A Pretty Much Foolproof, Never-Fail, Silver-Bullet Query Opening

John M. Cusick

Hello there.

A few days ago I posted about my move to Folio Literary, and what I’ll be seeking.

As I rev up the ol’ query inbox (which is already rumbling with submissions), I figured I’d take a moment to talk a bit about the query letter.

How— I mean, for serious, how on earth— does anyone write a query letter?

It seems so difficult. Not only are you trying to put your best foot forward and stand out from the dozens— no, HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS— of other queriers, you’ve got to summarize your manuscript (impossible), make it sound exciting (huh?), comp it to other titles (um), talk a bit about yourself (embarrassing), and keep it all under half-a-page (yeah okay no).

As if writing the book wasn’t hard enough in the first place.

A lot has been written on strategies for great query letters. There are templates…

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Benefits of a ‘Writing Friend’ #writingtips


Writing friends can be found on blogging sites, in creative writing classes, in coffee shops, on Twitter and via people you know. They are valuable friendships and can be very rewarding.

Check out the benefits below:

1. You will not feel alone anymore. There is someone out there who is just like you. They GET you! For the first time in your life someone out there actually understands your editing obsession, writing frustrations and your creative thought process. This realisation, that you no longer are alone, can make you go a bit strange. You may have a strong urge to hug your writing friend whilst weeping on their shoulder about how long you have been alone in the writing wilderness. Try to control your emotion as you don’t want them thinking you are a bit weird.

2. You can send them all sorts of writing stuff to read. Ideas, thoughts, plots, your…

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Getting to Know Your Characters

Tate Street

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Happy Friday, novelists! I hope you’ve had productive weeks. Today we’re going to talk about character.

Imagine sitting in an otherwise empty room with a stranger. The lighting in the room is bad–you can’t really see the other person, but you do know she’s there. Eventually, you start to tell the stranger about her life. The more you talk, the more definition she gains. She may have aspects of you and/or people you know. You do this for an hour every day for several months.

That’s more or less your relationship with the main character of your novel.

Getting to know your protagonist can be one of the greatest challenges of novel writing. You have to understand her motivations and likeliest behaviors in any given situation. If she breaks type, you have to know why. And while a lot of that work gets done internally and then on the page, it…

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An Interview with Ivy Simone

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Ivy Simone, author of the Keeper of the Flame series. She recently released the third book in this Paranormal Romance NA series, Betrayed, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

Betrayed CoverJacket Blurb for Betrayed:

Kane has arrived in Shadow Hill, and Willow has a new challenge to deal with: keeping her friends alive. With her mother still in a coma and Logan worried about her safety, she struggles to juggle her feelings and her powers. When Kane starts to build an army, inviting more shapeshifters, werewolves, and vampires into town, Willow runs out of options. Her only hope is to trick Kane into thinking she’ll help him, or go along with his demand for her to make him a full vampire, endangering herself, her friends, and the entire town of Shadow Hill.

Hi Ivy, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your book!

Thanks so much for having me!

This series includes an array of interesting characters with special powers, including the main character, Willow. Can you tell us a little about her role in Shadow Hill?

Willow—a powerful witch who doesn’t know she’s a witch—is lured to Shadow Hill to help reverse an old curse that was put on all the paranormal entities in town. If she succeeds, all vampires, shapeshifters and werewolves will have full power as their paranormal selves. But, of course, the person who wants her to end the curse doesn’t have her (or the town’s) best interest at heart.

How did you come up with the idea for this series?

It’s pretty much a product of reading too many paranormal books and watching too many episodes of Vampire Diaries. But I’ve always wanted to write a book with vampires and other paranormals in it, so I figured I’d go for it!

How much research do you do before you write?

It depends on the novel. I love interesting settings, but most often they’re fictional in my stories, so I end up doing a lot of research of real towns to help me set the stage. For this series, I also had to do a little vampire, werewolf, and shapeshifter research. I wanted to make sure to include some of the common myths and break the mold for the rest.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Again, it depends on the novel. I write other genres, and I plot a lot more for those. For this series, I wanted it to be fast paced and have lots of twists and turns, which worked better not having a solid plot.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like climbing trees or eating raw eggs before you write)?

Ha! Eating raw eggs sounds like a tough way to start the writing day. No strange writing habits really. I hate sitting for too long, though, so I tend to set a word count, write that, and then make myself walk around or exercise for a bit before I start again. Actually, what usually happens is I turn up music really loud and dance around the kitchen with my dog chasing me and the kids laughing and following behind. Good exercise!

Rumor has it your fingers won the Indy 500. How many words can you crank out a day?

My numbers are all over the place. One time I wrote 10K in one day because the story had been on my mind for a year and a half and I finally had the chance to sit down and write it. But on a typical day, I average between 2-3K. I have a word goal everyday (except Sundays), so I work hard to get it, and once that’s done I keep writing if I have time or I’m on a roll.

I understand you create a playlist prior to writing and use the music to inspire you before you dive into your work. What songs are on your playlist for this series?

The playlist is pretty long for my Keeper of the Flame series because I keep adding new songs for each book. But some of the ones that have inspired me the most are:

Halsey – Empty Gold, Coldplay – Another’s Arms, Ms Mr – BTSK, LordeEverybody Wants to Rule the World, Julien-K – I’ll Try Not to Destroy You, Lonesome Animals – Harvesting, and Flight Facilities – Crave You

How long does it take you to write your novels from start to finish?

For this genre, typically 4-6 weeks.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

With this series, I had a beta reader but did the rest of the editing and proofreading myself.

Your web site mentions you have more books in the pipeline…(yay!) when can we expect the next book in the series to come out and how many will there be total?

My next book is still part of the series but it’s going to be a bit shorter and focus on two side characters who are also part of the story. Then I’ll get back to the main story for the fourth book, which should be the last. One will be out by spring and the other by summer.

If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?

Can I be a DJ? I’d love to do something in music because it’s such a huge part of my life.

Last question: Would you rather be a werewolf, shapeshifter, witch or vampire?

That’s tough! I’m probably going to have to be boring and say witch. In my series, the other paranormals don’t have much control over their abilities and it makes it hard for them to live normal lives.

Blog: www.ivysimonebooks.blogspot.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Ivy-Simone/e/B00JPF9Y0I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1420737742&sr=8-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8151770.Ivy_Simone?from_search=true

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Thanks for having me today, Jessica!

This series will be out at most retailers and available in paperback by the end of January 2015. If you haven’t checked out book one yet, here’s a summary to entice you!

Burned: a New Adult Paranormal Romance

Twenty-two-year-old Willow Donnelly can’t stop catching things on fire. When she’s enticed to come to the small town of Shadow Hill, she thinks she’s going to get answers about her new powers as a witch. Instead, she’s stalked by a vampire and a shapeshifter tries to run her out of town. She doesn’t think things can get any worse until she realizes she’s part of a decades old spell that makes it impossible to leave town. Not only that, she’s falling for two paranormals, and one of them isn’t telling her the truth.

Sexy and dangerous vampire Logan wants her to end the spell, and quiet and steady shapeshifter Ryan will do anything to protect her from Logan—and from undoing the spell. Willow is torn. Try to keep the spell intact and save her friends and the town from chaos, or end the spell and get answers to all her questions about her own powers.