Friday, December 31, 2010

BEA

So... we're looking at Spencer Hill Press's presence at BEA (Book Expo America, in NYC in May) and thinking of upgrading to a booth.

Okay, so maybe just half a booth. In the cheap section.

But it's a booth. At BEA. Frikkin' BEA!

And I'm thinking about how we could use this to make a splash.

Party? SWAG cannons? Zener card games?

Help me out here, people.  If you were at BEA, what would catch your interest?

Hmm... maybe I should bring a coffeemaker.  And coffee, too.  Otherwise, it's just a tease.

Happy New Year!

UPDATE: Food, SWAG, and free books: sounds good.  Speaking of free books, check out the Born at Midnight giveaway on Blkosiner's Book Blog: http://blkosiner.blogspot.com/2010/12/contest-and-review-born-at-midnight-by.html

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sesame Street

I'm at home with the kids all week, and they're watching Sesame Street right now, which is why I have time to check my email and write this post.

It blew my mind to see a True Blood parody on this show! "True Mud" is the beverage of choice for grouches, apparently. I haven't been this jaw-dropped by a kid show in a while.




I sincerely hope the preschoolers watching don't understand the reference.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Character Karma

One of the well-known clichés of horror movies is having an opening scene in which the teenagers who break the rules--drinking, doing drugs, having sex, etc.--are the first victims of the monster/serial killer/psycho.  And in action movies, children and dogs never die.

In writing, how important is it that the character "deserve" an unhappy ending? Alternatively, do the bad guys need to be punished in order for the reader to have closure?

Consider It's a Wonderful Life. Should Mr. Potter have had something bad happen to him? Did it bother you that he got away with it?

What do you think? 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ending Series

I finally got a chance to read Last Sacrifice this weekend! I wasn't disappointed, although it is a bit sad when series I love end. So, how do you think a book series SHOULD end?

Should the author wrap everything up in an epilogue that leaves no room for another book, like Jo Rowling did with Harry Potter?

Should the MC die? Although, in YA fantasy, that's not necessarily a series-ender (looking at you, P.C. Cast!). 

Should major plot arcs resolve, but the ending leave the characters in motion in the world?

HEA?

I know what I'm doing with the end of Soulmate, which is Ganzfield #6.  I hope to get the draft done this spring or summer, after a revision or two on #5. 


What's your preference? And what's your favorite last book in a series? (no spoilers, please!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Minder, um, I mean Mindful Musings

The Ganzfield books been nominated for a bunch!  Squee!

Best YA Book (Minder)
Best Paranormal Romance (Adversary)
Best YA Series (Ganzfield)
Best Secondary Character (Trevor in Adversary)
Best Couple (Maddie and Trevor in Minder)

Voting's open now until the end of the week at Mindful Musings: http://themindfulmusingsbookblog.blogspot.com/

Thanks to everyone who's been nominating and voting!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Xmas Week #5

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
or Henry Livingston

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Xmas Week #4

I've taken this week off to catch up on my reading.  Top of my TBR pile: Last Sacrifice. 

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Xmas Week #3

Very cool.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Xmas Week #2

More random fun:



Seriously, this kid's only twelve.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Xmas Week #1

I'm just going to post fun, random stuff all week. Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Viva la Santa

(to the tune of "Viva la Vida")

I used to fly the world
Kids would smile when the ribbons curled
Now in December I roam the mall
Taking pictures at their beck and call

I hear the reindeer sleigh bells a ringing
Short, high-voiced elven choirs are singing
Be my coat, my hat, and my black boot
Coca-Cola's why it's a red suit

For some reason that makes me pissed
Some kids say that I don't exist 
Now the empty toy bag's unfurled
Cuz it's from when I flew the world



Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas?

Season's Greetings? Happy Holidays? Great Solstice? Happy Hannukah? Joyous New Year? Um... whatever you do on Kwanzaa? (it is "Happy Kwanzaa?" I really don't know, but I'd like to get it right).

I'm from a Christian background, and my husband's is Muslim. When someone wished me a "Iyi Bayramlar!" when we lived in Turkey, I didn't get offended.  I took it in the spirit in which the person had said it, which was at the "Have a nice day!" level of social pleasantries. 

So, I put it to you in the comments: is it really offensive when people wish us well from within their own cultural framework? And it is really offensive for people to wish us "Happy Holidays!"--even if they don't tailor it to our specific beliefs? They're wishing us GOOD stuff, people! They aren't trying to offend us!

Just so we can all be clear on the difference, THIS is how you wish people ill:

"May your teenage daughter start dating a drummer."

"Have another piece of pie--it might be the final straw that gives you diabetes!" 

"May your job be outsourced and your house foreclosed on."

"I hope they declare caffeine an illegal drug, so you can never have coffee again."

Back in the trenches during First World War, some of the German and English troops declared a ceasefire on one Christmas Eve.  It wasn't something that the officers ordered; they simply... didn't feel like fighting. They even played a game of soccer on the silent battlefield on Christmas Day.

If they could do that, why can't we declare a ceasefire in the culture wars for a couple of weeks?




Oh, and if you think of another really good ill-wishing, please post that in the comments, too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tyler

Tyler is one of the sweetest kids I know. Yesterday, he sent me this link:



Thanks, Tyler!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Little Opera Goes a Long Way

I just love stuff like this. It's like an attack Band, but with class.

Monday, December 13, 2010

(Dis)Membership Drive

When we first moved to back to the US two years ago, I got a 10-gallon fish tank and bought several fancy goldfish.  They became huge mutants that outgrew the tank. After we released them into my parent's pond (which is in New Jersey, so freaky mutations won't really be noticed), we bought five, normal-looking platys.

But now... now one of them has become a zombie.


Seriously, the fish lies on the gravel like it's waiting for a side of chips. I go in with the net, and it jumps up and swims away. This has been going on for more than a week, and it keeps fooling me every morning.

Ooh--maybe the kids taught it to play dead!

BTW, Ruby's Reads has a week devoted to Paranormal Schools, and she's reviewing Minder on Tuesday. Check it out! 
Ruby's Reads

Friday, December 10, 2010

Personal Vision

I do leadership training in my day-job, and in this past week I found myself part of several discussions about personal vision.

I'm not talking about New Year's resolutions or anything like that. It's not about what you want to "do." This is about deciding who you want to BE in every important area of your life (family, career, spirituality, community life, etc.), describing your vision in a sentence or two in each area, and then putting yourself on the path to BECOMING that person.

Do: Write a novel.
BE: Be a writer.

So, as we're closing out the end of 2010, I put it to you:

Who do you want to BE? 

Once you really, REALLY know the answer to that, take a look at your current life and start sculpting. Shave off the things that you don't care about so you have more time for the people and things that really matter. Devote yourself to taking the steps to actualize your vision.

I did this a few years ago. I'm now working on my sixth novel, and I have a passion for my work. I have time to wrestle my kids to carpet and zerbet their little bellies. I have a husband who still tells me I'm beautiful, even before I've had coffee.

So, over the next three weeks, instead of making a New Year's resolution, think about articulating a vision for the kind of life that would give you joy. You might never win the lottery, or make partner, or be on the NYT bestsellers list, or have Steven R. McQueen as your devoted love-slave, but you can decide what matters to you in life and put your time and energy into BEING a person who spends time and energy that way.

Oh, and Steven R. McQueen should TOTALLY play Trevor in the Ganzfield movies. *sigh*


Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Backspace

Aspiring authors, if you've never attended a writers conference, I strongly recommend this one:

http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/

I'm trying to fit in a trip to NYC that week (May 20-somethings, 2011) for BEA. If you're going to the conference--or to BEA--please let me know. Maybe we can hang out and talk about books.

On a weird note, I went to add "BEA" to the post labels, and the auto-correct function suggested the phrase "bear-slapping."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moral Outrage

So much for my plans for invading/studying in Britain:


Grrr...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mind-Blowing

This is kind of amazing.  I like it not only for the cool math-to-art relationship, but also because the narrator would be an interesting character in a novel.  Actually, I think she might be Claire from Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires.


Thanks to Gregg for the link!

Don't forget to vote in yesterday's poll!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Poll

Hi folks,

I'll be out-of-town for my day-job for the next two days. In the meantime, here's a poll for you Ganzfield readers:


Looksie Lovitz came up with the term "Masterminder" when she reviewed ADVERSARY. In your opinion, who is more of a "Masterminder?"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fun for Friday

I'm still editing--about halfway through Half-Blood--so let me put up something fun today:



UPDATE: There's a query contest over at Turning the Page this month; check it out!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Song in My Head

Yay!  I'm done with the proof review, and the ARCs are on the way!

So far on the ARC list:

Blkosiner's Book Blog
Book Crazy
Book Vixen
Books complete me
Bookshelf Sophisticate
Cari's Book Blog
Elena's Book Café
Escape Between the pages
Everything to Do with Books
Good Choice Reading
Jenn's Bookshelves
Looksie Lovitz: Books and Wits
Missy's Reads and Reviews
Reading Teen
Reading, Writing, Raisin' Boys
Sidhe Vicious
The Wolf's Den
The Wormhole
Wicked Awesome Books

If you're not there, please contact me

I've had a song in my head all day. It's Something Corporate's Forget December:



Check this one out!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So You Want To Be A Writer

I think I met this guy at a conference...



Thanks to Brenna Lyons over at Broad Universe for the link!

In other news, Books Complete Me has named me a "Best I've Read" author for 2010!


Thanks, Cindy, Nicole, Julie, Kendra, and Sasha! Check out the awesome EVENT they'll have starting Monday, December 6th: interviews, giveaways, and other coolness. Oh, and they interviewed Trevor for this. Yeah, *that* Trevor. Really, you gotta check it out.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Love This Moment


It's here!  

I got the first paper copy yesterday afternoon, and I've dropped everything to proof it.  Assuming the print is okay, ARCs should arrive within two weeks.  If you're on the list, you should have your copy by Christmas.  If you're not on the list, contact me about it! Wooot!  It's a trilogy!

The Ganzfield books will be featured over at Ruby's Reads in two weeks. Check it out!

Ruby's Reads

Monday, November 29, 2010

Potty Mouth Error

We're getting more stuff ready for Jennifer's debut--including submitting Half-Blood to Amazon. I put everything up on Spencer Hill's vendor site, clicked submit, and got this:

"Input failed potty mouth validation."

Seriously?  They call it "potty mouth?"

As some longtime BFFs may recall, this isn't the first time Amazon has accused me of indecency: http://bookreviewstation.com/author-blog/guest-blog-kate-kaynak-minder/

Seriously, though, I don't know what triggered it this time.  Guesses, anyone?

Half-Blood
A Covenant Novel
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi—pure-bloods—have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals—well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Debut Author

How cool is this? Jennifer's book is already getting noticed. She's listed in The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge, and several people have already added her to their TBR lists.



If you're on Goodreads, click over and become a follower and/or a fan:

Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is amazing! Fans of VAMPIRE ACADEMY will love it. The main character, Alex, has a wonderfully edgy, sarcastic voice, and she's simultaneously strong and vulnerable. Put this on your "to-read" list; you won't be disappointed!


View all my reviews

You can also find her on Facebook.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Half-Blood/102626399809335

Happy weekend!

SATURDAY UPDATE: Ooh--pre-order!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And The Winner Is...

...Marcie!

Congratulations, Marcie! Please send me your mailing address through the contact form at Ganzfield.com.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Which platform? Witch platform?

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/11/22/2010-11-22_mta_offering_service_to_hogwarts_sign_for_magical_harry_potter_train_line_appear.html

Check out the red circle in the center of the sign. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!  I'll post the winner of the blog jog giveaway, then get busy making pies. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Thankful

You know how some families go around the table at Thanksgiving and each person says what they are thankful for?

What's the WORST, or WEIRDEST, or FUNNIEST thing someone could say for that?

Off the top of my head:

"I'm glad the psychic octopus is dead.  He was ruining international soccer." 

"I'm thankful for Glee theme shows." 

"I'm grateful for the incredible financial opportunity that lawyer in Benin emailed me about."

"I'm just glad this family can all get together outside of a courtroom setting."

What are YOU thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Whoa

I LOVED Hunger Games, and this fan-fic scene is AMAZING.
(Warning: this clip contains spoilers and is NOT for the faint-of-heart).



The Blog Jog giveaway continues below: Comment on Sunday's Psychic Octopus post for a chance to win a free book.

Thanks to Matthias for the link to: http://io9.com/5693052/fan+made-hunger-games-clip-gets-us-excited-for-dystopian-kid+on+kid-murder?ref=nf

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Day In the Life of a Psychic Octopus

Welcome to the Blog Jog!

Thanks for stopping by!  The next stop is Ink Slinger's Whimsey at http://inkslingerswhimsey.blogspot.com.


 So...who wants a FREE BOOK? 

Post in the comments here at Disgruntled Bear by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, November 24th, for a chance to win a signed copy of Minder (shipped to a U.S. address).

Minder (A Ganzfield Novel)

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place.
Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.
A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.
And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.
But it's still better than New Jersey--especially once she meets the man of her dreams...

+1 chance if you mention "Blog Jog" in your comment
+1 chance if you're a follower
+1 more chance if you're a NEW follower
+1 chance for each link to this contest on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I'll use Random.org for the selection and post the winner's screen name on Thanksgiving Day.  If your user profile links back to contact info, I'll email you that way, too, so there's no need to put your email address in your post unless you want to receive offers of exciting financial opportunities from Benin.

And now, A Day In the Life of a Psychic Octopus...

7:38 a.m.: I wake to a scratchy touch from the cleaning brush of my alien overlords. Curses!  This must mean they want the tank clean for another one of their rituals. 

8:55 a.m.: Crowds of the strange creatures cluster on the air side of the glass.  Their missing-limbed forms move stiffly as they point dark, shiny machines at me--recording devices for the ritual. I find the machines interesting; I'd love to open one of them up and see if I could fit inside. 

Maybe I should consider that option in the escape plan, since removing the drain cover has proved more difficult than expected.  

9:59 a.m.: The land-monsters lower the two bottles into my prison. The markings--they call them flags--mean nothing to me, but I feel the deep emotions of the surrounding voyeurs.  Their eyes widen in anticipation...which one will I choose? 

10:00 a.m.: Screw it!  I can't go wrong with Germany.

10:01 a.m.: At least the bait-fish is fresh.  Tasty.  The creatures mill around outside my tank, but the sense of urgency is gone from them.  Maybe I'll just go back to sleep.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fun with Football

I thought you might enjoy seeing this outside-the-box thinking, even if you're not a football fan.




Thanks to Aaron for the link!

Tomorrow's The Game (notice the caps), which is the Yale-hahvud football game. If you've never seen an Ivy League football game, well, then, you've missed some pretty mediocre football, since there are no athletic scholarships. But it's not about the sporting event; it's about hanging out with old friends and remembering off-color songs from years past and laughing about things that happened decades ago until hot chocolate comes out of our noses.  If you're in Boston, give me a wave.  I'll be the one wearing blue.

GO YALE!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How is this possible?

Lori over at Pure Imagination has a mission:

Candace of Candace's Book Blog has NEVER read Harry Potter.  This must change:




Make Candace Read Harry Potter Campaign


I'm still proofing the galleys of Legacy, but they're nearly ready to go to the printer--probably later today. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Debut

Spencer Hill Press just signed a new author!

Jennifer L. Armentrout's debut novel, Half-Blood, will be released in September 2011.

I'll have more info about her progress here over the next year.  I hope you'll add Half-Blood to your TBR list, though; I read the manuscript in a day and called her with the publication offer within hours of finishing.  It's that good. In the meantime, feel free to stop by Jennifer's blog and become a follower, so you can say you knew her before she was famous. 

http://jenniferarmentrout.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

YouTube Stuff

Whenever I'm editing or otherwise so busy that I might not have time enough to blog properly, I dip into my stash of amusing YouTube clips. This one cracks me up every time. Enjoy!



Thanks to Joanna for the link!

UPDATE: and the winner of the Legacy ARC is...

Michele L!

Congrats, Michele!  Please send me your mailing address through the Ganzfield contact form

Monday, November 15, 2010

Undead Americans

Check out Jennifer L. Armentrout's post about showing Zombies the love.
http://jenniferarmentrout.blogspot.com/2010/11/zombies-need-love-too.html

Comment on last week's giveaway post by midnight tonight if you'd like to try and win a copy of Legacy.

I'm proofing Legacy galleys today, so, um...bye!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Editing, Editing, Editing...Giveaway!

I have another week before Legacy is scheduled to go to the printer, so I'm proofing and checking and "clicking to accept the changes" in the manuscript for several hours every day.  I'm pretty sure that all other neural activity has ceased in my brain--I keep having moments like last night, when I looked up and realized that I should've fed the kids more than an hour earlier.

So, rather than post anything insightful today, I'll just give someone free stuff.

Comment below by midnight (EST) on Monday, November 15th, for a chance to win an ARC of Legacy and see what I've been doing instead of feeding my kids. I'll enter you for an additional chance to win if you're a follower as well as an additional chance for every link about this book and/or contest on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I'll have it shipped to a U.S. address as soon as we get the ARCs back from the printer (mid-December-ish).




Legacy
The Third Ganzfield Novel

Maddie has more problems than the average seventeen-year-old:
A psychotic killer with superpowers wants her dead.
A serious medical issue makes a "normal life" impossible for her.
And she's about to be introduced to Trevor's family.

Guess which one freaks her out the most?




This site will take part in Blog Jog Day on November 21st! If you want to know more about this (it's a great way to make your way through the blogosphere and see what's out there), you cane check out the information at http://blogjogday.blogspot.com and/or sign-up at http://www.blogjogday.webs.com.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ganzfield Week

How cool is it that Missy's Reads and Reviews has a Ganzfield week? 


This must be how Lady Gaga felt when Glee did a theme night.

I got the edited version of Legacy back from my wonderful editor Deborah yesterday. I hope to come up out of my burrow and see my shadow by the end of the week.  TTFN!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Depository

Book Depository carries both Minder and Adversary, and I sometimes use it to send giveaway copies outside the U.S. They pay me royalties and have free shipping, so it's actually more cost effective than sending an in-stock copy from New Hampshire.

They also have a "watch people buy books" feature that I find hypnotic.  Check it out here: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/live. It's like watching fish in a fishtank...if the fish were buying books.

BTW, if you're still in the market for a query critique, J.N. Duncan's giving one away from none other than Nathan Bransford! Check it out here.

UPDATE: Missy's Reads and Reviews has a Ganzfield theme all this week!  Click on the sign to check it out!

Monday, November 8, 2010

And The Winner Is...

...with 152 votes (46.2%)...

SOUL SIFTER 

Sixteen-year-old London Howell doesn't know what to do when a strange girl appears and claims he "created" her.

Congratulations, Lori!

I'd also like to take a moment to honorably mention Soul Stalker (2nd place with 61 votes) and Reaper (3rd place with 50 votes). We had a bunch of amazing books, and I wish everyone the best in their quest for publication.

I'm thrilled with the turn-out--329 voters! Thanks for voting, everyone!

Now that the Great Query Contest is in the books, we can turn to something new. A couple of days ago, Nathan Bransford dropped the shocking news that he is no longer a literary agent. Let's all take a moment to raise our symbolic glasses and wish him well at CNET.

Several weeks ago, Ollin over at Courage to Create asked his readers to come up with their "if someone you knew only had ONE YEAR to live these would be THE 5 books you would tell them to read" list.

I've been mulling that one over in my spare time.*
*3:24-3:27am last Tuesday. 


So, now I throw it to you. What are your top five books of all time?  Post your picks in the comments.

BTW, Legacy goes to the printer in the next two weeks, so please excuse me if my posts become brief, rambling, or non-existent between now and Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Query Critiques

I hope you've voted in the current Great Query Contest! BTW, I got an email a few days ago, and found out what some people charge: http://www.writersdigestshop.com/product/critique-series-query-letters/?r=wdjfbl102810-Z9197-promo

UPDATE: D'oh!  The online seminar was yesterday, so the link doesn't go an active page. Sorry! I was on a business trip all week and had scheduled all these posts in advance.  

$79x40 participants = a couple months' mortgage *whew*

Has anyone used a writing service like this--or have you gone to conferences or workshops that you'd recommend? How about QueryShark?

BackSpace Writers Conference was fantastic for me. I highly recommend it.

I think I'll have another Query Contest next Spring or Summer, but I think I'll cap it for the first 12 participants or so. I'll also offer a partial critique in next year's Brenda Novak auction.

Finally, here's something that gave me a laughing fit:
(the embed gave me some sassy backtalk, so I included the link as well).

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7451115/?ref=nf





Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Awesome

No matter where our political affiliations lie, we can all enjoy the cleverness:
















Thanks to Matthias for the pictures!

There's another batch of these at io9: http://io9.com/5677861/is-doctor-horrible-rallying-for-sanity-or-fear/gallery/8.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

E-Books

Don't forget to vote in the Great Query Contest!

Elif Batuman has written a great article about how buying e-books while drinking. Check it out here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/02/elif-batuman-ebooks-buying

My own Kindle-for-Mac software has been acting up. Every time I try to launch it, it bounces around for a few seconds, then quits. I've been on the phone with four different people at Amazon, and one of them basically said that the way to solve the problem (that the software doesn't open) was to open the software and select "deregister" from the Kindle menu. 

*sigh*

Part of me thinks that I must've hit the magic number of purchased e-books to trigger the "she really should buy the actual Kindle" sub-program. Perhaps they figure that, by holding my unread books hostage, I'll actually spring for the real-deal machine.

I refuse to give them the satisfaction. 

Truthfully, it's probably because I'm still running an older Mac OS (10.5) and one of the automatic security updates or something is causing a conflict, but it's more interesting to believe there's a massive corporate conspiracy, right?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rejections

Nathan Bransford linked to this last week; it's the form rejection from a movie company a century ago.


Since I'm now looking at queries both here on Disgruntled Bear as well as at Spencer Hill, I've been thinking about how to pass on queries.  Right now, I'm fielding fewer than five a day, and some days I don't get any.  With this low volume, I usually put in a sentence about why I'm passing. But I'm not sure if I'm helping or just rubbing salt in the papercut. So, BFFs, what do you think? Which would you prefer?

1: Generic: "Thank you, but we're not interested."
2: Specific to the query and pages: "I like your main character, but the opening scene doesn't pull me in. Consider starting at a different place, rather than having everyone just sitting around talking."

If you're a U.S. National, get out there today and vote already! 

Speaking of voting, don't forget to vote for the winner in the Great Query Contest!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Round Two of the Great Query Contest

Here's how this works.  Read the queries below, and then scroll down and vote for the book you'd MOST LIKE TO READ. Voting will continue until Midnight Sunday, November 7th.  I'll announce the winner of the partial critique on Monday, November 8th. 

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#1: THE FACE OF A LION

Dear [Mr./Ms. Agent],

When thirteen-year-old Austin's parents drag him along to a villa in
Turkey they've rented for the summer, he hunkers down and counts the
days until he can get back home to his friends in England. But that's
before he rescues a talking cat, witnesses a bloody ritual that causes
two people to disappear, and finds himself whisked back in time.

Nearly two thousand years in the past, he makes a new friend--and a
new enemy. A powerful evil wants to prevent Claudius the Emperor's
invasion of Britain. Austin has to act fast to ensure that the
invasion does take place--or time and civilization as he knows it will
never be the same.

THE FACE OF A LION explores the ideas of friendship and loyalty, time
travel, and the far-reaching consequences of good or bad decisions.
This young adult historical fantasy is complete at 90,000 words.

I have previously lived and worked in both Istanbul and Kusadasi,
Turkey. My non-fiction work, including both travel articles and book
reviews, has most recently appeared in the trilingual (English,
French, and Turkish) newspaper Bizim Anadolu. THE FACE OF A LION
recently won, by unanimous decision, the Fifteen Minutes of Fame
contest hosted by Novel Journey, one of Writer's Digest's 101 most
valuable websites for writers.

Sincerely,

Deniz XYZ

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#2: SOUL STALKER
(note: there is another book with a similar title in this contest. 
Make sure you check the name and number for the poll)

Dear Ms. Agent,

In 1925, Liz Grayson succumbed to poisoning. In 1955, she burned to death. Today, she fears for her life.

Liz and her boyfriend, Chris Edwards, are ready to make their senior year at Jackson High a memorable one. But when perfect-in-every-way Mina Manson moves to town, she sets her sights on Chris and warns Liz to stay out of her way. Liz discovers the three of them are trapped in a recurring love triangle that spans lifetimes where Mina gets Chris—and Liz ends up dead.

Mina isn't her only problem. Chris doesn't believe in past lives and thinks Liz is just jealous of Mina. Every step Liz takes toward uncovering the truth pushes Chris one step further away. Liz must find a way to prove the truth to Chris and expose Mina before history repeats itself and Liz loses everything. Again.

SOUL STALKER is a 67,000 word young adult paranormal romance. This novel is a standalone with series potential.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Kimberly XYZ


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#3: EMBER

Dear Mr. Agentoftheyear,

Dying sucks--and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back from the dead. Now anything Ember touches dies, and that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Daemon Cromwell breaks into her house, claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s crazy. But when he tells her he can help her control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Daemon’s adopted father, a man she is sure has skeevy reasons for collecting gifted children like action figures.

Learning to control her fingers-of-death holds a powerful allure. Ember is willing to do anything to be able to hold her sister's hand again. And heck, she'd also like to be able to kiss Daemon. But when Ember learns the accident that made her a freak wasn’t an accident, she’s not sure who to trust.

Someone wanted Ember dead, and they still do. The closer Ember gets to the truth, the closer she gets to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

Ember is a YA Paranormal Romance complete at 82,000. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jennifer ABC

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#4: WINDS OF CHANGE

Dear Ms. Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Avikar always dreamed of being an adventurer, but after his brother’s accidental death, he stays home and accepts life as a stable boy. When his sister Jeslyn is kidnapped, the fear of losing another sibling sends him on a journey to rescue her. After failing to save his brother two years ago, he just can’t fail again. To find her, though, he must take on an unlikely ally--the man who kidnapped her.

His search for Jeslyn leads him to Eden--a secret paradise ruled by a young, half-human tyrant named Lucino. Lucino has a hobby of collecting pretty girls, and has sent his men to take many from their homes. However, his desire to have the prettiest bride makes Jeslyn the only girl worthy.

In order to reach Jeslyn, Avikar will have to face an ancient guardian snake, seductive dark haired beauties, and a battle in which he is hopelessly outnumbered. He will have to overcome his fear of inadequacy and believe in himself, or he’ll never see his sister again.

WINDS OF CHANGE is a complete, 65,000 word YA fantasy novel with series potential

I don’t have any fancy credentials, unless not dying in the first few chapters of a Choose Your own Adventure book counts.

Sincerely,

Eliza ABC

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#5: SEEDS OF EDEN

Dear Agent,

The last place Evvy expected to find love is in the arms of the fairy prince...which probably means she shouldn’t have rejected his marriage proposal.

In fairy tradition, the worth of a fairy girl is determined by the beauty of her flower and the number of human shoes a groom is willing to pay for her hand in marriage. With a blossomless flower, Evvy can hardly be considered worth a shoelace, let alone the shoe it came from. So when Evvy is kidnapped by the Weeds but isn’t ransomed, she is certain she will never find a respectable husband, and the only thing she wants in life, is to be worth a pair of Converse High Tops.

As a prisoner of the Weeds, Evvy begins to feel acceptance, and a possible romantic attraction to her abductor—a man who treats her decently enough despite the occasional threat to feed her to his falcon. But when the fairy prince to shows up a season later to rescue her and declare her his intended bride, she doubts her place in either world.

On the journey to find her own salvation, Evvy must figure out which world she fits in before her chance to reconcile with either man passes and true love is lost to her forever.

SEEDS OF EDEN is a 75,000 word young adult fantasy novel that can either be a stand-alone story or the first book of a series.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

My Name

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#6: SOUL SIFTER 
(note: there is another book with a similar title in this contest. 
Make sure you check the name and number for the poll)

Dear Ms./Mr. Agent,

Sixteen-year-old London Howell doesn't know what to do when a strange
girl appears and claims he "created" her. He can't ask his dad, who
doesn't even recognize him most days, and his uncle is an indifferent
guardian.

His plan to dump her off with the police gets derailed when he learns
he's drawn the attention of the House of Dering, the family that rules
over the city's mages. The measure of a mage's power lies in his
soul--power which can be ripped free and exploited--and they think
London's got one hell of a repository. They want him to find a Sieve
to siphon his magic, but seeing as the family's got enough secrets to
fill the Thames, London's pretty sure their intentions are less than
benevolent--especially once his dad goes missing.

With demons whispering in his ears, nightwalkers dropping him into
shadows and the House of Dering offering answers to questions he never
knew he had about himself and his family, London has no idea whom to
trust. While he will make or break whatever alliances necessary to
find his dad, what happens if it's at the price of a human soul?

SOUL SIFTER is a YA urban fantasy complete at 86,000 words. This is my
first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Mai LMN

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#7:  REAPER

Dear Ms. Kaynak,

Quincy Amarante’s only goal in life is to be the “It” girl of Rancho Valley High and she’s determined not to let a little thing like the afterlife get in the way. Unfortunately, Destiny has other plans when he ruins her sixteenth birthday with the news that she’ll become the fifth grim reaper.

Forced to learn the family business from a crabby dead relative, Quincy struggles to keep her status even while her priorities shift from who she wants to be to who she really is. After falling for the hot new guy at school, Quincy discovers that her romantic ideals are just another illusion to overcome. With her world unraveling one carefully placed thread at a time, she loses her best friend, falls in love with the last person she expected, and must make a decision that could cost her the most precious thing in the world: her life.

REAPER is complete at 66,000 words and is for young adults who enjoy a little bit of the paranormal with their romance. I would be happy to send you the manuscript and synopsis at your convenience.

My fiction appeared in “Orion’s Child” and “Adventures of the Average Woman”. I’m an active member in my local chapter of SCBWI.

Thank you in advance for your valuable time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Linda STU

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#8: HIDDEN IN SHADOWS

Dear Ms. Agent:

Traumatized by witnessing her father’s brutal murder, Lorna masters
her feelings of powerlessness by becoming an assassin.

Lorna discovers she can create and hide in shadows. While this gives
her a distinct advantage over her targets, her father’s killer remains
elusive. With no leads, Lorna accepts an assignment to kill an island
king with a high price on his head. King Alaric is everything Lorna
isn't--noble, kind, and good. When she falls for him, Lorna distances
herself from her assassin lifestyle but cannot escape her past. A mass
gravesite on the island provides clues to her father's murder and why
people want Alaric dead.

Lorna grows closer to finding her father’s murderer, but enacting her
revenge would destroy any chance she has of being with Alaric--leaving
Lorna torn between murder and love.

HIDDEN IN SHADOWS is a complete 97,000-word paranormal romance
standalone novel with series potential.

I am the author of a fantasy romance series, The Kingdom of Arnhem –
Woman of Honor (2009) and Knight of Glory (2010) published with Desert
Breeze Publishing. I have also sold nine short stories for
anthologies, including Mertales by Wyvern Publications, and many
collections from Pill Hill Press. I have a blog with over 220
followers.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

XXX XXXX

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#9: ALEXIA'S PEN

Dear Ms. Agent:

When fifteen-year-old aspiring novelist Alexia writes with a magic
pen, everything she writes comes true.

With the pen, Alexia discovers a portal to the mystical Land of
Imagining and learns she is an All-Knower. The rest of the peaceful,
magical All-Knowers are in terrible danger. The Head Demon seeks to
enslave and kill them, determined to rule the Land of Imagining.
Alexia's hidden power with the magic pen makes her the Chosen One--the
only person who can protect the All-Knowers from the demon--but she
has no idea how to actually use it.

After the Head Demon steals the pen and kidnaps her family, Alexia
must locate the demon's secret lair and secure her pen before the Land
of Imagining becomes the Land of Terror.

ALEXIA'S PEN is a 78,000-word fantasy YA standalone novel with series potential.

I am the author of a fantasy romance series, The Kingdom of Arnhem --
Woman of Honor (2009) and Knight of Glory (2010) published with Desert
Breeze Publishing. I have also sold nine short stories for
anthologies, including Mertales by Wyvern Publications, and many
collections by Pill Hill Press. I have a blog with over 220 followers.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

XXX XXXX

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#10: DUALITY
(note: this is a changed title from Round 1)


Dear Ms. Agent:

Subject 31 wants her life back; if only she could remember it.

The Humani Project’s latest experiment believes she's human, but her sleek black fur, claws, and tail make that seem...impossible. Her only clue to an existence before she had panther DNA spliced to hers is a fragment of a memory and a name--Janelle.

Imprisoned in a Phoenix, Arizona lab where failure equals termination, 31 must balance her warring human logic and animal instinct to survive. But she doesn’t know the first thing about taming a wild animal--especially when it’s a part of her.

After Lorenzo Fernandez, the lead scientist, breaks protocol to save her life and calls her by name, the woman she was rises up in a determined hunt for the truth. Why does the one person she should hate above all others love her? Why does she feel the same? As time runs out, her only hope is to harness the animal within to protect herself and the man she loves.

Good thing cats have nine lives—she’ll need every one of them to uncover the truth.

DUALITY is a science fiction novel complete at 114000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Lexcade DEF

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#11: THE BLOOD OF A STONE

Dear Ms. Agent,

Didymus of Tiberias is a successful caravan driver in Galilee who has created a new life and new identity for himself until his closest friend, Nathaniel, exposes his criminal past.

Didymus wants to forget his father sold him into slavery for the price of a broken donkey and a few coins. He wants to erase his memories of murdering his abusive master to escape to freedom. But when his fellow former slave and co-conspirator, Nathaniel, acknowledges he's confessed their crimes to a man named Jesus of Nazareth, Didymus fears he will lose everything he has so carefully crafted. If Jesus turns him in to the Roman authorities, he faces arrest and crucifixion. He will do anything--even kill again--to prevent that gruesome fate.

Using his caravan as a cover, Didymus pursues Nathaniel and Jesus from Capernaum to Jerusalem. But he never expects to fall in love with Tabitha, a former leper who has been healed by Jesus. He knows her first loyalty is to Jesus. He longs to make her his wife, but he doesn't know if he can trust her with his secrets. If she betrays him as well, it could cost him his life.

Complete at 95,000 words, THE BLOOD OF A STONE (historical fiction) was long-listed for the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project.

I hold an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and am the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. My short story, "First Flight," was a literary fiction finalist in the Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Other short pieces have been published in print and online.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

XXX XXXX

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Vote for the book you'd most like to read:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun stuff

There's a whole series of these demotivational posters, and they're LOL awesome. Check them out at ThinkGeek.com.


Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups.


Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.


Hundreds of years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that my ruins become a tourist attraction.



When you wish upon a falling star, Your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.


Just Because You're Necessary Doesn't Mean You're Important. 

Check out the Halloween fun at Substitute Teacher's Saga: http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/ 


Make sure you email me your revised queries by midnight tomorrow (Saturday, October 30th) if you'd like to take part in Round 2 of The Great Query Contest!

UPDATE: Ooh!  Great back-to-back reviews for Minder and Adversary at The Wormhole! Thanks for reviewing, Beverly--you made my day! 

Happy Halloween Weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Fun

The look in so many of their eyes says, "I loathe you."



But the alligator costume is priceless.

Poll results! Curse you, premature Christmas decorations!


Thanks for voting, everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Pet Peeves

What's your worst Halloween pet peeve?

Vote below (this also lets me test the voting software for next week's query contest):


What's your biggest Halloween Pet Peeve?