Monday, June 25, 2012


Before getting to the meat of today's post, I have announcement concerning T.A.A. I forgot to mention last week.

Musical Musings, and my other usual schedule postings will be on hiatus as I work through my offline life. 

But I do have an update worth sharing today.

Earlier this month, I signed up for a Query Blog Hop, started by the blog "Between The Sheets" by author/editor, Heather Webb.

For those too busy to read the whole rundown on Heather's blog, here's (roughly) how it works-

Writers who registered before 6/22/12, critique each other's query letter(s), maximum of two per entrant, and send a revised "final" version based on feedback, by Friday [6/29/12] at Midnight

The winner gets a free editorial critique of their first 2,000 words, and so I hope you'll offer your thoughts on one or both queries I share with you today. 

 This contest also gives me an opportunity to sharpen my own critiquing skills, which is still not a straightforward thing for me, but I'm trying. 

Without further delay, here are my entries- 

NOTE: Any changes differing from the norm of  "standard issue submission format" was done for ease of reading via the blog.

Query #1

Dear Agent, 

Gabriel Crisping loves pawing through junkyards, village alleys, dumpsters, salvaging the junk humans throw out—and he recycles them to build his inventions. While some of the forest residents appreciate his tinkering, the majority his fellow rats, even his best friend Rum Wheatland, think him a crazy dreamer. 

When a harsh storm blows in, ruining a promising dumpster dive, Gabriel seeks refuge in Mr. Quint’s toy shop. He finds a kindred spirit in the elderly toymaker, who loves theorizing and inventing contraptions as much as Gabriel does. Yet by befriending Mr. Quint, Gabriel has broken a universal law – he has spoken directly to a human! Gabriel keeps Mr. Quint a secret until Rum's parents are killed in a human trap. When Rum learns of Gabriel's friendship, he severs ties with him and focuses his anger on Mr. Quint, planning to wage war toward not only the old toymaker, but also humanity at large. 

The only way for Gabriel to save Mr. Quint is to stop Rum, whose grief sinks him into the madness and violence of vengeance. The only thing worse than losing an old friend, is betraying a new one, and maybe, he can save them both.

GABRIEL is a 34,000-word middle grade novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Query #2

Dear Agent,

Aurel Finnwhistle may be a weasel, but the only things crooked about him are the bent tip of his tail, and bent spike pearl he wears around his neck. This irregularly shaped 'Baroque Pearl' contains ancient magical properties from times gone by, and gives Aurel the ability to transform into a human, to both search for his elusive father, and to solve the mystery behind the dark powers that took his mother's life.

Henrietta Caulfield is a working class high school student who suppresses her dream to be fashion designer, to care for her father who is losing his eyesight due to a curse, and is determined to find a rare tea that is the only known cure to reversing her father's curse.

These worlds collide when Henrietta's best friend Orla reveals her identity as a weasel princess who escaped her kingdom when an army of unknown origins seized control. 

To save the queen and restore peace, Orla must create a team of warriors to defend her kingdom, and Aurel and Henrietta insist on standing by her. What they did not expect was to fall in love along the way.

THE BAROQUE WEASEL is a 50,000-word Young Adult novel.

Share your thoughts to either or both query letters in the comments below. What could be tighter? What read weird or unclear? Anything that seems off or confusing. 

Remember, the better you can explain and show WHY something doesn't work for you, the easier it is for the writer to fix it, or at least know it's there...

You can find the full list of writers in the blog hop here.

Best of luck to all of you.

Ciao for now,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wonder of the Week

Yo Chicks and Chickies!

When the Boss Rat enlisted me and Dempsey into this blog, he said it was only right we had our own special features for the blog, so welcome to the first edition of Wonder of the Week.

Here's how it works

Every Sunday, one of the T.A.A. staff will share something special they came across that week. Food, books, movies, whatever we find exceptionally interesting that week.

This week is my turn, and my interesting find of the week is-

The word "Yegg" which is an old slang word for a burglar, and also a safecracker or thug. 

Dempsey will be here tomorrow. 

Until next time,

Hoggishly Yours,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Swinebert Swaggers In!

Yo, Chicks and Chickies! 

I'm Swinebert, one of the new faces on T.A.A. 

Well, I haven't uploaded my photo yet, but I will, just trying to find a good one.

As the Boss (Taurean) told you in his last regular post, I'll be helping him out by contributing to T.A.A. 

But not to worry, he'll be back, eventually, and I'm not just a temp fill-in. I'm part of the new forming staff here, and even with the Boss Rat on pilgrimage leave, we'll be communicating offline on how T.A.A. will make the rest of 2012 a more fun experience for you faithful and patent pals who've enjoyed the earnest yet emotional roller coaster we've been riding so far.

I met Taurean the first time a few months ago, out of respect I won't get too personal, but let's just say he gave the phrase "Compulsive Eater" a new meaning. 

Quickly, I saw he was a guy after me own heart, not that I swing that way, mind you. (LOL!)

Anyway, he told me and my pal Dempsey about his blog and we knew we had to get in on this. 

After learning of his recent writer-related trauma, he asked me Dempsey to fill in for him while he takes the time to overcome his ordeal. We both agreed, and I'm first up to introduce myself.

Check back tomorrow with another update from me. Dempsey and the other new folks on T.A.A. will be arriving throughout the next few weeks.

Hoggishly Yours,


Dear T.A.A. Readers,

Sorry I've been M.I.A. from the blogosphere, but once again, things aren't looking so rosy on the writer front, so I'll be on hiatus until further notice.

But that doesn't mean T.A.A. will be left unattended. That's because starting today I'm bringing in some outside help to keep the blog alive, and even after I return, these guys and gals will be regular contributors to T.A.A., and I'm grateful they agreed to aide me in my time of need.

The next post will be from one of the new recruits I hired. Be sure to greet him.
I'll do my best to work through  my personal issues and return, and I'll still contribute when I can.

Until then,
Take Care All,


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Take A Chance Tuesday - 5th Editon

NOTE: Today's the last day to send in your feedback from last week's "Take A Chance Tuesday, before Midnight, June 6th, 2012, after which comments will be locked.

Last week, I asked you to share the hardest aspects of the writer's craft that you need to work through, and I appreciate all who commented so far. Sharing your struggles is something hard for some people, while easier for others.

Hard for people who don't like to talk about themselves, either to avoid being whiny.

Easier, for people who had to learn what they know the hard way, and who've been burnt out by less than helpful folks in their own writer's journey, and can relate all too well how someone can struggle with something other writers around you seem to find a no-brainer. Those of you with intense writer's groups (Like I once had) will know what I'm talking about. 

Or they might have this unique kind of self-confidence that doesn't make them arrogant and blind to help, but know when they need it, and when their own judgement is enough.
But this blog is more for writers like me who are in the middle of these different, yet true points of view on the subject.

This week's challenge comes in two parts, but to avoid "I don't have time" comments, this challenge will be broken up into parts throughout the month of June. Think of it like a mini-writer's workshop of sorts.

Part 1: In the comments below, list five books you've read and enjoyed, who wrote them, and why.

But here's the twist, in one or two sentences, explain why you love each book you picked, for the STORY only (i.e Characters who moved you/challenged you/compelled you to read on), not how it was written (i.e. prose and structure)

Admittedly, this is hard for me, because when you've spent the last decade of your life writing trying to improve your craft, it's hard to distinguish and single out "Story" from everything else. 

Technical aspects aside, a story can be fun without refined and/or stylized prose, but I think we can forget that sometimes when it feels like the pragmatic and technical problems get in the way of the "Story" even if that's the main point for most readers.

I advise you check out author Janice Hardy's blog post on the subject, it's where I got the idea for this challenge. She explains it more simply than I can.

Part 1 takes place June 5th to June 12th, 2012
(Deadline: June 12th, 2012, at Noon EST, or Midnight PST)

Part 2 begins June 12th to June 26th, 2012
(Deadline: June 26th, 2012, at Noon EST, or Midnight PST)

Good Luck!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Musical Musings #4 (Top 10 Jazz and Rock ) + Feel Good

This week, I'll share my favorite single songs* from various bands or artists from wide range of musical styles. 

*Note: Songs listed are not necessarily  from single albums but rather particular songs from a larger standard albums, unless otherwise stated.

Now on with this week's song picks-

Top 10 Jazz Singles

1. Sunlight (*Single) by Esperanza Spalding 

2. "The Trumpet Child" by Over The Rhine (From the album, The Trumpet Child)

3. "Hard Times" (By The Crusaders From Old Socks, New Shoes)

4. "Prelude For Lovers" (By Fourplay feat. Esperanza Spalding From Energy)

5. "Way Back Home" (By The Crusaders From Old Socks, New Shoes)

6. "Bemsha Swing" by The Caribbean Jazz Project (From the Album, The Gathering)

7. "If The Stars Were Mine"[Orchestral Version] by Melody Gardot (From the album, My One and Only Thrill)

8. "Your Heart Is As Black As Night" (by Melody Gardot - My One and Only Thrill)

9. -I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'- (Performed by Brian Wilson from the album Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin)

Top 10 Rock Songs

1. "Munasawagi No After School" by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VI)

2. "Skies So Blue" by The Rocket Summer (From the album, Calendar Days)

3. "A Voice In the Dark" by Elvis Costello (From the album, National Ransom)

4. "A Slow Drag With Josephine" by Elvis Costello (From the album, National Ransom)

5. "Summersong" by The Decemberists (From the album, The Crane Wife)

6. "Onegai Kamisama Dream Come True" by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VI)

7. "Be My Valentine" by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VI)

8. "My Half Broken Radio" by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VII)

9. "Love On the Border" by LINDBERG (From the album, LINDBERG VII)

10. "Welcome to my Life" by Melissa Ferrick (From the album, Valentine Heartache)

Top 10 Feel Good Songs

1. "Country Roads" by Olivia Newton-John (Originally by John Denver)

2. "Streetcorner Symphony" by Rob Thomas (From the album, Something To Be)

3. "Sailing On The Tide" by The Carpenters (From the album, Voice Of The Heart)

4. "Power of Two" by The Indigo Girls (From the album, Retrospective)

5. "The 59th Street Bridge Song" [Feelin' Groovy] - by Simon & Garfunkel (From the album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)

6. "Beautiful Life" by Fisher (From the album, The Lovely Years)

7. "On the Sunny Side of the Street" [Live At the Crescendo] by Ella Fitzgerald (From the album, Twelve Nights In Hollywood -Live-)

8. Today is Your Day (*Single) -  by Shania Twain

9. "Those Good Old Dreams" - by The Carpenters (From the album Made in America and the compilation album: Singles: 1969-1981) 

10. "New Orleans" (*Single) by Emmylou Harris

Share your top ten song recommendations in the comments below. 

That's it for Musical Musings. Next week the regular in-depth review format returns. (I promise for real this time!)