Monday, April 30, 2012

NAWS Update!

Hey y’all!

I wanted to do a special post to update you about a couple of the writers I’ve interviewed as part of the Newly Agented Writers Series – the awesome Dan Haring and the brilliant Jenn Johansson. (Click here to read Dan’s interview and here to read Jenn’s.)

First of all, Dan Haring’s novel OLDSOUL came out on April 24th!! *cheers*

Jason Gouvas doesn't want to believe he has special abilities or that he's an Oldsoul-- a vessel for the souls of people who have passed away, but the dead girl in his mind can be very persuasive. Her name is Erin, and through her Jason is able to access the knowledge and skills of the souls within him. And with a group of power-hungry immortals bent on destroying the Oldsouls and overthrowing humanity, he's going to need them all.

Check out his amazing book trailer:

Buy the paperback edition here.
Buy the Kindle edition here.

Second of all, Jenn Johansson has a book deal for her novel INSOMNIA! It will be coming out in the United States in 2013.

Here is Jenn’s Publishers Marketplace announcement!

J.R. Johansson's INSOMNIA, about a teen boy who thought spending every night trapped in other people's dreams was bad, but discovers that losing control of his own body and mind is so much worse, to Brian Farrey at Flux, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2013, by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (NA).
Foreign: Taryn Fagerness Agency
Film: Brandy Rivers at Gersh

Click here to read Jenn's blog post all about her fantastic news.

Congratulations, Dan and Jenn! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grammatically Yours - The Colon Loves Separations (3/3)

So far, the colon has loved lists, and it has loved introductions. Today, we are going to talk about how the colon loves separations. These rules are probably the absolute easiest when dealing with colon usage.

Rule #3

Use colons to separate hours and minutes within a reference of time.

9:30 A.M.        6:45 P.M.

Rule #4

Use colons to make a clear, formal separation between the salutation and the body of a business letter.

Dear Sir:         Dear Ms. Truffle:

Rule #5

Use colons to separate the chapters and verses of a Biblical reference.

Esther  4:14               Philippians 4:13

Rule #6

Use colons to separate titles from subtitles.

Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction

Rule #7

Use colons for separation within a ratio.

6:1      9:4

As I said in part one, there are other grammatical uses for the colon; however, these seven rules are some of the most common. I hope you all have enjoyed this three-part series! If you have a question and/or comment, or if you simply have a request for a future Grammatically Yours post, feel free to leave it in the comment box below. Thank you for reading!


Day Three: The Colon Loves Separations <you are here>

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grammatically Yours - The Colon Loves Introductions (2/3)

Yesterday, we discussed how much the colon loves to work with lists. Today, we are going to take that a little farther and talk about how much a colon loves introductions, in general.

Rule #2

Use a colon to introduce explanations, examples, and quotations. Usually, when preceding a quotation, the quotation is formally introduced. Also, when the colon is used to introduce an explanation, the explanation itself is an independent clause that could stand alone as its own sentence. In other words, the colon essentially joins two independent clauses together – the leading clause and the explanation. (See this post for more information about independent versus dependent clauses.)


Today, we find ourselves following very different paths that we each must travel alone: I will not help you, and I am certain that you will not help me. (The second clause of this sentence can stand alone, but it gives more explanation/builds upon the thoughts in the first clause. Thus, a colon may be used here.)

There are many times that I wonder who came up with this style: baggy shirts, baggier pants, and shoes the size of a clown’s. (The colon introduces an example of what style is being talked about in the first part of the sentence.)

A friend once gave this piece of advice: “First impressions are tricky; sometimes they’re correct, but sometimes they aren’t. In either circumstance, you’d best be wary of them.” (The colon precedes a formally introduced quote.)

Remember to leave questions and comments below! And be sure to check back tomorrow for the final post.


Day Two: The Colon Loves Introductions <you are here>

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grammatically Yours - The Colon Loves Lists (1/3)

Back in December, I did a weeklong series of posts about the semicolon. The natural extension of that (at least in my own mind *grin*) is the colon. So for the next three days, I am going to do an easy-to-understand (I hope) breakdown of the most common colon rules. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I will do my best to answer.

Rule #1

Use a colon before a list of items, particularly when that list is formally introduced by words such as the following or as follows (these introductory words aren’t necessary; however, they serve as an in-your-face indicator that a colon will be used).


We decided to add the following ingredients to the cake recipe: cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. (Note the use of the following in the sentence.)

The states we will be visiting are as follows: Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. (Note the use of as follows in the sentence.)

Five-year-old Kyra equipped her younger brother with what she considered the Five All-Important Things: a spy kit, a Star Wars lightsaber, a puzzle book, a juice box, and a cookie. (In this sentence, no set introductory phrase is used, but a colon works perfectly here.)

Warning! *insert flashing lights here*

There are a couple of things-you-should-never-do in relation to this rule…

Never use a colon to introduce a list that functions as the complement of a verb or as the object of a preposition. Also, never use a colon after such expressions as especially, including, or such as.

So what in the world does that mean?

Here are a couple of examples:

The ingredients we decided to add to the cake recipe were: cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. (This is incorrect because the colon separates the verb were from its complements.)

We will be traveling through: Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. (This is incorrect because the colon separates the preposition through from its objects.)

Five-year-old Kyra equipped her younger brother with items such as: a spy kit, a Star Wars lightsaber, a puzzle book, a juice box, and a cookie. (This is incorrect because the colon follows the expression such as.)

Well, that’s it for part one. Check back tomorrow for part two!


Day One: The Colon Loves Lists <you are here>

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NAWS: Interview with Lori M. Lee

I am so excited to have the awesome Lori M. Lee with us for another Newly Agented Writers Series interview! Be sure to stop by Lori's fantastic blog and check out her website. If you would like to follow her on Twitter, you can do that here.

A bit about Lori (in her own words):

Lori was born in the mountains of Laos where her family relocated to a Thailand refugee camp for a few years and then moved permanently to the United States when she was three. She can’t remember any of it, and uses this excuse to insist she was raised by invisible flying unicorns. Like thestrals but less morbid.

She’s been writing since the third grade although quality has hopefully improved. Her first novel was a Mary Sue fantasy romance she wrote when she was a preteen. It contained many things preteens probably should not have been writing about. She blames her older sisters. (link)

Q and A:

First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t writing?

I'm a young adult writer represented by Suzie Townsend of Nancy Coffey Literary, and I can often be found sitting in front of my laptop either writing or jabbering on twitter about unicorns and manga. When I'm not writing, I'm either reading, doodling, spending time with my family, or browsing tumblr until I remember I'm supposed to be working.

What inspired you to start writing? Was it always a dream? Or did a certain event get you going?

I've always loved books, but my desire to write really came about in third grade during an after school program focused solely on writing and creating picture books. I fell in love, and it has since then always been my dream.

As to inspiration, everything I've ever read and loved inspires me to be a better writer. When I read something amazing, I get this rush of adrenaline and think, 'This is what I want to be able to do.' But I don't just think it—I actually sit down and do it (write, that is—not entirely sure I succeed in doing it well lol).

Do you have a particular writing routine? A way to get yourself focused?

I read over what I wrote the previous day. Maybe skim my notes to remind myself of details and what needs to be conveyed in whatever scene I'm working on. But usually, when I'm in my writing groove, the story never really leaves my thoughts so I can just sit down a day later and know exactly what words I need to write next.

What would you say is the hardest aspect of writing?

Plotting. I like stories that come full circle, where seemingly unrelated events at the beginning become significant at the end—every detail and action has to have motive and purpose. This can be a headache when plotting.

I know you’re a talented artist. Which of the following do you think is more true: your art greatly influences your writing or your writing greatly influences your art.

Thank you :) To be honest, neither is quite true. Neither one greatly influences the other. Sometimes, I like to sketch out my characters, but it's not necessary. And sometimes a piece of art will inspire a scene, but that's not often either. As I outline, I picture the scenes and settings played out in my head. But in the actual writing, I'm always agonizing over the words in order to convey the right image or emotion. I suppose it's a very equal relationship.

What is one unique thing that happened to you during the querying process?

Shortly after Suzie offered—and completely independent of it, because I had yet to announce anything—I was contacted by a phenomenal agent who ranks right up there with Suzie (I'll call her Agent A). Agent A heard through the grapevine about my manuscript and was interested in reading it. Normally, I'd have been thrilled... if not for the fact I'd already queried her. Her assistant had passed on her behalf weeks ago, so she'd never even seen my query.

Now, again, normally I'd just go YAY and send it along, but since I'd thought my chances with Agent A were shot, I queried a different agent at the same agency (Agent B) (Please note this agency allowed querying different agents so long as it wasn't at the same time). Not only did Agent B already have my full, but she ended up offering representation later that same day.

So I was in this hair-pulling position of having to actually deny Agent A her request to read my full. (Agent B was just as awesome, by the way—I wouldn't have queried her if I didn't think so. It's just that I knew much more about Agent A, which is why I had queried her first.)

Would you be willing to share a copy of your query letter for learning purposes?

Sure, but this should come with a caveat. Or three. First—Suzie and I had corresponded previously on a different manuscript so she was familiar with my work. Second—a critique from one of her authors turned into a referral to Suzie, so she was expecting my query. Third—none of that truly matters. I was absolutely honored to have the referral, but Suzie confirmed she would have requested regardless based on the sample pages.

Okay, I have a fourth caveat—ANY query that results in a request is a successful query. A request means your query did its job—it got the agent's attention. After that, it's up to your book and your writing to do the rest.

This was the "meat" of my query (but know that it was definitely personalized):

People are disappearing in the city of Ninurta. Like the rest of the citizens, seventeen-year-old Kai pretends not to notice. With her own survival to worry about, she doesn't have much concern to spare. But when her brother vanishes, Kai will do whatever it takes to find him, including using the ability she promised her brother to keep secret—Kai can see and manipulate the threads of time.

With the help of an annoying and distracting friend—distracting because he's beautiful, and annoying because he knows it—Kai discovers a secret war between Ninurta's governor and a rebel named the Black Rider. The Rider has been kidnapping Ninurtans and transforming them into cybernetically enhanced soldiers called Golems.

Kai sets out to find the Rider and discovers a shocking secret: the Rider is actually the Harbinger of Famine. And Kai? Not as human as she thought. Now, Kai will have to face down the Harbinger and uncover the link between herself and the secret war before her brother gets sent for dehumanization.

When you received The Call, what were your reactions?

We arranged it via email first so I had time to prepare. However, when I first saw Suzie's email, I braced myself for "Thank you, but..." Instead I saw words like "love" and "phone call" and my brain went "pfft" (that's the sound of it dying).

When taking The Call, is there anything you would recommend a writer be prepared for?

Have lots of questions ready! Suzie was fantastic in that she answered all my questions before I even had to ask, but it differs from agent to agent. The other agents I spoke with talked first about my book and then let me ask whatever questions I had for them.

How did you know beyond a doubt that Suzie was the perfect fit for you and your novel?

It was a much tougher decision than I expected. When Suzie offered, I was set on having her. But I knew I had to explore all my options, and Suzie encouraged me to do the same (she's awesome). I ended up really connecting with one of the other offering agents, and I was utterly torn. In the end, though, I went with Suzie because the idea of turning her down made me go 'INCONCEIVABLE!' And because of her amazing revision notes. I knew that, with Suzie, she would push me to work harder and be a better writer.

Based on personal experience, what final advice could you give to other writers? This can involve the querying process, general writing advice, or both.

Be informed. Research agents and editors. Read a lot in your genre and out of it. Find out everything you can about the industry, and make an informed decision on which route you want to take towards publication. If you query agents, follow submission guidelines and don't make rookie mistakes like querying a hundred agents all in one mass email.

The information is out there and can be easily found. Take advantage of it.

Just for fun short answers:

What is your favorite book or series?

I hate to be a cliche, but probably the Harry Potter series. I don't have a single favorite book. I love far too many for all different reasons to be able to pick just one.

Favorite music?

Celtic music/instrumentals.

Favorite dessert?

Ice cream!

I know you *love* unicorns. What would be your idea of the perfect unicorn? Would it fly? Would it possess magical abilities?

Flying is optional, but my perfect unicorn is pretty much the idealized version—snowy white, spiraling golden horn, the epitome of goodness. Habitat: enchanted forest. Some healing powers would be fab too.

Recently though, I've kind of fallen in love with the idea of a black unicorn. Like so: [click here for awesome unicorn picture] 

Isn't it stunning? *_*

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

Anyone with a pet unicorn. You saw that coming, right?

Are you a day writer or night writer?

Day writer. By midnight, unless I'm in a serious writing groove, I'll usually stop and allow myself to dither online. Typically by reading manga.

Favorite part of the writing process: first draft or revisions?

Revisions! I love editing. A first draft is always rushed and messy. I love going back to smooth things out, reword sentences and really flesh out a scene or moment.

What is one thing about you that might surprise readers?

I have never seen E.T. Is this surprising or just weird?

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Lori! <3 I wish you the best of luck on your current and future writing projects. :)