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June 11th, 2011

Since there are two of me now, I have two websites/blogs:

Seleste deLaney (romance/erotica/adult stuff): &

Julie Particka (young adult work): &

Thanks all!

June 22nd, 2009

I've posted a couple times at the new blog. The most recent is about what writers can learn from the books in their DNF piles. Pop on over and read it if you have the chance :D

Go ahead and check out the other posts too if you like ;)

May 30th, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Just a reminder that I've moved my blog. The new post is up at .

Thanks :D

May 18th, 2009

The new website and blog are up and running. So, I'm not posting my blog here anymore, but I will try to remember to post links when I post on the site.

For those who are interested, the actual site is

Today's blog is about networking:

May 7th, 2009

First a bit of news. The website is up, but the blog still needs a bit of tweaking (and I still need an image from one of my artist friends). What that means is my posting here on LJ is probably close to done since I'll be moving to the PRT blog instead.  However, I'm still here today, and that's what really matters, right?   So on to the post:

This is the big bad warning that this post contains foul language and a lot of it. Stop reading now if such things offend you ;-)



Okay then, here we go.  *Clears throat*

fuck fuck fuck
mother mother fuck
mother mother fuck fuck
mother fuck mother fuck


For those not in the know, that was a snippet of Jay's song from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Now most of my friends know, I <3 me some Silent Bob, but that isn't what this post is about (Sorry to disappoint).  Instead it's about characters, of which Jay and Silent Bob are two of my faves and make for perfect examples of what I want to demonstrate/rant about.

I started reading a book last night in which the author is attempting to set up the main character (a teenage female) as your typical urban fantasy bad ass chick. Okay, so far, so good, I have zero issues with the persona. The problem for me is she is ruining it with the character's cussing.

Don't get me wrong, people who know me know that I can cuss up a blue streak and I don't have any issue with other people doing it.  The problem I have in this case is that, with very few exceptions, REAL bad ass characters don't cuss unless it is necessary in the context of the action. They don't pepper their phrases with goddamn, bitch, shit, fuck, etc. just to do it. 

What kind of character does?


Now think about it for a minute. Seeing them on the street, who would you be more afraid of meeting pissed off in a dark alley? I'm not thinking it's Jay, and that's discounting the fact that he looks like my seven-year-old son could take him in a fair fight. The only thing Jay would do is talk you to death. Silent Bob, big teddy bear that he is, has more of an aura of bad-ass than Jay.

So that leads me back to the book. Are there instances where the character swearing is appropriate? Sure. But the way it's written, she's doing it all the time, just because. It is the mark of the pansy-ass character who can't hold their own.

I have a friend who would argue the point. She would bring up Mary Janice Davidson's Betsy the Vampire Queen. Said friend thinks Betsy, who cusses all the time is a bad ass; I don't. I think Betsy is a whiny prom queen who accidentally landed with supernatural strength. It makes her a fun character, but just because she could squash you like a bug doesn't make her a bad-ass.  She is, at best, a bad-ass wannabe.

The ONLY character I could think of off the top of my head that cusses all the time and is still a bad-ass is John McClane. But here's the thing about McClane (and yes, I also <3 me some Bruce Willis), he is not only a bad-ass but a smart-ass as well. It's a mix that many have tried and very few are successful at.  And in the new book, the heroine isn't coming off as a smart ass either.

The way it's written, she's coming across as a teenager with a chip on her shoulder (another stereotype, and one I'm fearful the target YA audience might not embrace) who SHOULD be a bad-ass, but is nothing more than a poseur. I'm having an incredibly difficult time suspending my disbelief long enough to embrace her as a character, much less like her.

The moral in all this? If you want your character to BE the bad-ass (or the spoiled rich bitch, or the poster child for birth control, or whatever), embrace that and figure out what it really means. Figure out how those personalities really act. And if you are trying to subvert the stereotype, that's fine, just make sure what you are doing improves on it.


/rant off



Oh, and yes, I'm going to finish the book in hopes it will get better (even though I also feel like the plot set-up was ripped straight from one of my favorite TV shows *sigh).

April 29th, 2009

I'd rather be writing

About a month ago, my Twitter friend, Colin, wrote a fabulous blog post asking writers to talk about depression ( if you are interested). I contributed, but the funny thing is I was in a pretty good place at the time. Pretty Souls was ready to start submitting, and I felt pretty good about life.

Fast forward four weeks, and the querying process is pecking away at me.  Go me, I was dealing okay with it, not great, but okay. I outlined the next book. Wrote a short story that really helped me get into Cass's head for that book as well. Then the niggling doubt started setting in (as it so often does). I decided to stop worrying so much about the PRT books, and started on a new little project to take my mind off it. After several days of conscientiously adding words, an objective look at it says it ain't working. I'm not passionate about it at all, and I think it shows in the words. So, I think I'm going to shelve it for now.

Of course, that means deciding what to do instead. And I am crap at making decisions after a day or two of little to no sleep. I'm currently at four nights (which I hope will explain things if this post makes no sense at all).  To top it all off, some personal issues arose last night that have kicked my napping depression and woken it up. And it's not a happy camper. I'm trying to fight it off with anger, attitude, and snark, because while I would love to write, I just can't seem to push past it. 

I've done the "talk to someone" thing. I've done the workout thing. I've done the "do something nice for yourself" (okay, it wasn't a big thing, but it was something).  I know that eventually I'll do what I always do, and I'll knock the bugger out for a nice long nap again, but I don't want to sit here accomplishing nothing in the meantime.

So, I guess I'm asking for advice.  Someone please kick me in the ass and make me get over myself.  KK? Thanks

April 2nd, 2009

#agentfail... *le sigh*

I've been AWOL for a while again, but it seemed appropriate since my last post was on #queryfail that this one will discuss #agentfail.  For those who don't know, yesterday Jessica Faust opened her blog ( up for writers to discuss the things that agents do that cause writers to remove those agents from consideration.  In other words, what makes a writer say, "Sorry, not for me."

Some writers made valid points:
1) "No response means no" - then please program an auto-responder so we know you at least received the query, and it isn't floating around lost in cyberspace.
2) Keep your submission guidelines up-to-date and try to make sure they are up-to-date on all major sites (querytracker, etc)
3) Respond in a timely manner to requested material, and if you need longer, send an update e-mail letting the writer know.
4) Follow the guidelines you have set.

There were probably others (I can't speak for those who have agents and complained about what happened after signing), but those were the ones that stuck out to me as being valid points.

As a fledgling writer hunting for an agent, I would hope that agencies would read the Bookends blog and pay attention to some of these issues.  One problem with that is the valid points are buried in over 200 posts full of anger and idiocy ("agents shouldn't blog or twitter about personal things" - oh, I get it, they aren't human and don't get to have a life outside of their job, asking people to name names of the agents they don't like).  If I were an agent looking for insight, I don't know if I could see past that after a while. 

I understand why some writers had issues with #queryfail, I do.  I think they are shortsighted reasons, but I understand.  The thing is I also understand why agents will take issue with #agentfail.  At their heart, I think both were meant to be educational.  I'm not sure, in the end, if either one will be, and that makes me very sad.

To the writers out there, I hope you understand that by your posts, you probably undid any good that could have come of #agentfail.  Many of you mentioned professionalism, but several of those who did were the very people who made unprofessional comments.  "You can't have it both ways" indeed.  To the agents, I hope you were able to sift through and find something of value in the posts, and I also hope you know that not all writers are that full of anger. 

For myself?  I hope I can walk away from this with a better idea of the type of client I want to be when I find that elusive representation.  I hope to choose my agent carefully, I hope to work with them closely, I hope to understnad that it is as hard for them to land a book deal as it was for me to land them as my agent, I hope when all is said and done to not be bitter.  

March 8th, 2009

Last Thursday, some agents and editors on Twitter got together and did the first round of what they called Queryfail.  Essentially, they devoted their day to posting snippets or general comments about the queries they read that day to show why the queries were rejected.  Most left out anything that could be used by an outsider to pinpoint who the query belonged to.  There appeared to be one or two who ignored that, but such things are beside the point.  For the most part, the agents would give specific examples and move on.  A few made snarky comments, but those tended to happen later in the day, and I, for one, would have said much worse if I'd been in their shoes.

By the following day, people across Twitter and various blogs complained about #queryfail.  They bitched about the snark, the (few) identifiers, the theft of material, and most often about the agents/editors who participated. 

We'll start with the snark.  Most of it came from the people following the stream rather than from the agents themselves.  Having said that, I felt in most cases the agents were kind.  They tried to convey what certain choice phrases made them think.  And, honestly, it was the only part that helped me to some degree (more on this later). 

The inclusion of personal identifiers.  Rare.  I think there was ONE that mentioned a person's last name.  Not their first, just their last.  I looked the name up on and there are over 3700 people with that last name in the U.S. (as a comparison, there are less than 340 people in the country with either my maiden name or my current last name).  So, while it personally identified ONE of those 3700+ people, sorry, it didn't point a direct finger. 

Material theft.  People claimed that posting part of the query letter constituted theft.  First, I'm fairly certain that unsolicited mail can be used for any purpose the recipient wants (including toilet paper).  Strange how writers are more than willing to post the entire content of the rejection letters they receive online, but the agent who they send the initial query to isn't entitled to do the same with any or all of the query.  Pot, meet Kettle.  Get over yourself and have a nice day.

Participating agents/editors.  At least one received a "threat" to contact her boss about #queryfail.  All of them have been vilified to some degree on various blogs.  Enough, people.  You are (for the most part) adults, start acting like it.  Having a teensy portion of your query letter disected on #queryfail is just the tip of the iceberg on how critics will rip you apart once you are published.  And hell, they'll rip you apart for the same thing that made you successful.  If you are in the process of querying agents, you need a thicker skin than that, because it isn't fun.  As a fledgling author, rejection letters, no matter how much you think you are prepared for them, are like a knife in the gut.  At least #queryfail gave the authors of those letters mentioned some specific feedback on what they are doing wrong. 

The biggest problem I had with #queryfail was that having researched agents and querying, most of the things mentioned didn't help me.  I know not to send pictures or gifts (much less perverse ones - eww).  I know I'm supposed to sell them the book, not me as a person.  I know that braggart lines like "this is the best book you will ever read" are stupid.  I know that mentioning book covers, movie rights, etc. are also putting the cart WAY before the horse.  What I wish I'd seen on queryfail are more of the intangibles with examples "Somethign from the letter" doesn't show me the author's voice.  Or the hook didn't hook me.  Or the blurb was too generic.  Or something that identifies why those who follow "the rules" are still rejected.  I also wish all the non-agent/editor commentary had disappeared since it was the opposite of helpful.  (Ask questions for clarification, but don't jsut clutter up the feed.)

I hope they do #queryfail again.  More than that, I hope a time comes when agents & editors don't get so many crap queries that they feel a need to do something like this to educate people.  It both scares me and gives me hope  that perhaps the agents didn't get any decent-but-not-great queries on Thursday.  Scares me because I feel bad for them if that is truly what they deal with on a daily basis, and gives me hope because maybe, just maybe, the day an agent gets my query, they will have waded through so much crap that my query will look like a bright ray of sunshine and a hot bubblebath rolled into one.

February 25th, 2009

So, I've been debating for a while now whether to just keep posting about writing or to branch out.  Today, I'm trying something new.

The economy is in the crapper.  Most people know that, even if it hasn't hit them hard individually yet.  My husband found out yesterday that everyone in his company has to take a week off in March unpaid (what that really means is they take a week off from the office, but still have to be "on call" - don't get me started).  I have a brother-in-law who has been out of work for a while and two siblings whose jobs are eternally in "iffy" status.  We are all paying more for the things we buy because they raised prices when gas cost more, and they haven't lowered them yet to match the decrease in gas prices (and let's not kid ourselves, they never will).  Businesses, big and small, are closing their doors right and left.  Those that stay afloat are often doing so at the cost of fewer employees.

Thus, the lousy economy isn't a surprise.

But the response to it by many a business kind of is.

I was involved in a car accident in January: a truck rear-ended me on an icy road.  The impact blew out two windows in my van and caused all told about $9000 damage.  Plus, I got to have the fun experience of being strapped to the board to immobilize my neck.  Fortunately, I was the only one hurt and it ended up just being muscle damage.  The bigger issue came when I called my auto insurance (Allstate) to inform them of the accident.  The representative on the phone grilled me like I was on trial for something.  Keep in mind, I called the day after the accident and was still on muscle relaxers and pain medication.  The entire ordeal left a sour taste in my mouth with regard to the insurance company.  Then, they sent my car for repairs but somehow told the repair place it was a total.  So my car sat in their back lot for a week or two until another adjuster told them to fix it.  Because of that, I was without a car for over a month.  Then there was the car seat issue.  I thank my lucky stars my kids (and my niece) weren't hurt, but the car seats can't be used any more and have to be replaced.  My son's booster was brand new, so they'll replace that no problem.  My daughter's seat?  That is prorated since it wasn't brand new (um hello?  I have to buy a new one to replace it.), and they said we had to buy the same model.  I wouldn't care, but that is a waste of money as she is ready to move up to a bigger seat.  It would seem to me the logical thing to do in this case is get the information on the car seats and send a check for whatever they WILL cover, then let me replace them.  No, I have to replace them and send in receipts.  It's stupid and a waste of everyone's time.  Needless to say, we aren't happy with the way things were handled.

In a completely separate story, two people have recently complained online about Sony products and the experiences they've had with Sony customer service.  One was a literary agent who's e-reader stopped working less than six months after she had purchased it.  The receipt had been lost during a move, and though Sony had a record of her purchase, they kept jerking her around, not offering her any sort of real help.  This is a piece of equipment she needs for her work, as such, she found herself debating the merits of a new e-reader or a Kindle.  In that time, she linked to another agent who had experienced issues with his Kindle.  She said she found it funny that people from Amazon were checking out her blog comments, but a Sony rep had never popped in.  Then yesterday, a friend of mine told me about the XBox 360 she had bought for her family as a Christmas gift.  From the day they opened it, the machine didn't work.  She had repeatedly contacted Sony and kept getting brushed off.  She said she thought they were just stringing her along until the 90 day warranty was expired.  Luckily, the store she had bought the machine from is taking care of the problem (Yay for Costco!), but the experiences of these two women are sadly similar.

You might wonder what these tales all have in common: lack of customer service.  Businesses are struggling right now, most people understand that fact.  However, the short-sightedness of crappy customer service simply astounds me.  How can they not understand that a good solid relationship with the consumer will help them stay in business?  I know I will now be wary of purchasing a Sony, and we are seriously contemplating a new insurance carrier.  And with the viral nature of the internet, how many people will read the blogs and do the same thing?  We are at a point where businesses need to make better products so they don't have too many expensive "problems" later on so that the few times there are issues, they can heed the adage of "the customer is always right" and fix things without it seriously affecting their bottom line. 

To Sony, Allstate, and any other company not thinking ahead: without customers, you have no business.  Treat your customers like people instead of numbers, it's the only smart thing to do.

February 20th, 2009

Okay, I think I'm ready

I have spent today working on the outline for the next book in my YA series.  I have my new characters (at least the important ones) set up.  I know their names (and I was smart enough this time to keep track of initials so I don't have new characters with the same first initials as existing characters - go me :P), what they look like, and a little about their personalities.  The basic plot is more or less hammered out.  So, I think I am set to start writing on Monday - goal 4,000 words a week (though I'm hoping for more).  Downside?  I think I am getting the kids' cold, which means I will be a miserable mess next week.  Oh well.

In the meantime, I need to finish the chapter 1 re-write on Avalon's Return.  I'm hoping to have that locked up by the end of the weekend.

So, where is everyone else on their projects?
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