Jill Corcoran, Literary Agent with the Herman Agency and dubbed the Plot-Whisperer, has created a unique blog post for authors who would be interested in submitting their work to her. She asks that before you query her, you watch a series of videos….27 videos in fact. Then, she encourages the would-be author to go back to their novel and revise. She says ‘you won’t believe how much your ms will improve and how much you will grow as a writer’ after watching these videos. The videos are a great gift for all writers to enjoy. 


These 27 videos cover such vibrant gems of plotting such as knowing your character inside and out; crisis; scenes; the beginning, the middle and the end; thematic significance; relationship bonds; and resolutions.

I highly suggest any/and all authors interested in enhancing their skills, to take a peek at what Jill has to offer. You won’t regret the time spent with her. And you just might create the next story selected by Jill to represent.

HERMAN AGENCY represents professional artists and authors with an emphasis on the children's market, which includes books for all ages, educational books and supplementary materials, children's magazines, cartoons, licensed characters, as well as stationery, advertising, toys and editorial illustrations.

Jill Corcoran, Agent: With an English degree from Stanford University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Chicago, Jill has marketed everything from sneakers to cereal at Leo Burnett Advertising, LA Gear, Mattel, and at her own consulting company, LAUNCH! New Product Marketing. Jill is also a children’s book author and poet.


Enjoy and Happy Writing!
C.K. Volnek

Today, it is my pleasure to review YA Novel Odessa, Book One of the Seraphym Wars Series, by Rebecca Ryals Russell.  Read my review after Rebecca's blurb...

The Story…

Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville , Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.

18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida , struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island.

Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

My Review:

My first thoughts as I dove deep into the book Odessa, The Seraphym Wars Series, was to marvel at the comparison between this and C.S. Lewis’ Adventures in Narnia. I always loved Narnia’s new worlds and fast-paced adventures and to read Odessa did not disappoint with much the same amount of excitement, adventure and pace.

Eighteen-year-old Myrna has just recently graduated and is dealing with her own demons when she is mysteriously transported to another world haunted with real demon-dragons. A homesick Myrna discovers she cannot return home until she has completed the mission she was transported to Dracwald for – to join with the other Vigorios (teens with special talents) and destroy the demon-dragons, bringing peace to Dracwald. But it’s not going to be easy.

Myrna is thrust into adventure upon adventure, meeting strange and unique people, animals and other magical creatures along the way; some helping, but most trying to stop her. There is an ample amount of tension and excitement as she struggles to find and meet up with the other Vigorios, battling dragons, shape-shifting demons and other mind-boggling creatures. One cannot get bored with Odessa. In fact I found myself losing many hours of sleep at night because I could not put the book down.

Congratulations to Rebecca Ryals Russell for a fabulous tale. I give it 4 ½ stars out of 5. Now I have to wait (impatiently I might add) for the next installment to see what happens with Myrna and her slew of gifted friends.
C.K. Volnek


Twitter Buzz by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers

(Retailers are writers--think of all that blogging and advertising copy!
Writers are retailers--think of all those books we must sell!) We think of spring as a time when tweeting is in the air. These days it's a year-round occurrence. Last I checked there were some 70,000 apps for Twitter. But I believe in making it easy. So let's cut some of the background chirping and go straight for Twitter essentials. Here are some tips from my Sharing with Writers newsletter (Subscribe using the sign-up form at the top of the column on the right.). There are enough tips here to get newbies started and give old-timers some new ideas. Note: The stars denote an application or tips that I consider essential or use all the time.
Sign up (easily) at

Twitter Tip: To find appropriate people to follow on Twitter account, use
http://search.twitter.com. It's as important to use Twitter to learn new things as well as to get your message out so try to be inclusive in who you follow.

Twitter Tip:  Wow! Here's a way to make your tweets do double duty, encourage you to keep your tweets focused, and refresh your e-mail signature as often as you tweet.  Use Wise Stamp Signature (
http://www.wisestamp.com/email-ie ) to automatically feed your latest tweet into your latest e-mail signature.

Twitter Tip: Evaluate how you're doing on Twitter and how others are doing but do be careful 'cause stats can be misinterpreted. Try
www.twittercounter.com .

Twitter Tip: Here's a great new Twitter aid. It will help you personalize your Twitter backgrounds or wallpaper:

Twitter Tip: You can clean out your nonfollowers from your Twitter account with
www.mycleenr.com --but only if you have 700 or fewer. They're working on more. My current favorite for unfollowing is www.justunfollow.com because it's easy to use—i. e., frugal of time.

*Emergency Tip: One of the major drawbacks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter is that your account can be suspended. After all that work building them! And sometimes through no fault of you own. Here's an article on what to do if it happens to your Twitter account:

Tweet Tip: Regarding HashTags at
http://www.hashtags.org:Did you know that by using the # (hashtag) sign before a word, you can tag your tweets? This site tracks the most popular hashtags. As an example, I use a hashtag #Tweeps4Writers which indicates that the tweeter I'm recommending is a resource for writers. If you look that hashtag up right now, you'll find many authors, book marketers, and even some agents I've recommended in the past.

*Twitter Tip: -Put your shortened link in your tweet first so that when the tweet gets retweeted, part of the link doesn't get lost.

Tweet Help from author and marketing guru Tony Eldridge: Create an AddThis Button (Social Bookmarking) to your website or blog This one is fun because it's an easy-to-follow video!

Tweet Help: Here's another video from Tony Eldridge on TweetLater and other Tweet Scheduling Tools.

Twitter Tip: To find out who's following you, go to:

Twitter Tip: Take a poll on Twitter:
http://twtpoll.com/new.php Fun Only Twitter Tip:  Have you seen this fun Twitter application? http://sxoop.com/twitter/  Wahhhh, I want a computer mat with my followers' faces on it!

*Twitter Tip: You can assure your tweets get more attention if you research the recent trends on Twitter at
www.twopular.com, then design a tweet or two accordingly and use hashmarks (#) to tag them.

Twitter Tip: Poets can treat their fans to Haiku on Twitter? It's a focused way for poets to focus and still connect with followers. Use
www.makeliterature.com/twihaiku/twitter-poetry. It also provides reviews, critiques and opportunities for your work to get retweeted by others.  

*Social Network Tip: Check the biography on your social network sites. They say 82% of unsuccessful twitter accounts have no bio. Even if you use Facebook, as an example, for your personal friends only, it is only a courtesy to introduce yourself. You'd do that at a party, right?

*Twitter Tip: To delete people not following you go to:
http://friendorfollow.com/frugalbookpromo/following/ Why would you want to do that?  Generally you don't want to follow people who aren't interested in a two-way conversation and you certainly don't want your stats to show you following hundreds of people more than follow you!

*Twitter Tip: If you think your tweet might be worthy of a retweet, keep it to 120 characters. That leaves room for the retweeter's own @username in it. Your followers are more likely to retweet if they don't have to work too hard at it.

Twitter Tip: Learn where a tweeter lives by using real-time tweets at
www.twittervision.com. It's valuable for author or retailer events confined to a specific area. Watch it for a minute to find people in your area or to find twitterpals in other places in the world.

Twitter Idea: Did you know that Twitter is increasingly being used in ways related to search engine research? If not, turn to CNN for just one evening's news and you'll get it. How can you turn this into something that will help position you as an expert?

Tweet Tip: This Twitter tip is for those trying to reach folks in other parts of the world. It's a twitter translation tool.

Twitter Retweet Tip: One of the tricks to getting wide exposure on Twitter is to get other people to retweet your tweets. Here are two articles that will tell you how to do it: How to Get Retweeted by @GuyKawasaki:
http://blogs.openforum.com/2009/02/18/how-to-get-retweeted and The Science of Retweets by Dan Zarella: http://mashable.com/2009/02/17/twitter-retweets  .My favorite method is to give information that people are likely to want and need. The other is to occasionally ask to be retweeted.

*Social NetworkTip: Tell your friends and/or followers about the success someone had because of a service you offer or information in your book. An example would be, "Sharing with Writers subscriber (
www.howtodoitfrugally.com) received a working computer from a fellow subscriber when she was out of work after surgery."  TIP: For a really big list of Twitter aids go to John Kremer's Twitter Tools page: www.bookmarket.com/twitter-tools.htm

Twitter Tip: Find who is mentioning you or your book's title on Twitter by going to
www.tweetvolume.com. Also, www.twittterholic.com .

Twitter Tip: Add you blog to Twitter by using

Twitter Tip: Don't add your Tweets to Facebook using RSS feeds if you tweet frequently. Your Facebook pals may get tired of you when ten tweets a day appear on your Facebook page!

Twitter Tip:  List your book in Author Directories in different categories of interest. Use these links:
For the last two: You can use the lists links or by tweeting Jennifer Tribe (
http://twitter.com/jennifertribe) with your title and expertise.

*Twitter Tip: TweetBeep (
http://tweetbeep.com )is a service that alerts you anytime your name, book title, product, or company is mentioned or Tweeted about!

Twitter Tip: Extend the reach of your Twitter efforts at
www.Twellow.com  Put yourself in all relevant categories. It may just be "Authors and Writers" but you may fit other places, too, depending on your area of expertise. Like "Teaching." Or, in my case, "Marketing" and "Publishing." You can categorize yourself in up to ten of them.  

*Twitter Tip: Back up your Twitter account and records with
www.TweetTake.com . -----
Carolyn Howard-Johnson collects Twitter tips for her newsletter. She says, "people keep asking me how Twitter can help sell books and other merchandise. Maybe it can't. But it will brand you if you keep your tweets content laden and on target instead of talking about going to bed and what you ate for breakfast. Great branding leads to sales of all kinds. When I hadn't been tweeting long my Twitter Promo record included: Three blog interviews. Two podcasts. And a new friend who helped me to plan my first trip to the New York Stationery Show when I spoke there--frugally! (-: My Twitter address is

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Tweeting!
C.K. Volnek

Today I’m introducing MG Author, Jenny Lundquist. Jenny grew up in Huntington Beach, California, wearing glasses and wishing they had magic powers. They didn't, but they did help her earn a degree in Intercultural Studies at Biola University. Her favorite part of college was spending one semester living in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, where she drank lots of tea, met some really interesting people, and honed her Yahtzee skills. Jenny has painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes one day to write a book at a café in Paris. Jenny and her husband live in northern California with their two sons, and Rambo, the world's whiniest cat. Jenny is represented by Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Agency. Her middle grade book, Seeing Cinderella, will be published by Aladdin M!X in March 2012.

Welcome Jenny!

Hi C.K., thanks so much for having me. Every time I stop by The Mind's Eye I want to get lost in your blog banners!

Thanks Jenny. You’re so kind. Please tell our readers something interesting about yourself.

For my last semester of college, I studied abroad at a university in Russia. Those four months were some of the best days of my life. The students I studied with played TONS of games of Yahtzee, and I never won a single game, except…one night we decided we just had to play a game of Yahtzee at midnight in Red Square and I WON!! It was the only time I won the entire semester, but it was awesome (and totally made up for the fact that being outdoors in Moscow in the middle of a November night is freeeeeezing!).

That is fascinating. So, what was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

My favorite book as a teen/tween was THIRTEEN by Candice F. Ransom which was part of her Kobie Roberts series.  Kobie is a lovable character who has to navigate all the pain/confusion/excitement of junior high while watching her best friend slip away from her, something I really related to at the time. Like Kobie, my childhood best friend was ready to move into the crazy world of adolescence before I was and I watched silently on the sidelines while she got swept up into new friends, boyfriends, and dances. Kobie made me feel like there was someone else out there who knew what I was going through.

I will definitely have to check Kobie out. Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

Currently I write middle grade (though I also have ideas for YA projects). For me, nothing beats a good coming-of- age middle grade book. Books were my secret sanctuary when junior high seemed so rough, and I still remember the thrill of taking a trip to the bookstore or getting the scholastic flyer from my teacher each month. My target audience is for those girls who stand in the shadows and feel confused by the changes around them. My hope is that after reading my books they'll believe they have what it takes to become the person they want to be, and can step confidently into the next phase of their life, when they're ready.

Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

My book is about Callie Anderson, a shy seventh-grader, whose goal is to survive middle school by "being as unnoticeable as possible."  The day before school starts she receives a pair of magic glasses that can read people's thoughts and she begins to see that the world, and the people around her, are much different than she believes.

I first got the idea from an embarrassing incident that happened to me in seventh grade which involved my glasses, a really cute boy, and spit. You can read about it
here: http://jennylundquist.com/blog-2/.

One of my favorite scenes is two-thirds into the book when Callie approaches her crush to ask him an important question. The results are heartbreaking, but pretty true-to-life.  Also, she keeps a list of Super Freaky Glasses "Rules" which were so much fun to write.

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

I started writing at a time when I was struggling with being a stay-at-home-mom and just needed a creative outlet for myself. You can read more about it here: http://jennylundquist.com/2011/05/31/why-i-write/.   There are so many things I love about being a writer it's hard to choose just one. Nothing beats that sense of satisfaction I feel after writing a scene I love (until the next day, when I re-read it and decide I hate it!). Also, I love meeting new writers/readers/ bloggers, the kidlit community is extremely supportive and caring. And, I love being able to read for hours on end and then tell people I was "researching and studying my craft."

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Just keep writing. It's a common answer, but so true. The more you write, the more your writing improves. And read as much as you can. Find out what other writers are doing and learn from them. Some of the best textbooks on writing are other novels. Harry Potter, anyone?

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Develop a tough skin and learn not to take things personally. A rejection doesn't necessarily mean your writing isn't good, it could just mean that the agent/editor isn't a good fit for you right now. And don't be afraid to seek out other writers (published and unpublished) and learn from them. The kidlit industry is filled with people who want to encourage you in your writing journey. Go find them! :0)

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

I love meeting readers/writers/bloggers so come find me! When I'm not writing, I can be found hanging out at my
website or on Twitter, goodreads, or facebook. I can also be contacted directly at jenniferlundquist@gmail.com

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today, Jenny. Your book sounds like a great read and one I will have to check out next March.
C.K. Volnek

For many months now I’ve been working on building my platform to market my brand and promote my books. Through my many friends at MIU Publishing and so many others I’ve met on-line, I’ve been encouraged to branch out, to reach beyond my comfort zone and put myself out there, exposing myself in more ways than I thought possible…no, not THAT way…grin…shame on you for thinking that. Ha.

But building a platform wasn’t exactly easy for me. I’m usually the one in the shadows, an insecure introvert. I had always been happy to focus on the little world revolving around me…my husband, my children, my job. That was enough, wasn’t it? It was hard to step beyond that. Would the rest of the world accept me? Was I worthy of having such outstanding authors and people befriending me?

Little by little, the light of platform crept into my world. I forced myself out to ‘chat’. I imposed myself to be part of the group…and I found I liked it! I found most people to be kind and gracious and supportive; like I want to be. And as I stepped beyond my comfort zone, I realized ~ the world doesn’t revolve around me! I must revolve around the world. If I don’t make a move, the world will keep spinning and pass by me. If I want something I must take that first step; to be the one to make the first gesture.

It was an ‘aha’ moment for me; not just in building my writer’s platform, but in my personal life as well. With this fact emblazoned in my mind I reached out, first to those closest to me, trying to create more solid relationships, trying to be a stronger person and friend. It wasn't about what others could do for me, it was about what I could do for others.

The hunger grew and I reached even farther. You see, I had a very special older brother who drowned when I was eighteen. He had two of the most darling daughters by his first wife and for some reason over the years we’d lost contact with them. In my small introverted cocoon, I’d been too blind to notice. I had not seen them for 20 years. I did not know how or why we lost touch. I only knew I missed them. With my new mindset I took a chance and mailed a note to their mother, apologizing for my many years of absence and asking her if I could get in touch with the (now adult) girls. I mailed the letter on Tuesday. On Thursday, I had a facebook friend request from one and by Monday I had talked with both of them on the phone. I could barely contain my happiness as we proceeded to share pictures and information of the missing times of our lives. Within a few weeks I was in for an even greater joy, the girls planned a visit to my house, their families in tow. What a fabulous reunion! Many tears were shared, hugs were abundant and talk was never-ending. All because I finally grew up, realized the world didn’t revolve around me and reached out with hope that someone would reach back. If I hadn’t jumped into life and made this move, life might have passed me by and I would have missed out on the joy these two girls and their families bring me.

So, thank you to all my family, friends and acquaintances. Life is truly what you make of it, and I hope to only make it better by building my writing and personal platforms each and every day. May you all do the same.
God Bless
C.K. Volnek