Writing Prompt: Chocolate Chips

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“Chocolate Chips”

What scene does this prompt in you?

Write your “prompt reply” in 200 words or less and post it in the comments below!

Go!

#writingchallenge

#practiceyourcraft

#writingcommunity

Example prompt & quick note by SP staff, Nova McBee

With a group of super talented Teen writers, we set a timer for 10 minutes and just wrote whatever came to mind. I suggest you do this. Don’t think too hard about it, just jump into your creativity and let your words flow no matter how crafty they are. You will be surprised what comes out.

Here is what came out for me in those ten minutes:

Nova’s Prompt:

Add more chocolate—that is what my mom said—that chocolate fixes most mistakes—and I screwed up big time. I hope this proves to Dina how much I care. I mean, she got me—ME—a boy who spends all of his time in the woods or on the court inside a Martha Stewart type kitchen! Granted, I’m still dirty, just with white stains instead. And, I’ll admit the smells are significantly better. Melted butter, sugar, vanilla. Mmm. I just hope these cookies turn out delicious enough for her to talk to me again.

The dough stiffens as I add more flour. For some reason I get caught in a monotonous stirring cycle as I stare at the broken eggshells on the counter. Sentimental moments don’t happen too often to me but I do have them. Mostly in the woods when everything is quiet and an animal walks by without fear or with her young, or a sunrise coming over the mountains. But here, in the kitchen, it dawns on me that the shell of an egg is designed to protect life—LIFE for crying out loud—and yet it can be broken so easily. That is exactly what I did to Dina’s heart. She let me hold it—a fragile shell protecting a great treasure—and all it took was one drop. I just hope I can put all the pieces back together.

Photo by Pam Menegakis on Unsplash

 

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How to Keep Writing in a Busy Season

brooke-lark-176360-unsplashPhoto by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—but between school, work, and the holidays, it can be enough to make you forget you’re even writing a book. Some of us have just climbed out of the NaNoWriMo cave, and are in desperate need of a break from all that screen time. 

However, most of us still have literary goals we want to achieve as we race toward the new year. If that’s you (it certainly is me!), there must be a way to accomplish this without losing your marbles–or your holiday spirit!

So here’s a tip for keeping motivated without the overwhelm: make it a game! Go full-on Mary Poppins with your manuscript, and even if you aren’t seeing huge word counts, you’ll still see progress.

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How, you ask? I am so glad you did! Here are several of my favorite ideas for getting those words down while you’re trying to get a million things done (and maybe build a snowman, too!).

  • Type while your holiday baking projects are in the oven — bonus points: if you hit your word goal before the timer goes off, give yourself an extra cookie when they’re done (oh, come on, we all know you’re going to eat one anyway, so now you get another!)
  • Challenge yourself to a ten-minute word war on your lunch break. Set a goal, and set a timer. If you don’t meet your goal, do some pushups. Now your lunch break is even healthier!
  • Record your story on your phone while getting ready for the day. Use your voice to text app, and for added fun, don’t read it back over until later. It’ll be a fun guessing game to figure out some of the things your phone thought you said.
  • While doing homework, use the pomodoro technique, but with a twist: work on your assignment for twenty minutes, then switch to your novel for ten. Definitely use a timer for this one, though! The homework still needs to get finished! 😉

 

May your December be merry and bright and full of writerly goodness!

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Dana, signing off to go find some cocoa and get back to her manuscript.

Marketing & Social Media Tips Part 2

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Thanks for coming back to read “Marketing Tips Part Two!” (Find part one on Social Media here if you haven’t read it yet!)

The tips I have below have come from different authors I’ve met, or agents who gave certain advice, or just research itself. Hope they help!

What the Pros have done: 

One night I went to an event to listen to an indie author talk about marketing. She is a cozy mystery writer, who was determined to be such a good author that Amazon would knock on her door and make her an offer. And they did. Did that get your attention?

What she told the audience about marketing was very gripping.

Her first story recounted the author of the DaVinci Code. Dan Brown and his publicist decided to take a risk and send copies of his book to over 300 major newspaper-book reviewers. Well, the risky strategy paid off! It was reviewed and he became a best-seller overnight!

But, her first BIG piece of advice was that first you must actually HAVE A MARKETING PLAN in place before your book is published. If you have never thought about this before–do your research. Start now on the things that you can do to promote your book. There are great ideas from how to get reviews, to getting your book on blog hops & author interviews to readers & other authors helping with cover reveals, good read/amazon reviewers, sending out Arcs, setting up a street team, using social media etc. Even if you have an agent, or a great publisher, have a plan. 

A Tip from an Agent

I recently met up with an author who has a fantastic agent who got her an amazing two-book deal with a Big Five Publishing House. Her advice to my author friend was even more intriguing. “Put 10% of your advance aside to pay for a publicist.” Even with a marketing plan from the publishing house, she went on to explain that a publicist can do far more and is worth the money. This strategy will take cost you, but what investment doesn’t?

Back to cozy Mystery Writer tip two

Her second story was about a friend whose goal was to be on the USA Times Best Seller List–(All of her other books did well, but not best-seller well.) This time she was determined. So, she paid for Marketing Ads, Sponsored Adds, and other advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, in magazines, etc. She paid for over 1500 ads, and guess what? When her book released–she got on the USA Times best seller list!

Again, ads costs money. Money is an investment. Your book is an investment to your career and reputation. It just may pay off.

**That said, she also stressed that your ads and efforts must be directed where your audience is, or it’s pointless and will result to nothing. For example, her audience is NOT on Instagram. So posting on IG, interacting or promoting there or paying for IG ads would be a waste of money. BE RELEVANT to your audience! Post where THEY are reading and watching and engaging. 

The Kirkus Review

At that same meeting, I heard that you can pay $500 for a Kirkus Review but for some authors this will not be a useful tool. The author explained her review went something like this: “Fans of this author will be delighted.” It wasn’t a stellar review, polite yes but helpful to get more fans?  Not really. Again, know your audience and what will be worth your time & money. Different reviews like Kirkus are best perhaps left to your agent and you to decide together–where is most effective to get reviews? Which awards to compete for? Ask your peers if you are an indie author.

Amazon/Goodreads reviews

I just learned from an author that after 50 reviews, Amazon begins to promote your book more. You know those books below that say, “Customers who bought that book also bought…” That could be you! But first you need the reviews.

Another agented author told me that her BIG FIVE publisher would pay for more marketing IF her Goodreads marks on “Want to read” reached a certain number. So, if this is relevant to you, it could be worth your time to get a campaign/promote and spend your time on Social Media to get more Goodread hits.

Events!

Recently I was inspired by a local indie author who actively promotes her books at events. After asking a few more questions, I learned that she actively researches local and near-by events that are happening and buys a booth at them.

Are they only Book Events? I asked. No. It wasn’t.

She would buy a booth at anything from the local Farmer’s Market’s to Geek Girl Con to Christmas Bazaar’s to Sci-Fi Events to any kind of festival or event that allows local businesses or is open to the public. What a great idea, especially for indie authors!

She’ll often promote & post about the event on social media. The best news of all is that she sells a good amount of books at each event and has the chance to meet and engage readers and builds a following this way.

So, that’s all my interesting tips for today. More to come! In the mean time, learn more about being a Book Hero by supporting authors you love by reading the post below!

“Be a Book Hero”

Happy Writing, Reading & Marketing!

IMG_4556Nova, signing off.

 

 

 

 

Marketing Photo by Daniele Riggi on Unsplash

Prompt: Warm Rain

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Warm Rain.

In 200 words or less, what scene do those two words bring to your mind?

Go. 

Then POST your prompt in the comments!

Here are two example prompts from SP writers Nova and Noah.

Nova:

I wake to small warm drops on my face. A splash on my eyelids has me wiping away what feels like a tear. But tears were for yesterday. Today is for survival. My eyes crack open to a brilliant rainbow light coming thru the mist. I squint and try to remember what exactly happened last night.

My arms push my body up. That is when I notice the bruise on my leg. Dang it. So it is true. I’m marooned. On an island. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. And all because of one little lie.

There’s a rustle in the palms and a rhythm that sounds like footsteps. With great pain, I bend my leg and scoot behind a large bush doubtful it can hide me. Whatever it is, its getting closer. Maybe I’m not alone after all.

Noah:

Thunder rumbled in the distance as I ran across the field. The clouds rolled over head as I ran faster. I always loved to race the rain. The thunder was like our gunshot letting me know the race had begun; the long grass brushed against my legs as I barreled past. My calloused feet pounding on the dry I earth. I could hear the rain coming fast from behind me, a loud, overwhelming whooshing sound, that seemed to come from everywhere and meant no escape.  l saw my small home in the distance and laughed to myself.

“The rain always won,” I thought as it finally caught up to me, instantly drenching me. Slipping in the fresh mud I fell onto the ground and laughed again.  

 

**Photo by Pete Nowicki on Unsplash

Querying Show Episode 4: A Query Breakdown–Show me the Stakes!

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Fourth Episode!

Until the New Year you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Dying to know? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

***Note: There will only be two episodes in November & December!*** 

SO…..Today is the 4th week of CR’s journey. On the last episode, we whooped you his query. Today, we will not only hear from CR but we will dissect what a query should have! The first two people to comment will get a free query critique from CR & Nova.

But first, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click here for Episode 1 & 2 & 3.)

SP: Ciao CR/Write_Or_Left. As always, let’s start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? 

Any rejections? (Personal or form rejections?)

How do the personal rejections feel?

Requests?

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

To be perfectly honest with you, I’m in a query slump. With final projects due, I don’t have a lot of time to work on it, but that’s not the only reason.

Querying makes you doubt yourself as a writer. Not necessarily the rejections, but more so my own thoughts have caused this. I continually compare my story to published books. I ask myself, “Would anyone really want to represent this?” I start to wonder about my characters and about my narrator’s voice. Because of all this, I am starting to think I need another round of editing, possibly a big one.

All this to say, I sent 0 queries.

When the personal rejections pop up in my inbox, it’s usually gratitude that I feel first. Someone actually bothered to read what I sent them and even emailed me in response!

SP: Querying can be weeks of silence (oh, the painful months of just crickets!)–how are you holding up? How have your views of querying changed since you started? 

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

Like I said before, it’s starting to weigh on me. Not because of what agents have said, but because of my own doubts. Like many others, I am my own worst critic.

My views have changed immensely, mostly by raising my standards for myself. There’s a lot of great work out there, and mine just isn’t quite at the level yet!

SP: Thanks for your honesty, CR. Publishing can be a tough business and as writers, we have all been there. But the ones that make it are the ones that don’t give up when those rejections come. In the long run, those rejections prepare us for success–! (I think our next post should address attacking self-doubt! BUT FOR TODAY…)

WE WILL take CR’s Query and break it down in order to show you the few main parts that query should have.

First, keep your query as concise as possible. Do not add extra details that do not show us these main things:

  1. Introduce your clever and relatable MC.
  2. Introduce the clever premise or hook/conflict of the story.
  3. Show us what the character wants (a goal/desire) and what is stopping him/her from getting it.
  4. Show us what is at stake if the MC can’t reach his/her goal.

NOW, let’s see how CR has done this~

12-year-old outlier Evander Ross knows there’s something special about the book his Grandpa tried to destroy. But he never would have guessed it would almost get him killed. Three times. (Here, CR has introduced his main character & a small hook! Great job!)

Despite his mother and grandfather’s efforts to shield the truth, Evander accidentally discovers traces of a strange world in one of his family’s many “forbidden” zones in the city. The Gifted World is everything Evan has dreamed of—a place full of strange creatures and new abilities, but also great danger. Within it, Evan nearly dies at the hand of Katerina, one of the Gifted World’s most wanted criminals; he finds Lumen’s Middle-High—a school that finally understands him; and he’s taken by authorities who tell Evan that he will never be accepted in the Gifted World—that his family was banished long ago. (Here he set up the story with a premise and a problem, told us what the character wants, and what is stopping him.)

Evan is now eager not only to discover his family’s true past but also to find his way back and prove the Marshals are wrong about him. So when Evander learns that Katerina plans to attack Lumen’s Mid-High, he takes his chance. But no one believes him. Now he might be the only one that can stop her threat. And if he doesn’t, Lumen’s and everyone in it might be completely destroyed. (Here, CR showed us more of the goal/hook/conflict and what is at stake if the MC can’t reach his goal!)

SP: TIPS so you don’t go crazy while treading in the slush pile!

While querying—consider taking part in TWITTER CONTESTS:

#Pitchmas

#Pitmad

#Teenpit

#DVpit

#Revpit

#querykombat

ETC

The first link below is a LONG list of pitch contests and their dates:

https://iwriterly.com/writing-resources/pitch-contest-calendar/

Don’t miss out on a chance to have an agent read your work! 

The second link is an authors journey to getting her agent thru twitter! 

I Got my agent on Twitter! 10 Tips for online pitching contests!

 

profile

 

CR

&

 

Nova

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signing off!

 

 

 

Marketing & Social Media Tips Part 1

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Last week I attended a Writers Meet-Up with a fantastic group of authors who ranged from traditionally published to indie authors.

Throughout the night, the selected authors talked about Social Media, Marketing, & Publicity! In part one, I will summarize and expand on a few of the topics they taught on!

Kim Vandel, Indie author of Into the Fire series, was the first to share. She talked about the need for authors to be active on social media–to create a presence, a following, marketing, and an availability to readers and fellow writers, and to be in community. Well, what if social media isn’t your game or wondering what to post doesn’t come natural? Kim gave her helpful tips and ideas, and then had the group hold a brainstorming session on things they could post. It was super useful–so I asked her if I could share her tips!

Here are a few ideas of what to post on social media sites:

  1. Writing Status & Place — It’s always fun to see where an author is writing and what they are working on. If you go to cafe, or are writing at home, snap a pic of that cozy place and talk about what you are working on that day. Maybe mention a writing goal or a character. Don’t forget to ask others about where or what they are working on too! B42B074F-24ED-4D50-A763-1C06BE4DBD89-1722-00000510753835B0_tmp
  2. Quotes, Memes, Aesthetics’sQuotes from famous authors or entrepreneurs that are inspiring, funny quotes, or Memes (usually a humorous pic with a one liner) or an aesthetic (a collage of pictures showing off your novel.) 6
  3. Author Events–If you have done an author event, or attend a conference or workshop, post pictures from it! IMG_4756
  4. Authors friends getting together for a writing sessionIMG_4733
  5. Books! Post your latest read or a book that is on your TBR pile, or promote a friend’s book!IMG_2699
  6. National Day–For those of you who don’t know there is a national day for EVERYTHING! Get creative–post something about that’s day’s National Day if you don’t know what to post about– just to participate!National Donut day
  7. Participate in the upcoming writing, book, goal, personal challenges on Twitter or IG – NanoWriMo, Twitter Contests, get involved in community that way!WIPjoy
  8. Participate in Contests & encourage community –This is a great way to get involved and know other writers–and possibly score from one of those contests! Find a contest that fits you and your book, and go for it! Post about it and engage the others who are going for it too!PitchWars-Logo.jpg
  9. Personal Life— Post something from your latest trip across the world, share a different hobby with your followers–painting? Photography? Share something personal! Your followers enjoy knowing you! Also, if you are not the type to post pictures of your face, DO IT anyway sometimes. Followers love to see who they are following. Seeing you–even if its not perfect, and especially if tis real, they love seeing faces and lives. It helps to connect us.IMG_2762
  10. Research–Post interesting facts or tidbits that you found while researching for your novel! Those small facts can be engaging! A few of my writing friends have researched all kinds of science facts, (even how long a body takes to decompose!) Falconry. Math equations. Spy techniques! Start with…DId you know that….?images-39
  11. Post pics to promote authors you like– help in doing COVER REVEALS or congratulating people on their Book Birthdays! IMG_4735

There are many more tips floating around the writing community–these are just a few. What are some ways you play with Social Media?

If you would like to add some tips to our list, PLEASE comment and we will add them in!

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Nova, signing off!

The Querying Show, Episode 3. Gently Rip Apart His Query, Please.

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Third Episode!

For the next six months you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Dying to know? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

***Please forgive our late post. Autumn colds took over last week! 

SO…..Today is the 3rd week of CR’s journey. Today we will do something a bit different. We will SHOW YOU CR’S QUERY and ask YOU for feedback!

But first, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click below for Episode 1 & 2.)

SP: Ciao CR/Write_Or_Left. As always, lets start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? 

Any rejections?

Requests?

CR/Write_Or_Left:  Just one rejection, and no requests. The rejection was a good ol’ copy-paste (the email itself said as much).

SP: Be honest, are you:

A) Twitter stalking the agents you queried?

B) Checking your inbox regularly?

C) Totally Chill and got this?

D) Other exciting or emotional thoughts? (Do tell.)

E) All of the above?

CR/Write_Or_Left : I check my inbox pretty regularly, and I research agents before querying. But for the most part, I’m surprisingly calm about everything. I think it’s mostly because I really have no expectations except that I will get rejected. Therefore no rejection is all that painful, and all positive feedback is a welcome surprise! I think that’s given me a thicker skin for this process.

I’m also working on an additional project that I’m pretty excited about, so if this whole thing flops, I’ll have learned invaluable lessons that will help me in that project!

SP: OK, so for Today’s show, we wanted AUDIENCE feedback on CR’s Query. Your advice just may help him get a request!

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Our questions:

What do you like about it?

What don’t you like about it?

Would you request it?

What can be improved?

Any other helpful tips?

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Rules: Add your thoughts in the comments below. NO slamming! Please be kind while critiquing–all critiques must be helpful.

 

QUERY:

Dear “Awesome Agent,”

(Insert Personal Greeting and Necessary Genre, word count, Comp title info–or something of the sort! FYI, this is MG fantasy.)

12-year-old outlier Evander Ross knows there’s something special about the book his Grandpa tried to destroy. But he never would have guessed it would almost get him killed. Three times. 

Despite his mother and grandfather’s efforts to shield the truth, Evander accidentally discovers traces of a strange world in one of his family’s many “forbidden” zones in the city. The Gifted World is everything Evan has dreamed of—a place full of strange creatures and new abilities, but also great danger. Within it, Evan nearly dies at the hand of Katerina, one of the Gifted World’s most wanted criminals; he finds Lumen’s Middle-High—a school that finally understands him; and he’s taken by authorities who tell Evan that he will never be accepted in the Gifted World—that his family was banished long ago.

Evan is now eager not only to discover his family’s true past but also to find his way back and prove the Marshals are wrong about him. So when Evander learns that Katerina plans to attack Lumen’s Mid-High, he takes his chance. But no one believes him. Now he might be the only one that can stop her threat. And if he doesn’t, Lumen’s and everyone in it might be completely destroyed.

(End with BIO and other useful info like social media and contact info)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

CR

SP: Our Querying Tip of the Week:

WHILE you are querying KEEP writing on either your WIP or a new project; Get more readers to review your work–have an open mind; Get involved with other writers and read their work too! And DON’T stress it! All good things take time. 

Schedule Update:

Since we have posted late, we will NOT post a show this Friday.

Also, during November and December, we will only have 2 Querying shows per month due to extra holiday busyness and school exams! Thanks for understanding! *If something exciting does occur, we will be sure to let you know!

Nova and CR/Write_Or_Left  signing off! Have a GREAT weekend!!!

The Querying Show, Episode 2- The First Rejection

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s First Episode!

Each week for the next six months you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Dying to know? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

Today is the 2nd week of CR’s journey. Let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click below for Episode 1.)

SP: Greetings, CR/Write_Or_Left. Lets start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? Anything you can tell us about how you selected them?

CR/Write_Or_Left:  I met my goal this week! I sent out five queries, and in true writer fashion, two of them were sent about half an hour ago! Still, I’ll count my wins where I can get them. 

I selected the agents based on the books they already rep, the size of their agency, and their personality. I’m looking for someone who is looking for a Middle-Grade Fantasy Adventure series, so that narrows it down. I want a good balance of new agencies and established ones, which means I’ll skip over some agents a time if I’ve already sent too many to agencies around their size. But the most important thing to me is personality. I read a lot of interviews, and if I like their style, I’ll send it to them!

SP: We know its early–Querying the SLUSH can be painfully SLOW– but, we’re all eager to know–

Any Requests?

No requests, sadly.

Rejections?

Two rejections! My first two ever! Horray?

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Feedback?

One reason I got for the rejection was, “We’re not connecting with the manuscript as much as we would have hoped.” I’m hoping that means they personally didn’t connect and not that my characters aren’t as sympathetic as they need to be. I’ll reevaluate once I’ve gotten more responses! 

(If you got a rejection, how did it feel? 

CR/Write_Or_Left: The first one was actually really encouraging! The rejection started with, “While you’re clearly a very talented writer…” I knew it was going to be a rejection right then, but I didn’t really care. It was my first one ever, and it was enough just to feel like a real writer. And on top of that, they thought I was talented!

The second rejection was a bit of a let-down. It was a very generic and impersonal rejection, so I kind of just shrugged and moved on with my day.

SP: What have you learned so far?

A few things already.  First, there’s a lot of really good competition out there. I’ve been reading example queries by the dozen, and let me tell you, some people have this down to a science. They’ve got the perfect hook, summary, and twist. Not only that, but their stories are so fresh, so original, it makes me want to request their full MS just so I can read it!

I’ve also seen some pretty staggering statistic. One of the agents I’m looking to query said she received 36,000 queries last year alone. She accepted one. ONE! That’s insane!

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SP: In the writing community, it’s not uncommon to start querying and constantly refresh your browser to see if anyone has replied. Have you fallen into that querying habit already?

Surprisingly not! As a junior at University in a relatively tough major, I stay busy enough to keep my brain occupied. But I will admit, every time I get an email that’s not from my school, my pulse will double, and I’ll drop everything I’m doing and quickly scan the subject line to see if it’s a response.

SP: Meanwhile, what is keeping you busy? Are you still editing? Working on something new?

Like I said before, school is pretty much the dominating force in my life. I study Software Engineering (if you’re thinking about it, really think some more before you choose it), and on top of that, I’m an RA on campus.

But when I’m not busy with responsibilities, I’m querying and planning book 2 in-depth. I have the main story of the whole series fleshed out, but I’m trying to get into the details of the sequel so I can start writing it!

SP: Alright, well, thanks for being so honest with us! We’ll check in next week!

READERS– What do you want to know from CR?

Do you want to read his QUERY?

Do you want to know what he eats for breakfast? (lol) ASK US!

Querying TIP of the Week:

READ lots of queries before you write (or while you are writing) yours. Check them out on YA Highway, Query Shark, or personal Writer’s blogs. Get other writers to read them before you send. 

Episode 1

 

Nova and CR/Write_Or_Left, signing off!

 

 

The Querying Show, Episode 1

peter-lewicki-411606-unsplash.jpgWelcome to The Querying Show’s First Episode!

Each week for the next six months you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

Today is the beginning of his journey. Let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how he began.

SP: Greetings, CR/Write_Or_Left ! First, we want to know how you’re feeling with this whole OPEN, VULNERABLE, POTENTIALLY EMBARRASSING, JOURNEY you started with The Querying Show? Continue reading

Book Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (first of a trilogy)

Author: Jenny Han

Blurb: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

jenny han

Review:  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was on my TBR list for quite a while. Unfortunately—or fortunately?—the movie adaptation came out on Netflix and I couldn’t resist all the gushing reviews, so I—GASP!—watched the movie first. Let’s just say the book immediately jumped the queue on my reading list and was just as enjoyable as the flick. You’ll cheer Lara Jean on from start to finish, swoon over Peter Kavinsky, and crave a bite of every cookie Lara Jean bakes. The story is charming and will give you all the warm and fuzzies as it takes you back to your first crush and first love.

Netflix's "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" Los Angeles Special Screening

Characters/Voice: What’s not to like about Lara Jean? She is such a compelling, likeable, and relatable narrator…someone you’d want to be friends with. You’ll adore the two other Song girls—Margot and Kitty—too. Even as secondary characters, they shine with their own backstories, motivations, and insecurities. Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty’s sisterly love will have you wanting to be one of the Song girls as well. And then there’s Peter. And Josh. You’ll be fans of them, too.

Pacing: This is one of those books you can easily settle into a comfy spot and finish in one or two sittings. You’ll keep flipping the pages to find out what happens with Lara Jean and her letters next. 

Plot: The plot is wonderfully executed. The idea of writing secret love letters that are suddenly mailed is irresistible, especially as the consequences ensue and Lara Jean has to juggle all the new complications in her life. The story ends at a point where you’re satisfied, but also giddy with the knowledge that there’s more left to the story—two books, in fact!

Setting: Of all the places described, you’ll want to curl up on the couch in the Covey household and let the scent of freshly baked cookies wash over you as you witness the hilarity, drama, and heartache the Song girls experience together.
Themes: This story deals with relatable themes like the value of family, friendships, and telling the truth even when it’s difficult.

Now onto books 2 and 3: P.S. I Still Love you and Always and Forever, Lara Jean!

Jessica Jade

Jessica, signing off.