TFA's in the Spotlight: Featuring Chantress with author Amy Butler Greenfield


I am here to host the second feature for the Fury Awards. Captain Grandpa talked me into it, although I had an appointment set up with the United Nations to discuss my eventual takeover of mankind. Nope. Here I am. Featuring Amy Butler Greenfield, the author of CHANTRESS.


Amy Butler Greenfield was on her way to a history Ph.D. when she gave into temptation and became a writer. Among other honors, her books have won a PEN/Albrand Award, the Veolia Prix du Livre Environnement, and a Beacon of Freedom Award.

Born in Philadelphia, Amy grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. She studied at Williams College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she earned a graduate degree in history at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. She now lives with her family on the edge of the Cotswolds in England, where she writes, reads, and bakes double-dark-chocolate cake.

She loves music, romantic adventure, history, quirky science, and suspense, which explains how she came to write her first YA novel, Chantress, due out from Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

Let the Q&A begin!

LOKI: Pitch your debut novel, CHANTRESS, in a tweet. (Or else.)

AMY: A girl sings magic in a world that forbids it, & battles a vicious Protector with the help of a dashing spy.

LOKI: Forbidden magic, battles, and spies? Sounds like a world I'd like to visit. How did your mental image of CHANTRESS change from the first draft to the final copy? Or did it not change at all?

AMY: The hardest part was finding the voice!  I knew at the start what it should sound like, but then I took a wrong turn and wrote several drafts in a different point of view that didn’t quite work.  Finally I rediscovered that very first draft chapter, the one I’d discarded, and there it was—Lucy’s voice.  From that point on, everything came together.

LOKI: Yes, voice is something that I, even, often struggle with. And what is your favorite part of the writing process, from conception to polishing?

AMY: I have two favorites. One is the very beginning—playing with ideas and getting to know my characters.  The other is the late stage of revision, when the book is basically working, and my job is just to make it work better. The messy, in-between stages are tougher, especially the first draft. I just keep telling myself it’s okay to get it wrong, so long as I get it written.

LOKI: I did love the conceptualizing process. Though I'm unsure if I'll ever see the final draft with my MS...If you could go back in time to tell yourself one thing when you started writing CHANTRESS or started writing at all, what would you say?

AMY: “Trust your deepest instincts. Write the book that only you can write.”

LOKI: Give us three:

-Favorite superheroes:

AMY: Wonder Woman, Isis, & Superman

-Favorite foods to buy at a movie theatre:

AMY: Peanut M&Ms, Milk Duds, & pretzels (soft pretzels especially… yum)

-Three first things you do every morning:

AMY: Stretch, snuggle my small daughter, & read her a book

LOKI: Thank you very much for joining us! Now, human readers, here is information about Amy's novel, CHANTRESS, which comes out on May 7th, 2013 from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Sing and the darkness will find you.

Shipwrecked on an island seven years ago, Lucy has been warned she must never sing, or disaster will strike. But on Allhallows' Eve, Lucy hears tantalizing music in the air. When she sings it, she unlocks a terrible secret: She is a Chantress, a spell-singer, brought to the island not by shipwreck but by a desperate enchantment gone wrong.

Her song lands her back in England — and in mortal peril, for the kingdom lies in the cruel grasp of a powerful Lord Protector and his mind-reading hunters, the Shadowgrims. The Protector has killed all Chantresses, for they alone can destroy the Shadowgrims. Only Lucy has survived.

In terrible danger, Lucy takes shelter with Nat, a spy who turns her heart upside-down. Nat has been working with his fellow scholars of the Invisible College to overthrow the Lord Protector, and they have long hoped to find a living Chantress to help them. But Lucy is completely untrained, and Nat deeply distrusts her magic. If Lucy cannot master the songspells, how long can she even stay alive?

Beguiling and lyrical, dangerous and romantic, Chantress will capture readers in a spell they won’t want to break.
Find Amy Butler Greefield on: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Add CHANTRESS on Goodreads: Here
Buy CHANTRESS Here


Please vote on how excited YOU are to read CHANTRESS. These votes help us with the upcoming Fury Awards, so we appreciate all opinions!

The Newest YAvengers - Introduced via Loki's Journey, Part Four


NICK FURY: Let's just say I've been looking forward to this day. The day when all the Avengers finally got together as a team. But I wasn't looking forward to seeing Loki at a computer, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man standing over him.

"Well if isn't Fury himself," Stark says, obnoxious as always. Captain America and Thor look up and smile, and Loki, well, Loki grunts.

I raise my eyebrow. "Nice to see you too, Stark. Captain, Thor." I nod.

"So what brings you here, Fury?" Captain America asks.

"Well, Captain, it looks like the YAvengers aren't just a group of four anymore." At those words, Bruce Banner, Black Widow, and Hawkeye step into the room, their eyes zeroing in on Loki. "Bruce, Natasha, Clint, I'd like to personally welcome you to the YAvengers Initiative."



THOR: I scan the newcomers, sizing them up. All three seem small and very human at first glance, but I've seen Bruce Banner giant and green and brutal. I've seen the girl take out enemies with backflips, and I've seen the short man hit a far-off target with a single arrow. Hopefully they're still capable of achieving greatness.

"Um, sorry, but who said we were okay with this?" Iron Man says.

"We all did," I say. "We agreed we'd need help with the Fury Awards."

"Not true," Loki says, turning back to his computer screen to continue typing. "I don't need help from any of you. Especially not a short man with a bow and arrow."

Natasha shoots Loki a glare.

"Please excuse my brother," I say. "He lost his manners at birth."

"Yeah, we're happy to have you," Captain America says.

"We simply hope you're up to the challenges ahead," Iron Man says, dropping onto the sofa and lounging back.

"What, you think we can't handle books?" Natasha says with a smirk.


BLACK WIDOW: I fold my arms, surveying the others with a skeptical look. They seem to think that this whole "YA Literature" thing is going to be too difficult for an espionage expert like myself. I turn to Iron Man, raising an eyebrow. "Look, Stark. If I can handle Budapest, I can handle Bardugo."

"You know how I feel about Budapest, Natasha." Hawkeye reples. "No matter about that, though. I agree. How hard can it be?"

"Fine." Iron Man replies. "I guess you can stay."

"But there's one thing I don't understand." Bruce asks. "Why's he here?" He gestures at Loki, who just gives him a firey glare.

"I am here because I am destined to rule this planet!" he shouts.

"He's here," Captain America amends, "because he needs help on his YA novel."

"Oh!" I say. "Writing novels! I've done that a few times. It comes in handy on a long helicopter ride to airdrop into some dictator's compound. How can we be of service?"




CAPTAIN AMERICA: "You write?" I ask. I was starting to like the fact that we had three new members. Thor was slow, Stark simply never shut up about himself, and Loki, well, Loki seemed to be the only one I could agree with sometimes. And he's Loki.

Black Widow gestures at villain. "If he can write, what's so surprising about me writing?"

Loki snorts. "Everything."

"Tell me again," Hawkeye insists, arms crossed, "why Loki is here."

"Long story short, shortie," Stark says. "Loki tried to take over the world. You were there too, I recall, helping him?"

"Enough, Stark." I interrupt.

He raises his eyebrows and leans back. "By all means, Capsicle, you can take it from here."

"After Loki tried taking over the world, the traditional, violent way that all villains take, he settled for another way. Writing. He thought he could write-"

"I do not think, Grandpa. I know," Loki says coldly.

"Yes, okay. Loki *knows*," I correct myself with an eye roll, "that the world can be persuaded with a well-written book. And after writing said book, he received rejection after rejection and proceeded to blow up several bookstores."

"One. My brother only destroyed one, Captain," Thor says.

I sigh. I hated being interrupted. "Yes, well, in the end, we've decided to, er, help him."

Stark leans closer to the new three. "Actually, keep him occupied."

"I see," Hawkeye says. "I think I like the idea. What else will we be doing?"

"In short, saving the world one word at a time," Thor says dramatically. I laugh.

"I like that idea." I say. Hawkeye just stares.




LOKI: I snort. I'm not saving the world. I'm burning it down and making myself a crown from its ashes.

These three new Avengers... By Me, we don't need any more. I don't need any more. Between Captain America's daily difficulties switching off his alarm clock, Iron Man's gold membership card with Aveno, and Thor's habit of shattering all the coffee mugs, I've learned one thing--three Avengers is enough.

Though the girl human is rather good looking. Well, when I take over the world, they can be... minions. Or I can put an extra cushion in their prison cells--no, no, that would be overly gracious. Well, maybe Hawkeye can have the cushion. He could be my pet. Every supervillain needs a pet.

"We were doing just find overthrowing mankind before you got here," I grumble.

"You mean protecting," Captain America says.

The girl--I think Fury said his name was Natalie or something--walks up to me. I quickly log out of my super villains social networking site, on which I'd posted a picture of my breakfast (English muffin with evil jam) and a status update about... these new humans.

"We're here to protect everyone from you," Natalie says.

"Believe me, he's not that hard of a task," Iron Man says.

I narrow my eyes. "You're hair looks different today." The perfect insult. Iron Man touches his hair with wide-eyes. There is something a little different about him. Can't really put my finger on it...




HAWKEYE: Ever since walking in here, I've felt kinda weird. A little too much in the spotlight I guess. Especially since Loki's been looking at me like the way I look at my targets before I shoot. Or maybe he just wants to stuff me and set me on his shelf as a Collectors item.

"So, mission of the day is to stop Antler Man here from embarrassing himself big time by messing up the world, and then trying to rule over the ruins of a perfectly good civilization? That I can do." Besides, there's no way I'd back down from a chance to show up Loki. Not after him showing me up big time, by turning me into his slave. I shudder. That wasn't exactly my finest hour.

Iron Man snorts. "Behold, Legolas speaks."

Natasha rolls her eyes. Whereas Loki just looks disgusted, "You ignorant humans, as if I'm not aware you're really trying to prove what a great fool I am."

"How are we doing that exactly?" Captain asks.

Loki waves his hands at all the failed attempts to query. "Oh please, can you not see it?"

"See what brother?" Thor has the nerve to ask.

"THAT YOU THINK BY TURNING ME INTO SOMETHING I'M NOT, IT WILL MAKE THE PUNY HUMANS LIKE ME MORE. THEREFORE RUINING THE ILLUSION THAT I AM THE MOST POWERFUL AND THEY MUST LISTEN TO ME. BECAUSE BY CHANGING MY APPEARANCE, MEANS I REALLY HAVE TO CHANGE AND THEN EVERYTHING IS RUINED." Loki's face looks it's about to burst into flames. Can't deny I'd be sorry if it did.




HULK: I’ve been pretty quiet during the discussion. I’ve only questioned why Loki is here. I mean, come on. The guy’s brain is a bagful of cats. Even after we saved the world and recovered the Tessaract, I think you can smell crazy on Loki.

But Fury asked me to come in. I figure I’ll take the low-key approach to this new mission. Hopefully The Other Guy will agree.

Black Widow looks at me. “And we’re sure Dr. Banner can handle –”

“Of course he can’t,” Loki says. “How long since, how do you put it – oh yes. How long since your last incident?"

Puny god. “I’m fine,” I say. “I took Natasha’s suggestion and I do yoga now. Maybe you should join me, Loki? Learning to control your anger is always a good thing.”

Loki sniffs. “I’m always in control.”

Iron Man and I exchange looks.

“So,” I say. “Last time Fury wanted me to –”

“Swallow the Tessaract,” Iron Man puts in. He jabs my shoulder with a pencil. “Still nothing? Hm.”

Captain America gives Iron Man the look.

“Track the Tessaract because it emitted Gamma rays,” I finish. “Will we do the same with the Fury Awards?”

“’Emitted’?” Loki snorts. “Does anyone else know what he’s talking about?”

“I do,” says Iron Man. “Not that we’d expect you to understand, god of, what is it? Cluelessness?"

"God of awesomeness!" Loki yells.

I sigh. This is going to be an interesting mission.




IRON MAN: And that's my cue.

"Okay, okay. Let's all calm down a minute. Especially as it's, what, a whole half hour since anyone complimented my hair?"

More Avengers means more eye-rolling, but perhaps they're just trying to take in the stunning beauty from more angles?

It doesn't bother me, either way: I'm more than used to it from Pepper.

"Man of Iron, if you have something to say, then say it." Thor's on the defensive, as usual. I think he forgets sometimes that Loki's a dangerous psychopath. "We are somewhat occupied here."

"Yeah, yeah. I get it. Whatever. But I've got an announcement to make too." I wait until they're all looking at me (finally): "JARVIS? You ready?"

"At your service, as always." I'm hoping for a reaction from the newbies when they hear the voice of my AI, but they've clearly been schooled in 'disappointing impassivity' as they just look around.

"Right. Roll it." I grin as the new suit assembles around me. When it's done, I leave the mask up a minute. "New suit! You like it?"

"It looks exactly the same as the old one," says the Capsicle. "And it still runs on electricity."

I bristle. "It is not the same as the old one. We've stabilised the thrusters, improved internal cushioning, and doubled the precision of the lasers. And it's got an e-reader. I call it the Bookstark." I hoped that feature would interest them -- they're always going on about books -- but they're shaking their heads and turning away." Hey, guys? Where are you going?"

"Not everything is about you, you know," says Loki, who alone hasn't left. He still looks a little emotionally battered.

What do you mean? Of course it is. "Uh, dude, last time I looked, you were the one aiming for domination of the world. I'm just trying to bring more fabulous into it. And e-readers."


You've read through to the end - congrats! Give yourself a pat on the back. The original YAvengers - Stephanie, Amanda, and Hafsah, would like to thank you all for reading, supporting, and commenting on our blog since day one. As for those who applied to be one of the YAvengers four newest members - thank you, thank you, thank you for your interest.

Now. Please welcome our newest members:
As Iron Man: Miriam Joy
As Hulk: Cait
As Black Widow: Elyse
As Hawkeye: Hannah

Read more about them by clicking on the Who We Are page above.


Truth or Dare with Jessica Khoury, Author of Origin


It is my turn at last! This week I wandered through the streets seeking a human willing to participate in a dare I designed. It's truly fabulous, if I may say so. And the willing human I found is equally as fabulous. She goes by the name of Jessica Khoury.


Jessica Khoury is of Syrian and Scottish descent, and was born and raised in Toccoa, Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. Origin is her first novel. She still lives in Toccoa with her husband Ben, where she writes and coaches youth soccer. 

Find Jess: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog | Amazon

Why should you love Jess? This female has gorgeous red hair and a dashing smile. Her book ORIGIN is about a girl who could be a superhero if she wanted, as she was designed by scientists to be perfect and immortal. Reading this book made me wish we had more jungles on Asgard.

Jessica also has a book coming out in January called VITRO, a companion novel set on an island where scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. In fact, the book cover of VITRO was just revealed this past week. I have a feeling I'll end up living on an island for awhile after I read this book:


Intriguing, yes?

Now onto the main event...I gave Jessica the option of a Truth or a Dare. She is a very brave human indeed, as she picked the Dare.

I'm not like Loki, so I picked something fun for Jessica to do: Perform a Disney Song on video.

Watch her video below.




She makes a much more adorable villain than my brother, don't you think?

Human Friendly Guide to Go from First Draft to Polished Manuscript


So this is my human friendly (therefore, fool-proof) guideline to going from writing your first draft to having a polished manuscript. This is the most simplified version. A straight line. In reality, the road to getting to that polished manuscript will be very tangled and go in every which direction, but this is very basic, for our purposes. Just be wary that most paths generally look like this, but yours might not.

This is also the path I most recommend, after having attempted to skip some steps or do them out of order or run off my road altogether. Stick with this. It won't let you down.

the first draft


Get it down. Write it as quickly as possible. Whether or not you outline beforehand, just sprint through your first draft and try to make the best of it. Don't look back. Don't give up. Don't make edits or changes along the way. If you get another idea, write it down and save it in some brainstorming folder. If you make a change, write it down for when you get to revisions so you can go back and make necessary changes.

Bottom line: Finish.

personal revisions

Before you start this, I would recommend making some kind of outline of what you've got at this point. Make a list of your characters. Of your plots and subplots. Determine what you need to expand upon and what you need to trim. Make any of those changes that you meant to (but didn't!!!) while you were writing the first draft. 

Be harsh with yourself. Merge characters. Rearrange scenes to make certain plots/subplots stand out/fall back. Be sure that there is a clear division between the three thirds (beginning, middle, and end) of the novel. Tear your first draft to shreds.

What you should care about: Structure, Plot, and Characterization.
what you shouldn't care so much about: Style, Details

beta readers

Send to beta readers! They are lovely people who will read your manuscript for you and tell you what works and what doesn't. Generally, they volunteer for the task, and perhaps in the future you will return the favor for them. You can find betas at various mixers or on Twitter. 

How many betas? I'd recommend over 5. And all that should matter at this point is overall, big concepts, like the plot and characters and world-building. You do not need line edits at this point. 

Don't skip this step. I learned this the hard way.

Bottom line: Send to several betas for general suggestions on major story components

revisions

Simple. Make revisions one what they said. And be harsh. If more than 1 beta mentioned it, it's a problem. If all of them mentioned it, you bet that you better change it. If only 1 mentioned it, that doesn't mean it doesn't matter, but you should decide what exactly the problem is and whether or not you feel it needs to be addressed.

Be harsh. It's going to hurt. No one ever told you it wouldn't. But your story will be better for it. I promise.

What you should care about: Addressing all the suggestions, glancing at any stylistic problems

critique partners

If you feel you covered all of the suggestions and if you don't think you should do another round of betas to address the changes you've made, you can go to critique partners! Personally, I don't think you need more than 2 critique partners to go through your manuscript for line edits. First off, it's a lot of work for them. Secondly, you don't need 10 people telling you to change a sentence cause it sounds funny. 

It is not the job of your critique partners to tell you basic things. It is YOUR responsibility to educate yourself on grammar, punctuation (yes, especially regarding dialogue), technique, etc. There are a many great resources available for you to learn these things, like books, articles, and various magazines. Just as important, studying the writing of authors that you admire and deciding what it is about their style that you love. 

edits

Time to make all the smaller changes your CPs suggested to you. It's also time to go through your manuscript yourself as harshly as possible. Fix the paragraphs that leg. Change that typo in page 127. Change the MC's sister's name to something that doesn't being with G, like three other characters' names do. 

By now, your structural and huge problems have been addressed, so what you should be paying attention to is smaller details, from individual scenes to word choice. 

And when you finish these (it may take several read-throughs) your manuscript should be polished and good to go!

- - - - -

There is the simplified version of how to go from first draft to polished manuscript. These are the most basic of steps, and I really recommend (from experience) not skipping any. For instance, I skipped beta readers and major revisions for my manuscript before I queried it. Yeah, I'd had critique partners read it chapter-by-chapter, but it's hard to get a good essence of the overall story when you're focused on just editing chapter 14. This came to bite me in the butt when I got several R&Rs that completely came out of left field. But I learned my lesson. After revising it for them, I sent it to a ton of beta readers to look over before I queried again.

A word of advice: If you're revising/editing your manuscript while querying it, you shouldn't have queried it in the first place.

You could just end up getting rejected from an agent off of changes that you will make later. Hold off querying until you've completed all these steps and are completely confident in your manuscript. You shouldn't have a reason to open your manuscript again until you are ready to work on it once more, either for an R&R or for the lovely agent with whom you've signed. 


TFA's In the Spotlight: Featuring TRANSPARENT - and a Q&A with Author Natalie Whipple


Hey guys. Remember The Fury Awards we announced last month? No? Here's the link to all the details. It's not like Pepper Potts is around to remember everything for us. Anyway, The Fury Awards won't be awarded here - this is just the beginning, where we'll feature those books we've heard all the hype for. Without further ado, I'll introduce you to the author of TRANSPARENT (which is about a girl with the superpower to go invisible - just like my clone in Fantastic Four!), Natalie Whipple!

Natalie Whipple
Natalie Whipple, sadly, does not have any cool mutations like her characters. Unless you count the ability to watch anime and Korean dramas for hours on end. Or her uncanny knack for sushi consumption.

She grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook Thai curry, Pho, and “real” ramen.


Captain America: Thanks for joining us today, Ms Whipple. Can you pitch your debut, TRANSPARENT, in a tweet? If you're clueless, a tweet consists of 140 characters or less.

Natalie Whipple: When your father is a mind-controlling crime lord, it's hard even for an invisible girl to hide. Plus Pop-Tarts.

Captain America: Pop-Tarts? Okay. An invisible superhero sounds very much like Fantastic Four, in which a clone of mine (The Human Torch) acted in. What inspired you to write a superhero novel, with an invisible protagonist at that?

Natalie Whipple: Ah yes, Fantastic Four. Good times. And actually, that "type" of invisibility is what got me thinking about what it would be like to be permanently invisible. So often it can be turned on and off, and that means it doesn't have any drawbacks. With Fiona (and really the whole book), I wanted to explore superhuman abilities that also had drawbacks, that really impacted the character's lives for better or worse.

I picked invisibility for my MC because I thought it would be an interesting challenge and POV. Many invisible characters are often side characters, not the main one. And finally, who hasn't felt invisible at one time or another? I thought it could be something teens would identify with because that's how I felt often growing up.


Captain America: I see. Do you have a favorite line that was removed from the original draft of TRANSPARENT?

Natalie Whipple: Oh man, I don't know! I wrote the first draft four years ago, REwrote it three years ago, and it's been through more edits than I want to count. For the most part, though, all my favorite material was actually added in revisions—like the Taco Bell scene, the entire first chapter, and a extended scenes with The Pack.

Captain America: We YAvengers love hearing the tales of an author's journey to publication, can you tell us a little bit about your journey to getting TRANSPARENT published?

Natalie Whipple: TRANSPARENT is my 10th written novel, but my 1st published novel. So you can imagine that the publication road was pretty rocky for me. I won't go on with details, but it seemed it too me two years for everything: two years to get an agent, two to sell a book, and two for that book to actually come out. Including all the writing time before my agent search, it's taken me about 8 years to get here. Pretty much the entirety of my 20s.

It was hard. There were times when I honestly thought it wouldn't happen. There were moments when I was one step away from giving up. There were times that I questioned my sanity. My friends, family, and sheer boar-headed stubbornness kept me going until I finally made it. While there are a lot of things I wish I'd done differently, I'm proud of myself for sticking it out and reaching for my dreams.


Captain America: Give us the three:

-Items on your desk right now

Natalie Whipple: Drawing tablet, bowl of jewelry, adorable Japanese stationery.

-Types of snacks you're craving right now:

Natalie Whipple: Fudge, Cheetos, Code Red.

-Marvel Superheroes you love:

Natalie Whipple: Wolverine, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Storm, Mystique (Sensing a theme here?)

Also found a new love for Captain America due to the movie, and Spider Man because he's a nerd. I like nerds:)


Captain America: I have a feeling you don't mean that. But thanks for joining us! Now, here's a little bit about Ms Whipple's debut novel, TRANSPARENT, which releases on May 21st, 2013 from HarperTeen.

Transparent 

Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.


Find Natalie Whipple on: Goodreads | Blog | Twitter
Add TRANSPARENT to Goodreads
BUY THE BOOK


Keeping in theme to The Fury Awards, vote on how excited YOU are to read TRANSPARENT. Your vote could nominate TRANSPARENT to win The Fury Awards at the end of the season!

How to Act When You Meet Your Favorite Author


Good Monday, readers. I am here today to discuss a truly exciting event that occurred this past weekend. I journeyed to the kingdom of Los Angeles for a festival of magnificent proportions, where I observed and met authors whose books made me smile, cry, and want to smash windows with my hammer.

I'm sure you're wondering which authors I mean. I attended panels which included the likes of Elizabeth Wein, A.J. King, Gennifer Albin, Cornelia Funke, Lauren Oliver, Victoria Schwab, and Veronica Roth.

VERONICA ROTH.

She is one of my very favorite authors. She signed my copy of Divergent and wished me luck with my novel, and I nearly excreted human bodily fluids from excitement. That would have been quite embarrassing.

Since this experience has been on my mind since Saturday, I thought I would share some quick tips with you about things to do and remember when you meet your favorite author, in order to avoid embarrassment and appear like the attractive demi-god you really are.

DO:

  • brush your hair and put on your best cape
  • remember to bring any books you own that were written by the author
  • write your name on a sticky note so the author will know how to spell it (you'd think "Thor" would be simple, but alas)
  • tell the author if his/her book has inspired you in any way (he/she will love to hear it)
  • remember to bring a camera along for a picture, if that's allowed
DON'T:
  • tell the author you know where he/she lives and spend a lot of time watching him/her go about his/her daily life (this may come across as stalking)
  • spend 20 minutes sharing your life story or describing your novel when there's a long line of people waiting behind you (I made Loki stay home because I was sure he'd do this)

Above all, remember it's perfectly normal to be shy/scared/excited and not have any idea what to say.

Yes, even demi-gods get shy.

Sincerely,
Thor

Judging a Blog by it's Cover...Er... Design

They say don't judge a book by its cover. But we do. And as humans, we always will.

Why?

We're visual creatures. We need to see to believe. We need to be intrigued to continue. We need curiosity to advance.

And as such, you need to focus on design. Having a designer as an alter-ego makes me prone to notice many aspects of design a non-designer may not. But there's a universal truth to design that every human being understands: if its ugly, we won't look.

And today, I want to talk about your blog design.

If you're a book reviewer or author, chances are you have a blog - and if you're an author without a blog, please get one. But that's a topic for another day.

I come from a time where colors weren't as bright as they are now. Where a million different colors weren't sitting at my fingertips with just a six-digit number sequence. While there are pros to having such color and design freedom, there are cons too.

-Going blind. You're eccentric, we get it, but that doesn't mean your blog's background should match that bright yellow dress that you absolutely love. A computer screen, in case you didn't know, runs on a form of electricity, and, as most electrics do, it glows. So that bright yellow? Just became neon. And is pretty much the same as forcing me to stare at the sun. The chances of me clicking out of your website/blog are very strong. And it's not just yellow - its any color that makes you squint. Does that mean you shouldn't use yellow? Of course not. But there's a way to use it without the color glaring in a reader's eyes.

-Declutter. Blogs have sidebars, as you know. I highly recommend having just one simply so its easier on the eyes - to your right or left, whichever works best for you. Your blog's sidebar is like a bulletin, where you pin useful links, giveaways, events and such for easy reference. You don't need a multitude of buttons and useless text. And those scrolling widgets where a bunch of buttons scroll through a little box? *rubs eyes* They hurt.

-Uniform it. Think of your blog as a staircase. Every step should be uniform. If one was bigger than the rest, you would notice - even if the step is way ahead or way behind. Your fonts should be the same size throughout the post and throughout all the posts on your blog. Sure, sometimes you need to add bigger text and that's okay, but when I look at post one and post two and they've got completely different sizes AND fonts, I notice the lack of diligence, and I'll be quick to assume that the content itself lacks diligence too. The easiest way to ensure a seamless post is to create the said post in your blog's HTML editor, it may seem daunting at first, but it's really very easy. When you want to separate text groups into paragraphs, simply including these two bits of code and you'll be fine: <br /><br />.

There are hundreds of book blogs out there and millions of blogs. Readers lose interest faster than Thor loses interest in a new gadget. Ensure that you and your blog are remembered, favorited and revisited by posting quality content and keeping the visual aspect of your site memorable - in a good way.

Shawarma Joint Book Club - SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo


The YAvengers celebrate their days off by stopping by the Shawarma Joint Iron Man discovered back when they thwarted Loki's plans to take over the world.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *drops into chair* Read anything good lately?

LOKI: *raises eyebrow* Since when did you read, old man?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *shrugs* *is silent for a moment* People read to go places, right? New places they've never seen. I never thought I'd see the future. And now that I think about it, I actually went somewhere, like in a book, out of time, out of place. It might not be real, but reading makes me feel better, not so... messed up.

-------------SILENCE FALLS--------------

LOKI: I swear I heard a cricket chirping. Anyway, I read SHADOW AND BONE not too long ago, by a mortal named Leigh Bardugo.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
Buy the book | Add to Goodreads
CAPTAIN AMERICA: YOU read a book?

LOKI: *crosses arms* Yes, Grandpa, I can read.

THOR: I am surprised, brother. That is a book of greatness!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Hold up. How did Loki get into our shawarma joint?

LOKI: The front door.

IRON MAN: You can also leave via the front door.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Exactly. Now leave.

THOR: No, wait, I want to hear why he likes SHADOW AND BONE.

IRON MAN: Okay, point break, he can stay. *turns to Loki* What did you think of SHADOW AND BONE, Loki? Because no one cares.

LOKI: *bristles* I liked the giant black hole in the book. Excellent.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *snorts* Sounds like you would. I really liked the story as a whole.

LOKI: Did you read SHADOW AND BONE, Stark?

IRON MAN: *takes a bite* No.

THOR: WHAT?

IRON MAN: What? It's not like I have time to read every single book out there. I only read the best.

THOR: You must read this one.

LOKI: It IS the best. Though nothing is better than me, so it is second best.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I agree, one of the best books I've ever read. And I've been around a long time.

IRON MAN: The best, huh? How so?

LOKI: Giant. Black. Hole. Do I make myself clear?

IRON MAN: There are black holes in space too, Loki, you don't see me reading them.

THOR: There's lots of intrigue and danger. Also magic.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I love that magic is actually a form of science in the world. And betrayal. You know what it's like to be betrayed, Stark. This book is for you.

LOKI: There is nothing wrong with darkness. And the magic in the world is quite exact, yes. The world building overall was most glorious.

IRON MAN: Tell me more.

LOKI: The character development throws you. You can't trust anyone, and it's chilling to read.

THOR: You would like the love interest, Mal. He has nice hair.

IRON MAN: Fabulous hair, huh? I might just like that guy.

THOR: Great! You can borrow my copy.

LOKI: You're not having mine.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I wasn't a fan of Mal, really.

LOKI: I myself enjoyed the Darkling character.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Same here, as odd as it seems.

THOR: I'm Team Mal and proud.

IRON MAN: So I take it there's a love triangle? I'm done with those.

LOKI: It's not the love triangle you think.

IRON MAN: Well, you wouldn't know love if it danced in your face, idiot.

LOKI: There's one in my book. *crosses arms*

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Imagine that.

THOR: It's not a Hunger Games-type love triangle by any means.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Loki said it was the Hungry Games.

LOKI: You said it was the Hungry Games.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: No, you did.

THOR: Well, it is not the Hungry Games.

IRON MAN: You would know, Thor.

LOKI: ANYWAY, it is not a regular love triangle, trust me.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: No one trusts you, Loki. But really, Stark, it's not a traditional love triangle. It starts off as one but there's a big twist I never saw coming.

IRON MAN: I rarely fall for twists. I see them before I even open the book.

LOKI: Love triangle aside, the Russian-esque setting was really interesting. And I don't even care about human cultures.

THOR: Yes! I loved the setting.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Oh, that was the best part.

IRON MAN: That's great and all *yawns* but I'm not all that convinced.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Look, Stark, there are incredible, fleshed-out characters, a vivid scenery, really good food - I know how much you love food - and a plot you've never seen before - complete with a twist I swear you won't see coming.

LOKI: You could learn something from it.

IRON MAN: I know everything... But I must say, it isn't always that you find a book that has everything in it. I'm interested. Not 100%, but I'm interested.

LOKI: I can make you 100% interested.

IRON MAN: I don't want to hear you speak, Loki. You shouldn't even be here in the first place.

LOKI: As far as I'm concerned, you're the odd one out here, Stark. Everyone else loves the book.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *laughs* For once, I agree with him.

THOR: Yup, I like Loki better than you today, Stark.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: You always do. He's your brother.

THOR: Not true. Most days I can't stand him.

LOKI: I don't think I like any of you better than normal.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: You do, Loki, you just don't want to admit it.

IRON MAN: *leans back* I get it. I'll read the book and prove you all wrong.

THOR: Good. About the reading part, you will prove no one wrong other than yourself.

LOKI: Agreed.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Great! I knew you'd come through. And trust me, you will love it. Even more than... your hair.

IRON MAN: *rolls eyes* We'll see about that.

Later, when the YAvengers are getting ready to leave the Shawarma Joint:

THOR: *claps Captain America on back* That was not so bad, Captain. We shall meet up again for more shawarma and more books soon.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I would like that.

LOKI: *rolls eyes*

Loki's Journey to Finding an Agent - Part Three




CAPTAIN AMERICA: I couldn't believe it. Iron Man. Stark. THE Tony Stark just shrugged and made the expression that meant he was impressed with the master of mischief. I was sure I was dreaming.

"Loki actually wrote a hook?" I ask. Stark didn't respond. Typical. Can't expect him to offer half-praise to someone a second time.

"My brother does have a brain inside his head, Captain." Thor responds with a proud smile. Loki frowns.

"What did you think, nitwit?" He spits at me.

I raise my eyebrows and turn to Stark. "So he's got a hook. Now he needs to explain it. Condense the plot and introduce his characters."

"Really, America? I didn't know that." He crosses his arms and leans back. "Please, do go on telling me how a query should be written because I don't know."

I know sarcasm when I hear it but I've never had it hurt as much as it does now.

Loki snickers and Thor looks confused, as always. "Stark may know how a query should be written, wise guy, but you don't."

"I'm a god, I know everything." Loki says haughtily.

"Oh yeah? Should I remind you of the one hundred and one rejections you've gotten from agents?"

He makes a face.

I sigh. "Can we just move on? Why don't you write the next bit. Tell us more about... Isaac and his plans for world domination."


LOKI: I glare at the computer. It stares back blankly.

"I don't know what happens next," I say. "I haven't gotten that far yet."

Captain America frowns. "But I thought you already sent out queries?"

"I did."

"Then what did you write, brother, if you did not write about your book?" Thor asks.

I groan and pull up my email inbox (dictatorofearth13 at gmail dot com). I open up one of the queries that I sent and turn the laptop around on the table so the three imbeciles can look at it.

"Dear Human Agent," Captain America reads. He looks at me. "Not exactly personal."

Stark snorts. "This is gold." He leans forward and reads the entire email aloud. "I am writing to you because you are the means to achieving my first step of world domination. I have bestowed you a great honor by writing this query. I would not just choose merely any human to represent me on my path to glory.

"My book will be of the little adult genre, about a boy who, after several wonderfully horrific events, realizes that good does not always triumph over evil. In order to strike a balance, humanity and its pathetic whims needs to be ruled.

"I am Loki of Asgard, future ruler of this planet. When not writing little adult books, I blog and plot world domination.

"You are welcome for the honor of my consideration. If you do not reply immediately and positively, I will be forced to destroy you. Note that this is a multiple submission."

Stark, Captain America, and Thor exchange glances and simultaneously burst out laughing.

"Should we name the things wrong with this chronologically or just list our favorites?" Stark asks.

"Perhaps this is one of those things you post to the Tube of You," Thor says.

Captain America frowns. "I thought YouTube only accepted 140 characters. Or was that Twitter?"

"Nevermind the modern world," Stark says. "Let's focus on this query." Then, in a lower voice, he adds, as if I cannot hear, "We can discuss worldwide exposure later."


THOR: "First of all, brother, the genre is known as 'young adult,' not 'little adult,'" I tell Loki.

He shoots me daggers with his eyes. "Only you would focus on a petty detail like that."

"Do you want agents to take you as a fool?" I thunder.

"Cool it, hermanos," Stark says, pushing me aside so he can see the computer screen. "Yes, that's Spanish for 'brothers.' I know fifty languages. And I know you wish you were me. Moving on - Loki, the number one problem with this whole situation is that you haven't written the book yet."

"I assumed I could sell it based on the topic alone," Loki says.

"Yeah, good luck with that," Captain America says. "Almost never happens."

"Are you a celebrity?" Stark asks. "No. Are you a guy with a major evil complex? Yes. But that's not a lot going for you in the world of publishing. You need to sit down, write the whole book, revise it until it's no longer a mess, and then query it."

Loki sighs. "Is this really necessary?"

"It is, brother," I say. "It is difficult to become a published writer, that is what makes it so special when it happens."

Loki stares at his computer screen, his face flitting between rage and calm. I grip my hammer, waiting for him to explode. Instead, he pushes his chair back and stands.

"Well, then," he says. "Come back tomorrow. The book will be ready."

I can't help laughing. "Loki, it will take more than a night."

Loki lifts the computer off the desk and smashes it on the ground. I stumble back as pieces of metal and wire fly everywhere. So that is what a computer is made of. "I DO NOT HAVE MORE THAN A NIGHT."

Stark steps forward, rolling his eyes. He looks... bored.

IRON MAN: "Loki is a hopeless case," I say. "Can't we go back to insulting him instead of offering help? Or better yet, why don't we just force an agent to represent him so we can get this over with?"

"Yeah!" Loki says from the corner. "I like this plan."

"SILENCE, brother," Thor snaps, running his finger along his hammer. “We are going to make you earn an agent.”

“Agreed,” Captain America says.

I sigh. They are all idiots here. We could so easily get rid of Loki by forcing an agent to represent him, but no. Apparently he has to “work for it.” They’re all so ignorant of both logic and my drop-dead good looks, I am not even sure why I still talk to them. "Loki," I say, "do you even know how to write a Young Adult book?"

"Of course. I've read plenty of them. All you do is give your book a vampire and it's destined to sell billions. That's why I'm adding myself into the book in teenage vampire form and calling the character 'Loki Cullen.'"

I roll my eyes and go back to checking my gorgeous hair in the mirror. "First of all, Loki, if anyone here could pass as a hot teenage vampire, it would be me and certainly not you. Secondly, not every YA book needs to be like Twilight."

"No problem. I'll just combine The Hungry Games or whatever that other Little Adult book is called and have the vampires fight each other to the death. That way it’ll be unique and a bestseller."

I run my hand through my perfect hair, shaking my head. How is it that I'm the only one with some sense here? "You know you need themes in your book, too, right?"

"I know, and I have several overriding themes," Loki responds. "One is that humans are idiots. Another is that I am the most wonderful creation on the planet. And last but not least, my most important theme is a message to those gullible young people that world domination by yours truly is the only solution to our problems."

“Loki, you moron, I thought I just had to teach you how to write a query. Now I have to show you how to write a novel, too?”

Captain America looks up. “Apparently so,” he says gravely.

Then, Thor, Captain, and I all turn to Loki.

“Here goes nothing,” we all say at once.


The Missing Setting: A Loki of Asgard Novel


I'm an avid believer that dialogue is the most important part of a scene. It's how characters get from point A to point B, it showcases the personalities of these people we've created, and it draws our eyes--especially when there has been a lot of narration before it.

It's fun to get lost in dialogue, right, humans? But you know what irks me? Going through a manuscript, often my own, and losing myself in what the characters are saying. Suddenly I'm floating higher and higher like a balloon, or a nuclear warhead, and I don't have the faintest idea what I'm standing on. The setting has disappeared.


The Case of the Missing Setting

Who: Characters A and B
Where: No idea
With What: Too much dialogue and body language narrative, not enough grounding to the setting

Notes: The two suspects begin talking, and after a few paragraphs, the setting has disappeared! The reader contacted me, the god of mischief, to find the setting and bring it back.
What makes this picture interesting?
The character in this setting.

The Clues

#1: Back and forth dialogue

Notes: The first thing I did to begin my investigation was look at the page. More of the words were within quotation marks than not. I glanced at the cover of the manuscript. It's a book, not a screenplay. Could have fooled me. And if it could have fooled me, a human reader must be completely lost.

#2: The bulk of the narration is make up by speaker tags

Notes: I skimmed my finger down the page. He said. She said. He shouted. She whispered. I start to get their voices in my head, echoing around a scene fo white space. They can't be statues while they're talking, can they? The humans I know tend to multitask, fidget, and wave their arms about.

#3: The other narration is made up of body language.

Notes: Ah, there is some action. He wipes the sweat off his forehead. She crosses her legs and smirks. So they're not simply talking. Now I can picture the characters in my head as well as hear their voices, but they still only occupy white space.

#4: No setting description to be found

Notes: By the end of the scene, with the last sentence, the writer reminded me where this scene was taking place. The runaway setting has been found! But to return it to where it should be...


The Solution

#1: Setting description
Doesn't their conversation seem all the more
epic because of where it's taking place?

This one is easy. Add some description of the setting in wherever the characters are. If they're walking, what are they passing? If they're in a crowded room, what are the others doing around them? If they're by themselves, is there a TV playing in the background? A clock ticking? An oven beeping?

#2: Actions that ground characters in the setting

Instead of simply using body language, use the setting like props. A character can lean against the door frame. Look away at the cars passing them on the street. Tap their heel on the concrete floor. By making your characters interact with their environment, you make them seem more real. 

#3: Find a more interesting setting

Yes, dialogue is wonderful, but it shouldn't be the only thing capturing a reader's interest. If you aren't interested enough in your setting to explain it better, then maybe this scene should take place somewhere else. Use setting as either a tool to move the plot forward (i.e. a conversation that takes place at the scene of the crime where your character finds a clue) or to further develop your characters (i.e. the conversation takes place in a character's bedroom or house).

Case Closed

This is a common mistake, humans. I've done it before, you've done it before. It's easy to be so enraptured in what our characters are saying that we forget to paint the scene behind them. But your dialogue, characters, and scene will immediately improve if you ground everything into the setting. Trust me (the god of mischief wouldn't lead you astray, would he?).




Finding Time To Write When You're a Demi-God



It's hard to be a demi-god, I'm not going to lie. People expect so much from you. They expect me to look pretty and make thunder and save the world, even when all I want to do is down a few tankards of coffee and chug out some papers of my novel. I mean really, can't I get a break?

But I still make the whole writing thing work. I have to because I love it.

If you're in a similar dilemma, trying to find time to write when you're a demi-god (or a human), here are some things to remember:

  1. A dirty bedroom or house is nothing to be ashamed of. (My adopted brother's house is worse, trust me.)
  2. If friends get angry with you for never going out with them, smash them with a hammer apologize in your book acknowledgements. (Sorry, Loki grabbed the keyboard for a second there.)
  3. There are ingenious technologies that allow you to jot down story ideas on the go, while you're out saving the world. For example, the texting tool on a cell phone or a voice recorder. I'm slowly learning how to use them, and if I can learn, so can you.
  4. Twitter reminds me of coffee. It's so amazing you'll want to drink more and more of it -- er, spend more and more time on it once you start, so be wary of that.
  5. Coffee can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack.

That's all I can think of for now. Do you have any tips for me?

Want to Join the YAvengers Initiative? Here's Your Chance


The YAvengers are getting pretty lonely, and we want YOU to join us... Moreover, I need someone to talk to other than Loki, Thor, and Iron Man, who jabber pointlessly day after day. And with the kickoff of The Fury Awards, we'll be needing more hands around here.

We're on the lookout for possibly three new recruits: Black Widow, The Hulk, and Hawkeye.

Rather than simply asking those we know, we decided to offer an application, because we want to consider everyone who would (and could) be a wonderful addition to the team - people we might not even know yet. Because let's face it, no one knew me. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn. And if I had never tried, or if I was never given that chance, I'd be a skinny, dead guy in Brooklyn right now.

But let's not dwell on the past. Would you like to be a YAvenger?

Starting today, anyone (yes, any age, with any sort of/no writing experience, anything) can fill out the application found below. No one will be judged by who they are, but we are looking to see what YOU have to offer in terms of dedication and enthusiasm, and as such, all the questions in the application apply to the YAvengers and nothing else. Rest assured, only we will see your responses, and I'll make extra certain that Loki doesn't do anything mischievous with your answers.

Points to remember:
-Your submission is completely safe, answers will be shared with no one.
-You may or may not be assigned the Avenger you choose.
-If your submission goes through successfully, you should receive a confirmation message.
-You will be contacted if we believe you will be a good fit for us.
-Deadline for submissions are April 19th.
-Have fun! And be sure to spread the word.

Talking Too Much, Overusing Words, Repeating, Repeating - You Get My Drift

Last night, I took a stroll through the #indiechat over on Twitter as my alter-ego @IceyBooks.

Things got a little heated when the mention of over-doing posts and repeat-content across several blogs came along and while that is a discussion for another day, the instance got me thinking.

While overuse and repeated content may occur in blogging, there's a lot of overuse in our writing too.

And there are many times when we wouldn't notice it - words being used too many times, descriptions repeated again and again. I know because I'm guilty of it too. And because we're human (with the exception of Thor and Loki, apparently), we forget and overuse words or overdo... things. Just like Iron Man always talks about his fabulous hair.

But there are ways to not just fix it, but notice it too. Because what is the point of fixing if you never noticed it in the first place?

Precioussss. When you fall in love with a special word to describe a specific action, its undeniably tempting to use it again and again and again. But readers will notice. It will make their race to finish a page jerk to a stop because they'll remember that special word (I say special because this particular word is rarely used) and this moment of remembering will halt the flow of your sentence. So use that word once. Keep it special like my tangy roast not overdone like Thor's burnt toast.

Over-explaining. You human. Me human. You know. Me know. There are times when we'll write a beautiful sentence - one that is completely quote-worthy and will make the person watching you grin think you're a complete nutcase. Leave that sentence. Don't elaborate more than needed. Quote-worthy sentences rarely need explaining. That's why they're worthy of quoting. That's why they're beautiful. Because you, the talented writer, were able to use a few words to describe so many things. So don't overdo it. Don't ruin the effect of your words with elaboration. We get what you're saying.

So now you know how to avoid overuse. But how do you fix it?

Read aloud. That's write. I mean, right. Sit back and read your manuscript aloud. If you're afraid of someone listening in (you know how ears have walls and walls have ears?), barricade yourself in your room and whisper-read. So long as you can hear your voice, you'll notice your overuse and much more than that, actually. Try it.

Get new eye balls. No, you can't buy new ones. Or I would get new ones all the time, living with Iron Man, Thor, and Loki. Get a new set of eyes to look over it - a brother, sister, friend. Better yet, find yourself a CP (critique partner) who will swap their writing with yours and offer awesome feedback.

Well, there you have it! Overuse is annoying and damaging to your work. So just remember to keep it simple! And read out loud. Thank me later.

-Captain America

My Hair Gets Rejected and Your Book Does, Too




You all see me as an amazing role model, right? Flawless, perfect, drop-dead good looking, always getting what I want, and everything else positive in the world? (I would go on, but you know how I hate to brag.) 

Well, here’s some terrifying news for you: sometimes I too get rejected.

*gasps from the crowd* *Captain America points and laughs in the background*

It’s shocking, I know, but it’s true. My hair, for example, although it is loved and praised and admired 99% of the time, gets rejected (mostly by Loki.) I don’t understand it either, because I mean really, I’m beautiful, but it happens, and it sucks. The thing is, though, everyone gets rejected. Everyone. single. one. It happens even to the best of us. I always assumed everyone realized this, but I still see people struggling with rejection, not knowing how to handle it, letting those query form rejections get to them. So I decided to make a list of three simple rejection tips I’ve learned from my experience in hair rejection. That way, the next time you’re querying your book and an agent says no thank you? You’ll handle like a pro. (As I do.)

1)      Don’t take it personally. You need to separate yourself from your book, just like I separate myself from my hair. Agents are not rejecting you. They’re rejecting something you wrote, and even “rejecting” is a stretch—they’re passing. They’re saying this is either not right for them, not something they have the editor contacts to sell, or tons of other unimportant reasons. Rejections don’t mean they dislike your book, and most certainly that they don’t dislike you. Keep the two separate, and only make vendettas when needed, like mine with Loki. (I would have one with his idiot brother as well, but he’s too stupid to be entertaining. A vendetta with him is a complete waste of time, the way I see it.)

2)      Remember it is all subjective. It is a universal truth that my hair is gorgeous. However, some people, like Loki, are not willing to accept that fact. Whether it’s because they’re ignorant, jealous, or just don’t like beautiful hair doesn’t matter; the point is, not everyone is going to love your book. The Fault In Our Stars is the highest rated book with over 100,000 ratings on Goodreads, and yet with all that love, tons of people still hate it. Many people cite it as their favorite book of all time. Others cite it as their least favorite. Pointing being? This whole business of books subjective. Think of querying an agent like picking out a book to read; you both love YA, but maybe you’re more into action-oriented YA books and buy those, while others may prefer preachy contemporaries. Does that mean you’ve read all preachy contemporaries in existent and decided they’re all terrible, rambly nonsense? No. It just means they aren’t, for whatever your reason, your kind of read. So, I repeat: It’s all subjective. What one agent loves another might hate and another still might not have any emotion toward at all.

Getting back to the hair, most people like beautiful hair, but there are always people like Loki who don’t seem to appreciate it.

3)      Remember why you’re doing this. I’m keeping my hair beautiful for many reasons. First and foremost, because the ladies love it. Second, it gives me an advantage over the other Avengers—well, “advantage” implies competition and the only time any of those idiots could be considered my competition is if you take my charming personality, the rest of my dashing good looks, and my complete and utter perfection out of the equation. Last but not least, I enjoy using my hair as a way to put Loki down and annoy him as much as possible. Those are my reasons. So whenever someone insults my hair? I remember those reasons. I remember why it is I wake up every morning and spend hours fixing my hair, and I remember why I love it—and why it’s worth it. Why a few rejections aren’t going to stop me. The next time you get rejected and feel down about your book, remember why you’re doing this, why you’re writing. You write because you love it, because you can’t not do it, so why should you let a few subjective “no thank you”s from agents stand in your way? You shouldn’t. A rejection mean little to begin with beyond the fact that just one agent isn’t falling in love with one book you write, so don’t make it out to be something it isn’t. Rejections are an opinion, and that’s it. Not a “your book sucks!” not a “you shouldn’t be writing!” not an “I hate you!” All they mean is that the agent isn’t connecting with your characters, or premise, or some little, subjective thing. Don’t let a rejection make you want to stop writing. But if it does, go back to why you’re doing this in the first place: because you love it.

     -Iron Man

Loki's April Fools Prank on Captain America

Loki was sitting at his computer when Captain America walked into the room. Loki smiled and rubbed his hands together.

LOKI: Hey, Grandpa, look at this

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I'll pretend I didn't hear that. Hey, Loki, what is it?

LOKI: I thought I'd educate you more in modern technology.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Since when did you want to help me? And what do you know about 'modern tech' anyway?

LOKI: I know everything about 'modern tech.' I am a god. And I get tired of your stupidity.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: There is only one god. And he does not look like you. Just show me whatever it is so I can go.
Loki rolls his eyes.

LOKI: It's called Google Nose.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: You mean Google Knows.

Loki shows Captain America the screen.

LOKI: No, you idiot. Google NOSE.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Wait. That's a typo, right? I mean, Google DOES know everything.

LOKI: Google is not a person. But anyway, it is not a typo. This is modern tech.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Is she... is she smelling her screen?

LOKI: The Internet has merged with reality.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Woah. I was just thinking about that the other day. I mean, tech offers everything, but you can't actually smell the forest or the lemons or the real world.

LOKI: Now you can.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I'm impressed. So how does it work?

Captain America sits down beside Loki.

LOKI: Go ahead. Click "Try Google Nose." You do know how to click, right?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Yeah, greenie. I do.

LOKI: Greenie?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Yes. Get rid of that ridiculous green and gold outfit and I'll call you something else.

LOKI: You wear a star on your chest. I've seen similar clothes at Gymboree.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Since when did you start going to infant clothing stores?

LOKI: It's at the mall. Next to Auntie Anne's. Nevermind that. Just click "Try Google Nose."

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Auntie Anne's? I thought I was the Grandpa.

Captain American clicks.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: It says 'Dumpster.' Of all the scents to get me to like them, they choose dumpster?

LOKI: Huh. I got lemons. Modern tech must not like you. Now click "Smell."

CAPTAIN AMERICA: It says "transmitting."

LOKI: That means it's about to work.

Captain American leans into the screen and sniffs.

LOKI: Do you smell it?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: ....no.

LOKI: Maybe you need to try again. Or do you have allergies or something? Really, modern tech is not this hard to work.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: No, I don't have allergies Dr. Idiot. Where's the smell? Did you smell lemons?

LOKI: Actually, I did. Why, can you not?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Did you actually smell lemons or the bottle of Pledge you spilled on the table last night?

LOKI: Fine. I'll click it again, if you don't believe me.

Loki clicks.

LOKI: Airport terminal... I blew one up once. And this does smell like it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: What's that supposed to smell like? Click again.

LOKI: Fine. I'll click again, if that makes you happy.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: [deadpans] It would make me happy, yes.

LOKI: Garlic breath.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Now that I have first-hand experience of, smelling your breathe all the time.

LOKI: Sniff, Grandpa.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Oh look, there are little wafts of the scent being transmitted!

LOKI: *sighs*

CAPTAIN AMERICA: I don't... I don't smell anything.

LOKI: Maybe you should press your face to the screen.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: HEY. Stop pushing me. My nose!

Loki cackles.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *struggles* You-stop-Loki!

LOKI: *lets go of Captain America* April Fool's, Grandpa!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: They still do that? April Fool's?

LOKI: It's the one day of the year allotted for mischief. Like my holiday. And we STILL do it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Your holiday, huh? *wipes nose* You got me, Loki. Let me give you a hug.

LOKI: Maybe you should just buy me a cake.

Captain America lunges.

LOKI: Don't touch me.

Loki runs.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: *grabs shield* Stop running, coward!

Loki laughs manically.

Captain America makes sure no one is watching, then sniffs screen again.

LOKI: (to self) Even better, I got a webcam shot of Grandpa's nose hairs.