It’s been awhile since I’ve written an article, sorry about that. I’ve been hard at work on Legacy and another MS that’s completely different. That ones been the screen play.
As you guys probably know I’ve been working with an editor since May and she and I have made a few changes to Legacy. One of those changes was that we went from a first person POV for my main character Alexis and my villain Brenton to a third person limited POV. On my first revision I got Brenton’s voice nailed in this new POV. Alexis however needed a little work, I needed more showing and not telling. Let me just say having a character who’s an empath is not the easiest person to show and not tell.
First person worked but it wasn’t great. And like my editor I’m really liking what I can add to Alexis in third person. In first person I was so close to Alexis that I’d miss things readers needed to see. In third person I’ve been able to add those in. Plus I’ve added in more senses, which all characters need.
I hope I’m not making this sound easy, it wasn’t. To make sure we picked the proper POV I had to rewrite the first twenty pages five different ways. That’s right I tried five different POV variations to see which one worked. I started with the second original POV which was first person. I’d originally written Legacy from a third person POV but when I was in my MFA thesis class I changed it to first person, (I really wish my advisor would have been more help, I could be by-passing some changes and working on the characters rather than POV change) and took out a lot.
After making the changes in the first person POV, I tried Alexis as first person and Brenton in third. Next I tried Brenton in first person and Alexis in third. I tried both in third person and then I tried first person with Alexis only, taking Brenton’s part out completely.
My editor and I didn’t like Brenton being gone. He adds something to the story. Sometimes you just want to know what trouble is brewing and Brenton brings that to the table. I think James Patterson for that. I got the idea of having the readers meet the villain from his Murder by Numbers series.
Anyway after working through the five POV’s I was torn over which one was best. I’d actually started thinking that having Alexis in third person and Brenton in first person was my favorite. However my editor really like the third person POV for everything so that’s what we are going with. And with that change I think this last batch of edits, which was the first fifty pages turned into sixty-four when I got finished, and its turning out wickedly awesome.
I’m getting into Alexis and Brenton’s psyche better because I’ve stepped back a little and can see around corners that I hadn’t done in first person. I was to focused in first person and missed great extras that added a richness to the story.
I recently finished the edits and sent them off to my editor and now I get to sit and wait to see what she thinks. This is a little nerve racking and I’ve had to work on more edits since sending out the email. The waiting has been like when you send out query letters and wait for a bite. I’m hoping that if she likes these changes we’ll be moving forward and I’ll get a contract. Yeah right now I’m working with my editor without a contract. She found me from a post I did on Savvy Author. I’d posted my log-line for an agent and this editor really like it. She said it reminded her of her favorite Stephen King novel. Months later we’re still working out the kinks and headed toward a contract and publication, hopefully… fingers crossed
So for those of you working on our MS, working with either an agent or editor listen to their input. Sometimes what you didn’t want to change needs to go so you can create an even better MS.
Publishing… When to send out feelers?
If you’re like me a few other Dolls, you read anything and everything that pertains to helping with your craft. One of the tips we always see is make sure your MS is complete, edits and all.
When you send a query, pitch or synopsis you should/must have the best copy possible. For the most part I think this is the best option/rule. When I finished my MFA and turned in Legacy as my thesis, the story wasn’t what is could/should be. Granted I thought it was great. When I started sending out queries I received many dreaded rejection letters. While I learned a lot from most of my MFA classes as I’ve said, my advisor wasn’t much help and I think the story reflected that. My story started to change and take on the look and feel or direction it needed once I started taking workshops from Savvy Author. Which one of the Dolls introduced me too? Another valuable resource that I found were my first bête readers, which I’ve talked about, they have helped me create a better story as well. Why? Because they asked the hard questions and made me evaluate where the story needed to go, or start. My creative side also took control and said hey this kind of sucks. So I changed it, took some more workshops to work on other aspects of the submission process and now I’m excited about the novel all over again.
So where am I going with this little tail? When can/should you send out feelers? I think I can speak for one of the Dolls as well as myself when I say make sure you have a good part of your MS written, but start pitching. Pitching is a good way to see if anyone could be interested in your story. If you pitch make sure to tell the agent/editor that the MS isn’t finished, if you still need to finish it. Also just because you pitch to one doesn’t mean you can’t pitch to others. Pitch to everyone if you choose too, as long as they handle the genre you write in. Just remember pitching is different than sending out queries. To pitch you’re either at a conference or on a website like Savvy Author where they ask members for pitches, throughout the year. This is similar to going to the conference but instead of face to face you post a two to five line pitch to agents or editors to get their attention and interest in your MS.
I pitch on Savvy Author, since I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home. With Flyboy in and out so much it’s hard to go to some of the conferences. Plus as I’ve been finding out over the last few years the conferences have been scheduled at the worst possible times for me. But that’s my military life so I’ve had to change the way I pitch or should I say where, which is why I pitch on-line.
This has come in handy, not that I’ve gotten bites from the people I’ve pitched too. One reason for that is that I was pitching to the wrong people. So make sure you know which genre you fall into. While my MS can fall into a few different genres I had to figure out which ones were the best fit. I narrowed it down to two. I haven’t pitched my MS since before figuring out what genres I needed to use, so I hadn’t been pitching to the right people. Thankfully agents and editors read pitches that you pitch to other agencies, on-line, and if they like what they see you could get a working relationship with one of them. (This can also happen if you go to conferences as some of you know.) Just like anything else in the writing world there are no guaranties, but pitching is a great way to get noticed. So try your hand at pitching but make sure you have a pretty clean MS and an open mind.
Good Luck. Teresa
Write what you know…
This article is going to be a little short and I’m sorry for that but I did write two this month so bear with me.
There is one thing that you always here as a writer and that’s to write what you know. And I think a lot of writers do just that. Even in fiction there is some truth to the stories we create. Take my story Legacy, it has family history within its pages, yet it is a work of fiction. As for my other stories, as most of you know they come to me in my dreams and my dreams are something I know a lot about . I know the dark craziness that goes on inside my head at night, and trust me; my mind is a little freaky. But I share that freakiness with my readers.
You may be wondering why I wanted to discuss this topic. I must admit it’s not something that just popped into my head it came to me after Flyboy had me watch Californication. If you haven’t seen Showtimes hit series you’re missing out. It’s about a writer who screws up his life but at the same time he always writes about what he knows. Hank, the write, writes about things that have happened to him, the good and bad. It’s not a pleasant show at times you hate Hank but as a writer you understand why he writes what he writes about… his life, his truth. And for this reason I wanted to remind others to write what you know.
Write a story that comes from within you. Create a story that you can be proud of one that may have a little bit of truth in it and write.
During my journey to getting published there have been a few people that have helped me with my writing. They are my critique partners, I’ve had a few different ones over the year but the ones that have helped me the most have been with me the longest and while many of them have busy lives and can’t help as much as they once did they were the ones that truly got where the story was going and where I needed help.
Some of my critique partners are your very own Dolls, two of our Dolls. In fact, Noa and Mona have been great critique partners along with other friends. I haven’t found others as good as the first set of critique partners which sucks because one of the keys to making sure you have a great manuscript is making sure you have great critique partners. When all is said and done your manuscript is the most important thing.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you have to have critique partners to make your manuscript work, you don’t. There are authors out there that don’t use them at all, but there are others that live by them. For me, and my dyslexia, having critique partners helps when I can’t find issues that I know are there, like my T-speech, that’s normally in everything I write. Sometimes just reading my manuscript out loud doesn’t help which is why I loved having critique partners I could trust and that understood my issues. It’s hard finding the right partners and sometimes you might go through a few before you find the right match. And if life gets in the way of the group you have to keep in touch with them and maybe from time to time they can help you out. But keep looking in the mean time for others that may work for you as well.
This thankful week the Dolls are putting on is great, but I wasn’t excited about writing for it, even though I love the Dolls. As you guys know my year hasn’t been that great so to be thankful about anything wasn’t huge on my list. However I decided to step past the thoughts of missing my father, Daddy, during the holidays and write.
There are two things I’m thankful for: 1.) The Paperback Dolls, the Dolls, and 2.) Kim Harrison and her Hollows Series. I’ll start with the Dolls, my friends, who have supported me for years now. J When the Dolls created PBD they invited me to share my journey as a writer with you, their followers. They’ve allowed me to write about the highs and lows of being a writer and trying to get published. My articles have strengthened my writing and it’s all thanks to the Dolls. Over the year as my writing has grown, the Dolls have let me grow within my articles as well. As you know there still on writing but it’s not all about queries, rejections and submissions, I’ve added more in hopes that it helps my writing and journey along with others who are in this journey with me. They’ve also given me the opportunity to branch out into writing book reviews. I’m very thankful the Dolls have helped me grow in my writing.
As for the second thing I’m thankful for, that like I said is Kim Harrison and her Hollows series. I’m thankful for Kim, because she inspires me to write. She makes me feel as a writer that I’m not alone, and I think that’s important in this field. Then there’s her Hollows series, that reminds me of home, or I guess l should say of my Daddy. If you haven’t read the Hollows it takes place in Cincinnati, were I was porn and where most of my family still lives. Reading the Hollows enables me to be in Cinny, when I’m anywhere in the world (thanks to Flyboy). It’s away for me to remember my time with my Daddy in a good way, traveling the streets of Cinny for his job when I was a kid. Daddy sold gym equipment to the different schools in the Tri-cities, and I’d go with him when I’d visit. Reading Rachel drive around the city takes me to those times. So I’m so thankful that I’ll have the series thanks to Kim, and that I’ll always be able to read it when I want to “ride” with my Daddy again.
How many different genres do you think we have in literature? How about subgenres? When writing a story the genre is one of the last things I think of yet when trying to get published it’s one of the most important things an agent or editor wants to know. They want to know if you know where your writing fits in the writing world along with if you can write a good hook. That every first correspondence tells agents and editors where you think your work should go, so you need to know what genre you are writing in. For some writers this maybe simple and for others it may not.
As you’ve guested this article is going to be a discussion on the difficulties in picking the correct genre for your writing or at least the difficulties I’ve had. Hopefully this will help other newbies, in their quest. Now when you write in one genre say Sci-Fi or Mystery and it’s pretty clear what the genre is as a writer your golden. You don’t have to research subgenres or figure out what falls within each category like the rest of us.
At a conference it was suggestion that I go to the book store and find my favorite authors to where they were located and then see if my book fell within the same category as they do. Mine doesn’t. Heck in one of the book stores I found Kim Harrison in the Horror section next to Stephen King, never in my wildest dreams would I have put those two together. Kim Harrison is Urban Fantasy not Horror but that where I found her. So needless to say when it comes to genre selection it’s baffling.
In one of the writing magazines either The Writer or Writer’s Digest I can’t remember which had an article listing all of the genres and subgenres for authors so we could figure out which genre to fall under. The article came out in either ’09 or ’10 I can’t remember which but it was helpful to a point. It helped me figure out that Legacy is a paranormal novel. Here’s the thing I see a lot when people see the word paranormal romance which I don’t write. What a paranormal story is is something that has ghost in it or that wouldn’t fall into say an Urban Fantasy. But the kicker is the bookstores don’t have a paranormal section so that’s my subgenre, I have to figure out where else Legacy falls. Personally I think it has some mystery but that’s me, I think all writer’s want their stories to have mystery in them. I don’t have vamps, or were’s but I have ghosts, a haunted house, an empath who doesn’t know she’s a witch and a lot of government types i.e. cops, FBI, and military. And we wonder why I question want genre to list Legacy under. I could say mainstream paranormal but that feels like a copout, then again nothing else really fits. If you don’t know the placement you won’t get any bites on your queries because you’ll be sending them to the wrong people. Which could be an issue I’m having sometimes I wish there was a genre fairy to tell me where Legacy should go. It’s my only story that has this kind of issue. Everything else I could tell you where it would fall, this one not so much.
So look at what your writing if you’re a writer and decide what genre you’d put it under. Then go to your local bookstore and see if you can find something similar where you thought your work would be. Also check to see where all your favorite authors are located. Are they where you would have placed them? Would you’re work be located in the same genre? A lot of times we write in the same genre as the authors we enjoy reading.
So why is this important? It’s important because it’s a part of marketing and something publishers think about all the time. Granted it wasn’t something I was thinking about when I started writing or when I went into my MFA, but now it’s something that I know I need to think about. I think about frequently now because I need to make the right decision when it comes to which genre my stories fall into. Knowing which genre my stories fall into helps me make the right decisions on what agents to send queries to. It would be so easy if I had a cut and dry genre, but of course I could never make things easy.
Until next time have a wicked cool time and keep reading.
A few months back I wrote about a writer’s tool box and things that we could place in it. Now my box wasn’t like most as I explained and in this article I want to go a little deeper into one of those tools. Originally this article would have followed my May article but as you know my head wasn’t in the writing game. Now that it is I can get back on track and back to the tool I wanted to discuss with you. The tool I’m talking about from my box is my Ipod, but it’s not the Ipod I want to discuss it’s what’s on it of course.
Music is an important part of the writing process. It can help or hinder your writing just like reading a book can but the key is to find the right music to help in your writing process. I’m not saying music works for all writers, but I’ve found that a few of the authors I read list the music that helps them write certain characters or scenes on their websites. Personally I can’t put said list up on my website wicked coolflight.com or blog wickdcoolflight.net because my playlist for writing has 596 songs in it and they range from Alternative to Jazz and everything in between. It really depends on what strikes me at that moment and the song can change one right after the next. One minute a country song works and the next its rap or metal I never know, but the opposite can happen too. I can have a good run of songs and all of the sudden there will be seven or so that stop the writing process completely and until I find something I’m treading water, or turning off my Ipod and no sound kind of sucks.
My Flyboy husband has gotten it in my head after seven years that there has to be sound in the house. He always has the T.V. on which is a major distraction for me while I’m writing. I get sucked into what’s on, whereas for him its background noise. Just another reason I have 596 different songs in my playlist on my Ipod there is bound to be something that will trigger a spark and get those juices flowing again.
So what does this all really mean? It means music is a major part of the writing process, and when we get past the words to paper stage the music we listen to can really affect; plot, characters, and scenes. I was reading an article in July/August 2011 Writer’s Digest, the article was The Geyser Approach to Revision by James Scott Bell what caught my eye in this article was 2) Invite the flow to return. This seven small paragraph; step was all about music and how it helps in the revision process. Bell suggested finding pieces from soundtracks that moved you and that could create/evoke different moods, so your playlist could be complete. I admit my playlist does have songs from different soundtracks on it. They were on it well before Bell’s suggestion but it was great to know I was doing something right. J However my soundtracks probably don’t make his list but that’s okay not everyone’s taste in music is the same. Just like not every author has the same writing style. Use the music that works for you.
Me, some days Barenaked Ladies works others it’s Frank, Joss Stone, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies or AC/DC and I have so much in between. Now earlier I said some authors put their songs on their websites that have helped them write their characters, scenes and plots. The three authors I know of that have listed music on their websites at one time or another are: Kim Harrison, Carrie Vaughn and Stephanie Meyer. Kim’s list is the most detailed, for her characters in the Hollow Series or Rachel Morgan. Carrie’s I haven’t seen in a while so she may have taken it down when her website changed but with her Kitty Norville series I can see music being a big part as Kitty talks about music a lot. She works for a radio station; she’s a late night talk show host and had been a late night DJ. So music is discussed in the books. As for Stephanie, she has a list that she listened too while writing the Twilight series I don’t know if she has updated her website, with all the songs that she may have listened to since book three I think that was the last time I check and it hadn’t changed in quite some time but it could be updated now.
I had thought this month’s article was going to be shorter than normal, as it turns out it’s not. It is however on the sad side and full of my raw emotion. Since May I haven’t gotten to write much due to family medical issues, so right now it’s like having writers block yet I’m not blocked. The thoughts and ideas there but when I go to put pen to paper or fingers to keys they seem to fade away. I shouldn’t say my thought and ideas are fading they are still in my mind they just won’t transfer to paper…
I’m calling this writers mourning, why because the medical issue was my father battling cancer and him losing that battle. Hench I’m in mourning. I’m saying I’m in a writers mourning because I’ve been trying to write my article for a good two weeks and it took a good two weeks to come up with something to talk about. I strongly urge you not to try this at home, until you are ready, and yes I could have asked the lovely Dolls to give me a pass this month but I wanted to try and get something to them and to you.
So you may ask what does a writer who is trying to publish a book do when they are in a state of mourning when writing really isn’t working for them.
Well what I did was send out queries and submission packets to agents. During the first week of hearing the news that I my father only had weeks to live, I couldn’t get up to see my father, I had other family obligations so I sent out three queries. From that batch I’ve gotten two rejections. Both were form letters.
When I was able to get to my father’s side I spent a week with him having him ask me questions about Legacy. In that weeks’ time I saw how excited he was about it and wanted something good to happen so I sent off ten more queries. I got one form rejection letter back that day but haven’t heard back from the other agents. I’d hoped to give my dad some good/happy news before he had passed.
Granted, sending queries out for that purpose isn’t the best idea and I don’t suggest doing it either. So when I say that I’m not bothered by the fact that I haven’t heard back from the agents trust me I’m not. I’d love to hear from them but I was sending the queries out for reasons that were good but also not realistic. I knew the agents wouldn’t get back to me before my father past and I didn’t tell him about the rejections. No bad news, we had plenty of that. So while I got my name and Legacy’s out there a little more, I’m not sure it helped. So if you find yourself in a writers mourning state make sure you write for right reasons and send out queries/submissions as well.
There was two pieces of writing that I was able to put to paper during my writers mourning. I wrote two poems titles Battle part 1 and 2 for my dad right after I found out the doctors said we weren’t fighting. I read Battle part 2 at my dad’s gravesite. I’m thankful I had the forethought to write the poems at the beginning of my writers mourning when it only took me a three hour car ride to write two poems. The poems aren’t very long.
So if during your journey you happen to hit a bump in the sky and you get the dreaded “writers mourning” remember you’re not alone. At one time we’ve all been with you. We all send hugs and please write what you can before you get in to deep; otherwise it may take you a few weeks, months to be whole again.
Until next time… keep reading.
Find out more about Teresa at - www.wickedcoolflight.com
Last month we discussed workshops and how they could help you’re writing. This month I want to discuss how reading different authors can help your writing. How you may ask? Just wait and I’ll tell let you know. I’ll even let you in on who the authors are that have helped me. With May being a big month for new releases this is the best time to get started with thinking about the authors who could influence you as well.
Over the years as I’ve gotten into reading thanks to friends and my Flyboy hubby my writing has improved, as you can imagine, being dyslexic and a writer isn’t the easiest thing and reading wasn’t something that interested me especially in school. Granted when you’re high school being told what to read when do you really want to read it? Back than the only two authors that really spoke to me were Shakespeare, and Poe. Yes I like dark things. In college, the first time around, I got into, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and a few other poets they became inspiration where books at that time could not not. That however has changed in recent years.
I’ve learned over the years that reading isn’t just school work, or something that authors do just for fun. It is something that helps us learn our craft. We better our writing when we read. We learn what we like, dislike. It can also help us in other ways like I was saying above, like being a muse, which I’ll get into. Reading can show you different structures, character developments and details to setting that you may not have thought of.
Books that can become your muse. I know it sounds crazy but its true, some books can move you to the point of becoming a muse. I recently had one do this, Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness when I was finished reading it all I wanted to do was edit Legacy and make changes too it. It help because after that I was asked to send in a proposal to an agent. So you never know when the muse will hit. I’ve never had a book be a muse. They normally help me in other ways and to be honest you have to be careful there are some that can have the opposite effect. They can stunt you’re writing and you don’t want that, it’s like having the dreaded writers block. So please be careful when you pick you reading materials.
Reading a good book can give you ideas on structure. I say this because you’re able to see what works and what doesn’t. And when you find a book you like and if it works for you, you can see how the structure flows and incorporate the bones of it. I’ve gotten structure ideas this way, in fact for this I looked at James Patterson’s 1st to Die (The Women’s Murder Club) to get ideas. I needed a way for my readers to know what was going on with my villain when normally they wouldn’t. In Legacy it’s important to the plot and for the reader to know what he’s doing at times. So I have POV changes where we see what the villain is doing. I didn’t follow Patterson’s pattern but he did give me ideas on a structure to use which I needed. I was at a loss before finding Patterson’s help, and having the villain’s thoughts add to the mystery.
Character development and setting. As a writer reading other authors can help you think about both of these. And yes I could put them in separate paragraphs but for both the same authors have given me inspiration and I figured it was just as easy to put them in the same paragraph. Plus when we are reading and find this kind of help as a writer we have to be careful not to accidentally or subconsciously use parts of what you have read in your writing so make sure you’re not writing/editing and reading on the same day. Just to be on the safe side. Now that my motherly feeling is out (considering I’m not a mother) lets get back to the authors who have provided insight into some great character development and setting for me. The four that I look to for these are Kim Harrison, Carrie Vaughn, Jim Butcher and a new found author for me Chloe Neill. With these four authors I can re-read their books and get ideas, for different characters or setting and not falling to using what they have used. They make me think about how I can bring the people and places to life. How to make things buzz in the readers mind well after they’ve put Legacy down, as they do with mine.
So for all you writers out there if you haven’t been reading lately you might want to, you never know what it might do for you. Until next time, keep reading and in touch.
This months article is all about an authors friend-enemy…kidding well kind of. I want to talk about workshops so if you guys are like me workshops may sound like school and anymore that never sounds like fun. I will say workshops can give you homework but the benefits you get out of them can be worth the time and effort.
One of our full time Dolls (Mona) turned me on to a great website called SavvyAuthor.com where you can take workshops that interest you year round and not just at conferences were most workshops are found. I must say I’ve been impressed with most of the workshop I’ve taken. In one of the workshops I created the trailer, and in my last two this past month I came up with my hook that finally works and sounds wicked cool and I’m not just saying that see for yourself…
A house’s thirst for blood, along with the secret of murders that a demon doctor performed, will expose a family secret when a young empathic law student inherits her family’s long forgotten haunted house. Things get interesting when deceased relatives arrive to help her learn about her Legacy.
After attending her Great Uncle’s funeral, Alexandria Galinari, learns that the family mansion she’s inherited is on the outskirts of Boston. On her first official week in the house she learns that the house is haunted and that she is being watched by a man named Brenton who is an ex-special ops Captain recently escaped from Leavenworth. Brenton made a pack with a demonic doctor who wants to come back from the dead and take over the house but needs Alexis to do it. He’s the same doctor who performed murders in the house decades before. To settle the house’s full time guest Alexis must learn about its history, her family and what it all means for her while trying to help the FBI and her boss catch Brenton.
Doesn’t that make you want to know more? Now that I’ve figured the hook out I’ve been editing chapter one so I can send out my query letter and submission packet. All because I picked one workshop and it had a really great author running it. The workshop was queries and I learned a lot. My query is ready to go out, I just need everything else, since I’ve been changing things up.
My second workshop was a PR one and with that one I found that I’ve already been doing a lot of the work for promoting myself but it got me to start a website so now you can find me not only @ http://www.wickedcoolflight.blogspot.com/ but you go to http://www.wickedcoolflight.com/. and http://www.teresacrumpton.com/
One of the other topics we discussed in the PR workshop was brand names and I did try to go away from Wicked Cool Flight but something always brought me back so its here to stay Wicked Cool Flight … an author’s dreams take flight is me author Teresa Crumpton. My Flyboy told me to come up with a good story about it other than how I truly came up with the idea so I guess I’ll be creating a good story soon about Wicked Cool Flight. It will help with PR that’s for sure. That was one issue that kept coming up in my PR workshop how to make people/readers understand my brand name. When you check out the website you’ll see I now have a magical book that is coming apart and the pages look like they are flying like birds, it’s a wicked cool flight and my dreams are taking flight. haha
I know sometimes you have to wonder about my mind, so do I, but what can I say I’m a writer.
I’ve only mentioned three of the workshops that SavvyAuthor.com has to offer they have many more. Every month they have a full load of courses going so check them out you never know what you’ll pick up or who you could help with you’re knowledge.
Until next time, keep reading and in touch.
Follow Teresa on her journey to authordom:
Sorry I’ve been out of touch for the last few months, but my journey has been a crazy one. Unfortunately writing hasn’t been in it but I’ve gotten a lot of research done by sheer luck. I say this because having to move rocks a writers world and not in a good way. Being a military spouse I should be use to moving every four years (flier) and I am but last time I wasn’t writing. Trying to make sure I had everything I needed as the house was being packed up was not an easy task, especially since we can only carry so much on a plane now days. Five years ago we could have more. Plus after the house was packed we lived in what would be like temp housing with spotty internet, fun.
This type of living does not make for good writing. Once we got off the island and started traveling across country the research started not that I can’t use the move for the non-fiction military stuff I can but it’s research is my day to day life not the crazy stuff my brain comes up with. While we drove from California to South Carolina I was sick but because of that I get to use the experience as research for my story Blood. Also in that same story I have a character making the journey across country so now I know what it would be like to do it. I’ll most likely have him do it during winter like we did, though his journey will be different. I never would have gotten so much detail if not for this trip.
Even though it detailed my writing for a few months it helped in so many other ways, with inspiration, research and knowledge for at least one story. So if you have to go through a move or something else takes you away from your writing look at it as what will your writing gain from it.
Yes, it sucks that it happens but sometimes it makes you a better writer. It has and I’ve only been out of sync since November.
This month’s journey is a little different, but I think it’s a topic that many authors have thought about, and some may even have had one as they were starting their writing careers. I’m talking about mentors.
There are days I really wish I had a mentor. When I started working in the legal field I had one. He was one of the first attorneys I worked for back in Dallas, and even though he’s no longer with us, l learned so much from him. He showed me the good side of the law he worked in and opened my eyes to all aspects of law I hadn’t seen. Before working with Richard I thought all PI, personal injury, attorneys were ambulance chasers. Richard wasn’t and being the kind of attorney he was made him a great mentor.
Now that I’ve changed careers and am trying to get published I wish I had a writing mentor. Someone like Richard who could show me the ropes. I know you’re probably wondering why I don’t consider my thesis advisor a mentor.. . Well that’s because she didn’t realty do anything for me. I expected what we see and hear about on TV and major colleges. Someone that I could turn to and get help from or ask questions, I didn’t get that from my adviser. I think some of my classmates got it from other professors but I fell through the cracks.
I think I’d learn a lot from a mentor, and there are a few authors that I’d love to have as a mentor, but with their schedules I don’t they’d have the time. The author’s I’d love to have as mentors would be Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs and Vicki Petersson; they have so much knowledge and wealth of experience that I would learn so much from any one of them. It would be so cool to get their knowledge and have their opinions when working on edits or when I got a rejection, bad review or something related. It would be fun to run ideas off them too, because you know they’ve probably had similar thoughts.
But the likelihood of something like that happening is very small. A girl can dream, though, and that’s what I’ll keep doing, because, let’s face it, I may not be chicken when it comes to putting my name and face out there to be published, but I am chicken when it comes to asking one of these authors to be a mentor. I know it’s silly, but I don’t think I could handle their rejections. I look up to these women and want to some day stand alongside them.
Teresa – thank you so much for sharing!
AND – Teresa has a wonderful surprise this month – the trailer for her book Legacy is up on her site!So, head over to Wicked Cool Flight and follow her blog!
With dripping blood
Tainted water flows
Along the river of woe
On a chilled night two young lovers make camp in a clearing surrounded by woods. After lighting logs in a small teepee style structure they sit cuddled in each others arms around the warming fire. They stare up to the sky watching the twinkling stars while roasting smor’es over the orange and red flames.
The camp fire blazes in the night
As the flames burn bright
On this All Hallows Eve
Queries Part Two
So in query letters part one I told you about my first query letter and the guidelines that I was given when writing my first query. When I worked on my second query letter I found a sample in a WD (Writer’s Digest) and used it along with my original letter as a reference. WD is a great place to find information and I actually get educated by reading the articles and the insight that other authors, agents and editors have to say.
This summer I ran across an article that really helped in WD. The article was agents talking about query letters that caught their attention. There were sample letters that went over all different types of novels. Not only did I find a good query that helped to put my thoughts in order but it also gave me ideas for my other stories. It showed me that I’d need to create other query letters for my different stories. I’d thought I’d be able to use the same query outline just change up the information that needed to be changed, but that’s not so each one needs to be unique.
With that thought in mind here’s my updated query:
My name is Teresa, and this past September I met _____________ at the Hawaii Writer’s Conference. I sat in on his panel session of “Buy This Book!” and even pitched my book to the room at his request. After that session I’ve been reading article Folio Literary Management does in Writer’s Digest. From everything I’ve learned about your agency I think my novel might be something you are interested in taking a look at.
Legacy is a Mainstream/supernatural piece with bits and pieced of family history thrown in. The idea of the novel came to me after a night of listening to old family stories. The story is set in Boston where an empathic second year law student inherits a haunted house. The page count is 284 and the word count is 96,153.
After attending her Great Uncle’s funeral and listening to his last will and testament Alexis learns that she’s inherited a family house in Massachusetts. Which as it turn out happens to be a house or mansion rather that she’s been drawn to since she started interning at the Mystic Falls District Attorney’s office. Little did she know that she was inheriting a haunted house? During a late winter storm her unseen guest start making their presence know. While Alexis is working on a brief regarding witchcraft and haunting in the legal system her house becomes what she’s studying. Cold spots, noises from above and voices haunt the night and instead of scaring her away, two guests make her want to fight for what’s hers… her family home and her legacy. Now she has to juggle law school, the death of her uncle which triggered a loss of control over her empathy and the consequences of living in a haunted house.
I just finished my MFA in creative writing at National University which has helped me better understand my writing style and the craft itself.
(agent name) thank you again for your time and the opportunity to write to you.
Rejections come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes you get short ones that say thanks but no thanks, other times you get longer responses that say a little something and some you may not hear back at all.
In my short experience I’ve seen two. The short one came from an agent I hadn’t met, I’d learned about her in a Writer’s Digest. Her response to my query was short and to the point. “Thanks for your query but this isn’t quite right for me. I wish you success in finding the perfect agent for it.” My other rejection came from an agent I’d met at the writing conference I attended. “Thank you so much for sending us your query. Unfortunately, this project is not right for us. Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.”
Both as you can see where polite and straight forward. Was I disappointed? Of course, but rejection happens in this world. Your story isn’t going to be the right fit for everyone. Besides, right now, I have a fifty/fifty record… Well now that it’s been a month since originally wrote this article, I’ve received three more rejections. Two of the new ones were short and sweet, in fact I received one of them over the weekend. The third was the one I was hoping I’d get a bite with. Not so much. It made my husband tell me to stop working on Legacy for a while. I was bummed and yes I cried. Needless to say I listened to my husband and worked on something else. I’m still bummed but I stopped crying (that day) and I’ve been working on both Little Boy Blue and Legacy.
So I’m looking at things this way I’m on my way to the best fit for me, because you/ I have to stay positive otherwise you won’t find an agent or editor. One of the comments I heard at the writing conference was “you’ll get thirty rejections before you find the right agent.” While I hope I don’t get thirty rejections I keep that number in mind at all times. You’re not the only writer getting rejections. I’m sure Stephen King got a few and look at where he’s at today. Rejections are a writer’s Yellow Brick Road. We have to travel it to find the Wizard, it’s long and can have Witches (obstacles) but the end is wondrous.
This month is all about queries. Queries are an important part of the publishing world; they are what gets your foot in the door. If you don’t have a good strong query you may have issues finding someone to represent you. Therefore, think of queries as your first impression to agents and editors. Remember you always want to make a good first impression.
In this article I’m going to give you the bare bones of what I learned in the writing conference I attended and let you see my first query letter along with the feedback from one agent to change it up. In next month’s article I’ll post my rejections from that query and then I’ll give you the latest query. Though it too got a rejection, I’ll tell what I think I did wrong.
PITCHING YOUR BOOK by Kristin Nelson
Most agents and or editors will ask for a query letter and a couple of pages some may ask for more and also a synopsis. Check out nelsonagency.com – blog for more detail. Query when novel (fiction) is complete. Queries are a page in length.
1st and 2nd paragraph – Tell why you targeted this agent. State the title, what genre and the length of your novel.
3rd paragraph – pitch
Build pitch around the niche of the thirty to forty pages. Pitch paragraph no longer then ten sentences or fewer.
Catalyst is a plot element use tone and voice.
- Back story elements
- Other interrelated plot poing
- Character insight
- All three
My name is Teresa Crumpton. After reading about you in the latest Writer’s Digest blog I took a look at your website to find out more information about you and your agency. From all the reading I did I think my novel might be something you are interested in looking at. I have sent off other queries to two other agencies and to Jamie Levine an editor at Grand Central Publishing. I meet with Jamie at a writing conference and she was interested in my tag line and asked to see a sample when I finished editing.
My novel Legacy is a paranormal piece. This genre fits the idea of the novel the best as it is mostly about a haunted house. The page count is 286 and the word count is 90,800.
After attending her Great Uncle’s funeral and listening to his last will and testament Alexis learns that she’s inherited a family house in Massachusetts. Little did she know that she was inheriting a haunted house? Now she has to juggle law school, the death of her uncle and the consequences of living in a haunted house.
Legacy is my first novel. I’ve been working on it for a few years now. I just finishing up my MFA in creative writing at National University which has helped me better understand my writing style and the craft itself.
Chapter 1 (First five to ten pages)
After her Uncle’s death Alexis’s ability to control her strange gift becomes difficult. She starts feeling everyone’s emotions like she had when she was a kid. Her years of training and suppressing everyone’s emotions fail which leaves her unsteady. Only her family and close friends know that she’s an empath. When she’s able to control her empathy it gives her an edge and even helped her Uncle at times. As she moves into the family house her empathy could have negative effects. The family house as a bloody history during the time her relatives didn’t live there, which has been between the late 1880’s to the time she moved in. Every family that has lived in the house that is not blood related has had someone parish. Alexis starts to learn about the houses history after a stormy night when she hears noises and voices on the upper floors. As she searches the house she can feel the different ghosts who haunt her house. The fact that she’s living in a haunted house scares her yet she doesn’t want to move out of her family home. Alexis decides research the house and try and figure out a way to remove the ghosts. This leads her to find out the true reason why her Uncle knew the Chief of Police and District Attorney.
As Alexis is learning about her house she starts being contacted by a man named Brenton who she learns later has escaped with his friend Collin out of Leavenworth psych ward. Before their escape they ranted about Alexis, which got the attention of the FBI. The FBI starts watching Alexis a little to see how she is connected to these former Special Forces members.
The first night Brenton contacts Alexis she thinks he’s crazy, he talks about seeing dead relatives and that they government is trying to hide the true from everyone. He makes contact a few more times as his is told from the ghosts he thinks is her great great grandfather. She talks to her friends in the police department and they start investigating. During this time the FBI makes their presence known to her and she’d not quite sure how to deal with them following her around. With them watching her she’s unable to work on active cases for the District Attorney. The DA comes up with a side job for Alexis to work on all the closed cases that were never solved pertaining to her house. This project helps her learn about the house and her family history. She even learns which ghost is the one using Brenton.
While the police are trying to figure out why the FBI is watching Alexis, she and her friends on the force also work on trying to bring Brenton in. They have learned who he is and that he is wanted. Neither she nor they want her to become a victim to him or his partner. Brenton however wants her to fulfill a legacy that he believes to be good based on the deal he made with the ghost. As the police get closer to figuring out why Brenton is contacting Alexis the FBI comes in to take over. The FBI moves two agents and a special forces officer into Alexis’s house to watch and protect her in hopes of capturing Brenton and his partners. While Alexis figures out what her true legacy is and what it has to do with her family house.
Thank you for your time and the opportunity to write to you.
My name is Teresa Crumpton, and this past September I meet you at the Hawaii Writer’s Conference. After sitting in on both of your session “Pitching your Book” and checking out your website I decided to contact you. From everything I’ve learned about your agency I think my novel might be something you are interested in taking a look at.
My novel Legacy is a Science Fiction and Fantasy piece. This genre fits the idea of the novel the best as it is mostly about a haunted house. The page count is 286 and the word count is 90,800.
After attending her Great Uncle’s funeral and listening to his last will and testament Alexis learns that she’s inherited a family house in Massachusetts. Little did she know that she was inheriting a haunted house? Now she has to juggle law school, the death of her uncle and the consequences of living in a haunted house.
Legacy is my first novel. I’ve been working on it for a few years now. I’m just finishing up my MFA in creative writing at National University which has helped me better understand my writing style and the craft itself.
Thank you again for your time and the opportunity to write to you.
Let’s see – I love haunted house stories, but I don’t see much of the plot flushed out here in your query. In my experience, the quality of the query letter is a pretty accurate representation of the quality of a manuscript. So, I’d like to see a bit more before asking for sample pages. Inheriting a house is a bit of a generic premise. The “hook” is really that this house is haunted. If the book is set in *this* world and *this* time, then it’s not science fiction or fantasy. You could call it urban fantasy if it’s got extensive fantasy elements (like THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin or BLOOD OATH by Christopher Farnsworth). If not, then it’s simply commercial fiction (which is fine too) So, here’s what I’ll say – rewrite the query including the correct genre. Also in the query, include why Alexis would keep the house as soon as she finds that it’s haunted? Also, what kind of haunted – doors opening and closing, ghosts, noises, etc? What’s the conflict? It would be hard to convince a reader to keep up with a book if it’s just about the heroine living in a haunted house. Does she intent to banish the ghosts? Is she insatiably curious? Does she hope to leverage the haunted aspect to make money? Does she have no where else to turn and therefore has to figure out what’s going on in this house so she can stay? Any of those things are the “conflict” and we’d need to see a bit of this in order to decide on whether or not to ask for sample pages.
Starting the Journey…
For me my journey to get published started when I decided to get my masters degree. Before going back to school I never thought my work could get published. It’s not that I thought it wasn’t good enough it just that I wasn’t focused on my writing. I started this journey after my third rejection letter from the University of Hawaii’s law school. I figured it’d be better to go into Grad school than to sit around until Lucas and I left the island. So I applied to three different programs and finally got into National University. There I took classes that would help me improve my writing and that were geared towards fiction. During the classes I had peers and teachers critiquing Legacy and other stories that I’d created to get them closer to publication standards. By the time I was entering my thesis class Legacy had been written and I was editing like crazy. My adviser at the time recommended going to a writing conference, which if you’re thinking about writing a book or if you’ve written one you should attend a conference.
I learned so much while at the conference and met a handful of agents and editors. In fact one editor liked a tag line I created for Legacy that she said she’d like to see the manuscript. At that time I was still editing Legacy, and yes I still make changes to it every day. She made no promises that her publishing house would publish the novel but she did make the publishing world seem a little more plausible. So as soon as I finished my thesis the first people I sent query letters out too where the agents and editors I met at the conference.
Now here’s the thing just because you meet and talk to the agents and editors in person at a conference that doesn’t mean they’ll offer you a deal or sign you as a client. It may give you a better chance because they can put a name and face together but that’s not always the case. Yes the editor remembered me and wanted to read the first hundred pages which is great, but normally an author doesn’t get to send their work directly to the editor. Like I said she happened to really like my tag line. However at the conference you will get to meet editors and possibly skip a step like I did as well. I still haven’t heard back for the editor as to if she’ll take on Legacy but the last time I spoke with her she was pretty backed up with the work of her authors.
One of the agents I met on the other hand rejected my query a few weeks ago, so you never know what’s going to happen. You just have to keep your head up and send out queries.
Next time I’ll go into my rejection letters, my tag line and my query letters. I’ll have our lovely ladies post my old query letter that got my rejections and the new one I’ve created that will hopefully land me an agent. Fingers crossed.
See you soon.