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Showing posts from 2010

Dusty Dreams Hiding Beneath the Bed

New Year's is a time for resolutions and goals, but what about dreams?

After having kids and staying home for years, I'd forgotten how much I love learning languages but with a new job and traveling to Costa Rica, I unpacked that dream, dusted it off, and played with it.

2010 wasn't a good writing year for me. Writing became tiring to me, something to trudge after rather than something to cherish. My hope for 2011 is that in the same way I rediscovered my excitement for speaking Spanish, I'll rediscover my passion for penning a good story.

What are your hopes for 2011? What dreams lay beneath your bed? Do they deserve a good dusting or are they gone for good?

Feliz Navidad!

The dream of speaking Spanish fluently is still in my heart. I probably should go visit the mercado pueblo nearby and find someone who is patient enough to let me practice on them. :-)

What dreams live in your character's hearts? Who does your MC spend Christmas with?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Here's one of my favorite Christmas songs! I couldn't get it to embed...

I'm Home, but A Little Broken

I'm back from Costa Rica. It was an absolutely amazing, wonderful trip. I saw so many different things. I'll try to post pics later.

I'm not going to be blogging for a little while longer because a shark bit my right index finger off...

Just kidding.

It actually got smushed by the boat's toilet cover. *blushes* The poor thing is really gross and I can't type well, so I'll be back when the stinker heals up.

Merry Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad!

Te Amo, Costa Rica

Do I really love Costa Rica? I'm about to find out. :-)

This coming Monday I'm going with my husband to Costa Rica. While he's out fishing and filming for his tv show Extreme Fishing Adventures, I'll be soaking up the sun and practicing my spanish. Woohoo!

Here's the trailer for Jimmy's show.




Have you ever traveled out of the country? What's your favorite part about it? Least favorite? And does it inspire your writing muse?

My Golden Heart Entry is Finally Off

I finally sent it off!

I ran into a word count snafu and that's why I had to disappear from the blogosphere. Even with devoting as much free time as I could to writing, I think I only topped 3k a day once.

How many words are you able to get in per day? What's the most you've ever written in one day? With the holidays looming, how has your word count been going?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your fingers be nimble, your stories be fruitful and your tummies filled. :-)

No Blogging Today

I put a ton on my plate so I'll post next week. Hopefully will visit you all before then, though.

What's on your plate?

Have a wonderful week!

Cut Until It Hurts

Editing a manuscript reminds me of pruning.

Sometimes you have to cut off perfectly good branches, perfectly good characters, perfectly good scenes, so that the story can flourish.

Proper pruning enhances the beauty of almost any landscape tree and shrub, while improper pruning can ruin or greatly reduce its landscape potential. In most cases, it is better not to prune than to do it incorrectly. In nature, plants go years with little or no pruning, but man can ruin what nature has created. By using improper pruning methods healthy plants are often weakened or deformed.

So while it's important to cut our work, it's also imperative we know what we're doing.

How do you prune without ruining your work? Have you ever overedited? Took advice when you shouldn't have?

Tender Graces: A Long Overdue Review

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I've been meaning to do this review for a long time. I had to wait to buy Tender Graces, but I figured from reading Kathryn Magendie's blog that when I did buy it, I'd love it.

I wasn't disappointed.

The prose in Tender Graces captured me. The plot was interesting and the characters were unique, but the writing itself, the way Magendie uses words, elevated the story to something gorgeous. The way Magendie writes Virginia Kate's point of view is so endearing and vulnerable. Although Tender Graces is completely different than To Kill a Mockingbird, the whole time I read it I kept thinking of Scout.

That wasn't the only famous book Tender Graces reminded me of. Magendie's mastery with words, how she plays with them and uses them in unique, new ways, totally reminded me of The Book Thief.

I loved reading Tender Graces because it had both a compelling plot and words that felt a little like Godiva on every page. I'll definitely be reading more of her, but as much…

A Kind Of Call

Some of you (specifically T. Anne *grin*) were wondering about the call.

Well, it came as a surprise and was different than I expected. I had some fulls out but Les only had a proposal. I'd sent a status-check e-mail and he asked me a few questions about the story. Next thing I knew, he sent another e-mail offering representation.

So it wasn't a phone call, but that was fine with me.

I was nervous and excited. I had to keep rereading that e-mail to see if it said what I thought it did.

After that, I contacted the list of agents who had my full. There's a certain process to follow in this type of situation and I wanted to make sure I did it right. The BookEnds blog and Rachelle Gardner's blog both have archived posts on how to handle an offer of representation. For my checklist, I used a post on Nathan Bransford's site. HERE

The stats on responses were kind of interesting. Out of four agents who'd recently requested the full, one immediately declined representation, …

Agent Land Exit: Straight Ahead

So I veered out of Query Land and into Agent Land about two weeks ago.

Agent Land is a vast place. The terrain is different for everyone, I've heard. When I took that exit, I was really scared. Nervous. Would there be more cacti in this new place? Pot holes? A smooth road?

Before taking your exit, talk to others who've taken the same exit. Scope out the lay of the land. Make sure you know what you're getting into, and that it will take you to where you want to go.

When you get out of Query Land and enter Agent Land, what are you expecting things to look like? What questions will you ask others about this new place? Is Agent Land exciting to you, or nerve-wracking?

I signed with Les Stobbe!

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund: A Review

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I haven't read many books in the Christian market featuring Puritans. This story was wonderful! The writing was smooth and easy to get into. I loved the romantic dynamic between heroine and hero. I'm a sucker for "ugly duckling" heroines. Add to that a healthy dose of danger and intrigue, and you've got an engrossing read.

Besides the interesting plot and realistic, strong characters, Jody planted me in Puritan England effortlessly. She is genius when it comes to weaving history into the story. I learned all sorts of interesting things, like it was against the law to dance. Can you imagine? And to even preach about Jesus without a special license...

I flew through the story and finished with a happy sigh.

If you want to read more reviews, fellow blogger Jill Kemerer posted some wonderful quotes about The Preacher's Bride. You can find the author, Jody Hedlund, on facebook and at her blog.

The Preacher's Bride is based on a true story. Do you like fiction base…

Living in Query Land

For the past year I've been living in Query Land.

It's a strange place full of valleys and peaks, shadows and sunbeams.

Where have you been living lately? What's it like?

Winner of A Hope Undaunted, and other Books I've been Reading

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And the winner is...

Molly!! Congrats! Shoot me an e-mail with your mailing info and we'll get your copy out to you. :-)










I've read a few books lately that I've loved.




A lady from work lent this book to me and I really enjoyed it. The genre and voice was a little different from my normal reads but guess what? The girl still gets the guy. :-) You'll have to read to find out which guy she gets! Besides the wonderful hero and romantic love of the story, there are some other great nuggets of wisdom in this read. I'd definitely recommend it.



I flew through this book. I felt like I had to know what happened next. I think what made this story so powerful was the characterization. From the first page you know you're dealing with a heroine who is both ruthless and incredibly loyal. These qualities really made the story compelling. That and the high level of personal stakes involved for the heroine.



I've been disappointed with most of Dekker's latest offerings but t…

Book Review and Giveaway!!! A Hope Undaunted By Julie Lessman

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Reading Julie Lessman's books is like sitting down for my favorite soap for an hour of guilty pleasure. Her books pack a powerful spiritual punch though, and unlike a soap opera, her characters actually learn from their mistakes and repent.

Her latest release is A Hope Undaunted. Below are some things she graciously shared with me.


1. Are there any scenes in AHU modeled after your own life?

As a matter of fact, there are two things I pulled directly from my own life. The first is mentioned in the opening scene where we find out that Katie O’Connor was made fun of in kindergarten because of skin condition she had, which consequently molds her into a champion for the underdog and women’s rights. In that scene, an elderly nun asks Katie if she has leprosy in front of the whole class, and that kicks off a barrage of ridicule from her classmates, which is exactly what happened to me in the 2nd grade.

You see, when I was in half-day kindergarten, I attended all day because my sisters and b…

Quirky is Awesome

I love quirky characters, but they're hard to write. Quirky can quickly turn into annoying.
I've always loved Amanda Quick's heroines because they leap off the page.

An awesomely quirky character is someone you remember years later. You think about the character and smile. My absolutely favorite quirky character is Kate (played by Meg Ryan) in the movie French Kiss.

Do you like quirky characters? Do you write them? If someone wrote your autobiography, would you be awesomely quirky?

Finding Rivers

Remember that movie Finding Forrester? Here's the trailer:



What writer would you want to discover lurking next door? Would you let that author mark your work with a red pen? What do you think that writer could teach you?

When One Lays Dying

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It happens all the time, across the world. Intellectually, I know there are people who starve to death.

But I've never seen their hollowed cheeks, never heard their groans or smelled their fear. I've never held a starving person in my arms, her dry skin warm against mine, and prayed she'd live.

Renee has.


Nabakoza


Betty

I found the story of Nabakoza and Betty on the blog Kisses From Katie. They're the last two August 2010 posts. From there I've learned that Renee, who is a missionary with Serving His Children, is in need of transportation. If you're interested in learning how you can help, this is their website:
http://www.servinghischildren.org/

Learning about Betty and Nabakoza ripped my heart a little. I want the tears to stay, to hurt and to remind me.

How do you feel about ministries like this? Do you support any? Is your main character involved with a mission or charity?

Use Caution When Jumping Out of Trees

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There was a tree with a rope (and most of you probably know my weakness for trees)so I had to climb it and jump, along with other family members. Somehow I jammed my typing finger in a horrible way, so I'll try coming back to blogging next week, when I can actually make comments on your blogs. :-)

What's the worst injury you've ever experienced? Was it your fault?

I Have Another Job

Well, I got another job at a bank (yay!). I'll be working Mondays and Fridays, so my new blogging day will be Wednesdays for a while. I like responding to your comments and hate when I miss you all from being too busy.

I'm going to be out of the blogosphere for the next two weeks because I have training.

Will miss you all and look forward to diving back in the blogosphere later on! Pray for me, if you would. :-)

And in return, do any of you need prayer for anything? I'll be getting an hour lunch, plenty of time to talk to God. :-)

When At A Signing

A few things I thought about as I wallowed in a room full of books and writers at RWA's Literacy Night.

For the buyers:

1. Bring a set amount of money. I wanted to read almost every single book I saw and the only thing that stopped me was the cash in my purse. :-)

2. Don't be rude in your enthusiasm. I was looking forward to meeting a major bestselling author, but I was so excited that as I look back, I seriously think I may have overwhelmed or, worse, offended her with my yapping.

For the authors:

1. Postcards and bookmarks are okay. I don't really use either though.

2. Don't scowl. Seriously, it was only a few people and as a writer I realize they were probably scared and nervous in their booths, but a reader might not know that. No smiling is no-no. Fake your joy, if you have to!

But the majority of authors I saw were peppy and happy and wonderful to be around!

If you've gone to book signings, what do you think works? What doesn't? If you had a book signing, what w…

Book TV

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Yes, there is such a thing.

I babysat for my sister yesterday and was able to watch some TV (don't have channels at home). When I saw Book TV I thought, boring. But when I was flipping through channels I just happened to see a book on the screen that I'd looked over at WalMart.


I wasn't sure whether this book was fiction or not when I looked at it in WalMart, but after listening to the end of the author's speech I realized it was a political book. I liked what she was saying about the government needing more ordinary people (like teachers, mothers, business owners) to be involved, so I stayed on the station.



Then an interview with an author in his home came on. Being the nosy type, I had to watch.



T R Reid might write nonfiction, but from what I can tell, a writer is a writer is a writer. He showed off where he works, his computer, a poster he had on his wall to inspire him to finish his book (been there!) and then he shared his amazing bookshelf-lined walls with the came…

RWA's Literacy Night

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My sisters and I loaded up and drove down to Orlando for a fun night of rubbing shoulders with other writers. Well, my sisters are readers so they enjoyed meeting authors, I think.
Anyway, I was able to see a bunch of bloggers! Sadly, somehow I missed seeing Amy and author Kristen Painter.

Here are some pics.

The lovely Ruth Logan Herne and sweet Sara Mitchell with me. :-)












Another sweet Seeker, Debby Giusti.













Me and one of my wonderful crit partners, Cheryl!



The experience was amazing and I wanted to see so many other writers!

Have you gone to a signing or literacy event before? Do you like being surrounded by writers?

Parties Galore

I have lots of things coming up this week. A baby shower, a book signing (which is pretty much like a party to me!) and my son's sixth birthday. I'll be running around this week but will post on Friday about the signing. Consequently, I won't be around the blogosphere as much as I like.

What are your plans for this week?

Please pray for fellow blogger Krista's newborn Annabelle, who'll be needing heart surgery soon.

RWA Conference?

Are any of you going? I'm not, but I am going to the literacy signing on Wednesday night.
I'm hoping to nose around a little and say hi to some of you. :-) And of course, meet my favorite authors!

Unforgotten Kindnesses

In eighth grade I stood alone in the schoolyard every morning, a book my best friend, as I waited for the morning bell. I was a new student and not bold enough, or maybe not interested enough, in making friends.

Despite that, two students invited me to join their little circle of friends. I still stood on the outskirts of that circle, reading my book, rarely joining in conversation, yet their kindness touched some deep part of me. They became my best friends until I moved away.

At the ACFW conference I wasn't a disinterested stranger. From the moment I arrived, I met people I knew. Talked incessantly and smiled always. The night of the awards banquet was different. I showed up late and entered a packed room. Saw no one I knew well enough to sit with. And for the first time, I felt alone. I made my way through tables, scanning for someone I knew, wishing I would've hurried and feeling a strange sense of deja vu.

Then I heard my name.

Katie Ganshert was calling my name. She and oth…

Themes

Recently I took my kids to see a movie called AstroBoy.

I'm not one of those parents who likes watching cartoons (though I love Toy Story) but I really enjoyed the movie. It was also interesting to see the themes woven throught the story.

Some whoppers, really.

For one, the main character is a boy who is also part machine. This is a universal theme that I think most people could relate to. The MC needs a place to belong, to fit in.

Then there's sacrifice. I almost had tears in my eyes because the little boy has been turned on by everyone, yet he knowingly gives up his life (sound familiar?) to save them.

Sacrifice is something we relate to also, though probably not to that extreme. Although I'd guess most people would aspire to be the type of person who'd lay down her life for a loved one.

Do you notice themes in movies? What themes are in your fiction? What type of themes do you enjoy reading?

Conversation With an Editor

As some you may know, I won a conversation with editor Barbara Scott of Abingdon Press. She's started a new blog called The Roving Editor and although she's a CBA editor, she has a deep knowledge of the industry and I'd recommend following her.

Not only is she smart, but she's a really funny, sweet lady. I often feel nervous on the phone, not sure what to say to people I don't know, but she put me at ease.

One of the main things she felt was important for writers is encouragement. Encouragement and perseverance.

Who and what encourages you in your writing? On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, how would you rate your Encouraged level? Why is it high or low?

Suck That Reader In, Or Else...

I really did try.

At the library one of the books I picked up was from a debut author, a historical romance. I really wanted to like it. Even when I didn't get into the story immediately, I hung in there. I don't like to not finish a book. I wanted to give her a chance but then I suddenly remembered that it was a library book and that my life is too short and fast to spend reading books I really don't like.

So I set it to the side.

I can't help wondering though, if I would've liked the story more if I'd been sucked in from the beginning.

This is why it's important to intrigue the reader immediately! Agents and editors are readers.

I'm still working on this with my own stories. How about you? Is your first page intriguing? Does it immediately present a unique situation with high stakes? A compelling character? Feel free to share what happens in the first page of your WIP. Also, have you ever given up on a book? Did you ever force yourself to read a book you …

I Have A Mustache

It's faint, but there. Annoying thing. None of my heroines have one. Why do I?

Genetics, Jessie. Remember great-grandma?

We're told to torture our characters but there are some things that I just won't do to my peeps.

What is the one "flaw" you'll never give your main character?

On Being a Writer: Stephanie Meyer

I won't be home most of today so thought I'd post this. I particularly love what she says in minute three of this video!

The Addiction

It's not like I learned something new yesterday, but rather that it suddenly disturbed me.

I have a bookshelf filled with unread books. Some I've won, some I've bought, most are authors I cyber-know. When I took the kids to the library yesterday, I told my husband I wouldn't get anything because I had too many books to read.

I came home with five books for myself.

Reading has always been a compulsion for me. But suddenly I'm feeling like that girl in Confessions of a Shopaholic. A little ashamed, even, that I had to check out books. That I'm so addicted to reading I want to be surrounded by as many books as possible. That I wish I could inhale them.

What makes me need them? Is it emotional? Do they make me feel secure? I have NO clue, but I figured I'd share with all of you because I think at least some of you will know how I feel.

What are you addicted to? What do you buy even when you know you already have it at home? Is there a cure? Do I even need a cure? (y…

Keeping Things Professional

When I graduated from high school I got a job at a bank as a teller. I was also waitressing at night so getting up early for a professional job exhausted me.
One day during training I finished my workbook. The other tellers were doing drive-thru. The lobby wasn't open yet.

To my eighteen year old mind, it seemed like a good time for a nap.

That didn't go over well.

I didn't have a professional mindset. I was still back in school where I always took a nap in the mornings during class.

If you're writing toward publication, toward a career, it's important to find out what is expected of professionals in this industry. I read an interesting comment where a lady remarked that her husband was in sales, and in that industry, it's okay not to take no for an answer. But with the publishing industry, that can be a death knell for your career.

What have you learned about being an author? What are the things required of you in your current job to be professional? How is it diff…

A Winner! and I'm Out and About

First, Congrats to Lisa Jordan! My two year old drew your name so e-mail me with your address and I'll get Tailor-Made Bride out to you. :-)

I'm running around this week doing all sorts of things so I'm taking a week off of blogging. I hope wonderful things happen for all you this week and I'll see you next Monday!

Review: A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

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Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected. Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?


If I saw this book in the bookstore, I'd pick it up because of the title and cover. I loved them. It was great getting between the pages and realizing that the outside reflects the inside.
Karen Witemeyer's debut historical romance is a sweet, humorous story that I enjoyed reading. The heroine Hannah is both funny and smart and I liked J.T.'s gruffness. Even though the plot felt a little on the predictable side to me, the characters…

When Good Writing Isn't Enough

The more I write, the more I realize good writing isn't enough. I've heard the saying, "Story trumps all."

It really does.

If you're starting a new story, or even halfway through, I'd suggest looking at your story first, editing and revising that (story structure, pacing, hooks, etc) before worrying about craft-like things such as POV, adverbs, dialogue tags, backstory, etc.

Solid writing can be concrete. You can look at a sentence and "fix" it. Find the adverb. Delete the dialogue tag. Add a comma.

Some people notice great writing. But if there's not a great story to go with it, the writing doesn't matter. On the other hand, a great story doesn't need great writing to suck the reader in.

Which authors suck you in with their prose? Which authors tell such a great story that you don't even notice their prose? And if you had to choose, which author would you be?

Categories and Single Titles

A category romance is a shorter romance (45-60k, depending on the line, up to 75k if it's historical) that has a one month shelf life. Harlequin is the main category publisher though I think there are others who have category-like imprints.(Barbour and Kensington)

Single Titles are all the other books you see sitting on the shelf. They're usually 75k-110k and the plot lines include more subplots than a category.

For the past few months I've been turning my category into a single title. It's hard!

Do you know if there's such a thing as western categories? What size books do you enjoy reading? How long is your WIP?

Wish this was My Day

My day is filled with cleaning and children. What are your plans for today?

The Beholder's Eye

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. (NASB Psalm 139:13)

As I was putting away laundry the other day, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. No make-up, hair pulled away from my face...I looked ugly. I felt ugly.

Then I remembered how God made me, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made.

After that, I looked at myself and knew that I'd been crafted with love.

This made me think of our stories. Perhaps they're considered ugly (rejected). Maybe they're not perfect (don't follow writing "rules") But think about how you wrote that manuscript. Think about the love and the wonder and the awe of creating a story from your heart. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

What is one part of your body that you think is beautiful? What about your first manuscript?

Posting Time Matters

I do most of my blog reading in the morning. I know I miss out on posts because I have to stop scrolling through my dashboard after breakfast is done. For me, if you post in the morning there's a better chance that I'll be commenting on it.

What times do you schedule your posts for? Do you think the timing matters?

Coming Around

I SO appreciate all of your comments on my last post! I love reading about things you know or don't know. :-)
Sadly, I was swamped so I'm just now, today, going to be able to visit you guys. See you in a bit!

Oh, I waitressed last night and my feet HURT. That's one thing I forgot I didn't like about serving.

What's one thing you don't like about writing? (Not the business of it, but the actual art)

Do Your Research

If you don't research your subject or characters, you might have a mess to clean up. Like me.
I wrote a beginning scene with a cop hero, only now to discover that so many things in that scene must be changed because they don't fit with the rules of the profession.

What kind of research have you done for your stories? In what area of life are you an expert?

You Deserve Awards

Thank you for your sweet comments on my last post, but you all deserve awards too! Time got away from me and I wasn't able to work up a post giving them out, but it's coming.

Today is busy with doctor visits and errands, so I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Also, agent Gardner put up the winning one-liners for her logline contest and tomorrow will be critting some entries. The contest was a good way to see what kind of pitches interest that particular agent.

Thank You

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I found this post hidden on my dashboard and so I just wanted to thank my fellow bloggers who have given me awards during the past few months.




Thank you Lynn!







Thank You Danyelle!





Thank you Katie! The rules are to post six lies and one truth.






Thank you Nancy!





Thank you to Steena at Chocolate Reality for the Sunshine Award!

Review: Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl and April Henry

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Hand of Fate is the second installment of the Triple Threat series. The story starts off with a chemical attack that sends the city of Portland into panic mode. Someday has just killed controversial talk show host Jim Fate and everyone is afraid the poison is spreading. The first half of the book covers the three main characters, friends who each offer something different to the story. Cassidy is a court reporter and is portrayed in a stereotypical way, blonde, beautiful and trying to keep her age to herself. Then there's Allison, a federal prosecutor, and then Nicole, an FBI agent. Allison and Nicole were already going to help Fate discover who was sending him death threats, so when he dies they're involved with finding out who killed Fate, and why. Cassidy has personal reasons for being involved.

When I received this copy from Thomas Nelson I was really excited. I loved the cover and thought the premise sounded intriguing. I love reading this type of fiction. Unfortunately, I…

Fear Not, My Fellow Writers

Storytelling has been around for centuries. The method, however, has been fluid.

From poems like Iliad to stories told orally around a fire, literature always seems to be evolving and changing to best suit the needs (and sometimes attention spans) of its audience.

Which leads me into the territory of the enhanced book.

It's scary to think of books changing, although technically commercial fiction hasn't been around all that long. I want a career in writing just like the rest of you, but will the books I'm writing be the books that are selling?

I don't want to fear that what I love will no longer exist years from now. However, while change is difficult, stories that touch the heart will always be around, no matter what format they're in.

Below are links to two different agent posts on the future of books. What do you think? Will there be a place for fiction as we know it? Do the coming changes worry you or excite you?

PubRants
Janet Reid

Telling Isn't Bad

Telling isn't always bad.

As I was reading The Book Thief, it occurred to me that the entire story could be told orally and still be effective and strong. I was constantly aware that Death was narrating the story to me (telling). Deep POV? If it was there, I didn't see it. Most of the book seemed to be an omniscient Point of View.

Despite this departure from what I normally read in books, I loved The Book Thief.

What was the last book you read that noticeably "broke the rules" and yet you didn't care because it was done so well? Do you know what Telling is, and do you feel you've mastered it?

I'd Forgotten about Myself

Last Friday I did my first day of training for a waitress position. It's been eight years since I last waitressed, but on Friday I remembered something about myself.

I like it.

I like serving people their food, getting drinks, writing down orders, bustling around and being busy. It made me think of my characters and of the careers I give them. Remembering also made me think about the different types of personalities and how funny that I, someone who doesn't necessarily seek out social situations, like waitressing.

What kind of job do you have right now? Do you like it? What does your main character do and what does that job say about your MC's personality?

Appreciating the New Look of the Ocean

I dipped my toes in the query ocean and noticed the changes.

While the agents I want to query haven't really changed, some of their policies have. For the better, in my opinion.

Two agents who have a no response policy (meaning no rejection letter, just silence if they're not interested) now send an automated confirmation that they've received my query.

I love that. Two years ago I queried the same agents and had to hope my e-mail reached them. Now I can KNOW for sure that the agent got my query and just isn't interested when I don't hear back.

Have you noticed any changes since the last time you queried? What things do publishing professionals do that you appreciate?

I Have a Job

Today I start training for a waitressing job at the golf course next door so I'll be absent from the blogosphere.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Go Ahead, Play With Your Words

That's right: chew them, throw them, see if they stick to the wall or slide down. Step on them, mush them, ball them up and sit on them. Like a toddler who plays with his food, we should play with our words, smear them around and taste them.

I finished The Book Thief a few days ago and all I can say is wow, wow, wow. Both from both a reader's and writer's perspective.

His writing was fresh and intriguing. Vivid. I noticed Zusak constantly attributed human actions to nonliving things. Of course I had to look him up. I found this interview and think it's worth watching, especially his thoughts on writing at the end (3min52sec).

He's the one who's now encouraging me to play with my words.



Do you play with your words? Or are you constantly reaching for a napkin?

Turning Points

Every story must have turning points, both in the plot and in the character. Turning points can be crucial to the pacing of a story. It isn't something I fully get, but from what I understand a turning point is when the character or the plot changes somehow.The best turning points, in my opinion, is when a change in the plot creates a change in the character.

New information comes to light. Someone dies while the killer is in jail, thus causing the policeman to doubt his or her gut. The heiress discovers her hero is broke, creating an inner turmoil that he's only marrying her for her money.

What do you know about turning points in fiction? Any advice? What major turning point have you experienced and how did it affect your life?

Dipping My Toes in the Query Ocean

Well, I've done it.

Sent out five queries for a story that's been waiting patiently to be released. I'd forgotten how horrible the waiting feels, and it's only been a few days!

Are any of you querying right now? Care to share in my sweaty palms and dreadful imaginings? When was the last time you queried?

Emotion vs Intelligence (non-writing related post)

I stumbled across this ARTICLE that proposes women shouldn't change their name when they get married.

The article is intriguing, but what really caught my attention was this statement:

"When Helga shared her partner’s last name, both male and female [survey] participants perceived her as more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional and less competent – that is, the researchers say, more aligned with female stereotypes."

It almost seems as if there's a line of thinking that says a caring nature and deep emotions equals a lesser intellect. Seriously? Do people really think that?

What do you think about taking your spouse's name? Other than professional reasons (such as a name being a brand) is there a reason you would want to keep your own last name in marriage? Also, do you think intellect can be measured by emotional values? Does anyone else wonder who was surveyed for this article?

Do the Write Thing

Most of you have probably heard of the flooding in Nashville. To help the victims, some writers put together an auction.
Check it out HERE. It's called Do the Write Thing For Nashville and it's awesome!
There are critiques, editor/agent phone calls, jewelry, and books on the bidding block. I plan to check out what's up tomorrow!

This is a great idea! I hope they raise a million dollars with this!

Hope to see you in the comments section. :-)

(I may be at the beach today, so if I miss your posts, I'll be around later)

Who would you want a manuscript critique from? Which publisher are you targeting for your work? Do you know anyone in Nashville? Any specific prayer requests?

A Review: Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks by Warren Baldwin

A while back I received fellow blogger Warren Baldwin's book Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems from Proverbs.

I really enjoy Warren's Family Fountain blog so I looked forward to reading his book. I'm not sure whether it's a devotional or not because I don't usually read devotionals, but it is interesting and it is practical. I like that each essay has a theme taken from a proverb and that the essays are arranged according to subject matter, such as Responsibility and Spiritual Living. Warren also uses real-life examples, which I think strengthens his points.

You can learn more about Warren on his website or his blogs. You can buy his book HERE.

Do you read devotionals? Have you ever written any? What's your favorite book of the Bible?

A Great Hero

This is a repost from 2008...


Boy, do I love heroes. Especially the dark and brooding ones. But whether moody, cold, or boy next door, heroes should have one thing in common.
They're NEVER perfect.
A good hero needs some flaws. Not necessarily anything truly evil and not something annoying. But something to make them real. Something to make their sacrifice/choice/good deed truly heroic.
Being a hero shouldn't be easy. It should come with a price.
I wrote earlier about the movie 3:10 to Yuma. The villain helped the hero out by getting on the train to go to jail, but it wasn't a heroic move. At first glance, or if you'd missed some dialogue, you might think so. But the villain, good old Ben Wade, (yes, the mark of a great character is that days later I still remember his name) is not a hero for a reason. He'd already admitted to escaping from that particular jail before. Twice.
So his actions, while making him likeable, did not make him heroic. There was no real cost.
Dan …

Got Garbage?

Compost: a combination of decomposed plants and animal materials and other organic materials that are being decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition into a rich black soil.

Ever think your daydreaming might be a waste of time? The procrastination that strikes suddenly and with paralyzing force a loss of opportunity?

Maybe not.

Deb posted a fascinating account of a conference she attended. In it, author Ursula LeGuin spoke about compost, and how it's similar to what happens in our writing lives.
LeGuin is quoted as saying,
"Compost needs silence, darkness, time and patience."

Which ingredient do you find easiest to find? Which is more elusive? Is the soil of your writing garden dry or rich?

Uber Excited

I picked up the Book Thief from the library yesterday. I've heard so much about the prose and the story, though I didn't actually know the plot line.

When I read the back, I got so excited. The Holocaust has always been a fascinating/dreadful era to me. Ever since I read The Devil's Arithmetic in sixth grade, I've been hooked by the amazing heroism displayed by so many during that time.

Needless to say, I can't wait to start The Book Thief!

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by something unexpected? What was the last book you read that you couldn't put down?

Real Life Example of Agent Subjectivity

We hear all the time that the writing business is subjective. It's true.

I wanted to share a huge lesson I learned while querying my first book. Two agents gave me detailed rejections.

Rejection #1

Unfortunately, I didn't find Prue to be a likable character. She sounded childish and was too curious and trusting

Rejection #2

While I enjoy your writing style, and I think you have a nice, strong heroine...,

That's right, my fellow bloggers! Opposite opinions. Are you surprised? Don't be. Agents and editors are readers, just like us.

This is why it's so important to weigh a professional's advice carefully. With the first rejection, the agent invited me to resubmit if I reworked the heroine, I decided not to for various reasons. I went with my gut and although that story is shelved for a while, I'm now confident that it's possible for others to like my heroine.

Do you have a real-life example of subjectivity to share? Have you ever gone with your gut and ignored adv…

Jessica is Copying Wendy and Jeanette

Thanks to Wendy and Jeanette for your Question posts. If you've already asked this in the past, I'm sorry for taking your question!

Today I was thinking about art and how writing compares. That's another post.

For this one, I was wondering about all of you. What medium for a painting would you choose? Watercolor, acrylic or oil?

What would your main character choose? Why, and what do you think this preferences says about you or your character?

Lesson In POV

Point of View is something writers need to be aware of. I've heard the "rules" but the more I read the more I realize we can write however we want if it's done well. By well, I mean everything from clear to engaging.

Here's some types of POV.

Omniscient: Like God. The writer tells the reader things the character couldn't possibly know, so it's an all-knowing type of point of view.

Third person: Using the pronouns "she" or "he". Sensory details, thoughts, etc. are experienced through one character's pov at a time.

Second person: Using the pronoun "you". I don't see this very often.

First person: Using "I".

Those are all extremely simple examples from me. For better details, check out this article at Fiction Factor.

What POV do you write in? Which are you most comfortable using? What genre is your favorite to read, and what POV is the norm for that genre?

News in the Blogosphere

Congrats to Julie Jarnigan who just made her first sale!

Nancy Parra did a great post on e-books and traditional publishing.

Katie Salidas breaks down the steps to self-publishing based on her recent experiences. Interesting stuff there.

Today my sisters and I are going tubing down the Rainbow River! Pray we don't meet up with any hungry gators. *grin*

What are your plans? Any dangerous adventures involved?

This Ain't Project Runway...But It Could Be

I love watching Project Runway, a reality show about clothing designers. The designers are assigned a project and by the end of each show models walk the runway in the designers' outfits.

The outfits are then judged by industry professionals, including Heidi Klum.

It never fails to amaze me how the designers react to their finished products. Probably about ninety percent of the designers think their clothes are amazing. Perfect. They're always pleased. They don't usually see the flaws.

In so many ways I'm reminded of writers with our novels.

Have you ever written a scene that felt perfect, only to have someone rip it apart? Can you see the flaws in your work? Do you ever worry about your ego getting in the way of your craft?

Voice Niche

Sometimes, we just have to find our place.

I have always loved actor Hugh Laurie as the character House. Everything about him fits his character; his looks, his voice, even the way he cocks his head. He just fits. When I saw him in an older movie as a different type of character, I couldn't place him. He's a good actor, but with the show House he's found the perfect niche for himself.

This is like our voices. Once we master craft and storytelling, I think there will be a genre in which our voices shine. I know of two writers who were midlist mult-pubbed authors. Then they each tried writing a thriller. They're both bestsellers now. I know of another writer who wanted to write suspense, but didn't really break out until she embraced her inner comedian.

Sometimes we need to make sure we've found the right fit for our unique writer's Voice.

What do you think about this? Are there authors who seem to write better in one genre than in another? Has anyone ever said t…

Reading Outside My Genre

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I recently read two books outside my genre and found them very helpful in terms of writing craft.



The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber.

I liked the writing in this book and thought the pace moved quickly. Although the romance didn't draw me in, I was impressed with how the author used omniscient pov. Writers are encouraged to use deep pov, but this book showed me that it's not always necessary for a great, fast-moving story. This book was a good example of a plot-driven book, I thought.










The Dark Man by Marc Schooley is Christian Speculative Fiction, a genre I don't read often. I was completely impressed by it. Loved the writing and the pacing. The story intrigued me and I found the premise very believable. It's set in a futuristic type America in which our basic freedoms are gone. One of the intriguing things about the craft in this book was how Schooley used pov. There was a mix of omniscient, third and second. For example, the charac…

Sausage Fingers and Other Things That Make My Mother Laugh

My stories don't always make my mother cry.

Before she mentioned that my very sad contemporary romance made her cry, Mom told me on the phone that there were several parts where she laughed.

Laughed?

I think I scratched my head. Paced my kitchen. Lost focus on how I should respond. Desperately tried to think of what part of that story could have possibly been funny. I threw out different scenes that were lighter in nature. I tried to dig for information as if I hadn't just been completely befuddled by her comment.

And then...jackpot.

Here's a sentence that made my mother laugh:

Greg Seaward grabbed at the contract from across their table at Denny’s, his sausage fingers quick to flip through the folder in search of Alec’s check.

Apparently the description reminded her of what a melodramatic child I'd been.

Has anyone ever told you that you look like someone you don't want to look like? Have you ever had a contest judge or reader give you a comment that left you puzzled? W…

When My Mom Cried

It was nerve-wracking to let my mom read my manuscripts. When she read the second one, I waited and waited to hear what she'd say.

Then she called and told me she cried.

I was floored.

What a compliment! I know she's my mom and that her viewpoint is going to be different than a more objective reader, but I was still flattered and I still smiled.

Who do you let read your work? What kind of comments make you smile?

Leaves the Color of Limes

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Florida is beautiful right now. Everything is vibrant without the melting heat that will arrive in a few weeks. We had a great time in the Keys. Here's some pics of the boys.
I can't wait to visit everyone today!




Gone Again

I thought I'd be able to get back to the blogosphere but there are too many plans afoot! Plus, at the end of the week we're going to the Keys! Woohoo!

I hope you all have a lovely week and I'll be popping in when I can, hoping to read good stuff going on in your lives!

I Remember Him

Blog Buddy Meet-Ups

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I've been blessed in the last few weeks to meet up with two different sets of bloggers. First, I met Megan Rebekah and Karen Amanda Hooper at Megan's very awesome, completely cool house. We had a great time and I wish I brought my camera!

Then, last week Janna came down for vacation with her family and was able to meet up with Terri Tiffany and me at Cracker Barrel. Here's the pic, thanks to Janna and her camera!



Meeting with fellow bloggers is always so wonderful and uplifting. Is there a group you regularly meet with that encourages you? How far would you drive to meet a blog buddy?

Changes

First, a huge thanks to every single one of you who left comments on my previous post. I appreciate all the prayers and sweet words. Everything is good here now, smoothing out, but there are changes possibly coming.

The biggest of which might be me getting a full-time job.

I have an interview tomorrow, so whoever wants to pray, have at it! I don't like that someone else will be watching my kids all day. That's going to be very hard for me.I'll also have less blogging time. For those of you who work, I really don't know how you do it.

Since this change a little difficult for me to swallow, I need a pick-me-up.

Anyone have great news to share? Has something good happened to you recently?

Life--In The Way

Well, there's some drama and some changes going on right now in my life. It's very annoying when life (not family, just circumstances) get in the way of my precious blogging, but it is, so I'm having to join the ranks of those on blog break.

Though I'm not sure how long it will be, or if it will even be a break.

Will see you all when things calm down here. If you would, please pray for me and my family. We need to make some wise decisions on several things. Thanks!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Learning from My Husband

Some of you know my husband is involved with creating a fishing show. For the last six months my husband has thrown himself into this project.

He's put me to shame.

Five to seven hours everyday after his normal job, editing videos until his eyes were blurry and his head hurt.

When was the last time I pushed myself with such passion? Such drive?

Who inspires you? How much drive fuels your desires?

Do You Abuse Your Books?

I'll never forget the day my father-in-law looked at me in horror and said, "You dog-ear your pages?"
I know I looked at him blankly. "What?" I'd never heard that phrase before. Turns out I'd been abusing my books my entire life, bending the corners of the pages, wrinkling their spines when I set them pages-down.

Oh the guilt.

I tried to use bookmarks. I really did. But they always got lost.

Do you "abuse" your books? What do you think about dog-earing? Any pet peeves about what people do to their books?

Publishing Meets the E-book

Here's a fascinating breakdown on how e-books are affecting the publishing industry's bottom line.

The article includes a thought-provoking ending quote by Anne Rice.

How much would you pay for an e-book? Will you ever own an e-reading device? If you do own one, does it "work" as well as a "real" book?

Picking A Title

When it comes to publishing, there's no truth in "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

The truth is that our titles are powerful. They bring all sorts of images and feelings to a reader's mind, which is why choosing a title is super important.

I have a title I love. When I was submitting to an inspirational publisher, the editor told me my title sounded like a Harlequin Presents. Uh-oh.

Recently I was told by an agent that my contemporary romance title made the story sound historical.

Lesson learned? Choose your title carefully and be prepared to change it. If you need ideas on how to create a pertinent, eye-catching title, check out agent Rachelle Gardner's recent post.

Ever had a title catch your attention in a bookstore? What's the title of your WIP and do you think it's effective? Would you change it?

Pace Yourself

I've confessed my willingness to clean, but don't think I'm manic. When it comes to housework, I pace myself.

Going crazy trying to be perfect or do everything never helps anyone. Pacing can make or break a great story: I think it can make or break a great life too.

How do you pace yourself when it comes to chores, family and career? When the craziness starts creeping in, what do you do?

Godiva, Anyone?

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I finished my WIP! Last night was a scramble and though I wrote the end scene, this draft is pretty rough in terms of plot. I'm going to need to go back and beef up the external goal and external conflict of the story.

In the meantime, there are some really cute Easter chocolates on the Godiva website. I went ahead and everyone who commented on my previous post because you all are wonderfully sweet and supportive. Finishing would take a lot longer if I didn't verbally create a deadline.

The winner of Springtime Godiva is Karen Amanda Hooper! Congrats Karen. :-)

Now that the manuscript's rough draft is done, I know I have a lot of polishing ahead of me. What's your process after you complete the rough draft?

Buried

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I desperately want to visit your blogs but right now I'm buried with family stuff and trying to finish my stubborn WIP.
Thank you for stopping by and I feel horrible for missing out on your blog posts lately. Hopefully I can get back to the blogosphere soon!
In the meantime, here are some thanks to kind bloggers who've given me awards:




Thank You Danyelle!





Thank you Nancy!





Thank you to Steena at Chocolate Reality for the Sunshine Award!


I think it's time for another awards banquet! Have a happy weekend everyone.

I've Got Momentum, Baby

In my mad rush to avoid buying Godiva for someone besides myself, I've discovered momentum in my writing.
This song kind of sums it up. (warning: Christian rock/hip-hop) plus, this isn't an official video but I thought it was kind of funny



Are there any areas of your life where you're gaining momentum? What song could sum up your day so far?

Showing Motivation

One thing I think writers tend to do is tell motivation. I think sometimes we want to explain a character's past and why they're doing something.

I'm not talking about backstory dumps or huge paragraphs of telling. It could be only a line.

The movie Georgia Rule inspired this post. The granddaughter tells someone she was molested, but then she says she made it up. The viewer is left to figure out the truth based on nothing more than the character's actions.

That's showing motivation. In the movie, we're not told:

The mom's an alcoholic so the daughter is an enabler Instead, the daughter acts in certain ways and the informed viewer can guess at her motivation.

The daughter was molested Instead, we're shown how the daughter acts with the opposite sex and we're left to draw our own conclusions on why she does what she does.

It's tempting to tell the reader why a character is acting a certain way, but sometimes I think the story is much stronger if we l…

Nekkid Readings ... and Other Links

First, hop on over to Linda's for a chance to win a copy of Deadly Exposure.

Also, don't forget to check out Elana's amazing contest which awards multiple query critiques by agents.

Then, lovely author Kathryn Magendie is readying for her second book release and in order to get the word out, she's willing to try all sorts of marketing techniques. Including posting herself reading an excerpt of her new novel.

Naked.

What would you do to market your book? How extreme will you go? Is there anything you absolutely will never do?

btw, Kat's reading is G-rated. :-)

When Your Muse Names Himself

Apparently muses can have names.

I always hear funny stories on how to deal with the muse, but I've never heard of the uppity muse naming itself until Amy's Hilarious Post on how she discovered her muse is a guy.

Do you have a muse? Do you blame things on your muse? What do you think about naming your muse, and if you did, what would that name be?

They Buy What You Sell

Ever thought of your blog as you...selling yourself? Elana did an awesome POST about this and it reminded me of a blog I'd just read.

I'd linked over because I saw this blogger's somewhat rude comment on an agent's blog. The blogger had a decent amount of comments so I checked them out. It was a little shocking to read mostly anonymous, troll-like comments.

But it makes sense.

What you sell attracts a certain type of buyer.

This angry guy had tons of angry, mean comments.

Ever known an angry, divisive person? Having an opinion is way different than being rude. As Elana asked, what are you hoping to accomplish with blogging? What kind of You are you selling?

Cupid Shot Me!

I was sixteen.

Driving down one of the main roads of my small town, chatting with my little sister, when I noticed a fine pair of calves running down the sidewalk. My hormonal gaze traveled up those fine legs, landed on a fine chest and stopped at a familiar face.

The preacher?

Yep, over ten years ago I realized that local preacher Jimmy was more than a preacher. Cupid shot me that day (it was all physical) but later God drew us together and we've been married since 2001.

How did you meet your spouse? Your best friend?

If you want to play, pop by Diane's for rules and to sign Mr. Linky.

Interesting Marketing Survey

Verso Digital did a really interesting survey on Book-Buying habits. It's fascinating and helpful.

Don't forget! Monday I'll be participating in Diane Estrella's Cupid Shot Me. Hope you'll join in.

Have a wonderful day!

Sick is the New Cool

Over the holidays I learned that my neighborhood is sick. Seriously. I kept hearing "This is sick" about everything. Having a fourteen year old brother is not only enlightening, but it's pretty cool.

Cool, by the way, is still an "in" word.

For those of you who write YA or MG, you might find these words interesting. Straight from Orange County, California, below is the list my wonderful brother gave me.
Define these words:

Boss
Beast
Gnarly (yeah, it's still in and I heard him and my dad use it fluently)
Bro
Bra
Steezy
Sic Thizz (yes, that's how it's spelled)

Have you heard any of these words? I think some of you have posted your kids' slang before. How do you feel about slang in fiction? Is the slang you use still cool? Or are you hanging on to outdated slang because it's groovy?

Set Your Scene

When I went to the ACFW conference, I had an editor meeting. I'd heard that particular editor liked scenes to be fleshed out at the beginning. Because of what I'd heard, I gave her my prologue to read instead of my first chapter.

Sure enough, the first thing she said was that she liked how I'd set the scene rather than jumping into action.

This isn't to say we shouldn't start with action. We should almost always start with action that's appropriate for the genre.

But before you jump into the action, set your scene.

Orient the reader. Give them a visual of where the character is. This definitely doesn't need to be a paragraph-long thing. A few sentences often are fine.

Every new scene needs to be set somehow, and early on. Do you set your scenes? Does too much description in a book bother you? Or do you like heavy description?

The Case of the Reopening Blog Windows: Solved

As some of you are aware, I'd been having problems with blogger. When I clicked out of a blog, it would reopen so fast and so many times that the only way to stop it was to log off my computer.

I think I've solved this annoying case though. Ha!

My computer has been telling me to get IE8 and I finally decided to download it for various reasons. That was a week ago. Since then, I haven't had a single problem with blogger. Other bloggers recommended Firefox too.

So if you've been having this, you might want to check your Windows updates. It's either IE7 or it might be a problem with Vista. I just know after I updated everything, the problem hasn't come back. *crossing my fingers here*

Does anyone else feel an amazing sense of satisfaction when a mystery is solved? Do any of you daydream about being a detective? Or am I just weird?

The Big 5-Oh by Sandra Bricker

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I first heard of Sandie thanks to a huge blog tour for her first Summerside book, Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas. Everyone posted rave reviews about how awesome this book was, and how funny.

Then I met Sandie at an Orlando meeting and she was super nice. Then I met her again on the way to the ACFW conference and I thought, I really need to get her book.

So I did and I laughed the entire trip home (on the plane). After Snowball came out, it seemed like Sandie's career started snowballing too!

I got my hot big hands on her book, The Big 5-Oh. It's just now releasing but I read the ARC, which is kind of awesome! The story is based in Florida and highlights a woman who's in need of a break, especially since her birthday is coming up soon. Often marked by illness or tragedy, birthdays are main character Olivia's nemesis. So she travels down to Florida for some much-needed R&R, but finds instead a second chance at love (not to mention a pool-loving alligator and a fa…

It's On: A Competition

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As of January 1, 2010, I haven't accomplished much in the way of writing goals.

Furthermore, I've been writing my work in progress for almost a year. That has to stop.

Therefore, I'm proposing a little competition to get myself in gear.

If I don't finish my WIP by February 28th, 2010, I'm buying one lucky commenter some Godiva.



If I do finish, then I'm buying myself some.

Comment if you want to be entered and let me know if you want to race to the finish line. I have around 25k to go.

How's your writing going? Have your resolutions been manageable? Or did they already fall by the wayside

The Query: Sell Your Story Part 3

The consensus, I think, is that queries are tough to write, but make all the difference in garnering a request.

In my opinion, the blurb is everything. Of course make the other parts of your query polite and professional, but what sells your story is not how many contests you've won, not how long you've been writing, the classes you've taken, the theme of your story, etc.

Eventually we sell ourselves. But for first glance, it's all about the story.

So how do you go about writing a great blurb? And what should be in it?

A Plot Catalyst: This is super important. Agent Kristen Nelson did an in-depth series on this. Your blurb should start with the plot catalyst and cover what happens in the first 30-50 pages. Then you end on a hook.

The Hook: What is the danger (emotional or physical) that your character is going to face? The major decision he or she has to make?
In the words of Miss Snark, a good query contains the following formula:

Who is the protaganist?
What dilemma does he…