My OWW writer friend, Phillip Spencer, who pens the blog “Nightspore”, recently linked to a post by British author Freda Warrington (ELFLAND), in which she discusses the desire to create strong female characters when writing fantasy.

An excerpt:

I wanted to read about mutual pleasure and joy, I wanted the women to have as much fun as the men, I did not want the men to be selfish pigs, I wanted equality and respect and shared adventure. But too often, in fiction, I was not finding it. Not even from female authors.

It’s a long post, but well worth reading if you write or read fantasy.


Six Agent Sites to Check Out


Image by David Castillo Dominici,

Though I initially planned to self-publish JURATA’S DAUGHTER, my editor convinced me to give querying a try first. She loves the book and thinks others will, too.

Here’s a list of six agent sites I’m using. If you know of others, please share. Thanks.

#MSWL This is a Twitter feed where agents and editors post their “Manuscript Wish List”. I recently saw one agent who specifically mentioned Slavic mythology–she’s high on my list. You can fine tune this according to genre, such as #MSWL Fantasy, or #MSWL Young Adult, etc. Just remember, you don’t pitch on Twitter unless they’re having a special pitch day, like #PitMad. Send a normal query instead.

QUERY TRACKER – Search for agents/agencies that rep your genre, keep track of those you’ve contacted and their responses, store your query letter. A paid membership ($25) allows you to see what any agent has actually requested from queries, a big help if their site says, for example, they accept YA but all they’ve looked at is MG.

ABSOLUTE WRITE WATER COOLER – Search by agent, or check out these special sections: Bewares, Recommendations & Background Check; Ask the Agent; Ask the Editor. There’s even a board for sharing your work, but you’ll need to set up an account [free!] first. Post your query here and be ready for honest feedback. 

AGENTQUERY CONNECT –  Find an agent or editor, get your query critiqued, and much, much more.

LITERARY RAMBLES – Check out the “Agent Spotlight” here for current and past interviews.

ALEXA DONNE, YA AUTHOR – Alexa has some recent interviews with agents that are definitely worth a look.

Of course, any research will include going to the agent’s site and looking up sales on Publishers’ Marketplace. I hope this list helps.



As I work through my latest draft, I’m finding that most revisions suggested by my editor fall into just a few categories:

This doesn’t mean getting microscopic or drowning in minutia. Whatever I include must be relevant. In the example below, from my book, JURATA’S DAUGHTER, I’ve changed the description of thunderclouds to remind the reader of their connection to the god of storms and his lightning bolts.
Old version: Thunderclouds hung dark and grim over the courtyard.
New version: Thunderclouds loomed over the courtyard, pierced by jagged streaks of light.

Keep in mind that while sensory descriptions are important, action and dialogue (inner as well as outer) are details necessary to deepen our understanding of characters and enrich the overall storyline.

Action is followed by reaction, not the reverse.
Old version: Nyada cried out at the blood oozing from the Elder’s forehead. “Gods help us, she’s dead!”
New version: Nyada smoothed back the strands of hair hanging over Sister Saule’s forehead. Her fingers came away smeared with blood. “Gods help us, she’s dead!”

Even a well-structured story can suffer from events happening too fast, without a proper buildup. To slow down, it helps to focus on individual scenes. Each one has a purpose and needs to be developed fully. Sandra Scofield’s THE SCENE BOOK (link below) is the best book I’ve found for advice on crafting scenes with the basic elements: event/emotion, function, structure, pulse.

I was familiar with this concept, but composing a GMC chart for every character gave me clarity and insight. With a GMC printout to guide me, I’m less likely to have a character speak or act in ways that don’t ring true—no more “out of character” moments. More importantly, with GMC, your characters should emerge from the pages fully-fleshed and not  caricatures. My editor recommended Debra Dixon’s excellent book, GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT (link below), and I can’t thank her enough. It’s now available in digital format.

There you have it. Four ways to strengthen revisions. I hope you find them useful.


Links to books mentioned:

Sandra Scofield, THE SCENE BOOK