Friday, January 24, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: State of Nature: Book Three of The Park Service Trilogy

Title: State of Nature -- Book Three of The Park Service Trilogy
Author: Ryan Winfield
Publisher: Birch Paper Press
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Type of Review: Personal
Kara's Rating: 5.0 Kicks to the Heart

Blurb:  After leaving the Isle of Man, Aubrey and Jimmy return to the Foundation to confront Hannah about her betrayal and to free the people of Holocene II only to find themselves facing new and more difficult challenges in a world where nothing is as it seems.

Kara's Review: Wow. It is so bittersweet when a series you love comes to an end. But before I get started, if you haven't read these books, you might want to take a moment to go read my reviews of Book One and Book Two

Okay, so, I have some mixed emotions about this book, mostly with the ending, the epilogue specifically. We'll get to that a little later. Overall, I LOVED this book, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone because I'm a huge fan of Ryan Winfield!

As usual, Mr. Winfield's descriptions are vivid, beautiful, and a bit long at times. (I think I've said this with every single book of his I've read and reviewed. lol) That's not necessarily a bad thing, but personally, I don't care for that much description. His prose is always so moving, poetic at times really, and it's hard not to become engaged in the story and the world he's built. 

Now, I'm going to attempt to write this review without giving any spoilers, which is going to be extremely difficult because it seems like everything I want to say, everything I want to point out, will spoil the book. lol. But, here goes...

This final book in The Park Service Trilogy seemed to focus more on the characters than the action -- unlike book two, which was packed with action. Don't get me wrong, I'm still reeling over book two, but a true character driven story gets me every time. So, let's take a look at the characters, shall we?

Aubrey -- He's the main character and the hero. Right from the start he's been likable, if not a bit gullible at times. Throughout the first two books, Aubrey was finding his way, discovering new truths he never knew existed, and he was fighting to survive. He is befriended by Jimmy, and they become inseparable. I'm so happy this didn't change in book three. If anything, their relationship matured and grew. It was really heartwarming to see unfold on the pages.  What really stood out to me, though, was the role reversal we saw in this book. In the first two, Aubrey allowed Jimmy to take the lead on everything. Aubrey looked up to Jimmy, aspired to be like him in every way. However, in this book, Aubrey really stepped up and took the leadership role we've all been waiting for him to take. And although some of his decisions made me want to smack some sense into him, I could understand why he felt the need to make them. 

There was a scene where Aubrey is reunited with someone (can't say who because it will spoil the surprise) who eventually tells him exactly who he is, why he was "chosen" in book one to go to the Foundation, and what is true heritage & legacy is -- and let me tell you, I didn't see this one coming! That shock was a great twist to the story as a whole; however, I felt his reactions to learning the truth were a little underplayed. I would've liked to see him get angrier, yell, scream, rage, rebel. Something. But he seemed to sulk for a couple of days, and then was easily over it. 

Jimmy -- Oh, poor, poor Jimmy. My heart broke for him. There were several points where my heart was pounding, and I was on the verge of tears. He endures so much throughout this story, and there were several places where I *thought* he was going to die. I'd already made up my mind that if he did die in the middle of the story, I was going to stop reading. Thankfully that didn't happen. Jimmy really is the perfect best friend and companion to Aubrey. They offset each other very well, compensating for each other's weaknesses and magnifying their strengths. And can I just say, I totally called what was going to happen in this relationship! ;)

Hannah -- I haven't liked her since the moment I met her and that hasn't changed. In fact, I dislike her even more now. She's a vile person and deserved what she got. Some other reviewers have said that Aubrey's final actions toward her weren't justified. Personally, I was asking myself why he hadn't done it sooner. 

Jillian -- She was a new character that we hadn't seen before. In the beginning, I was kind of rooting for her because she was on Aubrey's side. But some of her actions had me questioning her motives. And by the end, she's firmly in my "dislike" category right below Hannah. Jillian didn't do anything horrible or mean per se, but she is way too much like Hannah for my comfort, and with the way the book ended, I'm left wondering if there will be a spin-off series, because it was left wide open for one with Jillian at the helm. 

So, now the epilogue -- As an author and editor, I can appreciate what Mr. Winfield did here, but as a reader it infuriated me! And here's where it's so hard for me not to give anything away because I just want to rant and rave about it. lol. Now that I've had a couple of days to digest it and think about it, I can see it for what it is -- a true happily ever after -- even though it's not your traditional HEA, and it had me in tears, it was the only logical conclusion to this series. So, bravo, Mr. Winfield, for staying true to your characters and not taking the easy way out. (Although that probably would've made a lot of readers much happier.) 

All in all, this has been a FANTASTIC young adult series, and I highly recommend it to everyone. It's a series I will read over and over again. 

Amazon buy links:
The Park Service (Book 1)
Isle of Man (Book 2)
State of Nature (Book 3) 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anaiah Press: Upcoming Events & Pitch Contests

I've got some exciting news! As you all know, I'm the Managing Editor of the Surge Imprint (YA/NA) at Anaiah Press. I've really enjoyed my position, interacting with some wonderful authors, and working daily with the fabulous staff. So, now I'm super happy to announce that I'm also taking over as Managing Editor of our Romance Imprint!

That's right -- I'm now on the hunt for adult romances in addition to YA and NA novels. Stay tuned for a post that will outline my romance wish list :)

Now, on to some even more exciting news. Anaiah is busy hunting for some stellar manuscripts to add to our line up. In an effort to do that, and to help all you aspiring authors skip right over the slush pile, we're hosting and participating in some fun pitch contests. 

January 20th - January 25th
YAtopia Blog Pitch

Anaiah Press is on YAtopia blog accepting pitches for YA, NA, MG, PB, NF, and adult manuscripts. You can pitch your book directly to our editors in 50 words or less. If you catch our editors' attention, they'll comment with instructions on how to submit directly to them. 

You can find the contest HERE.

January 24th & February 28th 
Facebook Four Sentence Friday Fest

That's right. Every fourth Friday of the month you can pitch your book right on our Facebook page. The rules are simple:

1. Post FOUR SENTENCES on the Anaiah Press Facebook page. These four sentences should tell us about your manuscript. 

2. Please remember: your manuscript must be finished, polished & currently unpublished.

3. If interested, editors will like or comment on your pitch with instructions on how to submit. 

February 5th
#AdPit Twitter Pitch Party

The wonderful Heidi Norrod is hosting #AdPit on Twitter. For full details and rules, go HERE. It's in the same vein as #pitchMAS and #PitMad, except this time, it's for adult manuscripts and non-fiction manuscripts only! So, I'll be on the hunt for some clean, Christian friendly adult romances. I'm sure Senior Editor, Jessica will be stalking the feed looking for some non-fiction for our Inspirations line!

February 19th
Flirting with Romance Blog Pitch Party

We will be spending the entire day at the Flirting with Romance Blog taking pitches for adult romance manuscripts. I'm really excited to find some romantic suspense! More details about dates, times, and pitching rules will be posted as they're revealed. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Write a Bad Query: Part Two

Welcome to the second installment of How to Write a Bad Query. At this point in time, I have a total of three posts in this series. (Part three will go live in early February.) However, I plan to keep this as an ongoing series, adding new parts when I have more wisdom to share.

If you missed part one, you can take a moment and go read it HERE before we get started.

The Arrogant Query

Authors have to have two things (1) confidence and unfaltering belief in the book they've written, and (2) the ability to take rejection. However, it's important to have these two things in moderation. When you have item #1 in excess, it leads to queries like this:

Dear Editor,
     Have I got a book for you. GLUCOSE INTOLERANT VAMPIRES & THE HUMAN WOMEN THEY LOVE is going to be bigger than Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Vampire Diaries combined. I'm so excited for this book and cannot wait for you to share in my joy.
     And it's your lucky day, too! I've queried forty-seven agents and publishers alike. Once the bidding war is over, I will choose the best possible person to represent my book. Please note that I have already picked the cast for the movie adaptation.
Amy Author

Okay, so this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have seen queries where an author will talk about selling all their subsidiary rights when they haven't even sold the actual book yet. We get that you're excited about your book and all the possibilities, but the ratio of books in publication compared to books in publication that are turned into movies is skewed very heavily against you. I'm not saying it won't happen, but be realistic when you query. Sell the book first. Everything else will come later.

The No Query at all Query

I know, it's hard to believe, but it's true. There have been queries just like this one:

Dear Editor,
     My book is attached for your review. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Amy Author

Anyone want to take a guess as to what's wrong with this one? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Right. So, moving on...

The Telling Query

Authors are constantly being told to show don't tell. Well, the same advice applies to your query.

Dear Editor,
     Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world where there was no milk? That is the life that sixteen year old Bertha must endure. BERTHA WANTS MILK is the story of a young girl who is tasked with the daunting chore of locating a cow and repopulating her town with milk. She will face heartache, setbacks, and hopelessness as she is faced with one obstacle after another. Complete at 82,000 words, this is a young adult fantasy about learning how to grow up and persevere.
     Thank you for your consideration.
Amy Author

*Yawn* Oh, sorry, did I doze off? The only thing you should be telling us in your query is the title, word count, genre, and all that other identifying information we discussed during part one. As an editor, this type of query makes me think only one thing: the book will be as boring and dry as this query. Honestly, ask yourself, would you want to read 82,000 words that were written exactly like this letter? Probably not.

Friday, January 17, 2014

For the Love of Writing - Genetic or Learned?

As I was writing my goals post earlier this month, and I was reflecting on what I've accomplished, I began to think about how I got to this point in my life. Where did my passion for writing come from? I can easily point the finger at my Great Aunt Betty.

When I was younger, my mother and I would take a yearly trip to Buffalo and spend a week with my aunt Betty. I loved these trips. Not just because I got spoiled rotten on them (I am an only child after all) but because my mother and I would sit for hours and listen to aunt Betty talk about her writing. She would tell us stories of the stories she was writing. She'd embellish tales of her writers group and what they were up to.

I remember one year we visited and aunt Betty presented us with an anthology that her writers group published.

Aunt Betty has two stories included, both of which are non-fiction, memoir type pieces.

A Little Ole Candy Bar is about my maternal grandmother, Jane, who passed away when I was young, so it was nice to get to know her through this story.

Not only did I have the wonderful influence of my aunt Betty, my own mother influenced me a lot. She's a writer, too. God love her though, she's stuck in the eighties. See what I mean?

Yup. My mother doesn't own a computer and handwrites everything! But she has such a passion for it, she doesn't mind. Unlike aunt Betty, my mother has never been published and she has no desire to be. She writes because she has a story to tell. And she's happy, so really, what else matters?

Then, of course, there's me. I've written a lot and have been fairly successfully with getting my stuff published. At home, I'm always either writing or reading. I'm discussing my career with my husband. I talk books with my oldest daughter, who has more books on her shelves than I do. We make trips to the library and the bookstore. And I even drag my kids to the office supply store -- it's like a grown-up toy store for writers!

Anyway, I digress. Recently I've noticed my eight year old daughter is constantly writing short little stories and drawing pictures to go along with them. She's always snagging my notebooks and asking for paper. It's cute, and it warms my heart to see her enjoy it so much.

Shailynn & Mrs. Hogan
However, what truly prompted this post was my twelve year old daughter, Shailynn. Her English teacher gave an assignment in which she had to write an essay. The topic: What Patriotism Means to Me. My lovely daughter -- who thinks the world revolves around boys and cheerleading -- forgot about the assignment. So, not wanting to get in trouble for not having her homework done, she wrote it on the bus on the way to school that morning.

Turns out this "assignment" was actually a voluntary thing hosted by our local VFW. It's the Patriot's Pen Essay contest that offers prize money and scholarships. Well, much to my surprise, Shailynn's essay was chosen as a winner!

She won at the local level, district level, county level, and even had her essay sent to Albany for the state level competition. At the end of December, we were invited to attend an awards banquet. Here's my daughter with her awards:

During this banquet we learned that Shailynn placed 3rd in the entire state of New York!! Woo hoo! (Yes, I'm bragging. I won't apologize. I'm a pretty proud mom right now!) In March we will be traveling to our state's capital so that Shailynn can once again be honored for her achievement and receive a small college scholarship.

So, what's the point of all this you ask? Well, I'm this legacy of writing passed from generation to generation genetically? Is there something in our DNA that predisposes the women in my family to write? Or is this simple case of a child's surroundings, their upbringing, influencing their beliefs and actions? I'm curious what everyone else thinks. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Warning to Authors: Research Your Publishers!

A while back I did a post on How to Find a Reputable Publisher. Today, I'm going to talk about something very similar. Now that #PitMad and #pitchMAS is over, I'm swamped with queries, partial manuscripts, full manuscripts, and everything in between. Let me be clear: I'm not complaining. lol. But considering the nature of these contests -- both agents and small press editors making requests, I thought I should take some time to let authors know that they should make a choice based on information and not emotion.

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to sign the first contract that's offered the day it reaches your inbox, especially if it's your first contract ever! But,


At least not right away.

I know how crazy this sounds coming from an acquiring editor of a small press, but I want every single author I sign to Anaiah Press to do so with their eyes wide open, and a good feeling in their heart for doing so.

Whether you receive an offer of representation from an agent or a publishing contract from a small press, you have to do some research. I cannot stress how important this is!

So, where do you start? Here are the 5 steps I always follow when researching an agent/publisher for my own personal writing:

1. Visit the agents/publishers website. Look at everything. Click through every page they have available. If there are a lot of broken links then you might want to think twice about sending them your work. If there are a ton of authors who've only ever published one book with the publisher then it's a good possibility the publisher is an author mill and you want to avoid those. If the publisher has a sample contract available--READ IT! Also take some time to study the book covers. Do you like them? Would you be proud to have your name on a book with a cover similar to the ones they provide?

2. Research their reputation. Yes, this is possible. The first place I start researching is Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write. They are both free sites that offer advice and insight into various agents and publishers. I ALWAYS check these two sites. (And yes, you can feel free to go check up on Anaiah Press!)

3. Contact some authors. If you're seriously considering a specific agent or publisher, look at their client list/published authors. Randomly contact a few of them, let them know you're considering an offer, and ask what their experiences have been like. You'd be surprised just how willing and helpful they will be.

4. Ask lots and lots of questions. Seriously. Ask whatever questions come to your mind no matter how small or stupid you might think they are. If you've gotten to the point where they have sent you a contract, read it thoroughly. Have your attorney or a trusted author reader it. Then ask a ton more questions.

5. Trust your instincts. I cannot stress this enough. If you have that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, listen to it and heed its warning.

In addition to the above steps, I always look for warning signs and red flags. Here are some of them that you should be aware of:

  • Poor quality website / not up to date
  • Lack of authors - Sometimes this is due to the fact that the publisher is brand new (like Anaiah) and other times it's because authors are not willing to sign with the agent/publisher in question. Be sure to check to see how long the publisher has been in business.
  • Unwillingness to communicate - If the agent/editor you've been in contact with refuses to answer your questions, gives overly vague answers, or tells you that they will answer all of your questions as soon as you sign the contract is probably a person/place you don't want to deal with.
  • Unwillingness to negotiate - I've never seen a contract that wasn't negotiable. If you come across an agent/publisher who isn't willing to negotiate even one clause in their contract you might want to think twice about doing business with them. 

Signing with an agent / publisher is a big commitment, and not one that should be rushed into or taken lightly. The average publishing contract is for a period of 3 years, sometimes longer. So ask yourself, are you willing to spend the next few years in a relationship with this person / publisher? 

Monday, January 13, 2014

{BLOG TOUR}: Vision of Shadows by Vincent Morrone

Boy, do I have a treat for all of you today! The talented and always fun, Vincent Morrone is here to answer some questions and talk about his new book, VISION OF SHADOWS!

Welcome, Vince! Care to start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, I now reside in Upstate NY with my wife. (Although I can still speak fluent Brooklynese.) My twin daughters remain not only my biggest fans, but usually are the first to read all of my work. Their home is run and operated for the comfort and convenience of their dogs.

I've has been writing fiction, poetry and song lyrics for as long as I can remember, most of which involve magical misfits, paranormal prodigies and even on occasion superheroes and their sidekicks.

As they say in Brooklyn: Yo, you got something to say to Vincent?

Check out where you can learn about Vincent and leave him a comment.  You can also connect with Vincent on Twitter and Facebook

What prompted you to start writing? And what was your inspiration for this specific book?
I’ve always loved to read. And growing up, I always l loved to come up with stories. When I was little and I played with my Spiderman action figure, it wasn’t enough just to have him swing through the house, I had to have a story. A villain to defeat, a girl to rescue. (My sister’s Barbie sometimes would be the woman. Shhh, don’t tell her.)
As far as Vision of Shadows, I just heard her voice in my head and it went from there. I knew I wanted to do something that could be funny, emotional and dangerous. I figured a teen who talks to ghosts was the place to start.

2. Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Are you a plotter or pantser?

Definitely a plotter. (But quite often, I do wear pants.)

For years, I had tried to sit down with just a basic concept in my head. That was how the big boys do it, right? But I found I would only get so far and then I didn’t know where to go. Short stories were one thing, but keeping that narrative going for a novel length work just wasn’t working. That’s when I realized I could plot out the story and give myself a guide. I never filled in all the details, but I had a game plan and that was very important.

Sometimes, when I’m writing the first draft, I just plow through a scene even knowing it’s not working. Just get everything you need in there and then fix it later. In VoS, there was a very important scene where Bristol talks to her curmudgeon of a grandfather and he gives her a history lesson on their town and the feud between the Blackburn’s and the McKnight’s. I knew it was coming off too dry, but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. In the past I would have put it to the side and waited until I figured it out. But now I knew just get it in there and come back. That’s why God gave us revisions. In the end, I added a new element to the scene (She is a girl who see’s ghosts, after all) and I was pleased with how it turned out.
That’s what works for me, but every writer has their own way. And everyone has to find what works for them.

3. What's your writing space like? Do you have an office or do you prefer to write whenever and wherever you can?

It’s wherever I am with my laptop. I usually write at home in my recliner, but I’ll use the kitchen table. I’ll sometimes work from the break room at work where there’s a computer available. I’ll take my laptop with me when I get the oil changed on my car or sit in the parking lot while my daughter has her ice skating lesson.

4. This is your first book, correct? And it's being published by Entranced Publishing. I hear that you're the only man in a publisher full of women. So, tell us, is the estrogen choking you yet? Or do you find it easy to be surrounded by all those lovely women?

I’ve often found myself in the company of more women than men. At one point at home, I lived with my wife, my 2 daughters, my wife’s elderly grandmother and 2 female dogs. I had estrogen dripping down the walls.
I love being a part of Entranced. Sure, it would be cool to get another male author on board. So that while all of you ladies are sending around pictures of Ryan Gosling and/or Alexander Skarsgard (Yes, I’m talking about you ST Bende!) I’d have someone to share pictures of Scarlet Johansson.

5. I also hear that you're the father of two teenaged, twin daughters. How's that going? Do you find it difficult to balance parenting with writing?

How is it going? There are days I want to rip off my own arm just so I have something to beat myself of the head with. But I wouldn’t change my life for anything. They’re my biggest fans. And sure, it can be difficult sometimes to find time to write and be with them, but hands down if they need my attention, they get it.
Both my girls are really smart (Smarter than me) and wonderful young ladies. I can honestly say that without a doubt, they are my greatest accomplishment.

6. Okay, now, let's get serious for a moment. Talk to us about your bacon addiction. While you're at it, feel free to tell us the strangest thing you've ever eaten in relation to bacon. (e.g. bacon wrapped deep fried Twinkie.)
Actually, I’m more of a bacon purist. I have had bacon wrapped sea scallops. And I’ll use bacon when I’m sautéing green beans with garlic, but bacon doesn’t need to be added to anything. Bacon is its own food group. I actually just had some as I wrote this.

7. Anything else you'd like to add?

Vision of Shadows is a 40 plus dream finally come true. I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. It took me a long time to figure out how to craft a story. I let the dream get away from me for a while, but I dug in and now the roller coaster ride is about to begin!
8. Great! So, now tell us about this book.

Is Bristol Blackburn about to meet the love of her life...or her killer? 
After the death of her parents, Bristol Blackburn's life is thrown into chaos and she's forced to move to Spirit, a small town where shadows are stirring. As she learns to navigate her new school and figures out how to keep her psychic abilities secret from her family, Bristol comes face to face with the boy who makes a regular appearance in her dreams: the gorgeous, possibly deadly, Payne McKnight. Soon she’ll find out if Payne will be the love of her life, or the end of it — and she has no idea which possibility scares her more.

And that's not even the worst of it. Strange shadows are haunting her dreams, and they're up to something that could put Bristol and the lives of everyone she loves in jeopardy.

You can add Vision of Shadows to your to-read list on Goodreads:
You can buy Vision of Shadows on Amazon:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Write a Bad Query: Part One

As an editor, I read a lot of queries. Some of them are knock your socks off fantastic and others leave me wondering, what were they thinking? So, I've decided to share my knowledge with you in a new blog post series entitled: How to write a bad query.

Yes, you read that correctly ;-)

Despite the hundreds and thousands of websites that "teach" you how to write a stellar query, there's no magic formula for writing a query letter, and the argument can be made that there really is no wrong way to write one....but let's face it, there is. You can go anywhere and learn how to do it right. Well, no worries! I'm going to teach you how to do it the wrong way. Why?  Because I hope that you won't make any of these mistakes.

(**Please note that although the situations are real, the examples are completely fictional and are a figment of my own imagination**)

The Fantastic Pitch & Nothing Else Query

Anyone who has ever researched or actually written a query letter knows that the book pitch is hands-down the most important part of the entire letter. If you can't pique an agent or editors interest then you have no hopes of getting them to read your book. However, giving said agent or editor some identifying information is equally important. Why? Because we like to know what genre the book is, how long it is, who you are, what credentials you have, how to contact you, etc.

Dear Editor,

     Tallulah would do anything to land her dream internship -- including playing babysitter to the boss's obnoxious tween son, Furbrow. But when Furbrow sneaks out of the house to go visit a girl who convinces him to sneak into a movie, Tallulah must figure out a way to get Furbrow home and tucked safely into bed before his parents return. That's a lot easier said than done though -- especially when Tallulah is faced with an impossible decision: tell the truth about Furbrow and possibly lose her internship or keep it a secret even though she knows that's not the right thing to do. Is she willing to risk her personal morals for a shot at a life-changing opportunity?
      Thank you for your consideration.
Amy Author

As you can see, there is no information in this type of query. We have no idea what genre this book falls into -- YA? NA? MG? -- it's anyone's guess. Is it 50,000 words or 150,000 words? Has Amy Author ever been published before? If so, where? What type of book?

Please, please, I beg you, take the extra paragraph and give us some information! It really will help you in the end, I promise.

The TMI Query

On the flip side, I have read queries that told me the author's entire life story and absolutely nothing about the book. Granted, I like to get to know the authors I will be working with. It's good business to build rapport and develop a relationship. Your query letter is not the place to do that!

Dear Editor,
     When I lost my husband to cancer last year, I knew I had to find something to help me cope. I turned to the written word and have healed through my writing. If it weren't for the journey I took with the characters in this book, I would've been reunited with my husband in Heaven much sooner than I should've been.
     Upon deciding to write this book, I quit my job as a teacher and focused on this new, exciting career path. Prior to teaching, I was a marketing executive and before that a sales clerk at a major department store. As you can see, I bring a variety of life experience to the table and will use my knowledge to help sell my book.
     My children are grown and out of the house. Having not blessed me with grandchildren, I am fully devoted to working on this book and the sixteen other books I have planned and outlined. I at your complete disposal.
     Thank you for your consideration.
Amy Author

Wow. Okay, well, I'm sorry for your loss and for your lack of grandchildren, but could you maybe tell me something about your book? The title, maybe? Please, give me something, anything!

The "I Can't Follow Rules" Query

Every single agent and publisher will outline their submission guidelines on their website or blog. Most of them are easy to find and even easier to follow. Before you send a query letter to anyone, be sure to find these guidelines and follow them!

Dear Editor,
     Brazen Blueblood is the last of her kind, and she's fighting to stay alive. The world wants her dead because she saw something she wasn't supposed to see. With the help of a kind, homeless stranger, a stray dog, and her trusty blue metal sword, Brazen will face her demons and hopefully she'll come out alive.
     BRAZEN BLEEDS is a young adult fantasy complete at 90,000 words.
     I currently haven't had anything published, but I'm a contributor to a successful young adult blog. I'm active on social media and have built a strong following on Twitter.
     Your guidelines ask for the first three chapters pasted into the email. I've taken the liberty of attaching my full manuscript because there is no way you can get a feel for my characters in three short chapters.
     Thank you for you consideration.
Amy Author

Uh....can you say reject? Seriously folks, those guidelines are there for a reason. If you don't follow them, you're asking begging for a rejection. This type of query tells me two very important things: (1) you can't follow simple rules, and (2) you're going to do whatever you want and will probably be very difficult to work with. No thank you. Next!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polish Your Pitches - It's #PitMad Time!

Tomorrow is January 8th and it's the ever crazy yet exciting event known as #PitMad. Twitter will be abuzz with authors pitching their novels in the required 140 characters or less -- which is really hard to do! Agents and editor will be trolling the feed looking for the best, most intriguing pitches, and then making requests. It's going to be a TON of fun.

And of course, I will be stalking the feed, looking for some new YA and NA for Anaiah Press. So, I thought it would be much less chaotic for me to outline exactly what I expect during this party.

It's simple, I promise!

If I favorite your #PitMad tweet tomorrow please do the following:
1.  Send me a query letter and first three (3) chapters of your novel pasted into the body of the email to: karaleigh.miller (at) anaiahpress (dot) com

See? Told you it was easy :-)

A few things to please keep in mind:
  • Don't participate in this event if your manuscript isn't finished, edited, and polished.
  • Anaiah Press is a Christian fiction press and we only accept stories that contain themes of inspiration and/or faith (religious themes do not need to be overt) so if you know your story won't fit and I request it, please don't hesitate to send me a polite message stating you're not submitting for this reason.
  • Despite popular belief, you don't have to submit to every single agent, publisher, and/or editor who favorites your pitch. If I request materials from you, but your dream is to land an agent, then by all means, feel free to politely decline my request. I'm an author, too. I understand how it goes. But please, please do not send your query if you have no intentions of seriously considering an offer from us.

Happy pitching, Twitterverse! I know it will be Happy Hunting for me :-)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Open for Submissions

As many of you know, I've taken a new position as Managing Editor of the Surge Imprint at Anaiah Press. I'm very excited about this new endeavor, and I'm even more excited to start building my client list. So, I thought I'd take a moment and detail exactly what I'm looking for in both an author and a book.

In an author, I'm looking for someone who is:
  • fun, easy -going, has a good sense of humor, and is excited about the editing process
  • willing to learn and work hard to make their book(s) the absolute best it can be
  • able to meet deadlines and willing to openly communicate should issues arise 
In a book, I'm looking for something that:
  • keeps me turning the pages into the wee morning hours
  • keeps me thinking about it long after "the end"
  • puts me through a range of emotions. I'm a real sucker for a book and characters that can make me cry
My specific wish list:
  • YA or NA with strong romantic elements. I prefer books where the romance is the primary focus.
  • Contemporaries are my absolute favorite, but I do occasionally like a good dystopian or fantasy.
  • I would love to see a YA romantic suspense.
  • A cross between Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High.
  • Strong heroes and heroines.
  • I prefer 3rd person POV that tells the story from both the male & female perspectives, but will consider 1st person POV stories.
Things I will *NOT* accept or consider:
  • Excessive cursing
  • Premarital sex or heavy making out
  • Underage drinking and/or drug use
  • Anything that promotes an anti-Christian message (This means no voodoo, witchcraft, or made-up religions)
  • Unnecessary violence

For full Anaiah Press Submission Guidelines, go HERE!

If you have something that you think is a good fit for me, then I invite you to query me directly at:
karaleigh.miller (at) anaiahpress (dot) com

I look forward to reading your submissions!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Co-Author Contest

I am SO excited to announce the start of a brand new contest, hosted by yours truly and Anaiah Press.

We are looking for one talented writer to work very closely with me to co-author a new book!

*~* UPDATE *~*
The entries are rolling in and let me say, they are FANTASTIC! It's going to be very hard to choose just one. So, I just want to let everyone know that even if you don't win this particular contest, it's not because of your writing or your voice. I have a lot of projects in the works, and if I don't pick you for this specific one, I may very well ask you to work on something else with me :-)

Who can Enter:
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older. Both men and women are welcome. It doesn't matter what genre you normally write, but please be advised that this project is an adult romance with an inspirational theme of love and faith.

How to Enter:
Send me an email with the following:
  • a brief introduction (i.e. tell me a little bit about yourself. No more than one paragraph, please)
  • an answer to this question: Why do you want to work on this project?
  • a 3-5 page writing sample pasted into the body of the email. If you send me an attachment, it will be automatically rejected. The sample can be anything -- an excerpt from one of your published novels, an unpublished novel, a current work in progress, or a short story. I don't have a preference as to single or double spaced pages, but please use a standard 12 point font -- Times New Roman or Courier.
In the subject line put: Co-Author Contest_Writing Sample_Name (this is your name here)

Please send the email to: karaleigh.miller (at) anaiahpress (dot) com

The Project:
Okay, I know you're probably wondering exactly what you'll be working on. And I'll tell you...if you're chosen ;-)

All right, all right. Settle down. Jeez. I was just teasing.

Only the chosen writer will get the full details of the project. But, here's a bit of information to help you decide if this is something you'll want to work on. As stated above, it's an adult romance with an inspirational theme of love and faith. The hero is an ER doctor. It will be written primarily in third person POV, alternating between the hero and heroine's point of view. There will be absolutely NO SEX, very limited cursing, and light kissing.

The contest starts now and will run until midnight EST on January 31, 2014.

Both Eden Plantz (Executive Editor of Anaiah Press) and I will chose the top five (5) writing samples. This decision will be made no later than February 5th, at which time we'll email the five finalists an interview. This is so we can get a feel for you and make sure that this partnership will work well for everyone.

Interviews will be due back to me no later than February 10th.

The winner will be announced on February 15th.

** Everyone who entered will receive an email regardless of whether they were chosen **

You MUST be 18 years old or older.
You MUST be willing and able to work from an outline provided by me. (Winner's input will be asked for and utilized during the writing process.)
You MUST be willing and able to meet deadlines.
You MUST be willing to sign a contract for publication with Anaiah Press. This requirement is non-negotiable. If you're not comfortable signing with a small press, please do no enter this contest.

Well, there you have it! If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or email me directly.

I look forward to reading those samples!

Kara's 2014 New Year's Goals

Image Courtesy of:

Well, it's the start of another new year and I've been busy setting new goals for myself. But before I get to those, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2013 because it was a pretty awesome year for me!

In 2013 I...
  • Wrote and published a total 5 books!
  • Co-authored a collection of stories with 3 really awesome and talented ladies. (Love and Other Games is still only $0.99 so get your copy now!)
  • Joined Twitter and actually learned how to use it quite effectively :-)
  • Became an intern, Associate Editor, and then Senior Editor at Entranced Publishing
  • Attended my first writers' conference
  • Did my first face-to-face agent pitch and got a partial request from her
  • Made some amazing friendships that I will cherish forever. Excuse me a moment while I mention a few of them by name because they just deserve it:
                                   1. Melinda Dozier
                                   2. Ana Blaze
                                   3. Aria Kane
                                   4. Eden Plantz
                                   5. ST Bende
                                   6. Kat Daemon
                                   7. Rachel Kall
                                   8. Isabel Sterling
                                   9. Nikki Lynn Vale
                                   10. Rachell Nichole
  • Started a local weekly writing & critiquing group
  • Participated and won NaNoWriMo
  • Became a Managing Editor at Anaiah Press

Now, on to what I hope to accomplish in 2014...

1. Blog on a more regular basis. I know, I know. I made this goal last year, too, and I kind of stuck to it. I definitely posted a lot this year, but it was a lot of guest posts, author interviews, blog tours, and such. What can I say? I'm a sucker for helping my fellow authors. This year though, I'm going to blog about writing related topics -- querying, editing, marketing etc.

2. Finish & publish a new YA novel. As of right now, the book is untitled, but it's about a high school senior who is telempathic -- a telepath with empathic capabilities. She's been having a lot of restlessness that she chalks up to spring fever, but when the new boy blows into town, her restlessness disappears. She soon learns that this boy is her guide, the person she's meant to be with, and the boy who will save her from using her gifts for evil.

3. Attend RT 2014 & meet Ryan Winfield. Anyone whose followed this blog knows that I'm a huge Ryan Winfield fan. I'm already registered for RT 2014, and then I found out he would be attending as well. Woo hoo! I can't wait to have him sign my third Park Service book :-) Then I'll have the entire trilogy signed by him!

4. Win NaNoWriMo for a second year! Last year was the first time I ever participated in NaNo -- thanks in large part to peer pressure from Isabel Sterling ;-) but it was such a rush! I absolutely loved it and can't wait to do it again.

5. Build my client list at Anaiah Press. I would love to sign and work closely with a minimum of 5 authors. A total of 9 or 10 would be awesome! Update: I've offered contracts to 2 authors that I'm dying to work with. So, I'm already well on my way to this goal. Stay tuned on Friday for a complete list of what I'm looking for.

What are your goals for 2014?
Feel free to share them in the comments :-)