Book Review: THE SOUND OF US by Ashley Poston

Photo credit: Goodreads
So once upon a time, the amazing Dahlia Adler posted about some New Adult books anyone interested in the category should read, and The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston was super highly recommended.

So I read it. And loved it. But before I begin my raving, here’s the Goodreads summary:
“America's favorite pop band, Roman Holiday, is done, dead, and so totally last year. For eighteen-year-old rockoholic Junie Baltimore, this is music to her ears. But when she discovers their sexy ex-lead singer hiding out on the boardwalk, her summer vacation becomes the cover story of the year. 
She's willing to keep him a secret, but when a sleazy paparazzo offers her the cash she needs to save the bar her father left behind, could she sell out for the chance to save her future? Who is she kidding? That's a no-brainer...but she never planned on falling head over heels for the lead singer.”
If I had to describe The Sound of Us in one word, it’d be ADORABLE. Gah. This book was so freaking cute, I don’t even know where to begin.

I picked up this book because I was promised some laughs and a light-hearted, fun read, and that’s exactly what I got. Junie is a delightful protagonist with major snark and some really funny thoughts and Roman is sexy and entertaining and their romance is so swoon worthy and fun and I just loved it.

A lot of NA books have some pretty heavy themes (hell, a lot of what I read in general has some pretty heavy or dark themes), so The Sound of Us was a wonderful breath of sweet, fresh air. Also, I’m not a huge music buff, but if you are, you’ll love this book. For real. So if you’re looking for something fun and downright cute and have an interest in music (or even if you don't!), definitely give this one a try.

Have you read The Sound of Us or something fun recently? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae gives 5/5 stars to THE SOUND OF US by @ashposton. Have you read this fun NA romance? (Click to tweet)  
Looking for a light-hearted, fun NA read? Try THE SOUND OF US by @ashposton. (Click to tweet)

How to Juggle Catchup Work When You’ve Fallen Behind

Photo credit: TheeErin on Flickr
So as basically everyone on the interwebs everywhere knows (or at least, those who follow my various feeds), I went to RT14 two weeks ago.

What less people know is I’m still playing catchup. Yep.

Part of this is due to my own overly ambitious personality (like, oh yeah! Let’s start a vlog RIGHT BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR A MAJOR CONFERENCE. Oh and let’s give away critiques! And start editing a new book!) and part of it was due to perfect (or not so perfect?) timing of other things just being due or getting sent to me right before and…well…*collapses under mountain of work*

For the record, I love the work I have to do—even the overly ambitious stuff that probably would have been better saved for after the conference. But it is work, and it did pile up and it is a lot. So.

Since I’ve been in marathon catchup mode, I thought it the perfect time to share some tips for whenever you guys have to enter the joy that is trying to catch up after falling behind.

  1. Let others know about your workload/catchup status. This is important! Seriously. If you owe people something, definitely let them know if you’re going to be a little later than usual. Speaking of which, I should probably e-mail some people. *scurries off* 

  2. Prioritize. You can’t do everything at once, you just can’t. Make sure you prioritize your list of catch-up work, starting with whatever is due first if you have strict deadlines. 

  3. Lists. I’ve already blogged about my love of lists before, but this is another example of where lists really come in handy. Somehow, writing lists of things I need to do helps me feel a little more in control of what I’m doing, and plus it feels awesome to be able to check something off the list when I’m done. So. Win-win!

    It also saves me from forgetting anything. Extra win! 

  4. Daily goals. Once you know everything you need to get done, try to break it up over a period of time. This way, you don’t get overwhelmed or burn out from doing too much at once. 

  5. Be kind to yourself. Listen, chances are you’re not going to finish everything in the time span you wanted. Guess what? It happens. And it’s okay.

    At the end of the day, if you haven’t finished all of your daily goals, know that you can get more done tomorrow. Take some time to relax at the end of the day anyway and reward yourself for what you did do—you deserve it. 

What tips do you have for completing catchup work?

Twitter-sized bites:
Falling behind on your workload? @Ava_Jae shares some tips for catching up. (Click to tweet)  
What tips do you have for completing catchup work? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: #WriterLife Tag

So the fabulous KelsNotChels (aka Kelsey Mackey) did a vlog in which she answered ten writerly questions in a tag she created called #WriterLife. I thought it'd be fun to participate. So I did.


On Writing to Make a Difference

Photo credit: Mine!
There’s been a lot of really wonderful discussion lately on diversity, sexism, ableism and so much more that’s been absolutely incredible to see. And it’s got me thinking about writing, and more specifically, about the messages we can send with our manuscripts.

Let me start by saying I don’t go into a book setting out to send some kind of message. Most of the time, I’m not even aware of the themes in my manuscripts until I’ve edited several times or a CP has pointed one out to me and I just smile and nod like, “oh yeah, I totally did that on purpose.”

Back to the matter at hand.

I’ve been thinking about books like Easy (Tammara Webber) which feature a love interest who very clearly understands and respects boundaries and shows one of the healthiest, most respectful relationships I’ve ever seen in a book.

I’ve been thinking about books like Every Day (David Levithan) which puts you in the shoes of characters who are depressed, who are addicts, who are of varying sexual orientations and all have fascinating and equally valid perspectives and challenge you to empathize with them equally.

I’ve been thinking about books the challenge the status quo with little things—with diverse casts and strong characters and calling out harmful tropes for what they are.

And I’ve been thinking we can make a difference with our writing. And it doesn’t have to be a big message book or a story with a moral—it can be a respectful relationship, or a respectfully represented minority or a couple well-placed lines.

Because you never know how that character, scene, or line will affect a reader. Or many readers. And really, that’s all it takes to make a difference.

Have you read any books that made a difference to you?

Twitter-sized bites: 
"You never know how that character...will affect a reader...that's all it takes to make a difference." (Click to tweet)  
Have you read any books that made a difference to you? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

The Dangers of Dialect

Photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) on Flickr
Oftentimes, when working with dialogue, writers work with characters who have a peculiar manner of speaking. Whether it’s a weird turn of phrase, a thick accent or unusual slang, it’s not at all uncommon to come across characters with unique speech. 

Unique dialogue, when done well, is great because it makes it easy to identify a character’s voice, and it can also say a lot about their character. However, when done incorrectly, this great character marker can become difficult and painful to read.

The number one problem I’ve come across with unique dialogue is writers going overboard with dialect.

The thing is, dialect is a tricky thing to get right. If you do too little, it’s like you haven’t done anything at all, and the few sections where it’s present feels out of place. Do too much, however, and a character’s speech can go from quirky to nearly impossible to read.

The key is to find a happy medium, which of course isn’t entirely easy, especially at first. Good news is there are three questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not you’ve gone over the dialect deep end.

  1. Do you have to slow down to read it? This is a huge red flag to me—if I have to slow down to read and process what a character is saying (or worse, read it several times to try to figure out what’s being said), then more likely than not, the dialect’s been overdone. Remember—you never want your writing to draw attention to itself—and forcing your readers to slow down to translate your character’s speech will definitely draw attention away from the story and onto the words. 

  2. Can you read it aloud without tripping over the words? If your answer is “no” or “yes, with practice” then you’ve failed this test. Go back and smooth out your dialogue to make it easier to read.  

  3. Were your CPs and beta readers able to read it without getting frustrated or confused? Self-explanatory. If your CPs and betas are fine with it and didn’t have an issue, then you might be in the clear. But if you’re getting comments on confusing speech, it’s a pretty good sign you should break out the red pen. 

Finally, for a good example of nice, balanced dialect, I give you Hagrid:
“I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed. 'Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth botherin’ with.” —Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling) 
Have you ever written dialect or come across dialect that was difficult to read? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae on dialect: “You never want your writing to draw attention to itself.” More tips here. (Click to tweet)  
Do you have accented characters in your MS? Writer @Ava_Jae shares 3 signs you may want to rework their speech. (Click to tweet

RT14 Panel Recaps!

Photo credit: Me!
So as many of you know, I was at RT con most of last week, which was super amazing. Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably saw me live-tweeting several panels, and since that seemed so popular, I thought I’d share with you guys my notes from the panels, which I put together in a bunch of storify posts. Yay!

Also, this seemed like a best way to consolidate my notes for myself. So. Win-win!

So here we go! Every panel I live-tweeted at RT in one long post. Because it’s so long, however, I’ve made a navigational thingie for you guys so you can skip to whatever panels you’re interested in. Enjoy!


Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Back to the top.

Twitter-sized bites:

Couldn't go to #RT14? Not to worry! Writer @Ava_Jae shares storified notes from 10 panels she attended at the con. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: 4 Reasons Writers Should Go to Conferences

I'm back from RT! And the whole thing was so exciting and wonderful that I did a YouTube thing.


Twitter-sized bite:
Have you ever been to a writers' conference? Writer @Ava_Jae vlogs about 4 reasons you may want to consider it. (Click to tweet

Discussion: What’s Your Writing Dream?

Photo credit: Loving Earth on Flickr
I’ve often said that every writer’s journey is different, that we all follow different paths and have different goals and methods of getting to our goals. And lately I’ve been thinking about those goals and how every writer has a different writing dream.

I thought it might be fun to share our writing dreams. They don’t have to be realistic, I just thought it’d be a fun and uplifting exercise to share with you guys. :)

For me, my ultimate writing dream is to be able to make a living doing what I love most—writing. I dream of seeing my books on the shelves, of holding a copy of my book in my hand, of walking into a bookstore and seeing my novel there.

What about you?

Twitter-sized bite: 
What’s your ultimate #writing dream? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae’s blog. (Click to tweet

Plot Essentials: The Darkest Hour

Photo credit: Thalita Carvalho on Flickr
Okay, so maybe that plot point name is a bit dramatic, but to be honest, I can’t remember the official name of this point, and that basically sums it up. So. Anyway. 

The darkest hour is the point in your manuscript where your protagonist has reached his lowest point. This usually comes right before the climax—it’s where all hope seems lost and the worst of the worst has happened and your protagonist doesn’t know how they’re going to overcome their insurmountable odds.

Keeping with our examples from the last plot essentials posts, here are the darkest hours from some popular novels. If you haven’t read any of these, please skip over that particular example, because SPOILERS. You’ve been warned:
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling): Harry is dead. Voldemort has finally killed the boy who lived, the Battle of Hogwarts is lost and the wizarding world’s only hope is gone.

    Note: I chose the last Harry Potter book rather than the first in the previous examples because this is one of the best darkest hour points that I can think of in literature, period. 

  • City of Bones (Cassandra Clare): Valentine has opened up the gates to demons, Jace seems to be cooperating with him and worse—Clary and Jace are siblings and definitely shouldn’t be in love with each other.

  • Divergent (Veronica Roth): Tris’s parents are dead, all of her friends are under a simulation that’s turned them into mindless murderers, innocent Abnegation citizens are being killed and now Four has fallen prey to a simulation that has turned him against her. 
The darkest hour is actually one of my favorite plot points to write, because it shows our characters at their lowest point, which really allows us to get a sense of what they have to overcome and makes the eventual victory that much sweeter. Also, I’ve found that how characters (and people) behave when they’re at their lowest really says a lot about their character.

All that said, if you get the darkest hour right, then the ending and victory becomes much stronger and more powerful than it would have been otherwise.

Can you identify the darkest hour in your WIP or favorite book?
Working on a plot for your WIP? Writers @Ava_Jae discusses the importance of the darkest hour. (Click to tweet)  
Do you know your WIP’s darkest hour? Writer @Ava_Jae talks identifying this plot point, with examples. (Click to tweet)

Scene Break vs. Chapter Break: How Do You Know?

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Once upon a time someone asked me about scene breaks and chapter breaks and it took me forever to write this post because…well, I wasn’t really sure where to start. 

Scene breaks and chapter breaks are two sides of the same coin—they’re both used to end or pause a scene, whether temporarily for dramatic effect or to switch POVs, or to move on to a new scene. The execution itself is similar: a line to end/pause the scene and some kind of symbol and spacing to represent the actual break from the scene.

But despite those similarities, scene breaks and chapter breaks are used to accomplish fairly different effects.

I like to think of scene breaks as soft breaks—they’re a pause within a chapter to end one scene and flow into the next without ending the chapter. These are mostly used when you’re not ready to end the chapter, whether for POV reasons (say, in a dual-POV novel) or because the end of the scene isn’t quite dramatic enough, or whatever other reason.

Chapter breaks, on the other hand, are hard breaks, because they tend to be spots that readers are more likely to take a break from reading (though your goal is to make them not want to). Sometimes they end a scene, sometimes they stop part-way through a scene at a point that’s shocking, some sort of mini-cliffhanger, or resonates or is dramatic for some other reason. I’ve already posted about making the most of your chapter endings, so I won’t go into that here, but the idea is to end on a note that makes your reader want to read more.

For me, how I decide between scene breaks and chapter breaks varies slightly depending on the WIP. For a dual-POV MS, I tend to use more scene breaks because I like to switch POVs with chapter breaks rather than scene breaks, so if the next scene is in the same character’s POV, I need a really good reason to end the chapter. Then again, if that particular MS has shorter chapters, I’ll be more inclined to use a chapter break rather than a scene break. For a single POV MS, I try to reserve chapter breaks for particularly dramatic/intense/haunting moments, and I use scene breaks when I want one scene to flow easily into another.

In the end, whether you use a scene or chapter break will be entirely up to what feels right to you for that particular scene in that particular manuscript. But it helps to keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish when deciding between the two.

So that’s how I decide between scene and chapter breaks—now I want to hear from you. How do you decide between the two?

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae calls scene breaks “soft breaks” & chapter breaks “hard breaks.” What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
Should you use a scene break or chapter break for that scene? Writer @Ava_Jae breaks it down. (Click to tweet)

So You Want to Write YA Sci-Fi?

Photo credit: Alex Abian on Flickr
NOTE: Today I'm guest posting at the wonderful Writer Diaries blog where I'm discussing how to prepare for The Call! Definitely check it out and say hi! :)

What is it? 

Space ships, aliens, inter-planetary travel, time travel, alternate universes, robots, futuristic technology…the list goes on.

The realm of Sci-Fi is enormous—there are so many possibilities and sub genres (Space Opera! Dystopia! Apocalyptic!) and the possibilities are pretty near endless. What often gets confusing, however, is the line between Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The way I see it, if the elements and events are remotely possible and grounded in science (rather than magic & mythical creatures), then it’s Sci-Fi.

Pros/Cons of Writing YA Sci-Fi: 


  • Loads of variety. Like I mentioned above, there’s just as much variety in Sci-Fi as there is in Fantasy or anywhere else. Aliens, robots, spaceships and time-traveling men in blue police boxes only just scratch the surface. 

  • Imagine the possibilities. One of the many cool things about Sci-Fi is technically, the stories could actually happen. Because they’re grounded in reality and science, many Sci-Fi stories, hypothetically, could happen in the future (and many older Sci-Fi stories have technology that didn’t exist then, but exists today, which I think is awesome). 

  • They’re often action-packed. From space battles to wars to end-of-the-world scenarios, YA Sci-Fi novels are rarely boring. 


  • Sexism. This is a rather ugly truth, and thankfully things are changing, but sadly there are people out there who won’t pick up a Sci-Fi novel written by a woman. (There are also people out there who won’t pick up any novel written by a woman, but I digress). It’s something I hope, if you’re a female Sci-Fi writer, you never encounter, but the truth is, it’s still out there. 

  • Tough world building. Like YA High Fantasy, there’s a lot of massive world building necessary to really make your YA Sci-Fi novel shine. But world building is fun (at least, to me), and while it’s difficult, it’s pretty incredible to see what you come up with when you push yourself (or have others push you). 

Recommended Reading: 

I’ll continue to repeat that reading in the genre you’re writing isn’t optional. But the good news is there are plenty of awesome books to enjoy.

Note: While I haven’t read all of these, the ones I haven’t read I either want to read, have heard good things about, or were rating highly on Goodreads (or all three).

For more, check out Goodreads’ Science Fiction shelf, with breakdowns for each category (aliens, apocalyptic, cyberpunk, robots, space opera, etc.) and YA Science Fiction shelf.

Helpful Links: 

Do you enjoy reading or writing YA Sci-Fi? Share your experience! 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking about writing YA Sci-Fi? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips, recommendations and more. (Click to tweet)  
Do you write YA Sci-Fi? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae’s So You Want to Write series. (Click to tweet

3rd Blogoversary Giveaway Winners!

Photo credit: demandaj on Flickr
Short post today because RT is next week and I still have wayyyy too much to do. Yay!

I know you're all very excited to see who the winners of Monday's giveaway. I want to thank you all for entering and sharing and being awesome, as usual. You're all amazing!

Without further ado, here are our winners:

  • Winner of the query critique with up to three passes and up to five Twitter pitches critique package from Rae Chang is Farida Mestek
  • Winner of the query, synopsis and first chapter critique package from Vicki Leigh is Jayme Hunt
  • Winner of the query and first twenty-five page critique package from Naomi Hughes goes to Gina (with a MG Adventure)
  • Winner of the first fifty page critique from Alice goes to Katie Bucklein!
  • Winner of the query and first three chapter critique package from Cait Spivey goes to Braden Russell
  • And finally, the winner of the full reader report, also from Cait, goes to Madeline (with a NA SF Thriller)

Congratulations, winners! You'll be getting e-mails today with further instructions, so check your inboxes! And to everyone else, there will be more giveaways in the future. :)


7 Signs You Should Cut Your Prologue

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Those of you who follow me on Twitter may or may not have seen this last week:

Ah, the joy of the prologue debate.

The thing is, I’ve been finding more often than not, people need their prologues much less than they think they do. And it’s understandable—I mean, it’s tough to be able to look at your work objectively and decide what scenes you need and don’t need, and it can be even tougher when you’re talking about the opening of your book.

So without further ado, I thought I’d share seven signs that you may want to consider cutting your prologue.

  1. Your prologue is your main character’s birth. Listen, I know people say to start where you story starts, but we don’t mean literally. I can’t think of a time when I read a prologue recounting the protagonist’s birth that I didn’t think it wasn’t unnecessary. I promise you, we don’t need to know the details of your protagonist’s birth. We really, really don’t.

    Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did this with my first manuscript. And it wasn’t necessary then, either (I just didn’t know it at the time).

  2. Your prologue is all (or mostly) exposition. Nope. Don’t start your book with exposition. Why? Because you’re telling. And if you start your book off with a load of telling, then readers are immediately going to think the rest of your manuscript has tons of telling. Not only that, but exposition tends to be a really slow way to start a book and not an incredibly effective hook.

    I understand that you want to get information across—you should! But there are way more effective ways to get information across than with an expository opening. Consider sprinkling that information throughout your prose, instead—not only will it help you avoid the evils of info-dumping, but it’ll be much more interesting to read.

  3. Your prologue features not your main character. I’m not saying this never works—in fact, I’ve seen it work. However, this can be a very confusing way to open a book.

    Think about it—a reader who opens up your book, knowing little to nothing about it, is going to read the first few pages and think that the character it’s focused on is, indeed, your protagonist. When they finish the prologue and learn that the character is in fact not your protagonist, it can be a little jarring. Very jarring, if we’re being honest.

  4. Your prologue isn’t directly related to your main character. If it isn’t clear how the events that unfold in your prologue affect your main character (and thus the main plot), then your prologue is going to not only be confusing, but most will consider it unnecessary (and so should you).

  5. Your prologue is a false start. I’ve seen prologues that are full of action and mystery and intrigue…and then the first chapter is incredibly slow and has little to do with the prologue. Don’t do this.

    The reason you want to avoid false starts is it doesn’t accomplish what you think it does—sure, it might get people reading through the prologue, but once they reach the first chapter they’ll realize that the prologue was really just a bait-and-switch hook.

    I get that you want to start with an interesting hook, and you should start with an interesting hook. But the answer isn’t through a super exciting and mostly unrelated prologue–the answer is to look at your real opening (that is, your first chapter) and figuring out whether you’re starting in the right place and how to include your hook in that opening scene.

  6. Your prologue features your antagonist doing something super evil. I’m not saying this never works, but it’s so painfully overdone, especially in fantasy novels. For me, they don’t give the dramatic effect they may have when this trope first started—now I just tend to roll my eyes and think thoughts that rhyme with “melodramatic.” And that’s not how you want people reacting to your opening.

    And again, full disclosure, my first ever manuscript's prologue did this, too...yes it committed two grave sins.

  7. You’re not sure whether or not to include your prologue when querying or submitting. So this isn’t something you’ll see in your manuscript—this is actually your subconscious letting you know you don’t need your prologue.

    If your book doesn’t absolutely 100% need the prologue to be understood, then you don’t need it. Period. Which means if you’re even considering sending your query off without your prologue, then your inner writer is tapping you on the shoulder and letting you know it’s time to get the scissors.
What signs can you think of to add to the list?

Twitter-sized bites:
Do you need your prologue? Editorial intern @Ava_Jae shares 7 signs you may want to cut it. (Click to tweet
Do you have a prologue in your MS? Writer @Ava_Jae shares 7 signs that you might not need it. (Click to tweet)

3-Year Blogoversary Surprise: This Is Me

Welp, here we go. This is actually the most terrifying post I've uploaded yet. Yay!

Today is Writability's official third birthday! And to celebrate, I decided to do something super special, because it's something I never would have been able to do three years ago.

But now I can. And it still scares me a little. But I've decided to say hi. For real. In person.

Well. On YouTube, anyway.

So for all of you wondering who's behind the book stack, here you go.

This is me.

Oh, and also I redesigned the blog.

And also you have two days left to win awesome critiquerly prizes here.

3-Year Blogoversary Giveaway!

Photo credit: Aih. on Flickr
Three years! Wow. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since I first started this blog. Writability’s had some pretty awesome milestones along the way and I’ve had so much fun running this blog. And will continue to do so. :)

In honor of Writability’s third birthday, there are going to be some fun things this week! Happy fun things. And I can’t wait to share them with you guys, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Well, maybe one more hint: tomorrow is Writability’s actual birthday. I don’t usually post on Tuesdays but you maaaaayyy want to stop by. Just saying.

As for today, I’m kicking off Writability’s birthday week with a giveaway! A bunch of giveaways, actually, because some very lovely ladies oh so graciously agreed to participate. Yay!

Up for grabs this week is a reader report on a full manuscript, a first 50 page critique, a query + 25 page critique, a query + first three chapters critique, a query + synopsis + 1st chapter submission package critique AND a query + Twitter pitch critique package!

That’s right—SIX prizes! All full of critiquerly goodness!

And here are our awesome donors!

Rae Chang

Rae Chang is the assistant to Brenda Drake (the reigning queen of online pitch contests) as well as an editor and YA/NA writer. When not writing and editing, you can find her lightsaber dueling her husband, creating culinary masterpieces in the kitchen, composing the soundtracks to her novels, speaking at high schools as a youth mentor, and being a kick-butt outreach coordinator at a women's shelter.

Follower her on Twitter!
Read her blog!

Rae is giving away 3 passes on a query and up to 5 Twitter pitch critique package!

Restrictions: No PB, Comedy, Erotica, Political books, category Romance or Westerns. If MG, only upper MG.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vicki Leigh

Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills Press, a co-founder of The Writer Diaries, and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes. Her YA debut, CATCH ME WHEN I FALL, releases October 23, 2014.


Vicki is giving away a query, synopsis AND first chapter submission package critique!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Naomi Hughes

Naomi is a freelance editor and an agented writer of quirky middle-grade/young adult novels (most of which involve unicorns). She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter, and a hyperactive Border Collie named after a Last Airbender character. You can find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter.

Naomi is giving away a query plus first 25 page critique package!

Restrictions: NO horror or erotica.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Alice is the psudonym of a girl who writes weird fiction for smart
people. She grew up in London, in a flat that overlooks a park. She speaks a few languages, and studied linguistic philosophy at uni. She was once stranded on a train to Victoria without paper and wrote a short story on her ticket.

She's represented by Rubin Pfeffer Content, and will be in Austin, Texas until autumn--after which she, her Boy Thing, three cats, some antique guitars and typewriters, and enough books to bury them all in will make their way back to Europe.

Twitter: @notveryalice

Alice is giving away a first 50 page critique!

Restrictions: Adult fiction or YA/NA speculative preferred.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cait Spivey

Cait Spivey is an author and freelance editor, on staff for Curiosity Quills Press and REUTS Publications, as well as a managing member of Bear and Black Dog Editing, LLC. As an editor, Cait pulls from her lifelong experience loving books to bring forth the best elements of every story in a way that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. She wants to help books tug heartstrings. She wants to help books become heirlooms. She wants to help books get quoted on Tumblr. Follow her on Twitter @CaitSpivey

Cait is graciously giving away TWO prizes: a query plus first three chapters critique package AND a reader report on a full!

Restrictions: Spec fic and His fic ONLY. NO Contemporary.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Go forth and enter! And good luck!

Twitter-sized bite: 
Come celebrate Writability's 3rd birthday by entering to win six fabulous critiquerly prizes! (Click to tweet)

Query & Pitch Tip: DETAILS

Photo credit: jamelah on Flickr
So while I no longer enter pitch contests and things of the like, I do enjoy browsing through them when I have the free time. And oftentimes, when I do, I’m reminded of a very important tip some very wise writers and publishing people have shared regarding your pitch. 

Thou shalt include specific details.

Details are ridiculously important when you write a pitch, whether it’s a query-length pitch, or a Twitter-length pitch. Why? Because without them, your story starts to sound really general and, I hate to say it, unremarkable.

The thing is, without details specific to your novel, we don’t know what makes your manuscript stand out from the rest. We don’t know what’s unique to your story, what makes your book special—and if you want to snag some interest in your manuscript, you need to make that unequivocally clear.

Here are two examples of the difference between a generalized summary and a detailed one.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass
Generalized summary: An eighteen-year-old fights for her freedom in a competition that will choose a new royal mercenary. 
The actual summary: “After she has served a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Crown Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien her freedom on the condition that she act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.”  
I bolded some of the parts that are most specific to the novel—the details that really make the second (and actual) summary stand out from the generalized version. The details here really give us a sense of the world in Throne of Glass as well as hinting at some of the underlying tension between the crown prince and our protagonist. 
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Generalized summary: Worried that she will Turn after surviving a vampire attack, seventeen-year-old Tana heads to a quarantine zone to protect people from herself.  
Actual summary: “When seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up following a party in the aftermath of a violent vampire attack, she travels to Coldtown, a quarantined Massachusetts city full of vampires, with her ex-boyfriend and a mysterious vampire boy in tow.” 
The details here tell us more about the actual attack, give us a great sense of the world that Tana lives in and hints as massive tension between Tana, her ex, and this mysterious vampire boy. 
I could go on, but I think these two really illustrate my point.

Your query or pitch shouldn’t just summarize your book—it should summarize it in a way that highlights what makes it unique, because it’s those unique points that’ll really grab someone’s attention when looking through a flood of pitches.

Do you have details specific to your manuscript in your pitch or query?

Twitter-sized bites: 
“Your query or pitch shouldn’t JUST summarize your book…” (Click to tweet)  
Do you have details specific to your MS in your pitch? Writer @Ava_Jae discusses why it’s so vital. (Click to tweet)
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