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Posts Tagged ‘prince of light’

For those of us involved in an art form, be it writing, drawing, painting, photography, music, etc., we are always perfecting our craft. I think that’s part of what entices us about these arts in the first place. We are always learning and always growing. There’s really no limitations to what we can achieve if we practice and work hard.

As an author, I can already see how much my writing style has changed over the years. I’ve made wonderful connections and good friends since I first published Prince of Light. Back then, I thought getting an agent and a publisher would be a snap. (Yes, I was that naive.) After getting nothing but rejections on all of my query letters for PoL, I felt pretty discouraged. That’s something I think we’ve all experienced: the rejection pile.

It’s a long, hard road to traditional publishing. While some small presses will allow for unsolicited queries to be sent, the major publishing houses (i.e. Random House, Scholastic, Penguin, etc.) require all of their “pitches” to come straight from a literary agent. So once you’ve written that super special awesome book and polished it to the best of your ability, you need to write and even more super special awesome query letter.

I’m pretty sure that the query letter is harder to write than the book itself. There are several amazing resources available to give you an idea of what agents are looking for in a query. Two of my favorite sites are Query Shark (written by an actual agent) and Agent Query Connect. Query Shark is a blog with multiple examples of both good and not-so-good queries. I found it extremely helpful in giving a lot of examples of what agents are looking for.

Agent Query Connect allows you to talk directly with other authors to get their feedback on your query, synopsis, first 250 words, etc. There are both published and non-published writers there, so you really get a broad spectrum of opinions. I had some great feedback when I was finishing up the query for my current standalone YA story. (Just a side note, AQC’s primary site, Agent Query, is a pretty good database of agents and publishers. You can search by genre to see which agents are interested in your specific story.)

The other day I went through a bunch of my original emails to agents, when I first tried to query Prince of Light. For some of them I literally wanted to crawl in a hole and die of embarrassment. For others, I just shook my head.

So just for fun, I decided to post one of my (not quite as humiliating) early query letters and critique it myself, based on what I’ve learned over the years. Not only can I give you a bit of a laugh, but hopefully this will give you a little inspiration and confidence in your own projects. At the time I couldn’t understand why no agent was interested. Now, I certainly do.

Here’s the original query I sent, italicized for better readability:

Dear Agent,

Celestyn: Master of every weapon he touches. Heir to the throne of the elven kingdom. Destroyer of any who dare get in his way. Alone for all eternity.

Seventeen-year-old Evanthe finds herself held prisoner in an unknown castle after an attack on her village renders her homeless. When the first living thing she meets is an imposing half-dragon, half-man beast, her only thoughts are how she can stay alive long enough to find her family. Strange and often frightening creatures seem to be around every corner (which actually makes having a dragon-man beast for a bodyguard come in rather handy). She is befriended by the handsome young mage, Delanor, knowing only that he is keeping her hidden from a dark presence that is shadowing her every movement. When she catches a glimpse of the man that is supposed to be so deadly to her, however, she finds her heart is full of conflict, for she is being sought after by the rogue elfin prince, Celestyn.

And he is by far the most beautiful being that she has ever laid eyes on.

Though she is frightened by his cold cruelty, Evanthe finds it very difficult to resist the ethereal, god-like prince. She will eventually have to choose between the two men that she has come to love and, even worse, between the few fellow humans that have also crossed into the land and the newly-made friends she has grown to care for.

PRINCE OF LIGHT is every fangirl’s dream book, containing everything from a hot elf and shapeshifters of every kind to battle scenes that would send even Percy Jackson into hiding. (Not to mention a love triangle worthy of any Twilight fan.) This medieval fantasy is complete at approximately 89,000 words in length.

While I have never had any of my works formally published, my short story entitled “Range of Vision” won an honorable mention at the 2009 Nature of Words Writing Competition and is included in their anthology. I also worked at a public library for six years, primarily with teens, which allowed me to be immersed in young adult literary fiction. I feel that PRINCE OF LIGHT would be a great addition to any young adult publisher based on the feedback that I’ve already received from both teens and adults alike.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Yup. That was it. Now allow me to critique my own work, based on what I’ve since learned about the industry. My comments are in red:

Dear Agent,
(Just as a side note, always personalize your query letter. This is just an example, so I didn’t put an actual name, but in a real letter definitely use an agent’s name and make sure you spell it right. Also? Only send one letter per agent. Don’t group send several agents at once; they really don’t like that.)

Celestyn: Master of every weapon he touches. Heir to the throne of the elven kingdom. Destroyer of any who dare get in his way. Alone for all eternity.
Ooooookay, problems right from the get-go. This doesn’t really work as a hook for several reasons. For one, it’s super generic and a little cliché. Secondly, the story isn’t even written from Celestyn’s point of view, so none of this matters. Always start your query letter with a good hook, usually just one or two sentences, that will immediately grab the agent’s attention.

Seventeen-year-old Evanthe finds herself held prisoner in an unknown castle after an attack on her village renders her homeless. When the first living thing she meets is an imposing half-dragon, half-man beast, her only thoughts are how she can stay alive long enough to find her family. Strange and often frightening creatures seem to be around every corner (which actually makes having a dragon-man beast for a bodyguard come in rather handy). She is befriended by the handsome young mage, Delanor, knowing only that he is keeping her hidden from a dark presence that is shadowing her every movement. When she catches a glimpse of the man that is supposed to be so deadly to her, however, she finds her heart is full of conflict, for she is being sought after by the rogue elfin prince, Celestyn.
This is character soup. Only main characters need to be introduced, and even then it should be kept to a minimum. Who is the main character? What are her goals? What stands in her way? None of that is really answered with this paragraph. The voice isn’t necessarily horrible, but it’s certainly not as strong as it could be.

And he is by far the most beautiful being that she has ever laid eyes on.
While perhaps an interesting factoid, this doesn’t actually bring about a conflict, so it’s kind of pointless.

Though she is frightened by his cold cruelty, Evanthe finds it very difficult to resist the ethereal, god-like (Ugh, why so many adjectives?) prince. She will eventually have to choose between the two men that she has come to love and, even worse, between the few fellow humans that have also crossed into the land and the newly-made friends she has grown to care for.
Too much description, not enough plot. And again, there isn’t any conflict until it’s mentioned that there are other humans in this world.

PRINCE OF LIGHT is every fangirl’s dream book, containing everything from a hot elf and shapeshifters of every kind to battle scenes that would send even Percy Jackson into hiding. No. Just…no. (Not to mention a love triangle worthy of any Twilight fan.) SWEET BABYBACK RIBS, NO. I am truly ashamed that I sent this to agents. And that I thought it was good. This medieval fantasy is complete at approximately 89,000 words in length.
All the final line should say is “PRINCE OF LIGHT is a young adult medieval fantasy complete at 89,000.” If you have some comp titles, that’s fine, but it’s not a requirement. Also, always round up or down your word count when writing a query, and do capitalize the title for this part of the letter. At least I got that part…

While I have never had any of my works formally published, my short story entitled “Range of Vision” won an honorable mention at the 2009 Nature of Words Writing Competition and is included in their anthology. I also worked at a public library for six years, primarily with teens, which allowed me to be immersed in young adult literary fiction. I feel that PRINCE OF LIGHT would be a great addition to any young adult publisher based on the feedback that I’ve already received from both teens and adults alike.
Honestly, I didn’t include any of this information when I sent out the queries for my newest project because none of it matters. Unless you have a previously published work, and sorry, most self-published books don’t count, just leave out any credentials. (I’ve been told the exception to self-published books is if you’ve sold 100,000 copies or more. But that’s SOLD, not just downloads.) If you have a lot of short stories published or the like, that seems to be semi-okay to send along, but in that case it seems to depend on the agent and their personal preferences.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
I think this is pretty much the only line that I got halfway right.

So there you have it. And as I mentioned, this is my so-called “improved” version. It’s just so…bad. Not because the writing is bad, because structurally it’s pretty sound, but because I didn’t know the business. Agents receive literally hundreds of query letters a day, so it is absolutely vital that you make your story stand out from the slush pile.

It’s helped to see how far I’ve come, which is why I sometimes go back and view my earlier writings. As I continue to work on book two in the Prince of Light series, I already have an idea for the description, which is light years ahead of where I was when I finished book one. (And yes, that book really will get finished at some point. I promise.)

To my fellow writers, I have to encourage you to NEVER GIVE UP. Your first book may never get published, traditionally or indie. That’s okay. Keep writing and keep reading. If this is your passion and it’s what you know you want to do, learn all that you can and just keep going. You will improve.

Best of luck!

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The downside to being sick is that…well, you’re sick. The bright side (if you’re an author) is that you have lots of time to write and edit and review. So, whilst I was hacking up a lung this last week, I prepared for a promotion on book one. Prince of Light is available in e-book format for just $.99 for the next two days! Price goes up from there to $1.99, so grab it while it’s still cheap.

Check it out!

I’m so excited to share Evanthe’s story, and I’m really pounding away at book two. Believe me, the extra time for rewrites will make it a much better story in the long run. (Oh, Plot Holes, how I despise thee…)

Just to get you a little more excited, I’ve got another character profile. Even though it’s been, like, forever since I posted one. You were just chomping at the bit, right?

Character Profile #3:

Tak Sakaguchi as Yashamaru in Shinobi. I tried to find a better pic, but Google can only take you so far, I guess.

Tak Sakaguchi as Yashamaru in Shinobi. I tried to find a better pic, but Google can only take you so far, I guess.

Name: Delanor
Age: Unknown, but has served Prince Celestyn for nearly three centuries.
Gender: Male
Physical Appearance: 5’ 11”, 170 lbs. Shoulder-length, straight black hair, golden eyes, gray-blue skin.
Family: Unknown at this point.
History: Was rescued in by Prince Celestyn when he was very young. He was discovered alone in a village, where he was horribly abused because they feared his powers. He has kept to himself for many centuries, until the arrival of Evanthe made him discover a first real friend.
Any nicknames? The members of the Revenant often refer to him as “Snake-mage” because of his unique features and abilities.
What kind of personality does this character have? He’s an introvert, but very loyal. He is devoted to Prince Celestyn, especially since the death of Prince Vladmyr. Not even his feelings for Evanthe can make him sway from his vow to serve.
Likes: Enjoys training for battle and reading/studying.
Dislikes: Confined spaces.
Greatest fear? That Prince Celestyn might be killed in the same brutal fashion as his brother. A servant with no master has no real home.
Favorite Color(s): Doesn’t have a particular favorite, though his robes are usually dark shades of green, blue and red.
Strengths: Is actually a brilliant tactician when it comes to battle strategy. Is capable of controlling all of the elements and is a master of hand-to-hand combat. Also deadly fighting with a staff.
Weaknesses: He doesn’t allow himself to open up to others. While that has saved him some heartache, it has given him a lifetime of loneliness as well. Evanthe is the first person that he’s ever trusted, apart from Prince Celestyn.
What actor could you picture playing this character? It may come as another surprise to people but I always pictured Delanor with Asian features. I could always imagine Tak Sakaguchi (a Japanese martial artist and actor) playing the part of Delanor, especially after I saw him in the movie Shinobi. With that costume and hair, he could be Delanor easily.

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Unfortunately, the last several days I’ve been down with what feels like the flu. So what does an author do with that sort of free time? Well, the main answer is keep writing. (Book two is coming right along!) In my case, you also come up with a giveaway, woot! That’s right, the paperback version of Prince of Light is FINALLY available.

Go to Goodreads to check it out. (Note: Must be a member of Goodreads to enter the contest. Yeah, I know. But it’s a pretty cool site and why are you not on it anyway??) 😀

Good luck!

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Another Happy Star Wars Day to you all! I can’t believe it’s come around yet again. By far the best part about this year’s Star Wars Day is that BROTHER IS COMING HOME FROM COLLEGE. *squee!* Yes, this is the same brother who plays video games for me. He’s my favorite sibling! Okay, so he’s my only sibling. But he’s still my favorite.

I don’t know about you fellow geeks, but I am positively quivering with excitement over the movies coming out this summer. We’ll have Iron Man 3, the new Star Trek, and (my personal favorite) THOR 2! What’s a fangirl to do? (The correct answer to that is watch them all.) Seriously. Amazing. Have you seen the trailer to Thor 2? Have you? HAVE YOU? My favorite part is knowing that Loki will be in it, however small the part. I heart Loki. Yes, I have a bit of a villain fetish. They’re usually such wicked cool characters. Literally.

I have no idea who drew this awesome picture, but I love it. Love, love, love!

I have no idea who drew this awesome picture, but I love it. Love, love, love!

Anyway, I know what I’ll be saving my pennies for this summer. Sure, we might be poor, but dang it, these movies were made for the big screen. It would be an insult to the special effects crew to watch them anywhere else first. So says me. I’m even thinking ahead to next year’s calendar. I have an awesome Legend of Zelda one at work right now, but perhaps a Thor one will be there next year. Must ponder that.

These are the kinds of movies that make me wish that someone would snatch up Prince of Light. I can picture the special effects in my head already, and I just know that if it was in the right hands, it would be incredible. The biggest challenge that I’ve had in writing book two is making sure that the action level is just a great if not better than book one. I almost outdid myself with the first book’s action sequences, and now I find myself staring at my Word document and thinking, “How am I going to top that? It was epic.” I’ll manage, I’m sure. (If not, the readers will let me know.)

I’m still too giddy from all the fantasmic movies coming out this year. I think I’ll go re-watch The Avengers to satisfy my palette a little until then.

Obviously I do not own Star Wars, Thor, or any of the images. I only wish that I had thought up ideas that cool. I know you know that, but I still have to cover my behind. 😀

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Alrighty, then. *dusts off blog* I guess it’s been a while. I’d like to say that I’ve been oh-so busy with writerly-related things…but I haven’t really. I’ve just been busy. Though I am now on about chapter 12 of the sequel to Prince of Light, so it hasn’t been a total waste. I think.

I’m not entirely sure how much writing I’ll get done this weekend, either. I get to dog-sit for some friends of ours, which is great, but time-consuming. Hunter’s a good dog, don’t get me wrong. But I’ll have THREE dogs to handle all by myself for three days, which makes me inadvertently twitch just a little. That’s right, Husband will be out of town, so it’s just me. All. By. Myself. *twitch*

She looks so innocent, right? Queen of the Puppy Eyes, that's what she is. Until she turns into barking, spinning, furry pile of evil.

She looks so innocent, right? Queen of the Puppy Eyes, that’s what she is. Until she turns into barking, spinning, furry pile of evil.


Last week, I had the brilliant idea to start training my dog, Samus, to be a licensed therapy dog after watching a really cool video of therapy dogs that visit our local hospitals. Samus absolutely loves people and gets along well with other animals. She has an alpha personality, so she’s not afraid of new places or situations, and she’s pretty obedient. In my confidence, I proudly posted the idea on Facebook, relishing in the fact that it garnished some “likes” and supportive comments.

Which is precisely why Samus decided to act like she was on speed when our friends came over to introduce their dog to ours. Spastic doesn’t even begin to cover it. I tried to nervously laugh it off while they were there. You know how it is. There I am, “Heh heh, she’s usually so obedient! Samus come here. No, really. She almost never barks…“ – cue deranged barking for no reason whatsoever – “…and she’s usually so laid back…” – this is where she starts spinning in circles over and over without stopping – “…She’s just a gem! Ha ha, Samus come here. Uh, yeah this was the one that I was thinking of training to be a therapy dog. SAMUS. COME. HERE.”

Aaaaaand that’s pretty much how it went the whole time. She couldn’t stop dancing around when Hunter came close to her, like “I HAVE A NEW FRIEND I HAVE A NEW FRIEND I HAVE A NEW FRIEND…OMG OMG OMG!” (Gretchen, Husband’s German wire-hair, just did her own thing like usual. She doesn’t really care one way or the other about other dogs. She might sniff a friendly “hello,” but then she’s off to explore wherever she feels like.)

Seriously, it’s not like Samus hasn’t ever seen any other dogs. We’ve had so many random dogs dumped on given to us by other people, well, I’d say it wasn’t even funny anymore, but all I can do is laugh at this point. We’ve found homes for all of them, thankfully, but it does mean that my dog has, in fact, interacted with other animals before. So why she decided to prance around like a freak is something I’ll never quite understand. Other than to embarrass me, of course.

We might give her a couple more years before we try the therapy dog thing. A couple years and a lot more training. And she will like it. Or else. *glare*

In the meanwhile, I’m going to prepare for this upcoming weekend. Which, of course, means lots of cupcakes. (Chocolate or candy bars just don’t cut it for me. It has to be cake of some kind, and cupcakes are THE BEST.) Wish me luck, and while you’re at it, check out the awesomesauce review that the lovely Nayu posted on Prince of Light. It made my day! I still go back to read it every so often, especially when I need a little encouragement.

And if you like anime (probably more along the shojo lines of things) and book reviews, start following her blog. She has some great info and her posts are always entertaining!

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Woohoo! This is officially my 50th post. Quite the accomplishment, I think.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect to celebrate, because the lovely T.J. (who let me be a guest on her blog earlier this month) is hosting a giveaway for Prince of Light. Seems to be fitting, don’t you think? The winner(s) will have their choice of either an e-copy or paperback.

Details and entry form here.

I’m really excited for the paperback version to be finally available. It’s pretty sweet, if I do say so myself, though I might be a *tad* biased. You can read more about Prince of Light here at Amazon. Join me in the celebrating, will ya? A party’s no fun by yourself!

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Things like THIS make my day! Excuse me, but I feel the need to go do a happy dance somewhere. *happy dance*

I was reading Nayu’s blog the other day, and she mentioned having a “go-to” movie for when she just wanted something familiar. You know, that one movie that’s your all-time favorite that you could watch over and over and never get sick of it. The movie that you can quote forwards and backwards that’s always the first one that you pop in when you’re sick on the couch. I think I have too many go-to movies to list entirely, but some of my top faves include The Patriot, Hellboy II, The Princess Bride, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The first two are obviously my action/drama picks, and the second two are my comic reliefs. It depends on what I’m in the mood for.

The Patriot was the first R-rated movie that I ever saw in the theater. (And yes, I was 17. I’m boring like that.) I went with my dad for a “father-daughter” date. I remember how heart-wrenching it was to watch, but how proud I felt of our country by the end. Honestly, I wish we as Americans could remember what our country was founded on and how many men and women gave their lives for our freedom. I think we tend to take it for granted nowadays. (Myself included.) But it’s a movie that stirs me even to this day, so I tend to watch it on a semi-frequent basis.

Seriously, love this movie. *nomnomnomnom*

Seriously, love this movie. *nomnomnomnom*



Hellboy II: The Golden Army
actually helped inspire Prince of Light. I fell in love with Prince Nuada (fangirl squee!), and his character was a big part of crafting Prince Celestyn. I like to think of Prince Celestyn as a mixture of Prince Nuada, Link from Legend of Zelda and Elrond from Lord of the Rings. I will watch Hellboy over and over just to see Prince Nuada fight. *wipes drool from keyboard* Ahem. Moving on.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite of ours for as long as I can remember. I could probably quote the whole thing if I really tried. I’m still shocked at the number of people who haven’t seen it or even HEARD of it. They stare at me blankly when I cry out, “You killed my father – prepare to die!” It’s inconceivable. Really.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights is my all-time favorite Mel Brooks movie. Yes, it’s kinda dirty, but gosh-darn if it isn’t funny. I don’t like all Mel Brooks films. Some of them go too far for my taste. But as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing better than Robin Hood, Spaceballs, and Young Frankenstein when it comes to slapstick comedy.

So, since I’ve already mentioned Prince Celestyn once, we might as well make the next character profile his!

Character Name: Prince Celestyn (pronounced “SELL-uh-steen”)
Age: 648 years old
Gender: Male
Physical Appearance: 6’, 170 lbs. Light skin, long white hair, pointed ears. As an elf, he is naturally graceful but he is also exceptionally strong from years of training.
Family: Father is King Branimir of the Realm of Lior. Younger brother is Prince Acanthus. His mother died when he was just a child, and his older brother, Prince Vladmyr, was killed roughly three centuries ago.
History: He never really got over his brother’s death, and it was the reason that he left the Realm of Lior. He and Vladmyr had just discovered and rescued Delanor when his brother was taken and brutally murdered. Consequently, Celestyn became a rogue and decided he wanted nothing to do with wearing the crown. After meeting Evanthe, however, he begins to realize that he is growing tired of being alone.
Any nicknames? Not many are that familiar with him, though Acanthus sometimes refers to him as “Cel” to remind him that he no longer really has a kingdom.
What kind of personality does this character have? Elves are quite aware of how powerful their presence is, and Prince Celestyn understands much in the ways of the world. Though he has been through many hellish circumstances in his lifetime, he carries himself with confidence and authority. Some may see him as brutal, but those close to him know that he is capable of kindness when he chooses.
Likes: Training, combat, forging swords, reading.
Dislikes: The Others, the Eagle tribe.
Greatest fear? In truth, he doesn’t really have any fears anymore. Vladmyr’s death took those away.
Favorite Color(s): Green.
Strengths: He is a master of the sword. He was trained by the greatest elven warriors when he and his brother were young, and has managed to learn multiple weapons over his lifetime. His natural speed and agility as an elf have served to make him virtually unstoppable in close-range battle. He also possesses the ability to control some elements.
Weaknesses: Pride and the inability to believe in the good in others. Years of war and hatred have hardened his heart.
What actor could you picture playing this character? No one at this time, sadly. Just please don’t let it be Orlando Bloom or Robert Pattinson. PLEASE.

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