My Writing #Subtips Threads 2016-2017

I have gotten a few requests for collecting all my past subtips threads into one location, and since Storify is closing down, I’m putting them all here.

First, #subtips blog posts:

A Debut Author’s First Month: How We Fall

You Don’t Grow Out of YA: 5 Reasons I Write (& Edit) YA

The Manuscript, Edit Letters, & Deadlines: Thoughts from an Author/Editor

5 #Subtips For Writers on Drafting

Tips for Preparing for Release Month

5 Things I Learned As A Debut Author

Starting That Novel: #Subtips for the New Writer

A Day In An Editor’s Life- Jan 4, 2017

10 Reasons I Had To Pass on MSs & Queries

I Held A Bear Cub, and I Liked It: Why Writing Is Not A Petting Zoo

When Friends and Family Read Your Book: Survival Tips

Writing Poverty in YA

The Straight-Talk On Social Media for Authors

Finding Fresh Ideas: The Rule of Ten

Writing Advice from Don Draper

Revising 101: 3 Goldren Rules

Fixing Stilted Prose 101

Editor’s Eyes: Fixing Flat Scenes

Tips for Describing Characters

Fast Drafting Tips: Awesome Ways to Get it Done

Next, #subtips Twitter threads, starting with my most recent and going back to 2016. Each of these individual tweets is the start of a thread that further discusses the idea, so click the date of the embedded tweet to go to the thread on Twitter, and the rest of the content will open up for you. (I recommend right-clicking to choose “open in a new tab” so you don’t navigate away from the blog post when you click.)

A note on the thread below: the “not like other girls” issue I’m discussing here is different from the question of gender identity. Nonbinary people and people assigned female at birth but questioning their gender may well not feel like other girls– and that’s absolutely okay and something wonderful to show in fiction. If that’s what’s happening in your MS, it should be clear what the character is doing is questioning or exploring gender. Unfortunately, that’s often not what’s happening when a character puts down girls and lacks friendships with girls– and instead what happens is the (often accidental) sexism I discuss below:

Note: I should not have used the word “crutch” below as that implies crutches are used by lazy people who don’t want to do the work, and crutches are actually wonderful tools to help people gain mobility and independence. Crutches are good things, not bad things, so I apologize for the use here! A better statement would be “It’s overused & often an easy way out.”


If you learn from all this collected work of mine, and you can afford it, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave me a tip in my online KoFi tip jar! It’s simple to use, and it’s like taking me out for a coffee to thank me. Except I can use it to pay my bills, which is great, because apparently Hy-Vee no longer accepts tweets in exchange for groceries. I really appreciate it, and it helps me keep this content free, so everyone can benefit regardless of their financial situation.

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10 Reasons I Had To Pass

Editors and agents so often say their least favorite part of the job is delivering bad news to clients and potential clients. Authors put their hearts out there in their work, and we then have to make business decisions about it. It’s zero fun and hard for everyone. Being both an author and an editor, I know how painful it is to receive those replies that say “not for me,” “I’m sorry, but I just didn’t connect,” “I liked it, but I had to love it in order to take it on, and x was an issue for me.”

So to shed some light on why editors and agents might be saying no, I’m going to post 10 clear reasons I had to pass on a query or manuscript. One note: these may have been from this week or months ago, or even 2016. And with the hundreds of manuscripts I’m reading, it almost certainly was not yours. 🙂 So here we go!

1: Adult contemporary romance, well over 100,000 words. Not high-concept, the pace was slow in the beginning, and the wordcount tells me it’s slow throughout. Plus, the writing wasn’t emotionally engaging. Pass.

2: Adult paranormal. No central romance in this one. Entangled’s YA doesn’t need the main plot to be a romance, but for adult, it must have romance as the story spine. Pass. (This happens a lot, unfortunately. There are so many great stories out there without enough romance for our brand. It’s not a flaw, just a branding issue.)

3: New adult science fiction. Fantastic concept that immediately hooked me. Beginning started in the wrong place but I was hooked enough to fix that in edits. However, boring, slow execution of the concept, taking way too long to get what was fascinating about the concept on the table for readers. The fix would be a total rewrite, so I had to pass, with a lot of regret.

4: YA dystopian. Nothing particularly new, and one stereotypical marginalized character experiencing a lot of aggression without any meaningful nuance or deconstruction of it. Pass.

5: YA paranormal. The writing isn’t ready. Pass.

6: Adult contemporary romance. Choppy plot, contrived conflict. Pass.

7: Adult contemporary romance. The writing isn’t ready. Pass.

8: YA SFF. I loved the voice,  but the plot was weak and too many scenes didn’t move the story forward in a meaningful way. Pass.

9: NA romance. Solid plot for as far as I read but the writing and concept were too generic to stand out. Pass.

10: Adult romance. No emotional engagement for me, and the writing wasn’t ready, either. Pass.

These issues are all once that crop up multiple times a month for me in the slush pile, so one way to use this list is as checklist for your own writing. All of these things have been true of my own writing in the past–literally all of them. The good news is ALL of these things are resolvable. Books I 100% recommend to address them? Writing the Breakout Novel workbook and The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass. The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird. Master Class in Fiction Writing by Adam Sexton. There are also more targeted pieces on filter words, prose editing, and showing vs telling on my writer resources page. 

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you’d like to see more posts like this in the comments.

A Day In An Editor’s Life- Jan 4

Good morning! Since people seem so interested in life behind the scenes or across the desk in publishing, I’ll occasionally be posting some “day in the life” posts where you can see how all this editor stuff goes. New year, new content, right? Buckle up, it’s going to be glamorous.

8am-9:00am: The first thing I did today was read. A new strategy I’m trying this year to make sure I allow time for personal, for-fun reading of already published books is to give myself an hour in the morning to read. Otherwise, the only material I end up reading is informational works, my clients’ works, and my slush pile. So before I check email for disasters or let the news into my apartment or even get out of bed, I roll over and grab a book. This morning it was Interborough, by Santino Hassell. I’m devouring it.

9-10am: I got out of bed and got ready for my day, with coffee and a spoon of peanut butter as breakfast. Don’t shame me, I love it. I also read The Skimm, my favorite daily news update.

10-11am: Replying to emails, including confirming a conference for May, recommending an editor friend for their faculty, replying to a local writer who wants to know how to get started in publishing, lots of emails about internal book scheduling, and some submission questions. As I work, I’m also watching a nature documentary series on Netflix, Frozen Planet. It’s informative and good company while I work all day alone in my apartment, and doesn’t require much concentration. I may make this a new habit, watching something gorgeously shot and and calming while I do office work. Though I will say there was a pretty dire seal hunt happening as I typed this.

11am -noon: After I finished email, I read the Publishers Weekly daily newsletter. Good news- “Unit sales of print books rose 1.9% in 2017, over 2016…The increase follows a 3.3% increase in 2016 over 2015 with units having risen every year since 2013. Since 2013, print unit sales are up 10.8%…Juvenile fiction unit sales increased 2.1% in the year.” 

Now I’m sitting down for first round edits with a client manuscript. For that I turn off my documentaries or music, put the book on my kindle, and take notes in a notebook as I read. It helps to get off of the computer and away from screens for a portion of the day.

1:00-1:30: Lunch break! I used it to stretch and start laundry. Working from home is great/terrible that way.

1:30: Back to reading the client manuscript.

4:00pm: One of my clients’ books hit Netgalley, A Scandal By Any Other Name by Kimberly Bell so I stopped reading to go yell about that online. It’s hilarious historical romance with spina bifida representation, a scheming duke, a deep sister bond, and lots of hilarious antics.

Then while I was at my computer, I handled another pile of email. Then back to reading til 4:30, when I had to stop to get ready for a chiropractor appointment. After dinner, I’ll do another hour or two of reading this client’s MS, then be done for the day.

See, very glamorous, just like I told you.

The reality is a lot of days are just like this one. Reading, email, little things that come up, more editing. Some days have contract negotiations and offers of publication and calls and meetings, and some days are just me spending quality time with a manuscript. Quiet days are nice days, though, and I’m happy to have them.

Any questions about this? Drop a note in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.

Come Play #EntangledBookHunt Oct. 27!

Three– count them, one two three– books on my Entangled list released this month! Approximately Yours by Julie Hammerle, 27 Hours by Tristina Wright, and The Uncrossing by Lambda Literary fellow Melissa Eastlake. Plus, one more releases in less than two weeks: The November Girl by Lydia Kang! And finally this year, Sea of Strangers, the sequel to Erica Cameron’s critically acclaimed Island of Exiles is out December 5, in just 6 weeks!

Holy books, Batman.

To celebrate, I’m throwing a little party on Twitter. And you are invited! In fact, your friends are invited too. Anyone with a Twitter account can come. It’s on the #EntangledBookHunt hashtag. All you have to do is answer book questions to be entered to win that book. So if I asked you, “To win a copy of The November Girl: which book on my list received a Kirkus star?”, you’d run to the book pages of my website here and find the answer. Then you’d reply to the question on the hashtag with the answer. Every correct answer gets you an entry to win that book! It’s that simple. Open nationally for hard copies and internationally for ebooks!

These are the books available as prizes! Almost all of them have inclusive worlds, most are #ownvoices for at least some aspect of the diversity, and all of them are vibrant, swoony reads with something heart-pounding or unique or incredibly imaginative at their core.


Plus these books!


Among these books are an ass-kicking heroine with OCD, a half-lake monstrous girl with one of the most convincing non-human voices I’ve ever read, a sister relationship that made me call home, an adult romance with a male submissive hero that Smart Bitches, Trashy Books gave an A rating, a queer-normative fantasy Kirkus called “a rare gem of a book,” a queer Rapunzel retelling in the magic mafia, a YA contemporary that’s Paris Geller falling for Ferris Bueller, and way more.

Game Play Instructions:

  • Show up on Twitter on the #EntangledBookHunt hashtag Friday, October 27, from 2-4pm Eastern time.
  • I’ll ask questions about specific books on my Entangled list, adult and YA. To answer, go to my website ( Choose the “editor” button. From the green hamburger menu in the top left, open the “YA Books” and “Adult Books” pages (also linked here). All questions will be drawn from the books on these pages. Click the book covers to see that book’s page with all the info.
  • Reply to the tweet with the question on the hashtag with the correct answer.
  • All correct answers to each question will be entered to win a copy of one of these books!
  • Print books are available to winners with a U.S. mailing address. Ebooks are available internationally.
  • Authors and other members of my team may show up to hang out on the hashtag, answer questions about writing, publishing, and their books, and be part of the fun!

Come see me at Barnes & Noble!

Friends in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska! I’m at Barnes & Noble in Sioux Falls this Saturday the 23rd from 1-6 PM for #bfestbuzz! I’ll be playing games, signing books, talking about writing, and letting you all know what a wonderful thing young adult fiction is. It’s empowering, it’s personal, it’s transformative. Come hang out, chat with me, win books/prizes, and get your book signed! Also there will be brilliant bestselling author Lydia Kang, whose new novel The November Girl broke my heart and put it back together again. You need to know about this book. Come have fun with us! Come whenever, stay as long as you like! 

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September Wishlist

New things I’m looking for this month at Entangled include:

I loved Lauraine Snelling’s Golden Filly series as a pre-teen & I’d LOVE a general-market version for YA. Racing, training, dressage, jumping, anything competitive. Lots of detail and that human-animal bond, and of course a strong central romance. Maybe a family stable story too?

Really swoony YA romance with a deep and compelling unrequited or impossible love story in any genre. Something that gets into our bones and makes us ache for the impossible romance. Make me think of Anna and St. Clair, or Starbuck and Apollo, or the early seasons of Elena and Damon, or what Rory and Jess should have been!

YA sci-fi set on Earth in modern-day with a strong romance. Something with a Leftovers or Stranger Things flair.

Sweet to spicy adult romance that revolves around clever and surprising set-ups, especially with strong sense of place and a vibrant community feel.

Adult romantic suspense, especially featuring hackers.

NA romance with a unique twist we haven’t seen before. Emergency response personnel? Yes please! Swift water rescue, aviation medicine, anything beyond firefighters and paramedics, though those are great, too. I’d love to see this in adult as well.

Beyond genre, I always want big stories about normal people, emotional depth with a lot of insight, voice that shows a mind at work. I acquire widely, but if you’ve read Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron, Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson, The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle, The November Girl by Lydia Kang, The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake, & The Importance of Being Scandalous by Kimberly Bell, you’ll see the heart I’m looking for! In case you want to see the things that tie these books together, you can see them all with a page for each on my YA books and adult books pages here on this site.

Head over to my submission directions for more on how to contact me with your manuscript.

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February Book Releases and Books on Sale!

Devil cover adult

February was a busy month for me. So many awesome things happened with my acquisitions at Entangled that I’ll probably have to split it into a few posts!

First, Nicola Davidson’s The Devil’s Submission, a femme dom Regency novella, and the follow-up to Surrender to Sin, released!  Smart Bitches, Trashy Books loved it and gave it an A-grade for good reason, so check out the rave review and go get your copy, because it’s $1.99. The Fallen Series is perfect for fans of feminist romance-driven erotica with a little kink, a lot of heat, and headstrong women who know what they want.ioe-cover

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron also released! This one is a young adult fantasy thriller that’s unlike anything you’ve ever read, and incredibly compelling. So compelling, in fact, that it earned a Kirkus star, a prestigious designation for books of exceptional merit, and they called it a “rare gem of a book.” Here’s what they had to say:Kirkus review

Island of Exiles was also announced as a Junior JLG certificateLibrary Guild selection. This is yet another mark of how compelling and thrilling this book is. And if fancy credentials aren’t enough to make you want a copy, let me convince you: I loved Island of Exiles because it’s an intense survival thriller, which is always exciting to me especially if it’s this well done. I also loved how huge and wild and real the world is–I felt like I’d left my own world completely behind when I read this one. It’s so real, it hurt to come back. And for all its complexity and richness, at its heart it’s a story of a soldier girl out to rescue her brother at any cost, in a world where siblings don’t really exist. Right now you can get the paperback for $7.40, so run for it, and check it out on Amazon Barnes and Noble Goodreads or Indiebound


Completely different from those first two, Any Boy But You by Julie Hammerle also released in February! It’s the first in her North Pole, Minnesota series, set in a Stars-Hollow-like town that’s a Christmas tourist village–in North Pole, it’s Christmas 365 days a year. And this first installment is You’ve Got Mail meets Pokemon Go. Bitter rivalry between the town’s two family-run sporting goods stores means Elena and Oliver can’t ever fall for each other–unless maybe they already have, and don’t even know it. At $2.99 for the ebook, you can’t go wrong with this escapist, heartwarming, funny read.

Amazon Barnes and Noble Goodreads Indiebound

And finally, Julie Hammerle’s brilliant debut, The Sound of Us, went on sale! It’s Pitch Perfect at opera camp, and it’s so nerdy you’ll love it. Every chapter starts with a tweet, and they tell their own little story, too. It’s one of the funniest, most human voices I’ve read in a long time, and it’s all about female friendship and discovering your passions and owning who you are. Kirkus Reviews also loved it, and since the paperback is on sale for less than $4, you don’t want to miss out on this brilliant debut. SOU graphic

Amazon Barnes and Noble Goodreads Indiebound

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