Tag Archives: opinion

Character Interview: Cendall from Candice Burnett’s novel, Death has a Daughter

27 Apr

Well, today guys I have a little treat to share with you all. For a while I’ve been wanting to do reviews and interviews and now I have my first one. Today I’m here with Cendall, the heroine from Candice Burnett’s Death Has A Daughter series. Cendall has very gracefully taken the time out of her busy scheduled to be here and chat with us today!

 

ME: So Cendall thanks for giving us a few minutes today, How are you?

 

CENDALL: I’ve been better.  It’s been an insane year.  One that I never thought in my wildest dreams would happen.  Everything that was my norm is now, well. It’s different.

 

ME: Well I’m glad you could find time to talk to me. So Cendall you’re the only female Grim reaper to ever be born, that’s pretty cool, what’s that like?

 

CENDALL: Being the only female grim reaper has its highs and lows. Because I’m female, the expectations are higher.  If I fail well, I prove the stereotypes are real. That women are too emotional and weak to handle the responsibilities of a Grim Reaper.  When I succeed though, I’ll finally get the respect I deserve.  I’ll show them all that what sits between your legs has nothing to do with your abilities.  I’ll show them that women can be just as tough.  Show them that even though men might be physically stronger, my mind more that makes up for their biceps.  That day when I prove my critics wrong will be the highlight of my career, and I know that day is coming soon.

 

ME: being the only female is tough? What about reaping in general. Was it what you were expecting?

 

CENDALL To watch the light of a soul slip from it’s host into my scythe, was something I’d been craving for sixteen years.  After that first reaping I was finally able to silence the aching, but found that it still wasn’t enough.  Finding out that it wasn’t enough was what surprised me the most.   All my life I thought, that all I ever wanted was to be the best Grim Reaper hell had ever seen, but then I was given a complication named Lacie. After that, well we will just say my aspirations in life have been shifted a bit.

 

ME: Lacie, she comes with a few complications huh? Like say a tall, hunky guardian, care to comment on him?

 

CENDALL: Those aren’t the first choice words I would use for him, but I’d be lying to myself if I said they weren’t on the list.  That’s part of the problem with Trevor.  He’s arrogant, cocky, and knows he’s irresistible to the opposite sex.   Ever since I made the mistake of calling him out on a dare last year, well things have been more awkward than usual between us.  I try not to let what happened between us, distract me from our mission though.  I wouldn’t even say it was anything to begin with, but if you asked Lacie, I’m sure she’d have a different answer, but Trevor is nothing but a Co-worker to me.

 

ME: So what about Lacie? You said she was a complication, do you regret meeting her? Have you wondered how thing might have turned out had you not?

 

CENDALL: I don’t regret meeting her, but it is something I think about every day.  I think about what I would have been doing had she never been on my list in the first place.  When the thought comes though I try not to ponder on it too long because that’s just not my reality any more. I was such a different person when I first met her. I was organized, controlled, and thought I had my life planned out, to where now I’m on the complete opposite of that spectrum.  One day I’ll find a happy balance.  Meeting her has made me change, for the better I think.  And if it weren’t for her I might have never discovered my other gifts, that I’m still trying to figure out.

 

ME: anything else you want to share with us?

 

CENDALL:  Since we both know the Guardians can’t handle Lacie alone, I should probably get back to my guard duty

 

ME: well thank you for chatting with me today Cendall it’s bee fun, good luck with all your newest adventures 🙂

 

CENDALL: Hopefully the next time we talk I’ll have life a little more figured out.

 

If you want more of Cendall, check her out in her first adventure Death has a Daughter by Candice Burnett. For my review and links to amazon and Candice’s sites click the link below.

http://justatasmanian.com/2014/04/27/book-review-death-has-a-daughter-by-candice-burnett/

 

want me to post a review, interview or character interview? shoot me an email at justatasmanian(at)hotmail(.)com(.)au (No SPAM!) 😛

 

a bit about DHAD

Cendall, history’s first female Grim Reaper, has until her eighteenth birthday to prove she’s worthy of the role.  The only obstacle in her way are those pesky

coverGuardian Angels who protect human souls, but Cendall is certain she can handle any Guardian who gets in her way. However, nothing could have prepared Cendall for Lacie—a soul that is protected by multiple Guardians, wanted by Demons, and, most startling of all, can see Cendall.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Query post

16 Apr

As promised I am brining you notes from the recent class I attended on query writing and what I learned was so different from what I had learned previously. I’m starting to think that query writing is a subjective thing and it will differ depending on who you talk to a lot of this stuff will be totally different than what was in my other post, but all this info came from a literacy agent, so it must be good.

 

First off let’s talk about word count.

I’d always read that the shorter the better and 250 words tends to be the maximum but according to the class, 250 should be the minim. You want your query to be no less than 250 but definitely no more than 700. Around 400-ish words is perfect according to Bree.

Agents don’t like opening and email, or letter, to see a huge 1000 word query. They must open hundreds of letters a day and seeing that, would be a real turn off. Also on the other hand, having one that is too short will only harm you because it’s near impossible to do you MS justice in so little space. Not impossible and I have seen it done, but extremely hard to do. If you can do it, and do it well, props, seriously I mean it major props, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being to minimalist.

Set yourself a word count starting at 250- and maxing out and 450 then go from there. If you keep it between that range, it’s perfect.

 

I probably should have mentioned this point first but appearance is very important.

How your query looks is a huge part to whether an agent reads it or not. They receive something in tiny, weird font and they aren’t even going to bother to try to read it. Remember a query is a business letter, it is the first impression that an agent is going to get of you, as a person and as a writer, so keep it professional.

Fonts should always be kept to something standard, and easy to read. Arial, Times, Calibri all make excellent choices. Usually the agent will mention in there submission criteria what they like so if they do, do exactly as they ask. They want Times at 12pt, do it. Who cares if you like it, they do and that’s the point. If nothing is stated always choose a sensible, easy to read font.

That being said font size is just as important, you don’t want it to small. The agent needs to be able to read it without straining their eyes. Making the font smaller, might allow you to fit it all on to one page, but other than that it will never help you cause. I suggest 10pt – 12pt you may be able to get away with 11pt in some fonts or bigger in other but as a rule of thumb stick to 12. You don’t won’t a comically huge font either, because though easy to read, it looks very unprofessional.

Spacing can also be important, though this might be out of your control if you send it in the body of an email. If possible space the query so it is easy to read (do you see a pattern here?)  Use paragraphs, 1.5 – double spacing and keep it neat. I personally like 1.5 though many agents prefer double. If it’s not specified in the submission criteria use personal preference though anything lower than 1.5 is much too low.

This point is only for post-in submissions, NEVER and I mean EVER hand write a submission. I don’t care if you are a master of penmanship, don’t do it. Always type it and print it. Hell even break out the old type writer and do it the old fashioned way but never hand write it. This falls under the readability point, as awesome as you are with a pen, it will always be easier to read typed, end of story.

Finally keep it professional, no pictures, no colours, no silly fonts. I mean it, professional people! Okay?

 

 

Next big point is Personalization.

General rule of thumb queries should be 3% personalized to the agent, 97% exactly the same as the last one you sent out. This is where the research I talked about in my last post comes in handy.

Always address it to the agent. Dear Mrs Doe, Dear Jane ect. Never address it generically. No To whom it may concerns, Dear Agency’s name, or the classic Dear Sir/Ma’am. No, just no okay? It is always better to address the person you are talking to so they know it’s not just a burst email/letter. At times an agency will say in there submissions that if unsure address it to the agency and an all agents will receive it. I would suggest against doing that. Yes, we all want an agent, but not every agent out there will be right for your book, be picky, even if it’s just a little bit because you will be trusting your work to this person, so you want to know they are right for it. Whenever possible query an agent, never an agency.

The reason I say query an agent is because you are going to want to start with one or two sentences as to why you want them as your agent. What made you query them? Writing, I queried you because I want an agent is not a good reason. They realise that since you are querying them, but why do you want to them as your agent. A good point here is not to brown nose, or try and be a kiss arse. It gives you as a writer, a negative image and people hate arse kissers.

Say things like:

I noticed you represented such and such’s (description of book), because of this I think you’ll also like my (description of MS), TITLE

Or

I read an article you wrote on something and it inspired me in some way to query you about TITLE.

This is where the research really pays off, so do it and you will  have no trouble with this little detail. Of course, don’t overdo this part, yes you have spent time e-stalking them but don’t come off that way. One or two sentences are all you need. Don’t spend paragraphs telling them why they are the perfect agents for you, because A) they don’t want to hear that and B) you have a word count to stick to remember.

Do not fake the personalization because they will know. Saying I saw you represented such and such, there for I think you will like my MS and having no cluse who such and such even is or what they write about, will only make you look bad. Because if it turns out you’re wrong and your MS is nothing like there’s, the agent will know and it will only serve to annoy them. Agents talk remember and you do not want to look like a liar.

 

Now down to Writing the query itself.

Here are some pointers on actually writing it.

First don’t sell yourself short; a query is a way for you as a writer to show an agent who you are. You write witty satire, show it! (Within reason, it is a professional letter after all) use your way with words to make a query that is unique to you and your story.

Spell check and edit! (My biggest nightmare!) Super important, make sure there is no mistakes, none, not even a little one. Read it, leave it a while and come back and read it again. Get someone else to check it, a couple of people even, make sure that baby is mistake free.

Focus on the project that you are pitching. One query per project.

The whole point of a query is to leave the agent wanting to more. Be specific but don’t give away the ending! Give all the necessary detail, but don’t give every character, every romance, and every disaster. Don’t try and fit everything that happens into the query. Pick out the main conflict, the main character and roll with it. The MC may have lots of drama going on but don’t tell them about it all. Give enough to hook them, that’s all you need.

Always include the first five pages, after your closing sign off, unless other amount is specified. The right agents will not reject you if you attach five pages and they said not to. If they liked it they will read on anyway. It will give them an idea of your style and voice which can be a good thing.

When sending out your query don’t email blast, do a hand full at a time and wait. That way if you found out that something needs to be changed you haven’t burned every bridge.

 

Some things Queries must have:

Personalized salutation

Personalized tidbit about agent

Title

Genre

Word count

Protagonist name

Description of protagonist

Setting

Inciting incident

Villain

Protagonist’s quest/purpose

Protagonist’s goal

Bio

Author’s credits (optional)

Your name

 

Query Recipe: (as written by Bree, I didn’t think I could sum it up any better than this)

* Keep in mind… Queries and synopses are two different things. Unless an agent specifically asks for a synopsis (which is not the norm) do not send one. Agents want an overview of Who, What, When, Why, and just a PART of the How.

Introduction:

Include word count, genre, and title. Show the agent you’ve researched them, that this isn’t an email blast.

Your book:

Things you’ll need to include in your description: Who is the main character and why are they special? Why are we reading about them? Why do we want to read about them? You don’t need to explicitly tell us this information, but you’ll want to introduce them in a way that gets us excited.

What is the plot? What happens in the novel and how is your main character involved? How does this affect what your main character wants and needs? How does it affect their emotions?

Make clear the central relationship in the novel.

Your bio:

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a debut author…especially in fiction. If you don’t have writing credits, do not worry. We expect that the majority of querying writers are going to be debut. Just tell us a bit about yourself. Where you live, what you do for a living, and whether or not this is your first novel.

If you do have writing credits, list a few of your highest profile publications. Avoid listing out everything you have ever published ever! In fact don’t just “avoid it”…don’t do it!

Other important facts to include in your bio section:

1.    If you’ve had previous representation

2.    If the manuscript you’re querying has an offer on the table, and how much time we have before you need an answer

3.    If the manuscript you are querying has been submitted to editors at any point

Who YOU are is secondary to what your manuscript is about. We will eventually want to get to know you before signing you, but it’s important to hook us on your concept and not on yourself (unless you are writing nonfiction). You have a very finite amount of space to make us want to read your manuscript, so don’t blow it on personal information. ~ Bree Ogden

Another important thing is to know you genre.

Know the market, know who you want to market it to and be specific. Is it syfi, fantasy, romance, paranormal, adult, action, suspense, horror, the list goes on. There are hundreds, so if you not sure google is always your best friend. After you have classified the type state the age group. These are the standard age groups.

Picture book (ages 0-4)

Easy reader (ages 4-6)

Chapter book (ages 6-8)

Middle grade (ages 9-12)

Upper middle grade (ages 12-15)

Young adult (ages 14-18)

New adult (ages 19-29)

Adult (ages 30-up)

When classifying age group, you want to look at the age of your main character. They should always be within a few years of your target audience age. But keep in mind it’s not just about “age” but about the tone and the experience that the character is going.

 

Finally the best way to learn is by reading, look up successful queries online. Once you have finished writing it there are tons of sites where other writers will critique your query and give you advice on how to improve it, if it needs it.

There we go everything I could think of about writing a query all in one post. Keep in mind this is not an easy process, it’s a lot of work and very time consuming, but if you do it properly it will be worth it to see the finished results and start to get some requests rolling in!

 

Happy writing!

Sort of Writing tips: Every writer should have a critique partner :)

18 Feb

Been a bit slack with posting lately, between work and my newest Ms, I’ve had no time to slip in a post.

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Today I want to talk about Critique Partners or CP’s.

Until this year I have never had a CP, other than Lauren, though I don’t think she counts.  I was always to weary to try such thing. I have looked at the local listing for critique groups and I’ve wanted to join, never worked up the nerve. So I did the next best thing, I got a CP. A couple in fact, and they are amazing.

I think getting your work Critiqued should be a critical step in you path of writing a novel. I don’t care how good you are there is always room for improvement and even the most unskilled CP can be very helpful. They give you a take on your work that you don’t see yourself. They are a fresh set of eyes, and can greatly help point out flaws, mistakes, flow issues and many things that you might be to invested to pick up yourself.

Recently my CP, who is lovely, we email all the time and I have come to think of her as a friend, picked up something that seems so obvious now, but before she pointed it out I hadn’t even noticed it was there, it was a flaw that wouldn’t have been overlooked.  Since I started working with my CP my MS has improved 100% I have really found it that helpful.

It’s not only that you get awesome help, but you also get to read what your CP’s working on and return that favour. By reading other’s work you really start to see how your own can be improved, and it helps you both learn as you go along.

There are some cons though; most of them I’m sure anyone who writes already will be pretty familiar with this. Sometime CP’s will say thing you don’t want to hear, and putting your work out there is hard, I know, and not every comment you receive will be positive.  Some people can be mean, people can be harsh and after spending, months, or years on something to have it tore down before your eyes sucks. As a writer you need thick skin, you need to be able to roll with the punches, deal with the critics, and improve.  Once you get past all the negativity the comments might just be helpful.

I experienced this before, I had one of my CP’s (well ex-CP’s now) tell me that there was no way I could ever be a serious writer because of my dyslexia, and that I should give up and find a new dream. That being said to me hurt, it also really pissed me off. So my grammar sucks, yeah I know it does, but I’m doing all I can to improve myself.  Each time I pick up a mistake that I have made, I learn for next time. So what, it’s going to be harder for me than others. So what, I will have to work harder than to ensure little things are fixed. So what I have dyslexia. That does not change my passion, my creativity, or my ability to create a good story.  You know what that taught me? it taught me there will be people out there that only want to knock you down, but they are the reason why you shouldn’t give up.

I didn’t, I had a bad experience but I got new CP’s, made some awesome new friends, and improved my writing with the help of people who know what I’m going through. They have been there, they know what it’s like and sometime they can be the best support group, a writer needs.

So while this might not be a tip, I really would suggest you try peer critiquing, because in the long run you won’t regret it.

On another note, I’m always looking for CP’s, so if you’re a writer and want to give it a go give me a shout. I’m always happy to help 🙂

shan

The affect of crappy voices on fictional boyfriends :P

1 Jan

wow sorry it’s been so long since our last post!

it’s a hectic time of year and I haven’t had time to sit down and write anything, not even a small post 😦

thankfully the lovely Lauren  has come to my rescue with this small post she has been thinking about.

i hope you all  have a awesome Christmas and a amazing new year, (i know i did!)

shan

Ok guys so you know how when you start to read a new book and your brain builds this image of the characters, what they look like and how their voices sound. Well I was recently listening to an audio book and the whole time I kept thinking that the main characters voice was just wrong, it wasn’t even close to what he sounded like in my head and it kind of made me dislike the poor guy. Now I’m not sure if this has ever happened to anyone else, but it was like my brain didn’t want to listen to the audio book readers voice and after a while I just couldn’t stick with the story because I was so distracted by his voice. I mean come on the main character was supposed to be a twenty something fit guy, not someone who sounded out of breath and pushing half a century! Ok that’s probably a bit mean, with a different book and an older character it might have worked, but with this book it almost destroyed my image of my newest fictional crush! :\

So anyway enough complaining not all audio books are like this one. I have listened to a lot, that have both an interesting story and readers (narrators?) whose voices are well matched to the characters. I honestly think that when the reader enjoys the story, it then becomes more enjoyable for the listener too. Reading the book in a monotonous voice with no emotion, isn’t what I would consider a job well done. Not that I would ever be able record books for a living, I would probably be fired for yelling at characters who do or say stupid things.

Clearly the author sometimes has an image in mind when they create a character that is totally different to what the reader sees. An example is Shannon’s book Into the Night, for some reason I always see Damien with dark brown hair, no matter how many times Shan tells me it’s dirty blonde. It even says that multiple times in the book! I guess what I’m trying to say is everyone is going to have their own impression of a character, so we will never fully agree on one voice or one ‘look’, do not get me started on book to movie transformations!

Anyway like I said we are all different so that is why I bought the paperback version of  offending audio book. I read it, enjoyed it but sadly my fictional bf has now been replaced by the hero of my newest read. What can I say I love a good book 😀

Lauren

Writing tips number two: Character development. (The Antagonist)

14 Sep

I don’t really have a lot to say about ‘the bad guy’ but I thought I would give them a mention. I’m not sure if I said this before but these tips are mostly just my opinions and only there to help. I’m going to try and share some of the advice I’ve been given and some of the things I’ve learned.

As far as antagonists go I don’t really think there is a set formula. They are just so varied and I’ve seen so many types that when I was trying to narrow down the list of what makes a good villain I was having a hard time. So instead I decided to talk about a few types that I like.

The ‘Good Guy’ Antagonist

The ‘Good guy’ Antagonist is the one you hate but at the same time empathize with. He’s the one that you know has a really good reason for being bad. He’s the one that you almost feel bad for when the Protagonist inevitably wins in the end. I haven’t seen too many of this types and I think it’s more common in movies than it is in books but they still work really well.

The Over the Top Bad Guy

This is the kind that is just so evil, just so dastardly that you wonder how they haven’t messed up yet. The kind that catches the hero, relays his evil plan because he is just so confident that he’s got it all in the bag. I find this kind of bad guy fun, if not a little over used. He’s the villain from every comic book ever, but having an over the top, totally evil bad guy makes for fun reading, most of the time.

The Betrayal

This is the least expected one, usually. It’s where someone close to the protagonist turns out to be the antagonist. Again this one is used in a lot of YA fiction. I like this kind of villain because it sparks an emotional response from the reader. They get to feel the protagonist’s betrayal. Beware with this kind though because it’s a bit of a letdown when it’s too predictable. There is nothing worse than starting a book and thinking ok he’s going to betray them. Ruins everything, (Ok, maybe not but it’s still annoying).

An antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a single person. That being said I’m not sure if it still counts as the Antagonist if it’s not but for the sake of this post we are going to pretend it does, but call it just the bad guy. So the bad guy might be a group of people, an event, or even an object. I have read some really good books whose bad guy isn’t really a guy (as in a character) at all. It could just be an event, and the badies that help cause it make up the Antagonist. I’m sorry that this post doesn’t have a whole lot of tips per se but oh well I’m sure you will get over it  😛

Next time I’ll talk about the importance of the Protagonist’s best friend/side kick.

(and to lighten up your day a bit, i’m going to give you a picture of Titan wearing sunglasses 😀 )

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