New to querying? This new (free!) tool will help you write one and avoid auto-rejections.

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Querying agents and publishers is hard. I know it because I’ve been there. When I first began looking into the process it was overwhelming. So many blog posts, and twitter tags, and dos and don’t and still I made simple mistakes that could have been avoided if I’d only read that one extra tweet.

When I finally got the querying process down, I tried to help others. I browsed Reddit, and writing forums, and Facebook, but the questions seemed to be all the same. So I decided that instead of repeating info, I was going to compile it into an easy to use tool for writers new to querying. I didn’t want it to be just another blog post. I wanted it to be more. A link anyone can post when someone says ‘how do I  write a query?’ and provide a complete answer.

The first thing I did was put together all the information I’ve gathered over the years. My first query was in 2015, so there’s a whole lot I picked up.

Second, I needed a website. So I went to the library and got the HTML5 and CSS3 All in One for Dummies book by Andy Harris. I took a month to read it, take notes, and figure it out until I felt ready to begin developing my vision.

And then, after weeks of writing (and rewriting) code and making it look the way I wanted to, Query Letter Builder was born. It has everything I wanted:

  • A pre-querying questionnaire to make sure you’re ready to query.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to write a query.
  • Tips on how to get your query noticed.
  • Warnings on how to avoid auto-rejections.
  • Resources for querying and getting critique/feedback.

Once I thought it was good to go, I emailed some agents asking for them to take a look and let me know what they think. The responses I got were incredibly positive! They thought it was a great resource for writers, even though they couldn’t provide a quote to avoid issues with it being promoted by the agency. I incorporated the few tips they had and now it’s available for everyone to use.

So if you, or anyone you know, is looking to begin querying, keep Query Letter Builder in mind!

Puss without Boots: A Puss in Boots Retelling by Shari L. Tapscott

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I have to say – what a cool cover!

And the name is intriguing to say the least. How many of us actually know the fairy-tale Puss in Boots? Growing up in Russia it was one of many French tales I enjoyed, and so I had to get this book.

It reminded me a lot of the Faerie Tale Collection Series by Jenni James. Cute and feel-good with insta-love and magic and just all those sweet and wonderful things fairy tales should be. It was gender-swapped with a few twists along the way, and I enjoyed reading it, wondering what would happen.

There were quite a few things that felt incomplete, like the point of Puss’s boots. I feel like if the author took just a little more time to think through the plot, it could have been a really great book. For a quick novella it was a fun read, but it left me wishing for more explanations, more development. A worthwhile between-books filler, well written and cute, but not quite satisfying.

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

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Huh. So apparently this is an old book (1991) that was recently reprinted. I saw it on Bookbub and the description made me curious. A girl finds out she may have been kidnapped from a milk carton photo? Sounds like a horror movie in the making.

Except it wasn’t. Every time the story could have taken a very dark turn, it went the opposite direction. Every time I thought I knew what was about to happen, I didn’t. Aside from the allusions to teen sex, it was very innocuous. Which was both a relief and a letdown.

I’m happy it was a short book, an in-between read that you can finish in a matter or hours. A safe but interesting plot. Worth the time and the wondering of what-ifs afterwards. I enjoyed it, but I’m ready for something a bit more heavy. Maybe it’s time for some real horror.

 

The End of Oz (Dorothy must die) by Danielle Paige

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Finally! I’ve been waiting to read this book for MONTHS. To finally find out what happens to Amy and Dorothy, to the witches and the fairies, to the Nome King and of course Oz itself.

I have to say I am thoroughly satisfied with this series. It felt more like a TV show of episodes than a book series, with cliffhanger endings and little resolution, but that’s not a bad thing. I enjoyed every single one of them and the story, while over, is still open for us to imagine more.

But, back to this book. If you’ve read the others in the series, you’d be surprised to find yourself reading parts from Dorothy’s POV. It definitely raised my eyebrow. I have to say, though, I really liked her conniving ways, and wish we saw her voice in the earlier books. I’m sure it was something Paige realized too late, but I’m glad she decided to go for it anyway.

I enjoyed getting to know a whole new world. Ev felt like a sexy secret vampire lair type world below while also being a Mad Max type of world above. The imagination behind this writing is incredible. Every creature seemed thought out and beautiful and terrifying. The smallest details bring them to life. I’ve never read books that put that much thought into the scenery and its denizens while not making it feel too descriptive.

Overall, a great series, and one I’m happy to finally complete. The books are short but each one brings something to the table. I truly wish to see this made into a movie.

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

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Ok, so I know this is going to sound horrible, but I almost didn’t pick this up because of the cover. It’s really creepy and I’m taken aback every time I see it.

But, I enjoyed The Selection and the premise of this novel was everything I love in a guilty pleasure sort of way. A royal girl pretends to be a maid to avoid an arranged marriage and escapes to a place far away? Yes please.

And I loved it. I loved it so much, in fact, I’m going to pick up the next one. I loved that it broke away from the romantic couple only accepting love at the end Beauty and Beast style trope. I loved that we actually saw characters transform throughout it. And there is so much more to find out. So many intriguing details I can’t wait to sift through.

It’s a fairy-tale but without magic, which I wasn’t expecting since it was compared to The Selection. I really have nothing to criticize, it was that good for me! Now if only one came out with an F/F and I’d be in heaven.

Overall, a great book if you’re into this sort of thing like I am.

Quality DNA by Beth Martin

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It’s so cool to see books you read in the beta stage get published. This book was one of my first beta reads, and it was a well-polished novel then. I liked it so much, in fact, I re-read it in its final form (and I very rarely do that because reading time = precious!)

Plot: In the future, due to overpopulation, each person is only allowed to have one child. DNA is monitored and men are sterilized after fathering an offspring. Except for some reason, babies are being born matching the DNA of dead men of exceptional talents, and it’s up to the social department’s investigator Irene to figure out how it’s possible.

First of all, I loved the diversity of this book. The main character is a lesbian woman, married to a bisexual Korean woman. You want to read it already, don’t you? Race, gender, and sexuality is represented not only well, but in abundance, and with no negative connotation. A+ in my book!

The characters are another big plus. No one is perfect or pure evil, just like in life. The relationships in this book, be it friends, family, or romance, are very real. I had genuine feelings when things happened to them.

The story itself is quite on the sci-fi side, and more than a dose of suspending disbelief is required. For many of the main points, such as the reasoning for population control, you just have to take them as is and not try to pick it apart. Enjoy it for what it is and you won’t be disappointed.

You can pre-order Quality DNA on Amazon.

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

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I told myself I was not going to read this book.

I love this series, but if there’s one thing that became a very strange procedural it’s that Mercy gets kidnapped, to the point of it now being comical.

So after finishing Fire Touched, I told myself that if the next book is about her getting kidnapped, I’m out.

And then, months later, I read the beginning of this book’s description:

“Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself ………..”

I stopped, wanting to bang my head against the wall. Why, Patricia? Why must you do this to me? I didn’t even bother writing down the release date.

Still, I couldn’t stay away – and I’m so glad I didn’t. This book was probably one of my favorites in the series. If anyone can make ten great books about kidnapping the same girl it’s this author.

We get sexy vampires, wolf POV (!!!), a little fairy magic, and a lot of cool scenery with it being in Italy and Prague.

Also: twists galore! So many wonderful surprises. I could not stop reading.

Overall, I’m really happy I continued on with this world because it’s awesome. And even if Mercy is kidnapped in the next one, I won’t let it stop me from reading it.