Random Musings · Writing Advice · writing process

Query Breakfast – A (weird) Analogy

I was making my breakfast this morning when – either out of hunger or sleepiness – I likened queries to cereal.

By the time I sat eating I’d gone off on a completely new train of thought to do with queries, but all about food (I was REALLY hungry).

So here is a (probably weird) post about queries, what’s needed within them, and what you can do to make sure yours stands out.

CEREAL

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As if you don’t know what cereal looks like. I mean.

You don’t want to give someone a cereal query. This is where it’s just the grains of your story and nothing else. Even if it’s something fun with a free toy (ok I might be going a little overboard with this analogy…) the grains of story doesn’t give whoever is reading your query a strong idea of what your book is about. If you just throw in the basics, chances are it won’t be the most interesting cereal query in the world. For example –

“17 year old Jessica Lisa Eisenstein wants to win a talent show. If she wins the talent show, she’ll get a crown and £100. A boy, Marcus Orelio, thinks Jessica is too much competition so he ruins her dress. To get her revenge Jessica thinks up a huge plot to ruin him – publicly – in front of everyone.

We know the characters, but it sounds pretty boring – it doesn’t really GRAB people’s attention and say READ ME (unless you want to read about Jessica’s revenge). WHY is the talent show important to Jessica? Why does Marcus want to win so much and think Jessica is competition? What happens if Jessica fulfils her revenge?

STAKES, PEOPLE.

Ooo, Steak.

TOAST

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This is the play-by-play, read my book, I’m doing this but I don’t think I have a shot query. You can dress it with marmalade or chocolate all you want but it’s still burnt bread – dry and without flavour. If you’re not inspired when writing your query, they won’t be inspired reading it. Where there’s no personal lilt to a query, it can come across as bland as toast.

THE BEST BREAKFAST / QUERY

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In my view, the best thing you can give to me as a query-breakfast is the staple hotel morning welcome;

ORANGE JUICE /  CROISSANT /  CEREAL.

I would have put bacon etc on here but I’ve turned vegetarian so my piggy friends will leave it off this list.

ORANGE JUICE – the refresher

Orange juice is a wonderful, refreshing taste which just zings up your mouth and gives your tongue a little dance. This is what you want your query to do – zing with the tang of your story, your voice and your style to whet the appetite.

CROISSANT – the thing which makes your book UNIQUE

If you think of a croissant chances are you will associate it with France. It’s one of the most uniquely identifying things of France around the world bar the Eiffel Tower. That’s what you want for your book – something which will identify your premise as UNIQUE, what makes it new?! Exciting, bold? Is it the characters, is it the layering of plots? SHOW US YOUR CROISSANT.

…. there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

CEREAL – GRAINS ARE STILL NEEDED, PEOPLE

You can dress up your query with Croissants and OJ but you need to also have the basis of your story, except in this case – with the help of the above – your cereal is like little bits of bread, creating a little trail for query-readers to follow while you ensnare us with your writerly-wiles.

So there you have it – my thoughts on how to write a query based on breakfast foods.

 

 

Reviews

27 HOURS by Tristina Wright – Review!

 

28526192RATING: * * * * *

WHERE TO BUY: You can pre-order from all good bookshops probably. Or if you can’t find it, raise hell.

Thank you to my gorgeous CP Kelly for sending me this ARC from BookCon! 

SPOILER-FREE, GO FORTH AND BE SURPRISED.

You know there are books with so much hype, and so many “OMG I love it” reviews that you wonder if it can ever truly be that good. Whether, in some cases, people are saying they love it because it’s not trendy to say you don’t like it.

It’s rare, but it happens.

I’m happy to say that the hype is very well deserved! As a sci fi fan I appreciated the nuances of the world and the HUB systems. While at times I was confused by the narrative and some of the names etc, places, by half way I understood where we were and what was meant to be happening.

The personal and chapter-led goals, on the other hand, were sometimes a little bit fuzzy for me. I didn’t speed-read this – I don’t think I can, actually –  and I know it’s an ARC so things will change by the time of publication, but sometimes I didn’t quite grasp character motives.

Did I care? No. Cause the characters were unique for me to devour this until 2am in the morning. (that’s late for me, I have work!)

I didn’t connect with Dhalia as much as I wanted to, and she seemed such an integral, almost glue-like friend (you know the ones that keep the group together?) I wanted to see more of her role within the group other than ex and love interest.

HOWEVER – Jude. Rumor. Braeden. Nyx. My word, my loves. I was very pleased to see such a diverse cast, and their voices felt very true to them. The action never swallowed them and it seems – at least to me – that these main four had so much attention to detail in characterisation maybe slightly more than the plot, but I appreciate that. If I don’t give a shit about the characters, I won’t care if they die. And I cared, if they were to live or die. And I shed tears.

The finale was a little bit confusing, staging wise, but – to be honest, this is nitpicky shit. Ignore me. I loved this book. I had high expectations and they were met. Support this book, because of its diverse cast, because of its rich textures and world, because of its romance and authentic voices and bah.

I WILL be buying this in physical copy when it comes out. Who wouldn’t want this shiny cover on their bookshelf?!

GO BUY. I’ll wait. ^_^

NetGalley · Uncategorized

The Stargazer’s Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

Violent and despairing after the murder of the one person she loved — a psychiatrist who was studying abductees — Julia continues to rebuff the aliens until her relationships with others who have met “the things,” as she calls them (including a tattoo artist, a strange man who can take photographs with the power of his mind, and an abductee locked up in a mental hospital) force her deeper into direct alien contact, and a confrontation about what death means to humans and aliens alike.

Thanks to NetGalley! ❤

There’s a lot of praise surrounding this book and it immediately makes me feel as though I HAVE to like it, because everyone else does, and the reviews are thrown in your face.

While I did like it, I’m not raving about it.

There was a slight feeling of apathy with the beginning of the book – and while this gradually dissipated it made it hard to really fall in with the MC’s thoughts, feelings etc. As though she was bored with her life, and went home with a fairly nice man, and dated him, and it was all average and fair. It didn’t really speed the narrative along and didn’t suck me into the story.

The very brief (VERY) information about something lurking in the dark made me read on. But overall I couldn’t shake the first chapter’s apathy and it sort of left me underwhelmed.

The writer is very competent though, very good writer and it flowed well but as for the story – it was hit and miss for me.

 

Just For Fun · Random Musings

What Makes Me DNF A Book?

I, unlike a lot of friends of mine, DNF books I can’t handle.

I know, sometimes the book turns around in the last and actually surprises you, I get it. But in my opinion life is too short to read books you’re just not into.

Whether it’s content or the way it’s written, many things can cause people to stop reading. It’s why books are so subjective. Not everyone likes the same TV shows either. For instance *prepares for barrage of stones* I don’t like Game of Thrones.

But what are the particular things which make me so uninspired I choose to stop reading?

Read on, if you care.

  • Writing style.

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This is a biggie. A lot of the time I view writing as a rhythm. Sometimes, particular writers have a sort of style I need to read a few chapters to get into, like a song you need to listen to a couple of times to truly enjoy or understand.

Case in point for me – Uptown Funk.

Once I understand the rhythm I can enjoy a book no end. But a few writers I’ve read and either DNF’d or come close to abandoning, have a very staccato style of writing and it throws me off. Terry Pratchett is world renowned for his humour and writing style, but I’m not a fan unfortunately. I couldn’t ever wrap my head around what he was trying to say and the flow of the writing always felt disjointed to me.

It’s the same when some writers are very to-the-point with the writing, it becomes less of a flow and more of a play-by-play. So… I like it lyrical, not too jumpy, but also not too lyrical.

If you tell me each leaf colour I’m going to scream.

  • Characters.

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Whether it’s acting out of character, doing Dumb Shit, or simply skimming the surface of what could be an interesting personality, I stay with books for characters. Even if nothing much happens dramatically, if there’s characters rich with personality and voice, I’ll stay.

Of course there are some exceptions – if the MC is far too whingy or weak or just not my kinda person, I usually read on for the side characters but there are some times where everyone is on the same level of either one-dimensional or nasty personalities, or a combination of that and the first reason, then… yeah. It’s annoying.

  • No plot. At all.

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I am a fan of character-driven novels, but if all you’re doing is having characters talk to each other and nothing else? If your story is just a romance of will they won’t they dragged out over 270 pages and the only thing that happens is she goes shopping?

I will be bored. I’ll be more than bored, actually, I’ll have closed the book and be running around the garden singing songs.

Slow pacing is fine a lot of the time done well, but if there is NO ACTION at all I will be asleep with the book for a pillow.

  • INSTA LOVE.

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I get it, especially in YA, that hormones can make you lust after someone. Again in YA, teenagers can say they love someone after an hour. I know I felt really connected to people when I was 17 and formed a very intense, hormonal bond.

HOWEVER, I’m sick of the image of teens who would readily die for someone because of insta-love after 2 days. I’m sure some teens feel so deeply they would, but there are some teens who wouldn’t really believe it as a be-all end-all. I think it sometimes does teens a disservice to imagine that they’d blindly follow someone they love just because they love them.

Like, yeah love is blind sometimes but does it always have to be damaging characters? Follow me off a cliff or else? Psh.

  • The One Mistake Of Death

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Everyone: Feyre, no!

Feyre: Feyre, yes.

You know, when someone is told 100x NOT to do something and they do it anyway? Without remorse? Or second guessing?

I will put the book down, heave a huge sigh, and may or may not pick it up again. IF they go against someone’s advice who knows better, and the character KNOWS they know better, at least give them a fucking good reason to defy that advice. Not just “because I must!”.

What are your dealbreakers for novels?

Mind Body Spirit · NetGalley · Reviews

Mind Body Spirit Books – Reviews!

Thank you to NetGalley, Llwellyn, John Hunt Publishing & Watkins Publishing for these ARCS!

 

TORI HARTMAN

Being in the tarot community, I know of Tori Hartman quite well but I’m not sure this volume really ‘spoke’ to me as her stuff usually does. Solid stuff, still, but sometimes I got lost with the information.

Probably would do well to actually HAVE the cards mentioned but in general it was ok. 3/5

 

DEVIN HUNTER

This was an incredibly insightful book and it fascinated me on the subject. Sometimes a little bit too personal or text-heavy, it nevertheless really did explain his POV in a fascinating way and I enjoyed reading it for future reference.

4/5

JOHN OPSOPAUS

Really great reference book on this particular method of divination, it nevertheless left me a little bit confused. Not a particularly easy read but it was fascinating.

3/5

JUDY HALL

I looooooove love love anything about crystals and this was no exception. Took it up to another level with the karmic healing and releasing with some handy tips for me, I’d never heard before! So really great.

5/5

CASSANDRA EASON

Really interesting to read, and very handy. As a practicing witch and tarot reader, it’s imperative for me to know multiple ways of defending myself psychically and this book helped me figure out new ways of being able to do that. Cassandra Eason is a fantastic writer, very easy to read!

4/5

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday: Books Without Romance

A few (very, very few) people complained about the “shipping” topics lately, so I thought it would be good to talk about books that don’t have a romantic subplot! This is a really hard one, so if you can’t find any, you can talk about some where the romance is super super minor. Like barely mentioned… at all…

I thought this was going to be so difficult, but actually it wasn’t so bad.

CRACKED – Eliza Crewe

Cracked (Soul Eaters, #1)

“Meet Meda. She eats people.”

ONE OF MY FAVOURITES. This novel tended to subvert many tropes and the MC Meda is extremely sarcastic. This is a book where the main character doesn’t get into a romance. There’s a minor side romance with the other characters from the perspective of Meda but that’s about it. And it’s enough, actually, because her story shouldn’t involve love – it’s centering around understanding who she is, where she comes from, controlling her powers and dealing with her mother’s death.

All while trying to stay alive, getting the other characters not to kill her. Which is pretty damn interesting.

THE HOBBIT – J.R.R Tolkien

The Hobbit

There is no romance in this, at all. Not even that crappy elf whatsherface in the movies existed in the books (I understand your motives but why did you cast Evangeline Lilly, PJ?! WHY?!)

It’s meant for kids, primarily, so it’s not a surprise this isn’t about smooching and star crossed lovers. I welcomed that so much, because this is a great adventure and doesn’t lose anything because there isn’t a “OMGERD I LURVE YOU” moment.**

**Thorin and Bilbo shippers may disagree

QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)

Another favourite.

I’m sensing a trend, here….

There is no romance. Like, at all. She fancies a dude called the Fetch but that’s it. Nothing else. It’s about staying alive, changing the political landscape of the shitty kingdom she’s been left to rule and basically figuring out if she’s a good enough Queen to fend off AND piss off the red one with mystical powers.

If it had romance it would have bogged it down so much, I enjoyed it so much more as a woman coming into power.

AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman

American Gods (American Gods, #1)

Also a favourite.

This wasn’t really romantic but it had minor little romance-y bits. I mean this in the sense Shadow had lost his wife, and while she comes back it’s not about about their romance, it’s more about the loss of the life they shared. There’s minor romance scenes from side characters in self-contained chapter – the Djinn being one stand out chapter for me –  but the main story is about a good man lost, and finding himself again, this time in a land of Gods and Monsters.

VICIOUS by V.E Schwab

Vicious

You guessed it! A FAVOURITE wooo

I love this. While Eli and Serena get their rocks off it’s not shown and it’s definitely not a big enough point to be a subplot. It’s just what the characters are doing while they fuck up shit on the outside.

And let’s be honest, Victor and Sydney are the best ones in here, they are the stars, and a 12 year old and a thirty-year old are not going to have a romance in a book. At least I fucking hope not I STG.

 

pimpmybio · PitchWars

Pitch Wars 2017 – #Pimpmybio Time!

OMG IT’S PITCH WARS. IT’S PIMPMYBIO. GATHER ROUND! Pull up a pew, grab some cake, settle in.

I’m so excited to be entering Pitch Wars again this year. It’ll be my 3rd time (third time lucky?) and with a new MS!

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This time it’s YA fantasy of the epic kind.  Fantasy has always been a great love of mine, and I started this story after I subbed to PW last year. I needed a distraction and this was the perfect fit to be taken away from science fiction.

It’s an absolute pleasure to introduce

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A CAPTURED PRINCE. A GIRL OUT FOR REVENGE. A BARGEMAN WITH A SECRET.

SWORDS. MAGIC. ROMANCE. KICKASS WOMEN.

A HORSE CALLED ‘MOTHER’.

All wrapped up in an epic YA fantasy.

um… did I mention kickass women?

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… I think I’m addicted to women weilding swords, NGL.

WHAT IS IT?!

When Prince Anzel’s magic is needed to avoid war, he risks losing his throne – and his life – to save another’s.

Prince Anzel, his ‘kidnapper’ Shanna and Drew, his steward, join their magic to remove a tyrant threatening war across their kingdoms and beyond – but it’s not the war-mongerer they should be worried about.

A bigger threat threads through the lands, taking over piece by piece, and it knows exactly what sort of powerful legacy the teens carry. It will stop at nothing to claim them for itself and re-take a throne where magic once reigned.

Following 3 POV’s it’s GRISHA meets ACOWAR & TEARLING.

Far off places

Daring sword fights

Magic spells

A prince in disguise!

Basically – Belle’s favourite book

WHO’S WHO?

When you want to give words of support yet can't...Thank you, Ma & Pa Yelchin for raising a beautiful person. Thank you, Anton, for everything❤️:

maybe the assassin will kill tori and this is Eoin mourning her? or maybe the Assassin will kill Eoin's father, the Haffinian king? granted, i'm not sure who Eoin's father is yet..

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ANZEL
17, Dria, Prince
GAY
– In love with his aide, Matei, which his mother highly disapproves of.
– Has the ability to foresee individuals’ future when he’s asleep, he calls these episodes ‘inklings’.
– Total diplomat, Prince of the People, treats nature fairly. Has a knack with animals.
– Looks like a cinnamon roll. Actual cinnamon roll.
HOGWARTS HOUSE: A very sneaky Gryffindor

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artist?
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SHANNA
17, Zamar, Dancer
PAN
– Struck a deal with a troupe to ‘borrow’ Anzel, so he could tell Councillors the fate of her people. In return they’d help her get rid of the tyrant ruling Zamar.
– Suffers from Endometriosis.
– Has the ability to control others, though she uses it sparingly or not at all.
– Grew up far too fast but has a sweet / sarcastic sense of humour and is fierce in love.
– Looks like she could kill you. Could actually kill you.
HOGWARTS HOUSE: Complete Slytherin

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His peace comes with knowing the battle was not in vain, for his purpose came from love:

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DREW
18, Gull, Bargeman & Steward
BI
– Running from his past in Gull, he owes a huge debt to ferryman and former keeper Gropsinger, who wants his head.
– Sought asylum in Dria,  honoured for inside information and saving Drian lives by being appointed a steward to Anzel.
– Brave in the face of adversity, loyal to an absolute fault and quick thinking.
– Looks like he could kill you. Actual cinnamon roll.
HOGWARTS HOUSE: Hufflepuff (though some CP’s swear Gryffindor, so Huffledor)

Celestial by Ajgiel on DeviantArt

ODÁLI
13, Aguasi, does odd-jobs at her aunt’s place
– Lives with her aunt, who runs a safe haven in a neutral territory for people with magic
– Street-savvy and incredibly observant – probably the smartest of the lot.
– Mostly on this trip for shits n giggles
– Older than her years yet still idealistic, and loves to ride fast
– Looks like a cinnamon roll. Could actually kill you.
HOGWARTS HOUSE: Gryffindor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SLYTHERIN INFPSHE/HER
I quote LOTR a lot – Bake cakes – Proud Cat Mum – Shipper of Many Ships

Oh yeah, me.

I’m Jade. I’m 29, living in the middle of England. I’m a tarot reader, a witchy pagan, and I volunteer writing a newsletter & publicity for the Cats’ Protection charity. I’m also an academic note taker for students with disabilities at a local University.

Last year I was an unofficial mentee with my YA sci fi. This is my third completed MS, I have another two (YA fantasy) I’m finishing off hopefully within the next year, and while my previous Sci FI YA had a few full and partial requests from agents through the months, I’m still waiting for ‘the one’.

I believe (from CP feedback) I’m best at dialogue, characterization, action scenes and – to my surprise – romance.

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My lists! In no particular order….

FAVOURITE AUTHORS / CREATORS

Neil Gaiman – Leigh Bardugo – Jane Austen – Susan Dennard – V.E Schwab – Peter Jackson – Rainbow Rowell – Laini Taylor – Ashley Poston – Maggie Stiefvater – Emma Thompson – Joanna Lumley – Sarah J Maas – Becky Chambers –  J.R.R Tolkien – J.J Abrams

FAVOURITE BOOKS

Six of Crows – Sense & Sensibility – The Raven Cycle – Neverwhere – Vicious – ACOMAF – American Gods – Cracked – Geekerella – Order of the Phoenix – This Savage Song – Queen of the Tearling – Lord of the Rings – Brokeback Mountain – Fangirl – One Of Us Is Lying – A Gathering of Shadows

FAVOURITE FILMS

Lord of the Rings – Donnie Darko – Moulin Rouge! – Back To The Future – Wonder Woman  – Some Like It Hot – Kingsman –  Sense & Sensibility – Beauty & The Beast (original) – Rocky Horror Picture Show – Captain America: First Avenger – Life of Brian – Practical Magic – District 9 – Addams Family 

FAVOURITE TV

Doctor Who – Supernatural – Prison Break – OINTB – Twelve Monkeys – Sherlock (1&2) – Jessica Jones – Dexter – The Blacklist – Firefly – Buffy TVS – Stranger Things – Person of Interest – The Killing (Danish version)

I’m dedicated, hard working, enthusiastic. Sure, I get crisis of confidence sometimes, I don’t know any writer who doesn’t, but  I usually crash through it to the other side with optimism, ready to write more words or kill my darlings.

I welcome – no NEED – edits, comments, and suggestions. The only way you can make your baby shine is by listening.

THANKS FOR READING! Look at the other gorgeous #PIMPMYBIO posts  at Lana Patinson’s hub HERE