Friday, November 30, 2012

Insert Title Here

            NaNo nerds, it’s time for a special bulletin. So get out your secret decoder rings and get ready for that all important message. Are you almost done with your new MS? She’s a sleek and beautiful little thing, but until she’s named, she has no identity.

            Freaking out yet?

            No worries. Just breathe deep into that brown paper bag and check your pulse.

            Okay, you ready? Good.

            Here are a few simple ways to help you name your novel.

1.    Stick to the nouns. In other words, think about a person, place, or thing in the story that fully embodies it. This is probably the easiest and most used way of coming up with a title. Two great examples are City of Bones and Hunger Games. Also JK Rowling used the ever living crap out of this.

2.    Find your chorus. Ever notice in a lot of popular music that one word or phrase in the chorus is the title of the song? Same works with books. Best example of this is Wicked Lovely.

3.    Brainstorm. There is a lot out on the web when it comes to this method. Best piece of advice with this is to answer one question: What do I want the reader to think about when they read the title?

That’s all there is to it. Well there is one small thing left.

Once you have your title idea, think of a way to embellish it (or strip it down depending on the style of story) and get creative. Remember to have fun with it. If you do, it’ll show. And that’s when you’re title will become intriguing enough to spark some interest when the agent reads the query letter.

       Anyone have any other suggestions when it comes to naming the story? Have any awful memories about constantly changing it? Feel free to let us know.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Hey, y'all!
I'm not sure how many of you are aware--probably not many, since I didn't shout it from the rooftops--but last week I finished the first draft of LN7.
And started a novella (we're calling it zbook).
That's great, N, but what does that have to do with REVISION TIPS??
See, I knew you'd ask that! So, I'm revising Stars for an agent R&R (we talked about this, remember?) And then, I have LN7 to revise. By the time I'm done with THAT, I'll be ready to start revisions for zbook.
Wow, that's a lot of revising
So, since I'm stuck in the revision cave for a good little minute, I put up some decorations, added a stereo system and mini-fridge...okay, not really. BUT! I thought, hmm, I'm bored. Might as well make my twitter addiction useful.
SEE!? I was getting to the point! Sheesh.
Anyway, I'll be tweeting tips everyday, sometime in the afternoon/evening, under the hashtag (wait for it) #revisiontips (*gasp* shocker, right??)
Please keep in mind, these are from my own work, not observations from any contest or slush I might be reading. This will also go on for as long as I'm revising. (Like I said, a good little minute.) And if enough people want them, I can probably be persuaded to post them under a page on my personal blog. But, for now--
Follow me @NazareaAndrews and I'll try to be witty. Or helpful. With enough caffine, you MIGHT get both. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pitch Wars Details & Mentor Bios

Please note that Nazarea & Liz are both mentors so check below for BOTH mentor bios AND the rules on how to submit.

Nazarea's Bio:

So me: I write or play devoted mom and wife between devouring books. And I’m sarcastic to a fault. I tend toward dark stories and angsty romance, and I’m so head over heels for steamy stuff that I took an editorial assistant position with Swoon Romance. This might come as quite a shock, but I’m also a blogger here at Writerly.
I love critiquing and my specialties lie in big picture issues—characterization, plot holes, predictability (things that remind me of other books), although I do enjoy line edits and the nitty gritty. My favorite books are Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels, Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwater series, and Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy. (ZOMBIES!!).
I also like chocolate, preferably with raspberries. Or almonds. Coffee with way too much cream and sugar. Beaches and sexy boys on them. Tattoos and college football. But I’m dying for a good story. If you have something delightfully original, dark, or twisted—send it my way because there’s a good chance I won’t even know I’m going to love it until I see it.
Okay, enough about ME, let’s talk about what you really want to see…my wishlist. :)

Remember I’m taking ADULT AND NA. Not ya. All good? Here we go.

Historical. I’d LOVE to see something set in the French Revolution, or a time travel book, similar to Outlander or The Rose Garden.
Fantasy. I’m talking epic here—something like Game of Thrones, or even better, The Kingkiller Chronicles.  Something dark and grand and, yes, EPIC, with characters that make me laugh and cry and give a damn.

Paranormal/Urban fantasy. I do not want sparkly vampires, and I do not want a chick who is inexplicably drawn to a dude who looks like a serial killer. Have anything else? I’m your girl. (Seriously. Words like ‘inexplicably drawn’ or anything similar in your query, inexplicably draw the manuscript towards my rejection pile.)

RETELLINGS. I’m a huge fan of retellings. LIKE, HUGE fan (notice the all caps here, folks?). So if you have an awesome myth or fairy tale retelling, a new take on a classic story, you have to give it to me. I will hunt you down if you don’t.

Romance. I’m a sucker for killer chemistry. So if you have a story that is a gorgeous, sexy love story, I want to see it.

What else?
Sci-fi (light on the sci, heavy on the fi) that’s epic and takes me places I’ve never been.
A dystopian similar to the world around me.
A zombie book that turns the genre on its ear.

Bottom line—I want a good story. Send me something amazing. 

Liz's Bio:

So what makes me a good mentor? Well, I’m a literary agent intern with the kid lit agent, Ali McDonald, at The Rights Factory. I read and evaluate manuscripts on a daily basis. I don’t just read the slush but comment on client manuscripts from the nitty gritty details to overall story arc, characters, and plot. I also handle publicity for Gilbert King, whose book “Devil in the Grove” was released by Harper this past March. Barnes and Noble recently named “Devil in the Grove” one of the Best Books of 2012. I’m a kid lit writer myself and plan to head off to NYC this June to become a literary agent.

Now, my wishlist:

I’m looking for YA and NA in all the genres below. Oh and I NEED some sort of romance in every story.

Epic Fantasy: Give me something in the vein of Tamora Pierce and I’m sold. I may love me the occasional contemporary romance, but epic fantasy got me into reading as a kid and holds a special place in my heart.

Contemporary Romance: I absolutely adore Anna and the French Kiss. If you send me something within that vein you’ll have the greatest advocate. Give me swoon worthy and sexy boys. Drama, laughs, tears and all the fluffy! Note that I adore a kick-ass voice. In fact, I’m all about the voice. If it’s not there, then neither am I. Give me a concept like losing your virginity and make it work! In terms of NA, I’m a college student so if you have a college story—oh I’ll definitely be able to relate and aide you.

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal: I’ve read a lot of these and the market is saturated. Give me something that takes an old idea and flips it around in a new way and I’m sold.

Retellings: I LOVE retellings! Absolutely adore them. Greek, Egyptian (I’d kill for an Egyptian myth!) fairytale, Irish, whatever. Send them my way!

Sci-fi: I adore Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Obsidian. Anything in that vein would be lovely, also I love things concerning genetics.

Oh and I have a definite soft spot for roguish pirates.

This isn’t a hard and fast list. Look, if you’ve got a book with fun characters, a kick-ass voice, and romance just send it my way anyway. No one really knows what he or she is looking for until they see it.

Submissions start today (11/26) ! The cut off time to get your applications (query & first five pages of manuscript) in is 8AM EST on December 5.  
Send your applications to Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches' categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they've signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their category.
For additional information about this contest go HERE.
·        This is open to finished manuscripts only.
·         You may only enter one manuscript.
·         Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.
Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)
Name: Your Name
Genre: The genre of your manuscript
Word Count: The word count of your manuscript
Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.
First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.
REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.
Check back soon for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There's over a dozen!
Our mentors ...

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Vanishing Boy

Today I want to talk about Vanishing Boy Syndrome. Vanishing Boy Syndrome (more accuarately called Vanishing Love Interest Syndrome--but honestly, I like my name better) is most often seen in book two of a series. Lets look at some noteworthy cases, hmm?

Twilight Saga--In book two, Edward vanishes, leaving Bella to her own devices for the majority of the book. Vanishing Boy Syndrome.

Kushiel's Legacy--In book two, Phedre is stolen by pirates, and Joscilin is left behind for over four hundred pages. V.B.S.

Frost Trilogy--In book two, Jack runs off with the Snow Queen, leaving Katla on her own to rescue him. V.B.S.

Matched Trilogy--In book two, Cassia is looking for Ky, who is taken by the Society at the end of book one. V.B.S.

What do we have here? Examples from FOUR DIFFERENT GENRES OF THIS PHENOMENON. And I get it. Taking away the Boy makes it easier to grow the character--there is a conflict right there. How to get LI back?? But here's my problem. By the end of book one, I've already emotionally invested myself in the couple. If you take half of it away, I'm going to feel cheated. I'm going to be angry.
I'm not going to want to read it.
There are pleanty of ways to write a sequel with angst and conflict without depriving your readers of the love story they're invested in. It's more work, sure, but isn't it worth it? Or am I the only one getting tired of Vanishing Boy?

Chime in in the comments! And everyone have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We're going offline for the rest of the week to enjoy our families, but we'll be back next Monday with bios and wish lists for #PitchWars! :) See you all then! :) N~

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The comfort of the familiar.

So I've been noticing tropes lately. Now, here's the thing. I LIKE a good trope. Like...the romance where the girl falls for her brother's best friend. Or the fantasy where a peasant boy has to do something crazily epic. In my mind, those are tried and true and they WORK.
So what's my problem? Well....they turn a bit predictable. And I'm NOT a fan of predictability. I'm widely read, so I'm not easily surprised. But when I can tell what's coming literally 100 pages before it happens? It's annoying. It makes me want to put the book down.
But look, my point is this: you can use a trope and still give it a fresh twist. Make the peasant with a crazy destiny the bad guy (destined to enslave a kingdom). Kill the best friend and have her fall for...uh...the funeral director? K, AWFUL example, but you see what I'm doing right? I'm taking a familiar story and changing it. And making it UNIQUE.
Because, in the end, inst' that what we all want. Something familiar enough to be comforting, and unique enough for us to sit up and take notice?
So you tell me, guys. What's a trope you've been seeing a lot of lately that your tired of and could stand to see in a new way?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Contest: Pitch Wars!!

Hey Lovelies! 

Check out what kind of contest Nazarea and I (Liz) will be a part of next month!

We're extremely excited to announce an upcoming event where  agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.

Note that our bios and what we are looking for will go up on Nov. 26th!

Here's the deets...

  • The teams will consist of 1 agented author or industry intern or editor (coaches) and 1 aspiring author.

  • December 1: The coaches (listed on the linky below) will post on their blogs what genre/category they want to coach. They'll be very specific genres. Aspiring writers will hop around and decide which coaches best fit their manuscripts.

  • December 5: Aspiring writers will submit 3 "applications" to their top choices for coaches to the contest email ( during the allotted times (8AM to 8PM EST). That means, participants will send three separate emails to the contest email addressing each with one of their three top choices for coach.

  • December 5 through December 10: Coaches will read the applications and pick teammates.The coaches don't have to pick from their applications. If a coach passes on an application, it is then up for grabs and another coach, if they haven't connected to their applicants, can snatch it after notifying the applicant and if the applicant chooses the coach.

  • December 12: Teams will be announced. On the announcement post there will be instructions on how the winners must send their work.

  • December 12 through January 16: Each coach will read their teammate's manuscript and give general notes on any issues they find. The coach will help their teammate get his or her pitches ready for the agent round.

  • Note: The material for the agent round will be a 3 sentence pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. Coaches will read manuscripts and query letters only once and give notes. It is up to the writer to use the notes from their coaches to get the manuscript and query letter in as best shape as they can to send to requesting agents. The coaches will critique the three sentence pitch and first 250 words. The coaches will read them as many times as they deem necessary. In no way will writers expect the coaches to read the manuscript and query letter more than once or the pitches more than twice.

  • January 20: Coaches will submit shined pitches to the contest email.

  • January 23 and 24: Agents will read and make requests on the pitches they like (it is likely that not all participants will get requests).

  • January 25: We'll announce the team with the most requests and who will take home the winning prizes (an amazon gift card for each).

  • This is open to finished manuscripts only.

  • You may only enter one manuscript.

  • Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)

Name: Your Name

Genre: The genre of your manuscript

Word Count: The word count of your manuscript

Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.


REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.

Our mentors ...

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Monday, November 12, 2012

A litte bit of sense


NaNoWriMo is in full effect. That means lots of caffeine fueled minds pumping out creativity at the speed of heavenly delight. It’ll drip from our dreams, slithering through our blood until our fingers can touch those comforting plastic keys. Then every soft clip-clop gives us a wonderful jolt and each word written is an addictive high that makes even cloud number nine jealous.

As I sit here trying to describe how it feels when I’m creating art in the form of a story, I reminded of when I first started out. My writing wasn’t really all that good. Yeah I had decent stories, and I could paint a decent picture for the reader, but something was missing—well other than all the typos and my issue with switching tenses.

It took a little while but I figured it out. My descriptions tended to stay on the visual side of the storytelling spectrum. Nothing wrong with that, but hey, we’re human and we have more than just one way to identify with things.

We have a total of five senses (six if your story is within that realm of fantasy). They are: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. They all have their places and a good writer will know which one will have the most impact. For instance, psychologist state that smell is one of the quickest way we identify with something. A quick sniff can easily remind a person of a favorite summer or even relive a horribly traumatic experience.

So I’ve prepared a few examples of how we can use these types of descriptions.

1.    Touch: The parchment felt old and leathery. It had bumps on it much like a fraying fabric and made me think of brail as my fingers examined it.

2.    Taste: Marks mouth filled with a putrid copper and he knew at that moment, his life with the angels was over in an instant.

3.    Sight: It was the same sun as always, but instead of a ball of golden yellow and red that seemed to swim like lava, it appeared with alien greens and static white tones.

4.    Sound: Luke heard the familiar click-click before he even felt the gun barrel on the back of his neck. It was a cold mocking laugh of mechanical death.

5.    Smell: He stank like a man who’d rolled dog pooh and bathed in cat urine. It made my nose wrinkle.


As you can tell, I love me some good descriptions. There are plenty of other styles as well. Anyone have any favorites?


Friday, November 9, 2012

What I've Been Buying Lately...

I'm easily the reader of the Rejects (not to say Auzy and Liz AREN'T, but they tend to do other things as well. We call those things 'lives'). And one of the best parts of my week is when Mike comes home with a Barnes and Noble card for me to buy ALL THE BOOKS! with. :)
Lately, though, I've found I'm buying a lot of self-published authors. A year ago, I wasn't so what's changed? Nope. For the most part, it's quality. When self-publishing became sooo easy, EVERYONE was doing it and most of those people were...well, they weren't very good. And that made me steer away from it. I'd download a few every once in a while, start them, be disappointed and move on.
But here recently? Not so much. I've been pleasantly surprised with the offering of self-pubbed work, both the quality of the writing and the qauality of the presentation (yes, people, presentation matters.)
So here's a question for you this Friday--what do you think of self-published books? Are you buying any and reading it? If so, share in the comments--I'm always looking for something new. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Starting a New Project--How Do YOU Get the Juices Flowing?

It seems as though everyone is involved in NaNo except us! Can you hear the twinge of sadness in my voice? I've been dying to start a new manuscript. Scratch that. I have started a new manuscript. In fact, I'm 10k in, but the problem? I've been 10k in the last several weeks. No matter what I do it hasn't flowed. I've done a few things to get me going. Some have worked and some haven't.

1. I outlined the manuscript with flashcards
2. I wrote two sentence snippets for scenes that would all connect in some way
3. I'm very tempted to write completely out of order and have attempted to

What is it you guys do to get the juices flowing and the ball rolling?

Sometimes if a story just isn't working, maybe it's the darker mood of the piece or your want to write something different. Should you just go with your gut and try something else? This is a piece I put down once before but maybe it's still not quite ready to be written. What do you guys do when faced with this?


Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review: I Hunt Killers

GoodReads synopsis:

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


            The main character in I Hunt Killers is Jasper ‘Jazz’ Dent. His father is Billy Dent, one of the novels infamous serial killers, and dear old dad raised Jazz to be just like him. For example, when most kid’s dads are teaching them to ride a bike, Jazz was learning how to cut a dog just right so he doesn’t die too quickly. So when we see Jazz for the first time, it’s not surprising that he’s hidden just inside a wooded area and he’s using a pair of binoculars to watch the Lobo’s Nod police bumble around a murder scene. It’s a bit skeevy to be sure. Especially since the murder victim, a young and pretty college girl, is lying lifeless and nude in the middle of the field. However, what is surprising is the reason why Jazz is watching. He’s looking for clues so he can catch the killer.

            As you can see, unique characters are where this story excels. Let’s start with Jazz. He really is his own worst enemy. He’s clinical and withdrawn most of the time, and struggles to keep from being that way. Lots of time he has to receipt “people matter…people are real” to himself just to resist any urges to slip into the world he’s been so trained for. Luckily for Jazz he has the help of his best friend Howie, who’s a tall and gangling hemophiliac, and his girlfriend Connie. It’s truly his relationship with these two that Jazz becomes the most human. For his best friend, Jazz gets whatever tattoo Howie wants so he can live vicariously through him. Together they’re usually up to something illegal like breaking into the sheriff’s office to examine the dead girls body for more clues. With Connie, he lets out almost all his inner demons with. She’s always there for him, listening and helping him through personal traumas, and like a lot of black girls, she doesn’t put up with any of his crap.

            Of course as good as the characters chemistry are together, there still has to be a story. There is a serial killer on the loose and against the sheriff wishes, Jazz seems to be the only one who can catch him. It’s a fairly straight forward plotline. Of course when most people think of serial killer, they think of the sociopath like Dexter from Showtime. Here’s another area where Barry Lyga’s storytelling genius comes into play. Not only does he realize that there are more than just one kind of serial killer, but he give us a small entertaining education on it.

            There is one small issue with this story though. It’s not for everyone. If I had to come up with a target audience, it would definitely be a guy book. That’s not to say that girls won’t enjoy it but if they’re more into the paranormal romances where the human girl falls for the immortal bad boy, the books not going to work. However if you’re a fan of shows like Criminal Minds and Dexter, or if you’ve ever liked a good mystery novel, then yeah, this is a great novel with a killer ending. Can’t wait for the sequel.

4.75 out of 5 stars.


Friday, November 2, 2012

R&Rs From the POV of a Literary Agent Intern

Hello lovelies!

Wednesday Nazarea talked to you guys about R&Rs, also known as Revise & Resubmits. She talked about what to do when you receive them, what they could possibly mean, and whether or not you should take the advice.

Now, as some of you may or may not know I'm an editorial intern for a literary agency, meaning I read and evaluate manuscripts. Lots of em'. Recently, I was given one as a mini assignment. What would I do if I were an agent? Well, I wanted an R&R.

I know what you're thinking--I'm a writer. I know what it's like on the other side of the virtual desk--why would I ask this?

Here's the thing. This manuscript had a lot of strong elements. An authentic male voice and unique visual elements the writer wished to incorporate into the book. BUT--and there is always a but isn't there? The manuscript had slow pacing, characters that weren't fully there and some of those visual elements were being underutilized. So everything that made it stand out was also what made it sag down to me.

So if I was an agent I would have asked for an R&R. Why? Because I wanted to see if this writer had the chops to really deliver on the ambitious promise they'd made to the reader with these extra elements. I'd also like to add that my notes on the manuscript were almost identical to my boss's so I think I'm doing something right. Sometimes an R&R is that on-the-fence sort of moment for an agent. The "I like it, but if they can fix these few things I may just love it."



**Note that opinions expressed here are mine alone and not the agency I intern with**