Getting What You Ask For

I should warn you ahead of time – what I’m about to say may upset one or two of you out there. I don’t mean to cause anyone any harm, but I also need to communicate what I’m feeling. So if you’re the fragile type, here’s a picture of some happy little baby bats. Just stare at them and smile.

Okay, for the rest of us, here goes. Many, many times I hear writers complain how much they hate getting form rejections from editors, because such things do nothing to help them understand why the editor didn’t want to buy their story. Editors don’t understand, they cry, that writers can’t fix stories if they aren’t told what went wrong in the first place. Some writers say editors are lazy, others think they’re cruel. For whatever reason, it’s always the editor’s fault.

A couple of years ago, David Coe approached […]

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Self-Doubt and Perspective

BAD BLOOD, the first book in my Latter-Day Olympians series, is on sale right now for 99 cents in digital. I wanted to do a fun promotional blog, one that would convince you all to run out and buy the book, but the blog begging to be written this morning is about self-doubt and the importance of perspective. (Incidentally, if you want to read a fun promotional blog, two of my recent favorites are Character’s Court: Tori Karacis vs. Lucienne Diver and If I Ruled the World by Hermes.)

Self doubt. Here it is—for years and years lack of faith in my creative abilities kept me from even submitting my work. I’m a literary agent, after all. I have to deal with editors on a daily basis. I didn’t want any of them to lose respect for me because I was a talentless hack—not original enough or strong enough or… […]

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First Page Critique the Sixth

Our final contestant in the first page critique games is Andrea with an excerpt from Twelveland. I’m assuming it’s YA or middle grade. Remember the publisher assumes the oldest reader of the book will be the same age as the protagonist. There are exceptions–Harry Potter anyone?–but this is the general rule of thumb. I don’t think anyone predicted how universal Harry Potter would turn out to be.

And now, on with the show:


Twelveland by Andrea de Regt



At the sound of the harsh voices, the boy cowered in his too small cage. The troll queen and her sister faced each other threateningly right before him: two huge heads with green-purplish, pocked skin and bristly short hair, their fangs and snout-like noses almost touching. Kieran was glad their anger was not aimed at him, but this could change faster than a dragon’s swoop.

There’s nothing particularly […]

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First page critique the fifth

I’m giving you all the last two first page critiques. I hope they’ve been useful. If so, I’ll see about doing again. Maybe I can get some more slots. What do you think?

The next volunteer-victim is Dave Carlile. He tells me this is the first page of a 5000 word story, the title of which is “The Song in her Soul.” Without further ado, let’s get to business.


I have wandered these woods for many generations of men, without purpose, numb against the misery of loneliness. The pieces of my mind that could give rise to despair lie disused and hidden away, buried beneath the scars that protect my sanity from the wounds of too long a life. Although I have lived long, my life did not begin until a spring day five years past.


I watched her from the shadows, hiding even […]

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Belated Critique

All right, I’m late on this. My apologies. Chalk it up to crazy life stuff and some professional stuff that showed up unexpectedly and I lost my mind. Okay, I will admit that I lost my mind long ago. That should come as little surprise to anyone who knows me.

Today’s hapless volunteer is Cara. Praise her bravery and intrepidness.

Metadata: The Beasts of Hathow – YA Fantasy – 140k words (waaaaaaaay too long for a YA, btw. A lot of publishers won’t begin to look at one this long)


The paint rippled like scales, peeling and flaking off the rusting metal of the dumpster. It was green now, not black. Morning had come.

As evocative as those images are—and I love that the paint ripples like scales—this has no hook value. Especially for YA books, but for all books, you need something in that first paragraph that will […]

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first page critique the second

Welcome back for another round of first page critiquing. The first on the docket today is from Jeremy Beltran, our second stalwart victim, ahem, volunteer. This is a prologue.

(I’m going to do two critiques today, but split them into separate posts, so do comment on both if you feel so inclined).

Now before we go any further, I’ll point out that many readers skip prologues and editors are not super fond of them. I’ve used one once in eleven books (twelve if you count the one sitting on my editor’s desk). The difficulty with a prologue is often it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the story, or worse, it gets the reader involved with characters who then vanish. Hence readers skipping them as useless. So with that caveat, onward and upward.

Also, the comments last week were fabulous. I like doing this in connection with you […]

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First page critique the third

First first page critique

Second first page critique

Also, for those three of you waiting impatiently for your critiques, the rest will be done on February 14th (a valentine from me!) and February 21st. So don’t think I’ve forgotten you. I promise you’re in for your torture love.

And now for the second critique of the day. This is from Laura Taylor’s urban fantasy novel, A Likely Story. Once again, thanks to Laura for being a willing sacrifice participant. Everyone feel free to comment and contradict me if you feel I’m wrong. And here we go . . .



It had been three years, and Eddie still wouldn’t tell me how he’d died.

[Love this line. Great hook, and makes me want to read more. I like the complain element of the voice and the fact that it establishes a sense of annoyance in the speaker and […]

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