Monthly Archives: February 2010

Diary of a Struggling Writer – Query Letter

Some of you may know that I have been working on a YA novel for some time now. My novel, Sublime, now stands complete, and I am querying agents in order to seek representation. I am one of many, and I know the road to getting published won’t be easy. But I have always been one determined, little girl. This year has been nuts—-getting married, running two clubs, teaching at both the middle school and college level, and winning Teacher of the Year. And now to drive myself to exhaustion, I will post regularly here to Novel Novice to describe my experiences in this unknown wilderness.

I intend to keep the wonderful NN supporters updated about everything from agent rejections, querying, and hopefully finding a publisher. I will even post some of my manuscript, and ask for your advice (cause who knows YA better than the fans of Novel Novice?). I have even begun work on creating a book trailer for my novel.

For my first entry, I will post my query letter. Don’t know what a query is? It’s a plea for someone to take pity on your work, and help you find a publisher. Basically: Dear Agent – Please notice me. Agents read hundreds, maybe thousands, or queries each year. Most queries receive the generated rejection letter: your work did not grab my attention, your work was not right for me, or they get no response at all. Occasionally, one will get a requests for a partial (meaning they want to read a portion of your manuscript), and hopefully this will be followed by a request for a full. But don’t get too excited when that happens fellow writers, my first request for a full was rejected. And so on I go……

Below you will find my query letter, as well as some sites that I have found useful when composing my query.

My agent stats for Feb are as follows: 1 request for a partial then request for a revision and re-submit, 1 request for a partial, and 2 rejections.

Dear Agent,

Tess, 16, is forced to watch her sister die in childbirth. The government claims she must watch in order to understand her world’s most vital lesson: she is part of a dying species, and there is no hope for salvation.

After the Miles incident, a violent display of desperation from a people left disillusioned by the economic and political turmoil of their country, the rights of the individual were traded away. Books and music were outlawed. Families forced from their homes were moved into government compounds. The chosen ones were created.

The chosen ones, genetically engineered humans, were created to protect the dying species. When Tess is assigned to work at Templeton, a training center for young, male chosen ones, she begins to discover the propaganda her government has fed her is nothing but lies. Templeton becomes a place of danger.

The chosen ones were created to defile and abuse the naturals as their species dies out. To make matters worse, the one person Tess comes to trust is part of the very species created to aid in her demise.

Sublime is a completed YA novel with a word count of 67,000. It is a coming of age story about first love, discovering one’s sexuality, and fighting for a sense of self in a dystopian society.

Below you will find the first 250 words of my manuscript.
Thank you for your time,
Tiffany Truitt

The panic attacks kept happening.

I heard my sister’s screams coming from inside the infirmary. The broken chair, discarded and forgotten, clung to me as much as I clung to it. It seemed funny I should feel more connection to the fragile, useless chair than to the woman screaming in the other room.

Funny?

It’s not that I did not want to feel something for the woman. I just could not convince myself too. She had left me long ago.

Liar.

If I made her a villain, I would never have to miss her.

My sister was dying. I would watch her die not in the comfort of a happy home, but in the compound, a place we were forced to live after the incident. We were like cattle trapped behind a fence.

I heard my name whispered faintly among the mutinous, erratic beats of my heart. A name whispered amongst a battlefield of dying men.

Dying women.

The women kept dying. The government could not explain why. Sure, they could cure cancer and AIDS, but they could not keep women from dying in childbirth. They could not save the female naturals. That is what they called us because we were conceived the old fashion way.

Helpful sites for writing queries:

Writing a Query Letter

Query Letter Mad Lib

Make sure to check our all entries under our Authors tab!

This week’s NYT best sellers

Is Lauren Conrad still No. 1 on The New York Times best sellers list? Yep. See who else made the cut:

CHAPTER BOOKS
This Week   Weeks on List
1 SWEET LITTLE LIES, by Lauren Conrad. (Harper/HarperCollins, $17.99.) The heroines of “L.A. Candy” in a new Hollywood story. (Ages 14 and up) 3
2 PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS (THE ULTIMATE GUIDE), written by Mary-Jane Knight. Designed by Philip Chidlow. (Disney-Hyperion, $12.99.) Gods, beasts and practical tips for children with an immortal parent, based on the series by Rick Riordan. (Ages 10 and up) 5
3 THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic, $17.99.) In a dystopian future, a girl fights for survival on live TV. (Ages 12 and up) 76
4 CATCHING FIRE, by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic, $17.99.) The protagonist of “The Hunger Games” returns. (Ages 12 and up) 25
5 FALLEN, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte, $17.99.) Thwarted love among misfits at boarding school. (Ages 12 and up) 11
6 ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll. Illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia. (Collins Design/HarperCollins, $16.99.) Down the rabbit-hole again, with new illustrations. (Ages 9 to 12) 3
7 WITCH AND WIZARD, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) Brother and sister flex their newfound powers. (Ages 12 and up) 10
8 SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Scholastic Press/Scholastic, $17.99.) Love among the lupine. (Ages 12 and up) 28
9 HEIST SOCIETY, by Ally Carter. (Hyperion, $16.99.) Teenagers steal back stolen art in a scam within a scam. (Ages 12 and up) 2
10 INCARCERON, by Catherine Fisher. (Dial/Penguin, $17.99.) An infamous prison, where inmates don’t believe there is an outside world. (Ages 14 and up) 3

‘Alice in Wonderland’ – Through the Years (Adaptations)


Today, we’re kicking off a week of fun posts related to Alice in Wonderland in anticipation of the new movie from Tim Burton, in theaters on Friday, March 5th.

We begin by taking a look at some of the more well-known adaptations of Alice in Wonderland over the years (in chronological order):

Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (Animated; 1951)

This is the classic version most everyone’s seen, and it’s also one of my all-time favorites. Okay, yes, I’m a self-professed Disney geek, but STILL … this is still one of the best adaptations around. Here’s the original 1951 trailer:


Alice in Wonderland (TV adaptation; 1985)

I have vague memories of watching this version on TV as a kid, but I honestly don’t remember the specifics. Still, you can watch it online. Here’s the first part:

Alice in Wonderland (TV adaptation; 1999)

This more recent TV adaptation features an outstanding, all-star cast — including Martin Short, Whoopi Goldberg and Eric Idle. Here is the teaser:

Alice (SyFy Channel TV miniseries; 2009)

I watched this adaptation when it came out in December, and generally liked the futuristic, sci-fi twist on Lewis Carroll’s story. Alice feels a bit self-righteous at times, and some of the concepts are a bit bizarre, but it’s general Wonderland fun and Hatter is totally worth the view experience. Here’s the SyFy Channel promo:

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Of course, this is why we’re celebrating Alice in Wonderland this week. Take a look at the trailer for the new movie:

Keep track of all our Alice in Wonderland features.

For the comments: What are your favorite Alice in Wonderland adaptations?

It’s been a beautiful month for Beautiful Creatures


Today marks the last day of February, and so the last day of our February Book of the Month: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.

We’ve had some amazing goodies this month. I want to thank authors Kami & Margie for all their help & support — they provided an awesome prize pack (winner to be announced soon), wrote really fun author profiles, shared some delicious recipes & have generally been awesome about mentioning our blog via Twitter & Facebook.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from our month-long feature:

Of course, there was lots more … see everything HERE!

For the comments: What was your favorite feature from our Beautiful Creatures Book of the Month?

Part IV: Teens react to Common Sense Media

In our final post regarding Common Sense Media, we have two teens’ reactions to the postings on www.barnesandnoble.com. The first is from one of our teen contributors, Marina:

When I first read over the “Common Sense Media” summary for the novel Unwind by Neil Shusterman (which, by the way, is a fantastic read), I was partially appalled by the way they categorized it as a highly violent novel.  They way they portrayed the events of the novel in a couple sentences made it seem as if the entire novel was filled to the brim with felonies. And though to some extent there are some violent scenes, they are all in the nature of the book.

The novel itself deals with the very controversial topic of abortion, so it is only going to be assumed that there are going to be some controversial sections.

Another topic they reviewed was the “consumerism” of the novel. This was marked as moderately influential due to an Old Navy being blown up and a couple mentions of iPods and SPAM. I doubt that the few times that these items being mentioned are going to really influence anyone, so I do not understand why it is marked as a moderate threat.

The only two things I did agree on were the age they suggested and there was one chapter that even made me squeamish at age seventeen. But for the most part they made this novel out to be horrific festival of violence, which is utterly ridiculous.

Our next reaction comes from Maggie at Bibliophilia — Maggie’s Bookshelf. In part, she writes:

I do not feel that Common Sense Media itself is censorship.  I feel that it could be used as justification by parents/educators to censor kids, but that the site itself does not promote censoring books, movies, or any other kind of media.  What I feel it does is promote healthy discussion between parents/guardians and kids/teens about what we’re absorbing through the media, and whether or not it is a realistic portrayal of the real world ….

Unfortunately, I feel that the way the CSM ratings have been integrated into the B&N site is negative and does not accurately represent the mission of CSM.  In leaving the full reviews and positive categories like “Role Models” and “The Good Stuff” out, you are putting the “Things Parents Should Know” rating categories out of context and making CSM look like it really does promote censorship.  I hope that Barnes & Noble realizes this soon and decides to reformat the way the reviews have been integrated into the site. 

And perhaps the wisest statement of all concerning this debacle:

But for now, let’s get real, people – it’s your choice whether or not to read those reviews, it’s your choice whether or not to censor children, not CSM’s. 

We’ll keep you updated on this issue and let you know when/if Barnes and Noble modifies its CSM reviews. Have something to say about this? Send an e-mail to clumzbella@yahoo.com.

Beautiful Creatures Desktop Wallpaper featuring Ridley


Today as part of our February Book of the Month feature on Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, we’ve got a new, original desktop wallpaper — featuring bad-girl Ridley!

Click to view full-size, then right-click to save:


Some of the photos featured in this wallpaper are (C) VLC Photography & were used with permission!

See more Beautiful Creatures downloads & other goodies in our February Beautiful Creatures Book of the Month.

History Re-Written: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter


I’ve made no secret that I love the literary mash-ups between classic novels & supernatural twists — such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Mr. Darcy, Vamypre and others. I think the concept is sort of brilliant (getting modern audiences to read classic lit — such trickery!) and I think the results are hilarious.

Now, the supernatural is taking over history with Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

It looks like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets our 16th President … and again, involving much hilarity.

Here is the new book trailer, followed by the official synopsis:

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”

“My baby boy…” she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

For the comments: Anyone else ready to check this book out?

Calling writers & artists for OBS’s Comic Book Contest!


Just in from our friends at OBS, an awesome new contest! Check out the details:

In honor of our Comic Book Review on Arcana Comic’s ‘Dark Horrors Anthology’, OpenBookSociety is holding a 3-Panel Horror Comic contest starting today, February 25 through March 25, 2010.  Deadline for submissions is March 25 and the winners will be announced on April 1, 2010.

So what exactly do you have to do you ask, well here are the details:

Use your creative writing and drawing talents and put together a 3-panel comic. All entries must include, 3-panels, the genre must be horror (this includes sub genres such as supernatural, aliens, etc. all with a horror theme) and at least one panel must include dialogue. Two stipulations include: No nudity or profanity please. So essentially your creating a story in just 3 panels. It’s not as hard as it seems, comic strip artists do it all the time.

Submissions will be posted as we receive them, on the OBS Forum. When the submission deadline closes, on March 25th, members and OBS staff will vote for the two top comics, with a first place winner and a runner up. Show us your best stuff! We will be judging each based on creativity, art, and story line. We will be Tweeting updates on new submissions throughout the month of March so you will know when new submissions have been posted.

THE PRIZES:

1st place: Arcana Comics ‘Dark Horror Anthology’ Comic Book

2nd place: 3 Sets of Marvel Trading Cards, (1) Spiderman, and (2) Fantastic Four, for a total of 21 Trading Cards.


If that isn’t incentive enough…OBS will submit the two winning comics to Arcana Comics (Canada’s largest comic book publisher)!!!! Go to their website and check them out. So do your best to get noticed and stand out from the crowd with a creative comic!

Please submit your 3-panel horror comic to news@openbooksociety.com. If you have any questions please email Rose at whatategilbertgrape at openbooksociety dot com. Can’t wait to see your submissions!!

See more at OBS.

Bid on awesome goodies to support YA Book Central!


Our friends at Young Adult Books Central are hosting an auction to help raise funds for upgrading & expanding their site — which includes book reviews (many by teens!), author interviews, and more goodies for YA lit.

Plus, the site is run by Kimberly Pauley, the awesome author of Sucks to Be Me and the upcoming sequel Still Sucks to Be Me. (Oh, and did we mention that the Sucks to Be Me series will be our May Book of the Month? Yep!)

Some of the auction items include:

  • professionally designed book trailer
  • Personalized & signed copy of In the Service of Samurai by Gloria Oliver
  • 10 page manuscript or short story critique by Young Adult author Kimberly Pauley

Additional bids include additional manuscript bids, more autographed books, a virtual author visit and more. Current bids are open until March 15th.

See all of the auction items and place your bids online now.

My Soul to Save Contest Winners Announced


We are excited to announce the winners of our first-ever giveaway here at Novel Novice.

For three weeks, we gave you multiple opportunities to enter for a chance to win one of three copies of My Soul to Save by Rachel K. Vincent (courtesy Harlequin Teen).

The winners are:

Elizabeth

Hannah

Brooke

I e-mailed the winners this morning, and they have until March 14th to contact me with their mailing address … so if you entered the contest, check your inbox!

There are still more ways to win from Novel Noviceyou can win a signed copy of Beautiful Creatures and some Beautiful Creatures swag by entering our giveaway by Sunday, February 28th.

We also have some more book giveaways coming up in the next week — so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, if you didn’t win, but still want to check out My Soul to Save, it is now available in stores. Here’s a look at the book trailer: