Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sci-Fi Name Generator

Need a sci-fi name?

I've created these sci-fi name generators to help you find the perfect first name and surname name for your science fiction character. Don't see a name you like?  Click the button or refresh the page to see more!

{there are thousands of science fiction inspired names here ... I may have gone a bit overboard, hah!}

Choose a name generator to begin:





Let me know if you have any requests for more futuristic character names, notice anything amiss, or spot any first or last names that should be removed!

Most of the science fiction names are ones I have made up myself using a varity of prefixes and suffixes. While some are grounded firmly in certain linguistic roots, others are blends. And because English is my primary language, I may have inadvertently included names that read poorly in other languages. Apologies in advance for this, and please don't hesistate to let me know if you find any that are offensive. I'll remove them!

Stay tuned: I'm working on a star and planet name generator!

{ Also on the blog: Twitter Pitch Generators }

More SciFi Names:  donjon SciFi Name Generators  ||  Futuristic Name Generator  ||  Sci-Fi Character Name Generator  ||  Fantasy Name Gen (choose the sci-fi option) ||

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Researching Literary Agents

You've got your book.
You've got your query.

You want to be published by one of the Big Five publishers, which means you need a Literary Agent.

So how do you find a Lit Agent that will be a good fit?

Thankfully it's an easy, two step process  ... that may or may not consume your life with how long it can take and how much energy you pour into it. 


  { see also my Query Resources }

Finding the perfect Literary Agent for You:

Step 1: Compile a List of Literary Agents

Open up a spreadsheet, and make a list of at least 50-100 agents that:

1. Represent books like yours
2. Represent your age category (Adult, YA or MG etc)
3. Represent your genre (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contemporary etc.)
4. Have a track record of sales

How do you find agents who represent books like yours?

Grab a book where you could imagine yourself saying: "Well, my book is kind of like THIS book, except ... [Insert difference]." It could have similar themes, or the writing is similar, or the subgenre and world have a similar feel to yours, or just something about the book really jives with you.

a. Flip to the acknowledgements. Writers will usually thank their lit agent there.
    If the agent loved this book enough to represent it, maybe just maybe they'll love yours!!

b. Visit QueryTracker's Who Reps Whom:
     Select the first letter of the author's last name, and you're off!

c. Visit Query Tracker's Agents By Genre Search
     You'll need a (free) subscription to Query Tracker to do this,
     but you will want one when Querying. Believe me! 
     I could write an entire series of posts on all the gems buried in Query Tracker.

d. If YA or MG SFF is your niche, I've got a list of
    Lit Agencies that Represent YA or MG Spec Fic

After you've done that, do a double check on their agency or agent website guidelines. Are they still representing your age/genre? Yes? Good. Add them to your list!

How do you find agents who WANT books like yours?

Agents might technically represent your genre, and may have even represented the best Comp Title to your book once upon a time, but that doesn't mean they are looking for another book like it now. So to find what they really want, you'll need to dig deeper. This is where things start to get tricky and you can waste a lot of time. BUT. Taking the time to do a bit more sleuthing can also be a gold mine. Full disclosure: twitter stalking is how I (somewhat indirectly) found my agent.

So how do you find what they want now?

  • Agency or Agent Websites
    Not all agencies will do this, but some will have mini wishlists on the sidebars of their site, or list wishlist items on their bios. Unfortunately these are not always dated.
  • Manuscript Wish List
    This website is amazing, pure amazing. Search for an agent or a genre, subgenre or other keyword and find an agent who has said they want just what you're serving. Thank agent Jessica Sinsheimer for this MSWL miracle!
  • MSWishList
    This is similar to the above site in some ways, but simply pulls #MSWL listings from agents' twitter accounts.
  • #MSWL Hashtag on Twitter
    This will be the best way to see the most recent Manuscript Wish List requests from agents
  • Agent Spotlight
    Though some of these will be older interviews, they are a great way to get to know agents and their tastes! Be sure to Google for other recent interviews too.
  • Twitter Stalking
    Okay, not actual stalking, but in all seriousness, one of the best ways to get to know an agent's tastes might just be by following what they have to say on Twitter. The link above is to my list of over 500 Lit Agents on Twitter!

Okay, have you found 50 or 100 or 500 agents that you could potentially query? 
Great! Now it's time to do a little more research:

Step 2: Research and Rank

If an agent on your list has already sold a book to a well-known and respected publisher, it's fairly likely that they are a reputable agent, and worthy of a query from you. BUT NOT ALWAYS.

Red flags? 

  • Fees
    The biggest is if an agent tries to charge you for anything up front. A reputable agent will never charge you anything until they sell your book.
  • Lack of Sales
    Some agents will not have a track record of sales. Maybe they only sold that one book. Not necessarily a red flag, but could show lack of experience and connections, so dig deeper. How long have they been operating as an agent? Have they been around forever but few sales? Red flag. Are they brand new but interned and assisted at a few reputable agencies? Are they at an agency with a good track record now? You may want to give them a query!

    How do you dig up agent sales? Well, in addition to combing through their bios on agency websites, and Query Tracker's client listings (which link you to the clients' Amazon pages), one of the best ways is via Publisher's Marketplace. Caveat here: Publisher's Marketplace provides an incomplete picture of agent sales, because agents won't report all their sales there, for a variety of reasons. However, it's still useful. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay for full access. Fortunately, Publishers Weekly "Rights Report" is published regularly, is free, and is an extremely valuable resource. You can browse the listings, or Google "dream agent's name" + "rights report" to see what their latest reported sales are. They won't have advertised all of them, but it will give you a good idea.

  • Shoddy practices
    Some agents will play a numbers game: sign a lot of clients, won't read (or edit) the entire manuscript, then send that work out scattershot style to a horde of publishers all at once and see if something sticks. Obviously, this is NOT the kind of agent you want. They might sell one or two things, but if you're one of the many clients whose work doesn't sell, your work (which might not have been quite ready) cannot be fixed up and shown to those editors again. You just missed your shot.

    See also: Scary Agent Vetting Test

Before submitting to any agent, do your research Make sure they aren't a schmagent:

  1. Visit AW's Bewares, Recommendations, & Background Checks:
    Again, you'll need a free subscription to Absolute Write Water Cooler, but these forums are writerbee gold.Once there, scroll past the adverts to the top of the forum threads and click the small dropdown menu header to the right that says "Search Forum"
    Search for the name of the agent or agency you are trying to research.
    If there is dirt on an agent, chances are high it will be here. Do be aware that there may be disgruntled queriers in the mix too, so keep this in mind. Seek out opinions from folks who have actually worked with the agent.
  2. Check out Writer Beware, read their Literary Agent Red Flags, and their Thumbs Down Agencies List.
  3. When in doubt, ask:

    If you know a writer who has been through the querying trenches a time or two, chances are they know some of the shoddy agents and agencies by name. I can think of several in my head right now.  o.O

Now, go forth and polish up your manuscript, fix up that query letter, and query those agents!

If you need help with your Query, I've compiled some resources for that here:
Querying Resource Roundup

Additional Agent Researching Resources:

How to Find a Literary Agent - Jane Friedman || Researching Literary Agents - Susan Dennard || 25 Things Writers Should Know bout Literary Agents - Chuck Wendig || How to Research and Target Literary Agents - Writers In The Storm || How to Research a Literary Agent - Nathan Bransford || How Do You Know if Your Agent is Any Good? || Bookends on Bad Agents ||

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Query Lab #4 - April Giveaway Open

Query Lab #4 Giveaway
image: holdentrils
In case you missed it, The Query Lab is a new feature on my blog. After getting through the query trenches myself I wanted to give back to the writing community!

When the giveaway runs, I'll open up a submissions window for those interested in receiving a Query & 1st 10 page critique from me. When the sub window closes, I'll randomly select winners and a runner up!

4 Winners will receive a private Query & 1st 10 page critique/consultation from me.

1 Runner-Up will receive a Query-only Critique from me that will be publicly posted on this blog.

      { What does a public crit from me look like? 
                            Click here to see! }

I'm most experienced with YA and MG, as that's what I write. However, I can definitely help with other age categories as well. The only thing I wouldn't be a good fit for is erotica (sorry!!)

{ For more info on The Query Lab, please see the original information post here!
   And check out my Calendar of other opportunities for query critiques.}

The Query Lab #DVPit & #pitdark Edition

Query + 1st 10 Page Critique Giveaway


Also! Note that next month's theme will be #PitMad manuscripts,

check back here in May for that
announcement and entry window!

How to Enter:

  • Meet the Monthly Focus Criteria:  
    Each month, I will focus on a particular type of submission. This will limit the types of authors and/or manuscripts that are eligible to enter each month. I decided to do this so that my query critiques will be of maximum help to writers preparing for upcoming contests that have a particular genre or focus!

    April Focus:  #DVPit & #pitdark Edition

  • Comment on this Post before 11:59pm, April 18th: Please leave a comment on this post with the following:
    • "Enter Me!"
    •  A way for me to contact you if you win
       (If you aren't signed in with your Google ID, maybe leave a Twitter handle or blog address, OR check back here when the contest closes to see if you've won)
    •  Note if you are willing to be a Runner-Up
       (Runners-Up will receive a PUBLIC query critique from me, posted on this blog
        Want to see what that looks like? Check out a Previous Critique here.)
  • Check out my past Query Advice:
    Okay, so technically you don't 
    have to do this before you enter. BUT I do highly recommend you browse my query tips and apply those that seem relevant before subbing ... because why enter to "win" advice from me that I'm already giving away to everyone??  ;oD

    You'll get better, more tailored tips from me if you're already applying some of the things I mention in the posts below! 
     (keep in mind all queries/stories are different so your mileage may vary with some of the advice)

Want to know more about The Query Lab, or the upcoming submission theme/focus schedule? Check out the original post here.

Got a question? Feel free to drop me a line on Twitter!  ( @carissaataylor )

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Read Authors of Color - A Resource List

Need to find books written by Writers of Color and Native Authors? This is a set of resources for you!

Apologies in advance -- most of these links will be heavily weighted toward authors of YA / MG, because that is what I gravitate toward. However, I will keep expanding to include others! This is a work in progress and I'd love your input if you know of resources I've missed.

Also note that while I've tried to keep this collection as strictly focused on POC & Native Authors as possible, a few resources may also list a few books with POC / Native main characters too. I will try to note those.

Table of Contents
(Click to jump to a particular section)

General / Mixed Lists

African-American / Black Authors

Asian-American / Pacific Islander Authors

Latinx Authors

Muslim & Middle Eastern-American Authors

Native Authors

General / Mixed Authors of Color Lists:
(back to top)

New Releases by Writers of Color

Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Picture Book Authors of Color

Other / General Writers of Color Lists

Sci-Fi and Fantasy POC Authors 
African-American / Black Authors
(back to top)

New Releases by Black Authors

Young Adult & Middle Grade Black Authors

Adult Black Authors

PB & Children's Book Black Authors

Other Black Author Lists

Twinja's Black Book Bloggers List ||  Black Nerd Girls || African Book Addict ||

Asian-American / Asian / Pacific Islander Authors
(back to top)

East Asian / East Asian - American / Authors

Filipino, Malaysian & Other Southeast Asian Authors

Indian / Indian-American / Sri-Lankan Authors

Other Asian Author Lists

Native Hawaiian #Ownvoices -- Reading for SJ || Hapa Booklist || 8 Books for Asian-Pacific Heritage Month  - RichInColor || Asian-Australian Kidlit || Read Asian Oz ||

See also: #AsianLitChat and #AsianLitBingo and #ReadAsianOz

Pacific Islander / Pasifika & Native Hawaiian Authors

See also: #IndigenousLit 

Latinx Authors
(back to top)

New Releases by Latinx Authors

Young Adult & Middle Grade Latinx Authors

Adult Latinx Authors

See also: @LatinxInPub

Muslim & Middle Eastern American Authors
(back to top)

See also: #RamadanReads#RamadanReadathon#ReadMuslimOz, #MuslimShelfSpace @TheMuslimSquad, @MuslimReadathon & @Salaam Reads

Native Authors
(back to top)

Reviewers of Racially Diverse Books
(back to top)

Bookstagrammers: @BooksBeforeBandaids ||

Book Clubs:  Mocha Girls Read || Diverse Study Group - WOCReads || Social Justice Book Club || The Latina Book Club || Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Top Ten Underrated Books on Goodreads (under 2000 ratings)

So I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish in AGES, but I just had to jump in on this week's topic, which is:

Top 10 Books that have under 2000 ratings in Goodreads

If you'd like to participate in this bloghop, jump on over to The Broke and the Bookish and link up!

NOTE: Okay full disclosure, I may have cheated and a few of these have just slightly over 2K ratings, but not by much!

Also this is more like 20 books, but oh well!

Middle Grade

I have been on a middle grade kick lately. Anyone else know of some great underrated MG reads?


Words With Wings - Nikki Grimes
I loved this novella-in-verse so much that I had to name-drop it a few times in my latest WIP.  :oD

Heaven - Angela Johnson

Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond - Brenda Woods

Mia's Optiscope - Natalie Rose

Honorable Mentions  (these were "classics" in my house growing up):
The Fairy Rebel - Lynne Reid Banks
The Search for Delicious - Natalie Babbit


For fans of Eat, Pray, Love and Wild: some people have normal "midlife crises" some might even might pick up a new hobby like sailing. Most people don't put their life on the line and their new hobby to the test by sailing halfway across the world! I loved this trans-Pacific sailing adventure complete with close-calls and bonus tropical marine biology tidbits for the marine bio geeks like me.

Call Me Captain - Susan Scott

Science Fiction

All of these are really gorgeous and thought-provoking and well, sci-fi FTW!



Ardulum - J.S. Fields
This is probably my favorite sci-fi book of all time! Neek is an exile from her home planet -- shunned because of her rejection of her people's religion. When she meets a child strangely reminiscent of her people's gods, her whole world (and the rest of the galaxy) is thrown into chaos.

Beyond the Red - Ava Jae
(okay kind of cheating because it's a pretty new release, which would account for fewer ratings. But I'm putting it on there anyway because it's one of my favorite reads of 2016)

Bounders - Monica Tesler
(ditto above comment)

Starglass - Phoebe North

Salvage - Alexandra Duncan

Tin Star - Cecil Castelucci

The Galaxy Game - Karen Lord

Young Adult / New Adult  --- Fantasy & Realistic

Umm... so the only reason I can think that these don't have more ratings is that they are relatively new?? Here we have gorgeous historical of Malcolm X's days before the X, an incredibly immersive and artistic urban fantasy, a super hottt ballet/post-ballet story, a fantastically creepy yet fun Australian fantasy, a high fantasy with a beautifully wrought magic system, and a contemporary about a mixed-race school club that launches a movement.


X - Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon

Second Position - Katherine Locke

Shadowshaper - Daniel José Older

Isla's Inheritance - Cassandra Page

Magic's Stealing - Stephanie Flint

The Latte Rebellion - Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Terrifying Reads

Okay. I'm going to go ahead and admit that I am a COMPLETE scaredy-cat and I can't really handle books like this that are incredibly terrfying. BUT it was a really good book. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly:

Damage Done - Amanda Panitch

And a couple others in my Soon-To-Read Stack that I've heard GREAT things about but don't have many ratings yet:

This Side of Home - Renee Watson

All American Boys - Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

What about you? What are some of your favorite, yet underrated books?


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