Friday, April 30, 2010

25 Words or Less

At EPICon, the workshop 25 Words or Less was given by Larry K and Lorna Collins.

Can you say what your book is about in 25 words or less?

If you can't, then you don't know what your book is about.

Why is this a good idea?

- Because it's essential to writing a tight book and then selling it.
- Aim to excite the reader.
- Tell what the book offers.
- Leave the listener wanting more.

Imagine yourself riding in an elevator at a conference. The door opens and in walks the agent/editor/publisher you think would be perfect for you and your book. You introduce yourself and... what do you say?

Can you summarize the plot or main idea in the 30 seconds before the elevator doors open again?

The perfect pitch:

- Summarizes the entire story
- Introduces an interesting character
- Introduces an interesting location or situation
- Identifies what the character has at stake
- Identifies a problem and the solution

Examples using What If:

What if four small fellows go on a quest and face many dangers in order to destroy a stolen ring?
What if a matchmaking young woman focuses on her friends but misses her own perfect match who has been there all along?
What if a CIA analyst helps a Soviet naval officer commanding a guided missile sub defect, with his submarine?

More examples:

When her sister is kidnapped by thugs, a romance writer soon finds her own adventure. But will the handsome fortune hunter she meets help her?
When Agape Jones, retired detective, finds the body of a famous surfer floating off Maui, he becomes involved in more than just a murder. (Murder in Paradise)

But be careful that your pitch isn't misleading.

Misleading: A young girl lands in a surreal world, kills the first person she meets, and then unites with three others to kill again.
Better: A farm girl is dropped into a surreal world, incurring the wrath of an evil witch. A scarecrow, woodsman, and lion help her get home.

Some quotes about pitches:

"Oftentimes, an agent or editor will ask, 'What's your book about?' It takes some serious work to get the bare bones down in 25 words or less, but once you do it, you'll be very happy you did so." ~Terry Brooks

"Unless you can reduce your book to 25 words or less, unless you can impress an agent or editor in less than 20 seconds with your pitch, the chances of finding a publisher for your book are low." ~Sam Horn

And now I'll share my own one-liner pitch for The Land of Imagining, the fantasy YA I'm shopping around to agents: A magical pen unleashes a young teen's power to control a fantasy world, a realm only she can save from evil. (21 words)

Next blog post: Interview with Shawna Williams. Be sure to check it out, she is offering a great contest for commenters, as well as a huge one on her site.

Update on my writing:

Progress is coming beautifully for my assassin WIP, the one I'm going to pitch to an editor from Luna at the Writers and Readers Get Together in June so I'm very pleased about that. Plus, I just finished The Claw of My Dreams, my short story that I plan on submitting to the Sword and Sorceress anthology. Anyone care to beta read it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DIY Promo: How to Build your Buzz

This is the first of my notes from the EPIcon conference. First up, the promotion talk from author/editor Deidre Knight.

You need to work about promotion, even before you get signed.
Agents often goggle authors if they are interested in a submission.
So google yourself. What comes up?

There are many options for yet-to-be published and published authors that are both fast and free.
- Twitter (which works best with you connect with people and interact, not just constant tweet about your books, btw, follow me!)
- Ning (although I'm not sure how much longer ning groups really will be free, considering all the hoopla over them now)
- Facebook (you have two options here, profiles and pages. I have both. Feel free to join my fan page!)
- Yahoo e-groups (once you're published, you might considering creating one, but there are hundreds devoted to authors and writing, some are rather niche like the group for those trying to get published in Woman's World or the crimescenewriters where you can ask professionals questions about law and crimes and make your thrillers as realistic as possible)
- Blogs (free ones are available through Blogger, Wordpress, and LiveJournal)
- You Tube (Create your own channel)[This is one area in which I personally am lacking]

Author website
- Unless you are a computer genius, it would probably be a wise investment to have your website done by a designer. Why? Because the first thing a reader will do is type in and look you up. It's important to have a professional website that reflects your writing style. Don't have a dark page unless you write suspense or thrillers.
- So how to find a web designer? Referrals are best. Or look up different authors' websites and if you find one that you love, look up the designer (usually at the bottom). One person to check out: Lex Valentine and her Winterheart Design.
- What info to include on your site: any info about your writing projects or publishes books, excerpts, awards, bio, headshot, sign up for newsletter, links to social media sites, contact email

- It's important that your newsletter has a consisttent look.
- Determine how often to mail it and stick to it, i.e. monthly (This is where I fall short. If you want to sign up for it, go to my website)
- Use html format
- Great to promote contests through widget, entries, etc.)

Join writer's organizations
- Such as Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, etc.)
- Benefits? Networking, contests, exposure to classes or programs, conferences (where you can pitch to agents and meet editors)

Now for promoting yourself as a published author

- Determine your niche. What descriptive words represent your writing? What is your genre? Do you plan to stick with that type of book for the next few years? What images do you want assocaited with your brand?
- Have a consistent look on your website, online venues, and promotional material, your newsletter, etc.
- Develop a tag line for your book or series or even yourself and use it everywhere online.

Hiring a Publicist
- Weigh the pros and cons (Honestly, if you're making enough money from your writing that you can hire one, do you really need one? I personally don't think I'll ever hire a publicist.)

Offer contests and submit to some

Book Tours, both virtual and real

DIY Promo Plan
- Promo materials such as bookmarks, excerpt booklets, unquie product ideas (keychains, post-it notes, themed giveaways)
- Website (keep it up-to-date)
- Virtual book tours (guest blogs)
- Promotional author sites (such as fresh fiction, authorbuzz, between your sheets)
- Local book signings (invite people you know, make sure local event listings have the time/date info, ask bookstore what they do to advertise signings and what you can do to help, send a press release to local media)
- Purchase web and print ads (a group ad is a great way to advertise for a lesser cost)
- Speaking opportunites (workshop panel at a conference, make yourself available to local librarys or writers organziation
-Keep your publisher in the loop (enlist their help in promoting your events and contests)

All in all, this session was a great deal of fun. Deidre was such a funny, intelligent woman who is passionate about writing and authors. It is very obvious that she loves what she does. I sent her an email with a query about The Land of Imagining (my fantasy YA novel) and am waiting as patiently as I can for a response.

Next workshop I'll share: 25 Words or Less. Reducing your story into one sentence, essentially your novel's log line. I'll even share my log line for The Land of Imagining. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blog Award!

The wonderful Bethany Wiggins at Shooting Stars gave me this great blog award, the Blogger BFF. Thanks, Bethany!

There are so many awesome bloggers out there. My favorites are one from fellow authors as they chronicalize their writing journey.

And now it's time for me to give the Blogger BFF to some great bloggers.

Drum roll, please!

And the recipients are:

Aubrie Dionne
Cherie Reich
Sarah Simas
Steph Burkhart
Shawna Williams

All of your blogs are wonderful, and I always enjoy reading them. Keep up the great work, ladies!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Awesome contest for writers!

Here is a super cool contest that you might want to enter (I did!). The prizes:

1 Lucky Winner will receive a critique of their first 30-40 pages by the fabulous Suzie Townsend + a pack of Twizzlers + a copy of Hex Hall

3 Lucky Winners will receive a query letter critique by one of these three agent extraordinaires: Kathleen Ortiz, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, or Colleen Lindsay (One agent will be randomly assigned to each winner.)

1 Winner will receive a writer's survival guide consisting of Twizzlers, a copy of Silver Phoenix and When You Reach Me, and a cute notebook and pen

1 Lucky winner will score a lunch date with THE Janet Reid and THE Suzie Townsend. Um, yeah, that's not a typo. (I'm tempted to enter myself. Would it be so wrong?) Unfortunately, this is not a free trip to NYC. BUT if you live in the NYC area, or whenever you're visiting NYC? You. Janet. Suzie. LUNCH.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview with K. Dawn Byrd

Fellow DBP author K. Dawn Byrd and I are interviewing each other on our blogs. To read my interview, head on over to K. Dawn Byrd's blog. Register and you'll be entered to win a copy of Knight of Glory!

And now, for my interview of K. Dawn Bryd:

I love hosting my fellow authors at DBP so it's great to have you hear. First, why don't you introduce yourself to my blog readers?

I'm an inspirational romantic suspense author with two books coming out with Desert Breeze Publishing this year.When not reading or writing, I enjoy spending time with my husband of 14 years, walking our dogs beside a gorgeous lake near our home, and plotting the next story waiting to be told.

A gorgeous lake? I'm so jealous! When did you start writing? And why?

I started writing two years ago because I enjoyed reading so much and I love a challenge. At the time, I worked as a counselor in a regional jail. I thought that one day I might write a book set in a jail and began to take notes of the sights, sounds, smells, etc. Before I knew what had happened, characters were rolling around in my head, begging me to tell their story.

Wow, that's wonderful. What inspires your writing? In particular your current book, Queen of Hearts?

My April 1 release, Queen of Hearts, was inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) I wanted to take the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in 30 days, but wanted to write something that I could sell. I e-mailed Gail Delaney at Desert Breeze Publishing to ask if she had a need for a historical (I had just signed a contract with her for Killing Time, which will be out in August.) She held an April release date for me. Lucky for me, she liked it.

I love Nano! Written 50K worth of stories several times as a result of the frantic pace of Nano in November. Queen of Hearts is a lovely title. How did you come up with it?

I'm horrible at naming books. My husband and I were walking our dogs once night and discussing my work in progress. He came up with the name.

Sometimes, titles come easy, other times not so much, so I know all about asking others for help. :) Most authors are also readers. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Him and Bill Loehfelm's Fresh Kills.

Do you have any advice for writers?

Don't ever give up and write something every day. According to my NaNoWriMo goals, if you write 1,667 words per day, you'll have a 50,000 word novel at the end of the month.

I've discovered that I can keep up that pace in November but not the rest of the year. It's just a little too stressful for me but I do try to write even a little bit every day. Now it's time for some fun questions. First, how would you describe yourself in three words?

Shy, loyal, compassionate

I'm rather shy myself. In you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

To heal the sick

What a wonderful choice! If you could be a paranormal creature, which would you be and why?

I'm sorry, but I can't answer this...I don't read paranormal. I don't think I've ever read one.

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, I had such a fun time with it. To check out Queen of Hearts, click here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Write Stuff - How to Write Damn Good Prose

Sorry it took me longer than I wanted to get this blog post up. Another workshop from The Write Stuff conference and another from James Frey - How to Write Damn Good Prose:


- There are no born writers, everyone can learn
- I'm a good writer but I want to be a damn good one. If you adjust your attitude to this, you will, with work.


- Violation of rules - grammatical errors.
- You first have to know the rules in order to break them well.

Sense-ous details

- How many sense used in each page? (sight, sounds, smell, touch, taste, "sixth sense")


- Writer creates narrator who creates the characters.
- Your writing is a letter between you and the readers through the narrator.
- Author is invisible - just reporting on the characters.
- Limited omniscient
- 1st person - wised-up person looking back, has a take on the story.
- Voice of the narrator is crucial


Dramatic narrative

Show the reader what causes the reaction. Show the rat first, then the recoiling.
Telling details versus generic terms.
Switch between narrator and character voices.

That's the last of the workshops notes that are worth sharing from The Write Stuff. I'm going to go back through my notes from EPIcon and post them next.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dear Lucky Agent Middle Grade/Young Adult contest

Here is some information about the ''Dear Lucky Agent'' Contest: Middle Grade and Young Adult (with agent Regina Brooks)


E-mail entries to Please paste everything. No attachments.


The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of middle grade or young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, I ask that you do one of two things: 1) Mention and link to this contest twice through your social media—blogs, Twitter, Facebook; or 2) just mention this contest once and also add Guide to Literary Agents Blog ( to your blogroll. Please provide link(s) so I can verify eligibility!


1. This contest will be live for approximately fourteen days—from March 31 through the end of Wednesday, April 14, EST. Winners notified by e-mail within 14 days of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.
2. To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.
3. This contest is solely for completed book-length works of middle grade and young adult fiction (kids novels).
4. You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again.
5. The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA's publisher, F+W Media.
6. By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms added by me in the "Comments" section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at


Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of 10 pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to

I entered. And if any of you do, good luck!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Write Stuff - The Power of Premise

Next workshop from the Write Stuff: The Power of Premise with James Frey.

An example of a premise: Love leads to insanity (through a chain of causal events [jealousy]) - Othello's premise

Drunken slob leads to religious enlightenment (drunk, lose job, lose family and kids, get divorced, attempt suicide, seeks help, AA, finds religion)

Honesty leads to ruin.

Premise is not a moral.

Irony: man drowns wife, collects insurance money, buys a boat, goes out sailing and drowns.

Knowing your premise is a tyrant (because it helps you to focus on what scenes you need and don't need)

Elements of a dramatic story:

- Dramatic Character

Theatrical, extreme of type.
Active, determined.
Governed by a ruling passion (which can change throughout the story)

- Dramatic Struggle

High stakes
Don't have to be life or death
Honor, marriage, love

-Dramatic transformation

Never have a static character.

All transforming characters have a premise.

Alcoholism destroys love - plot premise
He triumphs alcoholism (MMC premise)
She doesn't. (FMC premise) (An example of a character with a changing ruling passion: first love of husband, then love of alcohol, he gets her into drinking)

Next blog post will be about How to Write Damn Good Prose (again from James Frey)