Monday, October 25, 2010

Pitch It! (follow up)

I redid my pitch based on some of the comments I received. I tried to add the changes in the body of my original post, but for some reason, Blogger doesn't like me today. So, here it is. Original first, then the redo.

Old:

Finding dead bodies is not what journalist-cum-real estate investor Amanda O'Flannigan had in mind when she changed careers. All she wanted was a distraction from the recent death of her fiancé. A man dying in her arms doesn't do much to help her grief.

As she investigates the man's death, she stumbles into a web of lies and half-truths. If anyone knows the full story behind the victim's life and death, they aren't sharing.

Rick Pierce has been in love with Amanda for a decade. A year and a half after the tragedy, Rick has worked up the nerve to tell Amanda how he feels. But with Amanda still lost in the past, how can he convince her he's the one she needs to be with?

The possibility of romance isn’t enough to erase the fact two convicts Amanda helped put away have escaped prison and are on a mission to find the woman who made their life hell. Intent on torturing and killing her, they're on a warpath to her doorstep. Are they responsible for the growing number of murders among Amanda's tenants?

As Amanda races to find the murderers and stop the men who want her dead, she must learn to look to her future. Rick will stop at nothing to make sure she sees that future realized.


New:

Finding dead bodies is not what journalist-turned-real estate investor Amanda O'Flannigan had in mind when she changed careers. All she wanted was a distraction from the recent death of her fiancé. A former tenant dying in her arms doesn't do much to help her grief. As she investigates the man's death, Amanda stumbles into a web of lies and half-truths.

Two convicts Amanda helped put away have escaped. Intent on torturing and killing her, they're on a warpath to her doorstep. Are they responsible for the growing number of murders among Amanda's tenants?

Enter Rick Pierce. He has been in love with Amanda for a decade. A year and a half after the tragedy, Rick has worked up the nerve to tell Amanda how he feels. With Amanda caught up in the past as she races to stop the men who want her dead, how will Rick make her see their future together?


So, what say you? Better? Worse?

Until next time,

Pitch It!

For the October Christian Writers blog chain, we're pitching our novels! (Or doing a little tutorial on pitches.)

What is a pitch? 

A pitch is basically a way to sell your novel. Think of it like the trailer to that movie you're going to go see because of the commercials you've seen on TV. It's a tease; it gives the reader an idea on what your book is about. Some authors now are making their own book videos (K.M. Weiland has an AWESOME one for her novel Behold the Dawn.) But, most readers aren't going to go track down your video; they're going to read the blurb on the jacket cover of your book at the bookstore.

Photo from DeviantArt's SixSecondsLess
That's essentially what a pitch is, something that a reader sees that whets their appetite to read your book. Or, as in my case, something to whet the appetite of an agent or editor.

This month, I'm sharing the pitch for my novel, Homebody. And, it's up to you, my lovely reader, to help me improve the pitch. Tell me if what I've written would make you want to read more. If it's sitting on the shelf next to Nora Roberts, would you choose mine or hers? (Or, name another of your favorite authors.)

I'm pulling this directly from the latest query I've drafted--so I need it to be good!

Homebody:

Finding dead bodies is not what journalist-cum-real estate investor Amanda O'Flannigan had in mind when she changed careers. All she wanted was a distraction from the recent death of her fiancé. A man dying in her arms doesn't do much to help her grief.

As she investigates the man's death, she stumbles into a web of lies and half-truths. If anyone knows the full story behind the victim's life and death, they aren't sharing.

Rick Pierce has been in love with Amanda for a decade. A year and a half after the tragedy, Rick has worked up the nerve to tell Amanda how he feels. But with Amanda still lost in the past, how can he convince her he's the one she needs to be with?

The possibility of romance isn’t enough to erase the fact two convicts Amanda helped put away have escaped prison and are on a mission to find the woman who made their life hell. Intent on torturing and killing her, they're on a warpath to her doorstep. Are they responsible for the growing number of murders among Amanda's tenants?

As Amanda races to find the murderers and stop the men who want her dead, she must learn to look to her future. Rick will stop at nothing to make sure she sees that future realized.
 


So, what do you think? Would you want to take this book home?

Until next time,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Update: October

By *NoCompletion on DeviantArt.com
I must admit that I started the last month with many good intentions. My goals included editing the entirety of Homebody and getting out to a friend via snail mail. As of this writing, I've gotten about 1/4 of the way through the editing, and haven't been able to send the draft out.

Part of the problem is my own laziness; I've been derelict in my duties as a writer.

But, part of the problem is the fact that my husband and I found out a few weeks ago that we'll be moving by the end of the year. We'd put our house on the market, and in late September, got a contract. So, now I'm packing and looking for a new place to live. Ugh. (This last comment comes from the part of me that hates any form of change.)

I have made some headway, I'll say that much. Just not as much as I wanted by this point. And my brain is working overtime coming up with ideas for plot and character changes. Unfortunately, thinking is not doing. I must start doing more. (Makes me think of Yoda: "Do. Or do not. There is no try." Yeah, I need more discipline from the Jedi Master.)

I have had the pleasure of attending the Muse Online Writers Conference last week. Man, did that kick my butt in gear! And it was a good diversion to potty training my daughter and wrangling three dogs (two more than normal since I was babysitting my mom's dogs.) At least I was able to refine my understanding of grammar, learn more about blogging and Facebook fan pages (did you notice the subtle change to the blog? And, I now have a fan page on FB!) All good things, but they didn't get me any editing done.

Anyway, despite the anticipated trials of the next few months (especially since we're gearing up for holiday season), I'm going to do what I can to set aside some time on a daily and/or weekly basis to work on my projects. I really want to be able to start submitting to agents come January 2011. And the only way that's going to happen is if I have a polished manuscript.

With that, I'd better get back to work.

Until next time,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dissection: A Date You Can't Refuse

Several years ago, I stumbled across the books by Harley Jane Kozak featuring sleuth Wollie Shelley. The books are only released about every two to three years, and I requested a copy of the latest, A Date You Can't Refuse, from my library before it released. That was in 2009. Early 2009.

Fortunately, I'm the patient sort, and I finally got my copy a few weeks ago, just before I went on vacation, which gave me ample time to devour the book.

In earlier books, it's made clear that Wollie (short for, I believe, Wollstonecraft) is a woman in her 30s, unmarried, and is feeling the pressure of a ticking biological clock. By the third book, she finally has gotten into a relationship with FBI agent Simon Alexander. This one seems to be lasting, except for the fact that he's on a long-term undercover assignment. Recipe for conflict!

Wollie, in the latest offering, has been offered a job by Yuri Milos, whom she knows because she sat on the jury of a trial in which he was the defendant. After the trial is over, she's offered the job, and shortly after that, one of Simon's associates approaches her about accepting the job in order to feed them information. Simon knows nothing of this. And when he finds out she accepted a job with the notorious Milos... well, let's just say he was less than happy.

Our heroine needs the money and some of the benefits that are being used to lure her into accepting the spying aspect by the FBI, however. And although she's not good at lying, she finds she must learn to do so in order to do her jobs.

Can't you see how this situation is ripe for conflict? I sure did! Even while I was in the middle of reading the book, I couldn't help but think that it would make a good book to use for a book dissection post. Of course, all fiction must have some conflict, but it seemed to me that Wollie was dogged by it every sentence of every page.

While the relationships in the book are important (it's a series--isn't that what most series are really about, the relationships?) the mystery holds its own. The two deaths in the book happen off screen, so to speak, starting with the woman who held Wollie's job previously, then her boyfriend, who was convinced that his girlfriend was murdered. Until the end of the book, you're never quite sure why the girlfriend was killed, and there were enough hints that while you may be able to put the puzzle together, you need quite a few pieces in order to do so.

What I learned:

Conflict, conflict, conflict. That was probably the key thing I learned in this book, that it needed to be EVERYWHERE. Okay, maybe not learned (I know this--I've been writing fiction for over 15 years.) But, it was definitely reinforced. From the time Wollie's approached by Yuri until she has her confrontation with the murderer, she's in conflict with someone. Simon, her brother, her friends, herself, Yuri, people she works with both in the civilian job and in the FBI--it's everywhere. And she needs to be able to lie, and feels physically incapable of pulling it off!

I also could see the value of having good resources to go to. Ms. Kozak obviously had to be speaking with a lot of people to pull this book off, and her acknowledgments page supports this. While she doesn't name everyone's role in helping her book, the names list is quite exhaustive. Looks like I'll be making some calls soon to do further interviews and tours! And tapping some of the online-human resources I've made over the years...

As a reader, I'd recommend this book if you enjoy works by Janet Evanovich. While not as crazy as the Stephanie Plum world, I'd say that Wollie's got quite a nutty world to live in.

Until next time,


Monday, October 04, 2010

Write What You DON'T Know

My writing friend K.M. Weiland recently asked on Twitter what the worst piece of writing advice you've ever received is.

I had a prompt response:

Write what you know.

While this piece of advice is common in writer's circles, I'd have to say my stories would be pretty boring if I wrote about what I know. Who really wants to read about a stay-at-home mom nursing her infant son or trying to figure out how to get hand lotion out of her two-year-old's curly locks? Sounds pretty boring to me--and I've done both of these in the last 24 hours.

I write mystery and science fiction. Have I ever stumbled over a dead body? As long as you don't count the funerals I've gone to, no. Have I ever solved a crime? No. Have I ever flown in space? Okay, that one could get a varied response based on who you ask--some may say I'm a space cadet. Technically, the answer is no. (Not that I wouldn't if offered!)

I've done all these things while writing, yet I have no personal knowledge of any of them.

Research is the answer. Even a romance book requires some research. Unless a writer was raised in an Amish or closed community, how else are they going to know how to write so-called "bonnet romances"? Research. If I need to know the difference between a Glock G26 and a Saturday Night Special, what do I do? Research.

My point is that instead of "writing what we know," the creative use of research allows us as writers to fill in the blanks that we don't know, sometimes with mundane, but most of the time with interesting facts we've discovered. It gives us a chance to get it right: talking to a homicide detective about how they solve a crime, for instance.

My local writing buddy, Juliet Kincaid, taught a lesson at a Sisters in Crime meeting a few years ago. I wish she had that lesson online so I could share it with you, but it basically shared some creative places to do your research. She writes primarily historical mysteries, so she makes good use of librarians--I would never have thought of asking a librarian before her talk!

For more on research, I highly recommend this post by K.M. Weiland.

So, going back to K.M.'s question, what's the worst piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Until next time,



P.S. K.M. Weiland covered this topic as well yesterday her blog. Check it out here.

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