Friday, August 31, 2012

News! And an AGENT CONTEST! :)

Wanna know what’s coming up on the blog? Sure you do, and I’m gonna tell you. Cuz I’m cool like that.

Next week, we have an INTERVIEW. From a Reject reader who has some exciting news to share. On September 12, S.R. Johannes (author of Untraceable and the upcoming Uncontrollable) will be joining us for an interview about indie vs self-publishing.


We have an agent contest coming up! :) Mark your calanders or phone or what have you, for Friday September  7th. We will begin accepting submissions at 9am and will be a little different from our previous contests. Some quick notes:  
  • We will take the first 30 entries.
  • You must be a follower of the blog to enter.
  •  The entries WILL BE POSTED ON THE BLOG.
  •   Entries will be open to peer critique, and we (the Rejects) will be stopping by and offering thoughts. (You are not guaranteed a crit from a Reject).
  • IF YOUR ENTRY IS ACCEPTED, you must critique at least 5 others.
  • Our super awesome-sauce agent will be reading and selecting her favorite
  • This is for FINISHED POLISHED manuscript
  • You’ll need a tagline and the first 250 (ish) words.

So here’s how to format it
Book Title:
1ST 250 WORDS:

Simple enough, yeah?  Genres are:
Historical Fiction
Middle Grade
Science Fiction
Women's Fiction
Young Adult

Posts will go live on the blog for critique on Monday the 10th. Questions? Ask in the comments! :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Building A Real World part 1

Any one of my CP’s can tell you how much I hate world building. I loathe it so much that I’d rather edit stories from any pretentious butt-wad who’s convinced they’ve written the next Harry Potter series. No joke.  So of course my current project has required me to build a world from the ground up.

In other words, I’m in a writer’s purgatory.

Regardless if you feel the same about this process as I do, world building is an incredibly daunting task.  There were times where I just wanted to give up. Only two things stopped me—my incredible CP’s, and a beast of a story that was begging to claw its way out of my skull.

There really was only one choice. Do my time and hope to get an early pardon for good behavior. After a few failures, I finally came up with a system that helped me through. Hopefully they’ll help you too.

What you need:

1.    Amazing CP’s.

2.    Tablets.

3.    Lots of pens.

4.    A push-pin or dry erase board.

Why you need them:

1.    The best CP’s will push your ass.

2.    One tablet for general brainstorming, one for ideas you really like, and one for everything you definitely want in it.

3.    Lots of pens because you’ll probably lose most of them.

4.    The boards will allow you to check off huge categories like characters and places, and keep you focused on a foundation for the story. It’s the rock of the novel.


After you have these down, it’s time to get down and dirty. There are just so many things that are needed in order to make this world feel real to the reader. We have all the different types of characters, places, and even the karma of the world (or lack of it). In short what a lot consider as the fun stuff. But those will be in other post in the very near future.

Do you have a way to start your world building that works wonders for you? Let us know.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Critique Partners: Tips and Etiquette

Let’s talk about critique partners and etiquette.

I’ve been around the writing world for a hot minute now. I’ve had enough crit partners I can’t honestly keep track of them all, much less where we connected. And some I’m no longer partners with. So I know a bit about CP’s.

What I know:
      A good CP is worth their weight in gold—seriously. That’s all.

      A GREAT CP will infuriate you when you first read their notes.—Liz won’t speak to me when I hand over her manuscript. And Auzy might infuriate me with his remarks (seriously, he HATED all of my characters in one MS) but he’s been known to be right. Once in a while. *grin*

     The best CP’s are often found without really looking for them—truth? One of my CPs is a dear friend, and one of the few people I complain to, when I need to complain. She’s also spot on about finding issues and knowing how to help me tell MY story better without compromising it. And I haven’t got the first clue how we met. I’ve come to the conclusion that’s okay.

     You don’t need to be best friends—BUT sometimes it happens. CP’s work well when their objective and not a close friend. They also work well when they are. I have some of both, and I like it that way.

      A relationship like this takes time and respect—Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that. You hand over your MS for feedback and it’s not immediately forthcoming and it’s like, oh shit! They hate it, I’m a failure, I suck and should burn my computer. And notebooks. And pens. And drown myself in chocolate.  *ahem* Sorry. Anyway, that’s not true, right? You wouldn’t be CP’s if, at the essence, you didn’t like their work and vice versa (at least, I wouldn’t be. Why waste my time on someone whose work I don’t support, if I and they can find someone who does?) But just because they love your work, doesn’t mean you should expect immediate feedback. People have lives, outside the bubble of the writing world. And those lives have demands—which you need to be able to respect. Which brings me to the second point:

So you’ve done what seems like the impossible—you’ve found a CP. Or several. And you’ve sent them some work. And life is all roses and charm and everyone is in love. How do you keep that? How do you make sure to keep a working relationship without stepping on toes, when in essence, the relationship is ABOUT stepping on toes? A few suggestions:

      Give a your CP time frame, and be good about staying within it—sure your CP knows you have a life, but if you say you’re gonna have a query crit back to them that night, don’t be surprised or irritated when they start bugging you after two or three days of radio silence.

      Know what they want—okay, you can read something and see a bijillion grammatical errors and misspelled words and it might irritate you to your little grammar Nazi heart feels fit to die—but if they aren’t ready for that crit, you offering it is wasting everyone’s time. Know what they want from a crit, whether it be big picture or nitty gritty line by lines. If you see something that bugs you that you know they aren’t looking for at the moment, mention it briefly and offer to look at it for them when they’re ready. And then let it go.

     Be nice. You are tearing apart their baby, something they love. The same nerves you feel when their critting, they feel too. So be nice about how you do it—ESPECIALLY if it’s a new relationship. Blunt, ‘dude, what the hell? I’m so freakin’ confused!!!!’ comments should probably wait til you have enough history for them to know it’s not you hating, it’s just…you.

     DON’T. PROJECT. Look, I get it. You care about the project. If it’s a long term CP, you’ve prolly been hearing about it from inception, listened to brainstorming sessions, thrown ideas at it. You’ve probably even read the stupid thing so often you can quote passages. But here’s the thing to remember. It ISN’T yours. This story may be close to your heart because you’ve helped it so much, but don’t project yourself in the crit. Don’t change the voice because it isn’t yours. This is a fine line to walk and I’ll freely admit I’ve struggled with it in the past. Hell, I might still struggle with it, and my CP’s just aren’t telling me. But know your voice. Know the author’s. And if you are suggesting something because it’s not how YOU would write it, step back and let it go.

      Last but not least—don’t overextend yourself. Should you have more than one crit partner? Hells, yes. Like, a million times, yes. Multiple crit’s are essential to improvement.  But know your limit—because they expect and deserve the same crit your receiving. And too many cooks in the kitchen? That’s just as bad as not enough.

So that’s my thoughts. Anyone got anything to add? Etiquette tips to offer, or observations to make? Let’s hear ‘em in the comments! :) And a sincere thank you to all of my lovely CP’s, some of whom are among my closest friends. I adore y’all.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Projects & Plotting!

Hello lovelies!


It's that time again. Ahh, the blank page. We all have our process for getting started, for pushing that new project forward and molding it. So what do you guys do? I've always been a notebook kind of girl. (Yes, a new notebook for each project is something I look forward to every time!) I gather my thoughts and toss random ideas into this notebook. And then I jump in. With my first novel I created a sort of plot outline like one of those word webs we had to make in middle school. For my second novel? Well, I totally winged it. No real outlining. For my third there was some planning and some more winging.

This time though, I think I want to try things a little differently. I'm all about the freedom of letting the characters take me in a new direction, but I've noticed (LOVE my Critique Partners for this!) that I occasionally get some problems when it comes to plotting. I'm all for letting my characters take me in a new direction but when that direction happens to be a dark alley with only an awkward way out sometimes it would be nice to have more of an outline.

Now, after watching the awesome vlog on Write On Con about plotting with 3x5 cards I can't WAIT to give those a try. If you haven't seen it I totally recommend you check it out below! I'd love to hear about you guy's methods for starting a new project as well. Feel free to comment :)



Monday, August 20, 2012


Here’s a question I’ve been toying with: When is it time to reassess?
Lemme back up. I’ve written six books. Just started Lucky Number 7. Of those six, I queried, um, three and just started querying the fourth. And for each of the previous three, I’ve had to—at some point—sit down and reassess. It had been queried and rejected and revised and queried and rejected and nothing was happening and as much as I loved it—was it time to set it aside? Was it time to move on to the next project, to query something else?
Sometimes, that was an easy decision. Not easy, exactly, but not super difficult. Then there were others—the paranormal series that I still love, that I wanted to see in print, that I knew wouldn’t find a home in the market drowning in paranormal.  Or the dystopian fairy tale retelling. That hurt a lot. That still hurts.
But each time, I sit down and look at my family, look at my personal goals, and make a choice. Sometimes, it’s easy. Sometimes, I fight it. But just like a character that knows the story even when I don’t, I’ve figured out that fighting is kind of pointless.
So what about you? When do you reassess? Is it when you have a new manuscript ready to query? Or when your fifteen fulls have turned into fifteen passes? Or when that revise and resub turned you down after six months?
Here’s a bigger question: When do you reassess the BIG goals?
There are all kind of goals in this long road. All kind of mile-markers. Finishing a book. Your first full request. The signing of an agent. Signing a contract. Releasing a book. The NYT list. *grin*.
But….what if you stall? What if you get the book done, get the full request, and don’t get the agent? What if you try and try and book after book, you make no real progress. No measurable progress? Do you reassess then? Do you look into self-publishing? Or do you keep chasing a dream? And…if you do adjust your goals, take a different path—is that still chasing a dream, or is it giving in and taking the easy out?
These are the questions I’ve been wrestling with, and I’ve got no real answers. All I have is the simple truth that decides all my choices: I’m doing what I love. Even when it means adjustment and setting aside books I adore.
Q4U: Have you ever wrestled with these questions? And what answers do you have? 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Slippers of Pearl by Danyelle Leafty

Slippers of Pearl by Danyelle Leafty
Released: 7.7.12
Rating: 3.5--It's a nice fun read. :)

Shoes, unlike magic, are predictable. They don’t change shape, bite, or alter a person’s destiny.

And that’s just how Faryn likes it.

But his Uncle Harvey has a bad habit of dying. While inconvenient, this hasn’t ever been a problem until now. Thanks to an evil witch and a poisoned apple turnover, Harvey is dead again—permanently this time.

As his uncle’s heir, Faryn has to give up shoemaking in order to accept and refine his magic.

Magic he never wanted.

Unwilling to let go of his dream, but unable to escape his destiny, Faryn combines the two and discovers a knack for making magical shoes. He also learns that turning a person into a goose is a lot easier than turning her back, and that he severely underestimated how much trouble magic can be.

The witch who killed his uncle is trying to control all the magic of the land, and it’s up to Faryn to stop her. If only he can get his magic to cooperate in time.

So this book took me a minute to get into. It just throws you into the story without much grounding and it took me a second to acclimate enough to enjoy the story.
Once I did, though, I really liked this cute little retelling. Faryn is a likable character--a bit of a clueless one at times, but likable. The friendship between Faryn and Terrik developed nicely.
What made this book really stand out for me was the humor. There were several snarky exchanges that had me laughing out loud (earning commentary from my Niece) and that snarky friendship is what kept me interested. I also found the retelling of the classic fairytale The Princess Who Couldn't Laugh intriguing. But then, we have established I'm a fan of retellings.
Finally, the magic was unique and captivating. I liked that Faryn's magic came from his love of shoemaking, and that magic was sort of a daily thing that the venerable old mentor (there is always a venerable old mentor) expected Faryn to figure out on his own. I found that refreashing and realistic.
So all in all, this is a fun little story. It's definitely amusing and I'm interested in reading more of Leafty's work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Leap of Faith

            Sometimes when I read a story and there is a big reveal, my reaction is literally WTF. The creativity is there, but nothing made any sense. If you ever felt this way, then the writer has violated a sacred rule: don’t abuse a reader’s suspension of disbelief.

            Suspension of disbelief is what happens with anyone reads our stories. We pick up the novel, which means we want to believe what the author tells us is true. It’s us holding back our common senses and immersing ourselves into this world of possibilities. The same thing happens when someone watches a movie. Most people know there’s no such thing as ghosts, but we all cheer on the four laser wielding heroes as they attempt to catch and contain the spooky specters. 

            What happens when that all important leap of faith seems to be a bit too long of a gap? Let’s take a majorly controversial novel as an example. I’m sure everyone has read Twilight. There’s a scene where Bella ran to the wooded area behind her house and started to believe in vampires. It was here that I questioned her sanity and became annoyed with the author. Not because the character believed. It was because she thought it was corny to believe it only moments ago while in her bedroom. For me, that’s a serious mistake. How could she not believe one second, and then start to in the next one just because a change of scenery? I felt as though my suspension of belief was abused. Naughty naughty, Mrs Meyer’s.

            As you all know, however, Twilight sold like Jabba the Hut squeaky toys at a Star Wars convention. So it could just have been me. But it does bring me to my questions. How much logic does one really need in their stories? And, can that leap of faith ever be too far for you?


Monday, August 13, 2012

Know Your Marktet: YA/MG Arguement

            The YA and MG genres are probably the most misunderstood literary categories out there. They contain almost everything you can imagine. Because of this, is it really all that surprising that there is any confusion about them? In part 1 of know your market, my great friend and fellow Reject Liz offered her ideas on the subject. Here’s my rebuttal.
            To put this plain and simple, a young adult novel is a story that appeals to the teens. Voice is a big factor, but it really just comes down to the story. Sadly this definition is the reason that YA and MG are so freakin damn hard to write for. What appeals to a teen one month probably won’t in the next one. So the idea that the protagonist should be the same age is what agents and publishers fall back on. Just because it’s a guideline that publishes lean on doesn’t make it true.
            I’ll give you an example. Comic books are typically written to appeal to young teen boys and some girls. Yet usually the protagonists in these graphic novels tend to be in there 30’s. Look at the ever popular Batman and Superman comics. Yeah there are a lot of comic lovers that are in the same age now, but that’s not how they started.
            Want more proof. Sure. How about Lord of the Rings? There are no teens in that series, and yet I distinctly remember reading that when I was around sixteen. You really can’t blame a kid. I mean, how many adults do you know want to read about talking trees?
            Okay, now let’s look at a more recent series.. It has been said that the Harry Potter series started out MG and ended up YA, and for two reasons. One is because Harry grew up and because the series got darker. It’s true that Harry did get older, but darker? Has anyone forgotten that the series started with a double murder, blood drinking of magical beasts, and a very creepy bodiless dark wizard possessing other wizards? I’m sorry but Harry Potter was always a young adult series. It was simply marketed as MG due to age, and I can even remember having to go into the kiddy section of a book story just to buy Order of the Phoenix, and that was the one every agreed was a YA novel.
            Please don’t misunderstand. I’ve read plenty of great novels where the teenager is the protagonist. I’ve even written a few short stories that way—some great, and others not so much. In other words, the story doesn’t need to have a teenager in it to be a YA novel. It’s just easier.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Know Your Market: YA Vs. MG Part I

I like to intern within the realm of the book industry and there are things I've noticed during critique sessions, interning  or during the contests we've held about YA vs. MG.


I've read queries or manuscripts where the voice is distinctly MG and yet it's being pitched as YA. There has always been a huge debate between what makes something MG and what makes it YA. Heck, Auzy and I had a lovely 30-something email exchange on the subject. We've agreed to disagree.

I believe age is a definite factor, especially for publishers, booksellers, and agents. Upper MG has started to become a category we use to pitch agents, but Barnes & Noble still has no designated section. It's still under "childrens". Upper MG can have main characters as old as 15, but the subject matter is cleaner less YA based. Notice how Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was considered MG but as the series progressed (ie: characters got older) and material got darker then it began to be called YA?

Age is how booksellers categorize books and display them. Which, yes, with ebooks it can be a bit different but most ebooks are still in sections (like childrens and Young Adult). So booksellers want to buy books from publishers who have books that are easy to categorize. So publishers want agents to show them manuscripts that are easy to place. Again, it comes back to target audience. Will 16-year-olds really want to read about a 12-year-old protagonist? What I heard from an agent a few years back was that kids like to read up. Now, you may be able to get a 12-year-old protagonist to read about a 14 or 15-year-old, but will it work the other way around?

Look out for Part II where I discuss the exceptions and why age isn't the ONLY factor. Still, it's one of the first things one looks at when considering whether a book is YA or MG. And who knows maybe Auzy will chime in to prove me wrong.

What's ya'lls take on the subject?


Monday, August 6, 2012

New Beginnings

After over five years of writing, and six books and more short stories than I know what to do with, I’ve heard thousands of informative nuggets.
Write what you know. Write the story you want to read. Outline. Don’t outline. Write everyday. Write when the muse shows up.
For every writer, there is a different piece of ‘wisdom’ to impart. And some are great and some are less great—for me.
Here’s the other thing I know. For every writer, there is a process. And if your anything like me, there is a different process for every book. I took one month to write my dystopian book, and six to edit it. Stars took nine months to draft (in my defense I had a newborn) and one to edit. Other books had other stats. Some I started with a clear plan, others I wandered around for ages until I figured out where the characters were going.
Every book is different, and unique. I learn something new with every book.
You know what’s not different, though? The butterflies. The giddy excitement of looking at a new word document, of seeing the delicious blankness of it, the big 0 in the word count. Of knowing that I’m starting a new journey and having a vague idea, but really—not a clue—as to where this is going. Of knowing, deep down, the story is awesome. Even while I wonder if I’m gonna do it justice.
That’s where I am. I have a new WIP brewing in my mind, and I’ve spent the past two months finishing and editing Stars, and toying with the best way to tell this story, learning about the characters and the world they live in. And now I’m ready to start.
Q4U: What is starting a new book like for you? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Review of Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway

Author: Charity Shumway

Goodreads Synopsis:

A funny and uplifting debut novel about stumbling through the early years of adulthood while taking (or not taking) the advice of the women who've gone before you. Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a writing career that’s gotten about as far as penning an online lawn care advice column, and a small hometown in Oregon that’s her last recourse if she can’t make next month’s rent.      So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. Not only is she being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women, but she’s also sharing office space with “Secret Agent Romance,” Charm’s resident dating columnist, and he just happens to be giving her butterflies.     As Dawn gets to know the life stories of these former winners, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. And even more importantly, she’ll find that though those who have gone before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to carve our own way.    Both an insightful look at the trajectory of female experience over the past fifty years and a witty coming of age story, Ten Girls to Watch introduces an unforgettable new voice in women’s fiction.

Recently released by Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) July 31, 2012
 My Take:

I was super psyched to read this book as you can tell from my post last Friday. It took me one week to finish. Dawn West was a relatable character. A twenty-something-year-old just out of college and making her way in the world. As a soon-to-be graduate myself, I was hoping for a little bit of inspiration. What I got? Well, life. (Which isn't a bad thing) Let me explain. Shumway takes from her relatively similar experience and creates a story full of inspirational women and a character who stumbles along in life. We follow her through her career, her love life and her low points. 

There isn't some giant realization at the end or some happily ever after. There are the small gifts of happiness life tosses you. She doesn't allude to some grandeur life goal that's revealed once we make "it" passed a certain point in life. Things don't get easier, they merely become different. What I learned? Each little thing you do brings you closer to the life you want to create for yourself, even if you're not quite sure what it is yet. I did feel that certain scenes could have been given a little more depth, but Shumway was real in her approach, honest, and humorous. Can't complain. A delightful read. Definitely relatable for those with literary aspirations and life in New York City. 

My Rating:

4.5 out of 5


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

I am so excited about this new book. I remember reading the first book in this trilogy, and being so excited about a modern retelling of Anastasia. But the truth is it's not, really--it's so much more than that. Which is why I can't wait until August 7th and Anastasia Forever. 

Secrets within secrets. Truths within lies.

She was the darling of the glittering
Winter Palace while her half brother Viktor
was relegated to the shadows.
Now he’s ready to take his turn in the spotlight…
and revenge on the world that shunned him.

The visions won’t stop. One minute she’s in
her bedroom on her cell phone. And the next
she’s in the past witness to the
private moments of the royal Romanov family.

He’s been eighteen for nearly century and finding
Anne is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
But the magic in his blood is turning darker,
forcing him to wonder whether
he’s the most dangerous threat of all.

History Doesn't Tell Us Everything....

Pick up your copy of Anastasia Forever (Sourcebooks) August 7 and if you missed this amazing series check out Anne and Ethan's story in Dreaming Annastasia and Haunted.