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These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in kristin nelson (2)


Building a Slow Burning Romance with Janice Hardy

Today I have a special treat for you guys--kickbutt author and uber blogger, Janie Hardy. If you guys aren't following her writing blog The Other Side of the Story, your're truly missing out. She has some great information over there. And it's all so neatly organized that I'm totally jealous. (*eyes my haphazard tags cloud over in the sidebar*)

So today Janice is going to share tips on building a slow burning romance...


A Slow Burning Romance

I ran into a snag when creating the romance in my fantasy adventure trilogy, The Healing Wars. Since entire first book (The Shifter) takes place over three days, there wasn’t much opportunity for romance. Nya, the main character, is eyeballs deep in trouble all the time and really didn’t have time for love. She was too busy trying to keep herself and her friends alive and safe. If I was going to make this work (and I really wanted to for these crazy kids), it had to be a romance that developed over the course of the series. I needed a slow burn, not a quick blaze.

It wasn’t my original plan, but I think this worked well considering the younger ages (15-16) of my characters. I got to play with a lot of fun situations that everyone can relate to. Such as having inopportune thoughts at the worst time, like when Nya notices hottie Danello while he’s pointing a rapier at her. And the awkward moment when Nya realizes she’s wearing old, ripped clothes and might possibly smell (she lives on the street). And the really cute exchanges when Danello clearly doesn’t care about any of that and likes her anyway.

It’s also fun because it never occurs to Nya that a boy actually could like her. Readers can see that Danello is clearly smitten the first time they meet, but it takes Nya a while to figure this out. Danello is also a good enough guy to understand that pushing Nya is only going to make her run away – something she’s exceptionally good at.

If you’re considering a slow-burning romance, here are some things that I did to let this romance evolve over time:

1. Let my love interest earn that love
Nya has had a lot of bad things happen to her in her short life and she doesn’t trust anyone. Danello really had to prove that he wasn’t going to let her down, and that she could count on him no matter what. That gave me lots of opportunities to let him be a hero, even though she’s the star of the book. He’s just a quieter hero. Nya’s hero. Which isn’t easy to be considering how strong a girl she is. But because he tries anyway, he’s even more the hero.

2. Let my girl realize she has people she can count on
Part of Danello’s value is that he helps Nya see that she really does have people in her life that she can trust. His actions often surprise her, and his loyalty gets her to realize she isn’t alone in all this. She has more than just her sister in the harsh world they live in. He doesn’t always agree with her, and is willing to stand up to her, but even that shows her she can depend on him for whatever she needs him for.

3. Let my love interest keep my girl off balance
Nya is the type of girl who immediately judges a situation and acts. Her life depends on making fast decisions. But Danello gets her to question some of those actions, and gets her thinking before jumping in. He really grounds her, and that is something that might save her life.

4. Let my love interest be there for my girl, yet ask for nothing
Everything in Nya’s life has been fleeting. Parents, safety, food, home. There hasn’t been a lot of constants, except that people want things from her. They want to use her for their gain. Except Danello. He just wants to love her. He’s the one safe place she can go to when everything else is in chaos.

These two go through a lot together over the course of three books, but their experiences connect them in a way I don’t think I would have gotten had they hooked up in book one. They got to know each other over time, trust each other, and rely on each other. Their romance got to simmer, not burn, but I think that means this romance will last.

Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE. DARKFALL, the final book of the trilogy, is due out October 4, 2011. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her online at, chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story (, or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.

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Guest Post: Literary Assistant Anita Mumm on Queries


Today I have a terrific guest for you guys. Nelson Lit's Literary Assistant Anita Mumm! There have been some posts lately about the dire numbers of clients signed from cold querying. In response to some of those reports, author/blogger Jody Hedlund recently asked: is the query system dying?

Well, I didn't really know the answer to that question. I did get to Sara via a client referral, so this made me wonder. But I figured instead of just pondering, I'd go straight to a source that could give us some insight. Anita is on the front lines of the slushpile at Nelson Lit, so I posed the question to her. Is there hope for a new writer to get an agent via a cold query? And now I'll turn it over to Anita for her answer.
There’s a rumor floating around cyberspace that agents don’t read blind queries anymore. That unless you’re already published, or recommended by Famous Author X, you might as well stuff your letter in a bottle and pitch it out to sea. The slush pile is dead.
Well, let me start by saying that if the slush pile is dead, I sure feel silly spending so much time wading through ours every day. *grin* On average, we get just over a hundred queries a day, and yes, we read them all. What we’re NOT looking for is an excuse to reject a query because it doesn’t contain enough name-dropping or publishing credits. Don’t get me wrong—those can definitely help, but they are not essential. When I read a query, I’m looking for a combination of the following: unique story, hot topic, strong voice (one that, we hope, mirrors what we’ll see in the manuscript), compelling characters, and an ability to be both thorough and concise—capturing the essence of the story in a couple of paragraphs is no small feat.
Here is an interesting statistic for you: 75% of our clients were cold queries (i.e. non-referrals). Yep, that means they were sifted out of the slush pile based solely on the strength of their writing in a one-page letter. Next, their 30-page sample made the cut, and we requested a full manuscript. Kristin or Sara fell in love, and the rest is history.
I can’t offer numbers from other agencies, but the fact that we frequently compete for the same hot manuscripts—from the slush pile—shows that we are not an anomaly here.
That said, I’d hate to mislead anyone by implying this is an easy process. Remember those 100 queries a day? So that means in a year we see…merciful heavens, that number is too scary for me to even think about writing! Makes my eyes bleed! And out of that scary number, our agents sign a tiny handful of new clients.  The odds are not in your favor.
But when have the odds ever been favor of wild, unrealistic dreams? Good thing JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins and Paul Harding didn’t waste time worrying about their chances. And neither did our clients, who have become NYT bestsellers, among many other honors. It started with a query letter.
Believe in your writing. Let it speak for itself. And by all means, learn how to perfect your pitch—that part doesn’t have to come naturally. Kristin’s query workshop on her blog ( is a great tutorial if you need a kick-start, and here is the link to some great examples of our clients’ original query letters:
Happy writing.


Anita recently joined the NLA team as literary assistant. A compulsive book collector whose interests span the genres, she chose her current neighborhood based on the number of bookstores within walking distance. She received a B.A. in linguistics and French from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Illinois. She has taught English and creative writing to international students in the U.S., France, and China. Anita is thrilled to bring her love of language, writing, and other cultures to her new position at the Nelson Agency. She shares a cozy apartment near downtown Denver with a curvy kitty named Francine.

Now Anita is generously donating a query critique for a prize, so don't forget to enter the contest. You'll also be included to win the other query crits up for grabs as well. But remember, you need to comment on both this post and friday's, and fill out this form to enter. :)

Thanks again, Anita!