Hi gang! To celebrate the re-release of my OUTLANDER-like novel DRAWN with its new cover, I’m doing a giveaway over at Goodreads.com. Starting today through the end of May, you can enter to win one of 5 free signed copies. To enter, just click here.
Here’s what the book’s about:
Michelle De Freccio moves with her dad to England, where she hopes for a more normal life. Instead she discovers a handsome guy appearing in all her sketches. When she actually meets him at the town’s castle, she’s unmistakably drawn to him. But something is definitely not normal.
He wears medieval garb, talks of ancient murders, and tends to disappear with a kiss. Could he be a ghost? Could Michelle be losing her mind? Or has she simply uncovered a love so timeless it’s spanned the centuries…
I’m SO very grateful to DRAWN’s many fans who have praised this novel with 5 star reviews and to the book bloggers who have awarded it top honors and high praise, including “Best Book” (Long and Short Reviews) and “Top Pick” (Night Owl Reviews), and have called it “breathtaking” (Moonlight Book Reviews), “epic and gorgeously written” (InD’Tale Magazine), “Loved it all! …one truly EPIC read!” (Book Love 101), and said, “…this book deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops! The author’s imagination and plotting skills are phenomenal. I think this is the 4th or 5th time I have read Drawn, and each time, the second I start that first paragraph, I am a captive in her perfect, imaginary world, and I never want to leave” (Geekery Book Review).
So enter to win anytime between now and the end of May. And if you haven’t already, please (humbly asking…) do add DRAWN to your “to read” shelf on Goodreads.com so your other friends there who might be interested in it will see this title as well.
I look forward to connecting with many more readers in the future. That for me is the true joy of being a writer! Thanks so much, all.
I’ve always been a sucker for a good time travel tale. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and A Knight in Shining Armor are all favorite books of mine. And then there are the flicks: 13 Going on 30, 17 Again, Kate and Leopold, and the ultimate time travel movie Back to the Future. So it should be no surprise that I’m always hoping to find a smart time travel novel to represent as a literary agent.
And, also not a surprise, as an author I had the most fun writing my OUTLANDER-like time travel novel DRAWN, which I’ve just re-released this week with a new cover! So, cuz of the new cover release and all, I thought I’d dwell today a bit on the past, and my kind-of obsession with it…
I think what I love most about time travel is the way it allows me to toy with what it’d be like to visit another time. Not to be someone who lived in that time long ago or far away, but to be myself encroaching on another world. Whenever I visit an old building, a castle, or a ruin, I can’t help but wonder what the people were like back then. Were they very different? Would I connect with them somehow?
If you could go anywhere, or rather, anywhen, when would you go? What sort of tales would you weave around that?
Me? I’d end up smack-dab in the Middle Ages. I’d love to see a fully functioning castle, and women whisking about in those elaborate gowns and pointy headpieces, and knights clanking in their armor, and foppish troubadours strumming lutes.
Honestly, that’s one of the fun things about being a writer — being able to bring your own imaginings to life. In my novel DRAWN, Michelle De Freccio is a practical teen. She’s an artist, but still is someone firmly grounded in reality and the normal. When she moves to England, she keeps drawing pictures of some guy. Then she starts bumping into him at the town’s castle. That’s when things start to get really strange. Michelle refuses to believe he’s actually from another time, or that she’s no longer in the present. She’s convinced he’s just some nut, until this moment in the novel:
“Try taking your meds,” I tell him, stuffing these things back into my bag. “Try not wearing that cape and boots all the time. While you’re at it, why don’t you take up a hobby, like going to Star Wars conventions as a Jedi knight?” I hang the bag over my shoulder and grab my drawing pad. “I’m leaving and if you follow me, I swear to God I’ll scream and you’ll be in prison faster than you can say Society of Creative Anachronism. Got that?”
He flashes a half smile. He’s so attractive. He’s so cocky. I grit my teeth and back away. I’m near the steps. I turn, about to run down, when I see over the wall something far below. My heart seizes up.
No tourists. No tents. No cars. No parking lot. Just grass, a water-filled moat and a deep forest in the distance.
From this point on, Michelle is forced to believe in things she never thought possible. Like the ability to connect with another time. Or how two people from such different times can feel so close. Of course Michelle and Christopher have serious differences in their beliefs and outlooks on life. Like in this scene:
He drinks a few handfuls of water, then sits back. “First you must tell me, do you support the House of York and the true and rightful king? Or are you with the so-called King Henry, that addlepated idiot who is not sane enough to know his own name?”
“You shouldn’t call him an idiot. He’s sick. Like your father was sick.”
“He is nothing like my father,” he says, indignant.
“I mean King Henry is mentally ill. It’s a sickness. It’s pretty sad.”
Christopher snorts, which seriously annoys me.
“Lots of people are mentally ill, Christopher. Lots of good people.” The tremble in my voice makes him look up. “If there was a cure, maybe he would get better and have this really great life.”
“Michelle, I happen to know for a fact that physicians have bled the king and attempted to drive out the demons that possess him, and to no avail.”
“That’s not science. It doesn’t fix anything. You know, some day in the future they’ll come up with all sorts of medicines and treatments that will—”
“You think too much.” He stacks his armor in a neat pile.
“And you don’t think enough. You are so, so…”
I’m about to say “medieval” when Christopher says, “So concerned about getting through every day alive.” He holds up the dented piece of armor to punctuate his point, then throws it clattering to the ground.
One of the most fun things about writing a time travel is tossing in modern stuff and contemporary comments into the mix. Like when Michelle, after watching Back to the Future in her own time, goes to Christopher’s time with a book outlining all the battle outcomes of the 1400s. She tells him, “This book holds all this information about what will happen. In the wrong hands, it could be disastrous. At least according to Hollywood.” And Christopher responds, “I do not know of this Hollywood person…”
And what does happen with this book? If Christopher uses it, people will live who shouldn’t have, and others will die who shouldn’t have. Quite a mess. Then there’s a scene when Christopher is unconscious from a battle wound, and Michelle tries to save his life with one of those impossibly tiny first aid kits people keep in their purses:
“Okay, modern science to the rescue.” I open the kit and inside are three Band-Aids, a Midol pill, a small foil tube of antibacterial cream and one alcohol wipe. That’s it. I sink onto the chair.
Throughout the novel, the couple faces a ton of challenges as they fall in love. How can they have any sort of life together when every time Michelle sees him, she’s changing destiny in dangerous way? Plus Christopher is “no prince.” His life is intertwined with treachery and murder. And adding to their couple issues is this biggie: every time they kiss, she’s thrown back into her own time.
Can love overcome all of these problems? Should it? DRAWN is my way of exploring these questions…and of getting completely lost in the past.
If you are interested in exploring DRAWN, you can check out more about it by clicking here. Also, if you are on GOODREADS, you can enter to win one of 5 signed print copies of DRAWN with its new cover by entering the giveaway there starting this Friday. To enter, click here from Friday. The giveaway runs through the end of May.
*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site.
Happy Agent Monday everyone! I know – it’s been a while… I’ve been traveling a ton for conferences and been on so many planes and through so many time zones it’s a wonder my eyesballs aren’t spinning in my head. Which leads me to today’s subject: HORROR! Hey, it’s Halloween week, right? And Halloween is one of my very favorite times of the year. I love a good fright. But I don’t represent horror, and yet…in some ways I do. Let me explain..
Here’s the thing – I LOVE a good ghost story. Truly. The kind that make you shiver and wonder or perhaps feel heartsick, the kind that are steeped in a sense of history or folklore. My own YA novel DRAWN taps into that, adding a dimension of timeless longing and injustice. I also adore well-drawn characters – so important to me.
What I don’t want to see? Gratuitous violence or gore. No thank you. Yeah, I love Halloween, but for me the shivers has nothing to do with psychos wielding chainsaws. God I hate when they wreck a good haunted house with blood-soaked rooms. #notforme
So that’s how I say “no horror” yet I represent awesome author Gregory Frost who is working on a novel about a haunted White House in the 1800s. Yup, there are some touches of horror in that novel for sure, but the book is all about the characters and the time, plus the writing is beyond gorgeous. And that’s how I represent Jim Kristofic, whose short story horror collection is beyond creepy, BUT is steeped in Native American lore and awesome writing and NOT all about blood and guts. There’s more of a psychological thing going on. And it’s how I fell for my client Tracey Baptiste’s THE JUMBIES, which is a middle grade horror set in the Caribbean, and features monsters that snatch children. That one is elegant and heartfelt and folkloric, and very much set in a time and place.
So bloody horror? Nope. If your book were made into a movie, would it be a slasher film? Then please don’t send it my way. But spooky and even terrifying lit that is elegantly written and has strong characterization? Yup. Ghosts. Meaning. Not just cheap scares. That’s the distinction. That will get me interested.
And now, for your Halloween reading pleasure, here are three client books now available that are perfect for a spooky evening read:
TURKEY TRICK OR TREAT, a fun new picture book written by Wendy Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper (Two Lions). This one is hilarious and the illustrations will draw you in! Check it out by clicking here. (Also, a Scholastic Book Club title.)
THE JUMBIES, highly praised spooky middle grade novel by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin Books for Young Readers). This creepy Caribbean tale will have you looking over your shoulder and snuggling deeper under the covers. Full of fun and feisty kids that best the beasts! Find out more here. (And available now through Scholastic Book Clubs.)
HARVEST PARTY! This fun picture book is written by Jennifer O’Connell and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Scholastic Cartwheel). It’s a perfect fall read for the little ones in your family who love to laugh. (Can be purchased now through Scholastic Book Clubs.)
Happy Halloween! And send me some treats…
*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.
Happy Agent Monday everyone! Here in the Northeast it’s a crisp glittering fall morning, the kind of weather that makes you feel you can really take on the world. If you writers are feeling the same, you may feel that extra zing of energy to send out some queries to agents for your latest work. Good for you! For some help in this department, I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what I do and do not want…
But first of all, I want to send out a huge welcome to my newest client, author Susan Coventry! Susan’s debut was the historical YA The Queen’s Daughter (Holt), which nabbed the 2011 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year honor. She caught my attention with an unusual manuscript that’s a retelling of the little known Arthurian courtly love story about Enide and Erec. It’s vivid, sharp, witty and fresh. Basically, it’s a cross between The Princess Bride and The Once and Future King (which, if you don’t know, is one of my favorite books EVER). So I lift a mug of mead (okay, it’s coffee) to Susan in welcome. I’m so thrilled to represent her.
So, back to the land of queries… I spent several hours this weekend reading through my inbox. For those of you waiting on responses, I’m up to queries received on August 1st. (Yeah, there are still a lot more after that, but I DO read them all and answer them all.)
*If you sent a query before this date and never got a response, that means you broke a cardinal rule and were therefore deleted without a reply. Deletable offenses include: mass-mailed queries that aren’t addressed to me, titled things like Dear Sir or Madam, or with no greeting at all…Attaching your query (I won’t open query attachments from people I don’t know)… Openly offensive or rude statements in your query…
*Also, if you see on something like Query Tracker that I have a response time for some folk of like a day or a week, and yours has been sitting around for a month or two, don’t despair. I do like to breeze through queries as they spill in for a quick look – and if something is clearly a no – I’ll zap back a form rejection. If something is a zowie-gotta-look-at-that-immediately query, I’ll request the full right away…otherwise it goes into the queue for later. And, yes, I have acquired clients from that “later” queue…
Some things I do NOT want:
– Genre fiction. I’m not a fan at all, so please do not send me your sci fi, romance, high fantasy, or horror novels.
– Extreme violence and gore. HATE that. Please do not send me violent serial killer novels, or slasher books, or blood-soaked stories whether fiction or memoir.
– Horsey books. Confession? I’ve always been afraid of horses – I’m pretty sure they were put on this earth to bite my face off. Needless to say, I never “got” the girl obsession with horses, so if your book is about that? You’re neighing at the wrong agent. 😉
– Things I’ve seen way too many times before. I’m over paranormal romance, dystopian, I never “got” zombies (bite off my face thing again?), or werewolves or stuff like that.
– Things that feel too much like something else. I get a lot of almost fan-fiction-like novels. They aren’t in the same world as the original, but change a few names and it’s the same story.
– Memoirs that are mainly a sad retelling of something that happened in your life. Divorce. A cheating husband. A common illness. The death of a loved one. While I can feel compassion for these writers, I’m looking for something a bit different in a memoir.
– Memoirs that are mere nostalgia, or a telling of a fairly common experience. I get a lot of memoirs that feel like an older person who has decided to chronicle their life for posterity — this may be a lovely gift to pass on to your family, but it’s not a commercial product in my eyes. I also get a lot of “wow, I went on this trip,” or “wow, I went to college,” or “wow, I worked a lot of strange jobs” memoirs — to me, this is just life, and not remarkable enough for others to buy and read.
– What they are now calling “sick-lit,” inspired by The Fault in Our Stars success. I’m not interested in “someone is dying” as the theme driving a YA or women’s novel. It feels a bit too overwrought to me, and there needs to be a lot more to the plot for my taste.
Okay, so what DO I want?
– Something fresh and original with a recognizable voice.
– Something that moves me to laugh or cry or both without being sappy or stupid.
– Something that takes me somewhere I’ve never been before, or shows me something in a brand new light.
– Something with a hook, meaning it has an understandable and unique theme and conflict, and a clear audience.
– While I don’t DO romance, I’m open to romantic themes in YA and women’s fiction — just please don’t make it predictable or the heroine shallow and all about the guy! Also, what IS it with guys who have green eyes and a crooked smile? Jeesh! Is this every girl’s fantasy or something? (To those guys out there with green eyes and a crooked smile, be on your guard for rampaging women…You have been warned.)
– SMART women’s fiction that can become the next great chick flick — and that is NOT just a rehashing of Bridget Jones, Stephanie Plum, Shopaholic, Sex in the City.
– A YA that is smart and real ala Sarah Dessen.
– Brilliant writing that is accessible. I’m not one for literary fiction with a meandering plot, but I adore gorgeous writing.
– Strong characterization. I’m not one for merely plot driven fiction. I need to care.
– Hilarious and moving middle grade.
– I’m open to elements of fantasy, a fun or moving ghost story, I love the shivers (without blood, please). But DON’T give me genre writing.
– Diversity, but only if it is genuine and intrinsic to your story.
– Memoirs that bring more to the table. Incredible voice, unusual humor, revelations for readers, a takeaway for readers, real heart, a truly unique inside peek at something…
– Books that leave a lasting impression.
Take a look at my client list here. You’ll see a range of people who are very serious about their craft. You’ll see that their ideas are unique, and that their books stand out on the shelf as something fresh. Read their work and you’ll see their voices jumping off the page.
And if you have these qualities, I definitely want to see your query!
*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.
*This post originally appeared on my DRAWN Blog Ghost Tour earlier this year at the wonderful blog site The Cozy Reader
We writers have the best job in the world. We get to perform magic, to make things mysteriously appear out of nowhere. All writers do this when they write fiction, but when we are writing actual fantasy scenes, well, that’s more magical than ever.
The trick, as with all magic, is making the audience believe. In my paranormal novel Drawn, the main character Michelle De Freccio is an artist that draws and then meets Christopher, a hot medieval ghost with a sketchy past. Okay, so you have to suspend some disbelief when you read books like this, but my job is to make everything as credible as possible. I didn’t want to create something goofy, but a novel that is gripping and that feels very real. A story that truly draws you in. To do this, I grounded as much as I could in a gritty reality, and only put in a few spare touches of magic.
On the reality front, it helps to have a character like Michelle who is a born skeptic, and a cynical Jersey-girl to boot. She’s hoping to start over in England and have a more normal life (back in New Jersey everyone called the De Freccio’s the De Freakos…her family has an odd background and she was labeled a freak).
Even Christopher, who is technically a ghost to Michelle, is a realist living in his own world in the 1400s. Convincing both of them that they are linked in a time traveling relationship isn’t easy. People who are skeptics need some undeniable proof…and a touch of magic, like in this scene from the book, narrated by Michelle, when she realizes she’s truly in another time and invisible, among other things:
But Thomas Haston’s vision remains barely focused on Christopher. “Yes, master.” He bows his head. “I shall grab the reins.”
He hurries toward us. Straight toward me. He must be completely blind, because he’s going to walk right into me.
“Watch it,” I say.
He doesn’t walk into me. He walks through me. Like I’m a stream to be waded through. My skin feels itchy and a nasty saltiness fills my mouth. Christopher releases me and looks at me with horror. I look at my hands, expecting them to be see-through, but they’re solid. “What the hell?” I say.
“What in hell,” he says, his voice barely a whisper.
So who is the ghost here, and what, exactly is going on? Here’s the end to that scene:
Christopher takes both my hands, gingerly, as if he’s afraid they’ll burst into flames. “What are you? A sprite? A spirit? A phantom?”
“I’m a freak,” I say. And burst into tears.
While much of Drawn is based in realistic scenes, whether in the present or in the distant past, there are a few times when I really get to flex my magic muscles. One of my favorite moments happens when Michelle brings a book with her into the past, a book that reveals all the battle outcomes in the 1400s. While Christopher would be able to use this information to his advantage, this will clearly mess with destiny. Some things are just not meant to happen, so:
I run my finger over the text to where I left off. “The Duke, misreading his opponent, brought his forces for the Christmastime to the castle of…” Suddenly the page looks different. More white space. Less words.
“The castle of?” Christopher prompts.
I try to focus on the words. “…for the Christmastime to the castle of Sandall, but…” Something seems to move across the paper. My skin crawls, as I slide my eyes downward. I watch with horror as the letters at the bottom of the page disappear one by one.
I flip the page. Letters disappear from the bottom here, too. The white of the paper grows, eating away at the words. Frantic, I flip back to the page I was just reading. Completely blank. “Oh God.”
“What is wrong?” Christopher tries to sit up.
I flip ahead a few pages. Two paragraphs are left. I quickly read, “Henry’s forces had been gathering throughout the area for some time and the land was heavily for—” The rest of that word is gone, as is the rest of the writing on that page.
“Why did you stop?” Christopher says and peers at the book. He draws in his breath as the words I’d just read vanish like a fabric unwound by a pulled thread.
Every novel with a fantasy element must have its own set of rules. In Drawn, messing with destiny can be killer, literally. The history book with its unraveling writing sends up a warning to Michelle, but she disturbs destiny anyway, and winds up putting Christopher’s fate in horrific danger… Okay, I can’t say anything more about that without spilling too much about the story.
But I can say one other thing about writing magic: If you put a very real moment right up against a magical one, the contrasts can create a seriously strong scene. In this scene from Drawn, Michelle is in her own time being attacked by a bunch of thugs from “the wrong side of Castle Road”:
They laugh. “Calling your posh boyfriend?” Bobby says. “Guess he can have you when we’re through.”
I close my eyes and hear a scream. It’s not me.
My eyes fly open. Bobby cradles his arm. Blood seeps through his fingers. “Who did that?” He looks around wildly.
I back away and another guy tries to grab at me. He shrieks as his thumb is sliced off, seemingly by nothing. It lands bloody beside me. I catch a glimpse of a rusty truck in the street before I close my eyes and curl up in a ball. Tears streak my face.
There’s more terrified screaming, then I hear them run away.
“Michelle. Michelle?” someone says and touches me. I whimper. “It is okay. I came. They will not hurt you now.” I feel the hand rub my arm and he says, “Shh now. Shh.”
I dare to open my eyes and there is Christopher kneeling beside me, a blood-smeared sword in his right hand. He drops the sword and gathers me into his arms.
For some reason, this scene always gives me the shivers. I guess I’ve always been a sucker for a brave hero in tall boots. Now that’s magic!
Lots of stuff going on out there…Reviews, news and free stuff, oh my! Definitely update time.
First of all, here’s a freebie for you folks. Today and tomorrow only, August 8th-9th, you can snag your own free ebook copy of my novel DRAWN through Amazon. Just click here.
I’ve received some awesome support for this free promo from a number of sites and people, such as Free Kindle Books and Tips. If you are ever searching for top-rated free ebooks, this is a great place to visit and bookmark. To pop by today’s listing, which features DRAWN (yeah!), click here.
Another excellent site, Digital Book Today, has just featured an interview with me where I share the moment when I met a ghost in a dungeon, and then…well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself by clicking here.
And props also go out to the awesome review site Night Owl Reviews, who not only gave DRAWN a glowing “Top Pick” review, but also created a banner for the free giveaway of DRAWN just because they are so awesome at supporting authors!
In other news…the fab book review site Book Love 101 just posted this amazing review of DRAWN. The reviewer said: “I loved the passion between the two characters, the forbidden romance, the ever impending mystery that could tear them apart. Loved it all!…We’ve got forbidden romance, time travel, mystery, deception, heart break, and so much more! All put together to make one truly EPIC read! Five stars from me! I’d recommend this read to anyone!”
Zowie! Needless to say, I’m thrilled. If you’d like to read the full review, and check out other reviews by Book Love 101, just click here.
And the very cool review site Supernatural Snark is currently featuring a guest post that I wrote titled, “Catching a Spirit.” I talk a bit about that thin veil between the past and the present, and share an excerpt from DRAWN where Michelle first meets a spirit who is all too real. It’s a bit of a tingly moment, and you can catch it (and tingle?) by clicking here.
Also, the fun review site Romance Bookie was nice enough to feature an interview with me on their site! I talk about my inspiration for the novel, will there be a sequel (?), and offer a bit of writing advice too. Read all about it by clicking here.
I have to say that this is just the tip of a wonderful iceberg of supporters. I wish I could mention every single one. The people who take the time to post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. The folks who bother to Tweet about DRAWN and post about it on facebook and on their websites. It’s overwhelming in a good way.
My gratitude goes out to you all!
Happy to announce that my novel DRAWN has just been voted as Book of the Month over at Long and Short Reviews! Thanks so much to everyone who cast their vote and showed some love for this novel about Christopher the sketchy medieval ghost, and Michelle the artist who draws him in. When DRAWN was reviewed by the Long and Short Reviews site earlier in the month, it was rated “Best Book,” which is above their usual 5-Star ranking.
Here’s some of what that reviewer said: I was drawn (pun intended) into this book from the first page and couldn’t put it down…This story is so deftly created that I was in each setting and could easily “see” Michelle’s art without illustrations…I recommend Drawn to tweens, teens and above. It has the perfect amount of romance, and enough action and suspense to keep the most distracted reader turning the pages.
To read the full review of DRAWN over at Long and Short Reviews, just click here.