It’s probably clear enough that as a literary agent and writer, I’m crazy about books.  I’m guessing that if you’re following me here or on Twitter or elsewhere, that you are as well, making you all absolutely brilliant and tasteful and MY KIND OF PEOPLE!  Thus, I thought you might be interested in this spate of book-and-library-themed books.  And please, please, please add to this list in comments.  My TBR pile, while threatening to collapse the second floor of my house straight down to the foundation, can never truly be high enough!  In fact, if you comment below, your name will be entered to win an audio download of THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY (name drawn next week).

In order of publication:

invisible library THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman…this novel has everything.  Seriously.  Fans of Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, The Librarians, steampunk or just a great read will love this book.  Just check out the cover copy:

The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor who with librarian spies!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

inkandbone_FINAL INK AND BONE by Rachel Caine (coming July 7th)…what a wonderful, tense, amazing start to a new series with a Harry Potter-esque flavor and yet a world all it’s own.  I can’t find the words to do it justice, so I’ll again defer to the cover copy:

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

[Doesn’t that sound awesome?]

And while we’re on the topic of Rachel Caine, have you all read her incredible PRINCE OF SHADOWS?  It’s a retelling/reimagining of ROMEO AND JULIET from the point of view of Benvolio, who’s got some secrets and intrigues all his own.  Yes, I know, this is a play rather than a book, but since I first read it in that form (as a Penguin Classics paperback, I believe), I’m counting it toward my book-and-library-themed books!

alice ALICE by Christina Henry (coming in August, and not nearly soon enough!)…her publisher starts their cover copy with, “A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll…”  I can’t think of a better one-liner.  This novel is psychological, brilliant, gritty, unique, brilliant…oh, did I say that already?  The copy continues:

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

[Also if you like Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland, you HAVE to check out Gena Showalter’s White Rabbit Chronicles, available now!]

What else, book folk?

First on my “To Do” list for the day is shout from the rooftops that EDGE OF DREAMS, the second novel in Diana Pharaoh Francis’s Diamond City Magic novels, is out!  This series has such a unique setting and magic system that, well, I think you should check it out for yourself.  Different and exciting, gritty and dangerous, magical and edgy…all that and more.  You can read the first chapter here.

Edge-of-Dreams-small-200x300 EDGE OF DREAMS by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Amazon, B&N)

Praise for Edge of Dreams:

“When we last saw tracer Riley Hollis, she had just been outed as a tracer of extraordinary talent, which means she now has a target on her back. For book two in her Diamond City Magic series, Pharaoh Francis wastes no time thrusting Riley into peril. Good pacing, a complex and layered plot and intriguing characters illustrate why the author delivers such amazing reads!” —Romantic Times, Top Pick 4 1/2 stars review

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

And a pound of flesh.

Magical tracking expert Riley Hollis is on a mission to save five teenagers lost inside a mountain. But nothing is what it seems, and soon Riley finds herself bruised, bloodied, and embroiled in a battle to bring down a sadistic criminal dealing in human souls and the darkest of magics.

Her only hope may be to swallow her pride and ask for help from her not-quite-ex-boyfriend and his notorious brother—Tyet criminal boss, Gregg Touray. Even that may not be enough to protect her. Something has gone very wrong in the trace dimension and in Riley’s head.

If she doesn’t figure out how to handle the past, the present, the trace, and the bad guys, the road to hell is going to look like a great alternative.

Quotes for the first Diamond City Magic book, TRACE OF MAGIC:

“Francis, a master at creating kick-ass heroines and fast-paced-action romance, starts a new series set in a gritty metropolis situated in and around a giant Rocky Mountain caldera where diamonds are mined and epic snowstorms necessitate doors on the second and third floors of buildings just to give winter access… page-turning urban-fantasy romance that will appeal to readers who like suspenseful, paranormal crime integrated with sizzling-hot lovemaking. Booklist

Trace of Magic sets a new gold standard for paranormal mystery, suspense and romance. It left me wanting more, more.” —Bitten by Books

Trace of Magic is a wonderful start to the Diamond City Magic series and Riley Hollis is one of new favorite Urban Fantasy heroines.” —The Quillery

“Wonderfully fun read! The perfect mix of magic, sleuthing, action, and romance—with a likeable, wise-cracking heroine in a dangerous, well-developed world. I couldn’t put it down.” —Barb Hendee, Co-Author of the Noble Dead Saga

“Best book of the year! Best new character of the year! Best new series all year! I. Loved. This. Book. You gotta read it.” — Faith Hunter, author of the bestselling Jane Yellowrock series

“When an exceptional author kicks off an exciting new series, it’s reason to rejoice. From the start, Diamond City, located in an old volcano caldera in Colorado, is nearly a character itself as its denizens are stuck in the middle of a magical gang turf war over diamonds and drugs…. The action is nonstop and the danger palpable in this amazing tale.” – Romantic Times Book Reviews, 4½ Star Top Pick!

“Diana Pharaoh Frances has crafted a winning paranormal mystery that mixes sizzling sex, magic, and a decades old search for artifacts that could change their world.” —Jeanne Stein, Bestselling Author of The Anna Strong Chronicles

Trace of Magic caught me up fast and pulled me in tight for a fun, action-and-sass adventure full of deadly magic and dangerous romance. Diana Pharaoh Francis delivers a downright terrific read.” —Devon Monk, nationally Bestselling Author of HELL BENT

“A vividly written world of magic and kick-ass action.“ —D.B. Reynolds, Bestselling Author of The Vampires in America series

“A kickass thrill ride with magic, sex, guns and mystery.” —John Hartness, Bestselling Author of The Black Knight Chronicles

I know, I know, I missed blogging all last week.  Apparently, it is possible to shut me up. It just takes a horrible sinus infection and a bout with pink eye to do the trick.  After a week of antibiotics and ointment, it’s now possible for me to climb stairs without dizziness, breath out of both sides of my nose and even see straight.  Wow, the things you take for granted on a day to day basis.

Anyway, that means I’m behind reporting on the California Dreamin’ Conference in beautiful sun-shiny Brea, California.  The conference had some wonderful guests, including me, Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary, Erika Tsang from Avon, Sue Grimshaw from Random House/Loveswept,Courtney Miller-Callihan from Greenburger Associates, Brenda Chin from ImaJinn/Belle Books, Jennifer Miller from Samhain Publishing, Liz Pelletier from Entangled and Jill Limber from Boroughs Publishing. Author guests included Vicky Dreiling, Debra Mullins, Chris Marie Green, Sylvia Day, Crystal Jordan, Lisa Kessler, Tessa Dare, Susan Squires, Beth Yarnall and many others.  I hear that April Kihlstrom did a great Book in a Week workshop and there were other wonderful presentations on marketing, the state of the industry, editing, conflict, writing sex scenes and just about anything you might want to learn.  Unfortunately, I missed the big signing on Sunday, but all for a good cause – the christening of my new niece River, who is the cutest, sweetest, most wonderful baby in the world.  (Note: I may be slightly biased.)

Well, I’ve dealt with the past.  Now on to the present – new releases!  As many of you might know already, Faith Hunter’s latest Jane Yellowrock novel, DARK HEIR, is out today.  Not to oversell it, but it is amazing and you must all run out and get your copy.  Yes, that’s an order.  I’m bossy that way.  And if you haven’t already picked up Ramez Naam’s award-winning NEXUS and CRUX, now’s your chance.  NEXUS was reissued last month in mass market and the new mm edition of CRUX comes out today…both just in time for the explosive climax of the series, APEX, coming May 5th in trade paperback and electronic form.  And we’ve just heard about another new award nomination, so congratulations to Mez on finaling in the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for the French edition of NEXUS!

dark heir DARK HEIR by Faith Hunter

Shapeshifting skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is the best in the business when it comes to slaying vampires. But her latest fanged foe may be above her pay grade…

For centuries, the extremely powerful and ruthless vampire witches of the European Council have wandered the Earth, controlling governments, fostering war, creating political conflict, and often leaving absolute destruction in their wake. One of the strongest of them is set to create some havoc in the city of New Orleans, and it’s definitely personal.

Jane is tasked with tracking him down. With the help of a tech wiz and an ex-Army ranger, her partners in Yellowrock Securities, she’ll have to put everything on the line, and hope it’s enough. Things are about to get real hard in the Big Easy.

______________________________

Faith Hunter is the New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series, the Rogue Mage novels, and the upcoming Soulwood trilogy. She lives near Charlotte, NC.

crux mass market CRUX by Ramez Naam

Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5.  The world is a different, more dangerous place.

In the United States, the terrorists – or freedom fighters – of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies. In Washington DC, a government scientist, secretly addicted to Nexus, uncovers more than he wants to know about the forces behind the assassinations, and finds himself in a maze with no way out.

In Thailand, Samantha Cataranes has found peace and contentment with a group of children born with Nexus in their brains. But when forces threaten to tear her new family apart, Sam will stop at absolutely nothing to protect the ones she holds dear.

In Vietnam, Kade and Feng are on the run from bounty hunters seeking the price on Kade’s head, from the CIA, and from forces that want to use the back door Kade has built into Nexus 5.  Kade knows he must stop the terrorists misusing Nexus before they ignite a global war between human and posthuman. But to do so, he’ll need to stay alive and ahead of his pursuers.

And in Shanghai, a posthuman child named Ling Shu will go to dangerous and explosive lengths to free her uploaded mother from the grip of Chinese authorities.

The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck.  The world will never be the same.

______________________________

Ramez Naam has won the Endeavor Award for his novel NEXUS (along with Ken Scholes for REQUIEM) and the Prometheus Award (tying with Cory Doctorow for HOMELAND). He’s been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clark, Kitschies Golden Tentacle Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Last week was an abridged one for me, since I left mid-afternoon on Thursday for the wonderful Lake County Library System’s BookFest.  This year’s theme?  Dreams & Nightmares.  I’ll post a bit about that below, but since Tuesday is new release day, I’m very excited to blog about one new release from last Tuesday and one re-release for today!

THE EXILE THE EXILE by C.T. Adams (Tor Books)

“Adams does an admirable job of breathing life into Faerie and its creatures before ending on a game-changing cliffhanger.” —Publishers Weekly

“. . . this book (the first in a planned series) will entertain readers looking for a fun fantasy that mixes adventure with just a bit of romance.” —Kirkus

Cover Copy: Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists—and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna’s apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn’t believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.

A suspenseful urban fantasy with a hint of romance. The Exile is the first solo novel by C.T. Adams, who is half of USA Today bestselling author Cat Adams. Like the Cat Adams Blood Singer novels, The Exile is set in a world where magic is real and contains Adams’s trademark blend of suspense, action, humor and strongly emotional writing.

under fire new UNDER FIRE by Beth Cornelison (Samhain)

(This brand new cover won out in competition, sparking this brand new reissue!)

“Beth Cornelison writes intriguing, emotionally-charged stories that will keep you turning the pages straight through to the end.  Fabulous entertainment!” — Susan Wiggs

Under Fire opens up emotionally charged, and the tension and suspense continues through to the last page… Under Fire is an exhilarating, high tension story and Ms. Cornelison’s side effect warnings of racing pulse, missed sleep, and nail-biting have been scientifically proven.  I enjoyed every word of Under Fire and I Joyfully Recommend it.” — Joyfully Reviewed

Cover Copy: A terrorist plot puts their lives-and hearts-on the line. When Jackson McKay and his daughter are kidnapped, their captors demand his research files on a devastating chemical weapon-or they’ll kill his little girl.

Jackson searches desperately for a way to save his daughter and also protect his country from the terrorists. No risk is too great. His daring escape sets in motion a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Arriving at the scene of a wildfire, smokejumper Lauren Michaels and her crew are caught in the crosshairs of Jackson’s nightmare. Lauren is the only one who can lead Jackson off the burning mountain and to the police. In order to prevent a national crisis and save a child’s life, they embark on a treacherous journey-one step ahead of a sniper! But more than their lives are at risk, because an unexpected heat flares between them that may cost them their hearts…

Warning: This title contains sex, strong language, some violence, smart men, courageous women, and heart-pounding action. Possible side effects of reading include racing pulse, missed sleep, and nail biting.

As for the Lake County BookFest, I was privileged to join an incredible line-up of authors, including Karen Chance, Nichole Peeler, Dana Cameron, C.L. Wilson, Leigh Perry/Toni Kelner, Susan Klaus, Caighlan Smith, Chris Tozier, and two of the fabulous YA Chicks, Amy Christine Parker and Vivi Barnes for a wonderful, FREE program at various Lake County Libraries this past weekend.  We YA Chicks did presentations on the publishing process and on characterization.  There were panels presented on mystery and urban fantasy, fantasy and romance, crossing genres, writing action: fight and love scenes and many other really useful topics.  We had a wonderful time talking, meeting friends and fans, and for some of us, even donning costumes for the kick off party.

me with disney princesses For example, me as Black Widow with the Disney princesses, all of whom made their outfits with their very own hands…color me impressed!

lcbf1 The YA Chicks in front of the Lady Lake Library’s fabulous and fantastical display, L to R: Amy Christine Parker, Vivi Barnes and me (really a “featured alternate” since Christina Farley was on tour in Korea for her fabulous YA series)

lcbf And the whole gang, L to R: Leigh Perry/Toni Kelner, Amy Christine Parker, Susan Klaus, me, Karen Chance, Vivi Barnes, Dana Cameron, Caighlan Smith, Nichole Peeler, C.L. Wilson (photo via the awesome Rachel Montgomery)

I’m a few days late wishing a happy book birthday here on my blog to Chloe Neill for DARK DEBT, the latest in her awesome Chicagoland Vampires series, and to Karen Whiddon for bringing us back to her small town Anniversary, Texas with THE RANCHER’S RETURN.  Two very different and wonderful novels, both with old wounds reopened, scandals and suspense.

dark debt DARK DEBT by Chloe Neill

A vampire never gets old. But neither do his enemies. When a figure from Ethan’s dark past makes a splashy debut in Chicago, Merit and her Master don’t know whether he’s friend or foe. But they’ll have to figure out soon, because trouble is brewing in the Windy City.

At an exclusive society soiree attended by the upper echelons of the human and supernatural worlds, Merit and Ethan barely stop the assassination of a guest. When the target turns out to be a shady businessman with a criminal edge, Merit suspects a human vendetta. But the assassins have fangs….

The connections to Chicago’s Houses go deeper than Merit knows, and even one wrong move could be her last….

rachers return THE RANCHER’S RETURN by Karen Whiddon

In the small town of Anniversary, Texas, pure evil will find you…

The night rancher Reed Westbrook makes love to Kaitlyn Nuhn, his life ends. While in the throes of passion, his brother is murdered…and Reed becomes the prime suspect. When Kaitlyn, his solid alibi, vanishes, Reed goes straight to prison and becomes a scourge of the town.

Finally released, Reed lives under the radar, until Kaitlyn reappears claiming she was held prisoner by the real murderer, a man so powerful he’s virtually untouchable. This killer will stop at nothing to eliminate Kaitlyn, and only Reed can protect her. The electrifying attraction that drove him to near-madness is still as powerful as ever. And the walls he’s built around his heart are in danger of crumbling.

When I asked on Twitter what questions people would like an article about agents to address, there were a bunch that didn’t fit into the post I was writing, which you can find at BTS Book Reviews blog. Thus, as promised, I’m answering them over here on my own blog. If you have a question that isn’t answered in the “All About Agents” article or this Q&A (that is not “would you read my book”), feel free to ask it here and I’ll do my best to answer.

Q. Assuming the writing is good, what is the difference between a partial that grabs you and one that doesn’t? (Since this is similar to the question “How can an agent tell if said ms has potential?” I’m combining the answers here.)

A. Here’s the thing—we’re not just looking for something with potential. Many writers have potential. We’re looking for someone who’s achieved their potential. We want someone who blows us away and keeps reading late into the night or makes us miss subway stops because we’re so absorbed. We want a manuscript that we can’t help but pitch to friends and family as well as editors. In short, we want something that excites us and that we can truly champion. You don’t want an agent who’s ambivalent to your work or on the fence about it. You want someone who’s thrilled to be working with you and who will keep on even when those inevitable rejections come in. (In my 22 years in the business, I’ve never had a work that everyone wanted. Never.)

The difference between what grabs me and what doesn’t is not easy to articulate. The novels I fall in love with spark something in me. They make a connection; they’re original; they have a wonderful, unique voice. Voice, in fact, is often what makes something stand head and shoulders above the rest. That said, just because I don’t connect with a work strongly enough to take it on doesn’t mean it’s not ready for prime time. It only means that I’m not the right agent for it.

Q. What are you hoping to see when you ask for revisions and offer to take another look?

A. When I ask for revisions, it’s because I see a spark. I’ve made that connection, but the work is still far enough from being ready that I’m not sure if the writer isn’t there yet or if the manuscript just needs another pass. Seeing the work again after revision will answer that for me. It may be that the pacing was too slow previously…or the main character was too distant or tangential to the action…or that the storyline itself wasn’t strong enough regardless of the intriguing set-up… Having the author tackle a revision lets me know that they’re open to critique and putting in the work necessary. The outcome of the revision itself demonstrates how well the author applies notes and whether he or she can bring this particular manuscript up to the level it needs to be to stand out.

Q. I’d love advice about the comparison in the query–ie “Fans of __ will love my book.” “I’m __ meets __.” Should we do this?

A. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that you hope that your work will appeal to the same audience as that of Author X. Unfortunately, I’ve seen people phrase it poorly too many times so that it comes across sounding like, “Move over Stephen King, I’ll take it from here.” It takes the right blend of confidence and humility to say it the way you intend it to come across. Likewise, describing your work as ­this meets that is fine as long as it really highlights your concept for the agent or editor with whom you’re corresponding. I describe my Vamped young adult series as Clueless meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think/hope that the person I’m talking with immediately sees Cher Horowitz with fangs. At the very least, they’ll know that it’s a snarky, fashion-conscious vampire series. I scratch my head, though, when I hear something like this is the Jack Kerouac, Peter Straub and Jude Deveraux all rolled into one. My response to that is…huh?

In other words, it can be a useful tool if done right, but I highly recommend running comparisons by critique partners and others you work with to be sure you’ve struck the right notes.

Q. What working relationship do you look for outside of contract with a client? Level of professionalism?

I’m not sure whether the person asking the question meant “contract” or “contact” here, but I get the spirit of the question. What I look for is someone who’s going to be a publishing partner. In other words, someone who’s willing to invest the same amount of effort in his/her career as I am. If I comment on a manuscript or proposal, I want to know those comments are well-received, even if the author may not agree with everything I have to say. I look for someone who’s personable and plays well with others. Publishing is such a village that it’s important to prop each other up and promote each other rather than tear down. I want someone who’s professional and communicative, who asks the questions that need to be asks and who keeps me on the loop on their end of things.   Also, someone who’s reliable with deadlines and with the quality of his or her work.

Q. If a book by a debut author is the first in a series, do you want that mentioned in query? Or treat it as a standalone?

A. Yes, if a book is part of a series, I want to know it. When advice says don’t pitch more than one project at once, it’s not saying pretend you don’t have a series (although you don’t want to tell us you have a ten-book arc necessarily). It’s saying don’t pitch two or three different series or genres at a time.

Q. Do agents look for something that will sell immediately? Or are they willing to work with an author at revisions to make a future sale?

A. When an agent takes someone on, they’re making an investment in the writer’s career. They don’t necessarily expect that a book will sell instantly. Responses can take months. And most of us do work editorially with authors to make the work as strong as it can possibly be prior to submission, which involves time before the book ever goes out to editors. A work doesn’t have to be perfect before we’ll take it on, but it does have to be really close. Unfortunately, agents don’t have the time to nurture a diamond in the rough. There are a lot of good writers out there. It’s not our job to train them up into great writers. It’s our job to sell their work and help them succeed once they get there.

Q. When querying, what time(s) of the year are the best to do so? Or, when is NOT a good time of the year to query you?

A. Conventional wisdom is that you don’t send submissions out at the end of the year (say between Thanksgiving and New Years) because agents and editors are burnt out and just trying to wrap up all their current projects before the end of the year. There’s some wisdom to this, but I’ve sent submissions out during this time and made some great sales. I think the answer here is “it depends.” The best way to be sure you’re querying at a good time (or at least not at a bad one) is to check the agency or publisher’s guidelines to see if there’s any window when they’re open or closed to submissions and make sure you don’t submit at a time when they’re not reviewing queries.

Q. If a project originally rejected is revised and mostly rewritten, does it count as a new book/okay to query again?

A. If you received an encouraging response and your book has been significantly revised or rewritten, then it’s absolutely okay to query again. If you haven’t, it probably means the book wasn’t right for that particular agent. However, the worst they can say is “no” to a new query, so I don’t think it hurts to try. That’s my two cents, of course, and if an agency’s guidelines say differently, then following them would be the way to go.

All About Agents

Posted: February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I’m over at BTSeMag’s blog today with an article “All About Agents.”  As I promised my friends on Twitter, I’ll try to answer any of their questions that did not make it into the article on my blog later today or tomorrow morning, so please check back!