Monday, March 21, 2011

P - Publisher's Weekly

Check out the plethora of valuable information at This is the online place to go for international news related to the book publishing and book selling industries. Remember, in today's book publishing and marketing world, a writer (including novelists!) MUST be a business person, as well. Rather than a long post about Publisher's Weekly, spend some time perusing their site.

Monday, March 14, 2011

O - Open a Favorite Book

Okay, I never said that I've mastered my own "ABC's for Writer's". This week the letter is "O" which stands for "Open a favorite book you haven't read in a long while and read it again." The truth is, I'm currently reading four different books: "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins; "Partners Again" by my good friend, Arthur Lee; "Back Roads Ireland" - A travel guide; and "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson (yes, I started this two months ago!). Currently I have 21 other titles on my "To Read Next" list. Yes, an actual list...on my iphone...with all my other lists. What I don't have is a list of my old favorites. Frankly, it would take more time than I want to give right now. Or probably ever. Admittedly, I feel guilty because since I first signed up on Goodreads (two year ago!) I've only posted once. Every time I get an update from a friend (at least twice a week!) the twinge of guilt increases, until I face the fact that I'm a complete hypocrite. I mean, it seems like if I reap the benefits of Goodreads from others' posts, I ought to be required to post, too. At least periodically. Honestly, it feels like another distraction that takes me away from actually reading, and certainly from writing. Aaaaahhhhh! The twisted, cursed irony of technology! Humphf...back to my list of "Old Favorites". It would start with "Blueberries for Sal" and "Charlotte's Web" and end with "Autobiography of a Yogi" and "Harry Potter". Somewhere in the middle would be a handful of Classics, and selected nonfiction books on health and wellness, spirituality, or publishing. No rhyme or reason. No genre. Just an opulent smattering of information, ideas and imagination woven together by compelling stories and excellent writing. If I'm honest enough to say I haven't mastered by own ABC's, you might as well know the truth about my dysfunctional reading habits.

Monday, March 7, 2011

N - News Alert!

I do not subscribe to a local newspaper, although sometimes I'll read online papers. I absolutely never watch the news on TV. Frankly, it's just too much information for my brain to absorb and most articles deal with such negative topics, why waste my time? Until recently, keeping up on news events felt like a giant vacuum sucking out my energy and creativity--my oxygen. Then I made a discovery. Reading about what's going on in my local community, the country, or the world, provides an endless source of ideas for characters and plots! Duh!! True, if I wrote crime novels, legal thrillers, or murder mysteries there may appear to be a greater pool of scenarios to draw from. But every time I peruse online articles, blogs, and even the occasional newspaper, or listen to podcasts on a variety of topics, I find a plethora of ideas for writing YA Fantasy with a cross over into new Age Fiction. It's actually become a critical part of my creative processing. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop reading and start writing. Certainly there are other ways to gather ideas for stories, but don't discount the news. Someday, your novel may be the next big headline.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

M - Memorize and Master Your Pitch

With Spring and Summer writer's conferences knocking at every door, it's time to memorize and master your pitch. It ought to roll off your tongue as easily as reciting the ABC's--and with as much enthusiasm as a child has when he or she blissfully sings it to whomever will listen. Yes, you could even try singing the darn thing in the shower (not to an agent!) if that helps you feel more relaxed about it. Certainly you need to know your pitch well enough to maintain a confident lilt while presenting it to an agent. At the very least, remember to breathe. And if at all possible, smile. Regardless of the genre, plot or subject matter of the manuscript, as far as the delivery of the pitch is concerned, you need to exude good energy! On the other hand, if you pitch to an agent who has no interest in fantasy or sci fi and your two-minute synopsis talks about an elf population from a lost world that morphs into other forms so they can travel through time to conquer a new civilization in an unknown galaxy, the agent won't care about your enthusiastic delivery and will probably look bored or annoyed. Do your research. Only pitch to the agents who may have the most interest in what you've written. If you have a chance to participate in a Speed Pitching session at a conference, do it. After you do a few of them, it's really kind of fun. Most agents and editors will do their best to smile and help you relax. Remember, they're just people, too.

So, here's the rundown on mastering your pitch. Write it. Rewrite it. Rewrite it. Rewrite it. Rewrite it. (Get the idea?) Memorize it. Practice saying it aloud. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. (Get the idea?) Research the conferences you plan to attend to see which agents will be there. Or better yet, research agents who you think will be a good match for you and your work, and find out what conferences they will be attending. In doing so, you can usually find out what agents like, what they're looking for, and what their expectations are. Perform. Yep, you've got to "act like" you have all the confidence in the world, both in yourself AND in your work.

Write...rewrite...memorize...practice...research...perform. Go get'em! (The photo for this post were taken in my yard and is a reminder to sign up for a Spring or Summer writers conference. I'll be attending Field's End in Poulsbo, WA, April 16; LDS Storymakers in Salt Lake City, UT, May 5-7; and PNWA in Bellvue, WA, Aug. 4-7.)