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Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know–Advice and a Giveaway from Author Kristen Strassel (WE OWN THE NIGHT–Night Songs Collection #3)

Vampire rock stars living in Vegas? Bring them on!


Ten Things That Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

By Kristen Strassel

I recently participated in a contest called Pitch Wars, in which writers seeking agency representation submit their queries and first drafts to published/agented authors.  I was so humbled to receive so many amazing submissions!   The worst part of the contest was I could only pick two to work with. Two. I don’t have any kids, but my motherly instincts seem to scream the loudest in moshpits and Pitch Wars.  I wanted to help everyone.


Since I can’t go through and line edit everyone’s manuscript, the next best thing is to share the most common feedback I gave on the submissions.


  1. Get in your character’s head. Any character can set things down, sigh, look at things. I want to know what makes your character special on every page. I want her thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Make sure only your characters can tell this story.
  2. Stay in the moment. If your character is under attack, she’s not going to notice how her clothes are wrinkling or minute details about her surroundings.
  3. Use description sparingly. Give us just enough to paint the picture, and then get back to the action.
  4. Read current titles in your genre. Pay special attention to the voice and the pace.
  5. We are an ADD culture. Even if I love something, chances are, I’m still somewhat distracted. It’s just how we roll now. You need to grab me immediately, and then keep that pace going.
  6. Read your work out loud. It seems horrifying, but it will help you get rid of clunky prose and bad dialog. We speak differently than we write.
  7. If you’re writing NA or YA, make sure your voice is appropriate for that age group! You need to think like a 16 or a 21 year old, even if you’re old enough to have a 16 or a 21 year old.
  8. Be open to feedback. Anyone who took the time to read your story and tell you their thoughts has your best interests in mind. This is how your characters are coming across on the page.
  9. Trust your gut. If your characters want to do something, let them. Also, once you reach the revision stage, if a change doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it!

There are many paths to publication. It’s not one size fits all. Do your research, talk to as many people as you can about the process. Don’t rush, make sure you have the best product you can possibly produce. And don’t give up. 🙂

Kristen Strassel is the author of The Night Songs Collection, a paranormal romance series about vampire rock stars in Las Vegas. After all, they tell you to write what you know. She is a passionate music fan who also loves football games and diners. Kristen works as a makeup artist on film and TV shows when she’s not writing, and loves being behind the scenes. A former resident of Las Vegas, Kristen now lives in the Boston area.

Connect with Kristen!




We Own the Night
by Kristen Strassel
(Night Songs Collection #3)
Publication date: September 1st 2014
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Callie Chabot would stop at nothing to save her ex-boyfriend Blade Bennett from the clutches of vampire clan leader Talis de Rancourt, even if means becoming immortal herself. What she doesn’t know is that Blade has already defeated Talis, and he’s waiting for Callie in the afterlife.

Now Callie only has her creator, Tristan Trevosier, to turn to for guidance. But he’s too wrapped up in the debauchery of the Las Vegas rock scene to give a damn about the particulars of being undead. That’s enough to drive Callie crazy on its own, but female vampires are automatic clan leaders.

Not only does Callie have no idea how to wrangle a vampire clan, but her would-be followers have more to gain from her failure. They instead choose to follow Blade—and he’s hell-bent on making Callie pay for her bad decisions. Since he took out the existing clan leader, that automatically puts him at the helm of what should be Callie’s new clan.

That’s when seasoned rogue vampire, Cash Logan, shows up, shrouded in magic and mystery. No one is sure which side Cash is on, but Callie needs to take a chance on the one vampire who is willing to give her the answers she needs, no matter how dark and frightening they may be. Callie must trust her instincts and form alliances that may backfire. Cash shows Callie that playing nice is no longer an option, and that fixing her wrongs won’t always make everything right.

To take control of her clan, Callie must look to her rival to discover exactly what makes her a leader.


We Own the Night–Available September 1, 2014

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