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happy release day

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Today is the official release date forThe House of Discarded Dreams by Ekaterina Sedia

Vimbai, who studies invertebrate zoology because of a fascination with horseshoe crabs, moves into the house on the beach in order to escape her Zimbabwean immigrant mother’s intensity; she finds something strange and beautiful. There are two roommates: Zach, who has a pocket universe where his hair should be, and Maya, who works in an Atlantic City casino. Vimbai’s dead grandmother haunts them, a ghostly presence who tells Zimbabwean children’s stories and does the dishes. When the house comes unmoored and drifts away to sea, Vimbai must bargain with ghostly horseshoe crabs, untangle the many and varied stories that have come loose in the vast worlds of the house, and find a way home. From Maya’s urban nightmares to Vimbai’s African urban legends, the house is filled with danger and beauty and unexpected magic. On one level, this is a reflection of ancient fairy tales and legends; on the other, it’s a perfectly straightforward tale of finding oneself in a bizarre world. Either way, Sedia’s prose is a pleasure, her story a lovely place to have spent time, even with the horrors her characters face. -- Booklist



Also available today METAtropolis: Cascadia

METAtropolis: Cascadia is the creation of Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee Jay Lake; Mary Robinette Kowal, winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; New York Times best-selling author Tobias S. Buckell; Hugo Award winner Elizabeth Bear; Aurora Award winner Karl Schroeder; and critically acclaimed author Ken Scholes. The team of narrators is any Star Trek fan’s dream: Rene Auberjonois (“Odo”); Kate Mulgrew (“Capt. Kathryn Janeway”); Wil Wheaton (“Wesley Crusher”); Gates McFadden (“Dr. Beverly Crusher”); Jonathan Frakes (“Cmdr. William Riker”); and LeVar Burton (“Geordi La Forge”). Jay Lake, who also served as Project Editor, introduces this stunning sequel, written and produced exclusively for digital audio.

letters from the query wars 11/12/2010

books
10/29/2010
# of queries responded to: 92
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

11/5/2010
# of queries responded to: 147
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

11/12/2010
# of queries responded to: 196
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a


oldest query in the queue: 11/5/2010


Have been noticing lately a number of submissions which don't include a cover letter with the information I'd like to have. Many of them are only one line. So, I'm revisiting my quick guide to writing a query letter. Disclaimer: this is my guide and while I believe most agents would be satisfied with this, a few may have different layout requirements. Be sure to check their submission guidelines on their own website if possible.

***

* Item 1: Most agents want a personalized query. What does this mean? Well, it seems many of my fellow agents are satisfied with a simple use of their name (painfully obvious example: "Dear Ms. Jackson:"). There are so many queries addressed generically, or to huge lists of cc:ed agents -- that this alone will give a query a more professional demeanor.

* Item 2: A bit of info about the book itself. Something like: "I am seeking representation for my suspense novel of approximately 100,000 words, titled THE NOVEL I HAVE WRITTEN." It could also mention here if the book is the start of a series.

* Item 3: The pitch. This is the hardest part, or at least I think it is. This is where the writer's voice can come through. And the queries where this happens are definitely stand-out. But it's tricky. Overwriting it can make it stale or too slick. Dashing it off can make it sound thin. So, give it some attention. All it needs to do, though, is this: make clear the protagonist, the conflict/antagonist they are facing, and any details of plot or setting that are important.

* Item 4: A little about the writer. This is the place for relevant publication credits and background. Notice the word relevant. Don't just pad it out here. If there aren't any previous publication credits, don't sweat it. Just skip to the end.

* Item 5: The end: A closing line perhaps thanking the agent for their time in reviewing the query or something like that. Signed with the writer's name (don't make them guess what it is) and including the snailmail address, phone number and email address all in one place.

* Item 6: The part after the end: Here's where whatever additional material the specific agent being contacted has requested in their submission guidelines goes. For the record, I ask for the first five pages of the novel and a synopsis (3-5 pages seems good, or about 1 page per 100 manuscript pages).

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METAtroplis Cascadia: signal boost

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via Mary Robinette Kowal

"I have been excited for a while about METAtropolis: Cascadia. First, I liked the premise of the anthology. Then the TOC of writers was awesome company. When they announced the all Star Trek cast of narrators I nearly squeed myself.

Now? The website is live and it has interviews with the narrators about their process in reading the stories. In particular, I like what LeVar Burton has to say, “Storytelling is storytelling.”

Check out the site, in particular the interviews with Jonathan Frakes, Kate Mulgrew (my narrator!), Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and Gates McFadden are really interesting.

Can you tell I’m looking forward to release day? November 16, the day before our 9th anniversary. Now if only it were willow or pottery…"


*****

The setting for METAtropolis: Cascadia is introduced in the original METAtropolis, in Jake Lake's story "In the Forests of the Night", narrated by Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan ("Saul Tigh").

Listen to this free story from METAtropolis or get the complete book from Audible now.

METAtropolis Free Story: 'In the Forests of the Night' by Jay Lake

happy release day (belated)

books
Yesterday was the official release date for Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee (part of the amazing duo behind the Liaden series).

“A tourist town in Maine hosts a war of faerie magic in this engaging urban fantasy. The fireworks begin when Kate Archer returns to Archers Beach, Maine, to search for her vanished grandmother, Bonny Pepperidge, and to assume Bonny’s role as Guardian of Fun Country, an amusement park whose carousel animals are actually exiled fae criminals. Almost immediately, Kate runs afoul of neighbor Joe Nemeier, a drug smuggler who sets his assassins after her. Then she learns from the local earth spirits that Bonny may have discovered the whereabouts of Kate’s mom, newly escaped form a pursuing demonic captor. Lee brings these disparate subplots together in a pyrotechnic finale that plays out magically behind the ordinary facade of smalltown Maine life, evoking much of the romance and magic of her popular Liaden series.” -- Publishers Weekly

“Sharon Lee weaves fantasy into reality so deftly that you scarcely notice when you slip across the edge. And once you're there, the story's own magic won't let you turn back from the strong characters, deep mysteries, and even deeper danger.” -- James A. Hetley, author of Dragon's Eye, Dragon's Teeth, and Dragon's Bones.

Congratulations! (even if somewhat delayed by travel home from the World Fantasy Convention)

happy release day

books
Today is the official publication date of Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. The first short story collection in the #1 New York Times bestselling series-including a brand-new Harry Dresden novella!

Here, together for the first time, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher-a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time. The tales range from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious. Also included is a new, never-before-published novella that takes place after the cliff-hanger ending of the new April 2010 hardcover, Changes. This is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan as well as a perfect introduction for readers ready to meet Chicago's only professional wizard.

"Witty, fast-moving and well worked-out. Butcher's yarns go along with the standard supernatural repertory while providing enough twists to keep things fresh and intriguing." --Kirkus, Starred Review

"Die-hard fans who can’t wait for next year’s Ghost Story will want to rush to the final novella, “Aftermath,” starring Harry’s friend Karrin Murphy, but there are many others here worth reading... Adding value to this title are Butcher’s introductions to each story, filling the reader in on its place in the Dresden-verse time line and offering insight into the author’s intentions." --Library Journal




Also available today, the latest novel in the Kris Longknife series: Redoubtable by Mike Shepherd.

Lieutenant Commander Kris Longknife has precise orders: seek out, engage, and destroy pirates, slavers, and drug lords operating beyond the rim of human space-without interfering in Peterwald family affairs. But when slavers kidnap a twelve-year-old girl, Kris's mission becomes personal. And if destroying the pirate compound flattens some Peterwald interests-well, to hell with politics.

Or try the first book: Kris Longknife: Mutineer




Making its U.S. debut, Road to Bedlam: Courts of the Feyre, Book 2 by Mike Shevdon

There’s been an accident. It’s your daughter. These are the words no parent ever wants to hear.

Learning to cope with the loss of a child is only the beginning of the new challenges facing Niall Petersen. An old enemy has returned and Niall already knows it’s not a social call. As the new Warder of the Seven Courts he will be forced to choose between love and honour, duty and responsibility. Those choices will lead him to discover dark secrets at the core of the realm, where the people in power have their own designs.

“The Road to Bedlam is a rich, detailed and impressive sequel to one of the best novels of 2009 with a gripping plot, superb characterisation and is such an effortless joy to read. If you have read Sixty One Nails you just have to get this, and for those of you who haven’t read Sixty One Nails, what are you waiting for, buy them both! 5*****” — SFBook.com

Also available: Sixty-One Nails: Courts of the Feyre, Book 1

letters from the query wars 10/22/2010

books
It's been some weeks since the last query wars post for various reasons. It seems to me that the days are not only growing shorter as we draw closer to winter, but literally losing time. Or perhaps it's all perception. In any case, bringing it up to date....


10/1/2010
# of queries responded to: 147
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: SF

10/8/2010
# of queries responded to: 214
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 2
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: fantasy (1), thriller (1)

10/15/2010
# of queries responded to: 187
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: urban fantasy

10/22/2010
# of queries responded to: 290
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a


oldest query pending: October 15th


And since time is on my mind of late, and this post from John Scalzi keeps popping into my mind, now and then, partially because of his comments regarding my client Jay Lake (who has been battling cancer for the last two years and has a dayjob, a family, and writing deadlines), but also as it's applicable to so many things and not just writing (for instance, agenting, or er... blogging):

"Either you want to write or you don’t, and thinking that you want to write really doesn’t mean anything. There are lots of things I think I’d like to do, and yet if I don’t actually make the time and effort to do them, they don’t get done." --John Scalzi

A few query letters have come my way recently from authors who have only written part of a novel, or have an idea but haven't begun writing, or some variation on that theme. Most of them seem to want some kind of feedback or advice, but, of course, at this stage it's far too early to be contacting an agent or publisher. A novelist with no prior publication history needs to have a complete manuscript to show. Invariably, they seem to mention they don't have the time to write and/or finish the novel without some kind of assurance that it will be well-received.

Now, I certainly don't know their particular situation, or what choice they'd be making to invest the time without whatever guarantee they're seeking. Maybe it's just not the right time for them. Maybe they aren't in a position to make a sacrifice. But maybe they just don't want to take the risk.

If you want to share: What have you chosen not to do in order to pursue your passion to write? What do you do to find a balance between having the time to write and the rest of your life?

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happy release day

books
Today is the official release date for Weight of Stone: Book Two of the Vineart War by Laura Anne Gilman

"Gilman’s second Vineart War offering is a fast-paced and tightly plotted tale that picks up right where the first book left off. Jerzy is a complex and likable hero who is loyal and intelligent. The magical system is highly original. Adventure fantasy fans will enjoy this series.

Vineart apprentice and former slave Jerzy is on the run after being accused of apostasy by the Washers, the religious sect of the Vin Lands. Accompanied by runaway noble Mahault, novice trader Ao, and Kainam, the named heir of the vanished island of Atakus, Jerzy has only begun to trace the source of the taint when he is called home to account for his actions. Unbeknownst to Jerzy and his friends, this is just the beginning of the fight for the soul of the Vin Lands."

--Romantic Times, 4 Stars

“with intriguing characters and a fresh approach to fantasy adventure, this beautifully written title deserves a wide readership.”

--Library Journal, Starred Review

Available in paperback: Flesh and Fire: Book One of The Vineart War

To celebrate, the author is giving away a copy of Kevin Zraly's 25th Anniversary "Windows on the World" COMPLETE WINE COURSE. Comment on her blog by November 1st to enter.

happy release day

books
Today is the official publication day for Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

An intimate, well-crafted portrait of a nurse on a mission adds depth to this exceptional Civil War steampunk thriller, the self-contained sequel to 2009’s Locus Award–winning Boneshaker. Mercy Lynch, recently widowed and taxed to exhaustion by caring for Confederate wounded in Richmond, must cross the war-torn nation to reach her estranged father, who lies dying in the Washington territories. After her dirigible is shot out of the air, Mercy joins Horatio Korman, a Texas Ranger with an agenda, on the Union’s famous steam engine, the Dreadnought. On their trail are desperate Confederate soldiers and a zombified Mexican legion. The battles and intrigue are entertaining, but the real draw is Priest’s latest no-nonsense heroine, who comes equipped with a full measure of sharp judgment and brutal competence as well as a nurse’s kind (but not saintly) heart. --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review




Now in paperback: Flesh and Fire: Book One of The Vineart War

In a world once ruled by mage-princes who nearly destroyed it, magic now resides in the hands of the Vineart Masters, who have the ability to cast spells through wine of their own making. When an unknown evil threatens to destroy the vines, the key to saving the world lies in the magic of Vineart apprentice Jerzy, provided he can learn to break centuries-old traditions.

VERDICT This launch of a new trilogy by the author of the Retrievers urban fantasies (Blood from Stone) achieves an extraordinary power from its elegant storytelling and unique magical philosophy. Offering one of the most original approaches to fantasy adventure; highly recommended for all fantasy fans. --Library Journal, Starred Review

Also, available for pre-order: Weight of Stone: Book Two of the Vineart War

letters from the query wars 9/24/2010

books
# of queries responded to this week: 257
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: YA paranormal


oldest query in the queue: Sept 4


A few random things that struck me as ironic this week....

* Queries that request no reply unless interested because it bogs up the sender's email-- included in multiple queries for multiple works. And, of note, since many writers around the blogosphere hate/despise/otherwise denigrate "no response means no" policies.

* A terse follow-up about how it's been 3 weeks since a query was sent but there has not been the courtesy of a reply... when the listed response time for the agent is 4 weeks.

* Queries that indicate the sender would very much like to submit a sample of their work when the query doesn't include the first five pages as indicated in our submission guidelines. Irritated replies to same asking how a work can be evaluated without reading any of it. (It's a fair point so it's why I ask for the five pages.)

* Letters with no name in either the sender field or any of the text but wanting a personal reply. (So I'm stuck with Dear ihatekittens at yourISP dot com)

* Queries complaining about how mercenary and awful agents are while soliciting representation for new novel. Similarly, queries offering to pay fees or higher commission rates.

* Anything that includes the phrase: "I know you're extremely busy, but...." or some variation on that theme.

* Not being able to go back in time to tell my younger self who had such a ridiculously limited book budget that a day would come when I would be torn about which manuscript to read and critique on the weekend and that the 700+ books in the TBR pile would have to wait.


Happy weekend....

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letters from the query wars 9/17/2010

books
# of queries responded to last week: 133
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

# of queries responded to this week: 161
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: paranormal thriller


From the comments on an earlier entry:

what do you do when you _have_ submitted a query, and then due to something or another, you realize your submission contained a mistake, or worse, a missing piece? Is it at all reasonable to say, "I'm sorry, could you please discard what I sent and look at this instead?" or is it best to just write off the submission and try again in the future with a completely different project?

As with many questions of this type, the answer is: "It depends."

I find with submissions where the change is a single sentence or something minor along those lines, that it just makes my inbox feel even more full than it already is. Of course, I always appreciate a carefully vetted and proofread submission.

In the case of neglecting to include what submission guidelines ask for (for example, according to my guidelines, the first five pages), I can understand a replacement submission. However. It is very helpful if it includes all of the material including the text of the original query. Otherwise they end up far apart in the inbox and might get missed.

What I would not encourage are frivolous additional submissions, tiny tweaks, etc. Given the number that comes in every week, this can end up becoming quite an issue. Take the time to read and re-read the query before hitting send. You can always sleep on it and give it fresh eyes in the morning.

Hope that helps.

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