T.A.A. CARES – Author Spotlight #2 – Julie Hedlund’s Epic Hybrid Author Adventure

As I mentioned last week, T.A.A. CARES is kicking into overdrive for the winter holidays, and in honor of Picture Book Month, our next author spotlight is children’s author Julie Hedlund-

Photo-2-crop (Julie Hedlund Mini)

(Meet Julie, the ORIGINAL “Guru of Gratitude”)

 

I first discovered Julie when she first guest starred on an episode of “Brain Burps About Books” (Episode  #78, to be exact, which you can listen to here: http://katiedavis.com/78), the #1 podcast about the business and craft of Children’s Publishing, founded and hosted by author-illustrator Katie Davis, who discovered Julie by following her progress back in her “Pre-Published” days as a blogger who back in January 2012 fueled the spark of the picture book writing challenge known as 12×12 (Now in its second year) that has already become a living phenomenon for picture book authors and illustrators the world over.

12-x-12-new-banner

For those still unaware, 12×12 is a writing challenge specifically for picture book writers and author-illustrators. It’s a YEAR long program designed to provide support, tips and tricks, and inspiration to the writers who participate. Anyone who’s tried to write a picture book will tell you that it’s NO CAKEWALK (What is a “Cakewalk” anyway?) To put it bluntly, and forgive the cliché, it’s harder than it looks. Really.

In some ways, 12×12 is like the picture books writer’s equivalent to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month that begin in November 1999 and been held yearly every November since), in terms of an active community support from fellow writers, the event’s founders, and over the years various bestselling authors providing pep talks, and sometimes taking on the challenge themselves.

Some authors even BEGAN their emerging careers via NaNoWriMo, though not necessarily debuting or otherwise publishing the books they originally drafted during NaNoWriMo.

But there’s  one KEY difference to keep in mind. Unlike NaNoWriMo, or similar MONTHLY events like PiBoIdMo (National Picture Book Idea Month)  where you just have to jot down 30 IDEAS for picture books, not full drafts, or NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month, Originally Founded in April 2003, and has since occurs yearly in March), 12×12 is a YEAR LONG program where the goal is to draft as CLOSE to 12 picture books that you can get, and at those who register in early January are eligible fabulous prizes, and introduced in 2013 was the chance to get critiques from agents, editors, and published authors that can help take your manuscripts to the next level. But you NEED to register in early January to be eligible, and on that note, and there’s something else that’s to key to remember.

Starting in 2013, 12×12 (Which was free its inaugural year) has evolved to a tiered-payment model, partly because year-long events take a LOT of planning, administration, moderating, rounding up authors, agents and editors to lend their expertise and support that takes them away from their own work, and yes, a fair amount of money, for the running of the site and its community, and being able to offer such rad prizes for the writers who take part.

Also because while this event can help writers, writers are also in business, and like in any other career, we balance our charity GENEROSITY (Things we gladly give away to our blog readers, newsletter subscribers  close writer friends, etc.) and things we charge for to maintain our livelihood.

Keep in mind that many writers are also parents, have spouses, and often have to work two or MORE jobs for the bulk of their income. Not all authors are able to earn a living solely through their writing.

I’m not a parent or married, but I STILL HAVE issues with finances, or lack thereof, and like Julie, I too am trying to find ways that will earn me income without putting my writing dreams on indefinite hold.

Something a few of my writer friends (Who are parents and in some cases caring for their own now elderly parents) are being forced to do. Authors provide services that  allow them to stay in the business of publishing, even if the path to selling your first book (Or your second, third, or 20th) is LONG.

PiBoIdMo (National Picture Book Idea Month) is also run in a similar manner regarding eligibility for the prizes author and the end. Though PiBoIdMo, and most other writer challenges are free to participate, some like NaNoWriMo appreciate donations to both keep the site (and it’s conjoined community) running as smooth as possible, and to give back to worthy causes.

 

It’s on that note I get to what I ask my T.A.A. readers to do to help support Julie. In addition to founding and hosting her 12×12 picture book wiring challenge; she’s a regular contributor to the “Brain Burps About Books” podcast, got repped by a literary agent, published her first picture book APP called “A Troop is a Group of Monkeys” illustrated by Pamela Baron, is now also available in print, both from Little Bahalia Publishing, and contributes to CBI’s “Fighting Bookworms” clubhouse community (For paid subscribers of the monthly Children’s Book Insider newsletter) as their “Guide to the Future of Publishing.”

 

 

She’s also a SCBWI member (As am I, though my membership expired this month and I have to wait until December to renew…[Sigh])

 

Her (Potentially) next picture book is a bedtime verse tale called “My Love for You is the Sun” will also be published by Little Bahalia Publishing, but here’s the twist, being a small press, Little Bahalia can really worth directly with authors in a personal,  more intimate way that larger publishers often can’t, partly due to their larger overhead costs, unless you’re one of their bestsellers (And even then there are countless variables involved on a per author basis), but what larger publishers can lack in being more personable with their authors, can (At least PARTLY) make up for in wider distribution, better line up reviews on sites like The Horn Book, Kirkus, and School Library journal, connecting with library systems nationwide, and some significant marketing efforts in addition to whatever authors do on their own.

 

Plus, larger publishers (I don’t mean JUST “The Big 5” Folks!) are also high-end indie publishers like Candlewick Press, Chicken House, Nosy Crow, and FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX (aka The ORIGINAL “F.S.G.”) having more pull in brick and mortar retailers, which for print books (ESPECIALLY in the children’s book market) is a BIG DEAL.

 

Ebooks have their place, and are a strong preference for some teens and adults, especially if space for print books is limited, etc. But children by and large (And adults, myself included) still prefer print books, and in picture books especially, are still the preference of teachers and parents, especially the “rare few” who are able to make time to read to their kids, day or night!

 

In order for Little Behalia to publish, “My Love for You is the Sun” they need additional funding for the illustrations, and final production costs they can’t cover alone, and Julie (With assistance from her agent) worked out a deal with Little Bahelia Publishing to start a Kickstarter campaign to earn the needed funds, which would allow Little Behalia to add this book to their future release list.

 

Here’s what I ask of you, my loyal readers (Especially if any of you are authors or have blogs tied to children’s books, parenting, or literacy) to spare some time (And Money if possible) to Julie’s crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter-

 (FYI, that GORGEOUS ILLUSTRATION is only ONE of the 20+ pages of art to accompany the final printed book)

 

As with my previous spotlight for “FETCH” this is a project I believe in, and I know from following Julie since 2012, she is a writer you can trust. I would NEVER spotlight projects on T.A.A. CARES if they didn’t come from real people who put their trademark grit and heart into it.

Even though publishing is a business (Which is hard for me to type because I feel it can have negative connotations due to the jerky scammers that sadly do exist from time to time. It’s NOT always “Lack of will to work hard” but “Lack of MONEY!” which isn’t the same as saying “I don’t want to pay for good help” but I just can’t fund it all alone. Period.), writers still need to put PASSION into what they do.

Potential readers, especially kids and teens, know when you’re not genuine. While authors need to have tightly written stories to warrant the costs of publication (ESPECIALLY authors who self-publish with no help from a publisher) they still NEED the love and passion ONLY THE AUTHOR can provide. But even the most business-savvy authors can’t do it ALL ALONE!

Kickstarter (Among a few other sites) is another way for authors who can’t head up the costs to publishing themselves, and because Kickstarter’s platform is “All or Nothing” if the total needed funds aren’t meant, the project “fails” and all donations are returned to their respective donors. (Called “Backers” on Kickstarter)

To crack down on jerky scammers, and to aid in avoiding various integrity issues, Kickstarter also has to screen and approve proposed projects, so you need to be sure your proposal covers EVERYTHING, and like with traditional publishers and literary agents, projects can be rejected, but once the project’s approved, you’re in the system, and from there it’s up to you to ensure you do all you can to promote the project (In a sane NON-spammy way!), and let fate do the rest…

 

As an soon-to-be published author myself (Also via the small press route) it allows me to give back to authors on the same path as me. To deliver the most genuine and passion-soaked stories I can to share with the world, and (While I do want to make some money) I long for the day to receive a letter (Paper or iPad) from a kid or teen who fell in love with a book I’d written, just as the authors I love and admire touched my heart and inspired me to be part of this wonderful tradition of storytellers.

In closing, my loyal readers, I ask you to spread the word, and if you can, spare whatever money you can to ensure that like FETCH, “My Love for You is the Sun” finds its way not just to publication, but to the readers (Young and old) who need it most. You know I will.

Until next time, may the fantastic fauna be with you.

 

 TAA_CARES 2

Picture Book Mania

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Today is the start of Picture Book Month (Watch the video above to learn more!), and here at T.A.A., we’ve found a fun way to celebrate that you can benefit from. Throughout November I’ll be spotlighting some of my favorite picture books and the authors/illustrators who bring them to life. From  world famous series to the first-time efforts, and all the (Once hidden) gems in-between!

 

Today also marks the start of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)-

 

piboidmo2013-participant-214x131

 

The goal is to have 30 ideas for picture books. Remember, these are IDEAS, not drafts of picture books, unlike NaNoWriMo, the goal is just to have a basic concept for what could be a picture book, drafting them at a later date. Learn more 

If you register by November 4th, 2013, you can enter in a drawing to win various prizes, including (But not limited to)-

Books signed and/or personalized by the author and/or illustrator

Picture Book Critiques by published authors

 

You must be a registered participant to win the prizes.

Click the link below to learn how to register-

 

http://taralazar.com/2013/10/24/piboidmo-2013-registration/

 

Whether your a pre-published author, a teacher,  devout reader or all/any of the above, there’s a lot to love about PiBoIdMo, even if you choose not to take part in the challenge. 

Your literary rat’s taking part this year (Wish me luck!) and while picture books have never been my strength in terms of writing them, I know I have the ideas, and I’ve already come up with several on the first day alone! Not bad for my first official year.

If you’re participating in PiBoIdMo, let me know in the comments below, I wish everyone the best of luck.

 

Today is also the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)-

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover (1)

Like PiBoIdMo, I’m taking part in this year, and while I’ve come up short my last four attempts, this year I will draft a book to the end, and with work on my debut novel GABRIEL slowing down as we near the end of 2013, I need something to aid the wait time….

 

But in addition to all the fun challenges going on in November, I’m pleased to announce our next spotlight project for “T.A.A. CARES”-

TAA CARES 3

 

This is an initiative that started earlier this year to give support and awareness to various content creators whose projects need money and/or word of mouth to 

Our first spotlight was for FETCH, a picture book written by Adam Glendon Sidwell, who started a Kickstarter campaign to earn the needed funds to pay his illustrator and printing costs. After missing out on a project that didn’t meet it’s funding goals (You can read about that story here: http://talkinganimaladdicts.com/how-i-met-a-kindred-spirit-on-kickstarter), I HAD to do what I could to spread the word. So, in addition to making a donation, I also spread the word via Facebook and Twitter. 

That project met it’s funding goal is well on the way to publication. 

 

This time, our spotlight is on a book that while not as far along as FETCH yet, author Julie Hedlund (Founder and host of the 12×12 picture book challenge and contributor to CBI [Children’s Book Insider’s CBI Clubhouse]) is taking the plunge with crowdfunding her next picture book via Kickstarter, an eBay-like fund-sourcing social network that allows authors and other content creators a viable way to earn money needed to bring their projects out of the proverbial drawer and into the hands of the consumers. 

 

Her Kickstarter Campaign isn’t live yet, but you can share your support on her blog post linked below-

 

http://www.juliehedlund.com/why-i-am-crowdfunding-my-next-picture-book-part-i/

 

You can also buy her first published effort, the storybook app “A Troop is a Group of Monkeys” published by Little Bahalia Publishing. Now available in print too!

 

As Julie explains in her series of five videos (The first of which is found in the link above), while many authors long for a traditional publishing experience, and/or have a preference for print over ebooks and story apps, for many authors (Herself included) we sometimes need to take less traveled roads and take (Reasonable) risks to get there. 

 

For authors who just don’t have the money (On their own) needed to self-publish at the needed level of quality to be taken seriously by readers and potentially agents and/or publishers, crowdfunding projects via platforms like Kickstarter is one way for authors to get the needed funds to get a book out of the office, onto the presses, and into reader’s hands, physically and/or otherwise. 

But as Julie warns in the videos preceding the one linked above, this isn’t a shortcut to publication, but a way to earn funds for the things we as authors or author/illustrators can’t do alone, or need help to do, but that said-

At times, I do feel  people in general confuse “Lack of Money” with “Lack of Will” because there’s a difference between “Not able” and “I don’t want to!” Those of you who are parents and/or teachers, you get what I mean, it’s like when you need to teach kids that HOW you say something is just as important as what’s actually said.

“Can I PLEASE have a Cookie?” is more respectful than “I Want a cookie NOW!”

Whether or not you give the cookie, you’re more apt to at least give the first response more consideration and courtesy than response 2.

Authors who are successful on Kickstarter or other alternate roads to publication come to it from a “Not able” (i.e. Can I PLEASE have a cookie?) frame of mind. That mindset is critical. 

While authors do what we can to support each other, there’s a difference between asking for a critique of a query letter or manuscript, and money to fund a publishing venture, both require commitment and trust on the part of the donor and beneficiary, and let’s be honest, the current world economy doesn’t help make financial generosity easier, never mind any personal/professional reasons we may have.

For this reason alone, I won’t be doing a Kickstarter campaign anytime soon. I know it will be an option for me at some point, but not until I’ve done all I can on my own first, since projects on Kickstarter need to be approved, and you only get one shot to earn your funds, you don’t want to leave anything on your end to chance. 

In the meantime, I urge you to help me and T.A.A. CARES, support Julie as she soon embarks on her Kickstarter adventure, and if you missed out on supporting our first T.A.A. CARES spotlight, this is your chance to if not spare money, at least some time to spread the word to those who can, online and off.

 

Check back soon to learn more about Julie Hedlund, and since no one entered the FETCH grand giveaway, stayed tuned for how you can still win a personalized signed copy of FETCH and my debut novel GABRIEL in a new giveaway.

As always, I appreciate comments from my readers, don’t be shy, I’m trying to build a community, and your comments and feedback is appreciated. We’re on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, too!

(@TAA_Editor|http://facebook.com/talkinganimaladdicts|htt

p://plus.google.com/+Talkinganimaladdicts)

 

Until next Time,

May the fantastical fauna be with you.

Taurean J. Watkins: Nickname: Taury Literary Rat/Founder of Talking Animal Addicts

Taurean J. Watkins: Nickname: Taury
Literary Rat/Founder of
Talking Animal Addicts

 

 

Work For Hire Books – One Writer’s View

Beg Message

As a writer, I sometimes have issues with *work-for-hire books.

Even though many of my hard-working writer friends have gone this route which often made up most of their early sales, if not their ONLY sales, and are proud of that, and I know full well it’s NOT easy to write to someone else’s formula, within a crazy tight deadline.

But like with a lot avenues one can take in this business, not everyone can do it, and that’s OKAY, though the “wayward businessman” in me still finds it hard to walk away from a market that needs writers, even if I know I don’t have the interest or skill to write for it.

*NOTE: For those of you non-writers, work for hire books are often on a very tight schedule, often long open-ended stories, books on average written within weeks or months of each other, as opposed to the YEARS non work for hire books can take, like my debut middle grade novel (pub. date unknown even to me, right now at the time this blog post was originally written, not bragging, just making a valid point…)

Now I know in other mediums, such as film or television, there’s inherent collaborations involved, even in the scripting stage, where multiple writers work on ONE screenplay for ONE film or television pilot (Which may or may not be the first episode of the finished show), but many writers like me prefer working on novels because we like having more control of the story we tell, and I can understand the frustration with work-for-hire books for writers who are struggling to have their original work read and represented.

Not everyone can afford to self-publish right, and in the U.S. at least, having an agent is becoming more necessary if you want to have a fair chance at going the traditional route with a publisher, and not all small presses are as opened to unagented writers as they once were.

 

Aside from aiding authors through the business aspects (Which some of us AREN’T as great at on our own for whatever reason, but still TRY because we must), they also give editors at publishers a way to screen submissions they receive so they’re less likely to get manuscripts that can’t use, again, for whatever reason, which isn’t always that “This is horrid” answer writers may first think.

Sometimes it’s just timing, oversaturation of a genre, too many similar books in the market, either in general or just with that specific publisher, the list goes on.

My point is that like in the writing process, there’s more to a great book in reader’s minds than the writing, even though that DOES matter, too.

While some writers feel readers don’t care about how stories are written in the ways authors do, I know many readers who aren’t writers or in publishing who have HIGH standards for language, even if story is most important to them, so I don’t always feel the “Story Trumps All” mindset is accurate or fair to describe readers anymore than writers, and it certainly DOESN’T change the fact that most writers have to turn in fairly tight and realized stories, no matter how much editing or revision we do later, and that’s something I don’t think  many lay readers and story-centric writers understand.

But to play “Devil’s Advocate” it is true that things can be well-written but not a story. I just don’t think writers can escape quality of the writing overall to get agents, editors or lay readers on their side as much as some like to think. Or at best oversimplify from the writer’s view.

 after recent events post chatting with Janice about storytelling vs. writing. As she stated above, the reason some books succeed despite less attentive (Note I didn’t say horrid) writing, is because the voice of a character or group of characters make up for that.

As a pre-published or non-brand name writer struggling to be read, this is frustrating at times, but for readers (Though I know some critical readers who aren’t writers [or in publishing] that would disagree), it’s not always as big a deal.

Don’t forget, we as authors want readers to be engaged, and we don’t have to write elegant prose to do it. (But I personally do like well composed prose, that doesn’t mean story matters less to me, I just like books that can do both, that’s all…)

For many writers, including myself , who struggle to write solid stories under our real name, and can’t/don’t want to hire out “staff” writers feel a little off put by the ever rising surge of popularity of work-for-hire books, such as Goosebumps, Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High, while those of us outside that market are struggling to break in, and though I’ve learned in the right approach and in the right hands, it doesn’t have to be as bad as I feared (As I noted in my review of the first Geronimo Stilton, which is also an overview of the series, that may or may not be work-for-hire, so don’t hold me to it), from a lay reader’s standpoint, the writer in me still has issues to work out there…

But what do you think?

How did you react when you found out a series you love is WFH?

Did you find there are more well-written WFH than you first thought? Do you feel the gems in this arena rise above the “junk?” (That’s subjective to point, of course)

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

When is a “Great Story” is NOT About The Writing?

No Writing Sign

No Writing Sign

 

 

As a writer, I’ve learned a lot of things about myself, both things I’m proud of, and things I’m not, and one of my biggest disappointments had nothing to do with query letters, learning more about publishing that I at times REALLY didn’t want to know, or even hearing the word “Platform.”

I stopped loving to read.

I know. I became a writer BECAUSE I learned to love reading.

But here’s the thing, when you go from being a lay reader who just wanted a book to entertain (and some times inform you), to a writer, where the realities of the market demand the most error-free manuscript possible just to get READ, never mind an agent or get published, a lot of that love sadly flies out the window.

Sure, I still read as I learned the ins and outs of  writing, but I was so focused on the technical aspects of writing that the notion of “Writer’s Playtime” was Greek to me. How could I care about characters or story when what’s getting picked apart in critiques are things like-

 

 

  • You don’t stay in one POV throughout
  • You’re digressing too much in this scene.
  • You write too “Complex” for your intended readers
  • Your prose is too “On the Nose. No real person would say that.”
  • Why don’t you show this conflict instead of
  • This is just too long for X age readers. Period.

 

The list goes on, but I’ll stop there.

My point is this, how can writers re-engage with reading without putting the needs to study their craft by the wayside?

Some writers say this is just part of the deal and just to live with it. But I can’t accept that. How can I, in good conscience, continue my journey as a writer, when I no longer can read the books I’m TRYING to write in the first place?

That would be like accountant who can’t use decimals points correctly or can calculate percentages. Or firefighters who were never trained to fight fires, or handle other types of emergency scenarios.

How can writers no longer can read what they love, which is what made me want write in the first place, without being a hypocrite?

The books and authors I’m now being annoyingly compared to were once my friends. My escape from the pain at home, and at school (I didn’t start writing until I was 16), and kept me focused on something that was fully in my control, unlike jumping hoops to get my GED after high school didn’t work out, if I didn’t write that day, it’s on me, not a mismanaged and broken system.

(I’m talking about the education system, NOT publishing, but it’s got its own share of problems that aren’t SOLELY the fault of authors, but that’s another blog post…)

Now those friends are my rivals.

Many writers think we have no competition and that we’re better off just to keep writing.

I’m not sure that’s an option anymore.

Whether we like it or not, part of writing is playing this comparison game, and I’m speaking from the business side, not the writer side, and for those of us who don’t have a PhD in marketing, this is the part of the process that hurts even more than form letter rejections.

While I just don’t see books as products like toothpaste or makeup, like those products, books need to face a lot of scrutiny before we ever get to the desired reader at the end, and this “There’s no competition” mentality a lot of writers,even those I admire and respect, is blind to the fact that when we go from writing to SELLING our writing, that mindset has to change, and for those of us who can’t afford to self-publish right, we HAVE to face this hurdle at some point.

Thankfully, great writers think alike when facing difficulties in their lives and stories. Last year, I had an interesting round of correspondence with author, Janice Hardy, who I first met many years ago on a forum for writers, and while we had our ups and downs, I now consider her a friend, and a solid example of a writer who really practices what she preaches in regards to art and business of writing.

I’ll talk more about what I learned from Janice tomorrow.

 

 

What do you think?

Why are some stories able to outshine the writing of them, and others are held back because of the writing?

Is publishing out of touch with this discrepancy?

Are we asking too much of writers in this regard, or not enough?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving On, Moving Forward

 

 Kitawaki_Quo_vadis (2)

-APRIL 28TH, 2013-

Moving On, Moving Forward

Hi All,

 

After three years on Blogger, I’ve made the leap to self-hosted WordPress-

 

http://talkinganimaladdicts.com

(NOTE: You can’t use “www” before my url right now as it won’t work, I don’t know why, but I’ll fix that as soon as I can…)

Thanks to those of you who supported me behind the scenes during my blogging hiatus, and while it will some time before I have regular blog updates again, I am working on new posts and other content that I’ll do my best to be sure it was worth the wait.

Despite all the recent outcry on other blogs saying “Blogging’s irrelevant to writers in 2013” I don’t share that view.

I blog because I saw, and still see, a GAP in my niche being underrepresented, and outright misunderstood. Despite stumbles on my part in the past, I will continue to rep that niche to the best of my ability.

I’ve also decided that T.A.A. going forward will be less about my writing from the career side, and more of a reader-friendly environment.

Unlike many writers I admire/respect, I no longer feel comfortable mixing art and commerce on T.A.A. I will eventually have my author site up to handle that side of things.

I’ll have it launched as soon as I can. From now on, I’m just going to share the variety of this misunderstood genre, and hope we can finally end the stigma, or at least put it in its place.

After all, even sexy vamps, YA books in general, and death-happy dystopian tales used to be the “Kiss of Death” as far as NY publishing was concerned, and now readers can’t enough, even if agents and editors feel the exact opposite, LOL.

For those of you born AFTER the year 1987-2000, trust me, the hot genres and authors today had their axes to grind when paranormal fiction in general, even without XXX romance, or YA fiction, EVEN romance free, was as anti-receptive that you can can without being ethically shunned.

I’ll still share some writerly stuff in my “Letters From the Editor” feature, and when my publications increase, you will hear about them on T.A.A., but I’m going to bring T.A.A. back to what I really meant it to be-

 

A blog about spreading the message that the variety of animal fantasy BEYOND preschool land is no less REAL and VALID than the countless flavors of paranormal romance and dystopian fiction that (At the time of I began writing this e-post, April 27th, 2013) is now.

 

My blogger home for T.A.A. will remain up until the reestablishment on my WordPress site, as some features and posts are up yet. Those who have this blog bookmarked, please change to the new url above. Thanks for your patience.

 

Until next time, on my new place of residence on the web-

 

Taurean

-Your sometimes grumpy, still hopeful, and always persistant, Literary Rat

 

QUERY BLOG HOP!

Before getting to the meat of today’s post, I have announcement concerning T.A.A. I forgot to mention last week.


Musical Musings, and my other usual schedule postings will be on hiatus as I work through my offline life. 


But I do have an update worth sharing today.


Earlier this month, I signed up for a Query Blog Hop, started by the blog “Between The Sheets” by author/editor, Heather Webb.


For those too busy to read the whole rundown on Heather’s blog, here’s (roughly) how it works-


Writers who registered before 6/22/12, critique each other’s query letter(s), maximum of two per entrant, and send a revised “final” version based on feedback, by Friday [6/29/12] at Midnight


The winner gets a free editorial critique of their first 2,000 words, and so I hope you’ll offer your thoughts on one or both queries I share with you today. 


 This contest also gives me an opportunity to sharpen my own critiquing skills, which is still not a straightforward thing for me, but I’m trying. 


Without further delay, here are my entries- 


NOTE: Any changes differing from the norm of  “standard issue submission format” was done for ease of reading via the blog.




Query #1


Dear Agent, 


Gabriel Crisping loves pawing through junkyards, village alleys, dumpsters, salvaging the junk humans throw out—and he recycles them to build his inventions. While some of the forest residents appreciate his tinkering, the majority his fellow rats, even his best friend Rum Wheatland, think him a crazy dreamer. 


When a harsh storm blows in, ruining a promising dumpster dive, Gabriel seeks refuge in Mr. Quint’s toy shop. He finds a kindred spirit in the elderly toymaker, who loves theorizing and inventing contraptions as much as Gabriel does. Yet by befriending Mr. Quint, Gabriel has broken a universal law – he has spoken directly to a human! Gabriel keeps Mr. Quint a secret until Rum’s parents are killed in a human trap. When Rum learns of Gabriel’s friendship, he severs ties with him and focuses his anger on Mr. Quint, planning to wage war toward not only the old toymaker, but also humanity at large. 


The only way for Gabriel to save Mr. Quint is to stop Rum, whose grief sinks him into the madness and violence of vengeance. The only thing worse than losing an old friend, is betraying a new one, and maybe, he can save them both.


GABRIEL is a 34,000-word middle grade novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.




Query #2


Dear Agent,

Aurel Finnwhistle may be a weasel, but the only things crooked about him are the bent tip of his tail, and bent spike pearl he wears around his neck. This irregularly shaped ‘Baroque Pearl’ contains ancient magical properties from times gone by, and gives Aurel the ability to transform into a human, to both search for his elusive father, and to solve the mystery behind the dark powers that took his mother’s life.

Henrietta Caulfield is a working class high school student who suppresses her dream to be fashion designer, to care for her father who is losing his eyesight due to a curse, and is determined to find a rare tea that is the only known cure to reversing her father’s curse.

These worlds collide when Henrietta’s best friend Orla reveals her identity as a weasel princess who escaped her kingdom when an army of unknown origins seized control. 

To save the queen and restore peace, Orla must create a team of warriors to defend her kingdom, and Aurel and Henrietta insist on standing by her. What they did not expect was to fall in love along the way.

THE BAROQUE WEASEL is a 50,000-word Young Adult novel.

Share your thoughts to either or both query letters in the comments below. What could be tighter? What read weird or unclear? Anything that seems off or confusing. 

Remember, the better you can explain and show WHY something doesn’t work for you, the easier it is for the writer to fix it, or at least know it’s there…

You can find the full list of writers in the blog hop here.

Best of luck to all of you.

Ciao for now,
Taurean

Take A Chance Tuesday – 3rd Edition

Before going into this week’s challenge, I’ve got to come clean. I was a bit discouraged about continuing this feature since many found the first two impossible to commit to.


Outside the week leading up to Easter (Or Passover), which I know many folks would be too busy on average to do a challenge, no one found earlier challenges well before either holiday in their reach given the comments of the first being all in the vein of “Sorry, no time this week” and the second having no takers at all. (My family’s not into togetherness, to put it gently) so my ability to perceive that in more connected families is not all that great.


I started to feel like no one found my first couple challenges achievable or relevant.


So, until I get enough reader mail to prove the contrary, I’m keeping my challenges really simple, and whenever possible, don’t require the reader to leave the blog to complete them. Though, I thought people could do the last challenge easy (All you had to do was recommend 5 books, that’s all there was to it!)


I strongly suspect the majority of my readership are women, and often mothers, so ladies, and lads too, help me out here. This week’s challenge is the first every “Take Requests Tuesday.” 


What are some writer challenges that you can fit around family, day jobs, and seemingly endless responsibilities. I don’t have these specific barriers, so maybe my challenges ask too much of the majority of  the writers who drop by, and I only wanted to motivate, NOT overwhelm. 


Just tell me in the comments below, what kind of challenges you’d like to see featured on future editions of Take A Chance Tuesday. They must be something that aren’t too genre specific, and that can be accomplished within a week from the start of the challenge.


Come on, everyone, T.A.A. can only be so interactive unless you help me out a bit, so come on, show some grit and gumption. Most of us are living Spring, the time of renewal and growth, T.A.A. can’t grow if I’m in this alone.


So again, in the comments below, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SHARE SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE EDITIONS OF TAKE A CHANCE TUESDAY, THAT ARE SIMPLE, NOT TIED TO ANY ONE GENRE, AND PEOPLE CAN ACCOMPLISH WITHIN A WEEK, AND DOESN’T ASK FOR ANY SPECIAL RESEARCH OR LENGTHY TIME COMMITMENT.


PLEASE, help me. help you better.


Call for submissions ends Tuesday, April 17th, 2012, at Noon EST.