Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Nightwalker

Soooooo good! Nightwalker is a Dark Adult Urban Fantasy by Jocelynn Drake, first Dark Days novel..

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker—an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.
The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.

First Line: "His name was Danaus."

For the book, it's a very good set up line, because Danuas is very important (written in first from Mira's POV). I like the paragraph following this line, something very tricky to do well (and it is!) which is a description of his eyes. But even that description tells so much about Mira.

Brownie Points: Mira. Loved her. I imagine that if I were a 500 year old vampire, I'd be a lot like Mira. What I really loved about her was that she acts like she's 500, calm and collected, bored at times, curious about things that are new to her (she's 500, that's hard to do). Which of course, is where Danaus comes in. But if you think they get along right away... haha, think again. They're kinda not friends, but not really enemies, and they constantly talk about killing each other. But... oh I love the characters!

Recommendation: Read it now.

Would I represent it? Give me a novel like this one and I will fall at your feet in gratitude. I guess I'll contend myself for now by reading every book by Drake (love it when an author inspires me to do that). What I especially liked about it were the characters, the darkness of it, and there was absolutely nothing cute about it (not one character was flamboyant or eccentric or the "brother" character). I like a nice solid departure from cozy paranormals.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why I Love JR Ward

JR Ward and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, are on my favorite author list for much the same reason (please note that SEP is adult contemporary romance, which I do not represent). They have what I call "The Psychological Screw You" factor. Not so much "screw you" as in the reader, but in terms of character development and plot. If you've ever read a SEP novel, while laughing out loud every other scene, you'll realize that she's great at creating this amazing characters then throwing them down a cliff. The joy of reading about these characters comes when you watch them try to climb back up the cliff. She throws everything into it, too: family drama, past loves, financial ruin, reputation, jobs. Throughout the journey, you become close with the characters. Plus there is a lot of tension and frustration (and the sex scenes aren't there for the sake of being there; they are a result of the characters--not plot devices).

Now, JR Ward does similar things to her characters as well. Each character is so psychologically twisted that they have a hard time being in civilized company. Part of this is a result from the character's self--by that I mean a product of them being vampire (or a mix: vampire/celestial offspring, vampire/demon sucker, vampire/beast). All of them are dealing with scars from their past. Again, as I mentioned above with SEP's novels, the sex in Ward's novels are not plot devices or included for the sake of inclusion. Each scene is a product of the characters and sometimes act as a therapy tool.

(One of the main reasons I mention sex, is that it's one of the biggest mistakes a new writer can make in their ms, and one of the biggest reasons I'll reject a paranormal romance. If I see anything throbbing in the first two pages, it's usually a red flag. It must be done well and, as I said above, as a result of character development.)

Have you noticed that I haven't really talked about plot? It's all about character development. So whoever says that literary novels are all about character development, and commercial novels are only about plot, are dead wrong.

The point of this post, besides paying homage to two fantastic authors and their creations, is to show what I'm looking for when it comes to Paranormal Romance. If anything is going to be throbbing, there better be a good reason for it.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Haunting Jasmine

Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee was a light, fun, women's fiction with a supernatural element that was a joy to read. Plus, you've got a multicultural character that everyone can connect with.

A call from the past brings divorcee Jasmine Mistry home to Shelter Island to run her beloved aunt's bookstore, which has always been rumored to be haunted. With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, and guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors. Surprisingly, she finds herself moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger.
First Line: "I didn't see this turn of events coming, or going. My ex-husband, Rob, used his charm like a weapon, and ultimately he didn't care whose heart he broke--or whose life he ruined. Neither did he care whose bed he woke up in. My mother would say, Well, Jasmine, that's an American penis for you. You should've married a Bangali. Faithful, good, and true to his culture. Her words conjure an image of the royal Bengali penis decked out in a traditional churidar kurta, its head peeking from the gold-embroidered white silk kurta at our Indian wedding."

You probably see why I included the first paragraph instead of first line this time. I wanted to show you a really great opening. You immediately get a sense of Jasmine's voice and what is most important to her: hating her ex and not following tradition. You also see what the main conflicts are, which, incidentally, are also her ex and her culture. In the next paragraph you learn of another conflict, that of her aunt wishing her to take care of her bookstore. And voila! You're in the story.

Brownie Points: I love, love, love that this isn't your traditional "I see dead people," sort of thing. Jasmine sees the ghosts of dead authors in her aunt's bookstore. That's it. But how cool is that?!

Recommendation: Great for people looking for a light read, slightly quirky women's fiction, a little romance, or supernatural. Also fantastic for those who want a multi-cultural novel but have a hard time finding one that appeals to everyone. Also, don't forget to check out Anjali's other novels, website here (I plan to).

Would I represent it? No. And before you ask why I bothered to review it if my answer is no (you know how rarely that happens), I'll explain. As it's the month of Adult Para&UF on my blog, I decided to give an example of something that I love but won't be representing in the near future. I am sticking to Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. Whereas I would classify this as Supernatural, or as I often call it, a Supernatural Ghost Story (which I will actually take a look at in YA--but it needs to blow me out of the water; I already have one--thanks Katy!--and the bar's set pretty high). I have, however, come to love reading things like this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Change of Topic

For the next month or so, I'll be taking a break from talking about YA--on the blog. I still represent YA, am still looking for YA, and still love my YA clients. But I've been going nonstop on the blog about YA for about a year, so it's time for a genre switch. All my Wednesday Reads will be Adult Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy. All my discussion topics will revolve around the same genres.

From you, dear reader, I'd like to get a list of your favorite ParaRom and UF novels (to add to my already ridiculous TBR pile).

Also, any topics you would like to see addressed or discussed, please leave comments, suggestions, and questions in the comments of this post.

Happy writing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Much akin to the advice do not say that your target audience is everyone, do not include in your query or pitch that your novel is a crossover. Crossover novels are a cultural phenomenon that cannot be predicted (at the very least, your agent or editor will decide to target a wider audience if applicable).

In case you don't know what a crossover novel is, it's a novel that begins either as an adult novel but appeals to young adults, or starts as a young adult novel but appeals to adults. Lord of the Rings (adult to young adults), Harry Potter (middle grade to young adult to adults), The Hunger Games (young adults to adults), are only a few.

To me, there is no such thing as crossovers. I see so many adults reading YA that it's becoming a pointless term, and of course young adults have always read adult novels. But we do need our labels and it makes organizing a library much easier.

Tell me dear readers, your favorite crossover novels? Do you aspire to write the next great crossover?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Dragon Bound

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison satisfied the part of me that is restless while waiting for JR Ward to come out with a new book.

Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful-and passionate-of the Elder races. 

First Line: "Pia was blackmailed into committing a crime more suicidal than she could possibly have imagined, and she had no one to blame but herself."

Got my attention. Did it get yours?

Here's what I love about this line: main character is front and center; we know the main conflict (and it's interesting); leaves enough mystery to keep us reading on; we know how she feels about the main conflict and there is more conflict behind it (for some reason she did it but didn't want to).

Brownie Points: For some reason, I'm not sold on the whole turning into a dragon thing. Rats, sure. Parrot, okay. Wolves, oh yeah. But Dragons never intrigued me, even in fantasy. This book managed to change all of that. Hmmm, Dragos was a yummy dragon. Thanks Thea for changing my mind!

Recommendation: Like I said above, readers of JR Ward will love it. Any other ParaRom readers will love it too. Smart. Sexy. Fun.

Would I represent it? Yes, I would. And I am looking for something similar to it. I am looking for Paranormal Romance.

Happy reading! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


As an agent who reads client manuscripts several times over (and one more for good measure after that), I'm not a rereader in "real" life (real life being the world in which I am solely a reader, reading for pleasure). I thought Rereading would make an interesting post.

Why don't I reread? Probably because I enjoy the experience of reading for the first time. I read for pleasure--much like you'd enjoy a movie--that thrill you get watching/reading a high tense scene, or getting to know a new character, slowly like a new friend. But if I read something again, I don't get that experience. Rereading takes you into a different world--you see new things, you start analyzing, second guessing yourself and the author. If you're reading for the sake of learning or analyzing, you lose a bit of the pleasure. I don't like doing that (unless I'm editing of course, then I LOVE it--ah, give me a little control and I'll create WW3--and yes, I'm aware I'd make a great story book villain).

In a previous post, Comfort Books, I mentioned that Ella Enchanted was one of the few books I've reread (I can't count how many times I've read that book). So why have I reread a childhood favorite but not an adulthood favorite (Hunger Games for example, I've read the entire series only once)? Probably because I was friends with all the characters and I didn't mind rereading their adventure. But also, because it reminds me of my childhood. The only thing I'd gain from rereading Hunger Games is a better appreciation for how great an author Suzanne Collins is. Harry Potter, yes, I've reread. But mostly for education value and to keep up with my friends' incredible ability to keep little details in their minds (I was lost in conversations that dealt with the tiny details in the series--I was and still remain a loyal Potter head--I have a Tonks wig and Voldemort's wand--again with the evil villain thing!).

There is one more book I will reread. Wuthering Heights. I've read it a few times, and will probably read it a few more in my life time. Because I love it? No! I'm actually obsessed with how much I dislike that book. I don't understand the appeal. So I will read it more times than my favorite books just to figure it out.

Let's discuss. Are you a rereader? Why? Why not? If you do reread, is it to relive a pleasure, or for education? (You have more writerly minds than I do, so maybe you enjoy picking books apart to see how they were constructed?).

Happy rereading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Girl in the Steel Corset

Besides my first thought (ouch! that's gotta hurt), I was very excited to find another amazing Steampunk. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.
First Line: "The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she'd be unemployed before the sun rose. Her third dismissal in as many months."

Great first line. And yes, I gave you second as well because they made the paragraph. But just from the first-- intrigue.

Beefs: There was one line that broke me from the novel, otherwise I was in it and dedicated to the story; and the line reminded me of the Scooby Doo episodes when the bad guy would say "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!" Not so much a beef as I had to share my moment of hysterical laughter before diving back in to our band of misfits.

Brownie Points: go to the Steampunk elements. Wonderfully done. Painted the world really well, something that was both familiar and foreign. Plus I love a little Steampunk mixed with paranormal.

Recommendation: If you've never read Steampunk before, this is an excellent one to start with. If you love Scott Westerfeld's Steampunk series, you'll love this as well. If you just want a good YA read, read it.

Would I represent it? Uh, yeah. I totally would. And I am looking for YA steampunk (more along the lines of Cross or Westerfeld's steampunk series rather than Cherie Priest's series).

Happy reading! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011


This weekend I'll be at the annual PNWA conference. If you're attending, please find me and say hello!

And remember to attend local conferences. Get involved.

Network with not only agents and editors, but also other writers. You may be able to find a new critique group more tailored to your needs. They may be able to impart advice, such as finding agents or other conferences/workshops to attend. They may be the voice at midnight you need to help get you through your first draft/multiple edits.

Take time to implement changes to your ms after attending workshops before sending it out to agents you've pitched at the conference.

Take advantage of extra pitch session time to ask advice.

Take advantage of having book doctors there to let you know where you are at with your novel and what you can do to step it up

But always, ALWAYS have fun!!

Happy conferencing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is a debut novel, genre is YA fantasy. It comes out September 20, 2011. Make sure you get a copy.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
First Line: "Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages crumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark my knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying--no, begging--that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat." That's the first paragraph, and I had to restrain myself from giving you the whole page. Carson manages the right amount of voice and information without being over the top or an info dump (tricky in fantasy).

New US cover
Beefs: Actually, I wasn't super thrilled to read it based on the description, cover, and title (all good, of course, but I'm not sure if I would have picked it up off the shelf--thanks Carol!!!). But I was hooked (line and sinker) after page one.

Brownie Points: Voice and character (and plot and supporting characters and world building and ending). What the synopsis does not tell you is about who Elisa really is (good thing too, putting all her traits on the back cover would have sounded gimmicky to me and probably would have turned me off). Elisa is a fat, lazy princess (who should be in Overeaters Anonymous) who is destined for greatness but does nothing with her life except pray and eat. The character arch is so well done, and I felt such a kinship with Elisa throughout the entire novel.

UK cover
Recommendation: Fantasy has a habit of being very heavy (Game of Thrones for example), but this novel manages to capture everything good about both the Fantasy and YA genres and meld into one terrific read that is neither too long, too short, or too heavy. Even if you don't like fantasy, I highly recommend it.

Would I represent it? I'm restraining from using ridiculous font that is sparkly and big and changes color, and maybe screams at you with trumpets. It would read YES.

It's possible that this is one of my favorites books I've read all year (if not in the number one spot).

I am currently looking for fantasy.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Books that Changed My Life

So far we've talked about Guilty Pleasure books, Comfort books, but now let's talk about Books That Changed My Life.

Pretty epic, right? People are accustomed to saying, this person changed my life, or this event changed my life. But a book? I've listed four, though really, every book we ever pick up shapes us, influences us in some way, even if it is just to make us happy for a few hours.

  • Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner--I learned to read off these books, I skipped picture books and moved right on to chapter books, and I read these books until I was far too old to keep reading them
  • Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka--inspired me to learn the violin in the 4th grade, which I played all the way through high school, and has had a huge hand in shaping who I am today--I've never reread it, it's not even a favorite book or a comfort book, but it had a huge impact on me as a child and I remember to this day how I felt when I read that book
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins--might have been one of the first YA that I was proud to wave in front of people's faces and say this is what I want to do
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling--I can't not mention it, it did help shape my childhood, my imagination, my expectations--I was one of the generation right in the middle of it; elementary school when the books started, college when they ended--I also met some of my best friends through this mutual interest
Tell me about a book or books that have changed your life.

Happy reading!