Archive for the Publication Category

Finally! A Simple Synopsis Generator!

Posted in Literature, Publication, Publishing, Writing with tags , , , on October 16, 2015 by Jessica Crichton

We’ve all struggled with it — the dreaded synopsis. I, personally, have such trouble with them because I tend to make my plots too complicated. Erm… well… convoluted is probably a better word.

ANYway, so most of you know I teach college composition. In the advanced comp class, I teach Toulmin’s Model of Argumentation. It’s a fill-in-the-blank, simple way to form a simple academic argument that’s easy to defend with reputable sources. I taught it¬†last night for the millionth time, and on my way home from class I started to think: what if Toulmin’s Model was implemented for a fiction plot instead of an academic argument?

It’s now 6:30 AM, and after a full night of work, I have a synopsis generator that has worked, in the most simple form, for every story plot I’ve thrown at it… including my own. You can choose between a character-driven or plot-driven story. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments!


I’m pretty happy with my own results… even if it doesn’t really resemble Toulmin anymore. ūüôā

Click Here to Download: PlotGenerator2015


The 2015 International Science Fiction Convention, Update Numero Uno

Posted in book signings, Books, Comics, Fantasy, Fiction, kidlit, Literature, Publication, Publishing, Sci-Fi, scifi conventions, Spokane, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2015 by Jessica Crichton

You know what Worldcon is, right? That obscure science fiction con where the Hugo Awards are presented? You know, the Academy Award for Science fiction that writers like Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin and Arthur C. Clarke have won, among others? Oh, you HAVE heard of it?

Awesome, because it’s coming to MY hometown.

Spokane, Washington isn’t exactly the hub of Western Society. We’re not even the hut. Spokane is, honestly, much more like the Bermuda Triangle of Washington State. People heading to Seattle on the bus wonder if they’ve been abducted by aliens when they find themselves on a layover in Spokane. When I was a kid visiting Jacksonville, Florida and people asked me where I was from because I didn’t have a southern accent, their first thought upon hearing my answer was that I knew the president.

“No, Washington STATE,” I’d inevitably say.
“OH! Seattle!”
“Oh… what’s it like to live on a farm?”

And yet, thanks to a series of very fortunate events, Spokane won the prestigious 2015 bid to host the biggest science fiction convention in the world.


I’m not going to actually STATE that this was a gift from God dropped directly into my lap, but it certainly feels like it.

It’s like the middle of nowhere was suddenly invaded by the first aliens ever, and I’m that yokel with so much potential and zero opportunity… until the face suckers come and I get to be a REAL hero.

All that is to say, I’m going to be at Sasquan: the 2015 International Science Fiction Convention in Spokane in August. I’ll be hosting things as the Spocon head of Literature, speaking on panels, and reading and signing books just like a real boy! Erm… writer. And I’d sure love to see you there. I’ll update as things progress.

Wheeeee! Go Sasquan 2015!

I Get Knocked Down

Posted in Books, Fantasy, kidlit, Middle Grade, Publication, Publishing, Writing with tags , , on November 10, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

… and… you know the rest.

So, my uber-awesome agency rejected “Guts and Glory” in the end. I’m not entirely surprised. I mean, I was amazed that they asked for a full in the first place, all things considered. And I learned a lot from them, even though their rejection didn’t involve quite the amount of feedback I was hoping for, considering that their website says they give detailed feedback for full requests. But whatever. The point is, I wallowed in a decent amount of self-pity (about three days), before I decided to use this experience to my advantage.

See, every rejection isn’t just a badge of honor for a writer – a self-proclaimed battle scar, as it were. No, it’s also a chance to get better. My uber-agency, which I now feel free to tell you was none other than The Blair Partnership, J.K. Rowling’s very own agency itself, did give me a BIT of feedback in their rejection after six months of review…

…they said they loved my world and my plotline, but that my characters just weren’t likable enough.

Okay, so far from taking that personally, I have done what any professional should do in this situation, and taken that to heart as a tool to improve my writing. Though “Guts and Glory” is not compete (and I assure you, I WILL finish the final book), I have decided to take a little break from the series, and focus instead on a new set of books. It has no name, as of yet, and no straight plotline, but I have my new world mapped out, and I WILL have my characters likable (by not making the plotline contingent on character development, for one). I’m leaning on my strengths while learning from my weaknesses… in that way, the new series will be amazing. Of that, I have no doubt.

Stay tuned to meet Tipani Walker, and delve into her world of dreams, nightmares, and what’s on The Other Side. Jessica Rising will rise again, stronger and more sure than ever before!

This is not over. Not by a long shot…

The Self-Publishing Myth

Posted in Publication, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing with tags , , , on May 22, 2013 by Jessica Crichton


Okay, I’m going to be perfectly honest here: There is one myth going around about self-publishing vs. trade-publishing that I am tired of reading. Seriously¬†tired of it. So today I am going to give it to you straight:

No, self-publishing a book is NOT an automatic death-knell for any writer who wants to be trade published.

Yet AbsoluteWrite is still insisting that it is to anyone who asks, and most of the writers asking are brand-new to the game, so they willingly believe it. A large majority of established authors will also agree to this assertion if you ask them, and there are plenty of blogs and articles out there that continue to agree.

Now, this is mostly because it used to be true. I’ll freely admit that. But if you still believe this, you haven’t been paying attention at all. And if you are perpetuating it, you’re going down the wrong road… the road to the past.

I recently posted about an agency that has my full… for Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine. Yes, THAT Dr. Fixit. The one that’s been self-published and which I am selling right now. So what did I do? Did I conveniently leave that fact out of my query letter? Did I lie and tell them it wasn’t published? Did I somehow find a portal to a parallel universe where agencies don’t care about that? Is the agency even legit?

In short: kind of, no, no, and yes.

The original query to this agency did not mention my manuscript being self-published… because it wasn’t yet. Between the time I queried and received an answer, I made a gut-decision to self-publish for many reasons, none of which were easy. Then I got this full request, and was faced with a decision: ignore it and keep going with my own thing since it was obvious they wouldn’t want it anymore after finding out anyway, send the full without even mentioning the publishing (and attempt to erase all traces of its publication from the interwebs… yeah… sure), or… tell the truth.

I never once even considered the second option, but I’ll admit I thought long and hard about the first (except I wasn’t going to ignore it — that would be rude — I was going to write to them and apologize for self-publishing at least). Like so many other unpublished writers out there, I had done my share of research about self-publishing and found the same line spoken over and over again: “if you want to be¬†really published, don’t do it yourself”. I knew from countless forums, blogs, and writing events, that no agent worth anything would ever ask for a manuscript that’s been self-published (unless it’s sold HUGE numbers anyway).

But this wasn’t just any agency. This was a major agency. In fact, it’s the tip-top of my choices. It’s so prestigious that I only queried them on the off-chance that maybe they’d say no to me nicely. Seriously. It was a crap-shoot.

And then they requested a full.

In the end, what choice did I even have? And what did I really have to lose? I sent the full, along with a short message that it had since been self-published.

Less than a week later I got a short reply, thanking me for letting them know, and telling me they were looking forward to reading it and would get back to me with their thoughts asap.


In one very short email, everything I knew about self-publishing vs. trade was obliterated. They still wanted to look at it? How? WHY? I was happy, for sure! But I was also very confused. How could all of those writers and other publishing professionals be wrong?

That night, I Googled for all I was worth. Here’s what I found:

According to Forbes, more and more literary agents are opening their doors to self-published writers. More and more authors, too, are finding a new way of querying by self-publishing. And PBS reports that some agents are even taking on self-published authors as their consultants.

These are only a few examples of the up-and-coming change in attitude, but you get the idea. Are all agents willing to look at a self-published book? No, of course not. But some are, and that number is growing. As it is with everything else digital, from e-mail queries, to e-book publishing, to online platform building, the savviest agents are changing with the times. Self-publishing might not be the wave of the future for all books (and in fact I don’t want it to be — there are still far too many self-published writers who don’t know the difference between editing and a blank page), but it is becoming a phenomenon that the trade publishing world can no longer ignore.

I don’t know yet what the verdict is for Dr. Fixit, but the agency has had it for seven weeks and counting now, since that initial confirmation e-mail. The website says that they reply within eight weeks, so I haven’t nudged, and I’m not planning to. At least not right now. Am I nervous? Duh. Are some days so long with the waiting that they feel like they’ll never end? Sure. But one thing every writer worth that title has to learn is patience.

Or, at least the semblance of it. ūüėČ

One thing is for certain, though: when I hear back from them, I’ll let you know. Whether it’s a rejection, an R&R, or (holy grail of holies), an offer, I’ll post it. And you will be impressed by this agency. They have undeniable clout. And they don’t care that my book has been self-published.

Let that sink in a bit, then do your own research. Listen to your gut. Edit, edit, EDIT. Then¬†make the choice that’s right for YOU. The future offers more forks in the road to publication than we have ever seen before. Maybe yours is a new way, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one.

Media Page is Up!

Posted in Publication, Publishing, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2013 by Jessica Crichton



Many of you showed interest in my adding a media page here, with links to my public appearances, interviews, and etc. So after a bit of research and deciding exactly how I wanted to go about it, I’ve put a nice, simple one together here. Do let me know what you think in the comments, and thank you SO much for all your wonderful support!

My Top Five Reasons for Self-Publishing

Posted in Publication, Publishing, Self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on February 21, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

There seems to be a general attitude among many (read: not all),¬†in the professional writing community that those authors who self-publish are “giving up”, “lazy”, or simply “not talented enough to make it in the real publishing world”. Miraculously, none of these reasons came into play when I made my particular decision on the matter, and this got me thinking: what if¬†these scoffing writers ¬†are just misinformed?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am¬†well aware there are many self-published books out there that make us all look bad, and self-publishing certainly doesn’t automatically turn a writer into a Newberry-Award-winning-genius. That said, there are some very compelling, legitimate, and yes, even professional reasons why serious writers are taking their publication into their own hands these days. I can’t speak for everyone, but for this SCBWI member and Master’s student of literature and writing who has been putting pen to paper for over two decades, I can assure you that my own reasons were quite ¬†sound:

5) People wanted my book. 

Not a million people, of course, but I did have fans who were sad to find that not only couldn’t they read my next book, I couldn’t even tell them when it would be possible to do so.

This is not good for one’s career.

Anyone who has had any kind of experience in this field knows that it’s¬†not easy to accumulate initial readership, so the very last thing you want to do when you gain readers is to alienate them. Can we say death-knell?

Of course, not everyone has readers beyond their family and friends (who will usually understand if it takes some time), and even I don’t have quite a large enough fanbase for that to be the one and only reason I chose to self-publish…

4) I wanted my book.

I’m not going to pretend here. I wanted my book. I wanted to hold it, feel it, and yes, smell it. Maybe it’s not the most professional reason on my list, but there you have it. I, too, am human.

3) Having a paper-and-ink book is a great way to advertise.

Blog tours are a blast… as long as you have a book to promote. Similarly, talking to bookstores about doing a reading is a lot easier when you actually have a¬† book to read from. When you’re a writer, you really need physical proof of your art. Poets have chapbooks. Journalists have magazine articles.

I’m a novelist. I need a novel.

Still, I have self-published before. So why did I have to do it again?

2) Three and a half years of work deserves closure.

“Guts and Glory” was awakened in me as I was falling asleep one night in 2008. Since then, I have written five versions of the same story,¬† had countless scenes critiqued and criticized, had the whole thing workshopped, received advice and compliments from two New York editors and their readers, and edited and revised so much that it’s made me dizzy (literally, at times).

I have also been rejected by agents and editors. A lot.

Now,¬† I know this is all part of being a writer. I’m not at all complaining — it’s to be expected, and I had years before “Guts and Glory” of the same. You kind of get used to it… mostly. However, I came to the conclusion that the story I worked so hard on for so long would never see the light of day if I didn’t do something about it… and after all that hard work, I wasn’t about to just let it die.

That may sound like quitter talk to you, but remember — I’m a professional. That means that I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. The fact of the matter is…

1) The Market Rules All

In the end, this is the number one reason I chose to self-publish. Above wanting to see my book in print, above rejection and hard work and hope, I had to self-publish because the market wasn’t going to allow my book to be read any other way.¬† How do I know this?

Simple: the industry told me.

See, when you get nice, personalized rejections from agents and editors, it’s usually a good sign that you’re headed in the right direction. Just a little more tweaking, a bit more editing, and your masterpiece will be accepted! But my personalized rejections were a little different. Comments like, “this is a phenomenal story, but we can’t accept it at this time”, and “I absolutely love your voice and energy, but this story isn’t for me”, mixed in with sometimes paragraphs-long replies of the same, told me that my problem wasn’t the story. It wasn’t my voice, or my characters, or any other in-text reason a writer gets rejected. Everyone loved all of that. So why was there a problem?

I turned to some of my published writer friends, who confirmed my worst fear — the 2013-14 market was already flooded with dystopian science fiction.

My book, if accepted by a publisher, wouldn’t be out until 2014-2015 at the earliest. They thought my story was awesome. They felt that my characters were great. But by the time a trade publisher got to it, nobody would care anymore. That is a problem that only has two solutions: give up over three years of hard work and dedication… or get it out now, when the genre is still hot, all by myself.

As you can see, it really wasn’t a choice at all.

As I said, I can’t speak for all self-published writers. But for me, it was neither an easy choice, nor a rash one. As for future series? You bet I’m going right back to querying and editing.

After all, I haven’t reached my personal goal yet. Someday, I will write for Scholastic. ūüėČ

Taking a Deep Breath and Jumping Back In

Posted in Books, Literature, Publication, Writing with tags , , , on November 14, 2012 by Jessica Crichton

It’s never easy to be rejected. No matter how many times it happens, it hurts. But when you’ve gotten SOCLOSE that you’ve allowed your hopes to fly higher than ever before, the fall, when it comes, is much longer.

And the impact on rock-bottom is much, much more painful.

After over a year of querying, and rejection after rejection, an agent finally wanted my work! He even told me to revise and resend! I was SO excited! And then, this:

“Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to look at the revised DR. FIXIT’S MALICIOUS MACHINE.¬† The manuscript is certainly improved, and the characters and narrative are colorful and entertaining.¬† However, there are still a number of issues that seem to us to hold the story back…”

I was numb at first. I was SO SURE he would take me on! And then the pain set in. And when it did, it was awful. Compared to the others, this was like the difference between a papercut and the violent removal of my whole hand. It wasn’t just that he had requested a revision. It wasn’t just that his interest gave me hope in my story…

It was that I had lost the excitement of waking up each day wondering of this would be the day I finally landed an agent.

That was it and all, really. Now I went to bed with no anticipation of the next day. I woke up with no reason to get out of bed. Yes, I have children and a husband and schoolwork to do, but it felt like all I was doing was the motions, without the excitement of a possible agent phone call looming over my head.

I felt myself slipping into a real depression. When I realized what was happening, I knew there was no choice: I had to fight it with everything in me.

And so I reread the rejection with a new eye. What had they said that was good? What was bad? What could I fix?

And now, taking a deeper breath than I have ever taken before, I jump back into the slush.

Time for more revisions.

I will NOT let this become my defeat.

John M. Cusick

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