June 27, 2012

Contest Alert: Christmas in July

30 pitches, 10 agents, 1 week

Ruth Lauren Steven and Michelle Krys will each choose 15 entries to post on their blogs. The entries will be up for a whole week, and there will be ten agents dropping by to make requests!

For full details about which genres will be accepted, what you'll need to enter, and how/when to enter, see these posts:

Christmas in July: Agent-judged competition announcement
Christmas in July: A few more details

Happy contesting~

June 25, 2012

Why Contests Help Everyone

I love agent-judged contests. For querying writers, they're a great way to grab an agent's attention. It's almost like bypassing the slush pile because it's an observable fact that many agents give more time and attention to contest submissions. Participants get the benefit of direct agent feedback, but the information is useful for all writers.

It's a learning experience to read through real examples of what pings an agent or what turns them off, what we should do more of and what an agent might be tired of seeing. Keeping in mind, of course, that responses might be particular to that specific agent, especially concerning taste.

For me, it's fun to see what other writers are working on. But I also like to read through the submissions and compare my response with others, including the agent's reaction. It's interesting to see how opinions vary, and whose opinions fall in line with mine.

When I was still querying, I liked to find contests a particular agent judged and read through her/his responses. It was a great way to gauge how they might receive my query.

Krista over at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) has this awesome post about Why You Should Enter Blog Contests. I agree with everything she says :)

Happy Monday!

June 22, 2012

"Be Here Now" Critique Auction

Just a quick post to let you guys know I'm offering a query + first three chapters critique for the "Be Here Now" auction.

Please bid if you are so inclined :) Or you could always just donate. That'd be cool too!

Have a great weekend!

June 18, 2012

Novel Beginnings

So a couple weeks ago, I said I had started my wip, but I left out the part where I spent an entire day agonizing on how to start it. On the bright side, a day is nothing compared to the two weeks it took to write the first couple sentences of my previous manuscript. And for the manuscript before that one, I rewrote the beginning three times. Which is to say starting a new story is always the hardest part for me.

It was never this hard when I was writing fanfiction, but that changed when I began researching agents. All the advice out there from writers and agents emphasizes how important a story's beginning is and all the many, many ways you can ruin it. There are all these lists for how not to open your story--don't open with a character waking up or getting into a car accident or mid-action scene or with back story or picking herbs in a field or description of setting or a flashback or dialogue or a prologue, etc etc, until you feel like there's no way to start the dang thing without hitting someone's 'What Not to Do' list.

By this point, writing that first sentence has become such a daunting task that you're debilitated by the fear that, if you fail, you will completely blow your chance at getting an agent or editor or reader or what have you.

With my previous manuscript, the pressure to get those first few pages right was hardest because I wasn't agented yet. Yes, it IS important to get that opening right, but don't let it become so overwhelming that it stifles your writing. Just write. You can always come back and fix it later even if it feels, at that moment, Too Important To Mess Up. Sometimes, a beginning will become clear only after you've written the ending.

It's also important to keep in mind that what's not right for one story might be right for yours. Those 'What Not to Do' lists can be subjective. I agree that it's probably not a good idea to start with your character waking up and describing how the sunshine falls across her bed, but whatever you choose, you have to make it work for YOUR story. The Hunger Games begins with Katniss waking up on the day of the Reaping. City of Bones starts with a brief scene from Clary's pov before it shifts into the pov of an insignificant demon who dies a few pages later. Nightshade begins mid-action scene with Calla fighting a bear to defend a boy she doesn't know. My favorite book this year Shadow and Bone starts with a prologue.

So while I'm not sure if the beginning of my wip is right, I'm not too worried for the time being. I can always fix it later :)

How do you guys feel about openings? Easy? Hard?

I feel like this is sort of how the unicorn looks in Kiersten White's Supernaturally:

Artwork by ursulav

Happy Monday, all! ♥

June 13, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Don't forget, the "Be Here Now" Critique Auction opens today!


by Kendare Blake

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Available August 7, 2012

I read an ARC of this, and OMG GUYS IT'S SOOOO GOOD! And so creepy @__@ There was a Weeping Angels moment that legit freaked me out. I'll post a review and giveaway soon! If you haven't read the first book Anna Dressed in Blood, WHY ON EARTH NOT? You can see my review of it here. I can't wait to get the hardcover for this.

Also, after borrowing the ARC from my super duper awesome CP, an ARC of my own arrived in my mail! SQUEE!!! Which means GIVEAWAY! Coming soon :D

by C.J. Redwine

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Available August 28, 2012

Look at that cover. It is FIERCE.

by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Available September 18, 2012

Steampunk fantasy set in a world inspired by Japan. Holy cats, I want this book like BUUURNINNGGGGG. Plus, the cover is THE MOST GORGEOUS THING EVER, and it was drawn by Jason Chan, one of my art idols *___* You can read about the cover process on Tor.com.

Also, Jay Kristoff provided a Wallpaper version of the cover. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?


by Gennifer Albin

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That's what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she's exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn't interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they're coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom's overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister's academy gossip and laugh at her Dad's stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything's okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there's no turning back.

Available October 16, 2012

I am so ridiculously excited for this book. There's been a ton of buzz around this debut, and I know it'll be hugely successful. Plus, Genn is a huge sweetheart ♥

Also, I just got an ARC of this one too, so once I finish reading it, REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY! mwuahaha

by Laini Taylor

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Available November 16, 2012

After the way Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended, I am anxiously waiting for this book. MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT URGHHHHH. You can read my review of DoSaB here. Basically, Laini Taylor's writing is like unicorns and rainbows.

by A.G. Howard

For sixteen years, Alyssa Gardner has lived with the stigma of being descended from Alice Liddell -- the real life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's famed novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. But cruel jokes about dormice and tea parties can't compare to the fact that Alyssa hears the whispers of bugs and flowers ... the same quirk which sent her mother to a mental institution years before.

When her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong for Alyssa to bear, she seeks the origins of their family curse. A set of heirlooms and a moth tied to an unusual website lead Alyssa and her gorgeous best friend/secret crush, Jeb, down the rabbit hole into the real Wonderland, a place more twisted and eerie than Lewis Carroll ever let on.

There, creepy counterparts of the original fairytale crew reveal the purpose for Alyssa’s journey, and unless she fixes the things her great-great-great grandmother Alice put wrong, Wonderland will have her head.

Available January, 2013

Anita is one of my favorite online people ever, because she's just so ridiculously nice ♥ I can't wait for this Alice in Wonderland sequel. Plus, she says Alyssa's guide Morpheus is dark and beautiful and partially inspired by The Crow. Yes, please!

And just look at that cover. I mean, COME ON ♥

by Marie Lu

The Elector Primo of the Republic has died, with his son assuming power over what’s left of the USA's West Coast as it teeters on full-blown chaos. June and Day join up with Patriot rebels so they can rescue Day's brother and head east for the Colonies. In order to help, though, the rebels want June and Day to kill the new Elector, who may pose an even greater threat than his father.

Available January 29, 2013

I loved Day and June, and I'm looking forward to reading about them again. You can see my review of the first book Legend here. Day and June, two prodigies, working together. I can't wait!


These books don't have covers yet, but they sound fantastic! Cover reveals should be coming soon, so look out for them!

SCARLET by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet doesn't have an official blurb yet, but Marissa has said this about Scarlet: "Book two, Scarlet, is based on Little Red Riding Hood. It continues Cinder's story as she attempts to escape Queen Levana's vengeance and learn more about her past. The story also introduces readers to Scarlet, a girl living in southern France whose grandmother has mysteriously disappeared. In order to find her, Scarlet seeks the help of Wolf, a street fighter with more than a few mysteries of his own."

Available February 5, 2013
The end of Cinder left me flailing and tugging at my hair and going 'WHAT THE SHIT?' But in the good way! =P I reviewed Cinder here.

While I'm super anxious to find out what happens to Cinder and Prince Kai, I'm also excited to meet Scarlet and Wolf :)

INK by Amanda Sun
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn't know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there's gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school's kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn't prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there's no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Available February 2013
Sounds like a manga in book form. YES PLEASE! Plus, Amanda is a cosplayer. We might have geekily exchanged cosplay photos on twitter *cough* FELLOW WRITER GEEKS, YAY!!!

PROPHECY by Ellen Oh
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira's the only female in the king's army, and the prince's bodyguard. She's a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she's their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Available 2013
More Asian-inspired fantasies! *eee* This one sounds a bit like Graceling, but I'm sure it'll stand on its own once it's released. Sounds epic!

16-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother's infamy is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker's house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He's hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder. The setting is Arkwell.

And then it comes true.

Now the Dusty has to follow the clues--both within Eli's dreams and out of them--to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she's up to and marks her as the next target.

Available March 2013
This one is by my FANTABULOUS critique partner and agent sister. Guys, this book is fantastic. You will adore Dusty. She's funny and spunky and she's a NIGHTMARE! Instant stamp of awesome, despite how awkward feeding on dreams is. I can't wait for this book to be shared with the world.


So there you have it. A list of the books I'm most excited about. For now. This list is constantly growing! :D

What are some books you're looking forward to?

June 11, 2012

"Be Here Now" Critique Auction

*Original post here.

What is "BE HERE NOW"?

"Be Here Now" is an inspiring documentary about the actor Andy Whitfield, who put the same determination and dedication that he brought to his lead role in the hit television show, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," into fighting life-threatening cancer.

It was Andy's hope that by opening his story up to a documentary, he might help or inspire others facing similar challenges, while pushing to accelerate the pace of cancer research around the world.

"When Andy was told his lymphoma had returned and that without treatment he had 3 – 6 months to live, he was compelled to share his exploration into the unknown. He selflessly invited a film crew into our lives, who followed us through out the last year of Andy's magnificent and courageous journey. We now need your support to finish the documentary and fulfill Andy's legacy."
~ Vashti Whitfield (http://www.maybemcqueen.com/)

What are "BE HERE NOW" Critiques?

"Be Here Now" needs funding for additional filming and editing, else the documentary will not be completed.

As writers/fans of Andy Whitfield/despisers of cancer, we have come together to offer various manuscript, chapter and query critiques in exchange for your pledge/donation to the "Be Here Now" Kickstarter campaign.

How does it work?

• Each critique item is an auction and will have its own post.

• You bid on the critiques by posting in the comment section. (Don't forget to include your email address in your comment!)

• You may bid as many times as you like.

• The length of the auction will be included in the auction post.

• When the auction is over, the highest bidder is the winner and will be notified by email.

Additional Details

• The minimum bid is $1.00.

• Winners must pledge their winning amount to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/426354716/be-here-now-the-andy-whitfield-story within one week of winning their auction item. Please note: A pledge is not a payment. It is a promise of payment.

As per the rules of Kickstarter, you will NOT have to pay any money (even after you have pledged) unless the "Be Here Now" funding goal is met within the specified timeframe. Let me say that again. IF THE FUNDING GOAL IS NOT MET WITHIN THE TIMEFRAME, YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED YOUR PLEDGED AMOUNT. Unfortunately this also means that you will only receive your auction item if the funding goal is met. However, with a funding goal of $200,000 and $37,000 already pledged in 2 days (with 43 days to go), you can make up your own mind whether or not to participate.

• If the funding goal is met, your credit card will be charged on Monday Jul 23, 4:04pm EDT. You must send me the confirmation e-mail sent by Amazon Payments as a record of donation to receive your critique.

• If you would like to pledge without partaking in the auction, do so here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/426354716/be-here-now-the-andy-whitfield-story

Thank you for your interest and support! Please retweet, blog, spread the word!

The first auction items will be posted on this blog on Wednesday, 13th June, 2012. (Sydney, Australia time).

For a preview of critiques being auctioned, see here.

If you have any further questions, please post them HERE (at the original post).

June 6, 2012

Writing Wednesday

Despite that I suspect the unicorn hiatus has completely ruined your ability to take me seriously, I'm glad I did it. But I'm also glad to be back :D

I finally worked through a plot hole that had been stalling my wip for the last month and a half (cue frustrated hair-pulling). And I've begun writing again, which feels fantastic. I love writing a first draft b/c I don't have to worry about word placement and making things sound pretty or even forming coherent metaphors. For now, I'm only focusing on getting the story out, which makes the writing both easy and fun.

My favorite part, however, is editing. Really picking and choosing my words and taking the time to create the right images--it's much easier to work with words already written than to stare at a blank document and expect it to fill up with amazing prose. I can't wait to finish this draft and jump into edits!

A narrow window dissected the wall, directly opposite Kino's futon. Through it, he could see the gray wall and curling window designs of the Nikoku City Bank, and a paved street too narrow for vehicles larger than single-passenger crickets. It was an uninteresting view, but it was something to look at as his fingers moved over the paper, folding the edges and pleating creases by memory.

Have I shared Grimmjow yet? I can't remember...

What are you working on right now? ♥

June 4, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 09 (End)

The hiatus is over! Aren't you guys glad? XD

Not very friendly looking unicorns.

Art by nheira

Art by el-grimlock

June 1, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 08

Is this considered a furry? *has no idea* xD

Art by jinx-star


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