Marketing Monday: On Query Letters, from agent Amy Boggs

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One of the toughest parts of the process for a writer seeking publication is querying agents. Don’t we all wish there was a tried and true template for success? I’ve seen a lot of examples floating around out there, but today’s bit o’ wisdom from SFF agent Amy Boggs over on on Pub Hub is the best I’ve read. To feast on her expertise, click the banner:

Considerate Craft – The Three Stages of a Query Letter, by Amy Boggs

Workshop for Seattle Area Fiction Writers: Beyond the First 50 Pages

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Twice each year I co-present a six-week intensive workshop (hosted in my home) with fellow industry professionals Jennifer McCord and Scott Driscoll. The workshop focuses on story structure and uses a unique outlining approach designed to help writers with a full length novel in progress assess the plot and character development in their story. It’s a great class and it fills up quickly every time we teach it.

It’s a small group, with enrollment limited to 9 students per session. We don’t usually promote the course publicly, but as luck would have it, our Winter 2015 session still has some openings!

If you’re in the Seattle area and are looking for some support with your current work, this might be just what you need. Here’s the link to the workshop home page – where you’ll find a detailed description of the course, dates, fees, and enrollment deadlines.

Check it out:

Beyond the First 50 Pages – When the real work begins!

Snoopy Writer

Dream Stewards Character Profile: Thorne Edwall – The Mage Hunter

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The hunter called Thorne Edwall led his party into the Sovereign’s receptory. He walked with an athletic grace that was uncharacteristic of a warrior, but he carried himself with the confidence of one. Everything about this man was dark and intimidating – his mood, his manner, and his dress. Even his hair and beard were black. All but his eyes, which were the most luminescent blue Glain had ever seen.

Mysterious Warrior Portrait 1

Perhaps the most skilled mage hunter of his day, Thorne Edwall is a tortured hero who struggles with the darker side of his calling. Like all men of the Ruagaire Brotherhood, Thorne has devoted himself to an order that is founded in faith and honor, and is bound by an uncompromising code.

Thorne embraces his vocation with his whole heart and soul, but the brutality of his actions and the sacrifices he must endure have taken a heavy toll. He is a man of conscience and often finds himself at odds with the demands of his duty. But he is also a man who will do what needs be done, no matter the personal cost. Above all else, Thorne Edwall is driven by a deep sense of purpose, and the long-suffered love his oath has forced him to deny.

Thorne had already dismounted and was no longer listening to anything but his own needs. By the time his foot reached the first step, the doors were thrown open and she was there. The flame-haired goddess who haunted his dreams and the only woman he would ever love.

Drydwen

Want to know more about the mysterious warrior-monk Thorne Edwall, and the powerful sorceress who holds his heart?

Discover the dark, dangerous world of the Dream Stewards:

The World of the Dream Stewards: Creature Feature #1- The Demon Mount

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Great news just in time for the holidays – as part of the Amazon 200 Kindle Book Bargains promotion, both Dream Stewards books are on sale for $1.99 through December 14, 2014. Click here to get yours:

The Well of Tears (The Dream Stewards Book 1)

The Keys to the Realms (The Dream Stewards)

So, let’s have some fun! I’m resurrecting the weekly Creature Feature Trivia Challenge, in celebration of the season. Read the article below, answer the trivia question correctly (answers can be found somewhere in the blog archives), tell your friends about it, and you could win a $10 Amazon gift card!

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A single monstrous barrel-chested creature with a bulbous head burst through the trees, gnashing a grotesquely protruding jaw of jagged teeth the length of Hywel’s forearm. The creature had staggering height and breadth – at least three times the size of his horse – taller and broader and hairier – and oddly boar-like with its hulking shoulders and thick neck. Its roar rattled his bones.

Bully WhippetIn the mystical White Woods that surround the ancient home of the Stewards, all manner of magical creatures exist – some more demonic than others. In THE KEYS TO THE REALMS, Hywel encounters the Hellion Horde and the horrific beasts they ride. These beasts have no known name, but they are as fearsome and deadly as the Hellion warriors themselves.

These frightening creatures first appear in THE WELL OF TEARS, and are inspired at least in appearance by a real animal. This animal, however, has an entirely different nature and is actually quite remarkable.

Meet Wendy, the Bully Whippet – a much-loved pet who suffers from a genetic disorder manifested by a mutation which causes double-muscling. Her general health is not affected by this anomaly, only her physique. Although her extraordinary looks invoked the image of a monster in my mind, her real-life story warms my heart. Who wouldn’t want this lovely girl as their canine companion?

TRIVIA CHALLENGE: 

The Dream Stewards series centers on a prophecy that foretells the rise to power of a legendary leader, who was also an actual 10th century ruler. What is the FULL name of the king of the prophecy?

(hint: if you haven’t read the books, the answer can be found in the blog archives, by using the search box at the top of this page. Just type in “Hywel” and browse the articles)

Post your answer in the comments section below to enter. If you also like and/or share this post and mention where in your comment, you’ll get an extra entry. One lucky winner will be chosen at random from all the correct entries received by midnight on Friday, December 5th, 2014. The prize is a $10 Amazon gift card!!

Homegrown Holiday Shopping Ideas & #Kindle Book Bargains!

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In support of the creative class, of which I am a card-carrying member, my gal pal and pop culture media maven Tara Bennett has posted her annual “support your local artisans” shopping list. If you’re looking to find some truly inspired and unique gifts for your loved ones, start with this handy guide of crafty wares from some truly talented folks – click the pics to go to her blog of wonder:

Tara has graciously included me on her list again this year – and as luck would have it, both books in my Dream Stewards series are on sale through December 14th as part of the 200 Kindle Book Bargains promotion, all just $1.99 each (for the ebook edition). There’s a link to the books (and lots of other great stuff) on Tara’s page, but you can also go straight to the front of the line by clicking the book images below!



Tara is also an amazing author herself! Don’t forget to check out her TV tie-in books like SONS OF ANARCHY: The Collectors Edition, and her latest release SHOWRUNNERS: The Art of Running A TV Show (click the pics to buy the books):

Something Witchy This Way Comes – THE VOID is out today!

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A big shout out today to my friend and fellow author JD Horn, whose Witching Savannah Trilogy wraps up today with the release of THE VOID ! If you love dark, magical mystery and sinister intrigue, you’ll love this series.

An otherworldly energy runs through te city of Savannah, betraying its sleepy, moss-cradled charm. The old, beguiling streets look welcoming to most…but certain families know what lurks under their genteel surfaces. Families like Mercy Taylor’s, which has the most powerful lineage of witches in the South, know this all too well.

Mercy and her husband, Peter, are happily preparing to welcome baby Colin into their lives. But their excitement quickly becomes overshadowed by a gruesome discovery: someone has scattered severed limbs throughout the city. After a troubling visit from an old foe, Mercy learns dark magic is at play, and someone—or something—wants her and her unborn child out of the picture. To uncover the shocking reason why, the amateur witch must face a force beyond her power…or risk losing everything.

The third book in J.D. Horn’s Witching Savannah series, The Void is a gripping adventure about the enchantment—and evil—that can lie just beyond sight.

     



Goodreads Readers Choice Awards 2014

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Voting in the semi-final round of this year’s Goodreads Reader’s Choice Awards has begun, and I am so excited to share that my dear friend and fellow author JD Horn has been nominated in the Best Debut Author category!

JD’s Witching Savannah series has received a lot of critical acclaim from readers and reviewers, and if you haven’t read THE LINE yet, I highly recommend it! JD is a very talented writer and his debut novel is only the beginning of what I have no doubt is going to be a long and successful creative career!

I just love it when good things happen to good people :).

GR Readers Choic JD

 

Fall Festivities and Other Updates

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I crawled out of my writing cave this morning and realized I’d been in there a lot longer than I thought. Days, even entire weeks have passed – and I hardly noticed! I’d like to say I’ve got a completed manuscript to show for it, but the truth is I’m still a long way from finished.

I’ve got three core projects in the works – the first is an Urban Fantasy series that I just can’t seem to abandon, even though the publishing peeps have been telling me this particular subculture in the fantasy genre is dying on the vine. I’ve decided to put the words on the page and see where this first story goes.

Also on the story wheel is a novel length sequel to the short story I released through StoryFront earlier this year, AFTERSHOCK. If you’re into post-apocalyptic dystopian societies and hostile first-contact scenarios, you should give AFTERSHOCK a try. The novel picks up two years after the original event horizon, as the main characters are forced to confront the grim reality that life on earth is now more alien than human. This is an adapt or die situation that only the strongest can survive.

The project I’m most into this week is a full-on epic fantasy that takes place in a world where the balance of power has tipped too far in favor of a privileged few, and the scale is about to be reset. Akylah, the ruler of the Beyaz-at, is hell-bent to fulfill her father’s promise to lead the displaced tribe back to their ancestral home to reclaim the land and power that is rightfully theirs. To do that, she must retrieve a holy relic that holds no meaning for her, fight an enemy that isn’t hers, and broker a truce between opposing forces who would rather face extinction than make peace.

Sound interesting? I sure hope so. And while you’re waiting for me to finish, you might want to check out this stuff:

Over at SF Signal, Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues fame and I chat about women, research and the value of writing community -

SF Signal Interview

And, on Thursday October 30th, I’ll be hanging out at a Facebook Hallowe’en Party featuring a whole bunch of fabulous writers who will be reading, chatting, and giving away prizes -

A Murder of Authors

That’s all I’ve got on the calendar for now, but keep checking back for updates. Rumor has it I will be making a guest appearance or two in the Seattle area in the very near future!

Murder Boards, Fictional Landscapes and other Writing Tips

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Like most writers, I’m an obsessive note taker and list maker. I jot down story ideas, random lines of dialogue that I pick up when I’m eavesdropping in coffee shops, and good advice when I hear it.

I cleaned out my handbag this morning and unearthed a wad of post-its and shreds of scrap paper covered with snippets of information I wanted to remember to share with you all. There’s probably enough fodder for six weeks of blog posts here, but I’m just not that organized, or reliable when it comes to this blog. So, in typical fashion, I’m just going to jot down the most important stuff before it gets lost in the creative fray that is my life:

  • First up, award-winning fantasy author Kameron Hurley has a great blog post on plotting over at BRSBKBLOG today – she explains how she uses a “murder board” to help her plot complex story arcs. If I were you, I’d check it out:

Murder Boards

  • Next, I’ve got some writing advice that I picked up a week or so ago at a talk given by the illustrious Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz). Jayne’s writing career spans decades, and she easily makes the short list of authors who have successfuly sustained themselves over the long haul in the publishing business. Every time I hear her speak, I learn something important. Here are a couple of gems I got from her presentation:

1) The key to recognizing your unique writing “voice” is in understanding that your own core values and world view are underpinning everything you write.

2) Writers should never underestimate the value of a fictional landscape to readers – this refers mostly to genre fiction, and a fictional landscape is essentially another way of thinking about setting (geography, culture and time period). The point is to remember that readers choose genre fiction based on their affinity for a particular fictional landscape, and getting it right matters more to them than you realize.

3) Jayne also talked about knowing your “core story” as a writer. She was referring to a realization she had when she was analyzing her own writing style and goals. Jayne writes in three separate genres under three separate pseudonyms, but everything she writes is based on one core story concept – the marriage of convenience: two people who are forced to bond in order to survive. When she realized that this basic concept was at the root of all of her story ideas, she realized she could write in any genre – as long as she was true to the fictional landscape of that genre. I’m still ruminating on this, but it definitely struck home.

  •   Last on my list is the Edmonds Literary Walk, coming up on Saturday, September 13th. I’ll be participating in the roving discussion on writing as part of a panel presentation that takes place at the second stop on the tour – 10:30 am at The Edmonds Conference Center in downtown Edmonds, WA. The event is free. Here’s a link for more information: Chapter by Chapter: An Edmonds Literary Walk 

Well, that wraps up my list. Hope you found something useful in the crumpled remains of my daily musings!

 

Seeking Fame & Fortune, Author? Be careful what you wish for…

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Before I got my first book contract, I supported myself as a marketing consultant and personal publicist to some minor celebrities. That experience taught me a few important things about what it means to become a public person – a few things all authors should take into consideration.

Recently an uber-successful thriller author (who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this blog post) took to his/her FB fan page to chastise his/her fans for wasting his/her valuable time with questions like “what is the reading order for series x?”. Later comments and posts to responses from fans who were offended by his/her rebuffs spiraled out of control, until his/her publisher asked him/her to remove them. This he/she followed up with yet another public post about how said publisher made him/her remove the posts, and how he/she had no regrets about his/her behavior, adding that he/she should have the right to set his/her own boundaries when it came to public interaction.

Well, here’s the thing. If you are going to invite the public to support you – literally, and figuratively – you are going to have to accept some hard truths. And the biggest truth of all is that once you accept that public support, you owe that public an unending debt.

That’s not to say you can’t draw boundaries around your personal life. You absolutely should – but those boundaries absolutely cannot encompass anything having to do with your books or your writing endeavors. If your fans ask you questions about your work (and this goes for all entertainment professionals, everywhere), no matter how trivial or inane they may seem to you, you owe them an answer. You also owe them your gratitude, the continued expression of your art, your personal time, and most of all, your grace.

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