So, I have some pretty exciting news.

 

I’m thrilled to announce another book deal with Wendy Loggia at Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books!!!

 

brad pitt dancing GIF

 

This book is called DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY, and I’m pretty freaking excited about it. It’s edgy and dark and fun and something I think fans of Hexed will enjoy. Here’s the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:

 

Author of HEXED Michelle Krys’s DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY, about a girl who escapes her helicopter parents by joining a high-stakes dare club, but she discovers more than thrills — girls are going missing, and she might be next, again to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, for publication in 2016, by Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary Services (World).

 

Isn’t that splendid?

 

Up next: WORLD DOMINATION.

 

Or nachos. Whichever.

Posted in Uncategorized 9 Comments

It’s been four short years since I started writing, but I have learned so much in that time: interesting, eye-opening things, not the least of which is that Bose Noise-Cancelling headphones are a godsend and make you look and feel like a legit author. The following are some of the interesting things I’ve learned about authors:

 

They are regularly compared to J.K. Rowling. Or at least they are pre-book release. Flattering right? And not realistic. ‘But it could happen!’ people say. Well, sure, I guess. You could also be the next Bill Gates of computer programming, the next Florence Nightingale of nursing, or the Judge Judy of law. But probably not. And though the commenters are well meaning, it’s stressful thinking that your family and friends are measuring your success in terms of movie deals and theme parks.

 

They deal with rejection too. You’d think that signing a book deal with a major publishing house would mean the end of rejection as a writer, right? Wrong. Even New York Times Bestsellers are subject to rejection. Publishers want to put out books they think will sell. It doesn’t matter if they liked one of your books. Your next book still needs to be marketable in their eyes or they won’t want to publish it. Unless you’re Stephen King or the aforementioned J.K., in which case you can probably write on a napkin and they’d sell it.

 

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Sweatpants are their friends. Writing a book seems pretty glamorous, until it’s 4 p.m and you still haven’t showered, your house looks like it’s been recently burglarized, and you fridge is reduced to only condiments.

 

They don’t always like writing. If authors waited until they were ‘in the mood’ to write, they might never complete a book. The harsh reality is this: writing a book is hard, and watching Teen Wolf isn’t. A lot of the time, it feels more like a sacrifice than it does like fun, but then again, it wouldn’t be a big deal to write a book if it were easy and all that jazz.

 

 

Procrastination is a plague and everyone has been infected. You click over to Google to do a simple fact-check for your book and the next thing you know you’ve fallen down a Wikipedia wormhole and it’s two hours later. And it’s not just me. There’s a reason programs like Freedom exist. Writers are basically like cats and the internet is a laser light on the wall: it’s irresistible.

 

They’re as insecure as you are. Are insecure people more drawn to writing, or does publishing turn normal people into insecure messes? I don’t know, but the fact remains that writers are often not as confident as they outwardly appear. They worry their latest work sucks. They read over their first drafts and wonder who was on crack when they gave them a book deal. They read a hundred great reviews and then spiral into depression at the one scathing one-star review they totally accidentally stumbled across on goodreads, sure that it’s the only ‘true’ review and that the other hundred people are either illiterate idiots, or are confusing your book with another one they read that didn’t totally suck.

 

They don’t have time to write books. One of the most common things I hear as an author is ‘I wish I had time to write a book.’ But here’s the thing: authors don’t have extra hours in the day, and most of the time, they’re working a day job too. Even those who write full-time, and therefore, theoretically, have more time to write, often have difficulty squeezing hours into the day to dedicate to their novel. So many things can get in the way of a productive day of writing, from copyedits or pass pages on a previous book, to blog interviews or simply responding to emails: tasks pop up all the time that steal precious writing hours. Authors just make writing a priority in their lives.

 

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They like fan mail as much as readers like their books. Before I became an author, I read a book called Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren and loved it so much that I wrote the author a gushy email wherein I told her that I snuck her book into the bathroom because it was the only free time I had with a new baby at home. Not only did she write me back, despite the email being awkward and weird and it being the holidays, but she was so kind and sweet. At the time I thought, wow, that was so great of her to respond to her annoying fan! (Read earlier: insecurity). But now that I’m an author myself and have been the lucky recipient of fan mail, I get it: authors don’t find your fan mail and tweets and Tumblr asks and Facebook comments annoying. They like fan mail as much as their readers like their books. A gushy email from a reader is a day-maker.

 

They are all different. Fast-drafting, slow-drafting, outlining, pantsing, writing every day, writing in bursts and taking breaks—practically every author I know does it differently, and that’s okay. There is no one ‘right’ way to write a book, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a lying liar who lies. It doesn’t matter how the book gets written. The important thing is that it does get written.

 

Jealousy is a thing that happens. And I’m suspicious of anyone who claims otherwise. I’m not talking about arch-nemesis type of jealousy, though I’m sure that type exists too, but envy of people you like, respect, and call your friends. It’s hard to see others get what you want, and things like Amazon Rankings, bestseller lists, and even Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday posts, which sort of pit authors against each other, can make jealousy inevitable. That’s not to say that it’s okay or anything, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. Having said that:

 

They’re like family. The old saying is that writing is a solitary act. I’d like to amend that to: writing is a solitary act unless you’re a YA writer. Are adult writers great buds with each other too? Maybe. I can’t say. But I do know that the YA community is like a family—a family full of smart, kind, thoughtful, opinionated, hilarious people who support each other and generally procrastinate together a lot on Twitter. In fact, I’m going to go to that now.

 

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Posted in Uncategorized 13 Comments

side effects

 

Anyone who follows me on twitter will remember that I read an advance copy of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy a few weeks ago, enjoyed it immensely and basically wouldn’t shut up about it for three days. Well good news—it comes out next Tuesday!

 

SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is about a girl named Alice, who, after being diagnosed with cancer, creates a crazy bucket list to settle all her scores before she dies, only to go into remission.

 

DUN DUN DUNNN.

 

It’s as amazing as it sounds

 

In honor of SEMV releasing next week, I’m posting my own bucket list. Without further ado, the things I want to do before I die:

 

  • Buy a private island, which I will share with my critique partner, Ruth Lauren Steven, and our families. We’ll live next door to each other and spend our days drinking margaritas out of hollowed-out coconuts while we gossip about everyone we know. We’ll leave the island only for book conferences and retreats, which we’ll attend 4 times a year.
  • Be an extra in a movie, preferably a YA adaptation. If it has to be about a teenage cheerleading witch, then so be it.
  • Spend a day with Jennifer Lawrence.
  • Learn Kung Fu in secret, then bust it out unexpectedly during an attack situation, impressing and shocking everyone.
  • Go horseback riding.Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland 1
  • Take a submarine ride.
  • Visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
  • Visit a castle. Preferably in Scotland. Preferably this castle.
  • Go undercover as a high school student to catch a drug-dealing kingpin. (I’ve been watching too much 21 Jump Street).
  • Crash a wedding and see how many guests I can get to pretend to remember me.
  • Go to a rave.
  • Stay in an overwater bungalow in Bora-Bora.
  • Visti Machu Picchu.machu-picchu-peru
  • Visit Stonehenge, pass through the stones, activating some mysterious magic spell, then travel back in time to 18th century Scotland, where a strapping redheaded Highland warrior takes me as his wife and I stun everyone with my crazy nursing skills and medical knowledge.
  • Take a road trip across North America.
  • Go to Africa. This one’s always been high on my bucket 315_46257266968_3430_nlist, and since I was convinced that having kids would mean I’d never travel again, except to go for a harrowing trip to Wal-Mart for more diapers, I made sure to get it out of the way as soon as possible.
  • Write a book. BOOM. DONE.

 

So there you have it. My bucket list.  As you can see, I’m not doing too badly so far.

 

SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is on sale March 18th. You want it. I’d probably pre-order it now: IndieBoundB&NAmazon.

 

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

 

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When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To ma

ximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friendHarvey,

whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

 

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Posted in Bucket List, Side Effects May Vary 11 Comments

Let me tell you a story. I was on break at work one night, eating my dinner in the coffee room as I scrolled through Twitter, when another nurse entered and politely asked me about my book. We chatted, all was well, and then the nurse said that she wished she could write a book, but she didn’t have any good ideas.

 

I almost choked on my Chunky Soup (It was night shift, don’t judge).

 

At this time, I’d just completed the sequel to Hexed, the last book in my contract with my publisher, which meant that I was now in the predicament of needing to come up with a proposal for my option book. In bookland, many book contracts come with what’s called an ‘option’ clause, wherein the author proposes their next book to their editor by providing a synopsis and sample chapters—which, in my case, was three chapters—and the editor then decides, basically, whether or not they want to keep the author around.

 

So yeah. Pretty daunting.

 

It’s not just coming up with any idea, but an idea that excites the author, their editor, and in many cases, a whole team of publishing professionals. An idea that aligns with the author’s “brand”, and that is just as good or a step-up from the books they’ve already written.

 

But I wasn’t overly worried about it. See, for months I’d been emailing myself book ideas and saving them to a folder in my email. The folder now contained 82 entries. 82 book ideas to peruse! It would be easy.  Just a matter of picking the best of the best and churning out three chapters. Thank God I had the foresight to note ideas for times like these. I scrolled through the emails.

 

“Rich person who namedrops.”

 

Hmm. I guess that could be a neat idea for a character. Not a book idea, but I kept scrolling.

 

“Tim and his wife.”

 

Okay . . . I’m guessing that referred to the owner of the corner store and deli near my house. Why I thought I should include him in my book is beyond me. *scrolls*

 

“Pimple popping guy.”

 

Wtf, Michelle. What is that even?

 

I angrily closed the folder. There was nary a real book idea in that thing. I was back to square one.

 

 

I opened up a fresh word document. The blank white page stared back at me accusingly.  It’s okay, I told myself. I totally have this. I’m a writer!

 

I made a coffee. I got my fingerless gloves out, for in case my hands got cold while typing. I got a lap blanket and electric heating pad for my back (Hey, no one said I wasn’t a high-maintenance writer). I stared at the computer. I hesitantly wrote a sentence, then deleted it. I stared some more. I made more coffee. I pushed my cuticles back and wondered if I should start laundry or clean the pantry. I ambled over to Twitter to “take a break”.  I stared some more.

 

And then I faced reality. I had no ideas.

 

I stared at the word document for hours over the next week, panicking more and more as ideas weren’t just popping into my head. I got annoyed when I came across a book with a brilliant concept that I wished I could have come up with myself. I felt inadequate when Someone Who Won’t Be Named mentioned that James Patterson has a notebook full of hundreds of plot ideas. I mean, are you even a writer if you don’t have book ideas? Writers are supposed to be creative. And there I was. Being decidedly Not Creative. I felt embarrassed and ashamed.

 

See, there seems to be this big misconception that, as a writer, I must be overflowing with book ideas. And maybe that’s true for some writers, and even for me sometimes, when I get a rare burst of ideas, but in this case, my next idea didn’t come to me. I went to it. Inspired by Jack London (“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”) I got my club and went looking for the next great idea.

 

And good news! (See, this post wasn’t all pity and poor Michelle). I came up with not one, but three book concepts that I’m exceedingly and ridiculously excited about. I can’t pinpoint the exact method that eventually worked for me, but in the event that there are other writers out there who aren’t overflowing with ideas at the moment, here are some of the things that I did when a book idea just wasn’t coming to me:

 

  • I headed over to goodreads, opened up my ‘read’ folder, and scrolled through the books I gave 5 stars to, making notes of what I liked best about those books and what excited me most about them (Forbidden romance! Competition! Magic!)

 

  • Inspired by all the ‘X meets Y’ books of late, I compiled a list of movies, TV shows and books, and then began making unlikely pairings. (Legally Blond meets The Deadliest Catch & Fight Club meets Toddlers and Tiaras among my personal favorites).

 

  • I cornered a coworker at work, demanding she plot my book (I don’t advise this).

 

  • I combined different plot ideas of yore, none of which were quite right on their own, but became something new altogether when different elements of each plot were combined.

 

  • I scrolled through news articles, looking for real-life stories that could be the inspiration for a fictional novel.

 

And somehow, somewhere along the line, it happened. It wasn’t easy, but then again, what part of writing a book is easy?

 

Now the proposals are in my editor’s hands.  And now? I wait.

Posted in writer's block, writing, writing advice 8 Comments

Every year, I make a New Year’s resolution, knowing that I don’t really plan to take it that seriously. I might make a halfhearted effort for a week or so, but once the holidays are well enough behind me I forget about it entirely. Last year my resolution was to drink less coffee and use my iPhone less. I failed miserably at both (and the coffee one is just laughable now in retrospect).

 

This year, in an effort to be accountable so that I might, you know, actually follow through with my resolution, I’m going to state it publicly, and then you can all point me toward this blog post when I’m inevitably failing at it a few months from now.

 

2014 being my debut year, which is bound to be insanely hectic and all-consuming, I’m making a few resolutions:

 

Don’t stress about the things I can’t control. There’s so much writers have no control over the publishing world (whether or not people will like our books being chief among them), but worrying about it has no effect on the outcome, except to make some very cranky writers. We can, however, control our writing, so I resolve to focus on that and to not give much headspace to all that other stuff.

 

Be present. This one is sort of related to last year’s iPhone resolution. It’s so easy when you have a book coming out soon to get so wrapped up in the publication world that you let work be #1 in your life, which: not cool. So I resolve to put the iPhone away, push book concepts, marketing plans and blog interviews out of my mind, and just be in the moment with my family.

 

Keep my eyes on my own paper. It’s been said often before, but everyone’s publication path is different, and it’s crazy-making to compare yourself to someone else. And yet? It’s hard not to. But much like worrying about things you can’t control, playing the comparison game doesn’t actually have any effect except to make a person miserable. And plus, you can never really know someone else’s journey, or what came before it that led to their current success. You can only know you. Therefore I resolve to stop comparing myself to others.

 

Enjoy the ride. The publishing process has been compared to a rollercoaster ride, and that’s pretty much the most apt metaphor I’ve ever heard: there are thrilling highs and nauseating lows, and it’s very easy to focus on those lows when they’re happening to you. I resolve to focus on the highs instead, to actively seek out things to be happy about, and, to quote my critique partner, to quit being such a miserable cow. (Man I love that Ruth Lauren Steven).

 

So there it is, folks. I hope you all have a happy holiday season, and I’ll see you again in 2014!  THE YEAR MY BOOK COMES OUT!!!!!

 

XOXO,

 

Michelle

Posted in Uncategorized 16 Comments

So the other day I read an incredible book that featured a strong, layered female protagonist (and I’m not going to say more about it than that because reasons.) After I finished reading, I headed over to Goodreads, as I often do, to check out what others thought about the book. While for the most part the reviews were positive, a good chunk of them, even some of the four and five star reviews, complained about the female protagonist. The general consensus amongst these reviewers was that the female character wasn’t strong, like they’d been deceived into thinking by the book jacket. If she was supposed to be strong, then why did she cry? If she was supposed to be tough, then why did she think about boys so much? If she was supposed to be badass, then why did she like dresses and makeup and shopping? One reviewer even called her a walking contradiction.

 

Well. This really disappointed me. Basically, what they were saying is that to be truly strong and badass, this character should have been less stereotypically feminine—especially troubling because most of the reviewers were women themselves.

 

Listen—female characters can be strong without being stripped of liking dresses and makeup and boys. They’re not signs of a weak character. They’re not flaws. Which leads me to the thesis statement of this blog post:

 

Being feminine and being strong aren’t mutually exclusive.

 

There was a quote going around a few weeks ago from Natalie Portman that perfectly summed up my feelings:

 

“I want [female characters] to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad – human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”Natalie Portman

 

Yes. YES. YES. YES. To hand a woman a pair of pants and a weapon and have her unflinchingly mow down everyone in her path doesn’t alone make a strong character. It’s like Portman says—that’s just macho. (And archetypical. And boring.) We owe ourselves more than that. We owe ourselves nuanced, layered female characters. And if that character happens to like makeup and dresses? That’s great.

 

There’s nothing wrong with being a girl.

 

(Side note: if you figure out the book, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back, but please don’t name it here. I don’t want to single out any reviewers. Thanks :) )

Posted in Uncategorized 19 Comments

A part (arguably a big part) of being a successful writer is having some talent at writing. I don’t think many people would argue that. But it takes more than just a knack for writing to make it in this business. Here are a few things that aren’t writing a book that go a long way toward making a successful author.

 

Know how to take criticism.

 

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From title2come.tumblr.com

 

This is huge. Every writer has undoubtedly met at least one person who asks for a critique, only to raise a debate about your feedback. And look, I understand. Writers put their hearts and souls into their books, and hearing negative feedback can feel like someone telling you your baby is ugly. The automatic reaction is to put up your defenses. I’ve told this story many times, but I still vividly remember posting the first chapter of my first attempt at a book on a critiquing website only to be left in tears when the first response was something along the lines of ‘I don’t care if the rain is falling like perfect teardrops. Never start your book with weather. It’s boring.’ (For the record, I didn’t write that line about perfect teardrops, dude was just mocking me, but you get the point—I’d described the weather in the first paragraph).

 

Was this guy a jerk in his approach? Yeah. But after I danced around the computer giving it middle fingers allowed myself to properly absorb and reflect on the critique, I realized that jerk was right.* Reading about the weather in the first paragraph of a book is boring. And so I edited, and my work improved exponentially. And at the end of the day, that’s the reason you share your work with others in the first place, right? It’s not to get a big pat on the back (though those are nice), but to pinpoint the weaknesses in your story and look for ways to make it better**. And in a competitive book market, going from good to great might be what it takes to get your work noticed.

 

*That’s not to say I worked with the guy again. Sure, the advice was helpful, but there’s something to be said for tact.

 

**And that’s not to say you should listen to every critique, even the person who tells you “Dont have a romance in your story, that wuz done in twilight”. You don’t have to agree, but don’t dismiss a critique without taking serious time to reflect on it. You may be too close to your project to be truly objective

 

Don’t let good enough be enough.

 

After taking months, sometimes years, to write a book, there are bound to be countless moments in any writer’s life when you want to throw up your hands and say it’s good enough, then promptly drown yourself in queso and wine. But then you feel that niggle of doubt, and your writerly insecurity starts to creep in, and you wonder whether pressing “send” is really such a good idea after all. And what I’m saying is that sometimes you should let your insecurity tell you something: your book may not be ready. Don’t stop making your book better until you (and others you trust), can honestly say it’s the best work you’re capable of. DON’T RUSH. In the words of my idol Britney Spears (don’t judge), you gotta work, b*tch. Okay so maybe that didn’t apply, but I really wanted to use that quote. Kill me.

 

Be resilient.

 

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From title2come.tumblr.com

 

There is a 100% chance that if you’re a writer, you will get rejected. Maybe even often. Which is why it burns me when I see authors saying they’re going to give up because they got XYZ number of rejections, especially when that number is under 30. What stands between successful authors and everyone is that they don’t stop trying after they get rejected. They send out more queries. They rework their query. They rework their novel. They write another novel. They don’t let rejection get them down. If I’d have stopped writing after my first novel got exactly one partial request out of over 100 queries, I wouldn’t have written HEXED. And if I’d stopped querying HEXED after the first 15 rejections (of which there would be over 90), I wouldn’t have known that the next response would be a request for a full. You get the idea. There will be rejection. What matters is what you do about it.

 

Don’t be a dick.

 

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This seems straight forward, but I’ll expand anyway: If you’re a dick, people won’t like you. And if people don’t like you, they might not want to work with you or support  your book, no matter how great that book is. You’re never too big or too cool or too important to be humble, appreciative, professional, and most of all, kind.

 

I can already hear someone saying, “But hey, so-and-so- is a huge dick, and he’s successful. What gives?” Are there some dickish writers out there with massive book deals and huge followings? Sure. But for every successful dick with a book deal, I bet there are a ton more out there without one. Nobody wants to work with someone who’s got “difficult” stamped all over them. And besides, there’s nothing to lose by being a nice person, right?

 

 

So there it is. There doesn’t seem to be a casual way to end my blog post after so many dick mentions, so I’ll just quietly leave now . . .

Posted in Uncategorized 18 Comments

So I happened to be between projects conveniently when Pretty Little Liars was taking a hiatus, so I decided to finally see what all the fuss was about and marathoned the last 3.5 seasons. Not only have I grown an achingly intense obsession with the show (and Caleb), but I’ve also learned a lot too. Like . . .

 

1. Wet look metallic pants are actually daywear.

 

 

aria-montgomery-and-black-milk-pyramids-red-leggings-galleryHanna wetlook pantshanna-marin-outfit

 

 

2. You can tell someone’s in juvie if they’re wearing a do-rag.

 

 

Toby dorag

Much Music blog

 

 

3. There exists a universe where hot doctors with English accents can’t get no love from the ladies.

 

wren

Much Music blog

 

4. Someone trying to drown you is a totally forgivable offence.

 

Paige drownpaige emily kiss

 

 

 

5. Teens these days clear their text history on a minutely basis. (Think about it. Have you ever seen a prior text on the girls’ screens?)

 

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6. There are still some good roles for parrots in television these days.   

 

LUCY HALE, ASHLEY BENSON, TROIAN BELLISARIO

 

7. All small business owners are creepy and to be avoided.

 

motel owner

OffColorTV

JED REES, SHAY MITCHELL, LUCY HALEcreepy doll store lady

 

8. Larisa Oleynik didn’t actually fall off the face of the earth after 1999.

 

larissaMaggie01

 

9. I need to enroll in martial arts class. You know, for self-defence. And stuff. 

 

Jakeria

Celeb Daily News

 

10. Just because your best friend was killed, you’re being framed for a murder you didn’t commit, and your illicit relationship with your teacher might get revealed at any moment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress like you’re going to party.

 

aria

Tea Room

 

11. Gunshot wounds take just a day or so to heal. Ditto for broken legs. 

 

TYLER BLACKBURN

Examiner.com

 

 

12. Everyone in Rosewood leaves their blinds open at night. Especially if they’re being stalked and harassed.

 

blinds open

AfterEllen.com

 

13. On that note, being stalked and harassed? No reason not to stay home alone on occasion. I mean, what could go wrong?

 

aria at bottom of stairs

Alloy Entertainment

 

14. You might think that playing the piano and texting with a touchscreen phone would be tricky while wearing bulky leather gloves, but that’s where you would be wrong.

 

A cell phoneA playing piano

 

15. Evil deeds can only be preformed in a black hoodie (hood up). Barring that, a red coat works.

 

red coats

The new episode of Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesday October 22nd at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. As if you didn’t know that already.

Posted in Pretty Little Liars, Uncategorized 5 Comments

Born with voracious hunger, Jin has eaten his family out of house and home. But no matter what he devours, his hunger remains. Until he meets the Kitchen God, in his home in the Yandang Mountains. Impressed with Jin’s unearthly appetite, the Kitchen God rewards his new disciple with the gift of cooking the most delicious food in the world. Jin’s wonderful gift brings him fortune and draws the attention of the Green Gang, a criminal organization with ties to his family. His only choice is to run. Ok real talk: how on earth did you come up with such an outstanding and creative concept? I NEED TO KNOW! 

 

Jin journeys from the corrupt city of Shanghai to the shores of the Philippines for a new life but the shadows of war descend. Against the backdrop of World War II in the Pacific, the quiet Jin has nowhere else to run. He must use his gifts to inspire and rally the local militia to fight the Japanese occupation. Jin must find the true strength in his talents to overcome his painful past.

 

HUNGER: THE LIFE OF JIN is literary fiction with a touch of magical realism of 80-90K words. My only criticism of this excellent query is about your word count: 80-90K is a big range, and it might be a red flag to some agents that you haven’t actually completed the novel. I would round to the nearest 1000 words.  Readers who enjoyed such works as Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB and Laura Esquivel’s LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE will be attracted to this novel.

This is too good. If this query doesn’t land you heaps of full requests I would be very surprised. Thanks for sharing, and good luck (though you probably don’t need it). 

Posted in query critique, query letter, writing advice 2 Comments

Original Query Letter

 

Nineteen-year-old Blake wakes up on a generation ship in deep space, except it’s not the virtual reality game he thought he was testing. He wasn’t a beta-tester, but a guinea pig. It’s not a game, but another universe. An alternate reality with its own version of Blake. In one, he’s an average frat boy ready to C+ his way through Tulane, and in the other he’s aboard the pioneer spaceship Athena, preparing to colonize New Earth. Now Blake finds himself slipping between worlds—and bodies—without warning.

 

Blake’s accidental crossovers begin to blur the boundaries between universes; the friction is enough to level New Orleans and turn the Athena to dust. A meteor strike forces the Athena to land on Europa and build an emergency colony. The icy moon’s harsh conditions trap the survivors in close quarters, and Blake struggles to hide his Jekyll and Hyde condition from the colonists. Polar opposites, the Blakes have trouble fitting into each other’s lives. Until one day Blake slips home to discover the other Blake has been living his life better than he has.

 

With every crossover, the universes grow closer. The friction causes moonquakes and storms, with New Orleans bracing for the worst hurricane in history. The slips are getting longer and longer, and soon Blake won’t be crossing back home at all. He needs to sever the connection—fast, before their worlds annihilate each other.

 

Crossover, complete at 85,000 words, is the first in a series of high-concept New Adult science fiction novels. It will appeal to fans of Elizabeth Norris’s Unraveling and Beth Revis’s Across the Universe Trilogy.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

Nineteen-year-old Blake wakes up on a generation ship in deep space, except it’s not the virtual reality game he thought he was testing. He wasn’t a beta-tester, but a guinea pig. It’s not a game, but another universe. An alternate reality with its own version of Blake. In one, he’s an average frat boy ready to C+ his way through Tulane, and in the other he’s aboard the pioneer spaceship Athena, preparing to colonize New Earth. Now Blake finds himself slipping between worlds—and bodies—without warning. Great premise and a solid opener.

 

Blake’s accidental crossovers begin to blur the boundaries between universes; the friction is enough to level New Orleans and turn the Athena to dust. A meteor strike forces the Athena to land on Europa and build an emergency colony. The icy moon’s harsh conditions trap the survivors in close quarters, and Blake struggles to hide his Jekyll and Hyde condition from the colonists. Polar opposites, the Blakes have trouble fitting into each other’s lives. Until one day Blake slips home to discover the other Blake has been living his life better than he has. Love this paragraph! It’s outstanding.

 

With every crossover, the universes grow closer. The friction causes moonquakes and storms, with New Orleans bracing for the worst hurricane in history. The slips are getting longer and longer, and soon Blake won’t be crossing back home at all. He needs to sever the connection—fast, before their worlds annihilate each other. Does he have to choose which Blake he wants to be? Because that would be a great addition to the already-great stakes.

 

Crossover, <The title should be fully capitalized. complete at 85,000 words, is the first in a series of high-concept New Adult science fiction novels. It will appeal to fans of Elizabeth Norris’s Unraveling and Beth Revis’s Across the Universe Trilogy. All good here! It’s only too bad you don’t have an NA sci-fi here as a comp title, though I realize that might be hard to find.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

This is really great! I don’t normally reach for science fiction novels but I would definitely read this. You didn’t give me much to pick at! Good luck with your querying endeavors, and thanks for sharing. 

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Original Query Letter

 

CHOOSE YOUR OWN APOCALYPSE, is an 88,000 word work of women’s fiction. I would be delighted if you’d take a look at it.

 

When futurist scholar Glory Roberts joins a group of doomsday preppers, they transform from quirky survivalists to accidental terrorists — a standard case of becoming what you fear most while stocking the bunker (and making out with the teacher, in Glory’s case).

 

When Glory first arrives in Wyoming, she only intends to study how doomsday innovations might help the human race survive the next major extinction event. She hopes her findings will be enough to impress her mostly pickled, but highly lauded, PhD advisor. After a week or two in Wyoming, her goals also include staying out of federal custody.

 

Roy Shackleton, a meandering dude in a van, becomes the leader of Glory’s group of survivalists purely by accident. Despite knowing nothing about survivalism, he manages to teach rudimentary fire starting to a crowd of die-hard preppers while Glory takes notes. In the midst of their struggle for – they forget what – Glory and Roy start some sparks of their own. Most importantly, they learn that in this life, most disasters are of our own making.

 

I am a mostly respectable mother and teacher of cops from St. Paul, Minnesota, who grew up hunting jack rabbits in rural Wyoming with a group of people who looked like they should have bunkers, even though I’m pretty sure they didn’t.

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

CHOOSE YOUR OWN APOCALYPSE, is an 88,000 word work of women’s fiction. I would be delighted if you’d take a look at it.  Love your title!

 

When futurist scholar Glory Roberts joins a group of doomsday preppers, they transform from quirky survivalists to accidental terrorists — a standard case of becoming what you fear most while stocking the bunker (and making out with the teacher, in Glory’s case). Love the quirky humor in this opening, but I’m not convinced you need this paragraph. Most of what you say here is expanded upon later in the query.

 

When Glory first arrives in Wyoming, she only intends to study how doomsday innovations might help the human race survive the next major extinction event. She hopes her findings will be enough to impress her mostly pickled, but highly lauded, PhD advisor. After a week or two in Wyoming, her goals also include staying out of federal custody. Ha! This is cute.

 

Roy Shackleton, a meandering dude in a van, becomes the leader of Glory’s group of survivalists purely by accident. Despite knowing nothing about survivalism, he manages to teach rudimentary fire starting to a crowd of die-hard preppers while Glory takes notes. In the midst of their struggle for – they forget what – Glory and Roy start some sparks of their own. Most importantly, they learn that in this life, most disasters are of our own making. While I’m intrigued by your adorable writing style and sense of humor, I was expecting to learn about the stakes in this paragraph but instead I see more set-up. The most interesting part of your query is their transition from doomsday preppers to terrorists facing jail time. Can you cut some of the set-up and expand on that?

 

I am a mostly respectable mother and teacher of cops from St. Paul, Minnesota, who grew up hunting jack rabbits in rural Wyoming with a group of people who looked like they should have bunkers, even though I’m pretty sure they didn’t. I normally suggest not including personal information irrelevant to writing in a bio but this is so funny and perfectly in keeping with the voice of your query that I’d keep it.

 

Thanks for sharing, and good luck in your querying endeavors! 

Posted in query critique, query letter, writing advice 1 Comment

Original Query Letter

 

Nikki Evers assumed the crimes were random coincidences. Fires on campus. Convenient store robberies. Gang killings. Great stories for the school paper. But when her best friend Brycin disappears, presumed dead, and she gets a text that reads:

 

Nikki, I’m alive. Talk to Clay. He knows what’s going on. Please find me before its too late…

 

Nikki’s not sure what to do. Clay French is off limits. Not because he rides a motorcycle or has an amazing tattoo. His girlfriend is her best friend.

Nikki’s been in love with him since the sixth grade when they played spin the bottle. His kiss stayed with her even now, but it was the words he whispered in her ear that still pulled on her heart.

 

Teaming up with Clay is the only way Nikki can find Brycin. When Nikki’s almost killed and Clay saves her life, she uncovers a dark secret that threatens to destroy everyone, including herself.

 

Her secret crush on Clay keeps her at a distance with him, but Nikki is about to discover he’s searching for more than her missing best friend. He’s after her heart, too.

I FOUND YOU is a YA Contemporary Thriller with romantic elements, completed at 57,000 words

 

***

I am a stay at home, homeschooling mother with six children. I have been writing since I was sixteen and been involved in the publishing industry for the past five years.

 

I am a literary agent intern for (Redacted literary agencies). I have worked as an editorial intern for an indie publisher and been an editor for children’s books published on the Android phone. I’ve recently been accepted as an intern for (Redacted publishing house).

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

Nikki Evers assumed the crimes were random coincidences. Fires on campus. Convenient store robberies. <This should read ‘Convenience store’ Gang killings. Great stories for the school paper. But when her best friend Brycin disappears, presumed dead, and she gets a text that reads:

 

Nikki, I’m alive. Talk to Clay. He knows what’s going on. Please find me before its too late…

 

Nikki’s not sure what to do. Clay French is off limits. Not because he rides a motorcycle or has an amazing tattoo. His girlfriend is her best friend. I. Love. This. Opening. It’s a bit unorthodox what with the text message bit, but it works and really lends some immediacy to the query. So good! That said, wouldn’t finding her missing, presumed dead, best friend override any hesitation about teaming up with Clay?

Nikki’s been secretly in love with him since the sixth grade when they played spin the bottle. His kiss stayed with her even now, but it was the words he whispered in her ear that still pulled on her heart. I don’t think we need most of this paragraph. It’s backstory and it takes away from the thriller-like pacing of the query. Suggestion: Nikki’s been secretly in love with Clay since the sixth grade, and getting close with him now could be dangerous. But Teaming up with Clay is the only way Nikki can find Brycin.

 

Teaming up with Clay is the only way Nikki can find Brycin. When Nikki’s almost killed and Clay saves her life, she uncovers a dark secret that threatens to destroy everyone, including herself. <As much as I’m loving this query, it gets a bit vague here. Can you be more specific?

 

Her secret crush on Clay keeps her at a distance with him, but Nikki is about to discover he’s searching for more than her missing best friend. He’s after her heart, too.

I FOUND YOU is a YA Contemporary Thriller with romantic elements, completed at 57,000 words

 

*** <I would remove this.

I am a stay at home, homeschooling mother with six children. I have been writing since I was sixteen and been involved in the publishing industry for the past five years. I hate to say it but I would cut most of this paragraph. Agents wants to know your writing credentials, and your day job (unless it relates to your subject matter), number of children, and how long you’ve been writing aren’t writing credentials. The next paragraph is great. I would take ‘I have been involved in the publishing industry for the past five years’ and slap that at the top of the next paragraph.

 

I am a literary agent intern for (Redacted literary agencies). I have worked as an editorial intern for an indie publisher and been an editor for children’s books published on the Android phone. I’ve recently been accepted as an intern for (Redacted publishing house).

 

Thanks so much for sharing this outstanding query. If I were an agent I’d be all over this in a heartbeat. Good luck! 

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Original Query Letter

 

Dear Agent:

 

Seventeen-year-old Sadie knows her sister is dead.

 

Her mama sees the silver lining on the letter reading “missing in action”, but Sadie knows the truth: Skylar isn’t coming back.

 

They say everyone deals with grief in their own way: Mama finds comfort in her Prayer Circle and their belief that Skylar’s going to come home, her little sister reverts to her old habit of bedwetting, unable to handle Skylar’s death, while Sadie runs to the only person more broken than she is: Skylar’s boyfriend, Colton. Nighttime hook-ups in the barn hurt less than Skylar’s empty bedroom, but they hurt nonetheless.

 

Sadie slowly begins to piece her life back together with the help of her best friends and her friendly co-worker, Jesse. But then Sadie’s world explodes again.

 

Skylar surprises her family returns during the Fourth of July parade and they reunite for all their small town to see. What everyone doesn’t see are the desperate kisses in haylofts and postcards talking about unborn babies and apologies. What Skylar doesn’t see are Sadie’s burnt college applications and Colton’s drinking problems. She doesn’t see that Sadie trying so hard to hold everyone else together that she’s falling apart herself.

 

And when she does, it might be too late.

 

PROMISES TO KEEP, my YA contemporary novel, is complete at XX words. It will appeal to fans of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson and AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield. Previously, I was an intern for XX at the XX agency for a year and am currently (Redacted’s) intern at (Redacted publishing house). I regularly attend Book Expo America, the American Library Association and volunteer annually at the Boston Book Festival. In addition, I run a monthly Boston writers/agents meet-up.

 

Sincerely,

XX

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

Dear Agent: Obviously we know to put the agent’s name here, right?

 

Seventeen-year-old Sadie knows her sister is dead.

 

Her mama sees the silver lining on the letter reading “missing in action” letter, but Sadie knows the truth: Skylar isn’t coming back. Like this opening!

 

They say everyone deals with grief in their own way: Mama finds comfort in her Prayer Circle and their belief that Skylar’s going to come coming home, I would do a full stop here her little sister reverts to her old habit of bedwetting, unable to handle Skylar’s death It’s obvious why she’s bedwetting without explaining it. Also your query runs on the run long side at over 300 words, so you could stand to snip any unnecessary words like these ones. As the old saying goes, don’t say with two words what you can with one! while Sadie runs to the only person more broken than she is: Skylar’s boyfriend, Colton. Nighttime hook-ups in the barn hurt less than Skylar’s empty bedroom, but they hurt nonetheless. Ooooh! Intriguing!

 

Sadie slowly begins to piece her life back together with the help of her best friends and her friendly co-worker, Jesse. But then Sadie’s her world explodes again.

 

Skylar surprises her family returns home during the Fourth of July parade and they reunite for all of their small town to see. What everyone doesn’t see are the desperate kisses in haylofts and postcards talking about unborn babies and apologies. <This part really confused me. What Skylar doesn’t see are Sadie’s burnt college applications and Colton’s drinking problems. She doesn’t see that Sadie’s trying so hard to hold everyone else together that she’s falling apart herself. Really like this paragraph! Strong set-up.

 

And when she does, it might be too late. While I love this query, I think I would have liked to see a bit more made of the wonderful set-up you’ve laid out with the sister’s boyfriend. Does Skylar reclaim her boyfriend now that she’s back? Was Sadie in love with him? While everyone else is happy, is Sadie conflicted about her sister’s return—does she know she should be happy but feel like she’s had her life ripped from her again after she’d finally learned to heal?

 

As a bit of an aside, I found myself tripping over the names Skylar and Sadie a few times in the query. They’re so similar that I had to double check which sister you were referring to.

 

PROMISES TO KEEP, my YA contemporary novel, is complete at XX words. It will appeal to fans of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson and AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield. Previously, I was an intern for XX at the XX agency for a year and am currently (Redacted’s) intern at (Redacted publishing house). I regularly attend Book Expo America, the American Library Association and volunteer annually at the Boston Book Festival. In addition, I run a monthly Boston writers/agents meet-up.  Great bio! All good here.

 

Sincerely,

XX

 

Amazing premise. With a bit of cleaning up I have a feeling this query will have no problem at all racking up the full requests. Thanks for sharing, and good luck!  

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Original Query Letter

 

This isn’t Quinn Dempsey’s first dead body—hell, it’s not even her first cannibalized one. She and her partner are Orions, hunters and contract sorcerers trained and employed by the top secret Orion Council, and they see this kind of thing all the time. But when Quinn discovers the Council has more secrets than she thought—secrets that take even a cannibalistic serial killer off her radar—she finds herself at the center of an interdimensional conspiracy involving the gods themselves. Betrayed by her superiors and abandoned by those she loves, Quinn must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save not only herself but the very fabric of reality.

 

ORION RISING is an urban fantasy complete at 99,000 words. Set in modern-day Providence, Rhode Island, it is a mixture of fantasy, horror, and crime, and features a fierce female hero reminiscent of Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax.

 

Under the name of (Redacted), I have published an urban fantasy short story in the horror anthology THE BIG BAD, edited by John G. Hartness and Emily Lavin Leverett, and have received an invitation to be included in its follow-up anthology, THE BIG BAD II.

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

This isn’t Quinn Dempsey’s first dead body—hell, it’s not even her first cannibalized one. Love this opening line! Punchy and voicey. She and her partner are Orions, hunters and contract sorcerers trained and employed by the top secret Orion Council, What are they trained and employed by the council to do? They see dead bodies all the time but what is their job exactly? Clean up the bodies? Investigate the murders? (And this is picky but I personally would have done a full stop in the first sentence rather than the em dash and used em dashes to offset this aside here instead of commas.) and they see this kind of thing all the time. But when Quinn discovers the Council has more secrets than she thought—secrets that take even a cannibalistic serial killer off her radar—she finds herself at the center of an interdimensional conspiracy involving the gods themselves. All good here, although I admit it did give me a bit of pause to have gods casually dropped into the story where they weren’t hinted at before. Betrayed by her superiors and abandoned by those she loves, Quinn must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save not only herself but the very fabric of reality. To be completely honest, when I read the query over the first time I thought it was pretty great. It’s only now that I’m going in for a closer look that I’m noticing the stakes are quite vague. We know Quinn is going up against the council, that the council have secrets, and that she has to stop them, but that’s sort of the premise of many a fantasy novel, right? I think this query has a huge opportunity to go from great to amazing with just a few more added details around the stakes to differentiate it from any other paranormal story. Why have her superiors and those she loves betrayed her? What do they think she’s done? What exactly does Quinn have to do to stop the council? Who is standing in her way? What does she risk if she fails? I’ve said it many times before in my query critiques, but vagueness if rarely as intriguing as we think it is.

 

ORION RISING is an urban fantasy complete at 99,000 words. Set in modern-day Providence, Rhode Island, it is a mixture of fantasy, horror, and crime, and features a fierce female hero reminiscent of Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax. All good here!

 

Under the name of (Redacted), I have published an urban fantasy short story in the horror anthology THE BIG BAD, edited by John G. Hartness and Emily Lavin Leverett, and have received an invitation to be included in its follow-up anthology, THE BIG BAD II. All good here too! So really, your query is already in pretty great shape. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your querying endeavors!

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So by now you already know that I got my advance reader copies of HEXED because I’ve shouted about it on every social media outlet known to man. But I didn’t get to shout about it on here yet, and that’s a big problem, obvi, so here I am now to rectify that.

 

I GOT MY ADVANCE READER COPIES OF HEXED!!!!

 

And here they are, in all their glory, from multiple different angles and in different flattering lights. Aren’t they glorious?

 

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Many people have asked how it felt to see the ARCs for the first time. (Actually that’s a lie, but I just want to tell you about it, okay? Humor me.)

 

I didn’t scream when I first opened the box, like I thought I might. I just quietly picked out the top book on the pile and flipped through the pages, turning it back to front, inspecting it with a goofy grin on my face while my husband awkwardly filmed me on his cellphone, probably wondering why I wasn’t reacting like he thought I would. I was just too overwhelmed to feel much of anything in the moment. And then I found this letter from my amazing editor on the top of the box:

 

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And I started to cry.

 

There’s so much hard work and frustration that goes into the long, long process of writing a book that it’s sometimes too easy to forget how amazing it is that something I wrote is going to be a real book, on real bookshelves in real, live bookstores. And then every once in a while something will come along and it will hit me (usually rather violently), how incredibly fortunate I am to be in this position. That so many people came together to give me this opportunity to hold a book I wrote in my hands.

 

So to answer the question I was never really asked: I felt proud and humbled and grateful and fortunate and big and small. Basically, I had all the feelings.

 

But the absolute best part of getting these ARCs? I finally got to give my sister a copy. Let me explain:

 

I’m a really bad secret-keeper. I tell my twin sister Brandy EVERYTHING, whether it’s interesting or she wants to hear it or not. So it was incredibly, incredibly difficult for me not to blurt out this particular secret to her. In fact, I almost did on multiple occasions. But in the end I was really glad I didn’t when Brandy finally opened up her copy and saw this:

 

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Her reaction? Priceless, and completely worth over a year of waiting to show her. Of course, like any normal human, I was there with a camera to snap pictures of her crying to post publicly on the internet.

 

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Is that not the best? Like, ever? Unless of course those are legit-upset tears. And Scarlett is consoling her. “Don’t worry, Mommy. Probably no one will read it anyway.”

 

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I was tagged by the lovely Susan Adrian to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which is a chance for authors to tell the world about the book they’re working on.  The author answers 10 questions about their next book, and then tags another author to do the same. So here I go!

 

1. WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR NEXT BOOK?

 

Ok I’m going to cheat and talk about my upcoming novel HEXED because I’m not working on anything I can share at the moment. So yeah. The title of my book is HEXED.

 


2. WHERE DID YOUR IDEA COME FOR THE BOOK?

 

Three years ago, my sister, who is also a writer, told me about an adult historical novel she wanted to write, which she planned to call THE WITCH HUNTER’S BIBLE. I love love loved that title, and after she decided to ditch it in favor of another I asked her if I could steal it for a YA novel that had been rapidly forming in my head. Thankfully, she agreed, and without me having to resort to begging or violence too. BONUS.

 

3. IN WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL?

 

Urban fantasy? Paranormal romance?

 

4. WHAT ACTORS WOULD  YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY THE PART OF YOUR CHARACTERS IN THE MOVIE RENDITION?

 

Tough question! I (surprisingly) have never thought of this. If they curled her hair Diana Agron could probably be a pretty wicked Indie. A platinum-haired Emma Roberts would be a great Bianca. A dark-haired Dakota Fanning could play Paige. Devon could be played by Alex Pettyfer. Bishop is a tough one . . . Kyle Loza? He did inspire the character. Except he’s a motocross rider and not an actor.

 

5. WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?

 

A snarky sixteen-year-old cheerleader is forced into a centuries-old battle between witches and sorcerers only to uncover the first of many dark truths about her life.

 

6. WHO IS PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK?

 

Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books (WOO!)

 

7. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MANUSCRIPT?

 

About four months. Of course there were many rounds of edits that followed and the book hardly resembles what it did on first draft (which is a good thing!).

 

8. WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE YOUR STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?

 

Hard to compare your book to others without sort of sounding like an asshat but . . . HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins and PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White for the combination of romance, magic, action and humor.

 

9. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

 

See #2 :)

 

10. WHAT ELSE ABOUT THE BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST?

 

Sexy boys. And kissing. And MAGIC!

 

And now on to the next writer! I’m going to tag the brilliantly talented Lori M. Lee. Take it away, Lori!

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