Showing posts from September, 2009

Release Day For My Friend's Book!

Today is release day for my friend William Bernhardt's book, Capitol Offense. Capitol Offense is a thrillers about attorney Ben Kincaid. Ben is approached by a man who asks for his defense for a murder that hasn't happened yet. The man is beside himself with grief over the horrible death of his wife and wants to kill the detective involved. That same day, someone shoots the detective down, killing him. Against good advice, Ben decides to defend him. This proves to be yet another riveting thriller from William Bernhardt, no doubt packed with gasping moments and page turning nights. Think of a cross between Stephen King (without the supernatural) and Tom Clancy and you're getting close to how great he is. Bernhardt will shock you and change the way you think about legal thrillers in a very good way. Check it out: Bernhardt's site:

Calling All 2011 Debut Authors

While I'm not yet among them (fingers crossed), I wanted to get this info out for those of you lucky writers who are. However, for those of us who haven't joined those prestigious ranks yet, it might not be a bad idea to follow their journey and see what their books are about. Following anothers path of success can help point you in the right direction. There is a community of 2011 debut authors being put together as we speak. So why should you join a community of other debut authors, aren't they your competition after all? No! They are your comrades. Success is not achieved alone nor is it an easy feat. Take a few friends of mine for example. They met on line and started a community of 2009 debutants, a great group of female writers who debuted this year. They support each other, blog about each other, and have even done some touring together. That kind of support is priceless in this industry! The fantastic Alice Pope from Writers Digest is looking for 2011 debut authors

Writing a Page Turner

It would be great if I could give you a magical formula or link that would map it all out, but with most things in writing, it isn't that easy. There are a few tips and tricks I've learned that help make it less of a mystery though. The first thing you have to achieve is identifying your audience. A page turner is different for everyone. Some people enjoy Shakespeare while others like Stephen King. Know who your writing for. There are as many audiences as there are books, young adults, children, men, women, thrill seekers, fright seekers, adventure lovers, the list goes on and on. After identifying your audience you must get to know them. How in the world are you supposed to do that? Look at what's on the shelf in your genre, that will give you a good idea of what's hot which gives you a good idea of what people like. Don't forget to read the books that are hot. Now you're starting to get to know them! Now comes the hard part, your actual writing. Writing a page

To Be A New York Times Bestseller

Every writer dreams about achieving this goal. But do you really know what it means? How do you become one of these elite and how does it really effect your career as a writer? We'll start at the beginning. New York Times bestsellers are based off how many books are ordered in by the booksellers, not by how many are sold. But if they order more in won't they sell more? Not necessarily and here's where it gets tricky. If a bookseller orders a bunch of your books in and they don't sell, they get sent back. You could still make the list but may not even make your advance back for your publisher! This decreases the chance that your publisher will want another book or could mean you'll be getting a much smaller advance the next go around. There is good news. If your publisher gives you a large advance they are going to do their part in making sure you get a lot of publicity to increase the chance of your book selling very well. They want to make that advance back and th

How I Got My Agent

Since I've managed to land an agent twice now everyone has been asking me what my secret is. I wish I had a simple answer to that question but as with everything in the writing industry, it was anything but simple. I'm a firm believer that the first agent I landed was a complete fluke. He must have seen the glimmer of a talent to be beneath the layers of soot of my manuscript. Unfortunately at the time he picked me up I just wasn't at the stage I needed to be and he wasn't really sure how to get me there. We have since parted ways but I will be forever grateful for the kick in the computer he gave me. I learned a lot about self editing while working with him. I kept writing and working to improve my writing. Since getting that first agent I've completed five books and am working on the sixth. Never stop, that's the most important thing. I've attended the Hawaii Writers Retreat twice and their conference once. Because of it my writing is at a completely diffe

I'm Represented!

I was painting a fence yesterday with black roofing goo (it's the only thing my horse won't chew on!) when I heard the distant ring of a phone. Dropping the goo-covered paint brush into the bucket, I ran for the house. After an athletic feat of leaping over the dog, tripping up the stairs, and dropping the phone, I managed to pick it up before the answering machine. Expecting yet another solicitor (even though my number is unlisted!) I was shocked to hear a nice woman From Atchity Entertainment saying she was calling about my novel. A moment later I was connected to Ken Atchity. At this point my heart was in my throat and I was trying to remember my own name. It was The Call. You know the call I'm talking about. It's the one every aspiring author dreams about. And Ken said all the things I've dreamt about, so naturally I figured, I must still be asleep. Who doesn't paint fences in their sleep right? My husband reassured me I was definitely awake because in a dre

What to Expect With Agent Contracts

This was a huge mystery to me when I started submitting. I had no idea what came after, 'we'd like to offer you representation.' I just read an article in Writer's Digest that reminded me of the whole terrifyingly wonderful process. Having now been through a portion of it, I shall demystify it a bit for you. First, here's one myth I'll squash: Agents expect you to sign a contract with them right away. Wrong! Some will, some won't. Especially if you're a first time author they may not want to tie themselves to you until they know they can sell you. That way if things don't work out they aren't saddled with a book they can't sell or a client they can't work with. Don't panic if they don't expect you to sign a contract immediately. If you did your job right to begin with and researched them, checked their clients, made sure they were a member of AAR (there are reputable one's who aren't a member, just tread those waters cau

Maintaining Optimism

You tell your friends you wrote a book and the first thing out of their mouth is, 'are you going to get it published?' Ah, the naivety. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just say, 'yeah, I think I will.' But alas, it doesn't work that way. Anyone who has wrote a book and then attempted to get it published knows the really hard work begins when you finish the book. To make matters worse, the publishing industry is getting harder and harder to break into. A failing economy is making editors afraid for their jobs which in turn makes them afraid to purchase a manuscript that they aren't positive will make back it's advance. The domino affect continues with falling advances. What are we to do? Well for one, keep buying books. You must support the industry you want to work in, when you can. Everyone falls on hard times and can't afford the luxuries at times and that's understandable. Pick up a paperback every now and then if that's all you can affor

What Book Is Your Book Like, and How Is It Different?

When pitching your book, either in person at a conference or through a query letter, it is common to compare your book to something similar. This is a double edged sword. Agents want to know what your book is like and the easiest way is to compare it to something similar. On the other hand, if they've recently sold something like it, or if they feel the market is flooded with books like it, they are going to pass. So how do you overcome this dilemma? You must answer both questions: What book is your novel like, and more importantly, how is it different than anything out there right now? The second part is the part that will hook the agent in and make them want to read more. It's what will hopefully make them think they can sell it despite the similarities to what's currently on the market or about to hit it. Think long and hard about what makes your book different. If it is too similar to something on the market, you may need to alter it a bit. But if you have just the righ

Earning Back Your Advance

Writer's Digest twittered a great link to an article in the New York Times about book advances. Did you know that 7 out of 10 books don't earn back their advance? Writer's Digest posed an excellent question. What are you going to do to prove to agents and editors that you'll be those 3 out of 10? You have to have a plan. Remember that platform thing? Yep, that's what you need. More than that though, this is where everything I've been talking about kind of culminates and mixes for the recipe of success. William Bernhardt (NY Times Bestseller several times over) says the best way to get your book to sell is word of mouth. Not signings like you might think (though he still recommends doing them to connect with booksellers and readers). In comes another thing I've been preaching about, networking! When your book is getting ready to come out, that's the time to gather up all those e-mails & phone numbers, blog, Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace friends you

The Difference Between Wanting It, And Earning It

How bad do you want to see your name on the spine of a book, or read it on the New York Times Bestseller list? Any aspiring author can answer that question, 'more than anything!' But contrary to popular belief, it doesn't come down to how bad you want it or chances are it would have already happened. Unfortunately, it comes down to something much harder and much more complicated. Are you willing to earn it? The difference between wanting it and earning it can lead to publication. So how do you earn it? First, never stop working on your writing. Improve it every chance you get. Attend conferences, seminars, retreats, book fairs, college classes, do whatever it takes. If you want writing to be your career you have to approach it that way. Anyone can write a novel. It takes dedication and hard work to get one published. The economy is in a rough state and no doubt so are your finances. If you can't afford classes, glean what knowledge you can from others who've attende

Knowing When To Move On

Acquiring a literary agent is one of the most exciting moments in a writer's life. With it comes validation and a sense that your work is going to go somewhere. 'I'd like to offer you representation,' are probably the sweetest words an aspiring author ever hears. However, the relationship between author and agent is like any relationship, it takes work on both ends. So what happens after the glow wears off, time has passed, and you feel like you're the only one doing the work? How do you know when it's time to move on? I hope you never have to answer either of those questions, but chances are if your career is a long one, you'll have to at some point. Hopefully you've been attending conferences, retreats, writer's groups, or at least joining on line writing forums and have met other writers. Getting a published author's opinion of what is normal and expected in an author/agent relationship is worth it's weight in gold. Knowing when to push

Revision Lecture by Ann Hood

Sorry for my absence readers, I've been working on revising. I learned so much at this years retreat that I've been slaving away at the computer ever since. But I'm loving every second of it because it's making my work that much better! While most of my revision is based on things I learned in William Bernhardt's class, I must attribute some of it to Ann Hood's lecture on Revision. For your benefit, here is what I garnished from her lecture: Ann said, 'don't confuse wanting it, with earning it.' There's a huge difference between the two and if you really want something, you will dedicate yourself to it and earn it. She gave us ten points to cover during our revision process. The first thing you need to remember is, once you've finished your book, that's when the real work begins. Revision is not an option. 1. 'Put away the time clock.' This is not to mean you shouldn't have goals, this just means you should revise until

Retreat Wrapup

When all the lectures and the classes are over it all comes down to what you got out of your writer's retreat. From my postings you can see a lot of what I got out of individual lectures and classes. But the real question is, what did I get out of the retreat as a whole? In one easy and completely complicated answer, a life changing experience. The first thing I realized while sitting through my first class with William Bernhardt this year was how far my writing has come since last year. Last year I was the bumbling beginner in Bill's class with a propensity to over use adjectives and adverbs and bury my writing in gratuitous prose. I fought tooth and nail to keep my old (and bad) writing style and thankfully lost. What I uncovered was that I could actually write something publishable! And I owe that revelation completely to William Bernhardt. If he hadn't pushed me beyond my comfort zones into a whole new way of writing, I may never have learned. This year I approached

What A Retreat Is All About

With all this talk about classes and lectures I've failed to touch upon the best part of a retreat. That is, of course, your book. It's a week of precious time with your manuscript, something you will not get at home unless you're a hermit without a job, family, or technology. Not to say I don't get distracted at a retreat, obviously I'm blogging, but this break with technology is exactly that, a break. The rest of the day I'll spend with my work. So what exactly is a day at a retreat like? We have the option of attending a morning lecture, many of which you've read me blog about. I love to attend these because I wake up thinking about my book and want to start learning right away. The lectures are giving by great writers, many of which are New York Times bestsellers or prize winners of some sort or another. I learn something from every lecture. After that I get to sit in a classroom with ten of my peers and William Bernhardt, not only a New York Times Best

What to say to 'What's Your Book About?'

Practically in the shadow of this amazing geological feate, Diamond Head, I listened to an excellent lecture by author and communication/creativity consultant, Sam Horn. She answered the question of what to say when people ask, 'what's your book about?'. If you ever get the chance to see this lady speak do it, she is compelling. 'First she said, don't tell what your book is about, tease them to incite curiosity and interest'. If you ramble on then they will tune you out and you'll have lost them. The worst thing you can do it bore people. If they start to get that faraway look in their eyes or keep glancing around for exits, you're talking too much and not engaging them. 'Don't explain your book, ask them something to turn it into dialogue '. A statement leads to a dead end, while a question leads to a conversation. 'Don't do run on rhetoric , give a real life example using imagine or 'have you ever' type of questions'.

Retreat Day 3: Plot Type

Today Bill's lecture demystified plots and broke them down into five simple formulas. Again, Bill's words will be in quotes, my take on what he said will not. 'Plot is the writers choice of events to tell the story of the character's progression toward the goal or desire.' This sounds like it goes without saying but alas, if it must be said, then someone screwed it up. If there is no progression and more importantly, no goal, chances are you don't have much of a novel and need to go back and build a skeleton for it. 'Plot is composed of a series of conflicts.' Here we come back to the idea that something must be happening. Bill says conflict can be internal, external, or personal. 'Inner conflict is within their head, personal is between them and other people, and external is what's going on between them and the world. The best stories [possess] all three.' 'There are only five plot types.' These have to do with your character's