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Out of The Ordinary~ Book Review

About the Book: 

Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail.

Out of the Ordinary

 My Review: The book starts off well. Gertrude is frantically looking for her employer– an older woman who has a terrible habit of coming into possession of things that don’t belong to her…

At first I thought, “This book is going to be good…” There was a lot of potential for humor, and creative characters. But… as the story went on, that’s all I saw: Potential.

Which is great, this author has great potential! She sets up scenes that are amusing, but really the characters are what I don’t like. As weird as it may sound, her characters talked way too much. Instead of having things happen, they only talked about things happening. In really long paragraphs. It was disappointing. I want to be where the action is, not reading about the characters talking about the action. The whole book seemed to be this way.

There were, in my opinion, too many characters as well. It could be hard to keep track of them all, and some of them seemed a bit unnecessary. (This is a book in a series, so maybe if I had read and ‘knew’ the other characters it would be easier to keep up with them.) That’s actually another thing I didn’t like so much about this book, it felt like a lot had happened and I would have known the characters a lot better if I had read the other books. Maybe that’s my bad though.

All in all, the book seemed to be very slow. Instead of action there was talking… instead of resolving problems by taking initiative and doing something, they would instead have extremely drawn out conversations about said problem. Honestly it made me think of an author trying to get a word count down, instead of having the polished final draft…

But like I said, I could tell the author had a lot of potential to be a hilarious author with a good story, this just wasn’t the best thing she could create. I’m not trying to be mean, but be truthful and maybe encourage her… 🙂

I got this book for free from the publishing company.

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An Exciting Announcement!!!

Late last week, a writing friend of mine, Taylor Bennett (you can check out her website here!), and I were planning a (REALLY COOL) secret project. If you follow either of us on social media, you may have seen us talking about it…

And today… WE GET TO TELL YOU WHAT IT IS!

Inkling Chats photo

Inkling Chats! Once a month, on the last Sunday of every month, Taylor Bennett and I will be hosting a chat, for writers! We’ll be talking about things every writer faces, every month, for thirty minutes!

You can follow us, and the hashtag to keep up with what is going on. Any topics you want us to cover? Do you plan to join in? We look forward to having you!

Also, you should look on the super awesome Go Teen Writers Website… they may or may not be posting about this soon! 😀

So this isn’t what I had planned for Writer Wednesday (and I actually had a writer Wednesday post written and scheduled! Can you believe it?) but this is pretty important too. 🙂

I’m so happy that I just happened to open up a document on my computer, saw that it said, “Inkling Chats” and opened it to see what it was all about. I had completely forgotten about it! I’m so thankful that Taylor was so onboard and excited about this (she made the super cool graphic!!!!) and that we were able to set it up so quickly so we could get this thing going to kick off in January!

Keep following along and you’ll keep seeing updates!

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Movie Monday! The Last Jedi…

So I realize I only did one Movie Monday post, and then… didn’t anymore. *cough* BUT I’m back with a movie review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
So this is approximately episode 8 million of Star Wars (right?)
Just like a lot of other fans, I was interested (but a little hesitant) when The Force Awakens came out a couple of years ago. I had heard such good things about it, though, that I had hopes that it would be good and I went to see it. It was… okay. Honestly, I view The Force Awakens more as fanfiction than actually part of the Star Wars movies.
Then Rogue One came out, and I really liked it! Now, the original Star Wars movies will always and forever be the best Star Wars movies out there, end of story. But for being a new Star Wars movie Rogue one was good because it was in the same universe, but did try to continue the Star Wars story (that ended in the original movies. You know, the one that most of the new Star Wars movies are trying to revive but are… not being successful…)
But anyways, that brings us to The Last Jedi.

 
I’m going to try my best to give you a review that doesn’t contain spoilers. 
So we started off watching the movie and…
It’s a repeat. The first half of the movie, I was honestly kind of bored because I hadn’t heard anything bad about this Star Wars movie, I’d only heard good things, and like, it’s Star Wars! I like Star Wars! (the originals, the true Star Wars movies) so I was kind of bored trying not to be, and then it got to one part and I was thinking, “This literally happened already. This exact same thing. Literally. Happened.”
The second half of the movie did get more interesting, but honestly it was…  all in all my impression of the movie was: boring. I want to say that it was disappointing, was it or was it my fault for having to high hopes? Would I watch it again? I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again, but if my sister bought and I might.
But really, here’s the thing.
Star Wars movies need to stop. I think one reason people liked Star Wars when it first came out was because it was original, but it was also so well thought out. Different worlds, languages, creatures, and an exciting storyline! So it made money and then people were like, “Let’s make even more money” and then their originality brain cells died and we’re left with disappointing attempts to carry on a great story (that has already ended. If that wasn’t clear. You know, when they vanquished evil.)
Now, I know I may sound bitter (and maybe I am a little 😉 )but I didn’t hate this movie. But… I didn’t really like this movie either. This is an example of how they need to quit while they’re behind…

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That’s a Wrap ~ 2017 edition

Well, another year is almost to an end. That’s weird, right? Time just slips by so quickly…

Before I get to my wrap up post, I just wanted to post a little something… at the end of 2016 I saw a lot of people talk about how happy they were that 2016 was over because it was such a bad year, and how they were so happy 2017 was coming… and now I’m seeing a bunch of stuff about how they’re so happy 2017 is over and 2018 is coming if they just hold on!

Just because you’ve had a hard time, don’t hate the year. 😉 (Though, if we’re being honest, I didn’t like 2015 much… I still think of it as a year I suffered from a lot of bad health…) A year is just a segment of time. If bad things happen, is it really a bad year? Really? Bad things can happen in a day, it doesn’t make it a bad day. Bad things can happen in a year, without completely ruining the year. If you’re going to remember all the bad things, you need to be fair and look for good things too. 🙂 ❤

Okay, anyway, to get back to my post… Today I’m going to remember 2017 and try to find a picture to share for each month! (Most of these pictures will be from my phone… I think I need to get it in my habit more to pull out my camera!)

  1. January.

I celebrated my birthday in January! The plan was to go see the movie Sing, but it was rainy that day and apparently a lot of people had the same idea… so we went to the mall and out to dinner at Red Robin because they have unlimited fries. Unlimited fries. Need I say more?

While we were at Red Robin one of our friends said, “You should get them to sing Happy Birthday to you, and then you get free ice cream.”

Since I’m allergic to milk I didn’t care, but I assumed he wanted the ice cream so I agreed. So they sang to me and I pretended to be excited, and then when the waiter walked away I gave the ice cream to him… and then he realized I was allergic. (And then Our waiter walked by and noticed I wasn’t the one eating the ice cream… XD)

Besides ice cream and my birthday, I started college in January. I may have thought I was going to die (more than once, lets be honest) but somehow I survived (and actually did pretty well?).

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2. February

February was pretty uneventful, but my sister and I did get a group of coworkers/friends together and went to see LaLa Land (which is not as good as people say it is, FYI.) Since I don’t know if they all want me to share a picture of them (even though we did get a group picture to commemorate) I’m going to share a picture of my mom and I playing with snapchat filters. 🙂 I remember sitting on the couch next to my mom and continually sending snapchats to my mom and sister. XD I’m easily entertained.

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3. March

I went to Florida in March. ❤ I love Florida. While I was down there, my sister and I went to Downtown Disney (some wrong people call it Disney Springs, but it’s Downton Disney. Trust me.) And you can’t go to Downtown Disney without admiring the lego creations that are there, like Buzz and Woody!

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4. April!

In April my sister got engaged, but I apparently don’t have a picture of her being really excited or anything. You know what I did bother to take a picture of? Florida. I guess you know where my priorities are…

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Leaving Florida is always my least favorite part. And the saddest part? This was the last time I went to Florida… hopefully I’ll have another Florida trip soon.

5. Up until the last few weeks (because I’ve been busy? Because my mind is still dead from school? Who knows…) I’ve been pretty active on twitter. While I get in Facebook and Instagram, I’m most active on Twitter.

And on a related note, you should totally make sure to take screen shots throughout the year. They can remind you of little, but important things. Like nice people who think you’re funny on twitter.

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6. June (half way mark!)

I had a dentist appointment in June. Super exciting. 😉 But because of that, I went to school right after, which means I got to school like an hour early, and found this pleasant little spot (and planned and murder mystery).

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It started because I thought, “This is where the unsuspecting college student would find a dead body.” Thankfully, I didn’t. (And because I didn’t take the summer off, I finished all the math courses I needed to get my Liberal Arts Degree. I’m getting there! Slowly…)

7. July…

July was pretty uneventful except… I bought my first car! I bought it from my sister, so it took me awhile before I started thinking of it as “my car” and not “Samantha’s car that I drive”. It’s a good little car though, and I like it!

Also in July we had my brother-in-law’s surprise birthday party! And here is a green picture of their lawn, I took trying to be artsy.

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8. August

In August a sweet girl on twitter, @HanneAsInHannah made me this collage! I love it.

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Isn’t it beautiful! ❤

9. September

In September my sister got married!

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Don’t worry, that’s not from her wedding but from her rehearsal. Which, in case you were wondering, I was starving. But we did have cupcakes, WHICH WERE AMAZING AND I ATE TWO AT THE WEDDING. NOT ASHAMED. (especially because after the wedding they disappeared. We didn’t eat them all, someone else took them home… XD)

10.

In October I hosted my Inkling to Write online writer’s conference! Because of that I got to know some cool writing people. I also have a few more pictures from October because I was challenged to do a black and white photo thing on Instagram. One thing I was excited about was….

Capture - Copy

I wrote a proposal for my story! I have nothing else about this I want to share (at the moment) but I thought writing a proposal was pretty cool. 🙂

11. November!

I love fall and in November the leaves started to really change colors! And that’s when the holidays really start to get started. November is a good month. (And there is NaNoWriMo, which I didn’t do, but it did make me want to write, and I wrote 7,000 words in one day. Not my record, but not bad either. 🙂 )

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12. December

And that leaves us with December. The last month of the year. The month of Christmas cheer. ❤

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Cheating a little bit because this picture is from last year (and last November at that!) but I really like it, and I don’t really have any picture from this Christmas season I love (yet).

Anyways, thanks for helping me remember 2017! It was a pretty good year. How about you? How was your year? I’d love to see you do one of these posts! If you comment your link, I’ll read your posts!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

(I realize I didn’t talk about Christmas that much in this post, but I just wanted to assure you that that doesn’t mean I’m not excited. I am still excited and Christmas crazy. This post just doesn’t happen to reflect that. 🙂 )

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An Inconvenient Beauty ~ Book Review

About the book: 

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she’ll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation.

Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after?

Book Cover

My Review:

Kristi Ann Hunter told a sweet story of love between to different classes. Isabella and her family come up with a scheme to lie to get what they want… but it doesn’t go as planned. As usual. 😉

Overall I thought this book was interesting and sweet, but there was one thing that stuck out to me and really annoyed me. It seemed with every chapter,  Isabella’s beauty was talked about again. And again. And again. I understand describing the way a character looks, but after a few times we readers get it. After a while I started to get the impressions that the main characters were actually vain, and cared a lot about appearances…

I also felt like their relationship was somewhat rushed. At the end of the book when they reveal having feelings for each other I felt like they really didn’t know each other that well. All in all, though it was an interesting story! I’d give it three out of five stars.

I got this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Birthday!

Three years ago today I finished one of my stories! Usually a “book birthday” is the day the book was released, but I’m considering this my book birthday, marking the finish of one of my stories. 🙂

In celebration of this, I decided to post the first chapter of the story on my blog! 🙂 (It’s not going to look formatted correctly going from a Word Document to my blog, but just pretend… ;))

(In other exciting news I’m done with my finals and have completed my first year of college! I was about to write high school… my brain has been dead for, like, two weeks, but I’m hoping it’ll come back to me during break…)

Chapter 1

 

Most of the time, I prefer to be alone, but every now and then I long to be with someone who truly cares about me.
Obviously Dad and Margie, my stepmother, must care somewhat, at least in a Florinda is still alive, right? Because I’m pretty sure accidentally killing her would look really bad way.
All I can say is when you’re alone, warm showers can act like the hug no one else is willing to give you.
A sigh escapes as the shower beats down on my back, relaxing my muscles. Taking a deep breath of the steamy air, I turn around and turn off the water. For a moment, I rest my forehead on the shower wall… just breathing. There is only ten minutes left for me to eat breakfast and get ready for school, but sometimes being in a rush is somehow reassuring, like it tells me, “You have some place to be. You’re here for a reason.”
The extra mile I jogged took more time than I thought it would. Training for a Suicide Awareness Marathon takes work- there is no way I’d be able to do that if I didn’t push myself. I dry off quickly and pull my hair in a messy ponytail.
When I get to the kitchen, Margie’s pouring herself a glass of orange juice and Bobby is in his highchair babbling something as he bangs his fists on his tray in front of him. My fingers run through his soft brown-red hair as I pass him on my way to the cabinet.
“Remember to look people in the eye.” Margie goes the fridge. She gets the milk and hands it to me. I nod and get a bowl out of the cabinet. She chews her lip for a moment, going over the same words she said to me every morning this week before school.
Here it goes. The speech she thinks is helpful. The speech I’ll smile and nod too and then completely disregard as soon as I get to school. At school I’ll have one goal—be invisible.
“Smile, and walk confidently.”
My head bobs up and down as I pour my cereal and milk, and get a spoon from the drawer. I continue my nodding, even though now that I’m crunching on my cereal I can’t hear a word she says.
Margie always nags me about going too fast, running too fast or eating too fast, and as I look down at the empty bowl I know—this time at least—she’s right. With nothing to give me an excuse not to listen I hear her rattle off her last few tips.
“Work hard, but try to make friends.” Her eyes plead with me. Plead that I’d give this place a chance, try to be happy. Sure I can try to be happy– I can even pretend, but I doubt I’d ever actually make it to being happy. With her in place of my mom? Yeah, I doubt it.
She smiles and reaches up to brush some of my corn-silk blonde hair behind my ear, but stops and pulls her hand back. “How has your first week at school been going?”
“Fine.” Surrounded by strangers and getting lost at least once a day. But how did she think I’d respond?
She nods. “Good.”
I shift from one foot to the other. I should probably tell her something. Thank you, maybe? Instead, I put the empty bowl into the sink and say, “I’ve got to go, or I’m going to miss my bus.”
Margie follows me to the back door and gives me a hug before I can prepare– before I can move away. “Bye, have a good day.”
“Thanks, I’ll see you later.” I pat Bobby on his head. “Bye, Bobby.” Grabbing my backpack I force a smile at them both. I go out the back door, but walk to the front porch to wait for the school bus.
A few minutes later the bus stops in front of the house. I pick up my backpack and start walking towards the bus. After slinking near the back of the bus, I slide into a window seat. I put my backpack on the seat next to me in hopes that no one will ask to sit there.
Chances are no one would ask to sit there anyway since I’m still new and haven’t gotten to know anyone, but just in case, I’m prepared. I hope.
I put on my headphones and listen to my mp3 player the entire trip to school.
When the school bus finally pulls into the parking lot, I grind my teeth together. It’s so big, and with so many people. Maybe one day I’d get used to it, but I guess it isn’t going to happen in the first week.
As I get off of the bus, I remind myself over and over, I will get through today and I will be fine. Just breathe and smile, I tell myself. It will be okay.
But…. if I was going to draw this school, what would it look like? The looming one story brick buildings don’t look all that scary, so why do they fill me with fear? To do these buildings justice with how it’s making me feel, I’d have to draw bars on the windows and cobwebs in the door frames.
“Come on, be positive,” I mumble under my breath.
In reality, the pearly white pillars in the front of the building seem to make it stand tall and proud. I stand behind a tree to block myself from the slight wind, but also to take a moment to prepare myself for going in.
Life is so much easier when I can bury my face in my sketchbook and block out the world with the music. Unfortunately, things like school often get in the way.
Several people glance at me as I weave between them to my locker. The hallway echoes the voices of every talking student.
All week Margie would ask me what my locker combination is—making sure I had it memorized. Not that I’m comfortable with Margie, but it’s so much easier to recall it when I’m not surrounded by strangers. Fortunately, it’s getting easier to remember. It had been much harder to remember on Monday, but it’s easier today. Hopefully I won’t forget it over the weekend.
A few minutes later, I have everything I need and I turn to the exit. The school is larger than I thought it would be when we first moved here—small town, small school, right? I guess not. Apparently every teenager from all of the neighboring small towns collaborates into this gigantic high school. I head out the main building that contains the gym, cafeteria, office rooms and lockers. Outside, as I stand under the covered walkway, I glance at the other buildings. Which one is my first class in?
It was the same questions every day. What’s my locker combination? Where is my next class? As far as first weeks go mine was fine, but next week should go even better. Pretty soon, I would automatically remember….
Pretty soon this all would be normal.
I start my best guess and start walking with my heart pounding as if I just went running. As I walk towards where I hope my first class is, I watch my fellow students. Some of them notice me, but too others I’m invisible, just the way I prefer it.
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Somehow I get my homework finished fairly soon, even though I keep doodling in the notebooks I’m supposed to using for school. A glance at the clock makes me smile. I have time for a walk before dinner. I grab my cell phone and mp3 player and hurry down the stairs where Margie is chopping up onions for dinner.
“Hey, Flo,” She greets me.
Flo. The nickname makes me want to gag. When Margie found out Mom made a special nickname for me, Rindy, I guess she thought I’d be all for having another nickname. “Hi. I’m going to go for a walk, ok?” I hold up my phone so she knows I can contact them if I need them. “I’ll be gone thirty minutes at the most.”
“Ok, I’ll see you later.”
Once I get on the road I put one of my ear buds in my ear and start a slow walk. Whenever I went for a ‘walk’ I never end up walking the whole time. Maybe Margie is right about me moving too fast, I always have to be going. My feet were made to run. I just can’t help it. The thrill of having the ground pass under my feet and the labored breathing is a strange, comforting reminder that I’m alive, that there is something to this life… or there seems to be.
Ten minutes later I get to a small park surrounded by houses. I sit down near a tree and pull put my mp3 player to switch to a different album. This would be a beautiful place to draw… maybe I could draw myself well here.
Whenever I sit down to draw myself, I always do it wrong. Somehow, no matter how big I drew the smile, it looks fake, no matter how I drew the eyes they always look like they were holding back tears. Obviously that can’t be how I look in real life or more people would notice me and ask me how I am… so why did I always see myself like that?
Closing my eyes, I lean against the tree, concentrating on the music and trying to ignore the nipping cold air. To draw this place properly takes more than a look at it. You need to get the feel of the place to draw it correctly. Maybe that’s why I always drew myself wrong, because on the inside I’m–
Beyond the soft music, I can hear someone coming, walking on the rocks by the swing set.
As soon as he is in view he stops in surprise. He smiles a little in a ‘I didn’t know anyone was here, but don’t worry—I’m not a killer’ kind of way.
So I smile back.
“I’m Sam Hamilton,” He moves his book from one hand to the other and sticks out his hand.
With my heart flipping, I reply in a wobbly voice, “Rindy.” I shook his hand. Why, why did I have to tell him my name is Rindy? Florinda, or even Flo like Margie calls me would’ve been so much better. No, though, I had to say Rindy. And with the nickname comes a flood of memories of Mom calling me that.
“You’re new around here?” His blue eyes meet mine.
His book is probably far more interesting than me… so why did he stop to chat?
“Yeah, just moved in. Have you lived here long?” Even if my heart is pounding so hard I can feel it in my chest, if a cute boy like him wants to talk to me, I should be polite.
“Yeah, almost two years.” Sam sits on the ground about two feet away and leans against his own tree.
I put my phone in my pocket.“What’s the book you’ve got?”
“Oh,Lord of the Rings.” He shifts his hold on the book so I can see the cover. “I was told by a friend to read it. Have you read it?
“No, I haven’t.” I start to stand. “I should go.” How can I just sit there and talk to a stranger like that? Just because he is an attractive stranger doesn’t mean I should just have a chat with him.
“Oh, no problem.” He stood also and steps closer to shake my hand. “It was nice to meet you. Rindy… right?”
I nod, looking up a few inches to meet his eyes. “It was nice to meet you too, Sam.”
As soon as I am a few steps away from Sam, I put my headphones back in and press play.
Dad is getting out of the car when I get home. He waits for me by his car, his jacket in one hand and his tie hanging loose around his neck. “Hi, Dad.” I give him a hug, my arms wrap around his waist. Maybe if I close my eyes hard enough or maybe if I hug him tight enough I can forget everything that happened in the last year.
He hugs me back, tightly. “How are you, Flo?”
I pull back with a sigh and shrug. “Fine.” The typical lie he doesn’t see through.
It isn’t his fault. Well, not exactly. Okay, so it is, but I can try to pretend it isn’t—he is pretty good at pretending after all.
“Let’s go see what Margie’s made for dinner.”
So maybe Margie’s only five years older than me, but if she makes Dad happy… I could live with her. Unfortunately I have no choice to live with her until my eighteenth birthday… which is coming right up at the end of June.
Dinner is pretty silent. Daddy tries to get conversation going, ‘How was your day’ ‘What did you do’, but Margie looks tired and I already said everything I want too.
“I bought chocolate pie today,” Margie smiles. She pats Dad’s hand. “I know it’s your favorite.”
Well, no, it’s Mom’s—specifically Mom’s– homemade apple pie, but I don’t say that.
“I’ll take a shower first, I think.” He stood up from the table, kisses Margie and leaves the kitchen.
Margie picks up Bobby and starts to coo, “Come on, Bobby, let’s read a story.”
I look at the empty seats at the table. If Mom were here… Nope. Not going there. I clear the table and fill the dish washer. I finish just as Margie and Dad come back to the kitchen.
“You going to have some pie, Flo?” Dad asks as he starts to get a few plates.
“No, thanks.” I dry my hands on the hand towel, and take a couple of small steps away from them. Enough so that it will be easier to make my escape, but not enough to be noticeable.
Dad and Margie sit at the table and get absorbed in chocolate pie and a conversation of their own, so I slip away upstairs to my room.
By habit, I pull out my sketchbook and a sharpened pencil. Ten minutes later my pencil marks are taking a shape of their own. With each line drawn on the paper, I try to push the events of today away. When I finish a picture of my high school, though looking dramatically more evil than it really does, stares up at me.
It’s getting late fast, so I prepare for bed and grab a book. Outside my bedroom window, I see raindrops soaring past and the dead Christmas lights decorating the house across the street. Who knew people left their Christmas lights up past December twenty-fifth? Dad is always adamant that they come off the day after Christmas. It was a little weird last Christmas. Margie expected the lights to stay up for a little bit afterwards, ‘just a week’ she said with a shrug. Down they came though, because what Dad wants, he works until he gets. Yet our neighbor has them up still, halfway through February.
I crawl into bed and cover up with my favorite red blanket. The sounds of the house might be different, my bedroom walls might be a different color, but there is something nice about having the same mattress under me, the same blankets over me, and the same familiar clean smelling sheets wrapped around me.
This is home, not chocolate pie, and forced conversation over spaghetti, not pretending we were a real family when we weren’t, but comfortable, wrapped up and warm

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5 Ways to Keep an Editor from Deleting You

Over the last couple of days we’ve gotten information on writing, and on self-publishing, and now Ms. White from White Fire Publishing is going to close us out on a post how on to keep an Editor from Deleting you! 🙂

5 Ways to Keep an Editor from Deleting You
By Roseanna White
WhiteFire Publishing

Getting an editor’s attention—and keeping it all the way through a proposal—is tough. Pinpointing the “right way” to do this is also tough. But you know what’s pretty easy? Pinpointing the wrong way to do something. 😉 So that’s what we’re going to cover today—those things that will get your proposal sent to the trash bin before an editor even opens it.

Let’s assume you’re doing cold calls, just sending out queries to publishers or agents you see online. Resist the urge to send out a query that sounds like this (and for reference, this is based on actual queries I’ve received, yes. Don’t laugh. Okay, laugh. I did.)

Hello Mrs. Rossana Black of WhiteBlazeAgency,

Do you want to represent the next bestseller? Well, I’m coming to you today with an opportunity to do just that! My fictional novel is destined to be the next Harry Potter and will appeal to everyone from age 9 to 90.

The Story of a Truly Great Lady is an epic historical fantasy love story thriller based on a true story that God revealed to me in a dream, in which He told me I must write this book and that it would save souls for Him. I know you want to obey the Lord, so please find attached the complete manuscript of Truly Great Lady as well as three chapters of the third book in the series, though I haven’t written the second yet. TGL is 400,000 words and is completed. I realize this is long, but I’m sure you’ll agree that nothing can be changed without losing the essence of the story God Himself gave me.

Please respond promptly, as if you don’t jump on this opportunity, I feel certain another publisher will.

Your Servant,
Jack Benimble

Ahem. Now, where do I start? Oh yeah—at the salutation.

Avoidable #1 – Get Your Info Right

Please, for the love of macaroni, do not misspell an editor’s name or, even worse, send them a letter made out to someone else! Sounds basic, I know, but it’s happened to me. Many times. Needless to say, I didn’t request anything from those people. If you don’t know the editor or agent’s name, that’s okay—a “Dear Sir or Madam” works fine, as does “To Whom it May Concern” or even “Dear Acquisitions Editor” or “Dear WhiteFire” (in the case of my house). But let’s note that my name is Roseanna, not Rossana. White, not Black. And it’s Fire in my publisher’s name, not Blaze or Rose or House. (Catch that one? White House? Tee heehee) For that matter, I am an editor at a publishing house, not an agent at an agency. I can’t tell you how many times I get letters obviously tailored toward agents—they mention representing them in one paragraph and then have changed later instances to publishing, but not all. If you’re not paying attention to these details in a 500 word cover letter, how am I to trust that you’ll pay attention to details in your book?

Avoidable #2 – Do Not Be Presumptuous

Again this might sound basic, but there are a lot of people who think that to sell their book, they have to make it out to be the best thing ever. Resist the urge—humility goes much farther than pride. Do not liken your book to an all-time bestseller. Do not claim your book will be the next one. And for goodness sake, do not make it sound as if you’re doing the publisher or agency a favor by submitting to them. That won’t gain you any points. And this applies to later parts of the sample query there, too. Don’t try to tell me this is what God wants—it may be, but that’s something we get to decide, not you. After all, it’s our money on the line. And one of the biggest presumptions—don’t say your book is perfect as is! It’s not, I can promise you that. We all have to change things, and saying up front you’re unwilling to do so will have an editor hitting that delete button before you can say, “But it’ll make you millions!”

Avoidable #3 – Know Your Target Audience

By telling an editor your book will appeal to everyone, you’re basically telling them you don’t know who you actually intend it for. Narrow it down. This doesn’t mean people outside your target won’t read it and like it, but you’re trying to tell the publisher to whom they should aim their marketing. Men or women? Kids or adults? Baby-boomers orMillennials? Even those books that have crossed generational barriers—Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the Hunger Games—had a target audience. And those audiences are very clear when you read the book. I might love Percy and his friends, but I could tell from the start that it was written for my daughter, not for me. It just so happens that great writing and amazing stories transcend their ages.So write your best story, and hope that it will appeal broadly…but had the publisher or agency a narrow target to aim at.

Avoidable #4 – Messing Up Your Book Description

I know we never want to be put in a box—but genres exist for a reason. They exist because readers can make decisions based on what genres they like. Genres equal readership. Sowe as authors should know our genre, and know it well. Don’t ever, ever call it a “fictional novel.” The redundancy makes us cringe. 😉 (Although, worse is to call it a “non-fiction novel,” LOL. I’ve gotten that one too!) Also don’t try to cover every possible genre in your description. It’s fine to say it’s “young adult fantasy” or “historical romance with an element of suspense.” But limit your terms to avoid confusing the agent or editor. You don’t want to make them have to puzzle out how to pitch your story to their team.

Avoidable #5 – Not Reading the Guidelines

My last point is this—each publisher has very specific submissions guidelines, both in the kind of books they want and how you can send them. Read them. If they say to send a query first, don’t attach anything. If they ask for a proposal, send the correct elements—don’t assume you know better what they want to see than they do. Pay attention to the particular things they’re looking for, and in what format they should be. When they ask for a manuscript in an attachment, don’t paste the first 50 pages in the body of the email. If they ask for the query to be the body of an email, don’t attach it. Each agency or house designs its guidelines for maximum efficiency—they need to be able to glance at something, make quick decision as to whether they want to see more or not, and move on. Following their guidelines at least keeps you from being an insta-delete.

So there you have your 5 simple steps to avoid getting deleted. Now, as for how to get a request . . . that’s another post. 😉 Have questions? I’m happy to answer them!

 About Roseanna:

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

Being educated at St. John’s College (the Great Books School) taught Roseanna to ask questions, to value conversation, and to never accept the simple answer without exploring it for herself. She and her family make their home in the mountains of West Virginia where she and her husband both grew up. Roseanna is a member of ACFW, a frequent speaker at writers events and small groups of readers, and an unabashed email addict

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