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July 2018
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Dare I Even Whisper the Term “Chick Lit”?

Kristin Nelson

Greetings from ground zero of RWA 2018—the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Denver. How I love a conference on my own home turf!

Romance Writers of America hasn’t graced the Mile High City since July 2002. Even then I didn’t attend, since my agency launched August 15, 2002.

What I can tell you is that around that same time, the whole genre of chick lit was having its long moment in the sun—at least five shining, lucrative years. In fact, the first sale I ever made was a chick lit novel called BACHELORETTE #1 by Jennifer O’Connell.

Those were heady days. Editors couldn’t buy chick lit fast enough—that’s how voracious readers were for it. That timing made chick lit essential to building my agency and my creditability in those early years.

And dare I say it? Here at RWA 2018, going on two decades later, I’m hearing rumblings of a comeback for this genre. (Of course it probably won’t be called “chick lit” because even back in the day, there were a lot of mixed feelings about the moniker.)

With the rise in popularity of recent titles that one could argue fit the term “chick lit”—among them THE KISS QUOTIENT and THE WEDDING DATE—we might truly, at long last, be witnessing the leading edge of the genre’s comeback. Or at least something like it. I’ve talked with several editors here who are looking for stories in that vein. But more specifically, they’re looking for contemporary twists that are unique to millennial life in 2018.

I’m not making any promises or hard predictions (this is publishing, after all, which shifts and changes on a dime), but I loved chick lit the first time it came around, and as a reader today, I still crave those types of immersive reads that make me happy as I turn to the last page. Who among you might be the writer to give today’s readers a unique and upbeat sneak peek into the lives of millennials as they navigate love, friendship, and identity while finding their footing on that rocky bridge between educations and career? If it’s you, be sure to send us a query when your manuscript is done. We look forward to seeing it!

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

The Dreaded Synopsis Made Easy

By Danielle Burby

Synopses are hard to write, and I don’t enjoy reading them. (There, I said it!) In fact, I go out of my way to avoid reading synopses because I prefer to be surprised and delighted by plot.

That said, writing a synopsis is a great exercise you can do to make sure your plot is up to scratch. Beyond that, you never know when you might be asked to write one. Some agents ask for them during the query stage, and—I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news here—most editors ask for them when considering whether to buy books from authors they’ve already published.

The bottom line is, synopses aren’t going away anytime soon, so writing them is a skill every author must develop. Here are some tips to make writing the dreaded synopsis easier:

  1. Write your synopsis in third-person present. The length can vary, but shorter is better. I personally prefer about two single-spaced pages.
  2. A synopsis is a tell-all. Get the entire plot on the page. Don’t hide that juicy twist or be coy about the ending; those are tactics that work for your pitch but not your synopsis. Synopses are purely functional. They exist to lay out the progression of your core plot, so include twists and endings.
  3. Start by answering the basic questions: who, what, where, when, and why? Who is the protagonist? When and where does the story take place? What is the protagonist’s goal, motivation, and central conflict? Why do we care (what’s at stake)?
  4. Know your inciting incident and map the flow of the plot from that point. What gets the plot rolling? What is it that forces your character into action?
  5. Keep a tight focus on the central plot. Resist meandering into subplots or including too many secondary characters. If you aren’t sure what your central plot is, ask yourself what the most bare-bones version of your book would look like. What elements are more decorative and can be taken out without dismantling the entire plot? Which are the foundational elements without which the entire story would collapse? A synopsis should contain only the latter.
  6. Establish causality. In a functional plot, each development flows from one point to the next in a logical, cause-effect manner. Think dominos: A happens, which causes B to happen, which causes C to happen, and so on.
  7. Internal conflict is also important! How does your protagonist grow and change? Make sure you weave the internal arc in along with the external arc (plot).
  8. Write the conclusion. How does this all resolve?

If you follow these steps, you will demonstrate that your novel makes logical sense and is solidly constructed. Your reader will have a solid grasp of the beginning, middle, and end of your novel and how each event flows from the the event that came before it in a cause-effect manner. Your reader will walk away understanding both the plot (external story) and the ways in which your protagonist grows and changes (internal arc). If you have accomplished these eight things, you’ve written a great synopsis and are ready to share!

Kristin's Book Club

#1 NYT Bestseller & Award Winning Book

It’s going be a sultry July here in Denver and Book Club is loving the audio version of THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. We don’t meet until the very last Sunday of the month but here’s a little about the book.

#1 New York Times Bestseller ∙ William C. Morris Award Winner ∙ National Book Award Longlist ∙ Printz Honor Book ∙ Coretta Scott King Honor Book

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

New Releases


by Marie Lu

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem…and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Buy It Here:


The Fifth to Die

by J.D. Barker

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

Buy It Here:


An Affair With a Spare

by Shana Galen

“An endearing love story that kept me up all hours reading… Wonderful!” ―Sabrina Jeffries, New York Times bestselling author, for Third Son’s a Charm

He’s turned seduction into an art form…

Rafe Beaumont, fifth son of an earl, uses his irresistible charm with the ladies to glean dangerous war secrets. Now he’s putting those skills to the ultimate test: capturing an elusive assassin by seducing his daughter. The problem? She’s entirely immune to Rafe’s flattery.

Never before has Collette Fortier met a man as attractive as Rafe. But her father’s life is at stake, and succumbing to Rafe would be disastrous. But when Rafe turns the tables on her, offering support and friendship instead of a fleeting affair, Collette finds herself tempted in ways she never could have imagined…

Buy It Here:



by Gail Carriger

From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Imprudence.

Accidentally abandoned!

All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.

When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life’s most challenging questions:

Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul? Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez? And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?

Buy It Here:


Nyxia Unleashed

by Scott Reintgen

“A thrilling space adventure with an incredibly diverse cast. I couldn’t put this sequel down!” –TOMI ADEYEMI, New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone

Discover book two in the sci-fi space trilogy that Bustle described as “The 100 meets Illuminae” and Marie Lu called, “a high-octane thriller.”

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis spaceship survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces-Babel and the Adamites-with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?

Buy It Here:


Long May She Reign

by Rhiannon Thomas

The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant to be queen. Twenty-third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of the court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

She may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, she knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom—and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisers. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her but also wanted more power for himself.

Buy It Here:

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