alphabet series, finishing with Y is for Yesterday. She had plans to write Z is for Zero but passed away before beginning that book.

Kinsey Millhone biography

How Sue Grafton helped transform the mystery genre

A conversation with Sue Grafton

The series may be adapted for television

I've read A is for Alibi and probably ten more. They started getting a little too suspenseful for me [I'm a wimp lol]. Have you read any of Sue Grafton's books? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Dear O'Abby: What should I look for in an agent?

Dear O'Abby,

I ready your column last week with interest, but it was very focused on finding a new agent once you've already been agented.  I'm about to venture into the trenches and was wondering if you have any advice for us first-timers?  Like, what should we be looking for in an agent?  And what red flags should we look out for?

Thanks so much!

Warm wishes, 


Dear Digger,

That's a very good question, so thanks for asking!

The first thing you should be looking for is an agent who is genuinely excited and in love with your book.  If they have a laundry list of really big changes they want to make to the story and they don't resound with you, that's probably not going to be a good fit.  You want someone who really understands what you're saying and what you want the story to do.  And to love it, even if it is still a little rough around the edges.

You also want an agent with experience.  Or if they are a newer agent, that they have support from another agent with more experience.  As a first-timer, you need guidance from your agent, and if you're with a new agent who has no back up if she hits something she's unsure about, that's not going to be good for either of you.  New agents can be wonderful and extremely tenacious as they build a list, but they do need someone to back them up when they need it.

If you're a writer who writes across genres and categories, you need an agent who has editor contacts across those.  If the book she signs you for is a YA romance, but you want to write adult horror next, you need to make sure your agent will be able to sell both of these.  And anything else you might decide you want to write in the future.

You probably want to make sure your agent knows how to read contracts well, and how to negotiate them.  Some agencies have in-house legal who can help with that, but a good agent will understand contract language and clauses and know which are good and which have to go, and will have the confidence to negotiate for changes on your behalf.

In terms of red flags, the biggest one would be if an agent asks you for money up front.  Legitimate agents don't do that.  They get paid when you do.  I'd also be wary if they try to point you toward any paid editorial or publishing service that may be affiliated with the agency or an individual agent.  I have heard about this happening and that isn't okay either.

The most important thing is that before you sign with anyone, you take time to talk to them, find out if you are compatible.  It's hard if you're someone who likes a lot of communication and your agent prefers to do a bi-monthly check in.  So talk about things like that up front to make sure you're both comfortable with the way the relationship is going to work.  Remember, this person is going to be working with you to help you build a career.  You don't work for an agent; an agent works for you and with you.  It's a partnership.

Hope that helps!  And good luck with your querying.

X O'Abby

Monday, May 22, 2023

Week #21 – The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #21 – The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit, also called There and Back Again, was published in 1937. It was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and awarded a prize for best juvenile fiction from the New York Herald Tribune. It is one of the best-selling books of all time with over 100 million copies sold.

Bilbo Baggins, a homebody hobbit from Middle Earth, is “volunteered” by the wizard Gandalf to join thirteen dwarves on a quest to reclaim the dwarves' home and treasure from the dragon Smaug.

Prequel to Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is more of a children’s book. The Lord of the Rings is for teens. All of the movies are more for teens.

Plot summary [SPOILERS]

Why read The Hobbit?

Middle Earth Blog

The Hobbit movie from 2012

The Lord of the Rings from 2001

How to watch The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings movies in order

Have you read any of these books and/or seen the movies? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Dear O'Abby: What happens if my agency drops me?

Dear O'Abby,

There's been a whole lot of stuff flying around social media this week about a bunch of authors being dropped by their agency after an agent left.  It sounds like an awful situation to be in, and I'm wondering if you have any advice.  I'm not personally in this situation myself - I'm not even agented yet - but this news has brought it home to me just how vulnerable authors are, even when they have managed to get representation.  

How do you deal with something like this?



Dear Vulnerable,

I too have been reading this news and feeling absolutely dreadful for those authors (and the agent in question too, to be honest).  A similar thing happened to me several years ago so I know just how devastating it is to suddenly find yourself adrift, with no agent and no time to prepare for that.  Particularly when you have a book out with editors, or just about to go out.

But, it isn't the end of the world, even if it does feel that way at the time.  Remember, your work is good enough that you got an agent in the first place and that's an encouraging sign.  Unless you're feeling so bruised and disillusioned about your agent experience (or your book is held up somewhere in submission hell with your old agent/agency) there's no reason why you can't jump right back into the query trenches.  If you're lucky, you will have done some edits with your agent and your book will be in an even better place than it was when you first queried it.  Most agents seem to be using Query Manager for queries these days and the form usually asks if you have been agented before.  Check yes and be proud of it, regardless how it ended.

You've done this before and now you've had some experience working with an agent, you probably have a much better idea what you are looking for in an agent.  Use this knowledge to your advantage when you're researching agents and when you have the call.  You know what works for you and what doesn't, so don't compromise.  You also have a far better idea what you want to ask this time around, so make sure you do that too.

If you are feeling too broken to dive back into the trenches, you don't have to right away or at all.  I know I was utterly traumatised by my agent experience and have only recently begun to feel ready to go back into that world after 6 years.  But having an agent isn't the only road to take.  You can self publish if you feel like that might be a good option for you or submit to a small/medium press that doesn't require an agent.  Always remember that it's better to have no agent than a bad one.  

It's your career and your work so you need to make sure whatever choice you make is right for you and maybe being agented isn't it.  It's not for everyone.  But if you do decide to go out again, my friend Dahlia has been through this too and has some very helpful advice here.

Authors can be vulnerable, but if you do your due diligence and make sure you get any contracts looked over by a good lawyer, you should be able to avoid some pitfalls.  

Hope that helps!

X O'Abby

Monday, May 15, 2023

Week #20 – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #20 – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his young son journey on foot across the ash-covered United States toward the sea, several years after a cataclysm destroys all life except for a few humans.

This book won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2007.

It was made into a film in 2009
Apocalypse Peaks, Antarctica

Greatest apocalypse novels

Greatest apocalypse movies

I like my entertainment more upbeat and positive. Do you read post-apocalypse books or watch those types of movies? Tell us in the comments!


Friday, May 12, 2023

Query Friday: Champagne Rejections

 Champagne Toast Type Fragrance Oil

Champagne rejections.

You may have heard the term floating around and wondered what they were, or even received a few yourself. 

A champagne rejections is when you receive a rejection that is full of praise for your work, but isn't an offer. The fact that someone took the time to give you feedback, had positive things to say, or ended the rejection with "I'm sure another agent will feel differently" or "If this doesn't find an agent I'd love to see your next project" is definitely something to celebrate.

But for some of us the close, but not close enough is harder to take. It's hard not to know what you have missed when all the comments are glowing.

If you can take this as a sign of progress. You have work worthy of fighting for. Now you just have to find the right champion.

Happy writing!


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Dear O'Abby: Can a journalist/novelist write for film and TV while the WGA is on strike?

Dear O'Abby,

A friend of mine who works in film and TV just contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing some screenwriting.  It's not something I've ever done before - I'm a journalist by trade and write novels under a pseudonym in my spare time - but is something I've always been interested in exploring.  

I'm very aware that the WGA is on strike and I'm pretty sure this is why my friend has approached me.  I'm not a guild member, but I support what the writers are striking for.  Would it be okay for me to write for film and/or TV while the guild is on strike?



Dear Unsure,

The short answer here is no.

I mean, you can, of course, but there will be implications that might damage your career forever.  

Basically, if you decide to go ahead and do some work in this area while the guild is on strike, you'd be considered a scab.  The WGA is a powerful union and if you cross the picket lines and do work for a studio or independent producer at this time, you're likely to get blacklisted.  The means you will never get the opportunity to join the union, even if you do manage to break into screenwriting at some later date.

In addition, if you're blacklisted, even if a studio wants to adapt one of your novels for the screen, the WGA might block that from happening.  Even if you write your novels under a pseudonym and use a different name for any screenwriting you might do..

So, my advice would be to say no to your friend and focus on your journalistic work and your novels for now.  Once the strike is over, you can reach out to your friend again and offer your services.  If  they were only interested while other writers were striking, then I think you know what kind of friend this is!

Hope that helps.

X O'Abby

Monday, May 8, 2023

Week #19 – The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #19 – The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Michael “Mickey” Haller is a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles County who doesn't have a formal office but works out of a Lincoln Town Car. 

Most of his clients are drug dealers and gangsters, but he takes on the case against a wealthy Los Angeles realtor, Louis Roulet, accused of assault and attempted murder.

The book was made into a movie in 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer series was made into a TV series in 2022

A Lincoln Town Car is a full size luxury car. I found several sites dedicated to helping you turn your car into a mobile office

I drive a 10yo Kia Rio.

2013 Kia Rio

It's not the the smallest street-legal vehicle in the US.


But it's small just the same. I love this car because it has been reliable over the past 190,000 miles, gets 35+ mpg, and it's small enough that I can park it almost anywhere, even when I drive to crowded downtown Los Angeles. 

I don’t think I could ever use it as a mobile office!

What about you? What kind of car do you drive? Do you use it as an office? Tell us in the comments!


Monday, May 1, 2023

#AtoZChallenge 2023 #Reflections of the Operation Awesome Team

Operation Awesome 2023 #AtoZChallenge theme is interviews of established authors

#AtoZChallenge 2023 Reflections

Reflections of the Operation Awesome Team

J: Another year in the books. I really loved this theme. It was great to show off these authors. I wish some giveaways had gotten more entries, but I think the new Twitter algorithm is messing with the normal shares. (Thanks, Mr. Musk.) But honestly, it was just really great to promote all this talent. And it was fun to visit some other bloggers, who hopefully will see all that our magnificent site has to offer to writers in every stage (and readers as well).

The Debut Author spotlight will soon return. Please, if you know someone publishing a book for the first time this year, have them reach out to me. @JLenniDorner on Twitter 

Kate: It's been a blast this year!  So much fun to be able to showcase some of my writing besties and their work as well as meeting some new authors I didn't know so well before.  And what a bunch of creative bloggers there are out there!  I had such a great time going around and visiting other A to Zers and seeing what they were doing.

Dena: Lots of fun this year! It was fun seeing the themes of other AtoZ bloggers. And I loved showcasing some excellent authors here at OA and I hope YOU, our blog readers, found some awesome new authors and books to read. Let us know in the comments!

Suzanna: The theme this year is one of my favorites. I absolutely love reading and interviewing writers for their perspectives. It's amazing to read what inspires people to write stories. So many wonderful ideas to read and write! I've definitely increased my To Read list this month. Did you have a favorite interview this month?

Brandy: I really loved the theme this year! It has been a long time goal of mine to connect more with the writing community and interviewing these talented authors was such a fun way to accomplish that! I look forward to reading their work. In addition visiting other blogs was also super fun and a great way to discover more talent both in and out of the field of writing!

#AtoZChallenge 2023 Winner

Giveaways that are active this week yet:

(Facebook Log In might not work due to a Rafflecopter error.) S is for Victoria Strauss ~ Signed copies of Passion Blue and Color Song!   V is for Kari Veenstra ~ Signed copy of The Rescuer!  W is for K.M. Weiland ~ $20 (USD) Giftcard