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1. Black Friday ’14: For the Ladies

By Hannah Lodge

Though Cyber Monday deals are a few days away and not officially revealed everywhere, we’ve spotted a number of Black Friday top picks from the scattered corners of the internet. Here’s a run-down on some of the best deals in fandom-inspired clothing, cosmetics and decor.

Geek Chic Cosmetics

What it is: Fandom-inspired makeup line, including loose eye shadows, lip glosses and lip sticks (dubbed ‘joysticks’ and ‘geek gloss’)

The sale: 25% off site-wide, beginning at midnight Friday (or is that midnight Thursday, depending on how you look at it…?)

Top pick: The “awesome mix” tin, inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy, comes with six eye shadows, including “12% of a plan” and “The destroyer.”

Where:  http://www.geekchiccosmetics.com/

awesome mix limited edition tin 19 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Black Milk Clothing

What it is: Original and licensed nylon (including Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, DC, and Bioware)

The sale: 20% off select items on the U.S. site and 30% off select items on the world wide site, in limited quantities, through Monday

Top pick: The Riddler leggings were sold out almost immediately, but the iconic R2-D2 swimsuit is still available

Wherehttps://blackmilkclothing.com/

artoo 2 0 swimsuit 1369789623 1024x1024 200x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Shiro Cosmetics

What it is: Another indie, fandom-inspired make up site, Shiro Cosmetics offered loose & pressed eye shadows, colored glosses, and more

The sale: TBA on Friday, but last year’s sale featured 15% off all items

Top pick: We can’t possibly choose between the “Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist” shadow or the “Cages through the Ages,” Nic Cage-inspired lip gloss set. (Ah, who are we kidding: Cage takes this one)

Where:  http://shirocosmetics.com/

geniusbillionaireplayboyphilanthropist3 Black Friday 14: For the Ladiescagesthroughtheages 400x400 300x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Her Universe

What it is: Sci-fi and comics inspired clothing and accessories, including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel brands

The sale: Up to 60% off select items, starting Wednesday

Top pick: We’re partial to the Black Widow zip-up jacket

Where: http://www.heruniverse.com/

heruniverse 300x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Fandom Cosmetics

What it is: Though they feature a variety of make-up and cosmetics, Fandom Cosmetics seems to have one of the larger and better fandom-inspired nail polish collections, including Sherlock, Doctor Who, Hannibal, Walking Dead, Justice League, and more

The sale: 40% off select items, starting Friday

Top pick: The Justice League inspired nail polish set, including signature colors of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and The Flash

Where:  http://www.fandomcosmetics.com/

justice league 300x267 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

The Geekerie

What it is: Posters and prints, featuring movie, television, and science-fiction inspired images.

The sale: 20% off of bundled items, starting Friday

Top pick: The “Table of Thrones” Game of Thrones-style periodic table – warning, spoilers!

Where: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGeekerie

table of thrones 300x255 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

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2. Reasons to Be Thankful: Classic Cartoons

Today we're thankful for many reasons, including classic animated shorts.

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3. Off to brisbane Supanova today.

Once more  over the top

Heres a 2xA0  (8xA2) drawing I did really quickly (30 min) at  Book Expo earlier this year.
Girl is a bit small for horse etc- but considering how quickly I did it and how big its not too bad.


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4. If you want to know the answer to Ruff Christmas?

This picture might give you a little clue about our bellatastically exciting sixth book, Ruff Christmas, or maybe it won't!

If you want to know the answer, then enter the FREE competition to win the only signed copy of Ruff Christmas.  The link is below.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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5. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tanita and I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend full of book binges and marathon reading sessions. (I'm hoping to fit in a few myself!)I found this nifty Book Turkey here.Just a moment of gratitude, here--I could not be more grateful for all... Read the rest of this post

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6. Chang3lings & MyExcess Feature at 2014s Edinburgh Toy & Comic Mart!




Photo: Our poster campaign will start 'VERY' soon, but in the meantime can you please share this digital version as much as possible, and indeed tag anyone who you believe may be interested...










Once more, Hero Conventions are bringing their own brand of FREE COMIC & TOY MART to Edinburgh...

VENDORS INCLUDE: 


Chang3lings http://www.chang31ings.co.uk/

My Excess Comics/Books  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/myexcess
Hero Comic Shop
Comic Convict
Cosmic Art
Rough Cut Comics
Planet Jimbot
City of Lost Souls
Changelings
Forbidden Planet
Adamsons Attic
Keith Crawley Art
Gnometastic
Chris Teasdale Comics
Rubber Pineapple
Lefay Engraving
Phat Cat
Da Judge
Nathan A Lyon Art
Kukuruzovic Comics
Turn Book Time
Skulls & Cross Stitches
Sands Art Glass

During the mart, there will be a performance of the Ghostbusters tribute 'STILL Ready to Believe You' by Des O'Gorman at 1pm. This will be 100% FREE*, but you can feel free to provide a donation at the end of the show as the poor blighter hasn't eaten in weeks. :p

Also, after the show the legendary Marc Farrimond will be hosting 'The Challenge of the Kingpin' geeky pub-quiz. Entry to this will be FREE, and there will be some rather lovely prizes...


YES!! David "The British Manara" Gordon WILL be at the event with his Chang3lings dolls and MyExcess books including Cosmic Oddity which was reviewed here: http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/my-excess-dave-cosmic-oddity.html 

Plus.......

Dave Gordon´s Pin Up Girls Summary

Dave Gordon returns with an epic volume of new pin up material.  100 pages of beautifully detailed linework is behind an exceptionally conceived cover.
One for the collectors for sure as there will be just 100 copies of this book printed and signed by the artist.
Order yours today.

Suggested for Mature readers....and ONLY £10.00?????
 
Of course the Chang3ling dolls are a sight to behold but there are plenty of other figures to buy such as this one

Cyborg from Takara 1998

Cyborg from Takara 1998

If you have to visit and buy from one table this weekend then it HAS to be Chang3lings and MyExcess....otherwise you may need psychological treatment!

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7. Pantser of Planner?

Do you plan out your novels in advance or write by the seat of your pants. 

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2014/09/craft-of-writing-from-pantser-to.html

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8. Hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since I wrote this post

She finished the last round of high-dose chemo on Thanksgiving Day of 1997. We ate Boston Market turkey and stuffing in the hospital playroom while her meds finished running. There were two more years of low-dose chemo to go, but we expected to spend most of that period as out-patients. When we got home that night—home, where we hadn’t spent more than ten days in a row since March—it was late, a cold, clear night, with as many stars as a New York City sky can muster. I remember thinking I couldn’t imagine ever being more thankful for anything than I was to be carrying that little girl up the stairs to our apartment that night.

I was wrong.

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9. Happy Birthday to Let’s Get Busy!

This morning at 7-Imp, I’m doing something a little bit different. Matthew Winner, who founded and runs the Let’s Get Busy podcast, is celebrating his 100th episode. He’s been visiting a few blogs to talk about his work, and today he has a cup of cyber-coffee with me to answer some questions about the wonderful resource that his podcast has become.

Matthew is an elementary school librarian and also runs a blog called The Busy Librarian. Today we’re going to focus, though, on his informative podcast. (Lucky me, I even got to visit in August.) Those of you who read my May interview this year with author-illustrator Dan Santat may remember this moment:

I’ve recently become addicted to Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast, where he interviews authors and illustrators in children’s publishing. Everyone should check that podcast out. … I think in about a year, when everyone catches on, it will be one of the most important media sites in the children’s publishing field.

So, here’s Matthew. I thank him for visiting today and congratulate him on 100 episodes!

Jules: What have been some of your LGB highlights and greatest joys this year?

Matthew (pictured right): Seymour Simon told me he feels like a father figure to me and that he’s proud of me. Brian Won called me “The Ira Glass of Kidlit, only cooler.” A bunch of #KidLitArt pals invited me into their weekly Mario Kart 8 online tournaments. I’d say it’s been a pretty spectacular year for me.

I feel like I could tell you something special about every single interview I’ve shared on the podcast thus far, but maybe the best way I can sum it up is to say that each interview brings with it something new. And there’s always at least one special moment in each of the conversations that makes a memory with me and that I end up sharing with others. I’ll give you an example: I recently interviewed Scott Campell (Episode 98) on his new picture book, Hug Machine. After a moment of gushing over his heartwarming story about a kid who is a champion for (and of) hugging, I told Scott that there was such a powerful sense of truth in his book’s text, and I asked if he himself was a hug machine. Shortly after I received my first and only virtual hug. It’s a moment that makes me smile so much and still it brings me back to his book. Near the end of the story there’s this great spread where the boy, in essence, gives the reader a hug. And on that page, in no uncertain way, Scott is hugging every single one of his readers. It’s awesome. And it’s a moment of the podcast that I know I’ll remember for a very long time.

Jules: Did talking to any of the many illustrators and author-illustrators you interviewed this year change your view of picture books in any remarkable ways?

Matthew: The work of authors and illustrators varies so much from person to person. We all know that. And yet I do find myself intrigued in hearing artists describe their process and how it’s changed over time. Lauren Castillo (Episode 100) published two books this year as an author-illustrator and both show such master of craft in the way she balances well-tempered words with these beautiful watercolors. I’m talking, of course, about The Troublemaker and Nana in the City. Her process includes writing a much more text-heavy manuscript, then editing it down as she creates dummies and considers her illustrations. It’s as if she’s split herself in two to work out the perfect balance of text and art. That just kind of blows my mind.

I had a similar experience when I spoke with Nathan Hale (Episode 61), known most notably for his Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales graphic novel series. Nathan writes a full manuscript for every graphic novel before ever drawing a single sketch for the work. I mean, that’s amazing! He’s creating hundreds of drawings for his story with limited text, being that he tells much of his story through the art. And yet all of that is playing around up in his head and is captured, to oversimply his process, in what comes down to stage directions and art notes. Had you asked me prior to starting Let’s Get Busy about the way in which graphic novelists work, I never in a million years would have guessed that so many begin with a manuscript.

Then there’s the way that Dan Santat (Episode 41) envisioned our imaginary friends as extensions of ourselves, taking various forms that mirror our own interests. I mean, REALLY! Would you have guessed that Beekle resembles a blank sheet of paper onto which brilliant ideas can be captured?

Or that Bob Shea (Episode 23) designs each of his characters from a basic jellybean shape so that his readers can recreate his characters more easily?! My students and I spent an entire week drawing characters out of jellybean shapes when I learned that. First we started with Bob’s characters, and then we created ones of our own!

Or that Raina Telgemeier (Episode 39) tries to build a hook into the last panel of each of her pages in order to get the reader to turn the page and stay engaged in the story? No wonder none of us can put her books down!

Or that Chris Haughton has actually moved from creating his illustrations using a digital collage technique to working with cut and torn paper to create actual collage art for his newest picture book, Shh! We Have a Plan!

If anything, I would say that hosting Let’s Get Busy has made me an even bigger fan of picture books. I marvel at the process and the technique that goes into creating these works of art, and I think about how very lucky I am to get to peek into these artists studios and learn more about the inspiration and journey that brought them to the finished product.

Wait … did I answer your question? I hope I did.

It’s all remarkable to me.

Jules: If the sky were the limit, what’s one thing you wish you could do at your podcast, if anything?

Matthew: I would love for a whole bunch of us kidlit fans and advocates and creators to build a network together of podcasts and YouTube channels and blogs and news outlets. I know that would be a huge undertaking, but I think having one large collective with a single entry site to access all of this truly awesome content would be incredible. I listen to this great podcast called The Nerdist (see my response to the next question for more back story). But The Nerdist has grown over the past several years into a network of podcasts, YouTube shows, articles and more really cool stuff, and the idea grew from connecting fans of the podcast with other content they might enjoy. That’s where I’d love to see Let’s Get Busy connect and grow. I’d love to find a more efficient way of connecting my listening audience with other podcasts and resources they might love and also to get Let’s Get Busy to the ears of people who might not know about it yet.

I love being a part of Nerdy Book Club and all of the amazing connections I’ve made through that awesome collective, but it just wants me to help connect others in this kidlit community even more.

Jules: Can you talk a bit about why you started the podcast?

Matthew: I blame Travis Jonker, author of the 100 Scope Notes blog, for actually getting Let’s Get Busy started.

One of my favorite things about attending library and reading conferences is getting to meet authors and illustrators and cartoonists. But something special happens when you get to hang out with those same people beyond the exhibition halls or artists alleys. Chances are that, if you sit down with anyone you find remotely interesting and have an earnest conversation with them for ten or more minutes, you’ve found yourself. And when you speak with authors and illustrators and cartoonists, the stories you start to hear often inform the stories these creative types create. It’s not always so direct, but it’s always something I find really fascinating.

So when I was telling Travis Jonker this, as we were hanging out with other kidlit pals at a hotel bar in Chicago at a recent ALA conference, I related these conversations to one of my favorite podcasts, The Nerdist, in which the conversations with guests from all over the comedy, music, and movie scenes are informal and are given the time to breathe and get really interesting. Why not create something similar for the kidlit world where we’d get to hear these sincere interviews with authors and illustrators and then get to know and love their work even more so in the process?

Travis said in so many words, “Sounds great! I would listen to that! When are you going to start?”

Those words were the permission I needed to start Let’s Get Busy, a friend’s encouragement and validation of an idea. The rest is sort of history. I started interviewing my friends in the library and publishing worlds. After each interview I would ask my guest to make a recommendation of whom I should talk to next. From there, the connections have grown far and wide but have always maintained a sense of family and closeness. That’s a quality I hope the podcast never loses.

Jules: What’s your favorite thing about podcasting? What drives you to keep doing it?

Matthew: I learn something new with each person that I talk to. And I get to talk to people I never expected this small town school librarian to brush elbows with. And I get to be a fan of my guests’ works without having to filter or hide it. And it’s maybe the most fun thing I’ve ever been involved with. Okay… that’s an awful lot of sentences ending with articles, but it’s all to say that the thing that drives me to keep podcasting is that every conversation is like a gift that I’ve been given that I get to love and cherish and then share with someone new. Each guest, whether it’s someone whose work I know well or if it’s a person who just happens to be best mates with a recent guest, every single guest has been a pure joy to chat with. I’m glad I get to be the guy behind the mic on this one. And I’m grateful for the couple of people who are listening.

Jules: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

Matthew: I’m a super slow reader. That’s probably why I don’t have more middle grade or YA authors on the podcast. It’s so hard for me to read through their books in time for the interview and it makes me feel really, really bad. I’ll talk to anyone and I’m really, really good at starting books. Ha!

Oh! And for a non-booky thing, I’m teaching myself to play banjo. I inherited a banjo from my wife’s grandfather, and I try to play a little bit every day. It’s been almost a year now, and I’m still struggling with my finger-picking, but I figure by the time I have a picture book contract of my own, I maybe—just maybe—will be able to write some sort of awesome song for the book trailer.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Matthew and images from the podcast are used by permission of Matthew Winner.

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10. Before Quatermass There Was....DENE VERNON THE THING BELOW

DENE VERNON THE THING BELOW

Writer: Terry Hooper-Scharf
Artist: Gavin Stuart Ross
A4
Black & White
Paperback, 
53 Pages 
Price: £5.00
It was the 1940s and he was the first British comics investigator of the supernatural. Dene Vernon -Man Of Mystery! 
Now Dene Vernon gets his first adventure in 60 years.

Set in the late 1940s, Vernon is recovering from a previous case when he is called upon to investigate mystery deaths in London dockland.

Despite the assistance of one of the Silvermaigne family - famous werewolf, demon and vampire hunters-  it looks as though the threat of Lorimed may be the Man of Mystery's last....

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11. Silvermaigne:Knight Ghoul Hunter

 
 
Paperback, 
A4
Black & White
42 Pages
Price: £7.00
The Silvermaigne line is said to go back to the time of the Ancient Britons. 
 
Silvermaignes ancestors were part of a druidic clan based in the great forest that is today known as Leigh Woods, overlooking the River Severn entering (today) Bristol. All the members of the tribe had white hair from birth and they were known as the mwng arian (Silver Manes). Even the druids bowed to their knowledge of demons, spirits and things of the darkness. 
 
But at a point several centuries ago the family split and took two paths -one embraced magik for its own fight against evil. 
 
For the first time Ben Dilworth looks at this branch of the family and what one of them endures to keep the fight Holy!

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12. Art as a literary device in fiction

Bronze of "David," by Verrocchio
Our May 31, 2014 blog discussion included a concept of "ekphrasis," a term referenced by writer Stephanie Coyne DeGhett as a "literary representation of visual art."  DeGhett explored, among other things, the ways that accomplished writers, including Oscar Wilde, Steven Millhauser, Stanley Elkin, and A. S. Byatt, have incorporated actual works of art as focal points in their works of fiction; i.e., in Byatt's Matisse stories.  

There are many ways that visual art might point the way to creating interest and satisfaction in literary constructs, and it has been a topic in several past postings. In this post let's explore how some creative energies that seem evident in a particular work of visual art might prove useful in drawing out a main character's own emotional space, and in a most natural manner.  


I've chosen an example from my recent YA novel, "Leaving Major Tela," about a young woman, Caitlin, reared by a strict, army officer mom, and given an opportunity to find her independence while having to temporarily live with her divorced dad:



The pot fumes were most fragrant near a long, glassed-in porch at one side of the house, and they wandered through the doorway there.  Stopping next to an elephant-leaf palm tree growing in a redwood tub, they lit their cigarettes and listened-in on the conversation.  A dozen boys and girls were there, some sitting on wooden Adirondack lounge chairs; others straddled on straight-back chairs brought out from the dining room.  They passed around the last tokes of a dying roach, held by a metal clip at the end.
“When is he going to get here?” someone named Jay groused.  “This roach is hereby pronounced dead.”
“Product’s been a little tight lately,” his friend said.  “Wouldn’t surprise me if he asked for a price jump on this run.”
“Yeah.”  Jay looked over at the newcomers.  “What kind of junk are you two smoking?”
“Regular old tobacco-stuffed coffin nails, sorry,” Luka said.
“Come over here, and let’s get a look at you,” Jay said.  “Do I know you?”
The two girls walked over to where he sat in a propped-up lounge chair.  “We’ve met before,” Luka said.  “You came to a showing at my mother’s art gallery a few months ago.  We talked, remember?”
“Oh yeah, got it; you were the chick passing around the finger food and champagne. You know, that artist really sucked.  Did you sell any of his stuff?”
“My mom said he had the third biggest opening night sales of any artist she’d handled over the last two years.”
He scowled and turned to Caitlin.  “Were you there, too?  Did you see all that welded brass rod and polished aluminum tube crap?  Do you like that sort of sculpture?”
“Well, I didn’t see the exhibit, but no, it’s not my favorite sculpture.”
“Oh yeah--what is?”
Caitlin studied him.  He could have been twenty or so, a tangle of dark hair, long angular face, nice mouth.  He was so edgy though, and he had her on shaky ground about sculpture.  “Well, I haven’t seen all that much sculpture, just in Art Appreciation, but I often think of Verrocchio’s ‘David,’ and—“
He interrupted.  “Verrocchio’s?  You don’t mean Michelangelo’s?”
“No, I’ve seen Michelangelo’s too, but it’s so muscular, almost too perfect a male body.  Verrocchio’s was this slender, bushy-haired boy dressed in a sort of kilt, holding a sword, standing relaxed and with Goliath’s severed head lying between his feet.  Even just the screen image projected a whole room full of qi.”
“The severed head must have done it for you.  What the hell is qi?”
“Oh, well, you can think of it as his inner energy.”
“Hey, Jay, he’s here,” his friend said.  “Grab your money belt and let’s go.  He’s dealing in the kitchen.”

Caitlin and her friend, Luka, are at a neighborhood party, gathering material on student use of recreational drugs for their school newspaper article.  Caitlin's brief meeting and discussion with the new character, Jay, presented an opportunity to explore a number of his personality traits, and suggest possibilities for a relationship with Caitlin.  The statue of David, by Verrocchio, shows Jay having a sensitive nature--he sometimes attends art shows--and knows something about art.  He affects a macho attitude toward this powerful sculpture, but also seems impressed by Caitlin's response to it.

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13. dinosaur police - first peek!

I've been wanting to talk about this book for ages, and Scholastic UK have finally tweeted a photo of the cover! So yes, look out for this book next spring!



Here's a look into my studio, when I was using a dip pen and ink to trace the pencil sketch onto the watercolour paper.



And here's the day I brought in the final cover artwork! Met Team Dinosaur Police! That's designer Rebecca Essilifie and editor Pauliina Malinen. We've put together a great dinosaur romp for you; we hope you'll like it.



Warning: contains pizza. Lots of pizza.

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14. Singing my song

The habit of making art is wonderful. Sharing it is sublime.”

Danny Gregory, artist, author of The Creative License and other wonderful books on illustrated sketchbook-keeping

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15. The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon-Thumper!

Merriwether: Gods Demon Thumper

 
Terry Hooper-Scharf  & Ben R. Dilworth
Paperback,
A4
Black & White
 85 Pages
Price: £8.00
The complete Merriwether series, originally published in Black Tower Adventure and A Little Midnight Horror–but with three strips never before published… including the Reverend’s battle with the ultimate Evil! 
 
From The Horror Of Hob Street to The Village Of Demons and Varney the Vampyre to The Fallen Angel himself, see how one Church of England vicar deals hard-fisted [and various spiked objects] justice to the ungodly ...and pays the ultimate price!!! 
 
If you were into Charlton Horror Comics or any horror comic then this one is for you! 
 
At the end of Merriwether:Gods Demon-Thumper, the Reverend had been confronted by Satan and as a consequence lay fatally injured. 
 
Star of 1980s comics, Benjamin R. Dilworth, takes us through the fleeting seconds before death as Merriwether has flash backs showing just why he took on the career he did. 
 
Be prepared for horror and a little tongue-in-cheek humour. COMIC HORROR FANS WILL LOVE THIS!

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16. Free Fall Friday – Results

Alexander SlaterI want to thank Alexander Slater from the Trident Media Group for agreeing to be November’s First Page Critiquer. All the agents and editors who have been Guest Critiquers are doing this for free because they want to help writers improve their writing. So please realize what a big deal this is to have an industry professional take their valuable time and share their expertise with all of us.

I also want to thank everyone who submits their work for the chance of review. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but it is the fearless who end up making it to the published book goal line.

This is the last First Page Critique session for 2014. I will announce January’s guest in December.

Here are November’s winners and Alex’s thoughts:

 

TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO by Richard Bisbee – YA

Darkness surrounds me as I float, lost, on the wild sea…

“Ghemmi, you must take rest and come to bed this day,” Kiyami said. “Our Tilenika is away now three days. She is young; she cannot swim forever. Even you, stronger than most, would find difficulty swimming in these wild and powerful seas we now have. You also know,” she swallowed hard, “that the giant bullwah fish rise from their depths seeking prey in waters so restless.”

“I know Kiyami, but I will not leave this spot until she returns. I smell Tilenika on the wind and taste her on the sea spray. The waves whisper that she yet swims. Her heart throbs with life as surely as mine. I feel she has not parted from our world.”

Kiyami lowered her head as the wind whipped through her long black hair and blew the tears from her eyes. “I too wish to believe as you, my husband, but…I will pass by later.” She turned and slowly walked away.

Ghemmi’s deep blue eyes continued scanning the water as his floating samong community moved with the waves and currents of the sea. He thought, ‘Tilenika, your spirit is strong, but I feel you are weakening. Take care not to distance yourself from life. I sense you are close, so please come to the signal float I tend. Death only offers change of life…with understanding and wisdom too late to use.’ He closed his eyes as he rocked upon one of the bulbous seaweed kiila floats of the samong. His mind reached out to hers, rippling, spreading, reaching out, like circular rings expanding when a shell is dropped in still water…rippling…reaching out…reaching out.

Suddenly, he felt a strong tug on the line. He sprang to his feet and began pulling length after length of dripping line. “Kiyami!” he yelled, “Sound the alarm! We have a fight ahead!”

Here’s Alex:

TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO

The dialogue here has the old-fashioned feel of a 1930’s Hollywood film, with its grandiosity, detail, and heightened exposition. I see this style utilized in many high fantasy projects, as the ornate and otherworldly setting tends to mirror itself in the language. My problem is that I often have a tough time connecting to this lofty speak, as it might simply feel unnatural and overexposed, as in this sample with descriptions like, “stronger than most,” and, “rise from their depths seeking prey.” These are examples of dialogue that tell, rather than show, and in so doing, the voice feels forced, rather than organic. I would say be careful with such a high style, as it leads to easy traps where characters blend into the narrative, rather than stand out. Also, I think it would be for the readers benefit if Tilenika is given just a bit more description – I cannot tell from this first page if this name is that of a character, or a pet, or what, and therefore, it is difficult to get hooked immediately without that knowledge.

 

Fool’s Mate by Chris Friden – YA

Constance Yearly lashed out across the chessboard and stabbed an ice pick into the table beside her opponent’s king. She let it thrum. This pre-match ritual intimidated most foes, but Alastair “The Bellman” Brown didn’t flinch. He kept his focus on the black and white universe at their fingertips.

Constance sat back, concealing her pleasure in his brave resistance. Like so many boys, he was sure of his impending victory. Sure that everything in reach was his to take. Sure of his invulnerability, and that left him entirely vulnerable.

Constance watched him scan the playing pieces again while he tried to ignore the damnable space she’d left empty in the back row. She let that missing matriarch vex him and simmer his impatience as she waited for a sign of weakness.

And as reliably as a Caro-Kann defense, it came. Alastair’s left eye twitched.

Constance lowered her red-gloved hand into a Styrofoam cooler at her feet. She searched for her prize and an apropos expression. Revenge is best served cold? That expression didn’t do this justice.

“I’ll have the match before my Ice Queen melts,” she promised in a tone as chilled as the frozen figurine she dangled from the pinch of her fingers. She clinked her lady––clear except for the small drop of suspended red where a tiny heart might have been––onto the place beside her widower king. “Let’s begin.”

Here’s Alex: 

FOOL’S MATE

This opening sentence contains great action and violence. It’s captivating, original, and memorable. However, by introducing a universally known game like chess, prepare yourself for the reader’s intuitions. Sentences like, “missing matriarch,” confused me until I realized they were still setting up the game. Let that be clearer. Also, I am still left perplexed that Constance is able to stab the ice pick, “beside her opponent’s king,” leaving me wondering where Alastair’s queen is? The great reveal of her piece makes sense, but I’m still unsure of Alastair’s pieces. Overall, an interesting opening, with clear characters and mini-plot set to reveal itself. I like openings that feel they can stand on their own, as this does.

 

Mad Cow Science Club by Jennifer Swanson – Middle Grade

Nick Newton stepped on his shovel and pushed it deep into the dirt. Today was the day. He could feel it. He was going to find something amazing.

“Hey over, here!” Nick’s best friend Rudi Patel shouted excitedly. “Look at this.”

Nick’ heart beat fast as he raced to Rudi’s side. A treaure!

“Omph!” Nick tipped sideways as their other friend and fellow treasure hunter, Rebecca Raintree, elbowed him out of the way. “Take it easy, Beccs, this isn’t the lacrosse field.”

She snorted. “As if you could handle that.” Her dancing eyes and swift grin took the edge off the words. Nick flushed. Rebecca was right. He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse. Holding the stick while running, throwing, and catching a ball, required way more skill than his

awkward arms and legs could manage. Now science he could do. Nick was awesome at science.

“A skull!” Nick shouted. Yes, today was a good day.

“I thought we were supposed to be looking for dinosaur bones,” said Rebecca. “That doesn’t look like a dinosaur to me. It looks like a cow skull. What’s so special about finding that? This place used to be a farm.”

Nick thrust out his chin. “I think it’s great.” He wasn’t about to let Rebecca take the wind out of his sails. This was the first big discovery for their new science club. And it was going to have a place of honor in their garage clubhouse

“ This would make a great drawing.” Rudi pushed his glasses up on his nose, his brown eyes gleaming, and studied the rock intently.

“Who cares about a dumb ol’ skull, let’s go down to the river and see if we can clean up the shore. That’s what a real science club would do,” said Rebecca.

Nick sighed. Maybe Rebecca was right. This field was a bust. Nick was about to toss the skull aside when he stopped suddenly. His hand froze. Had the sightless skull just winked at him?

Here’s Alex: 

MAD COW SCIENCE CLUB

This first page sets up a fun premise that will seem to blend some fantasy and adventure elements, told with a light touch. I like Rebecca’s strong will, and especially Rudi’s contribution that the skull would make a “great drawing.” This subtle detail speaks volumes about Rudi’s character, and it works to allow the reader to discover Rudi on their own. I feel like more subtlety could be employed for Nick, rather than stopping the action with sentences like, “He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse.” I know these are essential lines to painting Nick’s character early on, but they stall the action for me in these important first paragraphs. I don’t care that Nick is more inclined towards science class right now – I already kind of understand that with the tension between he and Becca. What I care about is discovering, along with the characters, what they’ve dug up, so avoid characterization when your narrative is in the middle of plot-building.

 

Winter Hare By Laurie J. Edwards – MG

The wolves bared their teeth and slunk closer. Achen scrabbled for a foothold on a huge oak. Splinters bit into her hands and bare feet. Blood pounded in her head and made her ears throb.

A wolf lunged.

Achen yanked her foot upward, scraping it raw. The wolf’s teeth snapped shut, just shy of her foot. The damp breath from its nostrils heated her toes and sent tremors through her body.

Terror propelled her higher. Inch by inch, she dragged her shaking limbs above slavering tongues. Below her, the beasts fanned in a semicircle. Fangs glinted. Yellow eyes glowed, feral in the gloom of winter dusk.

Achen trembled. They waited only for her to tire and lose her grip.

A snarl pierced the air, followed by a high-pitched scream. Then a slab of meat, splattering blood as it flew, arced over the wolves’ heads. The beasts turned, growling, to fight over this chunk of flesh.

While they were occupied, a black-cloaked figure stepped from the trees, drew a bow, and with deadly accuracy sent arrows quivering into the wolves, one by one. When the last carcass lay twitching, the shrouded figure threw back its hood, revealing a mass of coppery curls.

“Mama!” Achen slid down the trunk, not caring that splinters embedded themselves in her palms. She flung herself into her mother’s outstretched arms. Drawing in a shuddery breath, she begged, “Please don’t leave me again, Mama.”

Her mother’s eyes shimmered with tears. “I must, dear heart. You know that.”

Here’s Alex: 

WINTER HARE

This is an action-filled opening that grabs the reader by the throat. I can see the scene, thanks to details like, “heated her toes,” “winter dusk,” and, “quivering into.” The use of fresh language, and spare details allows the reader to fill in the missing details, and that’s a rewarding experience. Trusting the reader always pays off. After re-reading, the only think I am concerned about is Achen’s age, or size. The feral request of not being left along feels rather young, while the ability to climb such a tree is difficult. I think providing the age in this opening would be a detail best kept for later, but again, a word about her size or ability might paint her clearer in my mind. Overall, compelling.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, revisions, writing Tagged: Agent Alex Slater, First Page Critiques, Improve Writing Skills, Trident Media Group

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17. In Room Oblivion There Are Cupboard Doors...........................

Bored. Burnt out.  I'll repair the camera!!

These are the results.





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18. Washington, D.C. Best Kept Secrets

Hi!Washington, D.C. Travel Tips for Families!

I’ve been a United States President fanatic since first grade, so it was only natural that my mom started bringing me to Washington, D.C. during summer vacations. I’ve been there three times, and here are some tips I’ve learned.

Washington D.C. Capitol building

Photo by Nicholas Raymond

Tip #1: Everything is awesome, especially the D.C. Metro.
The Metro is an underground subway, and it is a good way to get around D.C. It’s safe, clean, and easy to use. Within a few days I learned all the lines to take. Some places don’t have a Metro stop nearby, so be ready to walk a little. It will be worth it because you are probably going somewhere awesome.

Tip #2: Get more out of your Capitol building tour.
You can book a tour through the Capitol building website or through your congressional representative. I’ve done both, and the tour from my Congressperson’s office was way better. I got to see more stuff, such as the Brumidi Corridors and the spot where George Washington laid the original cornerstone for the Capitol. It was also a smaller group, so there was more time for questions. Remember to pick up your passes to see a session of the Senate or House of Representatives. If you get lucky, you might be able to see a debate in action. I saw a minor debate and it was totally worth the line.

Tip #3: National Postal Museum: Mail yourself to a great time!
I was really surprised by this museum. I thought it would be boring, but it was extremely fun. It was interesting to see how mail delivery developed from pony carts to modern trucks and airplanes. When I was there I saw a Titanic and Hindenburg exhibit on how these accidents disrupted the mail system. I also learned about a mail dog named Owney.

Tip #4: Make a visit to Woodrow Wilson’s home.
This is not the first thing you think of when you go to D.C. (unless your parents are Princeton University alumni). You get to see Woodrow Wilson’s whole house, from the kitchen to his room. An especially interesting thing is the elevator he used to get around, since he had a wheelchair at the end of his life.

These places are just an introduction to D.C. There is a truckload full of more sites, memorials, branches of government, and museums to visit. Have fun!

Beata, Scholastic Kids Council

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19. "So How Long Before we Can Expect To See The Green Skies Book?"

Thank you for asking, Mark.  Did you buy Return?  Anyway, I need to respond to these things out of old fashioned politeness.

No idea. I have images cramming out my brain but I even think about picking up a pencil to draw -panic. This is total burn out. Can't even read comics.


When will The Green Skies appear?   meh

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20. Thankful for....



OK, books I have read recently that I have to review.  (Not all in one day, although I read one yesterday and one today.)

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

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21. Star Stuff with Stephanie Roth Sisson

Carl Sagan was prolific. He used to walk around with one of those tape recorders that had a strap and a microphone on a cord and record ideas when they came to him. Ideas just poured out of the guy. I love that image of him wandering around with this, recording his thoughts about this and that. I had many of [his] books to draw on, as well as television, radio, and print interviews. Mostly, I was looking for material that would capture the feeling that he left his audience with — that feeling of wonder and wanting to explore and find out more. ”

* * *

Today over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson, pictured above, about Star Stuff, her new picture book biography of Carl Sagan.

That link will be here soon, and next week I’ll have some art from the book here at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Stephanie Roth Sisson used by her permission.

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22. Illustrator Saturday – Gregory Manchess

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Filed under: illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday Tagged: Gregory Manchess

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23. Ten Library Books I'm Thankful To Have Read This Year


Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I would share the top ten library books I'm thankful to have read this past year. If you love the library, you might want to create a top ten list of your own! I'd love to read your list if you do make one!

1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]

I love and adore Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. Love and adore is probably even an understatement. I read this one twice this year. I have a review here at Becky's Book Reviews and a review at Operation Actually Read Bible.

Here's how this one begins:

The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate.

2. Goodnight, Mr. Tom. Michelle Magorian. 1981. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I checked out the book and the movie from the library. Both are highly recommended!!!

3. Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library]


This memoir is so intense and compelling!!!


4. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]

Historical fiction set in the 1950s. Would love to see this as a movie!!!

5. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Love this nonfiction title!

6.  Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles. Douglas Florian. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

Without a doubt my favorite poetry book of the year!!! 

7.  Frozen in Time. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2013. Harper. 391 pages. [Source: Library]

Yes, it's more nonfiction! And, yes, it's set during World War II.

8. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

More World War II. But it's so good. A Holocaust book for the audience of Number the Stars perhaps. 

9. The Midnight Library. Kazuno Kohara. 2014. Roaring Brook. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

There is something oh-so-magical about this picture book. It just captured my heart.

10.  A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

It wasn't easy choosing the final book. Hence why there will be honorable mentions!

Honorable Mentions:

Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

Free to Fall. Lauren Miller. 2014. HarperCollins. 480 pages. [Source: Library]

Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]

Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Greg Carrico, Author of Apocalypstick

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13418049-apocalypstick



Thanks for inviting me to guest post at BWATE. Like most of us, this is super-busy time of year for me. I’m launching a new business this month, preparing for next month’s release of the 2nd book in my super-hero/horror series, Sand, and I’m writing an entirely new six-book series with my awesome new writing partner Jennifer L Oliver. But even with all of this AND the holidays, I simply had to do this post. Food Fiction? Two of my favorite things in one place? Brilliant!

If you are reading this and have never read any of my stories, which is a pretty safe assumption, I write dark science fiction and horror. My first title was a book called Apocalypstick, which contains two short stories about men who wreak havoc upon the world because of the unrealistic ways that they view women.

The first story is a post-apocalyptic tale about a man with extraordinary powers who tries to rescue a handful of humans from a monster-infested Manhattan. As you can probably guess, food is sort of a big deal in any post-apocalyptic setting, and that is equally true with this one. I’m going to leave it there for this story, because I wrote a novel based on "Killing Tiffany Hudson", and what the characters eat -or don’t eat- hints at the Big Secret behind the main character and her twin brother.

The second story in Apocalypstick, "Finding Home", is part paranormal horror and part psychological thriller, and food plays an important thematic role. The story is told in first person from the perspective of a very troubled man who wants nothing more than a happy, normal life in a place he can call home. Chaos and bloodshed ensue.

But along the way he eats! Each mention of food in "Finding Home" is symbolic of the character’s progress in his journey. This made sense to me because nothing says Home like food. At first, he is drinking cheap cola from a can and stale ham sandwiches from a cooler in a minivan he stole from his previous “home.” Later, after he identifies his next dream-home, he enjoys slightly better fare in a hotel. A BLT and fries from room service. Feeling optimistic with his goal in sight, he goes to a movie and has popcorn. Things are looking up!

Like many of us, he has little time for breakfast and grabs a couple of baked goodies from the hotel buffet. But the moment in the story when he truly feels like this new home and family are for him is when he observes a woman cooking dinner for herself and her husband.

It is a simple meal. Baked chicken. Some veggies. Rice. The non-descript food takes a back seat to the fact that this couple’s meal represents the kind life that our main character so desperately craves, but knows he will never deserve. He wants the intimacy of sharing a meal cooked for him by someone who loves him. Eating on trays in front of the television; tossing little bits to the cute dog at his feet: these things belong to someone else. These experiences can never be his.

Ever the optimist, he decides that he has to try and make it work. And if a few more people have to die in the process, well, that’s just how life goes. 

If you decide to see for yourself how this story plays out, you can get Apocalypstick for free from Amazon and most distributors, but be warned. "Finding Home" is creepy. It’s not graphic or gratuitous, but it will probably make your skin crawl. "Killing Tiffany Hudson" is more of an adventure story, and I expand the setting and lives of the characters in my novel Children of the Plague. My super-hero horror series, Sand, is set in the same world as a prequel, and so far includes Book 1: Shadow of the World, and Book 2: Phantom Drift, which will be released after Christmas.



Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Greg!




 
You can find Greg and his books here:




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25. Evil Editor Classics


Dear Agent X,

For Cassidy MacNamara, Thanksgiving’s no piece of piss—after all, throwing a bunch of fire elementals in one room incites brawls and torched curtains. [It sounds more like Thanksgiving is a piece of piss. Not that I'm familiar with the term, but I assume it means the same thing as piece of crap or piece of shit.] [Oops, a bit of research reveals it's British and means the same as piece of cake. Hey, at least cake, unlike piss, comes in pieces, you crazy Brits.] [Wait, do Brits even celebrate Thanksgiving? Additional research shows they don't, but these could be Americans in Britain or Brits in America, so I'll let it go.] However, this year air elementals crash their dinner, killing some of her own and kidnapping others. including her little sister. [The word "however" suggests that this year Thanksgiving is a piece of piss, when in fact it's still no piece of piss. What you want is something like: Thanksgiving's never been a piece of piss, but at least it's never been a piece of shit. Or rather, shite. Or: Cassidy didn't expect Thanksgiving to be a piece of piss—after all, putting a bunch of fire elementals into one room always incites brawls and torched curtains. But when air elementals crash their dinner, killing some of her own and kidnapping others, including her little sister, she declares it her second-worst Thanksgiving ever.] [Note that I changed "throwing" to "putting." "Throwing" was giving the wrong impression.] [By the way, "piece of piss" is a great tongue twister. Say it five times fast.]

With her aunts and uncles arguing among themselves and her drunk Ma cradling a bottle in the corner, [This is in the same room with the corpses of their relatives lying on the floor?] Cassidy, like always, has to take responsibility. Those bastard air elementals took her little sister, but she’s going to get her back.

Problem numero uno though: fire elementals are restricted to the South. If she crosses the border, the elemental Council will send their extraction team after her. [Problem numero uno should be arranging for the Council's disposal team to get rid of the bodies in the dining room. Otherwise Sis will be coming home to a highly unpleasant scene.] [Are air elementals restricted to the North? If so, why didn't the extraction team deal with them? If not, how does Cassidy know her sister's been taken to the North?] If caught, not only will her little sister be gone for good, but Cassidy will be stripped of her powers. A fire elemental without fire is nothing. Even though all she’s armed with is a couple of her crazy, but loyal cousins, her ‘69 Camaro and a hostage who won’t shut up, [You forgot to include the ability to manipulate fire. When you have flamethrowers and your enemy has leaf blowers, I like your chances.] Cassidy will make sure her family comes home, no matter what the cost.

"When Fire Ignites" is a 90,000 word urban fantasy.

Regards,


Notes

You'd think a society that has extraction teams to keep elementals in their own areas would also have authorities to deal with renegade air elementals who commit crimes.

Presumably the mix of mythological creatures, Thanksgiving, "piece of piss," "numero uno," is part of the book's charm, and not anachronism gone wild.

I like the voice and humor if the book is also funny, but it's unusual for a query in which the main plot development is that characters are murdered and kidnapped to stress the comical aspects. Is the plot more adventure/thriller or comedy?

The query is mostly setup. When her little sister is kidnapped by air elementals, Cassidy and two of her cousins head into the forbidden North on a rescue mission. Expand that into a three or four-sentence paragraph that includes the important stuff I left out, and you still have room to tell us what the plan is, what obstacles pop up, what the air elementals want with Little Sis.


Selected Comments

AlaskaRavenclaw said...I found this query incomprehensible, even when I tried rereading it without EE's blue comments. Try for less, er, voice and more clarity.


IMHO said..."A fire elemental without fire is ..." what? A human? A fairy? I'm really unclear on the characters and the setting (Alabama/Connecticut? South Pole/North pole?). Why did air elementals crash the party/kidnap the kid? Feels more like a madcap movie trailer than a query designed to hook an agent.


Veronica Rundell said...Jesus god. Please don't de a Brit trying to write 'Murrican. This ALWAYS falls flat. Because, as EE has stated, the colloquialisms simple do not translate. I don't care if the words are English--the sentiment is foreign. That being said, set your query aflame and start again.

Describe what the heck actually happens in the story. And be more specific than North v. south, k? If you are a dreaded Murrican (that's how my son calls the incompetent persons seemingly constantly featured on Fox News) you know that America is region-specific. And North-South is too vague to really gain a flavor of authenticity.

Good luck!


AlaskaRavenclaw said...The Brits talk about their North and South too, with the cultural assumptions more or less reversed AFAICT.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...
I'm going to try to synopt this story as I understand it from a 3rd reading of the query.

Cassidy McNamara is hosting Thanksgiving for her extended family of fire elementals when some air elementals show up. They kill several of Cassidy's family and kidnap her little sister.

The relatives don't fight back, they just argue and get drunk. So Cassidy goes off to look for her sister alone.

However, she's not allowed to leave the South. (I'd leave that out, since it clearly doesn't deter her. The next sentence contains an unclear antecedent... let's not worry about this. You'll have to rewrite from the ground up.)

She hops into a car with some relatives-- it turns out she wasn't the only one willing to pursue Sis. Off they go.

Hm.

I would work on the fire elemental aspect if I were you. You don't say what it means. I'd think, for one thing, it would make one want to stay away from alchohol and Camaros. Also, give us some context. Who are air elementals and why are the fire elementals so powerless against them? Air makes fire stronger. Is this some kind of Hatfield/McCoy feud? What's at stake? If it's preserving Cassidy's family, can you make them sound less undesirable?

In other words, what is the actual challenge facing the protagonist?


Veronica Rundell said...EE and Alaska make concise work of the set-up, unfortunately I don't get a true sense of urgency from the author's query. It's heavy on the snark, light on the plot. Try re-balancing with a good dose of 'toning this down'.

Also, and perhaps this is me, but why the muscle car? I mean, the dang thing is 50 years old. Why is it so important to the story that it's in the query?

Also, no idea why anyone would host Cassidy's family for a Sunday dinner, let alone turkey day. They sound reprehensible, and TSTL.


Veronica Rundell said...That Alaska has read this query three times, author, should give you some sense of her kindness, and commitment to helping you rewrite this...

I hope you understand how unlikely it is that an agent will read it more than once. It has to be perfect. Work hard, revise. Let us see it again...


AlaskaRavenclaw said...Why thank you, Veronica. What a nice thing to say.


Anonymous said...Hey Alaska, many of us appreciate your decisive and insightful comments.


Evil Editor said...Actually, I think you meant divisive and incite-ful.

Hey, just kidding.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...Thanks, Anonymous.

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