The Kill Zone

The Kill Zone is the blog of eleven very talented authors intent on helping new and aspiring writers. Such as myself. Today Kathryn Lillie (see very nice pic at left), is critiquing the first page of my novel, A Bother of Bodies. I knew the review was coming this Thursday because they warn you, which is damn considerate of them.

As any writer knows, in fact, as any artist knows, comments on your work is a very delicate situation. One that must be handled with at least enough objectivity to enable you to learn from any negative comments, and as little sensitivity as possible so that you don’t end up face down in a tub full of chocolate chip ice cream. It was with much trepidation that I turned on my laptop this morning.

Fortunately, Ms. Lillie was kind to me this day.

So were her fellow Killzoners and I am much obliged. And relieved. But it was only a very small segment that was critiqued, and it takes more than a half-decent first page to make a good book. I didn’t win the Poison Pen Press competition, or even make the top four, and since PPP has so many entries to their competition, there is no way they can tell each and every hopeful contestant why their manuscript didn’t make the short list. So, I have to figure the weak spots in my book out for myself.

Or…I can find myself someone called a beta reader. Preferably a fellow writer. And someone I haven’t already abused, like Stan and Dale, who have read and helped me with my flash (thank you very much, again). Someone, say, like, Barb…who is probably too busy editing her own book due to her new publishing contract…or, LindaMS…who is probably too busy moving from Texas to Michigan. I’ve never met either of these ladies but I appreciate their support beyond measure, and their passion for writing, and their beauty and kindness…

Too thick?

Meanwhile I’ve sent a query, a synopsis, and the first three chapters of my book to Carlie Webber, a former agent with the Jane Rotrosen Agency, but who has now started her own business, CK Webber Associates, Literary Management.  Ms. Webber showed an interest in my work during the Bloody Words conference in Toronto last year so I’m hoping she’ll ask for the complete manuscript, and then, even if she turns down my request to represent me, will offer some suggestions on improvements for A Bother of Bodies.

Doubtful, though. So many aspiring writers, so little time. Agents such as Carlie, and Janet Reid, do their best to help by blogging constantly on what we writers can do to improve our craft but they don’t have the time to give individual attention, other than to their own clients.

Which brings me right back to The Kill Zone. They are also taking the time to help, and I, for one, am very grateful.

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14 Responses to The Kill Zone

  1. Linda Hryhorchuk says:

    Wow!!!! You must feel very proud of yourself.
    Great comments.
    Congrats Amanda.

  2. Diane Krause says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your sample on The Kill Zone! And, I loved reading all the positive comments — that had to have felt good.

    I don’t see a contact form here on your site. Is there a way to contact you directly?

    Diane Krause

    • ajcap says:

      It felt SO good, Diane. You put your stuff (how’s that for fancy language?) out there and then hold your breath until someone pats you on the head and turns you into a Labrador Retriever, all wagging tail and wiggling bum.

      Thanks for checking in and letting me know you enjoyed my first page. I’d love to hear from you, contact me at

  3. Danielle says:

    It looks like you have some potential fans once you publish. How many words is your novel, Amanda? Why didn’t you choose to submit it to Poisoned Pen Press after the contest?

    • ajcap says:

      Danielle, my book is 86449 words and I figured if PPP liked the book they would have let me know and contacted me about a possible working relationship. They didn’t contact me so now I’m worried that, though my first page seems to be a hit, the rest of the book is sorely lacking. I was thinking of contacting the publisher Kathryn Lilley uses…what do you think? If they liked her and she likes me, there’s a chance we’ll all like each other. How’s that for reasoning?

  4. Danielle says:

    The circular reasoning is reasonable. How’s that? Okay, seriously…Would you need an agent to contact Kathryn Lilley’s publisher?

    • ajcap says:

      Probably. A lot of the bigger publishers won’t deal with anyone except agents and I believe Kathryn is with Penguin. So, I’ll go the route of looking for an agent while I keep writing. Give it six months and then maybe look at self-publishing again.

  5. LindaMS says:

    Really?! You’d consider letting me read your book in an editing capacity? I would be honored! Yes, I am still trying to move (how the he** is it possible for SO many things to get SO screwed up?). However, if you don’t have to have it right this minute, I would love the chance to get away from moving for a few moments here and there and have a chance to offer some suggestions (obviously non-professional) on your book.

    Right now, my Hotmail account is trying to tell me that someone else is using my account (it’s actually my email account at work). Where I haven’t worked since September. And that was turned off months ago. And no, as I’ve explained a half dozen times, I can not get on that closed account to verify my other Hotmail account. Sigh. Not that any of that matters to Hotmail.

    I went through all of that for my own, stress-relieving benefit. I finally got them to go to my g-mail site and it looks like they may be opening my Hotmail up soon. So, I’ll get with you as soon as it’s up and see if you’d still like me to read it.

    Great reviews, by the way! There wasn’t anyone there who didn’t want to read more. You are going great!


    • ajcap says:

      I would really appreciate you taking the time to read my book. I’m not looking for an editor so much as just someone who might buy my book, read it, and then think to themselves, “well, that sucked.” And then tell me what sucked about it so I can fix it.

      How would you feel about me mailing it to you? I mean, actual snail mail. No formatting problems, no Hotmail confusion, it would read more like a real book.

      You have my email, contact me that way and we’ll discuss. Sorry to hear you’re still having problems with the whole moving thing. Hope you get up to my neck of the woods before summer is over. Heading to Gaylord soon to meet up with friends from Detroit way.

  6. S. J. Crown says:

    Congrats for all the fine first-page reviews! I’m not surprised, and frankly I suspect the next couple-hundred pages will also shine. One little quibble: You’ve not come close to abusing me. In fact, if you ask me, I believe I’m still on the owing side of the ledger. So, if you haven’t received enough of my ramblings, don’t hesitate to ask for a look-over.

    • ajcap says:

      Thank you, Stan, you are such a good writer/buddy. And who’s keeping tabs? Nobody, that’s who. Tell you what? Send me your second book, I’ll send you my first.

  7. Danielle says:

    Mary had a post on her blog the other day regarding one of her former students getting a contract with Wild Rose Press. Did you see it? I checked their submissions info and they’re now seeking mysteries as of January 2013.

    • ajcap says:

      NO, I didn’t! Thanks for the heads up, Danielle. I’ve been out of town, staying at a rural motel in Small Town, Michigan, and their internet was so slow, I’d given up checking my mail and favourite sites for the last four days. Will definitely go check it out now.

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