Guest Post: Querying for Dummies by V.E. Hust

They say (although who they are exactly is a mystery) that everyone has a novel in them. Recently I’ve been informed by a fairly trusted source that some of those books should not in fact come out. However, for the brave few who do put fingers to keyboard and finish a novel there will come a time that you must query.

Now, there are a few hard and fast rules of the query:

  • It should be three paragraphs in length and not over 300 words.
  • It should be written in the third person.
  • It should cover the first half of your story arc and end with your mid-plot inciting incident and STAKES.
  • It should be professional, proof read, and contain more information about the plot than your credentials.
  • Please, dear god, spell the agent’s name right.

magikarp-169-envia Pokemon.com

Querying is kind of like being the best magikarp jumper in Magikarp Jump. You have to write(catch) a query(magikarp) and send it on its rounds to your beta readers (train it) all the while stressing over it’s perfect name something punchy and eye-catching (like dinosaur erotica).

Magikarp-Jump-is-the-addictive-new-Pokemon-mobile-game-thats-sweeping-the-globevia Daily Mirror

Once you’ve edited (leveled up) your query (magikarp) by taking criticism and applying it (feeding it berries) you have to send it out to your first round of agents (aka to battle.)

magikarp-jump-4via Time Magazine

Now, on the way your query (magikarp) might get destroyed by a critique (pidgeotto) this just means it wasn’t ready for agents to see (to battle) and you need to start fresh with a new query (magikarp) and maybe a new name (like plz no die).

trainingvia Google Play

Once you have a successful query you should make a list of agents who represent your genre and with whom you would like to be signed. Querytracker.com and Absolutewrite.com are super useful when building your list. Then you send your query, make sure to personalize it to the specific agent’s specifications. READ the entire submission page twice before sending so as not to miss anything important.

It’s generally considered prudent to send your queries out in batches of no more than ten but no less than five. If you have a particularly well received query you could perhaps stretch that to fifteen. A well-received query is one that garners a request rate of more than twenty percent. A good query will garner fifteen, a serviceable one will bring in ten and anything under ten should be sent back to training.

I’m going to go in depth here for a moment about query structure. Technically there are no hard and fast rules about where most information should be, but in general your query should look something like this:

1st paragraph – Includes pertinent background and setting information, includes the main character’s name and their first problem – in YA it includes the character’s age.

2nd paragraph – Includes love interest and inciting incident, keep this fast paced and don’t bog it down with adjectives.

3rd paragraph – make us feel for the main character what is going to happen to her if she isn’t accepted to college/ doesn’t escape from her magical prison/can’t be with her true love. Make it personal and relatable.

After that there should be a small paragraph about the manuscript stats; word count (not page count), genre, comp titles, and sub-genre. Followed by a sentence or two about who you are and any credits you might have.

Close it out with a thank you for your time and attention, your name, e-mail address and any social media that’s applicable.

That’s it, don’t try to wow them with presents, don’t rave out how your book is the next Harry Potter, DON’T threaten/harass/be mean to the agent. I know most people would never but apparently there are enough crazies out there that this is becoming a trend.

So now there’s another how to query article out there, filled with tried and true approaches and some awesome Pokémon references. Hopefully it was helpful and at least a little amusing. Go, query, you are amazing!

magikarp-jump3via Forbes

Happy query writing and if you have questions, feel free to ask!

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Guest Post: On Writing & Doing What You Love by Megan Cutler

iolf-current-1000Goodreads/Amazon

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When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke, who studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover a paradise unspoiled by modern advances, ruled by the enigmatic Sentomoru, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. But as the travelers strive to unravel the island’s secrets, Catilen senses danger stalking their every step.

Neither Catilen nor Damian can guess how long the island will remain on Earth. If they can’t solve its riddles, and untangle themselves from a growing web of strife quickly, they may be trapped wherever the island goes when it vanishes. Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

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People always want to know when you discovered you were a writer. Maybe some people have a giant ah-ha moment where it all clicks for them, but for me it was a slow process of discovery. In a way, writing was always a part of my life. People used to talk constantly about how much I wrote for assignments in elementary school. Like it was an expectation that any story I wrote would be twice as long as the rest – and, of course, I was eager to deliver.

Sometime in middle school, I was invited to partake in a special class centered around writing. It got me out of other classes I liked less, which was the main reason I liked it at the time. That and the teacher was incredibly laid back. He encouraged us to do whatever made us comfortable during writing time, which meant lying on the floor, sitting under tables, and sometimes being able to sit in the hall if we were quiet. All the things usually forbidden to school kids that age. Sometimes he would sit at the front of the room, play his guitar and sing us his songs while we wrote. Some of my fondest school memories came from that class.

I learned many of the basic principles of writing in that class. Always write in pen, our teacher told us, so that the words are permanent, concrete. Never cross them out so darkly you can’t see what you originally wrote (a single line through will do). Never delete, always save. Always date your work. Our teacher encouraged us to let words flow without judgment, to write whatever we felt like that day, whatever came into our minds or felt right. We didn’t talk much about editing in that class – those were lessons I learned later – but I did learn to let go, to write words without worrying about who would be looking over my shoulder in the days to come (a lesson I would have to re-learn in my adult years).

We shared our stories with the class. Mine was about a girl named V (or perhaps her name only started with a V and I can no longer remember it). She built a time machine. I can’t remember why she wanted to travel through time, but I do remember her parents were totally cool with it. As each person read their story aloud, we wrote comments on little slips of paper to share what we thought. I kept all the ones people wrote for me. I still have them tucked away in a folder.

By high school I was hiding writing notebooks underneath the notebooks I took my class notes in (not that it stopped me from getting into trouble). I had characters I turned to when I was angry and characters who comforted me when I was sad. Snow days were a great boon; a chance to write all day without interruption. I had grand plans by then, dreams of being a bestselling author by the time I was twenty-five.

Of course, life never works out the way you plan. I was closer to thirty when I published my first novel in 2015. But no matter what else I did with my life (college, working in IT), writing was always lurking in the background. Always the ultimate goal.

My first book, Island of Lost Forevers, is a tale about two college professors exploring a mysterious island that appears off the coast of San Francisco. They want to know where it came from and where it will go when it leaves. But though the island appears to be paradise, a nightmare may be lurking just beneath the surface. It has nothing to do with my high school scribbles but, without them, I never would have made it this far.

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You can find my work at megancutler.net. I post random musings every Monday and free short fiction every Friday. You can also hang out with me on Twitter and on Facebook. Island of Lost Forevers, and its two sequels, are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited; plus Island of Lost Forevers is getting a paperback in July!

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

 

 

Open Forum/Guest Post Free For All

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Are you a writer? Reader? Author? Blogger? Maybe you’re in the process of or want to become an author?

For the month of June, I am hosting an open forum/ free for all. If you have something YA that you want to talk about, anything having to do with writing, the publishing world, this industry, something you’d love to see in YA, something you’d like to see less of, you name it, I am giving you the opportunity to voice your thoughts. HERE. On the blog. For free. 

I’m giving you an open mic in blog form. 

You want to be heard, you have something to say, feel free to schedule a date. Just keep it PG-13 because some young kids read this blog. 

I want to hear from you. I would love for you to share your thoughts and put your opinions out there. 

If you’re interested in a spot, feel free to shoot an email to yabookmadness@gmail.com and we’ll schedule you a date!!!

Tell everyone. Let’s make this happen.

As always, keep reading,

Jordan

Calling All #Tampa Area #YA #Writers

WANTED

Are you a writer? An aspiring writer? Do you write YA or New Adult? Do you live in the Tampa region? 

Would you like to be part of a writing group designed specifically for those genres? 

Are you curious about the ins and outs of the publishing process? From drafting to querying to publication and everything that comes between?

If you answered yes to these questions, we would love to meet you! 

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I’m a reader, and a writer. I’ve been working hard on my WIP and intend to query next month. 

My friend, Ginger, and I are looking for fellow writers who are focused and aim to go through the whole hellish process with the ultimate goal of publication. 

We’d love to sprint, critique, hang out, and embrace all things writing. If you’re in the region and looking to get serious about your writing goals, we would love to motivate and cheer you on. 

If you’re interested, please comment or shoot me an email at yabookmadness@gmail.com

Looking forward to talking to you,

Jordan

Guest Post: The Indie Author Journey by Sherry Soule

THE INDIE AUTHOR JOURNEY ~ #StarlightSaga

Guest post by Amazon Bestselling Author Sherry Soule

Starlight Saga Banner 2

Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! She has recently published the next book in her popular Starlight Saga series, a humorous paranormal romance. Today, Sherry is doing this fun guest post to share the book love with fellow readers.

Be warned, these books have scorching-hot romance!

LOST IN STARLIGHT- book 1 - paranormal romance - dark humor - book cover

When I was growing up, the only thing I ever dreamed about was being a professional writer. Today Amazon sent me an email inviting me to create an author page. This probably sounds lame to some people, but it’s an exciting step to me. My own official author page! I realize for self-published and indie authors that it’s an on-going struggle to get your books out into the world, and hopefully make some money in the process.

Like every writer, I am incredibly passionate about my work. The main reason I write is because I love to do it. Not for the money. No, because I love creating characters. I love crafting suspense. And I love telling stories—my kind of stories.

Writing has always been my true passion. This was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to publish novels. I dreamed of being a professional author since I was seven years old, and I enjoy writing both adult and young adult tales.

Best-selling author, Tracy Hickman was quoted as saying, “Don’t seek to be published, seek to be read.”

Simple words. Great advice. It made so much sense. Write for your readers. Write what you love. Write every day and don’t give up.

Our dreams should give us wings. Let us fly. Soar above the clouds. And we should never, ever have to look down. Right?

Being a voracious reader all of my life, I believe my writing style differs from the other young adult paranormals being published; because my stories tend to have elements of chilling suspense weaved into the plot. Nor are my stories always focused primarily on “love.” But there is a lot of kissing!

Yet I do write about people who fall in love under unusual circumstances. Not because I like a conventional happy ending—no, I write about love because I believe it’s the strongest human emotion we possess. And sometimes my character’s choices don’t get them a happy ending. Sometimes the endings are surprising. Sometimes bittersweet. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger. But I hope they are never boring or too predictable.

How did I start?

Well, like I said, I’ve been writing since I was seven. I’ve written a lot of books over the years. Yeah, a lot of bad books, too. I went to college, but mostly took creative writing and English classes. I couldn’t go full-time because I had a family to look after, but I did take various writing courses for the past ten years.

To be honest, I’ve tried three times in my life to find a literary agent, aka the gatekeepers to the publishing world, without success. I’ve even had a few prominent agencies request my work. Looking back, I know what I did wrong. I didn’t have any critique partners. The manuscript wasn’t tightened up and polished. I didn’t hire a freelance editor. I thought it was good. Well, it sucked. Hence, the multiple rejections. Which also sucked.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope I have.

The turning point in my life came when, like so many people across the United States, I lost my job. I feel into a deep, dark depression. To escape my utter hopelessness and to be productive, I decided to try writing again. I rewrote an old story that I still believed in, but knew it still needed some major revision. Maybe this was a sign from God to try to get published after all these years. I wrote every day for months, then started query agents and editors again. No luck. More rejections.

I worked part-time and kept writing. I started editing a manuscript that I wrote about nine years ago called, “IMMORTAL ECLIPSE.” I did some freelance developmental editing to pay the rent. Then I was laid off again and after a few months, my unemployment ended. I was scared. No job. No money in my checking account and my savings account had been closed by my bank. Zero funds.

Time to freak out. I was a single mother with two young children to support. But no way to support them. Then I discovered that my seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe and very rare disease. The medical bills began to mount up. I needed money.

In my heart, I still didn’t want to give up on my dream. It was all I had left to encourage me…

Once I gave up the idea of a book deal with a New York publishing house and finding an über agent that loved my work, I decided to look into indie publishers. Then I read about Amanda Hocking’s success story on her blog. I was impressed and awed. She had taken a chance, so I decided to self-publish one of my early novels. Why not? I talked it over with my family—who agreed. I had nothing to lose. And since I was out of a job, I had time to promote my work.

Then some of my family members announced that they wanted to start an online publishing company. And guess what? I was the first to sign with them. Sure, they’re small but everyone has to start somewhere. So, they didn’t mind when I wanted to hire my own cover artist. (Do not be naïve—book covers sell books. Well, that and good writing.)

Going Indie is a scary endeavor. On occasion things don’t work out. Books don’t sell. The genre dead ends. Bad timing. Worse luck.

But indie authors can find a small amount of success due to the book blogging community, which is so incredibly supportive. And I sincerely thank the book reviewers who have embraced and heartily praised my novels.

Although, I may never reach the success of other self-published or indie authors, I won’t look back at my life someday with regret. At least I’ll know I tried, and that’s something, right? You only fail if you never try…

“If you’re waiting for the universe to provide for you, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to wait a long time. If you know what you want, then my advice is to confidently take the necessary steps and go get it.” – Bryan Hutchinson

So, now I need to get back to editing and writing new stories. No reason to let these manuscripts sit on my hard-drive. Maybe someone will enjoy reading them. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll keep dreaming and hoping, and someday those hopes and dreams will come true. Maybe not.

But what good are dreams if you don’t try to make them come true? What good is trying to follow your heart if those aspirations can’t be turned into reality?

Never let someone else put limits on your goals or hinder your own personal dreams. I know, I won’t…

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES - book 2 - science fiction paranormal romance - book cover

Amazon Author Page/Lost in Starlight/Under Sunless Skies/Series Blog/Goodreads

authAuthor-Sherry-Soule-Suspense-Small

Sherry Soule is an Amazon bestselling author, who lives in the SF Bay Area with her family and one very spoiled black cat.

Many of her books have spent time on the Kindle bestseller lists and have been nominated as top picks in the “Paranormal Romance” categories by sites such as The Romance Reviews, Night Owl Reviews, and the Paranormal Romance Guild.

Sherry mainly writes urban fantasy, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance in young adult, new adult, and adult genres set in fictional places within Northern California that feature independent females and sexy alpha males.

While Sherry doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, she does like to express herself through her stylish apparel, and her heroines do, too.

Amazon/Blog/Twitter/Goodreads/Facebook

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

When to Let an Idea Go

The short and sweet version of this post is: never. 

I’m a firm believer in the power of ideas and that there is no such thing as an idea that is ALL bad or can’t be reformed or edited to become something better or even incredible. 

Like most things, ideas are a bare minimum, a foundation, if you will, to build off and craft into something bigger, clearer, and more precise. 

Think of ideas like Legos. 

One Lego by itself is not all that impressive. Seriously, what can you even do with one Lego? But when you add in Legos of different sizes, colors, and shapes, you can build something amazing. The best thing about Legos (ideas) is that you can take them apart, rebuild, and shift them around into something different until you create something you can fall in love with. 

Ideas aren’t nailed down, limited, or cemented into a final form. They aren’t sculptures and even sculptures can be broken, keep that in mind. The only limitations on ideas are those we place on ourselves. We think that ideas have to be binary. One thing or another, but with time and care, they transform into something magical. 

Okay, if the Lego analogy hasn’t won you over, how about Stephen King?

If you’ve read On Writing (if not YOU SHOULD GO GET IT RIGHT NOW), you may remember a section on character creation. Stephen King and many writers (people, let’s not limit) constantly get ideas for characters, whether it’s in the shower, inspired by an image or a person on the street. Those inklings are fuel for future projects. WRITE THEM DOWN. Put in on a phone memo, pop open a notebook, whether it’s a handful of keywords or a full on description, put it on paper/virtual paper. Stephen King puts his on notecards and saves them for later. He picks them out of the box at random and writes. Um…that’s something I can totally get behind and how fun is that?

Alright, I’m not just here to spout Stephen King’s wisdom, I swear I have a point. Stephen King’s tips on characters can also apply to ideas. Write them down. Come back to them later if you want. Store them in a cute index card holder. Whatever. OR nurture them. Deliberate. Think of how you can develop those ideas. Don’t be afraid to be extremely detailed or only have a bare bones idea. Writing, getting it down on paper alone, will help with that development. 

Ideas are transformative. Don’t throw them away. Save them, shape them, build on them until they become something you can work with, something you can be proud of. You don’t have to use them right away or ever use them, but having them there, chilling out is a comfort in itself. 

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me to give up on ideas. I used to get mad. Because who can understand your ideas, your process better than you can? But I realized that not everyone is the same. Some people believe that letting go is helpful and if that’s you, do what is BEST and true for you. I am not that person and I also think that people should always weigh their options and make decisions that will be best for themselves. You do you. 

Always,

Jordan

Accountability

Let’s talk about accountability. Writing accountability. Today, I’ve decided (I know) to write. Really write. Not stare at the screen and write horrible sentences just to have something and then delete them because not only is that annoying, but it’s a waste of “me”.

Part of me feels like I should hold myself accountable, and don’t get me wrong, you should, you need to, and you should want to. But I also feel like accountability is both easier and way more scary if someone else is checking in on you. Easier because when you know someone is going to ask (and if you are honest) then you might try just a little harder to meet goals. Scary because you might fail.

I also have way too much writing sitting around…taking up space on my desktop. I love them, I want them, I feel like I’m neglecting them. But…if you have read to this point, I WOULD LOVE for for someone…anyone to be that person. The one that schedules (can you do this…I think you can) a text that says…are you writing because if not get on that.

Really what I want to get back to is writing for me. Because I’m stubborn, because I’m going to do what I want to, and because people telling me what I should or should not be doing is kind of grating…you see the dilemma.

Honestly, I don’t know 100% what I want, I’m figuring it out, and part of that process is trying new methods and discovering what works for me.

That being said, I’m going to write. If you want to shoot me a comment (or email) later and ask me how I did, I’d love to chat about it. I would also be that person for you, if you want that.

Another thought, excuse my sporadic mind, making deals with yourself. For me, if I write IDK let me set the bar low today 500 words plus, I can watch Shark Week.

-Rambler out.

UPDATE: So far (I posted this on the Facebook page first) I’ve written 300 words in my 20 minute sprint. It seems small, but they’re good words, they’re the right words, and they’re exactly what I needed to set the tone for the next chapter. I deleted an entire chapter prior to my sprint because…let me be real, those words SUCKED. Here’s the thing. You can’t be afraid to get rid of something that isn’t working. That’s how you write yourself into a corner and end up pushing aside the manuscript. It’s hard to slice and dice the words while writing, but sometimes it’s necessary to move forward. And yes, it’s terrifying watching all the words disappear. If you’re worried, save the words you’re cutting in a different doc for later. I’ve found that once they’re gone and when I go back (just out of curiosity) to check them out pages later, that I never needed them in the first place and in fact, they made the story weaker.