Friday, October 25, 2013

Query Critique #4

Hey everyone!

Happy Friday! Here is this weeks query critique :) Thanks again to the authors for the use of their queries.


Twelve year-old Jude begins to travel between parallel worlds. At
first, the only downside is dealing with predicaments caused by the
parallel-reality versions of herself who take her place while she’s
gone (The first sentence doesn't really catch my attention. I think a sentence about how she discovers how she can hop between worlds would be more effective in grabbing an agents attention. Also, I'm just a little confused from the first couple of sentences. At first, it seems like Jude may be the only one that can travel between parallel worlds, but then there is mention of the Rule Breaker and Switching Rule, so it seems like others are able to as well.).
Then Jude is given a note, the worlds are in trouble, and learns
a Rule Breaker—[someone with a pendant breaking a Switching Rule] (this might be a little too much information to add in a query because it implies travel between parallel worlds is common (for instance, this makes it seem like the reader is familiar with what a Switching Rule is), but Jude is just learning about it. I think it would help if there was a sentence to help transition, a sentence that would let us know others have this ability. Is it an ability for everyone as whole?)—is causing catastrophic events in the alternate worlds.

 In one world, her entire family is dead except for her little sister.
Jude tries to save her, but is too late—and vows to go after the Rule
Breaker even if it means he will try to destroy her world (why does he want to destroy her world?).
When a cute boy she keeps meeting in the other worlds shows her a virtual game,
Jude figures out how the Rule Breaker is causing the catastrophes.

After piecing together more clues, Jude is stunned to realize a
version of the cute boy is the Rule Breaker. Now Jude—with the help of
her best friend Windy—must figure out which parallel world the Rule
Breaker is hiding in and find a way to stop him. Before all the worlds
are destroyed.

I think this is an interesting premise. Overall, I think the query works fairly well. Just keep in mind you are introducing the reader--in this case, the agent--to the character(s)/world you've created, so it's important to make things as clear as possible. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Query Critique #3

Hope Everyone is having a fabulous week! Time for another query critique. As always, thanks so much to the authors!


Anna is stuck in a rut. To be fair, though, it’s a very comfortable rut
that her dad approves of, and that she dug for herself. But still, it’s
time for a change.

Change comes in the form of Coy McLeod Nice :), visiting Anna’s small hometown from the far away land of Chicago. He’s as spontaneous, passionate, and independent as Anna is… not.

I don't feel I get a good sense of the plot/story from the above paragraphs, and they don't really grab my attention. I think it's good that you briefly mention how Anna and Coy are so different. However, I wasn't sure if that-their differences-was the main conflict/tension or not. You might try to make that a little clearer. Also, I think it might be more effective if you try to incorporate that into the following paragraph--How important is it to the plot? 

When Coy gets the idea to take a Shakespeare Festival road trip, Anna
agrees to go along, hoping the spontaneity of the trip will help her to be
more open to new things. This gives me a better idea about the story, and I think this would be a better place to start, but keep in mind you also want to set up the tension/conflict. But when she returns home, she is just as uncertain of what to do with her future as when she left. I don't understand why she is so uncertain. This sort of goes along with my previous comment. What is it that is going to make me want to keep reading? Coy has added a new choice to Anna’s list of possible future plans- he wants her to move to
Chicago with him. As if things weren’t confusing enough already. I think this line works well. It sort of lets us know the stakes. 

Should she finish college at her family’s alma mater, while staying at home
with her widower father? Or take a chance on Coy, and step into the
unknown? As time runs out on Anna’s last semester of school, it will take a
proposal, a death, and The Sound of Music to bring the curtain down on her
old life.

Not a bad start. I would just try to tighten it up a little bit. 

LOVE AND THE BARD is a New Adult contemporary romance, complete at 90,000
words. It would appeal to readers who enjoy contemporary Young Adult
novels, such as those by Sarah Dessen, and are now looking for an older
protagonist. The first ten pages are included after my contact information.
You are also welcome to use my work for a first-page critique on your blog
should you wish. Thank you very much for your consideration!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. COVER REVEAL

Today I am participating in a cover reveal with my fabulous client PK Hrezo!!! Her book Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. will be released 11/12/2013. And now for the stunning cover...

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated

We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.   

PK would like to know: If you could walk into a time travel agency and book a time trip, where and when would it be, and why? For me...this is a tough question because I am interested in history, but I want to see what the future holds. If I had to choose, I would probably go visit the Renaissance because of all the ideas and art and architecture that came out of that period. I'd love to run into Leonardo Da Vinci. How about you? When and where would you go?

So exciting and congrats PK Hrezo! Check out her blog, twitter, facebook, and website.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Query Critique #2

Good morning, everyone! 

Happy Friday! Time for another query critique. I really hope you guys are finding these critiques helpful. Thanks so much to the authors :) Have a wonderful weekend!


In this era of bastard slaves, blood is the only currency. I would try to tie this line in a little better with your last sentence. 

It is 1667, and a British colony in the New World has shot two birds dead. I would maybe start with introducing Tommy and Sanctum--and what he's doing there. This line doesn't really hook the reader, and you need to hook the reader from the get-go. Illegitimates (Are they orphans? I don't feel I have a good idea who the Illegitimates are. Are there any girls?) that clog up the streets are dragged into abandoned blade mills and tobacco plantations. Some call this colony Sanctum. To most, the name is a sick joke not to be repeated. This tells us a bit about Sanctum, but I don't quite see how it follows into the sentence about Tommy digging graves (This sort of goes with my comment above about hooking the reader). 

14-year-old Tommy spends his days digging graves and chasing down body snatchers. "One of the lucky ones," should be branded across Tommy's back, for people whip him with it daily. Bastard boys are not to read pamphlets of lands far, far away. Asking where Mother and Father have gone will not bring them home. I would probably omit this line, or rework. It seems like the pamphlets are important (because in the next paragraph we learn they find clues leading away from Sanctum), but I'm not clear on how it fits.  

When somebody starts tarring tombstones with riddles from Oedipus Rex, leading Tommy to graves filled with gold, all hope catches fire. I think this line works well! Tommy's puzzlemaker turns out to be a five-foot nothing Sorceress who wields lightning like a hot knife. I really like this line! but I think it could be clarified just a little. The person who is leaving the riddles is the witch, right? (I was just wondering if the witches are common, and how are they received?) Also, we learn later that the girl's family is missing, but I wasn't sure if that was her motive for leaving the riddles(?) And this New Witch is not after Tommy for his dimples. Pursued by slavers, witch hunters, and a preacher that drinks magic like it's Dutch wine, the duo piece together a set of clues that lead away from Sanctum. Deep into a dangerous paradise of forgotten cities and deadly traps.https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif

Now every step takes a preacher they can't kill nearer to the witches he most wants to meet. Finding this girl's family means realizing Tommy's worst fear: that a man's worth is measured in blood.

Thanks so much for reading!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Halloween YA Pitch Party

To celebrate Halloween, I'm having a pitch party! I would LOVE to see more YA Romance in my inbox. And you're invited to a Pitch Party specifically for YA Romance. Beginning October 13th until the 31st 2013, it's all about the romance! Please see details below.

Genre does not matter, but the romance MUST be killer. The chemistry has to feel authentic and be sizzling! The riskier/steamier the better. 

I want to be sucked into the world you've created and not want to leave. I want to feel like I could talk to your characters, like they could step off the page. I need to understand their motivations and choices. Make me laugh and then cry. The voice has to feel realistic! The plot needs to be original and flow seamlessly with the romance. 

Are the lines between good and bad blurred, the bad guys someone you hope will change? 

Is there a game or competition? Life and death stakes? 

Break my heart, but I'd also love to have a happy/satisfying ending. 

*Please send your pitch (with Halloween Pitch and title in the subject) and the first 5 pages of your finished manuscript pasted into the body of an email (NO attachments, please) to me at jordy@thebookeralbertagency.com.


Very much looking forward to reading your submissions!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Finding the right balance between "vague" and "too much information" in a query.

I was recently asked via Twitter to write a blog post about "finding the right balance between "vague" and "too much information" in a query.

A query is sort of like a movie trailer. It's supposed to grab your attention and make you want to see the movie. Similarly, your query is like a "trailer" for your book (kinda like a blurb on the back of a book). Agents look at so many queries in a day. You want yours to stick out and say "Hey! Read me!"

If there is too much information in your query or if it's too vague, it's rather likely that an agent won't pay much attention, quickly moving on to the next, because s/he doesn't have a good idea what your book is about. What makes it special and unique from the other queries agents look at every day?

If there is too much information (such as, including too many characters, too much description/setting, too many plot details, etc.), your query could become unnecessarily bogged down and confusing.

If your query is too vague (for instance, if it talks more about a character, or the setting), then we really don't know much about the plot--the glue that holds it all together.

I do have a couple ideas I'll list below that I think might be helpful. Let know :) 

1. About twice a year there is a Twitter pitch party called #PitMad (usually following #PitchMadness). This a great way to practice pitching. You have 140 characters to grab an agent or publishers attention. Very challenging, but A LOT of fun! Some authors will often offer to critique the pitches before you tweet.

2. Try to summarize your book in a few sentences/paragraphs.

3. Ask author friends for a critique, or look for agents who will post critiques on their blogs.

Hope you guys find this helpful!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Submission Wishlist

MG: Fun action/adventure type stories (think The Goonies and The Never Ending Story). 

YA: I'm pretty much open to all genres/sub-genres, but I am especially looking for stories that have a strong romantic element (the riskier/steamier the better).

New Adult: I'm looking mostly for fun reads, with witty characters and dialogue, contemporary romances

Adult: Romance! I love historical romance. Authors such as Sabrina Jeffries and Teresa Medeiros. Paranormal romance. I am a sucker for a sexy paranormal read. I absolutely adore Kresley Cole and Karen Marie Moning. I also LOVE Gena Showalter, Jeaniene Frost, JR Ward, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. 

Also, looking for dark/gritty fantasy/sci-fi with strong world building, and, of course, romantic element. 

I will definitely update wishlist from time to time, so please stop back! 

Query Critique #1

Good morning, everyone!

Today I'm posting the first in a series of query critiques. I plan on posting one every Friday, so please check back. Thanks so much to the authors for the use of their queries! Okay, on to the critique...


In the realm of Wyverndawn, a wizard’s height is the mark of his power, and shrinking one inch is disastrous for twelve-year-old Gerald. This is a really good first line. Looking to gain an inch or two, Gerald decides a little landscaping is just what his village needs. I wasn't sure what this sentence has to do with the spell (in the following sentence). The spell has something to do with landscaping? But the spell he bought - from a guy who knows a guy - is a tad more powerful than even he anticipates. Nice. The resulting earthquake breaks off a chunk of Wyverndawn from the rest of the realm allowing Vabalaz, a highly dangerous wizard, to escape from prison. 

A red-faced Gerald is banished from his village and, to complete his shame, shrinks another inch; two more and he’ll join his father as a Royal Equine Poop Disposal Coordinator. Is shrinking the punishment for all wrongdoing and for everyone? I also don't think you need to mention that he'll be working with his father. Gerald’s love of shiny wizarding objects leads him straight to a golden amulet that could be the answer to his problems. How did he learn about the amulet? But when Vabalaz discovers it may also be the key to creating his dream wizard realm, the hunt is on. How would this affect Gerald and his people? It seems like that would be a bad thing. 

Gerald’s hopes of returning home hinge on repairing the damage to Wyverndawn and thwarting Vabalaz’s plans.  But he could really do without fighting off bumbling bandits, dealing with a very smelly Orcling and evading a female elven assassin. I don't think you really need this sentence. The rest of the query sets up the conflict, and stakes fairly well. Failure could mean Gerald’s next spell might very well be his last. The last line works well, too. Overall, I think this a pretty solid query. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekly blog post featuring query/first page critique

I posted on Twitter today that I will be starting a weekly blog post that features a critique of a query or first page. I will post the critique on Friday each week. If you would like be featured (I won't post any personal details), just let me know when you query (OR just email if you're interested--please specify if you'd like a query or first page critique)! I look forward to hearing from you.

*Oh I did want to mention that we did update our submission guidelines, and we no longer require a synopsis. Please visit out website for more details.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Why I might not connect with a character

It is so important for a reader to form an attachment to the characters right away. You may have a great plot, but it is the characters that are going to carry the story, it is through the characters' eyes that the reader will view the world you're creating. If I don't care about character, or what happens to a character during the course of the novel, then I am less inclined to continue reading. I'd like to share a few thoughts about connecting with a character.

 1. I will often find that a character feels "stagnant." That is a character(s) will stay the same throughout the story. The MC needs to have goals and motivations, and those goals/motivation need to realistically reflect the personality/voice of a character. Why are they doing what they are doing?

 2. The voice for each character should be different!!!!!! For example, a grandmother shouldn't sound like a teenager (that might be an extreme example, but you get the idea). Also, if the voice is too similar for each character, they become almost indistinguishable. The voice should reflect: age, gender, education, and social/economic background...pretty much the voice should show us almost everything about a character. 

These are 2 of the biggest things I've noticed, and I hope you'll find this post helpful!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Plot Device

Some of the best known plot devices are easily recognizable. For example, The One Ring in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or Zeus' Lightning bolt in Percy Jackson & the Olympians. According to Wikipedia, a plot device is an object or character in a story whose only purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot. To me, a great plot device plants a seed that works within the rest of the plot; it gives the character(s) motivation, and helps move the story forward. And I think they make a story more interesting. Can you think of some other well-known plot devices?

Below is a really fun video by Seth Worley.

Monday, May 13, 2013

No response or form letter?

Hi everyone!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I'm sorry if this post is repetitive. Recently, a number of authors have re-queried or asked for a status on their submission. I've mentioned before that time, unfortunately, doesn't allow us to send a detailed response as to why we passed on a project. Also, in our submission guidelines we state that we are only able to respond to the projects that we are interested in. That being said, I would love to hear what you all would prefer. Would you rather receive a from (rejection) response, or would you rather have no response? Thanks!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Queries, partials and fulls...oh my!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I know waiting for a response regarding a query or partial/full request is killer. I just wanted to share a few things to keep in mind while you're waiting.

*If I requested a partial/full and you haven't heard back from me in 6-8 weeks, please feel free to follow up. It's quite easy to get backed up with requests, so chances are I just haven't had the opportunity to finish reading your submission. Also, please keep in mind that along with queries and requests, we also have our clients work to consider, which must take priority, so that may delay a response as well. I will definitely respond if I have requested material. 

*While I am very happy for the authors who receive an offer/offer(s) for representation and wish them all the best, recently, there have been a few times where an author will notify me after the fact, after they have already accepted another offer. If you have a partial/full with me, please keep me posted on any offers you receive...even if you would like to withdraw your manuscript from consideration (if you have an offer or an offer of publication). You can imagine how disappointing it would be to finish a manuscript, offer representation, only to find out that the author already signed with another agent, or signed a contract with a publisher.

*While I would love to respond to every single query I receive, unfortunately, time just doesn't allow. Also, please be sure to check our submission guidelines. We are unable to open attachments (unless requested), and please don't just send us links.

Thanks so much for reading! Have a wonderful week.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cliche openings and other things that I've seen a lot of recently

It is very common to run across a number of submissions that have similar openings. I wanted to share what I see a lot of, and what will probably dissuade me from reading further.

1. We first see the character when they are waking up and going through a routine.
2. A dream. This sort of goes along with number 1.
3. Flashback.
4. A very descriptive/wordy opening that is all telling. The imagery may be well written, but it's always important to consider how everything you include works to move the story forward, or helps with character development. Is there another way to establish the setting?

Another thing I find quite often is a prologue. While prologues can be great, it's always a good idea to ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary.

Pet peeve: I've recently read a number of YA submissions where the characters attend a party, which I totally understand, but I didn't really see the significance, why the scene was important, or how it helped move the plot forward/tied into the rest of the story.

- Everything should tie together. I've come across scenes that really don't serve a purpose. I would always recommend considering why something is important, and how does whatever it is affect later events? Always think of cause and effect...even with character motivation!

When you read so many queries that have similar themes, they tend to all start to sound similar...with a similar voice, similar characters, settings etc. If the pages don't stand out, we won't want to read any further.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

From Twitter: speculative fiction vs. sci-fi; what's the difference? Does speculative as a genre sell?

Recently, I tweeted that I was looking for blog post ideas. Please continue to send ideas! 

I received a tweet asking what the difference was between speculative fiction and sci-fi. From what I understand, sci-fi would fall under speculative fiction, along with other genres, such as fantasy, horror and dystopian--to name a few. Also, genre crossover is rather common, and a novel could fit into more than one category, especially sci-fi. 

Here are a couple of links with more information regarding sci-fi and speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction actually seems to be doing very well, which is fantastic! I love sci-fi and other speculative fiction because it's an escape from the ordinary; we get to read about cool things like visiting other planets, meeting aliens (hopefully mostly friendly), or traveling in time and space. 

@LisaArnseth thanks so much for your question, and I hope that helps! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Updates and Call for Submissions

I hope 2013 is going well for everyone so far! I just wanted to do a quick blog post. I am running a bit behind on submissions and queries (I do have some that I've put aside to look at again, and I just haven't had the chance to go back through them). I recently requested quite a few full manuscripts from pitch contests, and a number of queries from another (#PitMad) that I didn't have the opportunity to look at fully yet. Also, while I try to review submissions in order, it's not always possible, especially if an author has an offer or offers. If you have a partial/full with me, I will definitely respond. Unfortunately, as much as Brittany and I would love to respond personally to each query, time just doesn't allow...see, this is why we need a TARDIS!

I'm also doing a Call for Submissions: 

What I would like to see:

*Romance (contemporary/historical) 
*YA (Adult/New Adult) -contemporary or historical, sci-fi/fantasy, action/adventure (think Goonies, Princess Bride, NeverEnding Story, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). I would love to see YA that are heavy on romance. 

*I'm not really looking for non-fiction, suspense/thrillers, middle grade/picture books at this time. Also, please note we are not currently representing screenplays. 

Have a great weekend!!