querying · Writing

Querying Mistakes to Avoid

During my time reading queries whether for myself or another agent, I’ve seen the same mistakes over and over. Querying is hard and you don’t want to be your own biggest barrier to finding representation. If you’ve done your research these mistakes shouldn’t be a problem. However, many of the authors I see making these mistakes often appear to have not done their research on querying and end up hurting themselves right out of the gate. Remember to always be prepared and well-informed to give yourself the best chance!

Not following submission guidelines. I see this far too often. If an agent says to query them on a specific form or at a specific email, do so. Not following guidelines is an easy way to get your query rejected and possibly not even seen by an agent. Guidelines exist for a reason and going against them will make you stand out, but not for a good reason. Make sure you are pitching agents who represent your genre and age category. Don’t get yourself started off on the wrong foot by not following guidelines. Continue reading “Querying Mistakes to Avoid”

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Reading · Reviews

Book Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow

The Lost Season of Love and Snow is about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s wife Natalya. I loved this book and recommend it to fans of Russian history, controversial female figures, and historical dramas. While it is heavily character driven, the book kept me riveted. I can see this appealing to fans of books such as The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and My Dear Hamilton.

Alexander Pushkin is Russia’s most famous poet. When he dies from wounds inflicted in a duel meant to protect his wife’s honor, Natalya is blamed for his death. The story explores Natalya’s story from how she met Alexander, their dramatic marriage, and his death and the events leading to it. While there is tragedy to this book, the romance helps keep the book from becoming too dark and gloomy and while avoiding spoilers, the ending let’s you walk away on a positive note. Continue reading “Book Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow”

Editing · Writing

Character Motivations

Like many things, character motivations can make or break a story. When motivations fall flat it can be hard to connect to characters or understand their actions. Weak motivations can cause issues with other aspects, like plot and stakes. Let’s discuss issues to avoid and how to make sure your character has strong and clear motivations.

First off, when a character doesn’t know why they are doing something my interest wanes especially if this happens in the first chapter when the stakes are being set up. If a character doesn’t know, it doesn’t tell me about them or why I should care. In fact, it makes their actions feel unimportant. It’s often a big red flag when a character even thinks “I don’t know why” in regards to their actions and motivations. If they don’t understand themselves, the readers can’t understand. This makes their actions feel forced for the sake of plot. Motivations help develop characters and their role in the story.  Forcing motivations for the sake of plot causes characterization and as well as motives to suffer in return. Continue reading “Character Motivations”

Reading

Greek Mythology Book Recs

Ever since I was a kid I loved Greek mythology. I read everything I could get my hands on and then when I moved into my teen years I started reading romance that included Greek mythology elements. These days I love books that play on the famous stories of mythology and ancient Greece while keeping them in Ancient Greece. Below I’ve included some of my favorite recent reads as well as books I’m looking forward to reading this year.

First up is the author Madeline Miller. She is the queen of Greek mythology in my opinion. She even got her BA and MA in Classics. This year I read her books Circe and The Song of Achilles and they were fantastic. You can read my review of Achilles here. Both stories are set in the world I’ve always imagined them taking place in, which is Ancient Greece with a dash of magic and vengeful gods. Continue reading “Greek Mythology Book Recs”

Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Across the Universe

Here is another young adult science fiction read! Across the Universe by Beth Revis has a lot of similarities with the movie Passengers but aimed at a young adult audience. Overall I give it 3.5 stars. While this book is the first in a series, I have no plans to continue. If you are a fan of Passengers than this could be the book for you, if not I don’t recommend picking this one up.

Amy is frozen cargo aboard a spaceship. She isn’t supposed to wake up until the ship reaches a new planet, but she wakes up 50 years too early and other cargo passengers are dying. She fears her parents could be next. Even worse, the ship is full of secrets and run by a cruel dictator she hates. Basically the plot is very similar to Passengers with one big difference: there are other people awake on the ship. Generations of people run the ship and the danger lies within other people instead of a malfunctioning ship. The love story runs in a similar vein with the same reason for Amy waking up early. Continue reading “Book Review: Across the Universe”

Reading · Reviews

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction lately after not touching any for a year or two and I’m loving this step back into the genre. One of my latest reads was The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. It’s a young adult book and perfect for teen readers looking to get into something lighter on the science side with an emphasis on the human experience instead.  This was a 4 star book out of 5 for me and I found the overall premise fresh. It was also a quick read, which I appreciated since so many books in the genre tend to be on the long side.

The book follows Romy Silvers, a teenaged girl stuck alone on a space ship after her parents died. The mission is to colonize a new planet, but Romy struggles to cope with being alone. Then she finds out a second ship is on the way and will soon catch up with her. Her excitement fades to horror as she realizes there are worse things than being alone. Now if you read the blurb for the book, you might expect a romance, but this isn’t a romance and it isn’t a book I’d recommend for anyone looking for a sci-fi romance. Continue reading “Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe”

querying

Batch Querying

Batch querying is sending out batches of queries to agents, usually 5 to 10 queries a session. Then an author waits on responses to see if the query and pages are hooking agents or not. If they aren’t, or perhaps if they got feedback, the author revises and sends the next batch. This is the querying method I see recommended all the time, but recently while reading agent interviews I noticed an agent who shall remained unnamed complain about this method. However, I disagree with the agent’s complaints as a writer and as someone trying to break into agenting.

The perks of batch querying means an author has  a chance to revise and follow any feedback (which admittedly is rare to get from agents) before querying other agents. Plus let’s face it, querying agents takes a lot of time and authors can query anywhere from a few dozen to over a hundred for any given book. Batch querying helps authors break those large amounts up into a smaller, more manageable amount. For those with busy schedules, it would be impossible to find enough time to query every agent on their list in one setting. Continue reading “Batch Querying”