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Viewing Blog: Jennifer Jackson - Literary Agent, Most Recent at Top
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Jennifer Jackson joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency of New York City in 1993. She grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, and initially concentrated her endeavors in that field. She continued by pioneering the expansion of the agency into the areas of romance and women's fiction, and is developing her list in the mystery and suspense genres. Her current roster includes best-selling fantasy writer Jim Butcher, Derringer-Award nominee C.M. Chan, and award-winning author Jo Ann Ferguson.
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26. letters from the query wars 8/27/2010

# of queries read 3 days before vacation (2 weeks ago): 103
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA

# of queries read in the 2 days after returning from vacation: 88
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: SF


oldest query in the queue: July 27


Reasons not to have someone else write your query:

- They may decide that dictating a deadline for response of less than 24 hours is a good idea. (In case you were wondering, it's not. I won't even see it that fast. Even if I'm not on vacation.)

- Their lack of a pitch... their lack of passion for your work... these are not things that will hook someone into reading your story.

- They might skip including the first five pages. Can you be confident they'll do sufficient research into guidelines?

- There's more to a query than just the description of the work. It communicates the author's tone, voice, approach. It's the first thing an agent will see from you.

* * *

PSA: Been having a bit of trouble with LJ lately. Among other things, it's no longer emailing me comments. Hasn't been for a while. Nor did it let me know when my paid membership lapsed. Very possible that the blog will be moving but the archives will remain here. Not sure if I will set up cross-posting for new entries going forward, but will be sure to post info once the transition is accomplished.

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27. letters from the query wars 8/6/2010

# of queries read 2 weeks ago: 171
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries read last week: 183
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA

# of queries read this week: 247
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 2
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: historical UF; fantasy thriller

oldest query in the queue: July 23


Bless me, for it has been 3 weeks since my last query confession. Whomever suggested that July was a slow month for publishing.... I say unto you that you were quite mistaken. Quite.

Even without attending two conferences, where I had the great fortune of seeing clients face-to-face and partaking in some really delicious meals, there seemed to be no slow-down in on-going business. My email proliferates like bunny rabbits.

Which is, why, oh, gentle readers, I say unto you -- it more likely that a cupcake can be snitched from Janet Reid than an agent will respond to a request for additional information and/or clarification when they decline a query. (Earlier this week, a guest post on Rachelle Gardner's blog addressed a similar topic.)

Somewhere I suspect someone is encouraging people to write back as I have seen an upswing in these the last couple weeks.

Many of these responses are kind and thoughtful. Some even acknowledge that they know an agent might not be able to reply due to the time constraints. Some express an understandable level of frustration. Then there are those that are less than polite. Others make some "intriguing" assumptions about my reading habits and personal tastes (when I say intriguing I sometimes mean insulting, but mostly they are just plain wrong). Some few implore "please just give me a chance."

I don't believe in the no response means no thing. For my part, I reply to each query and indicate whether I want to read more or not. But I keep it simple, so I can give the next story and the next and the next.... a chance.

Do those who send this kind of additional correspondence think about the others waiting for that chance? Do you think that query + 5 pages + synopsis = a chance? And how are you going to get your hands on that cupcake?

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28. happy release day

Today is the official publication date for Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal!

Exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer... An intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered essential for a lady of quality.

"Readers will be disappointed only when they finish this enchanting story, which is suffused with genteel charm. The author's judicious and effective changes to aspects of daily life clearly communicate how similar but different this world is from ours. With the grace of _Sense and Sensibility_, a touch of classic fairy tale magic, and an action-packed ending, this debut novel by an award-winning short story writer will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Susannah Clarke, and even Jasper Fforde." --Library Journal

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Powell’s


Bonus Links:

Mary discusses Shades of Milk and Honey on John Scalzi's Big Idea

Odd historical things Mary learned while writing the book (on Tor/Forge's blog).

Cory Doctorow talks about Shades of Milk and Honey on boingboing.net

Dan Wells: Shades of Milk and Honey, or, Why I’m going to murder Mary Robinette Kowal

Read the first chapter.






Win a copy! Post a comment on this entry about any of the bonus links, the first chapter, or the trailer above, and be entered to win; winner chosen at random at 12 Noon EST 8/6/2010. (One entry per person. U.S. Residents only. Note: ARC version.)


ETA: If you leave an anon comment and want to be entered, please add your name to the comment. Thanks.

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29. letters from the query wars 7/16/2010

# of queries read last week: 92
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries read this week: 153
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: SF


oldest query in the queue: June 28th


Phrase in a query letter that struck my funny bone: "it must be a tedious task to pour over letters all day" As if an agent had whole days to read submissions.....

Less amusing to me: Reply to a query response in which I am told that I declined because the author was unknown and not from the U.S. -- Setting aside the tone (which I didn't find friendly but that's neither here nor there), I suppose I can understand trying to find a way to externalize this process. But as I have already signed a debut novel this year, and already represent authors who do not live within U.S. borders, this is obviously not a factor for me. I only paused for a moment on this one because I felt it was a shame that, in this case, the reasons assigned were flawed. Especially as they focused on what I consider to be irrelevant characteristics, and not what they had written.

As anyone who reads these letters frequently knows, these kinds of responses are not all that rare. Definitely, not rare enough. And they are typically as narrow-minded as they accuse others of being. Sad, it is. I don't reply to these kinds of emails. But I suppose they do provide fodder for general commentary.

So. For the record. I will certainly consider queries from outside the U.S. I will certainly consider debut novels. I am interested in a diverse reading experience which includes exploring cultures and perspective -- old or new, even those that might initially seem alien-feeling to me. On nearly every agent panel I've participated in at conferences, one of the inevitable questions seems to be: "what are you looking for?" It's a question I have struggled to find a more specific answer for but seem to come back to: Great stories that I also think I can sell. Because ultimately my goal is to get that story in a position to be read by as many people as possible.

Gentle reader, let me turn that around a bit -- What about you? When you go looking for a novel, what are you looking for?

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30. link salad (client edition)

25 Years of Spectra: Year 20 = Hammered by Elizabeth Bear (and I cannot believe it's only been five years since that was published....)

Tor.Com has a special Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy program for the Month of July, featuring many notables blogging and talking (via Laura Anne Gilman AKA [info]suricattus, who will also be participating)

Genevieve Valentine's review of Eclipse (not safe for non-snark). "Mike speaks for all of us." I'd probably offer her representation based on this blog entry.

In case you missed it in yesterday's post: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are having a contest to bring in new readers of their Liaden series. Free non-DRM, open-platform e-books are on offer....

Mike Shevdon continues his posts on Tools for Writing with this one on FreeMind

Jay Lake makes me hungry for momos (where can I get yak meat for filling?) and talks about fried olives based on a dream he had. Hopefully more food-blogging to come and maybe even a someday cheese post (love his cheese posts). He also celebrated Jaycon X this past weekend -- many, many returns!

Bonus-non-client-link: Jeff Vandermeer on the future of publishing. In which I expect I will finally have to give up being a literary agent to open a BBQ joint. With an open-mic night for poetry.

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31. happy release day

Available today: Pathfinder: A Major Ariane Kedros Novel by Laura E. Reeve


Reserve Major Ariane Kedros needs a shot at redemption—and the mysterious aliens known as the Minoans need an extraordinary human pilot with a rejuv-stimulated metabolism like Ariane for a dangerous expedition to a distant solar system. But there’s a catch. The Minoans have to implant their technology in Ariane’s body—and it might not be removable. Ariane is willing to take the risk, but as she begins the perilous journey, there is an old enemy hiding within the exploration team who is determined to see that this mission will be the her last…

"Reeve drives the story at a breakneck pace, providing a fine mix of derring-do, honor and courage, and the familial bickering and affection of a close-knit crew.” Publishers Weekly on Peacekeeper (Arian Kedros, Book 1)

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32. Expanding Universe Contest at sharonleewriter.com

Expanding Universe Contest at sharonleewriter.com

In celebration of the publication of Mouse and Dragon (The Liaden Universe), the thirteenth novel set in their Liaden Universe®, authors Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are holding an Expanding Universe Contest! Yes! No less than thirty-six electronic copies of The Dragon Variation will be given away.

The Dragon Variation (The Liaden Universe) is an omnibus edition of three Liaden Universe® novels — Conflict of Honors, one of the first modern SFRomances; Local Custom, second place winner of the Prism Award for best Futuristic of 2002; and Scout’s Progress, the first place winner of the Prism Award for best Futuristic of 2002, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice for Best SF Novel of its year, and the prequel to Mouse and Dragon.

That’s three complete novels under one cover. No prior knowledge of the Liaden Universe® required. Electronic! In Baen Books’ DRM-free, multiplatform style. This omnibus can be read on your Kindle, your phone, your iPad, your desktop, or other ereader.

Still need some convincing?

The first nine chapters of each of these novels may be read for free at the Baen website.
Conflict of Honors
Local Custom
Scout’s Progress

How The Contest Works:

*The Expanding Universe Contest is open to anyone — and everyone! — who has never, ever, cross-your-heart-&c read a Liaden Universe® novel.

*Reply here (note: must click through to sharonleewriter.com) with your name, and where you heard about the contest. From those who respond, 36 lucky winners will be chosen by drawing. If 36 or less people enter the contest, then everyone’s a winner!

*Each winner will be asked to provide their email address for purposes of receiving the code that will allow them to download their prize.

*A list of winners — with links to their websites, should they wish, and links to the website where they heard about the contest — will be published in Sharon Lee's blog.

Small Print: The contest will end at midnight Eastern Daylight Time (4:00 a.m. GMT) Friday, July 16. A list of winners will be posted on Sharon Lee's blog on Saturday, July 17. It is the responsibility of the winners to contact Sharon Lee according to the instructions given with the winner’s list. Prizes will be held for 12 days

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33. letters from the query wars 7/2/2010

# of queries read last week: 138
# of partial/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: romance

# of queries read this week: 187
# of partial/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: science fiction thriller


oldest query in the queue: June 16th


The manuscript I requested this week is one I've read before. Many, many moons ago. Though it had much to recommend it, it still seemed to need further development. At that time, I sent the author my thoughts and comments. Apparently they took them to heart and have now returned with a revision. I'm intrigued to see how the story has evolved.

I wanted to mention this because I know that the statistics can look daunting, even if one sets aside the sizable percentage of queries that are for unfinished books, categories not represented, and so on -- the kinds of things that shouldn't be coming my way in the first place.

But statistics don't tell individual stories.

I'm also seeing a hike in the number of queries from young people lately. I believe the youngest was about 10 years old, but there are many from authors in their early teens. Some of them are clearly talented and creative, but their style is still maturing. I hope these young authors continue to explore their gifts.

Reportedly, Helen Hooven Santmyer was nine years old when she decided she wanted to be a writer. She was 87 when her first novel, _And Ladies of the Club_ was published by a university press.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote the manuscript for _In the Forests of the Night_ (formerly _White Wine_) at age 13, and it was picked up by Delacorte Press in 1999 when she was age 14. She has since that time had nine more novels published.

Statistics don't tell individual stories.

Scotland's Jean MacLeod had her first novel published in 1938 by Harlequin Mills and Boon. Last year it was reported that she was working on her 130th book.

Donna Tartt began writing the novel that became the bestselling and well-received _The Secret History_ while in college. It was published 8 years later. It was 10 years before her next novel, _The Little Friend_ was released. Her third novel is tentatively scheduled for 2012.

Statistics don't tell individual stories.

Which is something I remind myself of whenever I sit down to look at queries or read submissions.... Read the rest of this post

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34. letters from the query wars 6/18/2010

# of queries read this week: 202
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0


oldest query in the queue: June 1


casualty of the week: query in which the writer claimed to be exclusively querying on account of being impressed by my site (which they apparently thought I would believe despite the fact that they sent an attachment though my site expressly directs not to; the text of the email is only 4 lines long and reveals nothing about the book other than its title and the author's opinion that it still needs work)

d.o.a.: the submission of resume and headshot attachments from actress/spokesmodel seeking an agent for their acting career (no idea how this person even got here or what they thought)

mortally wounded and probably not going to make it: query that arrived with sample pages written in Portuguese (which I unfortunately cannot read)


Every time I get something that flouts guidelines (especially if it tells me so), it makes me appreciate all those who send what's requested that much more.

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35. letters from the query wars 6/11/2010

# of queries responded to this week: 142
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 3
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: fantasy (1), YA contemporary (1), YA urban fantasy (1)


oldest query in the queue: May 18


A sampling of sentences that should not have appeared in my queries (if the writers had read submission guidelines):

"I will assume, if I don't hear back from you within three days, that you are not interested"

"Below, I’m including a short sample from the middle of the book"

"Here are the first three chapters"

"I would love the chance to send you a synopsis"

"I have enclosed my query letter and ten chapters of my book." [said documents attached]


This is your brain on queries. Any questions?

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36. spreading the word: Jay Lake's Specific Gravity of Grief

via jlake.com:


"The Specific Gravity of Grief was reviewed by GeekDad at Wired.com. It's a thoughtful, interesting take on the book, which I'm always grateful for.

I have a long term ambition for this book, which is to have copies make their way into oncologist's offices and infusion centers around the country. I don't feel a need to make any money off that process, which will push the price down, or possibly lead to some fund-raising as well to place copies very cheaply.

However, for any of that to happen, we need to sell through the 250-unit limited edition printing that Fairwood Press has put out. The wired.com review will help, as will forthcoming reviews. But one of the best things you could do for me and my cancer is spread the word, so people who are interested know about the book and can consider purchasing it. If we can sell through this printing, Fairwood Press will do a cheaper trade paperback edition, which I will work to drive the price down as far as possible on.

Take a minute and go read GeekDad's review. If you're interested, or know people who might be, spread the word. The book is available here from Fairwood Press. If you've already done so, thank you for supporting this project."

--Jay Lake

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37. letters from the query wars 6/4/2010

# of queries read this week: 177
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 2
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: contemporary fantasy (1), romantic suspense (1)


oldest query in the queue: May 11


In a recent post, I mentioned that I preferred for people to only query one project at a time; to choose the project that one thought was the best and strongest. By this I meant the most polished, and the most viable for publication, even while fully realizing YMMV.

This comment was prompted by the fact that someone had queried me for 3 different projects in less than 24 hours. I doubt highly they read this blog as they didn't follow the submission guidelines. Nevertheless, in due course, I responded to each email declining their work.

Just a few days later, I received a query for a 4th project. Again, this author did not follow the submission guidelines. I have to admit that I feel somewhat irked since a link to my submission guidelines was included in the responses I sent. So, while I could attribute the first 3 to a lack of research or care, the 4th certainly doesn't have the right to claim same.

I don't know what responding to this person again would accomplish. I think my guidelines are relatively clear and easy to find. Even without a response that includes a direct link to them. What would you do at this point?

Persistence is widely advocated in the pursuit of publication. The first novel queried may not be the first that gains representation. The first novel written may not be the first novel published. Ergo, one is encouraged to try, try again.

I admire persistence. But what does persistence alone achieve? Without a learning process of craft and/or approach, the same actions will yield the same results.

I am NOT saying that an author can't query an agent more than once. I'm just suggesting that doing it without due consideration is a waste. It may waste the author's potential without them realizing it. It may cause an agent to be that much slower in response times due to numerous queries with materials that aren't ready to be submitted, or aren't submitted with enough information to evaluate them.

Some say the query system is broken. I don't think so as I still find clients via queries. But it may have a flaw here and there. And I think this sort of abuse of the system is one of those flaws. Before you query, read -- and follow -- submission guidelines. Be sure that your novel is ready for submission. And don't query again without learning something from the first time.

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38. happy release day!

Today is the official release day for:

C.E. Murphy's DEMON HUNTS

"In the fifth book in the charmingly readable Walker Paper series, Joanne Walker learns a bit more about herself and her past, reunites with an old teacher and generally kicks ass and takes names. As usual, the supporting characters are memorable, especially the not-so-geriatric septuagenarian Gary, the local police chief Morrison and her transvestite partner, Billy Holliday. The story is readable enough, but it’s really the characters and their relationships that are the main attraction.

Having proved that she can handle wayward gods and the walking dead, Seattle police detective Joanne Walker thinks she can manage just about anything. But when a series of cannibalized human bodies show up, she realizes she may have met her match. Joanne’s growing shamanistic skills are no match for the increasingly hungry and desperate wendigo, a spirit lost in the cold, but to her great delight someone she believed to be gone from her life forever returns, and together they are able to do their best to save themselves and their city." --Romantic Times, 4 Stars




MOUSE AND DRAGON -- the newest Liaden novel from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Aelliana Caylon has endured much, and finally, she appears to have won all: a spaceship, comrades, friends — and the love of a pilot she adores.

Even better that her lover—the man who was destined for her, a man as much a loner as she—is also the Delm of Korval, arguably the most powerful person on all of Liad. He has the power to remove her and protect her from the toxic environment of her home Clan. Best of all, he agrees to sit as her co-pilot and her partner in a courier business.

Even happy endings sometimes show a few flaws. Such as Aelliana's home clan being not as agreeable to letting her go as it had first seemed. And the fact that someone is stealing pilots in the Low Port, which falls within the Delm of Korval's honor. Oh, and the revelation that the man she loves—the man who is destined for her—isn't entirely the man she thought he was. And finally, she discovers that even the lift from Liad she'd so fervently desired, is part of a larger plan, a plan requiring her to be someone she never thought she was, or could be.

Also available today is THE DRAGON VARIATION, and omnibus containing three earlier Liaden novels: LOCAL CUSTOM, SCOUT'S PROGRESS and CONFLICT OF HONORS.

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39. letters from the query wars 5/28/2010

# of queries read this week: 168
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 3
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: fantasy (2), YA (1)

oldest query in the queue: April 20th


Coming down to the end of the Brenda Novak auction for Diabetes Research in which I am offering to evaluate a novel proposal (that's up to 50 pages of text and up to 5 pages of synopsis). Bidding for my entry ends on Sunday, May 30th! (Some others go through the 31st.)

More details here.

And happy Memorial Day weekend for those State-Side.

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40. B&N offers free eBook of Jim Butcher's Storm Front

via jim-butcher.com

This week (May 24th-30th), Barnes and Noble is giving away free eBooks of Jim Butcher's Storm Front in a special promotion!

Here's how it works:

* Download the FREE BN eReader to your mobile device. This can be an iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, or Mac or PC laptop. Own a NOOK? You're all set - no need to download.

* Visit any Barnes & Noble store and show your NOOK or mobile device to one of the booksellers, and receive a voucher for the FREE eBook. This week's eBook is Jim Butcher's Storm Front! (Next week will be Lee Child's One Shot.) Find a Barnes & Noble store near you.

* Enter the access code on the voucher at BN.COM/redeem.

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41. letters from the query wars 5/21/2010

# of queries read last week: 100
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: romance

# of queries read this week: 26
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a


Last week's stats weren't posted because I was attending the very excellent PennWriters Conference and didn't have the opportunity. On account of this (and those aforementioned pesky wrist injuries reducing my keyboard time), I am also lagging a bit behind the 4 week response period listed on our website. The oldest query in my queue is 4/14/2010. I hope to be caught back up not too long after the upcoming BookExpo.

Meanwhile.... today's topic is multiple queries....


Part the First-- querying multiple agents at the same agency. As usual, your mileage may vary elsewhere, but, as our guidelines indicate, we don't wish to receive multiple queries at our agency.

Most particularly, if you feel the need to ignore this guideline, #1 - don't and #2 - don't leave my sig file pasted into the query you are forwarding to my associate after I have already declined.

Naturally, this does not apply if an agent, of their own volition, suggests you contact one of their colleagues. But otherwise, please just choose one of us.


Part the Second-- sending multiple queries for different projects simultaneously. I don't recommend it. This message brought to you by the letters "p" and "q" and receiving 3 queries from the same author for 3 different projects in less than 24 hours, and none of them with the first five pages. I advise choosing the best and strongest project with which to query. Please query only one project at a time.

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42. letters from the query wars 5/7/2010

# of queries read this week: 268
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA


400+ queries awaiting review
oldest query in the queue: 4/12/2010


Thanks to those who offered suggestions on submission guidelines last week. I'd be happy to entertain more, so if anyone has any further thoughts, please feel free to comment.

I've got an upcoming workshop in which I will talk about -- you guessed it, queries. My goal in this -- as it is with these posts -- is to help those sending queries to avoid common pitfalls and shoot for having their query be in the cream of the crop that garners requests. To that end, I try to look for patterns seen in queries that don't tend to work, as well as those that work quite well, and also anticipate questions people might have.

In the spirit of anticipation (and the possibility of finding future topics for this series of blog posts), if you were to attend such a workshop, what topics would you want to see addressed? And if there was time for Q&A at the end, what would you ask?

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43. happy release day

Today is the official release day for Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

Spinning off a minor character from the Retrievers books (Staying Dead, etc.), Gilman launches an entertaining new series set in her Cosa Nostradamus world of magic-using Talented humans. Following up on a mysterious job lead, college grad Bonita Torres joins the Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (PUPI), a freelance CSI-style unit for Talent-related crimes. The “puppies” refine and practice spells until they get their first big case: an apparent double suicide. As they follow the evidence, trail and interrogate suspects, and defend themselves against attacks, the investigators develop comfortable and engaging team dynamics and create the field of forensic magic. Gilman's deft plotting and first-class characters complement her agile blend of science and spell craft, and readers will love the Mythbusters-style fun of smart, sassy people solving mysteries through experimentation, failure, and blowing stuff up. --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review




Also available today: Elysiana by Chris Knopf

As the 1969 summer season begins on the New Jersey barrier island of Elysiana—“an assortment of seashore amenities and profound dissociation”—the cops and the lifeguards prepare for the annual turf war made necessary by a loopy municipal charter and warring city politicians. A druglord arrives in his GTO to murder a local who stiffed him. A drugged-out Chicago girl figuratively washes up on the beach with no clear memory of how she got there, and a local thief and surfer marvels at the ease of stealing eight-track tape players from cars. A full baker’s dozen major characters swirl and collide as if in Brownian motion, moved by elemental forces like wind and tide and lesser things like work and whim. Signs and portents hint that something life changing, if not quite apocalyptic, will affect them all. Elysiana is a departure for Knopf, whose Sam Acquillo mysteries have won reviewers’ raves, but he nails it. The seemingly shambling plot proves ultimately to be sly, and Knopf’s sweet-spirited style recalls memories spurred by faded home movies of long-ago vacations. His bio says that he was a New Jersey lifeguard back in the day, and he captures the zeitgeist of the Shore perfectly. Every “shoobie

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44. Pre-order the Dresden Files RPG and get the PDF version

From The Dresden Files RPG site.

The preorder for the Dresden Files RPG is now live!

You can learn more about the particulars of the preorder — and place your early order for both books in the set, including getting access to the almost-complete PDFs right away — at the Evil Hat Productions web store:

http://www.evilhat.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=65_72

Free shipping is available in the USA to people who place a preorder for both books, and the final PDFs will be made available to preordering customers once they are available (which should include the addition of a short story by Jim, still getting written as we speak)! The books will ship out in late June/early July.

Fans of the series may be particularly interested in the second book, which among other things provides a comprehensive character guide up through Small Favor.  A handy reference to have on hand as you read through Changes next week.

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45. happy release day

Today is the official publication day for Jim Butcher's Changes, the latest novel in the Dresden Files series.

The twelfth Dresden Files novel (following Turn Coat, 2009) finds the licensed PI and professional wizard Harry Dresden confronted with some shocking news: he has an eight-year-old daughter, and she’s been kidnapped by Red Court vampires. Harry is willing to risk everything to rescue her, even if it means turning his own life upside down. At more than 500 pages, this is one the longest books in the series, but it doesn’t move slowly; in fact, the entire novel takes place over only a few days as Harry races to rescue his daughter before she is sacrificed in a powerful black-magic rite. The taut and sometimes twisty plot is full of surprises and changes for Harry and his friends and family. Changes is a compelling installment in what continues to be an outstanding series. All the regulars (including cop Murphy; Harry’s half brother, vampire Thomas; Sanya the Knight; and Harry’s apprentice, Molly) are featured, as they, too, risk everything to save Harry’s daughter. After the cliff-hanger ending, readers will be clamoring for the next book. A can’t-miss entry in one of the best urban-fantasy series currently being published. --Booklist, Starred Review

News from Jim Butcher's website:

"Amazon and Penguin are bickering, and the Kindle edition of "Changes" has been caught up in the crossfire. Fans around the world are getting email notifications from Amazon that their "Changes" preorders have been canceled.

Jim had no say in this decision, and he's already received an outpouring of mail from fans perplexed and angered at this chain of events. We know many of you were relying on this being available on release day, and we're every bit as frustrated as you are. We're confident the conflict will not be drawn out much longer, but we have no way of knowing if it will be resolved in time for the book's Tuesday release. We have no doubt that "Changes" will be available for the Kindle at some point, but whether that's tomorrow, next week, or next month is anyone's guess.

We hope this doesn't unduly inconvenience you guys, and we thank you for bearing with us in this exceptionally annoying time.
"


April 6: Signing and reading at MURDER BY THE BOOK in Houston, TX
April 7: Signing and reading at UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE in Seattle, WA
April 8: POWELL'S BOOKS/Cedar Hills Crossing (signed copies available for pre-order) in Beaverton, OR
April 9: MYSTERIOUS GALAXY in San Diego, CA
April 10: BARNES AND NOBLE #2743 in Huntington Beach, CA
April 12: BORDERS #464/Lee's Summit in Kansas City, MO

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46. letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 196
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

Around 570 queries still pending.


Wishing for more needles and smaller haystacks...

The pace of arriving queries is still on the rise. Which makes gaining ground in terms of response time somewhat on the daunting side. Particularly when the percentage of those that don't follow guidelines also appears to be increasing. I'm not talking here about people who deviate in their definition of synopsis or something like that. Nor applying rules lawyering (which I'm not excessively prone to in any case). These are barely recognizable as a query letter at all and are usually only a few lines long. Given how easy it is to find our submission guidelines online and numerous articles and sites giving advice and information about the query process, these are puzzling at best. Too often responding to them and sending a link to the guidelines only nets an antagonistic reply.

It's almost inevitable to find one's self feeling that if a person can't or won't make an effort in this scenario, that they aren't a person with whom an agent or publisher will be able to work. After all, it's not as if it's done after finishing the novel, getting an agent, getting a contract, editorial revision, copy-editing, or even seeing the book on the shelves. This is not an easy pursuit nor a casual endeavor. Nor a quick path to fame and riches. It is not (as one person's letter put it this week): "something to try just for the hell of it."

But this is a calling for some. A creative and inspiring journey. Finding those stories keeps the search going... Read the rest of this post

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47. happy release day

Today is the official release day for Saltation

Blazing into their 12th Liaden novel, Lee and Miller prove they can still deliver elegant variations on the theme in this coming-of-age story, a sequel to 2009's Fledgling. Theo Waitley, half-Terran daughter of a Liaden pilot, escapes her stifling homeworld to attend pilot school, where her fierce attitude and extraordinary competence earn her enemies and friends. When her boyfriend's keepsake makes them both a target for galactic-level bad guys, Theo must head to Liad to ask for help from the leader of her father's clan. The story will not disappoint longtime Lee and Miller fans, but readers don't need to know the series to understand or care about the characters, who will also appeal to fans of Elizabeth Moon's Kylara Vatta and other strong young adult heroines. --Publishers Weekly

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48. letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 209
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 3
genres of partials/manuscripts requested: heroic fantasy (1), historical urban fantasy (1), historical/paranormal YA (1)


A few days ago, over on BookEnds, agent Jessica Faust "shockingly" posted that agents want to represent books that make money. She noted that some people use this as grounds for criticism.

Now this same agent has previously waxed enthusiastic about her clients' books, so obviously money isn't all there is to it. As she said in this same entry agenting "has the added bonus of being something I love."

As Lucienne Diver put it, when she added a client to her rather full and busy client list: when we really love something, there’s just no talking ourselves out of it. To which I respond, that's how we roll.

This week I signed a new client too! To some extent, the reasons were fairly simple: There's talent. I love the story. I want to read the sequel. And, oh yeah, what would be the point of having an agent take an author on as a client if they didn't think they could sell the book?

Then the Call would sound like: "Good afternoon -- Agent Jennifer here. I've read your manuscript and I think it's halfway decent even though I've read so many books that are ever so much better. I doubt I can sell it. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's no chance at all. But what the heck - I need to pad out my client list."

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49. Welcome Henry !!!


Congratulations to client C.E. Murphy AKA [info]mizkit
and her husband, the incomparable Ted,
on the birth of their son
Henry Stanford Murphy Lee

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50. letters from the query wars

# of queries read last week: 118
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries read this week: 180
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a


Oldest query in the queue: 3/3/2010. If your query was sent prior to that date and has not received a reply, either I did not receive your query or my reply has gone astray.

450+ queries in the queue still awaiting review.

Despite having taken time off from queries back when I had my wrist injury in December, I continue to find it a challenge to keep up with the "up to 4 weeks" response time listed on our website. I have some ongoing issues with those injuries which limits my time at the keyboard. Additionally, the number of queries received has been higher this year than it was last year.

In an effort to be more efficient and (hopefully) provide better response times, I'm re-evaluating my submission guidelines. I plan to have updated information on my website in the near future. This will include a request to include the word query and also the title of your novel in the subject line of your e-query.

What is most helpful to you in submission guidelines? What is least? What questions about queries can be addressed in guidelines without making the specifics overly complicated? I hope to find a balance between an overwhelming amount of information (which will only slow the process down) and providing enough information. Thanks for any insight you can provide from the writer side of the equation.

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