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Writers: What the Heck is a Pitch Anyway?

Every manuscript needs a good pitch. You neeeeed one. If nothing else, you won’t have to stand slack jawed when someone asks you, “So what’re you writing?” Cause let’s face it, even if you never attend a conference and have to spout the dreaded “elevator pitch” to an agent or editor, you still have to face the judgey eyes of friends, family, coworkers, and any other unbeliever who has gotten wind you call yourself a writer. Plus, its just good practice. And it’s kinda fun.

What’s in a pitch? Not much. LOL. Only the essence of your 300+ page manuscript boiled down to less than 50 words, maybe less than 30.

What’s not in the pitch? Backstory, explanations of any kind at all, last names, and fluff.

You’re pitch needs to strike a chord in the first sentence and play the tune with your second. Like whetting their appetite with the scent of fresh apple pie (sentence one) and lettin them lick the fork (second sentence). Then you wait. Yes. Zip the trap and smile like you just ate their pie right in front of their darling eyes.

Man, Julie, dude. You’re mean.

No way. I just want them to ask me for more pie. Right? You want them to want to know more. That’s why you pipe down. Let them ask what it is they want to know. Don’t ruin a great pitch with a bunch of “blah blah” equivalent when they really wanted to know if there was a romantic element. Let the other side lead. Let the other side lead. I repeated on purpose there.

At a writer’s conference, you get to pitch quickly bunches of times. Writers will ask over dinner, “What’d you write?” and then “What’s it about?” Then, you’ll meet agents and editors and authors and every one will ask those things. Be prepared to answer THOSE questions, not how your MC’s inner monologue is meant to represent the conflicts of the middle east through imagery and dream sequences. Hey! Did you fall asleep? Exactly.

Think of it as a pitch-and-run sequence. LOL.

Now, what’s your book about at the most basic level? Is it a comedy? A mystery? That’s important. Knowing your core genre is HUGE important. Do not, I beg you, please, say it is fiction with non fiction elements, reminiscent of a memoir set in the future on a planet where they live like it’s the middle ages and use machinery powered by steam, and your teen MC will fall in love while solving crimes. Pick a genre. One genre and pitch that. I’ll even allow a secondary mention like a YA mystery or a YA pararom. Those are legit, but beyond a two part genre and it just sounds unprofessional.

Focus.

Next, what’s a solid comparison? Is it “Percy Jackson for girls?” <– I shamelessly stole that nugget of brilliance from my new twitter pal Josephine Angelini, whose debut YA Starcrossed landed her a SEVEN figure advance with Harper Teen. Congrats, *curtsy* to you miss. If you can find a similarity, something to give it an edge or create a good concept in the other person’s mind, go for it.

For fun I dug a couple pitch examples off the Internet elsewhere. I’d give credit but I have no idea where they came from sorry. I’m a plagiarizer in the name of sharing pitch info. But if they were on your site and you’d like credit, do let me know and if you’re telling me the truth, (I will check first) I’ll adjust the post for your credit here.

Here is a sample elevator pitch for Stephen King’s Carrie:
“Carrie is the story of an outcast teenager with telekinetic abilities who uses her powers to exact revenge on her tormentors at the high school prom–with fatal and unexpected results.” <– YEAh she did!

Here’s another I scored from an agent’s site:

“It’s KILL BILL meets BUFFY, about a teen girl who discovers she’s a reincarnated samurai, but would rather be breaking hearts than breaking bones.” <– super cute!

My current pitch is only at this stage of ready, but I’m feeling it. I’m liking. We’ll see what the editors out there think LOL. I’m working hard here. : /

It’s Stephanie Plum meets Elle Woods, about a teenage girl whose killer curiosity solves a murder, but don’t compare her to Nancy Drew because she wouldn’t be caught dead in polyester.<– Eh? maybe? I’ll keep you posted.

Okay now it’s your turn. Who wants to share their killer pitch or maybe a pitch experience? I’m headed to a conference tomorrow and I must pitch! I can use some fellow writers right about now. What’d ya say??

Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Melissa Foster

Today Writer Wednesday welcomes author Melissa Foster as part of her Wow! Women on Writing blog tour. As an author, Melissa has had plenty of experience with plotting.  I was thrilled to hear she was willing to talk about that with us.

First let me introduce you and then, enjoy an amazing guest post from Melissa on Weaving a Theme Throughout Your Book

**Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of Melissa’s novel Megan’s way!**

About the Author:

Melissa Foster is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women. Melissa has written a column featured in Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa is currently working on her next novel and collaborating with a director to create a script for Megan’s Way. Melissa’s interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, and helping women see the positive side of life. Although Melissa lives with her family in Maryland she uses ever and anything as an excuse to visit one of her favorite spots: Cape Cod.

Just Thought You Should Know:
Melissa is working with a Texas director to on a script and casting for a movie based on her novel Megan’s Way. They hope to have the film completed by the end of the summer and then it’s on to the film festivals!

Weaving a Theme Throughout Your Book:

Weaving a theme throughout your novel, by Melissa Foster

You’ve finally sat down to write your novel, you might even have already created 10,000 words. Hurray for you! That’s a huge accomplishment. Then, a friend might ask if you’re following the rules for your genre. What? There are rules? Your head spins as they speak of word counts, showing versus telling, POV, themes, and subthemes. It’s almost enough to send you running in the opposite direction of your keyboard. Don’t let the confusion stop you from fulfilling your dream, just pick the rules apart, understand them, and conquer them.

Today we’ll talk about the theme of your novel. What’s a theme? The best way to answer that question is by asking yourself why you are writing your novel. Sometimes a theme is the overall tone of the novel, other times it might reflect a lesson you’d like your reader to come away with after reading.  When you can answer the “why”, you’ve found your theme! For instance, when I ask “why” about my novel, Megan’s Way, the answer is that I hope that readers will come away with a little more patience and understanding about the lives of others, and be a little less judgmental as well. I’d like to think readers find a renewed sense of forgiveness, and a feeling of hope as well.

Themes carry your reader from page to page, craving what happens next and disregarding their other obligations to find out. While you’re writing, be sure to carry your theme through each chapter. Your characters can take roller coaster rides with their emotions, but the overall theme of the book should be hinted at in every chapter, and carried through to the end, like a piece of thread that pulls it from start to finish. In Megan’s Way, no matter what each chapter reveals, or what secrets are uncovered, the importance of taking a step back, looking at each situation without judgmental eyes, and the ability to forgive, comes through.

I find myself drawn to books that have strong moral themes and heightened struggles. My second novel, Chasing Amanda, carries themes of believing in yourself, even when everything else in life tells you not to, and my current work-in-progress, Come Back to Me, deals with love, commitment, and betrayal, layered upon underlying despair. Conflicting emotions can lead to very strong themes

What’s your favorite theme? What themes do you dislike? If you’d like to chat about themes, or writing in general, please email me: thinkhappygirl (at) yahoo (dot) com. I love to chat with readers and writers!

Megan’s Way by Melissa Foster

When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist living on Cape Cod, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she’s faced with the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make. Megan’s illness reawakens the torment of her best friend, Holly Townsend, whose long-held secrets and years of betrayal come back to haunt her. How does one choose between a daughter and a life-long best friend? Can the secret she has been keeping be revealed after years of lying without destroying everyone in its wake?

But Megan isn’t the only one struggling. Fourteen-year-old Olivia’s world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there’s nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot even begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, even the paranormal connection she shares with her mother might not be enough to save her – her life will hang in the balance. Megan’s Way is a journey of self discovery and heartfelt emotions, exploring the depth of the mother-daughter bond, and the intricacies of friendship.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Melissa’s book, Megan’s Way!!
You can learn more about Melissa and her books by checking out her Websites:

Melissa Foster’s websites:
http://thewomensnest.com/
http://melissafoster.com/

Melissa Foster’s blog:
http://melissafoster.com/blog/1

Megan’s Way book trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oq6wSElskU

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!! 5/25-5/31

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!!!

Helllooooo summertime! I am a YA addict and I can’t imagine going through the summer without some new awesome books to keep me smiling, chewing nails, swooning, and generally tan from time spent on the deck with my nose wedged in a yummy summer read. I don’t want you to go without either!

All week long you have the opportunity to win my Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop Booty. Starting right now and all the way until 11:59pm on May 31st, the following books are up for grabs from me :)

First, in preparation for the highly anticipated third volume in the series, Forever (available July 12) , I have copies of where it all began!!!! Here they are:

The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver- book one

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl.

Linger- Book two

This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one. Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies…

Also, because not every-single-body loves shape shifting teens (it’s totally true. I don’t completely understand, but it is true) I also have another fabulous but contemporary YA novel

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The last normal moment that Mia, a talented cellist, can remember is being in the car with her family. Then she is standing outside her body beside their mangled Buick and her parents’ corpses, watching herself and her little brother being tended by paramedics. As she ponders her state (Am I dead? I actually have to ask myself this), Mia is whisked away to a hospital, where, her body in a coma, she reflects on the past and tries to decide whether to fight to live. Via Mia’s thoughts and flashbacks, Forman (Sisters in Sanity) expertly explores the teenager’s life, her passion for classical music and her strong relationships with her family, friends and boyfriend, Adam. Mia’s singular perspective (which will recall Alice Sebold’s adult novel, The Lovely Bones) also allows for powerful portraits of her friends and family as they cope: Please don’t die. If you die, there’s going to be one of those cheesy Princess Diana memorials at school, prays Mia’s friend Kim. I know you’d hate that kind of thing. Intensely moving, the novel will force readers to take stock of their lives and the people and things that make them worth living.

How to Enter: So Easy

1. Follow with one of the doo-dads over there in my sidebar —> Follow me on Google Friend Connect or Network Blogs, Like me on Facebook,  OR follow on twitter

2. Leave a comment telling me how many entries you get (1 per follow) AND be sure I have a way to reach you, like a twitter name or  an email addy.

Thant is all. You will be entered and I will be shipping your new books next week!

*Contest is open to US and Canada*

Don’t forget to hit up the other 300+ blogs in the linky below! There are sooooo many great books waiting for you! Good luck!!


Writer Wednesday Welcomes Jason Paul! (on Tuesday)

Today Writer Wednesday Welcomes Jason Paul!!! Jason is yet another a-m-a-zing writer of awesomeness for teens. I’m thrilled to have a guy here to talk YA. We all know I’m obsessed with the genre, but I’ll admit I tend to chose the most lovey-girlie sort. Jason’s reaching a whole other audience with his YA. He’s getting teenage BOYS into reading! That’s not as easy as you think (I know – you didn’t think it was). Jason’s written something boys can sink their teeth into, and I can’t wait to introduce you and his fierce new story Gladius and the Bartlett Trial

Meet Jason!: J. A. Paul started writing short stories ten years ago. He spent many years learning the craft of writing through the constant study of books and articles on writing. He also enrolled in and completed a two-year writing correspondence class along with various other online writing workshops. Then one night after a long bedtime story, his sons challenged him to write a book.  He borrowed an idea from a friend and asked them to choose three things to go in the story.  They chose a dragon, a tree, and a ruby, and from the seed of that idea, the story of Gladius grew.  J.A. Paul set out to show his three sons that if you set your mind to something, it can be done.  Once he started writing Gladius, he knew he wanted to create a fantasy adventure novel that would encourage preteen and teenage boys to read more.


 

Gladius and the Bartlett Trial Excerpt:

Turning to the interior again, Gladius thought he saw another shadow – as if it had suddenly darted between trees like an enemy spy.

Was it following his every movement? He wondered.

He strained his eyes on the new spot.

Is something there? He could see nothing, but definitely heard movement in the underbrush; perhaps it was stalking him, ready to jump him at the first chance, gnaw on one of his limbs?

Blurry instances of gloom flashed behind the trees sending shivers down Gladius’ neck. A putrid scent stung his nose.

“Who are you?” Gladius called out to the mysterious shadow.

Silence was the only response.

A gut instinct told him to turn back, to return to the comfort of his warm bed, but he suppressed his inner warning.

“Show yourself,” he called out in his most confident voice.

Fighting back the increasing tension, Gladius struggled to fill his lungs. His face flushed. His knees weakened. Fear itself was reaching out its cold bony fingers and slowly wrapping his body in a death squeeze. He tightly scrunched his toes. Afraid to die, he felt his nerves tug and rage at each other.

He backhanded the sweat from his forehead and inhaled deeply, searching for the shadow again, but it was gone.

He sensed something standing behind him. His shoulders tensed. A feeling like that of a dragon’s hot breath cascaded down his back. Immediately he withdrew his dagger and spun quickly.

Long menacing fangs and yellowed sharp claws appeared between the leaves. Gladius faced the stare of orange-slotted eyes from a large cat-like creature. A spike of dread burned through his heart.

Instantly the short pinned ears of the creature flattened and it lunged forward.

Gladius threw up his forearm…

Gladius and the Bartlett Trial is book one of a planned trilogy.


Teenage reading habits

One of my more motivating factors in choosing to write an adventure fantasy story is to get more teenage boys reading. There are many great books written for teenage boys and girls but studies have shown the male readership drops off significantly when they reach the teens. For teenage girls it remains the same or grows.

I have three boys myself so I have been very interested in these studies for some time. I work hard to find good exciting books for them to read. For my younger boys it is easier to find something they love to read, but my oldest seems to have lost his interest in reading books for enjoyment. In today’s world, there are so many distractions for the teenage boy: friends, girls, video games, sports, and more girls. One challenge is time. Books take hours to read. Their time is limited and books drop on the priority list so if they are going to read it has to be engaging.

Not all boys lose their interest in reading. If they did, authors like me would struggle to find a readership and spread the word about our stories. For those who do continue reading I think there are two divides. Those who love urban fiction and will only read books with characters that look like them, and the storylines romanticize the lifestyles they want to have. The other group will avoid urban fiction and want to escape into worlds that are very different from the challenging, unglamorous lives they lead.

I have always used fiction books to escape from my world and Gladius and the Bartlett Trial is that type of story. So far, it is receiving good reviews and not just from teenage boys but girls and adults as well. My hope is that it catches on and word of it spreads to teens who normally would not read a book — perhaps even sparking a lifelong love of reading. I remember distinctly J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit doing that very thing to me. If I would not have read that book, I may not have ever started writing.

You can read more on this topic here, it’s a great “teacher” story: How do you get boys into reading? Girls

HUGE thanks to Jason for stopping by today!!! If you’d like to know more about Jason and his book, you can find them both on the web!

Amazon Kindle and paperback
Nook

Find me on Facebook

Tweet Me!

www.authorJAPaul.com

In My Mailbox & Mailbox Monday 5/22

Welcome to my mailbox. I had an awesome time at my local library this week and if you love YA as I do then you totally hate me right now LOL

Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn

Very LeFreak has a problem: she’s a crazed technology addict. Very can’t get enough of her iPhone, laptop, IMs, text messages, whatever. If there’s any chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her supersecret online crush, she’s going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important: sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart?

Rachel Cohn makes her Knopf solo debut with this funny, touching, and surely recognizable story about a girl and the technology habit that threatens everything.

My Soul to Take my Rachel Vincent

SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH KAYLEE CAVANAUGH

She doesn’t see dead people, but…

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who’ll be next…

Unraveled by Gena Showalter

For once, sixteen-year-old Aden Stone has everything he’s ever wanted:

A home.

Friends.

The girl of his dreams.

Too bad he’s going to die…

Since coming to Crossroads, Oklahoma, former outcast Aden Stone has been living the good life. Never mind that one of his best friends is a werewolf, his girlfriend is a vampire princess who hungers for his blood, and he’s supposed to be crowned Vampire King – while still a human! Well, kind of.

With four – oops, three now — human souls living inside his head, Aden has always been “different” himself. These souls can time travel, raise the dead, possess another’s mind, and, his least favorite these days, tell the future.

The forecast for Aden? A knife through the heart.

Because a war is brewing between the creatures of the dark, and Aden is somehow at the center of it all. But he isn’t about to lie down and accept his destiny without a fight. Not when his new friends have his back, not when Victoria has risked her own future to be with him, and not when he has a reason to live for the first time in his life…

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel’s dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Timeless by Alexandar Monir

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.


In My Mailbox is a meme from the Story Siren designed to help book lovers unite, meet, greet and follow one another in our quests to find the next most awe inspiring, tear jerking, mesmerizing or just entertaining new tome.

Mailbox Monday is a meme hosted this month at MariReads. This is one more incredible way to get to know one another, build your following and find great new sites to add to your dashboard.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Be sure to follow me if you like what you see. I always follow back!!  & I love making new bookish friends!

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