For the last couple weeks I've devoted my time to blowing the dust off the query letter for Moving Fear, writing a new one for PRICK, not to mention making sure my Query Tracker subscription was up-to-date. Now that I've severed ties with my previous agent, it's time to hit the query trails again.
The truth is, if I wasn't doing all of that, there wouldn't be much else for me to do...writing-wise. I've been riding a high for two years thinking my writing was good enough to land me an agent, but now it turns out the agent wasn't very good - so naturally I have to reassess what that means. PRICK was my fourth novel -- all of them written over a span of seven years -- and although I'm itching to work on something else, I think I've reached a point where I'm not sure putting forth the effort will lead me anywhere. It's not that I believe my writing can't improve, because it absolutely can, but I also feel that over the course of four books I've improved enough to warrant serious consideration. The cost-benefit analysis of starting a fifth manuscript is cloudy - at best.
I guess what I'm saying is that I've reached a tipping point. I have sequels outlined for both Moving Fear and PRICK, and I'm poised to dive into either of them should I land an agent or publisher, but I'm hesitant. I'm consumed with the eternal debate that most aspiring writers are forced to face at some point. Do I possess enough talent to break into this industry...or am I simply banging my head against a wall that could care less? No, I'm not saying I'm giving up. I'm sending out query letters and tossing chum in the water to see if the sharks are interested. But at the same time, I'm not working on anything new.
Time will tell if this is just a brief respite preceding a flurry of activity and excitement, or the agonizing silence before the doctor pronounces the time of death.
Are you ready for this gorgeousness? It's been so SO hard not spilling the beans early, but the day is FINALLY here, and we couldn't be more stoked. Crystal Collier is taking over my blog today to reveal the cover for her 3rd book in the Maiden of Time series, and its a doozy!
First of all, a HUGE shout and thank you to all the wonderful people helping Crystal share her cover today: L.G. Keltner, Sandra Cox, Jennifer Lane, DL Hammons, Patricia Lynne, Lidy Wilks, Shannon Lawrence, Kai Strand, Cathrnia Constantine, Annalisa Crawford, Nicki Elson, Jessica Haight, A. A. Chamberlynn, Sherry Ellis, Nick Wilford, Kristin Smith, Kristine Hall, Sheena-kay Graham, Murees Dupe, and Lynne Fickling.
And here it comes!
Are you ready?
Are you sure?
Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016
TIME IS THE ENEMY
In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.
In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.
Can Alexia escape her own clock?
So two quick things. You know how Crystal loves giving away things? You can enter to win a eARC of TIMELESS RIGHT NOW. Yay!a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can get a notification of the book's actual release on November 1 via email (and get the first chapter FREE shortly), by shooting me your email address HERE.
Lastly, it's BLOG TOUR TIME!!!
If you're willing to help spread the word at release time, sign up today! There will be cheese in abundance, and prizes. You know it!
What do you think of the cover? What makes an awesome cover to you?
I noticed an odd thing the other day while I was analyzing my Twitter traffic (yes, I do that sort of thing). In the past whenever I posted a book review on my blog and subsequently tweeted about it, my Twitter impressions and engagement rate went through the roof – despite the fact I received just a handful of comments on the blog post itself. So today I’m running an experiment to see if this was an abnormality, or do my followers really care what I think when I discuss current literature. I’ve picked one of my most recent reads and I’m going to give it the review treatment today…then we’ll see what happens.
It just so happens the book I’m reviewing today was an impulse buy. I travel quite a bit for my job and to dull the suffering caused by the inconveniences of modern day air travel, I read. A lot. I usually make sure I have two books tucked in my backpack for this very reason, but on my last trip I miscalculated and left myself without literary companionship with multiple hours still left to go. So I ducked into an airport book store for a fiction-based life raft.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, though my taste usually runs towards mystery/suspense/thriller in either the adult or YA vein. in a dark dark wood by Ruth Ware caught my eye, despite never hearing the authors name before. The cover was very simplistic, black and white, with a single quote in red at the bottom from Reese Witherspoon (the actress, for those of you who are cinema-challenged) stating…Prepare to be scared…really scared! Both the back cover and first two pages were covered with praise for the book from a plethora of notable sources, announcing that it was soon to become a major motion picture, but nowhere could I find a description of what the book was actually about. I was intrigued anyway, so I added it to my collection.
I’ll start off my actual thoughts about the book by saying this…Reese Witherspoon must really be a WUSS!
The book begins with a couple of quick scenes of someone running desperately through the woods, either chasing or being chased, and the reader is definitely given the impression that foul deeds are at play. From then on the story jumps back and forth between the current timeline and a re-telling of events that led up to it.
We then find out our narrators name is Leonora, which in itself is a point of contention because she used to go by Lee and now she wants to be called Nora, but nobody over the course of the book can seem to get that straight. Lee/Nora is a writer, living a solitary existence in England until she receives an invite to attend a “hen” weekend (sort of a female version of a bachelor party) for an old girlfriend (Clare) from her school days. Lee/Nora is reluctant to attend at first because apparently her past friendship with Clare brings back memories of a tragic breakup with an ex-boyfriend that she has never really gotten over. But after conferring with a close friend (Nina) who was also invited, the two make a pact to tough it out together.
The “hen” takes place at a secluded home (of course - with cell phone service that seems to be suspiciously in-sync with the plot) in the woods that was borrowed for the weekend. Along with Lee/Nora and Nina, the cast of characters for the weekend include Clare (bride-to-be), Flo (the borderline obsessive best friend and weekend organizer), Melanie (a college friend who is a new mother), and Tom (a gay co-worker of the groom and bride).
To prevent me from giving away too many spoilers, I’ll simply say that Lee/Nora learns something from Clare when she arrives that immediately has her re-thinking her decision to come, and amps up the tension considerably. Utilizing the back and forth style of story revealing, the author lets the reader learn that someone is murdered…but who is dead…and who is the murderer?
That’s enough of a setup, so let’s get down to what I thought. Ruth Ware knows how to tell a story and writes in such a way that lends itself to a quick read. No, it wasn’t scary (seriously Reese?) but it was fast paced and thrilling at times. The characters were well defined and much more than card board cutouts. As far as the mystery goes, I knew what was going on about ½ way in. But to Ms. Ware’s credit, she did throw in enough red herrings and false trails to make me doubt my assumptions at times, but in the end it was predictable. Some readers might take issue with believability if they’re unable to suspend the need for rational thought by some characters, but I brushed these aside and just enjoyed the ride. This was Ms. Ware’s debut novel and her sophomore book (The Woman in Cabin 10) is already on the bookshelves…and on my TBR list.
On a five star scale, I would give this a three. I very rarely hand out five stars and four stars signify exceptional work that resonated with me long after I turned the last page. I consider three stars a pleasurable read, but did it deserve all the praise bestowed upon it? Not in my opinion.
And after all, that’s all this is…one guys opinion. If you read it, what did you think?
And after all, that’s all this is…one guys opinion. If you read it, what did you think?
Over the course of six years that WRiTE CLUB has been around, I’ve received lots of communications from former contestants. Emails, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, all from winners and the early-eliminated alike. They all wanted to thank me for hosting the contest and tell me how the contest has positively affected their writing and motivation. I cherish each and every one of them.
But this week, I think I received the ultimate compliment.
Gloria Chao (using the pen name Chun-Li) recently wrote to tell me that not only had she landed an agent using the manuscript that the passages she submitted to WRiTE CLUB came from – she landed a book deal as well!
Her debut novel American Panda, is scheduled for a Spring 2018 release. You can read the deal announcement on Publisher's Weekly HERE.
And the icing on top of the cake? I’m so excited to have Gloria here today to talk about her success and how WRiTE CLUB was a small part of it.
Welcome Gloria! Are you comfortable?
Very much so! I’m in my pajamas and I have a cup of green tea—my two prerequisites for writing! Thank you so much for having me, DL! Thank you also for hosting your one-of-a-kind contest which I was honored to be a part of! I’m so happy we connected!
I was so thrilled when you told me about your book deal, but I bet that was nothing compared to how you felt when you found out?
When my agent contacted me with the news that we had an offer, I was in shock for most of the phone call. Then as soon as we hung up, I started crying. It was an unprecedented mix of happiness, relief, and excitement. My husband—who had just happened to walk in the door—wasn’t sure if I was ecstatic or heartbroken.
What do you say we start at the beginning? How did you hear about WRiTE CLUB and what was it about the contest that interested you?
I was lucky to have heard of WRiTE CLUB through the wonderful Sub It Club’s monthly contest roundup. I loved that WRiTE CLUB was an anonymous writing battle, and I immediately thought of my pen name: Chun-Li, after the kick-ass female character from Street Fighter. I loved the idea of getting my passages in front of readers who wouldn’t know anything about me or my background.
The words had to speak for themselves!
Also, in retrospect, I love that WRiTE CLUB had all ages and all genres. The contest was open to everyone and you never knew what kind of passages were coming up next! Better than a box of chocolates (and I love chocolate so much I sometimes eat dessert first).
You made it all the way to the semi-finals, which is not an easy feat. There were 136 entries, of which only 30 were chosen by a panel of judges to step into the ring, and that was followed by seven weeks of matches. Why don’t you tell everyone what it was like going through that?
I was so honored to be among such talented writers, and making it to the semi-finals was the icing on top!
I still vividly remember seeing the first Chun-Li bout. My adrenaline spiked, a mix of joy at having been picked and nervousness about what readers would think.
But the nerves quickly disappeared. I was so touched by the kind, creative, and thoughtful comments. So many readers of different ethnicities, genders, and ages related to my character and the relationship with her mother. My dream was to write a novel with Taiwanese characters that wasn’t just an “Asian book.” And this was the moment I realized that it was possible.
Shortly after that round, I received my first agent offer. Throughout the rest of the contest, I was talking to agents on the phone while enjoying the WRiTE CLUB bouts—it was such an exhilarating, fun time!
Thank you to the WRiTE CLUB community for taking the time to read and comment!
How would you say the experience benefitted you, and ultimately paid off?
I hadn’t shared this manuscript with many readers because it was so close to my heart. The anonymity of WRiTE CLUB removed the difficulty of that and also gave me a chance to see how readers would react to my subject matter without knowing that I was Taiwanese-American like my character. The experience gave me confidence that I wouldn’t have been able to gain otherwise, and for that I will be forever grateful to you, DL, and the WRiTE CLUB readers.
One of the cool things I like about the contest is when I give everyone the opportunity to reveal themselves – after the contest is concluded – and getting to know an expanding group of really talented writers. Why don’t you tell us a little about you?
I write because I love it, and I write from an Asian-American point of view to show underrepresented readers they are not alone. I also hope to show other readers a new perspective of the world while still presenting a relatable story.
I’ve had quite the windy path here: I studied business at MIT, earned a DMD from Tufts Dental School, then practiced as a general dentist. My parents stressed math and science growing up, and though I loved to read starting at an early age, I never entertained the idea of having a career in anything right-brained until several years ago.
My novel is inspired by this unconventional journey as well as my experiences as a second-generation Taiwanese-American.
Now the nitty gritty…please tell everyone about your book?
My debut YA follows seventeen-year-old Mei, whose parents want her to become a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her germophobia and crush on a Japanese classmate. She should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ predetermined track. Now, as a freshman at MIT, she thought the umbilical cord would finally be severed, but her parents drive in from the neighboring town every weekend to remind her of how they’ve sacrificed so much for Mei’s future—just one of many reasons Mei has trouble admitting to them that her enthusiasm for medicine doesn’t begin to match theirs.
When Mei runs into her estranged beloved older brother, she begins to repair her relationship with him in secret, taking the first step in defying her parents. She rejects the sons of her mother’s friends to date Darren, who likes everything about Mei that she has tried to hide for so long: her inquisitive nature, her passion for dance, and her love for all things nerdy. As her relationship with Darren deepens, Mei must navigate the ties of love and loyalty and what they mean for her family, but also for her sense of self.
As strongly as Mei feels about the choices she makes, nothing is black and white. She is coming to the realization that as much as she is willing to give up the life her parents planned for her, she doesn’t want to lose them in the process.
How and why did you select the passages you used in the contest?
I tried to select passages that could stand alone, and I asked new readers to critique them. I also tried to pick excerpts that showcased voice, character, and humor—the 3 pieces that made up the heart of my novel.
If I could go back, I would do things slightly differently. Readers seemed to think my first and third excerpts were too similar, which I had initially done on purpose because the first had been well-received. I didn’t consider timeline or variety, and I have since learned that those are important to the WRiTE CLUB readers.
If you were going to offer some advice to anybody contemplating entering the 2017 version of WRiTE CLUB, what would it be?
Plan out all of your passages from the start but keep in mind that you want to lead with a strong entry that gives you the best shot of getting in the ring.
Things to consider when picking:
- Each week’s passage should be able to stand alone without leaving readers confused. Get fresh eyes to help you with this.
- Each week’s passage should expand upon the previous one and repeat as little as possible. Keep sequence and subject matter in mind—variety week-to-week helps.
- Pick passages based on your strengths, e.g. if your novel’s characters are strong, pick passages that highlight that. Or, if you have a lot of exciting incidents, select action-packed scenes. If you have a creepy novel, pick your scariest section.
If there’s a theme in the feedback, look for the underlying reason why people are saying what they’re saying to find the root of the problem.
Keep in mind that comments are subjective.
Have fun and bask in the anonymity!
I want to thank you for coming out today and sharing your news with us. It truly made my day when I heard. I hope you’ll drop by again when we get closer to the book birthday.
Thank you so much for having me, DL! You are a rare gem—selfless with the sole goal of helping other writers.
Believe it or not, WRiTE CLUB 2017 is just around the corner. The excitement will start ramping up in February.
Gloria Chao earned a bachelor’s degree from MIT and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts Dental School—the perfect Taiwanese-American daughter. Except she wasn’t happy. To recover from endless hours of root canals, she wrote. Then, she decided to focus on the right side of her brain which somehow had survived the childhood purge.
AMERICAN PANDA is her debut novel, coming out spring 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She was once a black belt in kung-fu and a dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. Restoration in progress.
AMERICAN PANDA on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/31681276-american-panda