Agenting

Happy Pub Day to ASH PRINCESS!

It’s here it’s here! Happy Pub Day to Laura Sebastian and ASH PRINCESS!

It’s rare as an agent to read a client’s work first as a fan. I had that privilege with Laura Sebastian’s ASH PRINCESS, and I am so excited that today readers everywhere can dive into this beautiful, moving, wickedly engrossing series. Congrats Laura!

Get your copy today at Amazon, Indiebound, and B&N.

For fans of Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, ASH PRINCESS is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess—a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside. Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield. For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

What folks are saying:

Tense and imaginative, this story of a diminished yet vengeful princess inciting a rebellion to recapture her rightful place of power strikes a timely chord. Ash Princess is a smart, feminist twist on a traditional tale of a fallen heroine, with plenty of court intrigue, love, and lies to sweeten the deal. Good luck putting this one down.” —Virginia Boecker, author of The Witch Hunter series

“The story leaps and twists like a swordswoman, and its blade carves the characters anew and divides them against themselves. This searing page-turner is a compelling examination of the complexities of both evil and resistance.”—Sarah Porter, author of Vassa in the Night

“Laura Sebastian has created a dark and spellbinding epic in Ash Princess. Brace yourself, because Theodosia Houzzara—wounded, driven, and deadly—is going to carve out a place for herself in your heart.” —Sara Holland, New York Times bestselling author of Everless

“An emotionally complex, breathtakingly suspenseful series starter.”-Booklist

For fantasy fans, especially those who enjoy strong female protagonists, this book will be an easy sell. Theo is tough, honorable, and relatable in her emotions [and] Sebastian has built a beautiful and complex world.”-VOYA

“Delivering a narrative that crackles with political intrigue, powerful and debilitating magic, and the violent mechanisms of colonization…[Ash Princess will] submerge readers in a turbulent and enthralling plot.”-Kirkus Reviews

You can find Laura on twitter— go give her an e-high five today!

Advertisements

Ten Cliches That Make Agents Roll Their Eyes

f3fc3c45fd59bc3cb7fe8ad224519132Great books break these rules all the time. I’ll say it again: great books break these rules ALL THE TIME.

But here are ten cliches agents see so often in queries and samples, they make us go “ugh, not again.”

 

  1. Characters running hands through their hair. This move almost certainly springs from the era of Jonathan Taylor Thomas hair.

    2015-07-29-1438212463-9583390-hairgelformenlonghair-thumb
  2. Dead parents. It needs to be said, even though everyone does it, including me. But remember, grief is not a shortcut to character development.

    gsawredo2

  3. Redheaded best friends. Poor redheads, always relegated to the position of bestie. Also, why are best friends so often the fun one, while the hero is a stick in the mud? Yes, shyness is relatable, but it’s okay for your main character to be a firecracker, too.

    pretty-redhead-young-teen-girl-freckles-20448276.jpg

  4. Alcoholic moms, especially ones that drink boxed wine. Like ‘Busy Dad’, ‘Drunk Mom’ has become a shorthand for suburban ennui and inattentive, embarrassing parenting. Unless your story is truly about substance abuse, try and find a fresh way to signal mom is less-than-perfect.

    karen-box-wine.gif

  5. Car accidents! If you’re a parent in YA, you’re probably drunk or dead. If you’re a boyfriend, you’re probably two pages away from a horrible car accident. If Kaydan has to go, why not have him get hit by a falling tree, or skateboard into a meat grinder? Get creative!

    hqdefault

  6. Stories that open with characters moving to a new town. I’m not sure why this is such a common set-up, especially in YA and MG, but rather than kickstart the plot, this device can leave agents feeling like they’ve covering the same old territory. (Oops, slipped into “listicle” voice there. Sorry.)

    gettyimages-200299935-001_super-1

  7.  / being forced to spend the summer with grandparents / relatives / country bumpkins of any stripe. I think this one originated in romantic comedies, where the too-busy, too-snobby hero is brought down to earth by the love of a simple man. (There are actually quite a few great books that follow this trajectory, but again, agents see it too often.)

    190516_grandmother_grandkids-720x405

  8. Amnesia. In chapter one. A great story can explore a hero’s rediscovery of her past, and this plot device isn’t an instant turn-off to agents, but if you’re setting out on your first draft, this may not be the best place to start.

    giphy

  9. “I bet you’re wondering how I got myself in this situation.” Direct-address to the reader pulls us out of the story and reminds us we’re being narrated to. I think this is something we’ve picked up from movies and t.v., but in novels we’re ALREADY being narrated to, and don’t need reminding. We want to be immersed in your story and identify with your hero, not hear her monologue.

    1af

  10. Heterochromia. This is one of many writer shortcuts for ‘there’s something different / special about her.’ For some reason it’s usually attributed to girls rather than guys, and sometimes suggest the supernatural. Speaking of which, this picture is creepy.

    cc7b136cdf49bd8371e8d434459932d8

 

If you’ve already queried a sample with one or more of these elements, don’t panic. Agents look past this stuff to see what’s truly original about your work. BUT, while there’s nothing wrong with the above in an artistic sense, the best and most enticing writing feels fresh, so in the future, kill these darlings!

Are there any I missed? Add them in the comments!

Why Vickie Motter Might Break My Heart; Love Triangle Query Contest

Andrea Hurst agent Vickie Motter and I are squaring off next week in Cupid’s Literary Connection Love Triangle Query Contest. Here’s the tick: the *manuscripts* aren’t about love triangles, but Vickie and I will compete over manuscripts like jealous Lotharios.

What author wouldn’t want to be in a love triangle with two agents?

Hearts gonna break. Tears gonna flow. And someone might snare a representation agreement.

Entries accepted until January 20th. Check out Cupid’s site for details on how to enter.

Here’s the timeline:
Day 1 (Tuesday the 24th): Selected Entries are posted to blog for agents to review and public to comment on.
Day 2 (Wednesday the 25th): Agents come in and select ONE for a full request, then can make unlimited amount of partial requests and comments. *Once an agent has put a FULL on an entry it’s out of the race. The OTHER agent can notify me if they’d like that requested full after TWO weeks have passed. 
Day 3 (Thursday the 26th): Agents can use their SECOND full request, even if it overthrows the other agent’s partial request. More partial requests can be made at this point too.
Day 3 (4pm EST): Contest closes and agents are given ONE last full request to use. And who knows maybe they’ll surprise you with no additional request or even an extra. 
WINNERS will officially be announced on the blog and arrangements will be made for the requests.