Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Future of Agents

Another article sent to me via The Writer's Digest. You can link directly to the article here.

The Future Role of Agents
September 29, 2009
by Jane Friedman
You know how things work today. But what can you expect from literary agents in years to come? Let us give you a glimpse into the future and explain how it will affect you, the writer.
Given the magnitude of change underway in publishing, some have questioned the future role and necessity of the literary agent. Will agents continue to be the middlemen between publishers and authors? Do authors still need agents if they can get discovered or published on their own? Will publishers rely on agents when they can uncover talent through websites like HarperCollins’

There are two sides to this discussion: the changing needs and roles of the author versus the changing needs and roles of the publisher. Let’s start with the publisher.

Many in the industry believe publishers need to become less horizontal and more vertical (or specialized) in their approaches. Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks has said that targeting niche categories is the only way publishers can survive. So has publishing futurist Mike Shatzkin.

I work for a special-interest nonfiction publisher (F+W Media, parent company of WD) that’s been vertical in its approach all along. We serve niche audiences, know our markets better than most agents, and find authors and create great-selling books without agents.

You may agree this makes sense for nonfiction publishing, but what about fiction? Who will separate the wheat from the chaff?

First, keep in mind it’s the mainstream New York houses that accept only agented submissions. If you take a look at some of the genre fiction publishers (those that specialize), as well as presses focusing on more literary work, many—including Harlequin, Algonquin, DAW and Tor/Forge—accept unagented submissions.

Second, it is mandatory for publishers’ survival that they develop online communities, digital content and consumer-facing programs (rather than retailer-focused programs). Former Soft Skull Editorial Director Richard Nash suggested during a talk at this year’s BookExpo America that if he were starting a publishing house from scratch today, he’d propose a community-based system that brings readers and writers together in a virtual roundtable to edit, publish and discuss content. Such models acknowledge the disintermediation we’re witnessing in the culture at large, where the middlemen are disappearing. Fiction publishing is not exempt from disintermediation, and publishers of every category need to cozy up to the particular community of readers and writers supporting them.

So I believe the future of agents will be determined more by the needs and the future of authors. What does that future look like? This is where things become less clear, but here are three critical issues.


Right now everyone’s confused—authors, agents, publishers. Authors need agents who can make sense of what’s happening, be proactive in negotiating and renegotiating contracts to take advantage of new opportunities, and navigate the increasingly complex ways content can be sold, licensed and repackaged. Agents need to be able to do this in a way that will fairly compensate authors (so they can continue to produce great material), but also ensure publishers can sustain their business models, too.

Both Shatzkin and Nash have suggested that contracts between authors and publishers need to be revolutionized—that today’s boilerplate contract is inflexible and outdated. One idea put forth by Nash is that contracts become time-based, with potential for renewal, which dodges the sticky “in print” or “out of print” question that now determines the termination of most book contracts.

Whatever happens, agents need to innovate as much as the publishers in developing a model that works, and avoid contract restrictions that make it difficult to partner and grow as the industry changes.


It’s essential for writers to know how to use new technologies and online tools to help build and reach their readership, to create visibility and a brand around their content, and to be associated with a message or story greater than just one book or product.

For anyone in this publishing game for the long run, it can’t be about the sale of one book—and this is where sometimes I see a lack of vision across the board. People get so focused on selling a title or in how that title is (or isn’t) supported by a publisher, that they lose sight of the much larger goal of an author’s career.

Would the architecture of an author’s career be better nurtured by the agent or by the publisher, or by someone else still?

To draw on Raccah’s wisdom, she has said publishers aren’t in the business of producing books, but in the business of building authors’ careers—and connecting writers to readers. I agree that the successful publishers of the future (whether specialized or not) will be those that offer something of tangible benefit to an author—not the ones that continue business as usual. Enterprising authors already have many viable options to publish successfully without a traditional publisher’s assistance or expertise—and opportunities will only continue to proliferate.

Perhaps, in the best of all worlds for writers, vertical publishers can offer amazing networking, distribution and business partnerships that neither authors nor agents can develop on their own (e.g., how Chronicle is master of the gift market, or how Harlequin has a mission to reach women wherever they are). But it will be the agents who can meaningfully partner and advise on authors’ long-term career growth. It is, after all, the authors’ responsibility to develop an online presence (isn’t that much too important to be handled by a publisher?), and authors need agents savvy enough to help them shape that image apart from a publisher’s business interests.


There’s a final dilemma. Publishers are now paying lower advances, releasing fewer titles and selling digital content at lower prices than print content (which in turn affects royalty payments to both agent and author). Assuming this is the new reality, there will be less money to go around for the number of agents now in business. Plus, will it be worth an agent’s time and energy to sell a project that doesn’t pay more than $1,500 upfront? Probably not.

One agency has quietly come out with a new model that requires authors to pay a minimum commission—i.e., the agent must earn a minimum amount on a sale no matter what advance the publisher pays, which means authors would “share” a larger part of the advance upfront (or even pay out of pocket in the case of very low advances).

Undoubtedly, there’s no shortage of aspiring writers who would be ecstatic to pay more to an agent if it meant securing a publishing deal. But such a model is sure to raise ethical concerns. Agents may take projects knowing they will ultimately be paid by authors rather than by publishers. Is the industry (that includes the author!) ready to accept such a shift in how agents profit?

In the end, agents will need to do much more than make sales to publishers to remain viable. The best agents have always been career managers who know what kind of clients they should take on—and who say no to people who don’t fit their strengths or values. Notable voices such as Seth Godin and Shatzkin have said that agents, like publishers, will have to survive by specializing, by being distinctive in some way.

I find that fitting—because isn’t that what agents have advised authors all along? Be unique. Be distinct. Have something special to offer.

It turns out no one is exempt from that prescription.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Surprise! Something Worth Bloggin About!

I know today is Tuesday, and I know I should have another interview up, but the truth is the interviewee hasn't yet answered the questions (hope he will soon). As a result, this post is about an hour late. Sorry.

Luckily, something happened that last night that is worth blogging about - a surprise visit from a beloved friend from Norway. Welcome home Ida! What a lovely surprise.

The funny thing is, I accidentally found out that she was coming yesterday, but was expecting her to come around Thanksgiving or my birthday. I certainly did not expect her last night. How did I find out?

Funny story. My dear friend Trina cannot access her hotmail or facebook inbox from her work computer. She regularly phones me up to access her facebook messages for her. It just so happened that yesterday she called me asking her to check because she believed that she received a message from our mutual friend Julia.

As it turned out, however, the message was from my much beloved flatmate Jasmine. The title was "Ida's TOP SECRET visit" (or something very close to that). I cracked up laughing on the phone and immediately let Trina know that the surprise was spoilt. Poor Trina. She made me promise that I wouldn't open the message and read its contents and immediately made me close everything down.

True to my word, I read nothing other than the title of the email. So I just assumed that Ida would be coming next month or the month after. I didn't know she would arrive that very evening!

Sneaky little Hobbits's!

The other thing that went wrong last evening was that I arrived home about a half hour earlier than normal after training last night, leaving Jasmine completely unprepared. Poor Jasmine. She walked through the door as my Kung Fu brother and I were playing with the kittens. I recognised her car alarm beep and yelled out my greeting. Ida was in the car.

Jazz later admitted that while Ida was in the car, she was thinking furiously about a new plan and an excuse to go out to the car. As it turned out, she was given the excuse by Ida, who opened the door and set the car alarm off. That gave Jasmine the reason she needed to go out and warn Ida and formulate a new plan.

Sneaky, sneaky little Hobbits's!

I'm very thrilled to have her here! I've missed Ida very much. We met in University during our Anthropology of Religion class. We've been good friends ever since. *Sigh

Today, I love surprises.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Curing Run

Hi all,

This post isn't about me (shock, horror!). It's about my friend Trina. Trina is an amazing soul, who has seen me through some very difficult times. For a long time, she was the only friend I had in the world.

Because she is such an amazing, beautiful soul, she has decided this year to do the Run for a Cure for the Canadian Breast Cancer foundation. I think that makes her a hero. For this reason, I want to help her out as much as possible.

Please donate to Trina's cause. You can do so here.

Who knows, maybe one day you or someone close to you will need whatever it is your donations can buy.

Thank-you all. I heart you!


Normally I'd have something prepared by now to post up, even if it was just a silly quiz or an article I thought you might find interesting. Normally, I'd be prepared for the week of blogging ahead of me. Normally. But not today, not this week, and I don't really have a good reason as to why.

Perhaps the blogging genius has left me this week to go inspire someone else. I think more likely it's that I haven't anything decent to report. I haven't stumbled across any helpful articles, I haven't even stumbled across silly quizzes.

And, worst of all, I have absolutely no writing news.

So I'm going to save you a great deal of boredom and stop here. Now I'm off to make breakfast. Porridge. Yummy.

Wait! News! (Not really, but it's a little something). I've been Googled again! This time from Corte, France. Is there another Sonia Carrière running around that is perhaps more famous than I (not difficult, at all. In fact, I'm sure there are individual pigeons more famous than I am) that is accidentally leading people to my profile?

Either way, yay!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tantalizing Time-Wasters

I've been trying very hard to keep myself occupied and my mind off the torturous wait for rejection/offer to come through. Most of the time, I'm quite successful. How do I do it? Well, here are 4 things I do to keep myself from going insane, well, more insane:

1. Stay Active
I partake in a number of "extra-curricular" activities. I find that keeping myself focussed on something else stops me even thinking about my perpetual fear of rejection, and I'm certain that it will help me get over the rejection when it comes. Moreover, exercise creates serotonin - the "happy" neurotransmitter.

I train four nights a week in three styles of Martial Arts. That's right. "I know Kung Fu." Alright, I know a little Kung Fu. I train in Northern Praying Mantis style (though my Sifu also teaches some southern styles like Hung Gar). I'm not very advanced, and I know only enough to get me into trouble, but it is fun. That is one hour a night, four nights a week.

Associated with the Kung Fu is learning to use Chinese Weapons. Yes, I get to play with swords and sticks for an hour a night, four nights a week. *sigh. It makes me sooooo happy!

With the same school at the same location, I also train in San Shou (Chinese Kickboxing). It is essentially trying to apply what we learn in Kung Fu into an actual fighting situation. Admittedly, this is extremely difficult as San Shou requires boxing gloves and a lot of the grabs, pokes and rakes that Praying Mantis is famous for simply cannot be done with giant 16oz boxing gloves. I'm not much good at it either, but that one is double the fun. Let me tell you, there is nothing like beating the crap out of a heavy bag for an hour after a miserable day to improve your mood! I find it also helps clear writer's block! That is also an hour a night, four nights a week.

So, for three hours every Monday through to Thursday evening I train in Martial Arts.

Also with the same school, I train every Saturday morning with our Lion Dance troupe. It runs for roughly one and half hours and then we go out to eat afterwards.

My school (Wutan Canada) is a brilliant school. I'm not even talking about the methods and training itself, I'm talking about the people. Everyone there is a character. Everyone there is interesting. Most importantly everyone there is generous, kind and friendly. I would have given it all up years ago, but the people keep me going.

Aside from that, I also train in Equestrian Archery. Now this is very, very, very cool. It combines two of my most favourite things ever - horses and archery! I get to ride and shoot arrows at the same time. *sigh

I train for this just outside of Ottawa in a small town called Kemptville. My coach, Chris Kovach (who I might just interview one of these days) is awesome, and very patient. His horse, Nash, is a mare, and so has quite the mind of her own, but she generally behaves and is not very readily spooked. A very steady, good horse. I love it sooooo much. Unfortunately budget restraints only allow me to do this once every fortnight or so.

I also play the occasional game of tennis and, starting very shortly, I'll be playing badminton once a week.

Busy much? Well, yes, but that's the idea. I don't want to give myself time to stress out about rejection.

2. Music

If you've read my previous post on music, you've probably realised that music is extremely important to me. If there was one thing in the world I could not live without, it would be music. I listen to all kinds and I play the Flute and Saxophone, though in truth I haven't picked up either in a very long time.

Quite recently I acquired (thanks to my wonderful Kung Fu brother, Jim) a violin. I have always wanted to learn how to play and so, as soon as it gets too cold for Equestrian Archery, I will be finally learning how to play.

The concentration required to learn and play with the fact that music takes me away from this world and places me in others should ensure that I don't think too much about rejection.

3. Merlin
OK, it's very rare that I watch TV at all. I simply don't have the time or the compulsion. However, quite recently I started watching a BBC1 series by the title of Merlin. I was hooked on episode one.... quite sad, I realise. I'm not generally so sucked in by television, but I couldn't help myself.

I'm a Celtic Studies student. King Arthur and the development of the legends and tales that surround him was a very large portion of my studies. This show is an interesting, often humorous and silly, interpretation of the myth.

Now granted, there are things the academic in me cringes on seeing. Guinevere as a servant girl, for example (when she was most likely a sovereignty goddess (Gwenhwyfar) and it was likely that she didn't actually exist in the flesh - Arthur's marriage to her being symbolic of his commitment to the health and well-being of the land and also as a symbol of his sovereignty etc).

Then there were some things that made me giggle hysterically. The inclusion of Geoffrey of Monmouth (famous author of the Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain) in which King Arthur is a feature) as the court record-keeper. The work was written c. 1136, some 600 years after King Arthur is believed to have lived. As soon as his name was uttered, I howled with laughter.

What I like about this series is that is a fresh take, showing both Arthur and Merlin as young men, both of whom have their foibles and idiosyncrasies, their vices and virtues. As a result, all manner of hilarity ensues, but there are also moments of severe brevity and profound moral lessons. Admittedly, the target audience is a little younger than I am, but this series is a tonne of fun all the same (despite the crappy CG and sometimes nonsensical plot devices).

Randomly, I maybe might may be developing a slight crush on Merlin (my flatmate prefers Arthur, herself). This is odd for two reasons. 1. I normally go for the alpha male types and 2. I don't normally find younger guys all that attractive. Admittedly the actor who plays Merlin (Colin Morgan) is only three years my junior, but he looks all of twelve in this series and it's a little disturbing.

Nevertheless, it's a great distraction and with all that magic flying around, great fodder for my imagination! Season 1 is finished (and I will be buying it on DVD as soon as it's available here in North America) and Season 2 began this month on BBC1. I hope it comes to Canada soon after!

4. Good Friends, Good Times
It can get very lonely being a writer - constantly hidden away from the world with only the computer and your inner world for company. No wonder so many go crazy! I like to bust out from under my rock every so often and come up for the life-giving air that is my family and friends.

I go out and eat, talk to and dance and laugh with my friends and family as often as my schedule will allow. I get to return to the real world surrounded by a supportive, and very fun, safety net. This is hugely important!

I'm very fortunate with my friends in which they don't constantly ask "any news yet?" and so I am at liberty to forget I've even written a book when I spend time with them.

That is how I distract myself from the inevitable. What about you? What is it that you do to distract yourself?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Big Birthday Shout Out

To my beautiful big sister Genevieve!


It's tough being halfway around the globe from you, today more than ever. I love you!

Your little sis.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

74 Fantasy Cliches to Avoid!

A friend (can I actually call him that since I haven't met him? Hmmmm....).... Let's try that again. A friendly acquaintance of mine from dropped this gem on a thread I am following there. It is a hilarious quiz for us would-be Fantasy Authors. I've copied and pasted the entire quiz here, but you can link to it yourself here.

Some of the questions made me roar out loud. Laughter of this kind in an office is generally discouraged. Other questions made me cringe a little. I've answered them here as honestly as possible, but feel free to answer the quiz yourself. Anyway, here is the quiz (disclaimer, spelling here is American English):

"Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this "great, original fantasy" is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once."

(Sonia's note: Uh-oh!)

The Exam

1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?

2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?

3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?

4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
Sort of yes... (in the word's of Homer Simpson: D'Oh!). He always had great power, he never really "acquired" it... but I'm splitting hairs here.

5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?

6. How about one that will destroy it?

7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
How about "The One" who will destroy the world and all the forces of good?

8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?

9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?

10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
Not the supreme one, no.

11. Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?

12. Does "a forgetful wizard" describe any of the characters in your novel?

13. How about "a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior"?
A very minor character... but I guess that's still a yes. Damn it!

14. How about "a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons"?

15. Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?

16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?

17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
No. Though I suppose Vanessa might embody some.... Still, it's not the reason for her existence!

18. Would "a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword"
aptly describe any of your female characters?

19. Would "a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan" aptly describe any of your female characters?

20. Is any character in your novel best described as "a dour dwarf"?

21. How about "a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage"?

22. Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?
No. There are no Elves and Dwarves.

23. Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?

24. Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?

25. Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?
No, I don't... luckily it never comes up in this series....

26. Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like "The Blasted Lands" or "The Forest of Fear" or "The Desert of Desolation" or absolutely anything "of Doom"?
No. Sounds like something out of the Princess Bride....

27. Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you've read the entire book, if even then?

28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?

29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
Turned out to be a quintet... but it wasn't planned. Is that a yes or no in this case?

30. Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?

31. Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you're still many sequels away from finishing your "story"?

32. Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?

33. Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?

34. Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?
No. But that sounds like fun....

35. Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?

36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
No. The race names do.... but that's still a no!

37. Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?
No, actually. Had to think about that one.

38. Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?
(Raucous laughter) Something is wrong with that! The answer is no, by the way.

39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?
No. Though it depends on what you mean by halflings.... Certainly none in the Tolkein sense.

40. How about "orken" or "dwerrows"?
What now? No.

41. Do you have a race prefixed by "half-"?

42. At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?

43. Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?
No. But that sounds like fun....

44. Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?

45. Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?

46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?

47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don't?
No. Even so, detailed analysis of the politics is not the focus of this tale.

48. Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?

49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won't break the plot?

50. Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as "fireball" or "lightning bolt"?
Not from their fingers. One guy affects the weather with his mood.

51. Do you ever use the term "mana" in your novel?

52. Do you ever use the term "plate mail" in your novel?

53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term "hit points" in your novel?
NO! Do people do that?

54. Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?
Actually, I do. Lived in a gold-mining town.

55. Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?

56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
No. But I'd love to meet the man with the stamina to do that!

57. Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?
No. Weapons aren't magic.

58. Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?

59. Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?

60. Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more?
Having carried a couple of actual swords myself, some actually do. Most don't though.

61. Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?
D'Oh! Yes.

62. Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?

63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
(Bwah hah hah hah!) No.

64. Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?

65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?
Uh-oh... have to review this one! Who said that "on the road" stew was good stew, though.....

66. Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?

67. Do you think that "mead" is just a fancy name for "beer"?
Beer is made with hops and barley. Mead is made from honey. So, no.

68. Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
No. (Score!)

69. Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves' guild?
No. I don't even have a thieves' guild... Now I feel like I'm missing out on things!

70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?

71. Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?
No. Tee hee hee...

72. Is "common" the official language of your world?
Capital D'OH! Yes... there is a "common" language. Though I think I call it the Diplomatic Language. Is that a yes or no? If the question is read literally, the answer would be no.

73. Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?

74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?

75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.

That was supremely entertaining. For me at least! I managed 3 fails (D'Oh!) and just as many near misses. Is my work so desperately unoriginal?


P.S. - I'm in a good mood today, so I'm just going to ignore my FAIL and assume that my work is still original enough to warrant being published!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh My Goddess, Leonie!

As promised, here is the first of the interviews. May I present Leonie Allan, a very good friend of mine since High School and an all 'round gorgeous goddess. I seem to be having an issue with the editing, so somethings that aren't meant to be bold are likely to be. Oh well!

A little bit about Leonie
I have known Leonie since grade 11, when we both attended Blackheath and Thornburgh College in Charters Towers, QLD, Australia (insert shameless plug for my Alma Mater). In her own words, Leonie is 27. She lives in the gorgeous alpine city of Canberra, Australia with her sweet love Chris, their two hilarious puppies, and a little 3 month baby bump.

As she herself says, she was "born in a little town in Northern Australia that was named after a goddess - the Goddess Persephone... a sign of times to come, I like to think!"

Now, onto with the interview!

SMC: For those who haven't yet check the links I've posted, please explain what it is exactly you do:

LA: I'm a Goddess Guide, and help women discover the creative, wise, joyful Goddess inside them through e-courses, coaching, retreats, art & photography. It's such a deep joy to be doing this work... and amazing knowing that I've helped over a thousand women over the last five years.

SMC: You began by selling your own art, is this correct?

LA: I did indeedy. Actually - what started first was that I was a part of an online message board, and I started sharing photographs of art I was making, just for fun. And then people started wanting to buy them, so I had to work out if I wanted to sell them, and how to price them. I actually wrote a bit on how to do Sacred Pricing to work out how you want to sell your creative and spiritual gifts and services:

SMC: How did your work develop into what it is you do now?

LA: The first part was people wanting to buy my stuff in a fairly passionate way. Also, when I was 21, I started attending my first women's circle. And as soon as I set foot in that circle, I knew that women's work - of creativity and spirituality - and of women discovering the Goddess inside them - that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I kept creating, and I also started running circles and retreats when the right time came up.
And whenever my spirit calls me to do, explore or share something new, I follow it and trust it... and miracles always come :) So that's been my very un-business plan. :)
SMC: What is your goal (What do you hope to achieve through your work)?
LA: I hope for women to know they are amazing and wise... and that joy is an option.
I hope for all souls to know that everything is going to be okay... and that they are loved.
I hope for all of us to get to see we really are the miracles we have needed.

SMC: It is clear from your blog that you feel very strongly about your mission. Why is that? Was/were there any particular experience(s) that led you to your work?

I do feel strongly about it. I'm not sure if there is a particular point that shifted it. I do know however there have been some incredibly hard and difficult places and times in my life (the death of my brother as an example)... and that this work has given me such joy, wisdom, sustenance and faith. I just don't see things as being "bad" anymore - I just feel like everything is a blessing, a gift, that we get to learn lessons from. And some of those lessons are huge, and are so difficult to move through at the time... but just to know that everything really will be okay, and we will come out the other side even deeper and richer than before - now that's precious. That's worth moving toward.

SMC: Why do you believe that art is such a necessity for people (are you listening, Mr. Harper?)?

LA: Because it can be such a gorgeous pathway of joy, discovery, bliss, meditation and healing. We can uncover our soul's story, and our beauty, and the wisdom we need to share through our art. Creativity can help us find the goddess inside us.

SMC: Why do you believe that spirituality is such a necessity for people?

LA: I do feel we've got a choice about these things - that some souls will get called to it, some won't. And that's totally, awesomely perfect.
Spirituality for me makes my life glow more. It makes it more meaningful, precious and lovely. Life doesn't feel random or cruel to me - it feels mysterious, but wonderful, and totally imbued with Great Spirit.

SMC: When it come to your life and work, who or what were your biggest influences?

I so deeply believe that our own gurus are ourselves... that inside us is all the wisdom, love and joy we've been waiting for. So, for me, the Goddess Leonie is just what I need.

SMC: You've told your legions of faithful friends and followers that you are recently pregnant (a huge congratulations, by the way). You are currently keeping an online, public video diary of your experiences as a budding new mother. Why did you decide to do so?

Thanks darlingheart!
I started sharing about my pregnancy when I was six weeks pregnant - still just a tiny glimmer of light! My love and I deeply felt that we wanted to share our journey exactly how it was. We were utterly fine and accepting of this being a "just popping in to say hello and will come back later" pregnancy or a "this is going to end in a baby coming out my vag pregnancy!"
So I wanted to document my beautiful, sacred journey - because no matter what happened with it - it was profound to me... and something that women everywhere needed to hear.
And it is looking more and more like this is a "going to end in a baby coming out my vag" pregnancy, so I'll keep on sharing that path too :)

SMC: Even you've noted that sometimes pursuing your dream is not easy. What keeps you going?

LA: Because it's my ginormous big dream... and if I wasn't doing it, I would be avoiding doing it. It's more important for me to live in integrity with what my big dream is then hiding under a cupboard, trying not to get to into my dream just incase disappointment or fears come up.
I'd much rather be walking my path, just as I am, finding the courage, comfort and wisdom I need along the way.

SMC: What advice can you offer for people who are starting out, or currently deeply entrenched in pursuing their dreams?

LA: Just that you rock. I believe in you. Whatever your dream is - I think this world needs it.

LA: Thanks so much sweetheart.

SMC: No, thank-you!

To check out Leonie's life-dream, go here (or click on the link right beside this blog).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some Very Pretty but Unrelated Pictures

Well, one of my friends pointed me in the direction of a fabulous article that spoke of the the telescope Hubble's repairs. It can now take super detailed photos of space. Some of the images were so breath-taking they deserve to be shared. Also included are my imaginings - things I see in each of the images.... An over-active imagination, I'm sure!

* all images courtesy of NASA, acquired at:

Isn't this just beautiful? I kinda see a dragon looking back over its shoulder in this one. He has a glowing belly.
This one looks like a mermaid... or like you're looking up at one as she swims overhead.

I call this one the "Cosmic Family." Doesn't it look like one person (on the left) is holding an infant and there are two others in the family circle.

This one is awesome! It looks like an older woman pointing the way.

And my favourite, and probably most famous, the butterfly. Soooooo pretty.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Have Been Awarded!

Well now, this is indeed an honour! I've recently been befriended and followed by the most wonderful author of the C.C. Chronicles. Today I was informed that I have been given two awards from this blog:

Dragon's Loyalty Award
This is an award for the loyal fan/commenter, whether the recipient is a fellow blogger or just a someone who follows and comments regularly.

The second award was:

The Quest Award
To honor beginning bloggers. A new blog can be daunting and every knew blogger has wondered if anyone would even be interested in what they have to say. This award is to show them that, yes, we are reading!!

Aside from academics, I've never really been awarded anything, and I feel extra special today. Thank-you so much for the honours!

Incidentally, I have a thing for Dragons also.... so I am doubly impressed!

5 Quick Tips for Writer / Agent Negotiations

Another article that may be useful for you. This one came to me through Writer's Digest e-newsletter. (In an unrelated topic, I've been Googled again (thanks Ziggs notifications), this time from Meaux, France... I think they may have been looking for a different Sonia Carrière).

5 Quick Tips for Writer/Agent Negotiations
August 06, 2009
by Howard G. Zaharoff
Just because you're excited someone wants to represent you doesn't mean you should let them take advantage of you. Beware of these red flags when negotiating contracts with agents.
• Watch for red flags. Reputable agents generally don’t charge reading fees or require other upfront payments, they don’t sell (or at least, don’t brag about sales) to vanity presses, and they will readily identify other authors and projects they’ve represented.

• Beware of excessive commissions. The norm is now 15 percent for book sales, though it can be up to 20–25 percent for foreign sales (for which the agent works with a subagent) and 10–20 percent for movie, TV and theatrical sales.

• Avoid commissions on speaking fees. Most reputable agents will not try to horn in on these, and they really aren’t entitled to, unless they were directly responsible for getting you the engagement.

• Keep control over expenses. Ideally your agent will not charge for onesie-twosie copies or standard postage, but only for unusual expenses—long-distance charges, major copying, courier services—and will work within spending limits (nothing over a fixed amount, say $100–$250, without your approval).

• Insist on timely payment. Ideally, you’ll get paid your 85 percent directly by the publisher, though many agents insist on collecting the entire amount first. (This is fairly standard but poses risks, especially if the agent goes bankrupt—so some writers push for “split accounting,” which requires the publisher to pay them directly.) Although most publishers still report and pay royalties semi-annually, typically within three months after the semi-annual period ends (so the royalty for a book sold in January arrives in late September!), your agent should pay you promptly upon receiving the funds—ideally within 10 days, but no longer than 30.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I've Been Googled

Alright, I have something by way of news. It's an mysterious, anonymous piece of news.

I have been Googled (can I just say how much I love that "Googled" is now in the dictionary?), and it wasn't by me.

I received this message from informing my that my profile there has been viewed from a Google search:

To: Sonia Carrière
Company: S. M. Carrière

To keep you informed each time an Internet searcher views your online profile, Ziggs automatically provides the following real-time data about the most recent visitor to your profile:

Search Engine: Google
Search Terms: sonia michelle carriere
Visitor Location: Ottawa, ON (Canada)
Date: September 15, 2009
Time: 10:43 PM EST

No one except my good friends know my middle name. Well, now you do too. I know that it isn't anyone from Tor (damn it!) because the "visitor location" was Ottawa. I've been Googled by a fellow Ottawan.

Should I be concerned?

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Small Side Note

The very first ever rough draft of Book IV - Prince of Darkness has been completed and now awaits the attention of my unofficial editors to read through.

Short entry today. I'm clearly running out of ideas.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Have an Idea!

So, I was reading a thread on and a gentleman by the name of Tom was asking for tips on what to do to self-promote. An idea struck me. Since I really won't have anything constructive to blog about until I hear from Tor, I could do interviews to help others promote their stuff. It gives me an excuse to keep blogging and it helps others out. Why not really?

So, starting next week, every Tuesday, I'll try desperately to have an interview up. I hope to interview someone from a different walk of life each time, though it is likely that most of the interviews will be from authors trying to get themselves out into the world. There are plenty of people interviewing the already famous, so I won't bother with them... like they'd accept an invitation from me anyway....

If you want to be interviewed (it doesn't have to be related to writing at all), do let me know. Tell me what it is you do, or hope to do, and why it warrants an interview, and I'll do what I can to accommodate you.

Well, I'm off to try and compose a decent set of questions. This should be interesting...

Monday, September 14, 2009

5 Signs a Literary Agent is a Good Match

I found this article on It seems pretty basic to me, but perhaps you might find it useful.

This guest column
by Rose Jensen
. She
welcomes your feedback at
Read her article on Essential Tips
and Tools for Writers of the Future

So you’ve got a great book and you want to get it published. You could try to simply market it, sell it and negotiate it on your own, but many new to the business simply don’t feel comfortable doing that on their own. That means that it’s time to find an agent but you don’t just want any agent, you want the right one. How can you know if a literary agent is really a good fit for you and the kind of work that you produce? Here are a five signs that things will work out between the two of you.

1. He or she commonly works with books like yours.
Finding someone who is actually interested in the kind of work that you’re producing is essential. If you’ve managed to get an agent that commonly works with material in your genre, then you’re on the right track. He or she will have more enthusiasm and know more about what it takes to get your work in the spotlight than someone who doesn’t really focus on the type of work that you do.

2. He or she pushes you.

The best agents shouldn’t just let you be lazy and do what you want. While there should be a balance of power, they should push you to work harder, get more done and actively market your work if you’re not already doing that on your own. There should be a great give and take between the two of you, allowing you to maximize your potential.

3. He or she is excited about your work.

Someone who is not really excited about the things that you’re creating isn’t likely to do too much to make sure that they ever see the light of day. In fact, they may languish on a desk somewhere for months. If your agent seems genuinely enthusiastic about finding a publisher and marketing your book, then you’ve found a keeper.

4. He or she is there when you need them.

If you’re new to the game, you likely have numerous questions about how the whole process works, what you need to do and the kind of deals you should be willing to make. Your agent should be there to help guide you through the process, though hand-holding can’t always be expected. Find an agent who isn’t always mysteriously “out of the office” when you call and you might have a long future of working together.

5. You actually get along.

It might seem pretty basic, but some people assume that because it is a business relationship that they don’t need to actually like their agent. While it isn’t a necessity, this person is someone who is going to be representing your work and who will be tied to it for years to come—it’s much better to have that be someone you actually like and want around rather than someone you merely tolerate.

You can link to the article here.

Friday, September 11, 2009


This has nothing to do with the story I have written, nor the one that is fermenting in my mind as I type. This has to do with the very pregnant stray cat my flatmate took in (with my excited blessing) a few days before I moved in. She was very young, and very pregnant. We named her Persephone. On the weekend she gave birth to beautiful, squealing kittens. There are four of them.

They are so beautiful as to be heartbreaking. I love the little squeaking noises they make. It reminds me somewhat of Norbert, Hagrid's baby dragon. Norwegian Ridgeback, as I recall. A small diversion. They are such beautiful little things.

We have named three already. Smèagol, the grey and white kitten (who is also the loudest). The female kitten shall be named Calli-Rose. And the most recently named is the runt of the litter, Galahad. The issue remains, what shall we name the other one? Near as we know, the one is a boy.

Suggestions are appreciated! If there is a favourite literary character of yours, kindly let me know the characters name, from which book and why you like them so much (you are permitted and encouraged to supply a character you have written yourself). Chances are, you'll have named a kitten for us.

This is just for fun, so there really isn't a prize for this, though I would love to say that each name picked gets a copy of my book. I haven't yet published my book, so that promise would be horribly problematic. I could send you a thank-you card if you wished. Of course, you will also have my gratitude. That's about all I can offer... a little lame, I know. It's the best I can manage for now.

Thanks for your help!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Man Was Born to War

Well, I have decided to post a little bit of my story for those of you who might be wondering what it is all about. This is the first ever thing I ever wrote concerning my main character. It has changed very little since its first incarnation some ten years ago. This is nothing new to those that have read it already on You can link to the text there and vote whether or not you liked it here. Well, no more suspense, here is an excerpt from The Third Prince; Book I of The Great Man:

The man was born to war. There was no doubt about it. In the first few years of his training, he outstripped even the most senior of recruits. He had his first taste of blood at the young age of fourteen. The battle was brief, but the fighting hard and he received the first of his battle scars. The cut was clean and smooth but the scar it left was clearly visible. It ran the short distance just above his left dark eyebrow to the very beginning of his cheekbone. His eye, once golden and bright was now no more than a dull orange-brown cloud.

There, Stran mused, that wound should have caused an enormous blind spot for the young warrior. But it did not. The boy’s vision seemed completely unaffected, and he reacted with viper-like timing to stimuli that he oughtn’t to be able to see. It was remarkable, and extremely lucky for the entire army, for no man was better than he on horse or on foot. The man was born to war.

Stran mused quietly on the boy. He had trudged into the camp at the tender age of nine, bearing a letter from his father instructing the General to train him and treat him as he would any other soldier – rank not withstanding. Stran thought it a prank at first, but a long look into those solemn, angry eyes spoke otherwise. The boy was hurting, even then. And why should he not?

Stran knew his story. He witnessed his mother’s suicide at a very young age. The youngest of three brothers in a Royal household, he would not be made to feel welcome by the hard-hearted King, especially since he was so different. His hair was black and straight, cropped close to his head now in the fashion of soldiers. He was tall but strongly built. And his eyes. There were none who could refute the strangeness of his eyes. They were large. They were golden.

Stran had seen those eyes before, staring right back at him, from the heads of the wild mountain cats near his home. He was his mother’s image, and no doubt favoured by the queen before she lost her mind and stabbed herself in her private garden. Her death, just four years prior to his arrival at camp must have had a profound effect on him.

Stran thought, upon seeing the strange, scrawny boy before him, that he would have trouble with him. Princes make poor soldiers. It seemed his suspicions were confirmed at first, but the boy had worked hard, not for approval or praise, for he scorned both and always had, but for his own betterment. He challenged the great stores of anger, tamed his wild temper and became the best damned warrior Stran had ever seen. Damned.

Stran mused on the word a while. Yes, damned he may well be. For all the men, including Stran himself, were uneasy around him. He bore always a stance, walk and demeanour that belied a natural grace, a quiet dignity, and an awesome power. Men could not help but shrink before him. He seemed to Stran, the human incarnation of the God of all predators.

Cat, wolf, eagle, snake, each of these beasts could be likened to the boy in some way - A cat’s violent power and courage, the wolf’s stamina and cunning, the eagle’s sight and Majesty, and the sleek savagery of a viper. Stran shuddered at that last. He had never before seen a man fight with the same grace as a dancer, like watching a snake move towards its prey, and dart back and forth, swaying and circling. War was bloody, messy and hard. That boy; he made killing seem beautiful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I hung up a banner as I was decorating my bedroom last evening. The banner read:

Not the absence of fear or despair,
but the strength to conquer them.

And it lit a little something inside me.

Most people, when they consider courage, they will talk about the man who faced a lion, or the boxer who steps into the ring fight after fight knowing it's going to hurt. Many people will talk about soldiers and policemen and firemen. And yes, these people are very brave.

But that is not all courage is. What about the old lady you see walking across the street? Most people will see nothing extraordinary about her at all. Yet what do we know of her life and of her past and present to mark her as so unremarkable?

What most people don't seem to know is that courage is not always loud and brash like a back-talking boxer. Courage, most courage, is quiet, calm and, sadly, uncelebrated.

Sometimes courage is simply waking up in the morning. Sometimes courage is letting yourself stay in bed, no matter what others say.

Sometimes courage is simply walking beyond your front door.

Sometimes courage is smiling and walking away. Sometimes courage is fighting tooth and nail.

Sometimes courage is ignoring what others say about her, and finding out for yourself. Sometimes courage is reaching out to another person.

Sometimes courage is letting yourself cry.

Sometimes courage is standing up to the bully on your own behalf. Sometimes courage is standing up to the bully on someone else's behalf.

Sometimes courage is fighting your peers and or your family to pursue your dreams. Sometimes courage is simply pursuing your dreams at all. Sometimes courage is pursuing your dreams until the very end, no matter how many knocks you receive along the way.

Sometime courage is being alone. Sometimes courage is shedding the safety of alone-ness and risking pain and torment on a gamble of love.

To all those every day, beautiful, fragile souls who know their own frailty but stand and face this sometimes brutal world anyway, I salute you.

You have courage.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mumbling ... and Other Odd Behaviour

Back from a long weekend of unpacking and cat-cuddling in my new apartment. We now return to your regularly scheduled programme.

This long weekend, as I was unpacking boxes upon boxes of books, putting up pictures and my ginormous poster of the map of Middle Earth I own (yes, I am that much of a geek, I have a giant map of Middle Earth.), I caught myself doing this strange thing and I just had to laugh. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember, and I'm not sure if that is a worrisome thing.

I was talking to myself. But it wasn't 'regular' talking to myself like "where did I put that hammer" or "how is this supposed to be hung?" kind of talking to myself. This was full-blown, in character talking to invisible characters around me kind of talking to myself.

Now, again, I do not speak for all authors, but I personally have a tendency to talk to my characters... out loud... in public. I act out scenarios that are floating through my head, explore the emotions inherent in those scenarios and interactions between characters... out loud... in public.

I did it this very morning as I was walking to work. I've done it while waiting quietly for other members of our Lion Dance troupe to show up. I've done it lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling to pass the hours while pointlessly waiting for sleep to come. I do it everywhere, and it's odd!

The thing is, I don't really realise I'm doing it until I'm about half-way through any given scene. Then I laugh to myself and continue on in silence for a while before it all starts up again, unbidden and unnoticed until I realise, then I laugh to myself and carry on in silence until....

It struck me this weekend just how that might look to a stranger's eye.

I mean, what would you think if you saw a young woman talking to the empty air around her and then chuckling to herself as she walked passed you? Precisely!

I remember doing it in High School when I thought no one was around and they couldn't see. Apparently they were and they could, and I never lived it down, but that is another story completely.

Now I implore you, if you happen to see a young lady walking down the street who otherwise seems put-together and in possession of all her mental faculties, and she happens to be mumbling and giggling to herself, don't assume she's an escapee from the local psycho ward. Give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she's an author, working her way through a scene.

That or she has a blue-tooth.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Some Damned Tough Questions Part II


1. What thought have you given to the time the story takes place? Is it in the past, present, future or all three? Have you credibly established a familiarity with the time period?

The story takes place in the distant past. It is, actually, the story behind a myth. As for the credibility factor, I kinda just made everything up, but it is roughly based on late Iron Age Europe.

2. What thought have you given to the location in which your story takes place? Does your narrative convey an intimate familiarity with the location?

Location is interesting. I know the Kwon Continent like the back of my own hand. However, I don't describe the way that Tolkein described locations. That was mostly due to length considerations. I had to take out a great deal of description to cut the manuscript down to a more palatable length..

3. Does the premise provide enough direction to keep all your events and character developments on track?

Apparently so.

4. Is the premise strong enough and clear enough to carry the story to its logical conclusion?

Apparently so.

5. Have you developed the personalities of all your characters to the extent that their participation in the story is absolutely believable, and in keeping with the main premise of the story?

I think so, but it is very difficult for me to be objective about that!

6. Have you developed a sense of conflict, to carry the premise and bring the characters and events a resolution?

Oh have I ever. My poor Julian. How he has suffered.

7. If you have changed the outcome, or resolution, of your premise: have you also changed the first part of the premise? (Have you created a different relationship "from pole to pole"?)

This doesn't really apply, since none of the premise has been changed at all.

8. What, if any, sub premises (smaller contrasts, sub conflicts, movements, transitions) need to be changed along with the major premise?

None... yet. If I get the attention of a publisher, I am so certain that there will be a number of rewrites!

9. With the thoughts you have generated about your premise, do you more fully understand your characters?

I did things backwards. I started with the characters, and the premise just magically appeared.

10. Have you communicated that understanding to the reader?

Again, this is one of those things that is difficult to be objective about. I like to think I have, and the feedback I've received seems to suggest that.

11. Have you treated any character too lightly?

Not to the best of my knowledge. I know that there are some characters that come in and out of my main character's life, just as they do in real life. There are there and then they are gone and sometimes you never hear from them again.

12. Does your premise fit your characters?

Yes, since it developed from my characters!

13. Have your characters carried their situations through to a believable conclusion?

I think so! Again, it's ridiculously hard to be objective.

14. Are all characters' actions and decisions necessary and logical, based upon clearly developed character traits?

I think so. They are definitely necessary. Poor "Dan."

15. Have the main characters been allowed to grow and develop naturally?

Yes. It was the only way they could have developed. I couldn't have forced my hand if I tried. These characters seemed to have a life of their own and all the decisions they made in the story were truly their own decisions. If ever I got stuck at a certain point in the writing of this book, all I'd have to do was walk away from it for a day or two and by the time I sat back down to write, they had figured it out for themselves.

16. Is the pivotal character's defining characteristic apparent either immediately or very soon after the story opens?

Hang on, let me check... Yep. The very first paragraph.

17. Are ALL the characters three-dimensional (with physical, social, and psychological dimensions)?

I believe so. Everyone in this story has issues and problems they must deal with. Some deal with it very well. Others do not.

18. Are ALL the characters likable? (That is, does every character have a quality the audience can empathize or sympathize with?)

There are some characters I personally really don't like very much. There is one character I certainly hope that people don't empathize with, though there are sure to be some people who do. That is a scary thought.

If I may digress from the question, everyone has a motive. Everyone has a reason for doing whatever it is they are doing. Whether or not one agrees with those motives is entirely up to the individual reader. I mean, what would you do if you believed a little boy would one day be responsible for the destruction of the entire world? It gets ambiguous.

19. Are all the characters believable?

To people who read Fantasy, I'm sure they are! I was worried about "Dan" being too good to be true, but the fact of the matter is, he made a deliberate decision to be that way. He was faced with a very tough reality check, but he never really waivered. That's just the incredible guy that "Dan" is.

20. Does each character speak, dress, and behave in a manner consistent with that type of person?

Yeppers. Well, now they do, after some inconsistencies were pointed out by my friends. Thanks guys.

21. Is every situation believable because it springs from the nature of the characters?

Some situations made me very uncomfortable, but I believe it was the characters that pulled me through it. So, to answer the question, yes.

22. Is every contrast, or conflict, true (inherent in the characters), rather than false (contrived)?

I think I've already covered this in a round about way, but I'll say it again. Every time I tried to force the story in the direction I thought it should go, I ended up with a severe bout of writer's block. I couldn't move the story. When I finally relinquished control and just let the characters dictate the story, things started to move again. So, the answer would be, I think so!

Interesting side-note, it can be very dangerous to let the characters decide for themselves. Sometimes the story would go nowhere. It would never end. I was extremely fortunate because there was a definite ending to this one before I even started writing it down. A little tip: you must know how the story ends before the story can begin!

23. Do the changes in each additional character follow from what the audience knows of the person's physical, social, and psychological makeup?

In a word, yes. Some of the changes are extreme. Some don't really change. Like "Dan." He was a good soul from the beginning, and that never changes. He was luckier than everyone else, though!

24. Are the protagonist and the antagonist both extremely strong (uncompromising) characters?

I'm unsure what is meant by this question. Are they in possession of strong personalities? Yes.
Are they strong people? Well, yes, to a degree. I mean Julian was incredibly strong to withstand all that he did, though it changed him. With every experience someone has, it changes them. I get so sick of the "perfect good-guy" who doesn't change at all, who isn't affected by what goes on around him, who can slay the "bad guys" all day and not understand that lives are being lost, who can't smell the blood and who doesn't feel the fear. That is so unrealistic as to be boring.

As for the antagonist, well, it hasn't changed in millions of years.

25. How sharply drawn are the characters? (How definite, definitive, and different from each other?)

Oh, they are all different! Though, Julian is the most different, since that is a major thrust of the narrative.

26. Is your pivotal character really a protagonist, and is your opposing character really an antagonist? (Are you sure you've not confused the two?)


27. How satisfied are you with your cast of characters?

Very satisfied. Though "Dan" is by far my favourite.

28. If you're not satisfied: what should you do?

This doesn't apply to me... yet, so I'll throw it open to the audience.

29. Does your opening grab attention?

I have been told it does... though now I am wondering if people weren't just trying to be nice to me.

30. Does it present a character with something vital at stake?

It presents a character, yes. With something vital at stake? I'm not so sure about that. You will certainly know that there is something if you've read the Prologue.

31. If your audience may be bored from the beginning: what can you do about the lack of conflict and tension? You may need to change your point of attack; start by showing there is something vital at stake, and increase the emotional involvement of the characters.

I may...

32. Have you allowed the characters to form the plot and work out their own destinies, or have you forced them to fit a contrived plot?

Already said, but I shall reiterate. They definitely worked out their own destinies!

33. In creating contrasts and situations, have you asked your characters what THEY would do?

I didn't ask, they just went and did it anyway.

34. Does the audience perceive a LOGICAL, STEP-BY-STEP DEVELOPMENT OF THE STORY through a series of sub conflicts and resolutions, each one stemming from the one before it?

Since that's the way the book was written (as in characters would find themselves in situations which, once resolved would lead onto the next), I assume so.

35. Does every movement (sub conflict/transition) lead the relevant characters FROM ONE STATE OF MIND TO ANOTHER, on the way to proving the premise?

Most definitely!

36. Is one belief forced to give in to another?

No. In every action taken, there is an ambiguity about it, and enormous grey area which invites the reader to make their own minds up about any one character's actions. The good guy isn't necessarily that good, and the antagonists might just be right to do what they can to stop him. In the end, I leave that up to the reader to decide.

37. Even if you have a specific message to convey through your story — a message in which you passionately believe — have you avoided "preachiness?"

I certainly hope so. "Dan" gives a little speech on the subject, but that is truly just "Dan's" opinion. The readers are invited to decide for themselves.

38. Somewhat related to the above question: Do you try in every way possible to show rather than tell in order to get your point across and move the story along?

I think so.

39. Have you avoided letting "the writing" get in the way of the story?

I hope so.

40. What POSITIVE things might a discerning audience or critic say about your story, your characters and proof of the premise?

Good grief! This question is too hard! Can I skip it? No? Hmmm... let me think then...

Nope. I have no idea. I shall leave that to the discerning audience or critic.

41. What NEGATIVE things might a discerning audience or critic say?

I'm trying really hard to think about it, I promise. But I think it is a bit too soon after completion to look at my work objectively. I will revisit this question a a couple of months, perhaps.