Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Monday, May 30, 2011

query anyone?

For my first week I thought we'd start with the all important query letter, that simple little letter that can either convince an agent to take a chance -or not. Charity has been kind enough to offer her query letter for her science fiction/fantasy novel, Sendek. My comments/suggestions are in purple and I hope you'll comment, too, but please remember to be kind and helpful. Thanks!

Dear _____,

Beneath a trio of moons, Talia Shannon dreams of scaled demons attacking, hunting, and burning her world. The prophetic dream leaves her body wasted, but the twin suns rise every day to heal her. Does Talia have the same dream? Is she actually injured in these dreams and carries these injuries over to her waking life? Do the suns actually heal her so there’s no proof? If so I might change this first paragraph to something like this: On the planet Sendek, Talia Shannon dreams of scaled demons attacking, hunting, and burning her world. These prophetic dreams leave her wounded and wasted, but each morning the twin suns rise to heal her and erase any evidence of her injuries. This makes it clear that these are more than dreams - or nightmares.

The planet Sendek no longer believes in magic but Talia knows people would kill to harness her abilities. (If the people don’t believe in magic then wouldn’t they simply think her crazy? Especially if there’s no evidence to back her up. I might cut the second sentence too and lead off with the third instead.) Determined to find a way to survive the future invasion without revealing her source of information, she searches for scientific proof of extraterrestrial life. Things are going well, (This is weak and ‘things’ is vague. I’d try to be more specific here, maybe share something Talia has discovered.) until a handsome Commander distracts her. Emotions run high (cliché) and he’s dangerously close to exposing her magical nature. How? Do intense emotions have an effect on her? I realize you can’t tell everything in the query but I might mention how he comes close to exposing her magical nature or what happens to precipitate the exposing.

Near one of the moons, the scaled demons from her nightmares prepare to attack. The Draguman, a human dragon hybrid created in Sendek’s past, have returned from exile. Smarter and stronger than ever, they plan to wipe out the humans their creators on Sendek and claim Sendek it for their own. (like the Cylons…?)

As a direct descendant of the mage who created the Draguman, Talia is the key to their destruction—if she can trust the magic coursing through her veins.

When science fails to protect her way of life, magic becomes the only hope. I like this.

SENDEK is a complete science fantasy novel of approximately 87,000 words. The complete manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.


A last note, although I made some comments and suggestions that I think (and note I say think, not know - because ulitmately it's up to the author to decide what works and what doesn't) might improve this query I definitely found the premise interesting. If I found the first page engaging and well written I would probably buy this book because I love scifi and fantasy and this gives me both : )

Wednesday I'll be critting Huntress' query and for Friday, I'm hoping one of you will offer your query up. If so, email your query to: marcy@tidewater.net with 'unicorn bell query' in the subject line. Please provide the title of the manuscript, the genre, and - unless you wish to remain anonymous - your name and a link to your blog/website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Critique Groups and Margaritas

Before I sort through my medicine/liquor cabinet for a cold remedy (at this point, I’m going with whatever my bleary eyes see first), I need suggestions and comments.
What would improve this Critique Group?
What would you like to see critiqued next? Query? Loglines? First Pages?
Get to know the members, see if one or two are the Beta Buddies you’ve always hoped to find. Like the advertisement, they are priceless.
Last question.
 Tea or margarita? I may have both.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meetin' & Greetin'

Was the crit session what you expected?
Were the crits helpful?
Critiques are opinions, not cold hard math. Never accept criticism as written in stone because so much of it is personal preferences.
They are tools. Use the ones that serve your purpose. It is your MS and only you know the path to follow.
However, if several critiques say the same thing, it is good to listen. Judge them, use them, and discard the crits that clash with your style.
Now, let’s talk about loglines and have a game of tag.
Loglines, summaries, hooks, pitches; all mean about the same thing. It is one or two sentences, approximately 25 - 30 words. It boils the premise of the book down to its bones.
Leave a comment on this post, link to your blog and post your loglines on your blog site. Members of the crit group can trail along to the sites and we will continue this ‘getting to know you’ session.
Sound like a plan?
Here is my logline for Of Oak and Dragons:
An unexpected inheritance, a snarky rapier with delusions of grandeur, and a tall stranger wreck Leah Sterling’s college schedule and throws her into the middle of an ancient war.
TAG! You're IT!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#4 Untitled WIP

Title: Untitled WIP
Genre: YA fantasy?

Brief summary--Carter is from a race that humans call faeries, but that's only because humans have no understanding of what they really are. And that's the way they prefer things. The female MC (might be Ryan, still undecided) doesn't believe in faerie tales, but she could be the one to free humans and fey from the curse binding them to the earth. This scene happens after Carter looks at all of Ryan's books and remarks on the absence of any fiction.

"You don't believe in love at first sight?" Carter drew circles on my palm.

A shiver ran through me. "No. You can be physically attracted to someone right away, but it isn't love."

He pulled me close. "Ma cherie, what if I told you I believe in soul mates?"

(missing chunk for word count.)

He almost made me hope, but I knew better. My parents were reality. "There's too much ugliness. I want to believe, but life hasn’t made it easy."

"I know," He kissed my forehead. "but for everything bad, dark, or destructive, there is goodness, light and creativity. You deny yourself so much by shutting out the possibilities."

"But I save myself a lot of trouble by keeping my expectations low." I murmured and ducked my head so that my hair fell to hide my face.

"And yet you suffer." Carter tucked my hair behind my ear. "Here's to raising your expectations."

When his lips pressed into mine I heard the rush of air over dragonfly wings, felt a butterfly breathe in time with its wings, and soared above the earth on eagle's wings. Hundreds of lifetimes passing in seconds, all of them beating their wings with great power and beauty.

I pulled away as the dizzying parade of life spun out of control.

#3 The Lucky Few

Genre: Young Adult

Set-up: The heroine (Blakely) and the hero (Reid) - whom of course, she barely tolerates - just escaped a kidnapping attempt on Blake, via a high speed motorcycle chase through the city.

I slid off the bike, wobbling slightly, as he shot a hand out to steady me. Tugging the helmet from my head, it was all I could do to stop from spinning in a circle. “Holy cow, what a rush!”

I rocked back and forth on my feet and instantly dove straight into the excitement of what had just happened, not pausing to take a breath, as I motored along at rapid speeds.

Suddenly, without warning, Reid’s lips were on mine – and in absolute shock, I went from ninety to zero, in two seconds flat.

One hand shot up into my hair, while the other snaked its way to the small of my back - yanking me forward towards the solid mass of his body, my toes no longer touching the ground.

“Thank God, you finally shut up,” he growled against my lips with a devious smile.

Before I could say anything in return, he released his grip, turned and strode towards the house – leaving me swaying with my eyes closed and lips parted.

“You gonna stand there with that silly look on your face, or would you like to come in?” he tossed over his shoulder, not stopping to wait for an answer.

I stalked after him – furious at how he’d managed to ruin a perfectly good kiss, by being such an ass. I glared up at him as I stomped past, and he had the audacity to look…amused.

#2 The Lullaby

THE LULLABY - YA fantasy
The two characters, Cassie and Richard, are sitting on the roof of a club. They have been discussing the story behind her necklace. She tells him it represents the phrase, 'To get to the rainbow, you must first go through the rain.'

She drew Richard’s hand closer, playing with his fingers. When she realized what she was doing, she quickly released them. He wished she hadn’t. “I don’t know why I told you all that. It’s not your problem.”
     “I don’t mind. What’s one more?”
     “I need you to look at me.”
     She turned her head without thinking. He was close, so close she could feel his light breath on her face. She couldn’t pull away. His eyes reeled her in, promising summer, spring, warmth.
     “You are my rainbow.”
     His lips pressed down softly on hers.

#1 They Walk

They Walk: a young adult paranormal romantic thriller.

The narrator Maggie was in the middle of an uncomfortable moment between her brothers best friend Gabriel, when she sees her boyfriend Matt come into the room. Feeling confused but grateful for the escape, she ignores Gabriel and goes to Matt.


Matt, seeing me walking towards him, smiles and his face lights up with delight. My heart flutters at the sight of it, and I can’t help but smile myself.

With a spring in my step, I lean up to him and place my lips on his. Even with the light pressure of it, I still close my eyes and sigh into him. He raises his arms, and he places them at my lower back and gently pulls me closer to him.

The pressure of his lips starts to deepen, but I place my hands on his arms and lean back with a smile. Raising my eyes I try to savior everything about him. Being taller than me, I fit perfectly in his arms and I feel safe and warm. His blue eyes are bright with intensity, and his blonde hair falls nicely around his head.

I raise my hands automatically and run them through his soft waves. He smiles at me, and pulls me in for a hug. I cling to him, and wonder not for the first time how I got such a wonderful guy. He’s far too beautiful for someone as plain as me.

Critique Session - First Kiss

First Kiss

Give your name (this will be deleted). Title, and Genre.
Write a short lead-in to the scene.
Submit a 200-word scene.
It can be a finished MS or WIP, agented or unagented.
No graphic smooching, please.

Email submissions to cdcoff(at)gmail(dot)com.
Submissions start Tuesday, May 24 at 5 am, CST and end 5 pm, CST. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guidelines for Crit Group

Team Members, Charity, Marcy, and I will act as Moderators, each of us taking one week a month. At that time, we will display our personal preference/skills in critiquing, book reviews, or general information to our followers.

As Moderator, I will conduct a submission critique, open to any who follow this blog.

My rules:

1)     Must be a follower of the blog to submit and critique other’s work.

2)     Civility is paramount. Be polite. Be overly polite even.

3)     On Monday, I will announce the critique session's theme.
         Tuesday, I will open the forum and post submissions on the blog for critiquing. 

4)     Submissions should include Title, Genre, and Name. Note; the names WILL BE      DELETED before I post.

5)     Critique the submissions in the comment section.

6)     If you wish to revise and post edited submission, do so in the comments section. But remember, you will lose your anonymity at that point.

7)     Be prepared to back up your crits, btw. Research is the key.

Email submissions to cdcoff(at)gmail(dot)com.

After deleting your name, I will post the submission for critiquing by our members.

If you submit for critiquing, please be prepared to crit others. This is only fair.

If a Team Member schedules critique sessions for that week, the announcement will be on Monday.

Similarities between our format and the incomparable Authoress of Miss Snark’s First Victim fame, is because I totally swiped them just a coincidence.

This week’s excerpt:


Give your name (this will be deleted). Title, and Genre.
Write a short lead-in to the scene.
Submit a 200-word scene.
It can be a finished MS or WIP, agented or unagented.
No graphic smooching, please.

Submissions start Tuesday, May 24 at 5 am, CST and end 5 pm, CST.  
Email submissions to cdcoff(at)gmail(dot)com.