So I just hit SEND on my first query, and I sort of feel like throwing up. It’s just one of many, but in honor of this momentous (at least to me!) occasion, I’m going to post my query and first ten pages for all of you to see. Minus the pertinent info. I don’t need anyone from Australia calling me in the middle of the night! 🙂

Dear Ms. Dream Agent:

When I discovered you were (Amazing Author)’s agent, and (Another Amazing Author)’s as well, I knew you would be at the top of my list. I adore (Amazing Author)’s musical prose, and (Another Amazing Author)’s (Awesome Book) was a punch in the gut from which I have yet to recover.

I Have No Name (96,000 words) is a YA Post-Apocalyptic novel that fits somewhere between Mindy McGinnis’s stark, gritty Not a Drop to Drink and the commercial appeal of Demitria Lunetta’s In the After. It follows Nona, a girl emotionally crippled by loss, as she slowly realizes there’s more to life than just survival.

At sixteen, Nona’s best friends are a mannequin named Frank and a Ruger 9mm. Frank’s the strong, silent type, but the Ruger keeps wild animals at bay. After two years alone in a remote Michigan town, survival is all that matters.

When a band of plague survivors called the Community claims Nona’s deserted town, she and the Ruger tell the trespassers to get lost, but they don’t take the hint. Especially Joshua McKinnell, whose friendly banter isn’t silenced by the sight of her gun. Joshua’s grin and Nona’s need for human contact whittle her resistance, and before she knows it, Nona has a friend. The Ruger remains strapped to her leg—old habits die hard—but poor Frank’s abandoned to a crumbling dinner. He was never much of a conversationalist anyway.

Just as Nona accepts the Community, she’s captured by the American Brotherhood. They’re known for brainwashing child-soldiers and enslaving survivors, so Nona expects the worst, until Will Kennedy, a friend from her past, steps in to claim her. Technically, she’s a slave, but Will treats her like a guest. As Nona navigates the dangerous Brotherhood society, she discovers Will has been finding good homes for survivors and requesting kids be assigned to his unit, all to protect the innocent. Friends don’t hold friends hostage, but Nona can’t help liking Will, though she’s terrified of the rush she feels whenever he’s near.

Before Nona can decipher her heart, Will and the Brotherhood are ordered to lay siege to the Community’s stronghold. This is one situation the Ruger can’t help. Nona must convince both sides to back down before full-scale fighting breaks out. But if that fails, she’ll need all her survival skills to protect Will and Joshua, the friends she never meant to make.

Though this is my first query, I will be submitting to more agents in the near future. I have included the first ten pages below, per your guidelines. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jennifer Austin


Phone Number






Jennifer Austin



I watch them stroll down Main Street through the scope of my rifle. Maybe men, maybe boys. Too hard to tell from here. There are two of them, and they wade through weeds and saplings clawing through the crumbling pavement, their boots crunching on broken bits of glass and brick and asphalt. A brown bottle passes between them, and they take long sips, laughing and talking, though they’re too far away to make out words.

With the sun at my back and hidden behind the metal sign above the diner, the barrel of my gun resting in the crook of the rusty “N”, I don’t think they’ll see me. Not unless they look hard, and they aren’t. Too interested in that bottle.

Sweat prickles my skin, and I quietly wipe slick palms one by one on my cargo pants. This stifling August heat doesn’t help, but that’s not why I’m flush and sweaty. Or why my heart beats like a trapped rabbit’s. I haven’t seen another living soul in two years, not since the Black Flu took the last ones. Part of me want’s to run down the street screaming for joy, but mostly I want them to go away.

Aching muscles protest my vigil and I take a quick glance at my watch. Inherited from Dad. Wide leather cuff with a big silver face inset with a moon and stars. Underneath my skin is white and pasty. And sweaty. I shift the band, itching the skin. I’ve been here awhile, arms supporting my rifle and legs cramped from sitting. Shifting my weight, broken glass from long-gone marquee lights grinds under me, so I stop. My heart stops too. I can’t be heard. Dad warned me about men, and what they’ll do to defenseless women.

Leaning back I give my eyes a break. They’re a few blocks away, moving closer. With a rush of breath I blow sandy hair from my clammy forehead. Just a habit. Not long enough to get in my eyes anymore. Shaved it off almost a year ago. Don’t know what came over me. Everything I guess. Believing you’re the last person alive can make you crazy.

I return to the scope, and to wondering why they’re here. Sand Beach is a tiny, derelict town with nothing but Lake Huron to the east and overgrown cornfields to the west. There’s a cache of supplies, but as fast as the plague took its toll, there are supplies everywhere. And they can’t be here for me, or they’d have gone to my farm.

Could be Gangs of Detroit, but I haven’t seen them in years. Probably died out like everyone else. Besides, they’re wearing military fatigues. And not the desert tans featured in old Newsweeks, but green camo. Assault rifles dangle from their shoulders, handguns strapped to their legs. U.S. Army? If they still exist. But now they’re closer, and I can see they’re just kids. No older than me, so sixteen maybe. One’s taller than the other, but both are slight. Camo shirts rolled up to the elbows hang loosely on boyish frames.

Drifters, then? Haven’t seen any of them in years either, but I guess that would be best. Take what they want and move on. But why would drifters have matching uniforms? No, they’re too organized. My grip tightens, breath trembling. Organized could mean civilization, but is that good or bad?

Dad’s voice whispers in my ear, “You can’t trust no one, Ladybug.” With a jolt, I find my finger curled around the trigger. Dad would want me to, but I can’t. Kill the first two people I’ve seen in years? Trembling nerves shiver across my body as I lay my finger along the stock of the gun, back where it belongs.

I’ve made up my mind to wait them out, when gravel crunches behind me. I whip around, but my barrel clatters against the metal “N”. It’s caught in the crook.

“Drop it and turn around,” a voice commands, quiet. Muscles tense, I set down the gun, rising to the balls of my feet with measured movements. When I turn to face him, I stay low. I’m not giving the two in the street an easy target.

Twenty feet away, a third man crouches on the flat roof, his rifle pointing at my chest. I blink at the sight of him. There’s something surreal about this one. Cold, calculating eyes in a face that’s . . . perfect. He’s a sun-kissed model in a teen magazine. The ones who advertise clothing, but wear very little.

Military fatigues, assault rifle, everything the same as the other two, but he’s not playing soldier. Though he’s older, I think the difference is those eyes. He looks like someone you shouldn’t mess with. And I let him sneak up on me.

“That one, too. And the knife.” He indicates my Ruger and knife with the tip of his rifle. I lay them both gently on the roof. Why is he so quiet? It’s obvious he’s with the two in the street.

I keep my eyes locked on his. Icy pools of Arctic blue. Concentrate. Don’t worry about his stupid eyes. There’s another knife strapped to my calf, hidden by my pant leg. Something else Dad taught me, but the guy will probably shoot me before I reach it. And he’s much bigger, so hand-to-hand fighting is out anyway.

But his heaviness might be useful. The roof of the diner is rotted in places. Most of the town is falling apart. Maneuver him toward a weak spot, the ones I’ve learned to avoid, and let gravity do the rest.

“I need you to listen,” he whispers, but I’m not. I’m planning. Mapping where I need to be, and where I need him to be. A voice in the back of my head says, Pay attention. But I don’t like being on this end of a gun.

Before he can say anything more, I run. He follows, his heavy boots pounding the roof. “Wait,” he stage-whispers, though being quiet now is pointless. With a loud crack, the roof gives out, and he disappears into the hole.

Skidding to a stop I think about going back for a gun, but there’s a gaping void between me and my rifle, and the man’s is nowhere in sight. From inside the hole an arm appears, clutching the edge of debris. He’s pulling himself back up. There’s no time. I have to get away. Find a new place to hide.

Shouting in the street reminds me there are two more to deal with. The rickety ladder on the side of the building is not an option. They’ll be there before I reach the ground. No, I knew my choices to begin with. I’m going to have to jump.

Backing up a few steps, I get a running start. I need speed as I head for the back of the dinner and the narrow alley separating me from escape. The alley is wider than I remember, but there’s no time for second thoughts. My foot hits the lip, I take a huge leap and sail through the air.

Feet slam into the roof across the alley, and a shock of elation runs through me, but it’s short lived. Falling forward I smash into the sloped roof. My breath escapes in a painful umph, and the world spins. It’s only when the rough shingles scrap my belly I realize I’m sliding. Hands scramble for a hold as rotting shingles slip through my fingers. When space opens beneath my feet, my heart drops into my stomach, and I slide over the edge. My fingers wrap around an exposed 2×4 at the last second, and I’m dangling, the ground a good ten feet away.

Gritting my teeth, muscles straining, I try to pull myself up, but it’s no use. My skinny arms don’t have the strength. Below, the two boys gape at me. Probably think I’m crazy. They motion for me to let go, but I shake my head even as my grip loosens. After a few more agonizing seconds, the blood pounding in my ears, my fingers slip, and I fall.

They catch me. Well, sort of. Arms around my waist and chest, sandwiched between them. But my foot hits the ground hard, twisting, pain stabbing through my shin. Their arms knock the wind from my lungs, but I’m focused on the throbbing, swelling ache spreading through my ankle. It’s a moment before I’m aware I’m leaning against the taller boy, unable to bear my own weight.

Tall Boy laughs, pulling me closer. My skin crawls at the contact. It’s alien and wrong, the scent of sweat, cigarettes and alcohol smothering me. The smaller boy clutches one of my arms, yanking it like a child fighting over a toy.

“Don’t worry, Scrub,” Tall Boy laughs. “She’s enough for both of us. Let’s get somewhere Will can’t find us.”

Dad’s warnings are a siren in my head, but I tamp down the hysteria. Keep them off guard, I think, leaning heavily against Tall Boy.

“Trent, I thought I heard Will up there.” Scrub is pointing at the diner, but Trent isn’t listening. With his arm around my waist, his hand rests on my stomach. When it slides to my chest, egg and biscuit from breakfast rise in my throat. I choke it back. But I keep hold of the anger that came with it. It’s time to make my move.

Trent doubles over with a hard knee to the groin. His red face makes no sign of breathing, and he’s clutching himself with both hands. Clenching my free hand into a fist, I drive it into Scrub’s face before he knows what’s happening. The crunch of cartilage vibrates through my hand and blood spews from his nose. He let’s go. I’m free. I turn and run.

I barely make it two hobbling steps before something slams into my head. Lights explode behind my eyelids, pulsing and throbbing, and my mouth fills with a metallic taste. Weightless and falling, I hit the pavement, crashing back to reality. Trent, his face an ugly mask of violence, kicks my chest and I curl into a protective ball.

“Frank,” I scream, “Frank, help!” A kick to the back stops my yelling, but it doesn’t matter. I cover my face with my hands. Frank can’t help me. There’s no one to help me. One sob escapes my throat, but I stifle the next. I won’t let them see me cry.

The blows continue, but now there are more. Scrub has joined Trent. Payment for his broken nose. Play dead. You can take it. Just survive.

“Stand down! Stand down!” A distant voice shouts the order, and feet hammer the pavement. It’s the man from the roof. There’s a reprieve, but I remain curled, waiting, not daring to move. After a few seconds and no more strikes, I hazard a peek through my fingers. Both boys stand rigid, staring into space. Trent’s face knots in pain while blood dribbles from Scrub’s nose and down his lips.

Kneeling beside me, the man asks, “Are you okay?” He lays a hand on my leg, but I jerk away. Pulling myself to a half-sitting/half-lying position, I scoot backward until I hit a building. Flaking paint crackles against my T-shirt, and I lean my head against the rough wooden boards. Tears streak my face, but I swipe them away.

The man sighs, his face dark. I glare back, but he isn’t angry at me.

“Will, we was only—” Trent begins, but Will cuts him off.

“Report, Private!”

“Sir,” Trent says, resuming his rigid stance, ”we caught her when she jumped from the building. We offered assistance—” I snort in disbelief ”—but she attacked us. We were only trying to subdue her for questioning.”

Wiping a trickle of blood from my split lip, I gauge Will’s reaction. His eyes follow the motion, his jaw clenched in a hard line, but he only shakes his head.

When Will doesn’t say anything, Trent loses his stiff posture. “Girl as pretty as this, she’ll get bought by some Assembly member or something. Sucks wasting her on an old man.”

I don’t know what surprises me more: the idea I could be sold or the existence of more people. Where have they been all this time? Why have I been left alone? I search Will’s face for answers, hoping he’ll contradict Trent, but he’s unreadable.

“We still get our cut though, right?” Trent demands, but he’s a cowering dog when Will’s attention snaps back to him.

“Yes, you’ll get your percentage of the Sponsorship. Now stand watch while I talk to her.” Will indicates either direction of the narrow alley, and Trent and Scrub take up position.

When Will walks toward me, I tense. His blond hair curls around the edge of his hat, and his blue eyes are no longer cold. More like tropical waters on the postcard Aunt Jessie sent from her honeymoon. I remind myself he’s still the enemy. Saving me from these boys doesn’t change that.

“What’s your name?” he asks, flashing a dazzling smile as he crouches next to me. His tone is friendly, now that he’s not ordering his soldiers about.

My answer is caught in my throat. It’s not that I never speak. I do. But this conversation is real and the strangeness swallows my voice. “I have no name,” I finally croak with a scowl. I’m still a prisoner, and based on the previous conversation I’m not out of danger yet.

“You have to have a name,” Will says with another smile. “Everyone has a name.”

“I have no name,” I repeat, my voice clear and strong this time, but I break eye contact. I discarded that name, that person, years ago. Back when life discarded me. I’m nobody now. No name, no future, and no hope, just survival. But I fear those eyes can see inside my head. See things I don’t want to think about.

Book Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Buy On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft on Amazon.com
Add on Goodreads

I purchased this book from Amazon for my Kindle

Book blurb as seen on Amazon:

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

To be honest, this book had me riveted, but it was more for the insight into the life of one of the most prolific, terrifyingly creative and famous authors of our time. Hearing about the events in his life that formed and changed him, how he got his start, the struggles and the triumphs, was truly inspirational. He is blatantly honest about himself and his influences, and unapologetic about it all. I won’t spout off about what I liked or didn’t like. Just read it. If you’re looking for the secrets to success, all you will find is a mantra for hard work. Because that is success. Yes, King gives pointers and tips and tells the reader what worked for him, but some of his advice about how to get published seems a little outdated to me. The gold was in the life of a writer playing out before you in struggles we all can relate to, and many we can’t. It will not change your life. It will not turn you into a NYBT over night, but it will give you hope for the future and advice for work ethic. If you are thinking of becoming a writer, read it. If you dream of being a writer, read it. If you are a writer, read it. It’s worth it.

My review: 4/5 stars

Newbie Post #7: Beta Readers and Why They Rock! . . . Most of the Time . . .

Shaking hands  people

I’m writing my Newbie Posts a little out of order. As I started writing this one, it turned into your-novel-is-not-ready-to-be-seen-by-anyone!, so I took a step back and realized I had another post to write. That will be Newbie Post #9, so look for it in the future. 🙂 But today I’m going to talk about why Beta readers are so important, but not always so important.

You’re at the point you’ve edited your novel several times (*not everyone agrees on how many edits a novel takes. I’m from the 20+ school, while Stephen King says only a couple, but we are not Stephen King, so edit heavily!) and you’ve let your husband, mom or best friend take a peek. They rave about how wonderful it is. How proud they are of you. What an accomplishment you’ve achieved! But before you send that bad boy off to an agent with a hastily slapped together letter stating your mom thinks it’s the next best seller, take a step back. Mom and Hubby are not the best judges of your work, unless of course your mom is, oh, I don’t know, J.K. Rowling or Margaret Atwood. If not, you may need some beta readers.

But how do I find a beta reader? I don’t know any writers. I live in a small town and there aren’t any writing groups! Just hold on a second and realize we live in the digital age. You have beta readers right at your fingertips. You just have to find them. I found mine through Absolute Write. I’ve talked about this website many, many, many times, and I will continue to do so. Without them, I’d be no where. If you’re writing in the black hole of loneliness, then you need to get out there and connect. You’re reading my blog, so that’s a good step, but find a critique group, forum or even just a couple other writers to form a circle of critiquing partners. Here is a short list of places to to start with, but really, I just used Google, so you can find some too:

Absolute Write: Beta readers, Mentors and Writing Buddies
Goodreads: Beta Reader Group
Tumblr: Find Your Beta Reader
World Literary Cafe: Beta Readers and Critique Groups

Seriously, it’s not hard. Just step out of your shell, place your fingers on the keyboard, annnnnnd reach out! Get connected. When I started on Absolute Write, I spent most of my time chatting in the newbie forums just to get to know people, and lurking among the forums geared towards my writing, too afraid to comment for fear I’d look like an idiot. That’s okay. You learn. That’s what forums are all about.

I’m digressing. Maybe you’re already on a forum, and this isn’t about how important it is to network (but it is important!) This is about how reaching out to another writer and sending your precious literary baby through the internet to reside in someone else’s computer is downright terrifying! What if they steal it?! What if they publish it?! I’m not going to lie, it could happen. There are copyright laws which I am not very knowledgeable about, so don’t get that info here. And I’ve heard the Poorman’s Copyright is a bit of a myth. A writing friend of mine had all her work copyrighted, and advised me to do so as well. Admittedly, I have not. No good reason, just haven’t done it. Still, the risk is minimal. I have never had a beta steal my work, that I know of. And at least on AW, there’s a thread on betas to watch out for because of bad experiences. I’d say 99% of writers on AW have had a positive experience with the betas they have worked with through that site.

And just to be clear, most betas want something in return. You read my novel, I’ll read yours. Honestly, this is the fun part. Unless of course the novel is simply so bad it’s no fun to even edit. But I’ve only had one of those and broke off the relationship. Which is another point: make sure that novel is really ready to be seen. A beta will not appreciate correcting your repetitive grammar and punctuation mistakes or reminding you not to write like a valley girl (Like, he went to the store, and totally bought that milk!) You will get more out of your beta if they can concentrate on writing style, plot holes, character development and other important aspects of your story. And you need more than one. I had six betas for my last WIP. I’m currently still working with two of them, because we wanted to develop writing relationships beyond just the beta exchange, and I’m so glad I did. Having a trusted circle of writing friends is invaluable and I hope I not only develop more relationships, but strengthen the ones I have.

Before you exchange your novels, set some ground rules or at least get an understanding of what you want. Exchange a chapter to see if you both want to work with each other. Let them know, and ask them what they want out of the critique. And be sure to let each other know how you expect to be treated. Some people like to be handled with kid gloves, others like the rough treatment. Me, I like professionalism, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather they were rough. Hand-holding and head-patting gets you no where. Kick me in the ass or don’t waste my time. Only tell me you love it if you really do!

Great. You’ve exchanged novels, critiqued, and exchanged again. Now what? Your heart is palpitating wildly, you feel like you’re going to be sick, and you’d rather face Freddy Krueger right now than open that document. But like the scantily clad girls in horror movies who are going to go through that door no matter how many times you shout at the screen not to, you’re going to click OPEN on your computer. And there it is, in black and white, or red, or whatever color they edit in. The page looks like Freddy Krueger got to it first. Just breathe. It’s going to be okay. Read. And keep reading, until you reach the end. Now that you feel like crap, open the next one, because you got more than one right?

At this point you may feel like crawling back into that black hole of writing loneliness, but don’t. Let those edits sit and stew for a few days. And no matter what you do, or what was said, DON”T reply to the critiquer in a negative way. Don’t do it! What you may take as a personal attack or over the line was meant only as a way to help you improve. Critiques are very rarely personally motivated. Chuck those hurt feelings in the bin and move on. Writers don’t get to have feelings except the ones they pour on the page.

Okay, so you’ve simmered and thought about what was said and you’re feeling less homicidal and misunderstood. Time to move on. And it’s time to go back and look at those critiques again. This time with a cool, professional eye. If more than one beta is saying the same thing, LISTEN! Chances are good they are right. If even one beta is telling you to fix something that you have doubts about, there’s a good chance this is correct as well, but here’s where it gets tricky. My best piece of advice is to go with your gut. It sucks, I know. I hate it when people tell me this, but it’s true. This is your story, and no one knows you’re story better than you. This is not a license to freely ignore every piece of writing advice you don’t want to hear. Sometimes we need to hear that our characters are flat, or there’s a gaping plot hole, or the drama of a scene isn’t coming through. We also need to hear that we use certain words too much, or our voice sounds stodgy or we need to show more and tell less. It’s hard, but listen and try to see where they are coming from. Look at your writing and critically asses whether they have a point or are clearly off their rocker. I’m going to tell you that 99% of the time, the beta has a point. But that doesn’t mean you have to change anything.

The other side of the coin is looking at where the beta is coming from. If they are telling you to show more/tell less, but their MS is dripping in purple prose, they may just have a different writing style than you. But if the show/tell beta has a decent amount of both in their novel, they might know what they’re talking about. If they say your love scenes are too prim and proper, but theirs borders on erotica, once again, take it with a grain of salt. And if ANYONE is telling you to make a major change in your novel, think that through before you change or disregard completely. Do not make a substantial change to your novel that doesn’t feel right to you just because a beta, or even several betas say you should. This is your novel. If you aren’t happy with the end product, then it was a wasted effort.

Personally, I’ve had great experiences with betas. Even when I ranted and raved to my husband how this person or that was a complete idiot, they didn’t get me, they were complete morons, I would later come back to the critique and often find merit in what was said. Criticism, even constructive criticism, can be tough to take, but you can also get some pretty amazing benefits too. New writers learn from others how to improve, not only from the critique they receive, but from the ones they give. More experienced writers will still learn. Writers never stop learning, but they also give back something that they most likely received when they were starting out.

And just one little side note on the benefits of beta readers, especially those you develop great relationships with. I had a beta make a suggestion about cutting/combining characters and adding a sub-plot twist. At first, I disregarded the notion, because this was my book and no one was going to tell me how to change it! But that little seed she planted grew and grew, until I couldn’t wait to get back to the computer and make a major change. From that tiny comment and suggestion, a new character was born. One I loved writing and I think I might even make a novella of him someday, because I HAVE NO NAME was unable to delve too deeply into his life, but there’s so much more to tell. The point is, write the story that’s inside you, but be open to others stepping into that world. After all, that’s what you’re writing it for, right?

* I just wanted to be clear on the editing note above. I edit my novels 20+ times to finish, not just to find a beta. 3-6 is probably a good number before a beta, though everyone is different. If you are experienced and confident of your writing abilities, then edit the number of times you see fit, just remember you’ll get more out of a beta if the mechanics are down pat first.

Newbie Post #8: Writing Prompts are One-Night Stands!

Newbie Post #1: My Humble Beginnings . . .
Newbie Post #2: Dreams Awakening . . .
Newbie Post #3: Yeah, About That Hobby Thing . . .
Newbie Post #4: Sally green’s Acknowledgments and Why They Mean Something to Me . . .
Newbie Post #5: Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door!
Newbie Post #6: Sometimes you win; Sometimes you LEARN!

TV Show Review: Red Band Society

You can watch the Red Band Society at 9/8C on Fox.

Your body isn’t you, your soul is you. And they can never cut into your soul.

This quote right here. That got me. There was no way I wasn’t watching. And by watching I mean recording on my DVR so I can skip commercials later. That’s pretty much how I watch all TV, except sports. There’s nothing like the potentially soul crushing possibility of your team losing while you’re biting your nails and jumping in and out of the recliner and shouting at the TV in real time. Ahhhh . . .

But back to RBS. I was guessing this show was created in response to all The Fault In Our Stars hype, but I was willing to give it a try. Especially since it stars Octavia Spencer as Nurse Jackson. I loved her in The Help.


And I wasn’t disappointed, at least, not much. It has the obligatory Augustus Waters character in Leo Roth, played by Charlie Lowe. He’s not exactly Gus, but he’s missing a leg due to cancer and he used to be a sports star. That’s where the comparison ends. Otherwise, he’s completely different, and that’s actually a good thing. I loved Gus, but I don’t want to watch a TV show that just tries to copy him. And there’s obviously going to be some love triangles going on, but hey, I can probably deal with that.


The writing was mostly decent. Every now and then I felt they fell into the trap of cliched and lazy writing, but for the most part it was decent. It was only one show, so I’m guessing they’ll continue to flesh out the characters. Dash was a bit cliched, but we’ll see, and I get making Kara this bitter, bitch with something else inside that we’ll see in future shows, but why did Emma have to be bitchy too. All the female characters are unapproachable or kind of a ditz in the case of Brittany. Once again, one episode under the belt, and I’ll continue to give it a chance.

I did actually tear up a few times. Okay, I outright cried. And the part where they show Leo playing soccer really got to me. I hope they do more of this so we can see what led these kids to their current situations, I mean, besides major health issues. And Dr. McAndrew who’s played by Dave Annable is Ryan Gossling if he’d gone to med school. A lovely combination if you ask me.


All in all, I’d say it was decent and has me tentatively hooked. We’ll see how it goes.

My Review: 4/5 stars

First Reactions To The “Mockingjay: Part One” Film Trailer

Being pretty busy right now, I don’t have time to blog my feelings on the new Mockingjay trailer, so I’ll let Neville Girl do it for me! I CAN’T WAIT!

Musings From Neville's Navel

It’s time for one of my favoritest types of posts! I love to write up my reactions to various film trailers… and the trailer for Mockingjay: Part One was released just two days ago. I’M SO EXCITED! I’ve been impatiently waiting for this film ever since the credits rolled at the end of Catching Fire almost one year ago. I LOVED Mockingjay-the-book (sometimes I feel like one of the few people who did) and I am so ready to see the story onscreen.

P.S. You can find my earlier film trailer reactions here.

Warning: Spoilers ahead, so read/watch at your own risk!

0:11 – Is that District 13?!

0:17 – See, this is one of the reasons I loved Mockingjay: We were finally able to see the full effects of Katniss’ participation in the Games. She has PTSD and she’s under a lot of pressure from all…

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My Kyrosmagica Review of It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

In light of recent high profile suicides, and my own battle with depression, I’d like to share this book review. And I’ll probably be adding it to my TBR pile. As a person who knows what depression feels like, it is sometimes difficult to read about it, but I think I may have to on this one.

M J Mallon YA Author and Poet



Goodreads Synopsis:

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.

Author Biography:

Vizzini grew up primarily in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. He attended Stuyvesant High School…

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Today On My Blog I’m Going to . . .


. . . read everyone else’s blogs! Sunday is usually my blog writing day, though I try to sneak posts in through out the week if I can. With school starting back up, I’m pretty much playing catch up with everything I need to do. Hence why I have only had one blog post this week. And in case you didn’t catch it, I posted the latest version of my query letter. I was serious about wanting critique people. Tear. It. Up. Is it too long? Too wordy? Did it make sense? What can I cut? What was unclear? Did it sound like something you’d want to read? I’m desperate for advice. Really!

But since I have no blog posts, and I’m waiting for critique on my query, and not just from you guys. 🙂 I have an established author with one of my dream agents checking it out (YAY!) as well as my fellow writers on QLH, so once I get some feedback, I’ll move forward. Until then, I’m kind of twiddling my thumbs. And what’s the one thing I haven’t had time for of late? Read everyone else’s blogs. So I’ll be liking and commenting for a few hours this morning until I have to leave for my therapy appointment. Yes, I’m in therapy, and those of you who read my blog know I need it! If I find a particularly wonderful post, I will reblog so all my beautiful readers can appreciate it too.

Also, I joined Twitter. I’m not using it a lot yet, but I will as I go along. I’ll add a button soon, but to those of you who might want to add me, my name is @JLAustin13.

Look for some posts to come today, or maybe I’ll schedule for through the rest of the week. Oh crap, it’s already Thursday! Where has my week gone?

Query Letter: HELP!!!!!!

Stress. Woman stressed

All right dear readers, I’m going to post my query and look for some advice. I’ve been through many rounds of Query Letter Hell on the Absolute Write forum, and this is my latest and greatest. I plan on posting it in QLH in a few days, but if I can improve it before that would be awesome. If you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it! And I’m begging on hands and knees in case you can’t see me through your computer!

Dear Reader:

At sixteen, Nona’s best friends are a mannequin named Frank and a Ruger 9mm. Frank’s the strong, silent type, but the Ruger keeps wild animals at bay. Two years alone in a remote Michigan town and survival is all that matters.

When a band of plague survivors called the Community claims Nona’s deserted town, she’s torn between the need for human contact and the crippling memories of her dying family. She and the Ruger tell the trespassers to get lost, but they don’t take the hint. Especially, Joshua McKinnell, whose friendly banter isn’t silenced by the sight of her gun. Before long, Nona calls Joshua a friend and is helping the Community restore her town. The Ruger remains strapped to her leg—old habits die hard—but poor Frank is abandoned to a crumbling diner. He was never much of a conversationalist anyway.

Just as Nona settles into life with the Community, she is captured by the American Brotherhood, a militaristic-society from Virginia. They brainwash child-soldiers and enslave new members, so she isn’t expecting protection from her Sponsor, Will Kennedy. Will hates the Sponsorship system, and treats Nona more like a house guest than a servant. Friends don’t hold friends hostage, but Nona can’t help liking Will, and maybe something more.

But Nona doesn’t have a chance to decipher her feelings for Will. The Brotherhood army, including Will, lays siege to the Community’s stronghold. Nona must escape and find a way to convince everyone to back down—or choose a side to fight on. All she really wants is to protect Joshua and Will, the friends she never meant to make.

I HAVE NO NAME (96,000 words) is a YA Post-Apocalyptic that fits somewhere between NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis and IN THE AFTER by Demitria Lunetta. Thank you for your time and consideration.

And yes, I know I need a bio. And I know I need a personalized intro for each agent. And I might even redo that whole last para, but I wanted to include it for clarity. This is mostly just to get the meat of the query perfected, and then I’ll create a personal letter based on each agent. Just would love to know what everyone (anyone?) thinks about this so I can improve this letter! Thanks everyone!

Oh, and I was considering adding something like:

Frank was never this much trouble.


Maybe she should have stuck with Frank.

after . . . friends she never meant to make, or somewhere in the last para. Thoughts?

Why I Think This World Should End by Prince Ea

Watched this video on Facebook this morning. Absolutely loved it! It pretty much sums up my life’s philosophy in a short video, but watch the whole thing. Sounds negative at first, but it’s not. I especially love the quote by RFK. We can all be the little change!

Note: I’d have put the video right in this post, but I couldn’t figure out how! Please take the time to watch it.