Writers: No one likes a back-story dump. No one. As a reader, I detest them. As an author, I fear them. If you open your work with a back story dump, you sink your manuscript. Period. Splash. Sunk. I’ve tried to articulate the problem to writers who do-the-dump and have struggled getting my point across. The number one argument I get to justify the dump? They *want* the reader to know everything they know. “It helps to set up the story.”
Beep. Beep. Beep. Did you hear that? It was a big back-story dump truck backing up.
Okay, so then I got a great idea for an analogy.
Dating. Everyone knows the dating game scenario. We all get this. Let me know what you think!
You (your manuscript) just got picked up by an super-hawt-sexy-beast (agent, editor, reader). You *want* them to learn all about you (your manuscript/characters) but you don’t tell them everything that happened to you after they slide up and buy you one drink (open the document). Right? Am I right? Can you imagine?? You just can NOT do that. And they don’t want you to.
Watch how this turns out:
Pretend I’m having a drink with my girlfriends. A sexy beast saunters up and says “How YOU doin?” (Yeah, I haven’t dated since Friends was on Thursday nights at 8pm. So-not-the-point.)
Anyway the sexy beast asks how I am and instead of giving him a once over, coy smile and tip of the head (<– breathes on knuckles…I’ve still got the moves baby.) Instead of hooking him and reeling him in over the course of our courtship, (the way writers need to do to readers) I say:
“Well, ya know, I’m not super- great. I ate a crapton of watermelon at a picnic today, and to be honest, I’m feeling pretty bloated. In fact, I had planned to wear a super-sexy island blue mini-dress, but it was so tight across my belly. Can you imagine? No way, so I’m wearing this. It’s cute, but I bought it last year and never wore it because it was too big back then. I was total vegan last summer and never had to worry about the bloat….well…no…that’s not the whole truth. There were still a few days each month when….wait….where are you going?”
Yeah. If I were that chic, I’d get very few *readers* winky-wink, if you know what I mean.
Final words: Trust me, stick with the coy smile, head tilt, smile combination. Invite the reader to get to know you. Give them a chance to want to for heaven’s sakes! And for the love of all that is holy, don’t EVER tell a sexy beast you’re in your fat dress because you’re bloated!
Writing lessons by Julie. ROFL. How did I do?
I write a great number of posts about writing. I have a handy Dripping Ink tab with several pages about query writing. What I’ve never written about are agents themselves. For those of you looking for an agent, how do you know who to target? Beyond submitting to those accepting manuscripts in your genre…what should you look for in an agent?
One day, you will get “the call.” Stop shaking your head. You will. It will happen. If you haven’t gotten it yet, then this is that Darwinian portion of your career where “survival of the fittest” applies. Weaker writers will give out, toss in the towel, walk away. Stronger, more tenacious writers will persevere. You are one of those. So, when you get “the call,” here are a few things you should listen for and weigh out.
- The agent should know the industry. Really understand the business too. Sometimes these are slightly different. Be sure the agent you choose has a handle on both. They will become your biggest ally.
- Find out if the agent will be involved in any editing of the manuscript before submission. This is important. Most of our manuscripts, regardless of awesome critique groups and partners, can use a professional once over. Consider this. You may not want it. They may not offer it. But, know many agents do this to varied extents. Some WANT to help with this. If it matters to you, don’t be afraid to ask about it.
- Same thing for marketing. No, it’s not even close to the agent’s job to market you, but some will help you by sharing what they know. Many have packets prepared for new clients. Like social media one-oh-one. Agents with a strong web presence are a great resource to guide you in building yours. If marketing is an area you struggle with, an agent who works with their clients to build their brand/web presence/knowledge of the topic might be important to you. Consider this.
- Will they keep you in the loop? How often will you hear form them? After every submission or rejection? Monthly? Quarterly? What? And can you contact them with concerns?
- Which brings me to: Make sure your personalities mesh. You’re both going to be on your best behavior in that initial phone call, but keep your feelers out for red flags. Your agent will become your friend – hopefully. You don’t want to feel intimidated by him/her. Be sure you have the same goals and expectations. Make sure you feel comfortable enough to ask the questions you have. Only your agent can answer them. It doesn’t matter what Absolute Write says about them at the Water Cooler, or even what another author with them advises. The agent is a person who makes individualized decisions. If you can’t talk to them, they can’t do their job.
- You want an agent who’s in it to build your career. Talk about this. Be open about where you want to be in five years or ten. Can they help make that possible?
Bottom line: Believe in yourself and find an agent who believes in you too. Ideally, you’re both in it for the long haul.
***As a side note, for those of you choosing not to work with an agent, but are perhaps shopping your work to publishers on your own. These are some important things to discuss with a possible publisher as well. Whoever you put your hard work in the hands of, should be your advocate, spokesperson and cheerleader. If they aren’t doing high kicks for you, find someone who will. I’ve been blessed with both. I know the value of people who believe in you. Every writer need this.
What the heck is a Pinterest?
The Internet is abuzz over Pinterest. I remember getting an invitation to join earlier this year and squealing a little. It was new. It was fun. I got an invitation, which made me feel special. I liked. But, like all new things, I ran right over and watched. I stick my nose into things, everything. True. I’m a curious lady. I like to know things.Hate to miss out. I’m also a cautious lady who likes to see what she’s gotten into. For those of you who aren’t on Pinterest, I think you should check it out. I’ll tell you a little, but let me also warn you, it can be addictive, especially early on when everything is new to you.
So, What’s it do?
I don’t know. Nothing. It’s more like entertainment provided by other people who surf the Net. They see stuff they like, and they “Pin it” to one of their “Boards.” Then, you can see it.
Boards are like little scrapbooks or office cork boards where you have a topic and stick things related for inspiration or another purpose. You can name your boards anything you’d like. You can search Pinterest for terms you’d like to be entertained by and Voila! Pictures, videos, articles, recipes, fashion, whatever…pop up for you to like or repin if you want to put it on one of your boards.
Der. Because it’s fun. For lazy surfers, it brings thing to you. It’s eclectic. It’s personal.
My vote: Check it out. It’s worth your time to see what the fuss is all about. At least then, when asked, you can honestly say you’ve been there, pinned the t-shirt. Pop over, make an account, and start pinning. Or, just pop over and start perusing. It’s fun.
I’m using Pinterest to build an inspiration board for my current WIP. Having all those visual images has whipped me into a writing frenzy. Maybe it can get your creative juices flowing too
So, how about you? Do you Pinterest?
I don’t usually do book reviews, but once in a while a book has me holding it over my head saying “THIS is wonderful. YA lovers neeeeed to read this!” Sweet Evil is one of these. So, here it is. My words, attempting - and failing- to do hers justice.
Sweet Evil was a magnificent read. I was swept away in the writing and characters immediately. Higgins interlaces good and evil in a realistic way and makes you question whether or not she has the inside scoop on these things.
The chemistry between hero and heroine, Anna and Kaidan, is smoking hot. I craved more scenes with them together. I ached for Anna when things didn’t go the way we both wanted. LOL.
Another thing I loved…Higgins wasn’t afraid to go there. She weaves very ugly, very real issues into the story line seamlessly, giving readers a kick in the head reality check. This is life. It isn’t easy for anyone – even those who make it seem that way.
I felt the struggle of her characters, sensed them growing, overcoming, changing. The way hope sprung from impossible circumstance moved me. Sweet Evil had everything I crave in a 5-star read. Toe-curling chemistry, suspense, danger, love, hate, fights, girl power…an atomic bomb of awesome. <– And you can quote me on that. LOL
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?
This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.
Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
Saying Goodbye to the teal and gray color scheme was hard. I was used to it. It was home. Removing the tiny, reading princess in my header was even harder. She was my own. I drew her, planned her, wanted a silhouette in a fairy tale world. Before being published, Princess stood before a huge pile of slush letters. Those went away when I signed my first contract. Since then she’s kept on reading and comforting me. But, like all things, eventually, she had to go. What can I say? Seasons change. I like to think Princess is reading in Vegas now.
The reason? Because I write in multiple genres, it was important to me that my sites convey this fact. Deciding how to go about it was tricky. No way to gear the site to one genre when I write in a few, so I decided to forget that angle and remember what it all came down to: Me. I’m a dreamer. A ponderer. A writer. It’s what makes me Me. So, I bought this cutie little smartie picture and made her mine. She’s the new thread tying my presence together, representing me in one small way. She’s my new header, the face of my brand new website and my FaceBook Author Page. I like her. She’s smart and pink. What’s not to love?
If you visit my new author site, you’ll see the amazingness that is my husband. I told him what I needed – one website to showcase everything author related to me. Then, I doodle up, literally in crayon, what I had in mind. I did hand gestures and moved around the room to explain what I wanted to happen when people went there. He said, “I can’t do that. Not with what I know. I’d have to learn new code.” I smiled, bumped shoulders with him, batted my lady lashes, and assured him I had great faith in his mad skills. Then, he got started. The man obvi likes a challenge because for some crazy reason, he married me. LOL. It’s been about a week and we were gone all weekend, but Hubsy learned some new code, HTML5, CCS? CC+? IDK. But, he did it and the beta site is up. We’re cleaning it up now, working out the kinks. It’s exactly what I wanted and I am ecstatic.
If you have another click left in you, and want to check out the site, I’d love to hear what you think. The site looks great on our laptops, iphone and android phone & tablet. On the ipad3 a cloud is over the lady’s face LOL but that’s the only issue we see. There are so many ways to get there today, I can’t help but wonder how it looks to you and if we can make it better. We’ve already integrated several suggestions from my twitter friends and are eager to make it a fun and professional site.
If you’re still reading, I think the point of this post is: it’s okay and sometimes necessary to change things up a bit, retire stuff you love and make room for new. Life changes. We have to be flexible. A little spring cleaning/sprucing is sometimes good for the soul…and your blog LOL