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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Relationship Building In Romance

Okay, before I get started let me get on my soapbox and say many a good writer stumbles by confusing relationship building with sex. They are not interchangeable in fiction any more so than in life. And this writer is the reason romance is marked as smutty. Also, I promise not to read any romance writer using sex to replace relationship building. Like ever. Of course it's easier--that's true to life. It just usually doesn't lead to an HEA. (It doesn't in life--so HEAs like this in fiction don't ring true to me). And I have to roll my eyes that this is "romance."

::Steps off soapbox.:: So how do you build a relationship then?
The same way you do in life. You stumble and spill coffee on your date then have to process that he didn't freak out. Only set you straight and asked, "Are you okay?" You go to a movie. Or you play vampire baseball and have to flee a tracker together. You go see an orchestra in Portland on the premise a guy you go to school with won tickets he has no use for in a radio show and then learn he saved pizza tips for two weeks to buy those tickets and wants to know what you think about it. Characters talk. They make gestures--they act. They re-act. They find things they like--love about each other, often times things they find lacking in themselves. And I'm not talking about insta-love here either. That usually doesn't work so well, although if it's played out right love at first sight can work. But often there is some kind of instant respect or admiration. And sometimes even that doesn't exist. Then you need attraction. There has to be a spark of something to ignite the fire and unleash the story.
The harder part: once you've established this love it has to be challenged--threatened--pushed to a possible breaking point. And just like in life this sucks. How do you do this? A character makes a bad decision  the other person is absolutely not going to accept, or they're hiding something in their past, or the characters realize they have a difference in some kind of core value. Let your characters screw up. Push further. Instead of just coming clean about it, they lie--cover it up. Now not only are you a loser but you lied to me too. Push it to a breaking point. Make them fight for each other.

* Unrelated-- but I'm teaching a workshop on blurb writing in June. I used this process to query with a 50% full request rate before signing with Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. And I use it for my self published blurbs.*

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Meet Cute

Before we get started, I'm teaching the method I used to query with a 50% full request rate in June. You can sign up here. (It's good for self published blurbs too). And if you're interested in romance check out the changes to my blog ;).

The meet cute is the first scene in a romantic comedy. Or it's a cute and memorable way the leading couple in a screenplay meet. And now it's how romance writers refer to the scene where the protagonists in a romance novel meet as well.
Here's what you really need to know about "meet cutes": They are crucial.
Why?
Social scientists say in the first minute of date both parties decide whether they will see each other again. Often we form our opinions of others after only thirty seconds. And in a romance novel where the entire story hinges on this couple the meet cute is like the reader's first date with your story. Crucial. In other words, if your characters don't even have chemistry--if this scene isn't real (coming back to this) why should I waste my time?
Part of what makes the meet cute so important is because it's true to life. Most of you remember how you met your significant other, or your spouse. You remember this for two reasons: 1) Obviously--this person is important to you. 2)It was a unique experience. It was memorable. It plays a huge role in why this person is important to you.
The first thing I ever said to my husband was, "I don't date Catholics." He married and converted me. There is a story there. And you find this kind of stuff in fiction too. 
What if I don't write genre romance?
Well, if your story depends on a strong romantic plot, you still need to nail the meet cute. Even if the romance is just a subplot for the subplot to work the romance has to meet the same elements it would meet as the main plot. The difference is the romance is not main the focus so it can be tied up before the major conflict and it can take a backseat to other things. 
Here's an example of a meet cute from my novella The Fate Of A Marlowe Girl. (But you can find these everywhere).

“Cómo estás?” he asked.
I knew like five words of Spanish. “Bien.” I ducked down to pull the power supply out and mumbled to myself, “My freaken sister is having an X-rated soiree in my room, because that's what a normal person does two weeks before they get married. Taxes are due in two weeks, and I have a hundred clients and a whole firm counting on me.” I plugged the charger into the outlet and came up with the computer end in my hand. He still looked at me. Wow. I had no idea he was paying attention. “Well, at least you don't speak English,” I mumbled. “Bien,” I said again louder.
He laughed.
The bartender looked at me. “En qué puedo servirle?”
“Something strong.” Yeah right. Like you can drink something strong. “Margarita.”
I opened my laptop and got back to reconciling files.  
“Señorita?” the bartender said, putting the drink down beside me.
“Thank you—uh—gracias.”
I took a big drink of the margarita. It tasted like acid, but I forced myself to swallow. It burned going down. So much for that idea.
It was quiet enough in the bar that I could think. Between thoughts of killing my sister, I managed to clear accounts or flag them for further review when I got to the office. But every time I looked up, it seemed like the guy beside me had his eyes fixed on me. Yeah, right. Guys like that don't check out girls like me.
Most of the times I caught his glance, I blushed, so I tried to avoid seeing him. I glued my eyes to the computer screen. I heard him say something in Spanish to the waiter, and two minutes later, the waiter set another drink next to me.
I looked at the waiter confused. 
“Del señor,” he said nodding his head toward the guy beside me.
Oh. So I had some Romeo beside me who liked to booze up girls who didn’t know Spanish. I shot him a glare, and before I could return my eyes to my computer, he gave me half a grin.
“Most girls say thank you, but it's okay. I don't speak English anyhow.”

What's your favorite meet cute?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fairy Tale Genre Wars Blogfest

A couple of years ago I participated in a wonderfully fun blogfest where we chose a favorite fairy tale or nursery rhyme and rewrote it in a different genre. I thought we could do the same here on Unicorn Bell.
So what's your favorite genre to write? Feel up to the challenge?

Pick a story, any story, and rewrite it as steampunk, paranormal, military scifi, horror, cozy mystery, spy novel, whatever--all in 1-1500 words. Sign up in the linky below and post your blogfest piece on May 12th. Spend the week visiting the others in the list and enjoy some great stories.


NOTE: This blogfest is being postponed until we've all recovered from the A to Z Challenge. Stay tuned for the new dates!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Glass

Stuart Sharp has joined us today to give us some insight into his "process" and to tell us a bit about his book, The Glass.

1. Where did the initial idea for The Glass come from?

After my last comic fantasy novel Court of Dreams, I wanted to do something with a bit more big, serious content behind it while still keeping the jokes. I suspected that life, the universe and religion might count as big and serious. But it’s also a side effect of doing some research, at MA level way back before I started my PhD, into medieval visions of the afterlife and how they fit into those societies. I ended up reading a lot of the stuff that came before Dante: visions recorded by Bede and a host of others, going right back to Plato’s soldier of Ur. There’s typically a very straightforward structure there that most writers would recognise, with a main character catapulted into another world, going on a journey with a guide and companion, and then typically coming back transformed. It felt like if I could take elements of that, play with a few of the ideas found in some bits of paranormal romance/urban fantasy, add in some kind of big, humanist story that somehow still managed to feature angels and still weld it all together I might have something that worked.

2. Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?

I work as a ghost writer when I’m not writing for myself, so the parts that take me by surprise are typically the ones that have nothing to do with the writing. I put this one out myself, more as an experiment than anything since I’d been doing some work for people who had been very successful with self-publishing, and it was surprising how straightforward the process was. I think I still prefer the traditional publishing of my other books, since it puts all the emphasis for the bits I don’t like much on me, but I can see why people do it.

3. If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?

I think prior to writing this, it would have been “get it finished” because this is one that took me a while. In fact, I might have to take that on as advice more generally. It’s like, because when I’m ghosting I have to finish things quickly, I’m determined to procrastinate with my own work to make as big a contrast as possible. Yet my current favourite piece of writing advice is that it’s not about the idea. Everyone has ideas. Many of them have the same ideas. It’s the way you choose to express that idea that matters.

4. Plotter or panster?

My writing process is... complicated. I’ll typically pants the first chapter or two, then stop and stare at it, trying to work out what I’m actually writing. Then delete it as rubbish. Then decide that I liked it after all and try to plan, and possibly have another go. Delete. It’s a cycle of over plotting and deletion until I finally get so sick of it that I pants the whole thing (with everything I’ve learned from all the plotting and deletion) then go back and try to fix it. For the record, this is not how I would recommend writing a novel. Again, I think I’m trying to get away from the organisation and plotting that comes with ghosting.

5. Quiet room or noisy room when you’re writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?

I can typically write most places. I’ll write with music on in the background, if I know the music well enough that I’m not constantly stopping to listen to it. It needs to be background. I’ve been known to put the cricket on TV to watch too. Usually with my cat jumping on me and demanding to type. Yet it’s mostly down to mood. There are times when I want absolute quiet, and I’ll lock myself away in a corner of the house to work. Routines, for me, should be kept only as long as they feel right.

6. Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you’d never find a thing?

I’m quite chaotic with my writing spaces. I’ve produced huge amounts of work with my laptop balanced on my knees, or on a bed, or in the middle of a stack of papers. I suspect I vary the space according to how much I want it to feel like a job. I do know more or less where everything is, but that’s more a feat of memory than of organisation.

7. What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?

A good friend of mine (defined here as someone I’ve seen face to face once in the last five years) has started up a web comic while he’s on sabbatical from his scientific career. That can be found at http://mazemaker-comic.blogspot.co.uk/ I’m also enjoying Jodi Taylor’s novel Just One Damned Thing After Another, which seems like a lot of good fun and some really well written funny fantasy. At the same time, I’ve been reading a lot of the more literary and interesting end of sci fi/fantasy, so people like Tricia Sullivan, Iain M Banks, Mary Gentle... anything that can make me feel vaguely inferior about my own stuff and promise the world in general that I’ll try to do better next time.


The Glass

The biggest questions in Mark Tilesbury’s life have generally been fairly straightforward: How exactly did he end up as the assistant to celebrity psychic Greg Rambler? If the dead are getting in touch, why are they always so happy about things? Why is it always him who buys the drinks after the show?

Things get a lot more complicated when a chance meeting with a very strange man lands him in the middle of a war between the last remnants of the angels and the creatures from the other side of the mirror. A war in which it turns out Mark might very well be the ultimate weapon. Kidnapped by a woman who seems far too ready to pull knives out of thin air, he must travel the length of the UK, dealing with crazed angels, estate agents with afterlives for sale and occasional VW campervans, trying to find a way out of this mess before either the angels kill him for his own good or the Glass catch up with him. Ultimately, he has to decide if perhaps the scariest thing in the mirror isn't… well, him.


About the Author

Stuart Sharp is a writer and ghost writer living on a small farm in the East Riding of Yorkshire, where he lives with his family, his cat, and an assortment of inquisitive wildlife. After finishing a PhD in medieval history, he now knows slightly more about long dead people than is really useful when it comes to any kind of real job. He mostly writes a mixture of fantasy genres, and has collaborated with writers like Eve Paludan and J.R. Rain on the first three books of their “Witch Detectives” series.

Links:
Blog
Amazon

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Elemental

Today Brandon Ax joins us to answer my questions and tell us a bit about his book Elemental...

1. Where did the initial idea for Elemental come from?

Interestingly it came from me wanting to do a comic book. I always loved to draw and so figured I would give it a shot. Once I came up with the MC Sophia everything changed. I knew she needed a novel.

2. Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?

Working with my editor. I published the books with a self edit, but have recently gotten an editor and working with her has made the book so much stronger.

3. If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?

Besides get an editor? lol. Mostly that the work starts the moment you publish. So much goes into promoting your book.

4. Plotter or panster?

A little of both. I like a loose plot but it is all about the characters with me.

5. Quiet room or noisy room when you're writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?

I'm not big on a ton of noise. I have to have some music playing or at the least a movie I have seen a million times. Too much quiet is distracting.

6. Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you’d never find a thing?

Funny thing, I don't have much clutter on my desk, but it is covered with little trinkets. Like statues I find interesting or collectible cups. Just things to spark my imagination when I break in my writing.

7. What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?

Hmm, if you are not reading the Dresden Files you should be. I am huge comic nerd so the new Captain America is a must see. As far as TV shows, I am really enjoying Hannibal, I think the cast is amazing.


Elemental

Sophia's mother disappeared when she was six, leaving behind a broken father and sleep disturbed by silent terrors. Now twelve years later, the nightmares that plagued her youth have suddenly returned.

With dark creatures occupying her nights and a sense of restlessness consuming her days, all she wants is to finish school and get out of her small town as fast as possible. Everything changes when she is confronted with the realization that the shadowy beings from her dreams are real. The truth of this reality hits hard when someone she loves is killed. It would seem that anyone in their way is disposable.

A mysterious boy named Aiden enters her life bringing with him all sorts of complications. They're drawn to each other, but their connection brings Aiden right into the path of her half-demon nightmares. With her father and several new friends put in the cross-hairs, Sophia must decide whether to let the shadows take her or stand her ground and fight. As the school year steadily moves closer to an end her decision may come with the cost of her life or worse—the lives of those she cares about.


About the Author:

BRANDON AX fell in love with fantasy as child after first devouring the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. Born in New Orleans his early life was spent moving from state to state all along the south. Developing a love for people and their stories he began to pursue a career as an author. After years of tuning his craft he finished his first novel ELEMENTAL. Living in South Carolina with his wife, two children and three dogs, he spends his days dreaming up new worlds and fascinating characters. Hard at work on finishing The Light Bringer Saga, he enjoys the task of molding a story to its completion.

Links:
Blog
Amazon

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grave Beginnings

Today R.R. Virdi joins us to tell us a bit about his book and to answer my impertinent questions...

1. Where did the initial idea for Grave Beginnings come from?

The initial idea for Grave Beginnings came from an idea I've had for a long time for a paranormal investigator series, but sadly it was so done that I struggled to come up with an idea for a while...... enter my friend. Together we had some ADHD style talks and decided to come up with the premise of someone without a body of their own. Just a soul inhabiting the bodies of people killed by the supernatural and was forced to solve those people's murders for them!

2. Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?

The most surprising part of the publishing process was, honestly, just the ease! The fact I could go through some formatting guides, stylize and poof! Published on Amazon! Now it's out there for eternity, all over the webs for people around the world to see and enjoy.

3. If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?

Always, always come to the page ready and eager to write! That's how you summon your muse, it's as Stephen King said, "never come lightly to the page!"

4. Plotter or panster?

Was a panster, now....working towards being a mix of both. George RR Martin style, plan characters, have an idea for the story.....make up the rest in between!

5. Quiet room or noisy room when you're writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?

Crypt quiet......save for music, something to help me focus, ambient nature sounds with headphones, the word count just sails by.

6. Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you'd never find a thing?

My writing area? Anywhere I can, no excuses, but it's always a mess! Cluttered books and research and sticky notes abound!

7. What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?

I am addicted to Supernatural the TV show and The Dresden Files books to an obsession! I live for the paranormal, all the history, mythology, different takes and the grit gore and noir!



Grave Beginnings

Thirteen...

As far as numbers go, it isn't a great one. Hell, it's not even a good one and Vincent Graves is going to find out just how unlucky of a number it can be.

Because someone, or something, is killing people in the Empire state, and whatever it is, it gives people everything they ever desired and more. And it's the more that's the problem!

Well...it's one of the problems.

Vincent's investigation also seems to have drawn the attention of a relentless FBI agent and then there's the little bit where he has only thirteen hours to solve the case, or he dies.

Talk about your literal deadlines...

...No pressure.

By the end of this case Vincent will come to understand the meaning of an age old proverb: Be careful what you wish for - because you just might get it!



About the Author

R.R Virdi is an author currently residing in northern Virginia, (an important distinction to residents of the area!) He's is an avid martial arts fan, a science fiction and fantasy ninja, lover of all things paranormal/supernatural and the author of The Grave Report.

He resolved to become an author no matter what the cost after meeting his literary hero Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files. He spends his days in an imaginary world working as a recorder of all the events that transpire there, that and sometimes he chases after his derpy dog, Oreo.

He nourishes himself and imagination through the works of Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin and Jim Butcher mostly. Sometimes he wanders aimlessly through the halls of his home dressed in Jedi robes, we have no idea why....

His favorite shows are the Game of Thrones, Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis, Firefly, Supernatural and Man VS Food.....only when he's starving. In his spare time he likes to tinker with cars, play video games and stare blankly at a computer screen under the pretense that he's doing work.

The hardest challenge for him up to this point has been fooling most of society into believing he's a completely sane member of the general public.

Links:
Facebook
Amazon

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ride-Alongs for Writers

Bryan Fields has joined us today to tell us all about doing a police ride-along. You know, for research. (You know you want to do this.) Take it away, Bryan...

If there’s any chance at all the story you're writing will involve a police officer at some point, and you aren't yourself a cop, do your story a favor: sign up for a few ride-alongs. Even a high fantasy tale can benefit; your towns do have city guards, right?

If you've never heard of ride-alongs, they are exactly what they sound like: You go out with a police officer for part of their shift, usually around four hours, and what happens, happens. Sometimes you get a lot of coffee, scenery, and conversation; sometimes you spend half the day staring at the walls of the station while your officer fills out the mountain of paperwork that goes with each arrest. Sometimes, there’s a lot of screaming and crying.

I've done six ride-alongs with five different departments, mostly while I was getting my Criminal Justice degree and serving as a volunteer Victim Advocate. The procedure for all of them was essentially the same: call the non-emergency line for the department you're interested in and find out when the patrol division can work you in. Expect a background check (you did get that warrant taken care of, right?) and a stack of disclaimers to sign.

The department will likely ask you to dress at least business casual. Don't wear red. That’s not a Star Trek reference; it’s because red clothes can cause problems for people who have just been in traumatic situations. If you're going at the beginning of a shift, try to show up half an hour or so early. Chances are you'll get to sit in on the patrol briefing and be introduced to the other officers on the shift. Once you meet your officer, do exactly as they say until the ride is over.

Yes, you can get shot doing one of these. You are assuming the risk, however small it might be. One of my officers took his seatbelt off every time we turned in to certain apartment complexes. “If they start shooting at the car, jump out the door and roll away. Try to hide with your head between the front wheels of two cars-that way you have an engine block on both sides to soak up the bullets.” Charming notion ten minutes into the first hour.

Cops have a strange sense of humor, and they love telling war stories. Especially ones involving bugs. Bugs covering the floor, bugs on the food in the refrigerator, roaches falling out of the ceiling, coming out of a welfare check covered in scabies-every cop I rode with had at least two or three stories about bugs. Fabulous resource for terrifying/horrifying your readers.

The most active ride I did was 6-10pm on a Friday in Denver’s District 2. This was a two-officer car, so I spent most of it locked in the back seat. We hadn't even finished the shift briefing when we got called to respond to a pursuit.

The back seat didn't have shoulder restraints, just a lap belt and nothing to hang on to. The chase only lasted four minutes, but it seemed far longer. Excitement? Yes! Also terror, since we were tearing through a residential area. I was also feeling some intense anger at the person who was running, because of the danger they posed to everyone on the streets and in the chase.

The suspects finally pulled over and surrendered. End result: two arrests, no injuries or property damage, and a big bag of soap chips taken into evidence. Ivory soap won't get you high, but it was being sold as crack, which is just as illegal. Who knows? If they'd sold the soap to the wrong person, their night might have ended very badly indeed.

It took an hour to process the evidence and transport it to the lockup facility in downtown Denver. Back in service, we did three noise warnings at different parties, warned a prostitute away from a hotel, and stopped at a Greek place for dinner. The owner didn't charge us, because cops eat free at his place. I told him I was a civilian and insisted he let me pay for my food.

That small gesture made a big difference in the rest of the night. Both officers opened up, telling all manner of anecdotes about the hotels, pawnshops, and apartment buildings we came across. We broke up two more parties, wrote a bunch of speeding tickets, and chased the same prostitute away from a convenience store.

Our last call was for a domestic, resulting in the arrest of a combative gentleman who'd been smoking crack. Transporting him was the only time I got to ride in the front of the cruiser.

Back at the station, my last half-hour was spent listening to more stories while my officers did their arrest paperwork. Another officer arrived to do his booking papers as well. He looked at me and said, “Who’s this guy?”

My driver said, “He’s our ride-along. He’s OK.”

Her partner nodded. “Good ride.”

The new officer nodded. “Alright then.” He introduced himself and said, “Ask for me if you ever want to do an eight to midnight. We'll have some real fun.”

I never took him up on it, but I bet some great stories would have come out of it.



Life with a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend

A lot of guys claim to have hot girlfriends. David Fraser has one who actually breathes fire.

Rose Drake is a Dragoness in Human form, come to Earth for three years to soak up the local energy and increase her chances of having happy, healthy, baby hatchlings when she goes home. In exchange for his time and energy, David’s body and love life both undergo extreme makeovers. It sounds like the deal of a lifetime.

Fate doesn’t let David and Rose off so easily. A friend of theirs is murdered, their homeowner’s association starts harassing them, and they have to complete a quest for an Elven sage in order to stop a genocidal Unicorn from turning Earth into a radioactive wasteland.

After all, when you’re dating a Dragon, you’re already a hero. It says so in the fine print.

About Bryan Fields:

By day, I’m a mild-mannered IT tech; by night, a writer who spends too much time in online games. I grew up reading classical authors such as Verne, Burroughs, Wells, Haggard, and Lovecraft, often in conjunction with large doses of Monty Python, Wild Wild West, and Hee-Haw. My current influences include Doctor Who, Girl Genius, and An Idiot Abroad.

I began writing professionally as a member of the content design team for the MMORPG Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted. My first published short stories appeared in the anthologies The Mystical Cat and Gears and Levers III in 2012.

I live in Denver with my wife Noelle and daughter Alissa. The three of us can often be found prowling around Istaria, Wizard City, and the wilds of Azeroth. I also make occasional side jaunts to scavenge bits of ancient technology in the radioactive ruins of the Grand Canyon Province.

Where can we buy a copy of your book?

from Muse It Up Publishing

from Amazon

And if someone wants to contact you, what are your links? 

Facebook

Blog

Bryan is giving away one copy of his book (in the format of the winner's choosing). Make sure to enter below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 21, 2014

Balancing Ideas

Today Katie Hamstead joins us to share with us how she balances all those shiny ideas bouncing around in her head. And also to share with us her Kiya trilogy. Take it away, Katie...

One thing about being a writer is that you always have ideas that pop out at you. Wherever I go, and whatever I do, I find some kind of inspiration for my writing. This provides me with plenty of ideas to keep my flow of manuscripts rolling.

People have asked me how I managed to get an entire trilogy released within a year, my answer: They were all already written before book one was queried. I wrote all three books at once, a steady flow so I didn't lose track of events. They were several months of fun, joy, sorrow, and wondrous revelations. .

I try to keep focused on one story at a time, so I keep track of my characters, plotlines and twists, sub plots, etc. If another idea comes to me when I'm working on something, I open a word doc, write down the thought, then get back to it later, once I have completed the manuscript I am working on. I imagine it like Dumbledore’s pensieve, pulling a strand of a thought from my mind for later so I can think clearly now, and then pull it up when I need it. .

This is how I can write things so quickly and not get swamped by new concepts trying to take over. Writing multiple WiP’s at a time is just something I can’t do. I don't feel like I do the story justice when I’m thinking in several different directions. .

And now the Kiya trilogy...

Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh

Oh yes, Kiya. Make him love you, make him hold you in his highest regard....

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.


Kiya: Mother of a King

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

Nefertiti has forced Naomi to flee Amarna with Malachi and the three children. But even under the protection of Naomi’s family in Thebes, Nefertiti still hunts her and Tut. Nefertiti sends assassins to kill them, and while Naomi fights to protect the children, Malachi fights to keep her safe.

With three children in tow, one of which isn’t her own, she is labeled the harlot outcast wife of the pharaoh and is shunned. She isn’t safe among her own people, and flees from being stoned to death. Although her family protects her, she must find a way to survive.

While Naomi struggles to keep herself and Tut alive, old adversaries return as Smenkhkare takes advantage of Akhenaten’s ailing health. Naomi must rely on Horemheb’s promise to protect Tut’s birthright, but her feelings for Malachi could cause more problems with Horemheb than she expects.


Kiya: Rise of a New Dynasty

Tut has grown into his position as Pharaoh, but he is a wild young man. Naomi fears for him, not only because of his recklessness, but because he has put his trust in Ay–the man determined to destroy Naomi—despite her and Horemheb advising against it.

Meanwhile, death and slavery hang over Naomi and her family. With fear of the booming Hebrew numbers causing talk of enslaving them, conscription is reinstated and Naomi fears for the lives of her other children. Especially since Ay's children are now adults, and just as dangerous as their father. They threaten to take Itani, conspire against Tut, and pushing for power.

But Tut is in trouble. While Ay's daughter draws Horemheb's attention, and Naomi deals with the struggles of her family, everyone's distraction could spell death for the young Pharaoh.


About the Author:

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of daydreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Links:
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Critting NO REST: macro level concerns

No Rest is a science fiction WIP...

Chapter One

I paddle out, breathing evenly in the early dawn, mist rising from the water. The whole place is quiet and still and silent except for Grandfather. He tells me to hug the shore.  The oars are light in my hands. I’ve been practicing since the ice melted. My arms are strong.

Grandfather points and I aim for the spot, a place where the marsh grass bends. The current pushes against the boat, making me work hard, and soon I’m sweating, arms aching.

The breeze waves the grass at either side of us. It’s close enough to touch but I keep my hands on the paddle, breathe deep the mud and brine. I lean and dig into the water, pulling the boat into the narrow inlet. Grandfather is silent behind me and I don’t ask where we’re going even though I want to. I just keep paddling until there’s no more water and we run aground. >>oars?<<

Grandfather gets out first, his feet sinking into the mud as he climbs up. He turns back to give me a hand and I let him. The wind is cooler above the water and the sky is bluer, immense over the long marsh, up above the fir trees, and all the way to the distant smoke rising from our chimney.

A tug on my hand makes me pay attention and I follow Grandfather across the spongy ground to the trees that mark the forest. There, a path leads up the steep incline, thick with cedar, oak and pine and beech. Rocks have been thrown into the mix in haphazard fashion, offering handholds and ledges.

We climb.

Soon I long for the breeze.

Sweat trickles down my neck. My breath comes hard. I’m glad when the ground levels off and we come to the road above the river. It’s an old road, doesn’t lead anywhere anymore – or so I’ve been told – and I wonder why Grandfather has brought me this way.

Suddenly he stops, listening.

A second later I hear it, too, a jingling sound, and then we both see him coming, this man with bells and a box strapped to his back. He wears a patchwork jacket and a tall hat but it’s the box on his back that tells me who he is: a tinker.

We don’t see them very often anymore; they’re a dying breed according to Grandfather. Who needs a tinker when there’s a whole town just down river or a super hub an hour away?

His face brightens at the sight of us, a big grin widening his mouth, brown eyes twinkling. He opens his jacket wide and the lining glitters with who knows what: jewelry, utensils, knives, watches, trinkets. He starts to pull the box off his back but Grandfather puts a hand up.

“We don’t need any pots or books,” he says.

“Something else then?” the tinker tilts his head expectantly, takes a step closer.

“Do you see anything you like, Cammi?” Grandfather asks me. >>This is the first clue as to our narrator's gender. Having nothing else to go on, I'd assumed a boy. Then again, the only clue it's a girl here is the "i".<<

I start to shake my head but Grandfather says, “Something to take with you when you go,” and I understand he wants to buy me something, a going away present. It isn’t like him but I think maybe he’s feeling sentimental so I take a step closer, looking hard at what the tinker’s got.

An old watch catches my eye, the sort that opens and closes and sits in your pocket. I point and the peddler hands it over for me to look at. The bottom side is smooth and worn as if rubbed; the top is engraved with a design I cannot cipher. Flat, pearly gems mark the edge, flush with the metal, glimmering. I can hear the clock ticking inside.

“How much?” I ask, intrigued.

“We’ll take it,” Grandfather says.

He shoos me away, negotiating in whispers with the peddler, which worries me a little. But I like the watch. I like how it feels in my hand and the faint ticking sound it makes. It has a little chain to attach to your belt.

Grandfather joins me, and the tinker waves goodbye, his bells jangling as he goes back the way he came. We head back down and we’re almost to the boat when I ask, “Did you know he was going to be there?”

Grandfather smiles. But he doesn’t answer.

#

A week later I leave for the academy, the watch in my pocket and Grandfather reminding me not to trust CGE – the company that’s paying for my education. I resist the urge to roll my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my grandfather, more than anyone. More than the father I don’t remember, and more than my mother who thought nothing of leaving me to chase her dream. But he’s old fashioned like a lot of old people. Always thinking things were better when he was a kid, and that ‘the worlds have devolved and all that was good is slowly leaking away.’ I think he’s being a little dramatic, or maybe just remembering wrong. ‘You forget, Cammi, I’ve been around a long time,’ he reminds me. Which is true; he has. He was around when Cedar made first contact (although he maintains it was CGE who made first contact) and he was there at The Vote, the first one, when Cedar joined the AP – the Association of Planets. ‘A day of infamy,’ Grandfather likes to say dramatically.

“Then why are you letting me go?” I asked him the last time he went on about CGE.

“Because I don’t want to lose you,” he answered.

“You can’t lose me, Grandfather,” I said, hugging, him. “No matter what.”
He waves at me now, and I blink back tears, missing him already. It will be three long years before I see him again.

>>As you can see from the lack of red ink, the storytelling is fine. You did make the reader wait a long time for a few scraps of science fiction, though. Everything about this, so far, says fantasy -- the pacing, the setting, the characters, the low-tension beginning. I have to assume this is the truth of this world, and it will make any high-tech-ness that follows feel like a veneer. 

Maybe that's what you want. The story will have to come back here, too, for dramatic completeness... though you've already kinda shot that tension in the foot by telling us when she'll see Grandfather again.

The story doesn't have a grip on me yet, since you introduced Grandfather and promptly took him away, and there's no tension yet... but bravo on the writing.<<

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Critting: working in more voice

Nobody's sent anything to crit (that was a mistake on Sunday's post) so I will take the hot seat. I've been revising my science fiction novel lately, and one of the major goals was to work more voice into the narrative. I've highlighted my additions in red and crossed out the deletions. Feedback is welcome!

This scene takes place several hours before a big "rebel attack" on the enemy. We're in a spaceship with zero gravity at the moment. Caution: a bit of bad language ahead. 

Shen focused on snuffing the cigarette between his fingers as he coasted into the kitchen. Gentle squeeze and the embers died. Good. Fishing out his case, he slid the half-cig in next to his last two. Then he unclipped his empty squeeze bottle and stuffed it in the multiwasher.

A soft parting of lips caught his ear. Hadn’t noticed Neal and Cherette up against the steam cooker. He had her pinned, gently, and her dark hands were in his back pockets. Mouths still hovering close. Then her eyes flicked to Shen for a moment and she whispered something. Neal glanced over his shoulder, tensing up.

“Sorry.” Shen reached for the fridge door and pulled it open, stuck his head in. “Came for a drink.”

“Should take this down the hall anycase,” Cherette said.

Shen glanced up over the fridge door as they went and caught Neal’s eye. Threw him a little salute. Chuck’d been moon-eyed over her for weeks, and she’d been teasing.

In the fridge, there was one Bloody Mary left but Shen was looking for water. Had a nice buzz going and just needed wanted something to clear the tomato juice and nicotine from his mouth before getting a nap in. Needed to get back to Cassie and unclamp from Himalia Star before Neal started assigning strafing vectors. Assuming he didn’t oversleep after Cherette was done with him.

Lucky chuck. Chickie had an ass on her. 

Glenna landed softly against the corner of the fridge and Shen straightened up, cold water bottle in hand. When She didn’t speak or even smile for a long moment, he asked.

“Not keeping that chuck? Meyer, was it?” he asked.

A moment’s frown, and then she shrugged. “Keep him? Who says I didn’t already fuck his brains out?”

"Don't look like you're hunting your next victim." Shen knew what she looked like after a good fucking. “Chuck didn’t put up enough fight, then.” He closed the fridge.

Glenna grimaced, raked one hand into her blonde hair, and pulled off her headband. “Maggie hates me.” Its rhinestones glittered against the dark cloth as she drew her hair back into a fat tail and wrapped the band around it a few times.

She’s said that before.”

She Wouldn’t go with the Singhs.”

“Heard you arguing.”

“Everybody heard that, I'm sure clear enough,” Glenna said, ponytail finished. She lowered her hands and simply hovered in the zero gee.

Was more to it. After a moment, he nudged. “And?”

Her shoulder twitched. “Making me think.” Folded her arms under her breasts.

Shen took a swallow of water. Scratched behind his ear as he waited. No point pushing, he knew. Gotten in enough arguments already.

Without a nudge, Glenna said, “Could call this off,” Glenna said.

Their eyes met. “The attack?”

Her voice lowered. “Call it off, keep going, slingshot around Io and head out to the Trojans. Someplace far away.” Glenna’s gaze wandered away from his. “Be nobody again. Just be.”

She joking? Shen’s brows dragged together. Knotted themselves hard as he waited for her to laugh it off. Had to be kidding. She knew… everything, fuck, he’d told her why he’d thrown in with this. Confessed it. Shen said nothing, watched her.

Glenna glanced back to him, for a moment, then looked away and waited.

Shit, she wasn’t joking. Quietly, “Why.”

“They’ll still be dead, clear?” Her voice trembled. “Ma and pa.”

“Been building up to this for months,” Shen said, voice still low. “Everything we’ve done so far, and what’ve they taken seriously? What’ve we earned? They won’t be able to laugh this off. Or cover it up.”

“Know that, but…”

“But we let them keep taking from us? Your parents, mine, Danae. Four Corners. Your folks. My folks…” His voice turned ragged and stopped him.

Glenna let her breath out in a sigh. “No.”

Shen took a sip of water to clear his throat. “Where’s the line drawn, then?”

She stared into the distance. If she lost her spine, if she called this off… Shen kept his eyes on her. Maybe he could leverage Neal and Josh into doing it anycase. Long shot.

“Booters are fighting back, Glenna. Because of you,” Shen said. Please, don’t run from this.

Her gaze came back to him, with a thin smile. Then she said, “Keep her safe?”

He blinked. Who? “Maggie?”

A nod. “Something goes wrong, you come and get her out? No matter what.”

Easy. Maggie deserved that. Shen nodded. “I will.”

“Swear it.”

His brow crinkled again.

“No matter what, you get Maggie out safe. On your honor.” Her blue eyes were focused, now, stern.

That was serious. But this attack on Kennedy was serious. Shen inclined his head. “On my honor. So long as I get my shots in.”

“You will.” Glenna lightened the moment with a smile. “Seal it with a kiss, too,” she offered.

He leaned in to take that offer, and caught a whiff of cologne on her cheek. Mid-kiss, he paused and sniffed. Male, spicy. “You did fuck his brains out, didn’t you.”

Glenna smiled, wrapping her arms around his neck. “He didn’t put up enough of a fight…” "And now for my next victim..."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

This week: long form crits

Final call for submissions for this week. If you have a full scene (or two) that you would like feedback on, email it to unicornbellsubmissions at gmail.com. Up to 1,500 words, any genre, any scene. Please give the WIP's name and genre in the email. All submissions are anonymous.

I like long-form critting because I like to crit on a more macro scale: pacing, character motivations, world-building, voice, things like that.

- L.

Got a Book to Promote?

I just checked the calendar, and I see that my week is coming up. Which week is that? The book tour week. And you know what...

It's empty. (Practically.)

That's right. There's a whole week devoted to showing off your bright and shiny books, and I don't have any books to promote.

Got a book you'd like highlighted? Let me know. Email us here (unicornbellsubmissions [at] gmail [dot] com) and put "Book Tour" in the subject. I've got the 21st and the 23rd-25th wide open.

Or... Well, I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Query Critique - THE PRINCESS OF TYRONE

Original –

Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone.

All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable.

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—But he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms
.
But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever.

The Princess of Tyrone is a New Adult Space Opera with Fantasy elements at 71,000 that tells the Grimm fairytale of Sleeping Beauty in a futuristic and lighthearted manner.  

Critique -

Apolline is happy Find a different word than ‘happy’ to avoid alliteration. Plus ‘happy’ is one of those invisible words like ‘beautiful’. The mind glosses over it without seeing it hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter rim? planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the sight of blood and guts of her kills. Never once did does she consider that she’s  could be the missing Princess of Tyrone.

All her life, she’s has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless until her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave gives her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians Love this! *still laughing* arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. This sentence needs re-written to make it stronger. Suggestion: But Apolline is betrothed already to a [...], a marriage arranged by her fairy guardians.
The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable. You use the word ‘betrothed’ three times in this query. Can you find a different word to use for one or two of them?

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—B but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Suggestion: He has a fiancée who is fiercely jealous (or some other trait). Her guardians warn her against her about their newfound friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. A flow/continuity problem develops here.  Suggestion: Her guardians tell her to stay away from Allard, that he isn't right for her. But they meet in secret anyway and he is enchanted. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms.

But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever.

The Princess of Tyrone is a New Adult Space Opera with Fantasy elements at 71,000 that tells the Grimm fairytale of Sleeping Beauty in a futuristic and lighthearted manner.  

I have a problem with the certainty of the Prince of Oran. Is this prince part of the legend? Or is Allard the actual prince? If he is the prince, go ahead and tell the reader.

Suggestions regarding the first two sentences. Try for a little more Voice to really kick stuff into gear. Although this might not fit her character traits or narrative, look for something along this line: Apolline has a job to die for, hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-rim planet. The pay is good and the sight of blood and guts doesn’t faze her. 

The third paragraph has a flow problem connecting two storylines.


Now don’t stress over the abundant red font. This is actually a supremely cool query. Supremely. Cool. I’m dying to know how this turns out.

Any more suggestions followers?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Query Critique - THE SIMPLE TRUTH

Original -

Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought getting beaten and branded out of gang life was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong.

When a couple of thugs chase him away from the shelter he currently calls home and into a different neighborhood, a woman helps him escape and then offers him a place to stay. Motivated by food, clean clothes, and a shower he accepts, vowing to make a break for it at the first sign of trouble.

Seventeen-year-old Elana has kept quiet about a lot of the changes her mom made after her brother died—a new neighborhood, new school, and new dreams. But when her mom saves a thug from the streets she draws the line. She’s been avoiding scum like Jesse her whole life. But her mom is on a mission and fails to listen, which means war. Jesse’s gotta go. 

But as Jesse and Elana begin to trust each other, they realize they have more in common than avoiding scum: guilt.  Jesse’s guilt over his girlfriend’s death doesn’t allow him to trust his feelings, and Elana’s guilt of surviving her brother has left her ignoring her dream to dance.

When trust begins to turn into something more, Elana’s mom makes it perfectly clear she won’t tolerate a relationship between the two, leaving Jesse with a choice: give in to his feelings for Elana and end up back on the streets, or bury his feelings like he’s buried those he loves.

THE SIMPLE TRUTH, a YA contemporary romance manuscript complete at 60,000 words, is a story about finding truth in dreams, hope, and love.


Query Critique -


Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought getting In my opinion, the word ‘getting’ is a blah verb. Suggestion: Seventeen-year-old Jesse thought gang life, the beatings and branding, was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong. beaten and branded out of gang life was the worst thing imaginable. He was wrong.

When a couple of thugs chase him away from the shelter that he currently calls home and into a different neighborhood, a the woman that helps him to escape and then offers him a place to stay. Suggestion: When thugs chase him from the shelter that he calls home and into a different neighborhood, the woman that helps him to escape offers him a place to stay.  Motivated by food, clean clothes, and a shower he accepts, vowing to make a break for it at the first sign of trouble.

Seventeen-year-old Elana has kept quiet about a lot of the changes her mom made after her brother died—a new neighborhood, new school, and new dreams. But when her mom saves a thug since you used “thugs” in the previous paragraph, maybe find a different word? from the streets, she draws the line. She’s been avoiding avoided scum like Jesse her whole life. But her mom is on a mission and fails to listen, which means war. Jesse’s gotta go.

But as Jesse and Elana begin to trust each other, they realize they have more in common than avoiding scum: guilt.  Jesse’s guilt over his girlfriend’s death doesn’t allow him to trust his feelings, and Elana’s guilt of surviving her brother has left her ignoring her dream to dance. IMHO, this sentence needs a total re-write. The structure feels forced and there isn’t enough of an inciting element or goal to make the reader want to know more. Suggestion (and this is only an example since I don’t know the storyline): Jesse blames himself for the death of his girlfriend and has trust issues with any new entanglements. Elana has problems of her own. Before her brother’s death, Elana danced, her heart and soul in perfect harmony. Now, why bother?

When trust begins to turns into something more, Elana’s mom makes it perfectly clear she won’t tolerate a relationship between the two, leaving Jesse with a choice: give in to his feelings for Elana and end up back on the streets, or bury his feelings like he’s buried those he loves.


THE SIMPLE TRUTH, a YA contemporary romance manuscript complete at 60,000 words, is a story about finding truth in dreams, hope, and love. 

Followers? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Query Critique - THE RISE AND FALL OF A HALLWAY SUPERHERO

Original - 

THE RISE AND FALL OF A HALLWAY SUPERHERO is a middle-grade contemporary adventure of 50,000 words, falling somewhere along the lines of a combination of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and THE BIG SPLASH by Jack Ferraiolo. This is the nicely personalized reason I'm submitting this project to you.

Fifth-grade comic geek Jack McLellan is the new kid at a school infested with (almost super) villainous thugs, most notably a perilous giant and a bone-chewing maniac. For fear of being attacked, students don’t dare stay out after the bell, the principal cowers in his office, and even the teachers travel in packs. Without the guts or muscle to fight back, Jack’s next two years seem destined for misery, until Super Tough, a masked student with a tendency to appear at just the right time to protect his innocent classmates, saves Jack from a sure beating. The encounter awakens something in Jack, and when he stumbles into a bully’s warpath, Jack steals a play from his favorite comic book and tricks the bully into admitting defeat. The next day, he’s rewarded with a note in his locker from none other than Super Tough, asking for a meeting.

After Jack uses brains over brawn to conquer a series of tests against some of the school’s worst bullies, Super Tough presents him with an opportunity: he’ll be moving on to middle school next year, and he’d like Jack to take over his hallway superhero operation. Jack eagerly accepts, but when he begins to suspect that the bully attacks are more organized than they appear, he digs deeper, and learns that his new-kid status may be blinding him to questions of who is worth protecting, and who has more to hide than they’re letting on.

I am a member of SCBWI. My publishing credits include the TOMMY BOMANI: TEEN WARRIOR series from Magic Wagon, which is the MG arm of the ABDO Publishing Company, and short pieces published in Skive Magazine and on YankeePotRoast.com.


My Crit - 

THE RISE AND FALL OF A HALLWAY SUPERHERO is a middle-grade contemporary adventure of 50,000 words, falling somewhere along the lines of a combination of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and THE BIG SPLASH by Jack Ferraiolo. This is the nicely personalized reason I'm submitting this project to you. *this is my slightly shocked face*

Fifth-grade comic geek Jack McLellan is the new kid at a school infested with (almost super) villainous thugs, most notably a perilous giant and a bone-chewing maniac. For fear of being attacked, attack, students don’t dare stay out of what? after the bell, the principal cowers in his office, and even the teachers travel in packs. This needs cut up for drama and easier reading. Without the guts or muscle to fight back, Jack’s next two years seem destined for misery, until Super Tough, a masked student with a tendency to appear at just the right time to protect his innocent classmates, saves Jack from a sure beating. The encounter awakens something you mean courage? Guts? A sense of right and wrong? in Jack, and when he stumbles into a bully’s warpath, Jack steals a play from his favorite comic book and he tricks the bully into admitting defeat. The next day, he’s rewarded with a note appears in his locker from none other than Super Tough, delete comma asking for a meeting.

After Jack uses his brains over brawn to conquer a series of tests against some of the school’s worst bullies, Super Tough presents him with an opportunity: he’ll be moving on to middle school next year, and he’d like Jack to take over his hallway superhero operation. Jack eagerly accepts, but when he begins to suspects that the bully attacks are more organized than they appear, he digs deeper, and learns that his new-kid status may be blinding him to questions of who is worth protecting, and who has more to hide than they’re letting on. Looonnnggg last sentence. Break it up.

I am a member of SCBWI. My publishing credits include the TOMMY BOMANI: TEEN WARRIOR series from Magic Wagon, which is the MG arm of the ABDO Publishing Company, and short pieces published in Skive Magazine and on YankeePotRoast.com.

At 242 words in the meat section, this is pretty long for a query. I would find words to cut. I am a big fan of short sentences interspersed with long. Also, I am a fangirl of one-word fragments.

But the premise is amazing! You have an excellent bio and a platform that is sure to impress any agent or editor.

I think if you read this again and look at ways to cut the fat, this query will find multiple takers. Good job!

Anyone want to chime in? Crits are welcome.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Beta by any other Name...

I had the darndest conversation with an online acquaintance. When I remarked how important critiques were for a manuscript, she sniffed and said it wasn’t nice to put down another’s ms.

I said, “But...but, you gotta have critique partners? Someone to read your words.”

She came back with, “My family said my book was good. I don’t need someone else to point out grammar or punctuation mistakes.”

I dropped the conversation thread after that. Well, actually, they kicked me out of the forum but, as Alton Brown would say, that is another show.

It is simply this: critique partners/betas find the problems before you self-publish, before you hit the send button to that agent or editor.

Betas or critique partners look for sneaky typos, flow, grammar, incomprehensible sentences. Sometime it is how long a sword should be, where Stonehenge is located, and what season it is in Australian when it’s winter in the US. Plot and believability is crazy-important. You want to know what is going on in a reader’s mind at a critical point in the manuscript.  They see the places you missed, give second opinions so the writer can compare them. Writers need someone to read their mss. Even experienced ones. Look at the acknowledgements on any famous book.

But how to find these elusive creatures?

Here are the rules to finding and being a good critique partner:

Genre. If you hate fantasy, then I doubt critiquing it will appeal to you. Find someone with the same interests.

Experience. The person closest to your writing knowledge. Critiquing a ms that is way below or way above your level is frustrating for both of you. Don’t do it. If you can't find a person who is close to your level of expertise, pay an editor to read your ms instead. 

Publishing experience. This is a bonus. If you can find someone who knows what makes a good book—plot, character arcs, structure—then this is you Pearl of Great Price. You want someone who knows what makes a book come alive.

For the one reading the ms, I say the most important aspect is be genuine. Be honest. Give what you can in time and expertise but don’t be cruel in your remarks. That is no help to anyone.

My hardest task is telling an author the truth, that I don’t find their ms interesting. I hate using the phrase, “This isn’t for me”, but it has happened.

So, preaching is over. Time to begin the search. Here are
some sites to try:


Twitter

Tomorrow, we go back to critiquing. Send your queries.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Queries Critted Here

Guess what?



My week of query critiques starts today at UnicornBell.





Send your query to unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com

Friday, April 4, 2014

Scavenger

Yeah, a little slow this week what with A-Z hogging up the blogosphere (which I can say since I'm fully participating in said hogfest on my personal blog, mainewords), so, no first page crit  for today. However, if you're interested in submitting for next month, I'd love to hear from you. Really! Meanwhile, I do have a little something for you...

http://www.amazon.com/Scavenger-Toxic-World-Novelette-ebook/dp/B00J02F2NO/ref=la_B001H6MUQI_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395920739&sr=1-14

 In a world shattered by war, pollution, and disease, a lone scavenger discovers a priceless relic from the Old Times.
The problem is, it's stuck in the middle of the worst wasteland he knows--a contaminated city inhabited by insane chem addicts and vengeful villagers. Only his wits, his gun, and an unlikely ally can get him out alive.
Set in the Toxic World series introduced in the novel Radio Hope, this 10,000-word story explores more of the dangers and personalities that make up a post-apocalyptic world that's all too possible.


Liz alerted me to this little treasure which I'll be downloading onto my kindle shortly. The premise reminds me of Fallout3, my other favorite game.*

 
What are you reading? Liking it? 

Oh, and last time I checked Scavenger was only .99cents.



*the first being Skyrim

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Out of Magic

Today we have a first page from our own CD Coffelt, founder of UB, excellent CP, and cool person all around. Okay. I may be a little biased. Anyway. Here's the first page of Out of Magic, prequel to Wilder Mage, a tale I thoroughly enjoyed and happily own.

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Magic-Prequel-Wilder-Withheld-ebook/dp/B00JAPUBSC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1396397605&sr=8-2&keywords=wilder+mage

Wow. That sounded sort of fangirlish.

Moving on. First page...



Every kid dreams of escaping their parents and living on their own. I was no exception. In fact, I’d tried so many times that they’d given up on words and orders. Handcuffs are so much more reliable anyway.
My childhood ended the day I spoke to the whirlwind. And it answered.
Dust devils, born of the sun and updrafts. They’re harmless and very common in fair weather when the conditions are just right.
That day, one came calling.
The afternoon was dead calm, sunny. It was spring and the barn swallows swooped and dove around the house and fields looking for primo nesting sites. I was seventeen and waiting to meet up with Lindsay and my cruising squad. Bouncing a ball on my tennis racket without dropping it seemed a good way to kill time.
The slightly grubby ball had teeth marks from the neighbor’s German Shepard. My parents hated pets. Called them unnecessary and wasteful.
But anytime I could get away with it, I was loving that dog. He had a tail that could sweep me off my feet and a toothy smile. Sometimes I shared my sandwiches with him and he allowed me to rub his belly.
Today the dog was off somewhere trailing something, so I took his ball and started bouncing it off an old ill-used tennis racket.
One, two, three, four…I lost count after forty-five. The ball hit the rim and I chased it down, sighed, and began again.
One, two, three…I adjusted to the bounce and lost track of the count again.
The faint smell of lilacs drifted to me, a flawless scent so perfect, not too cloying, or overpowering. The perfect aroma for spring. Like watermelon in the summer and oranges in the winter.
***

I don't really have anything to say except that I saw this when it was a first or second draft, and boy has CD taken the task of revision to heart. Love to hear what you think. I'll add my comments later.