The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dog Medicine

       Dogs can certainly make our lives better. But can they save our life?

       Julie Barton says yes. Yes, a dog can save a person's life, because a golden retriever puppy named Bunker saved her life.

       I am only half-way through this wonderful memoir, and to say it's compelling is an understatement.

       Last week Barton did a book event at the library headquarters. I was first in line (which has never happened before) and when some people in the audience (who had already read the book) said they cried when reading it, I scoffed.

Bunker and Julie

       That evening, when she read a chapter of the book, I cried (said she who scoffed way too early).

       This book is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. One, it is skillfully arranged and beautifully written. Julie cleverly uses flashbacks, along with pairing her healing with the newborn puppy's struggles. Barton was abused by her older brother, resulting in her becoming depressed. When she got a golden puppy named Bunker Hill, she started getting better.

      Also, this book was first published by a one-man publishing house (in his basement? in a shed in his backyard? I'm not sure). It had such high sales, Medicine Dog was picked up by Random House-Penguin, one of the big five in the publishing world.

      So. A young girl can emerge from the abyss that is depression (with a handsome blonde at her side). And a little book?

      Well, a little book can explode...

Julie Barton

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 18

             Every Friday (except for June that Sioux took the month off and poked into the bottom of a gross of Russel Stover candies and last night, when she was busy with her granddaughter) there is a photo, and a link. (Mr. Linky is such a slinky fellow.)

          The premise is to write a blurb for an imaginary book--and the photo is the cover of the book. You have a limit with the blurb--it can be no longer than 150 words long. You get to choose what kind of book it is. This clever writing exercise is the brainchild of Lisa Ricard Claro, whose 3rd romance novel, Love to Win, comes out on July 30. 

       After you write a blurb, add your name to the link. (It's incredibly simple.) Feel free to peruse the dozens of one or two other blurbs that linked.

       Here is the "cover" of the book, along with my blurb:

Love at First Bite

Petunia nipped at Pugsley in the dog park, and was immediately smitten. His stout build. His short legs. His pushed-in nose. He was one hot dog!

And Petunia. Her scrawny legs. Her eyes that bugged out in such a beguiling manner. She was one hot-to-trot (on a walk twice a day) *itch!

Petunia had seen many dogs turn their butts away, snubbing the sniff, when a different breed would walk by. A chihuahua and a pug pairing? Not a wise combination, from Petunia's perspective.

But love wants what love wants. So Petunia hatched a plan—to transform herself into a pug, so Pugsley's family and friends would embrace her... with open paws.

Will there be a litter of puppies in Petunia and Pugsley's future? Or will Pugsley and Petunia each insist spaying and neutering would be the wisest way to go? Read Love at First Bite to find out. (148 words)

      And here is the photo for next week. I hope to actually post it on Friday. (This was a crazy week.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Selling Short Nonfiction

          On Saturday I went to the AWN (All Write Now) conference. The first session I went to was with Sue Bradford Edwards. In a session that was an hour or so long, she shared lots of information. Here are some of the points/advice she shared:

  • When an editor asks, "Can you do this?" (such as "Can you write an article about camel poop?") you say "Yes. Definitely." And then you rush around doing research...
  • Once you set your sights on a magazine to write for, read the last 6 months' to a year's worth, so you aren't pitching something they published a few months ago.
  • Sue's first draft is full of notes to herself in all-caps. (For example:  LOOK UP THE DATE WHEN KOKO THE GORILLA WAS BORN.) This way, your writing is not slowed down and also, you won't forget that a key detail needs to be inserted there.
  • Sue does expert interviews to verify information, and she's never had anyone turn her down when she tells them she's writing an article for children.
  • Make your information kid-friendly. Sue once did an article on horses (or was it the poop on poop?) and she discovered that a horse produces so many cubic yards of manure every week. Well, what does a cubic yard mean to a kid? Nothing, so Sue found out how much poop fits into a typical backpack and put it in those terms. Now that's something a child can understand:  A horse produces 25 backpacks of manure every week (or however many they can fill up).
  • Make sure the slant is appropriate for the age level. One of Sue's friends wrote a piece about Jimi Hendrix... for eight-year olds. Is this the audience that needs to hear of his drug use? His overdose? This writer wrote about Hendrix's early years--when Jimi was a kid, he painted and drew. The author connected his artistry during his childhood with how he later painted with music. 
  • Hook the reader with a great beginning. If you can find an oddball fact that contradicts what most people think they know about a subject, the reader cannot resist reading more.
  • Magazine editors want their readers to continue to think about the subject even after they've finished reading the article. Make sure the ending is well-crafted.
  • Research a magazine before you query them. 

        ---Who's the audience?
        ---What's the tone? Academic? Casual?
        ---Make a log of the articles they've published in the last year. If 
            the authors' names appear on the magazine's masthead or
            if they're editors, that's not the sort of thing you can pitch.

        It was a great conference. Many of the St. Louis writers impressed the agents and the editors. Donna Volkenannt--they want to see her whole manuscript. Pat Wahler--they want to see hers. Kathy Cureton (Val)--they want her proposal (she's working on a nonfiction book). And moi? One editor wanted to see my manuscript. Another wanted to see 50 pages.

         Stay cool, and keep your keyboard running hot with regular drafting and submissions. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #17

        Every Friday (except for the month that Sioux took off and poked into the bottom of a gross of Russel Stover candies) there is a photo, and a link. (Mr. Linky is such a slinky fellow.)

      The premise is to write a blurb for an imaginary book--and the photo is the cover of the book. You have a limit with the blurb--it can be no longer than 150 words long. You get to choose what kind of book it is. 

       After you write a blurb, add your name to the link. (It's incredibly simple.) Feel free to peruse the dozens of one or two other blurbs that linked.

       Here is the "cover" of the book, along with my blurb:

The Impossible is Possible

When Sioux signed up to pitch her manuscript at a writing conference, she practiced saying the pitch so many times—in the mirror so she could determine if her mustache was visible in different levels of light—she memorized it.

The moment finally arrived. Sioux delivered her pitch, and it was real and it was spectacular. Some even said it was a breathtaking performance. Filled with such enthusiasm, Sioux (accidentally) kicked off a Croc in the middle of her sales pitch. Everyone watched, their mouths gaping open, as they watched it fly into the air and hit the publisher Sioux was pitching to.

The publisher (perhaps suffering from brain damage) said to Sioux, “Send me the whole manuscript. ASAP. In fact, I'll just give you a contract now. Sign here.”

And just like that, the impossible became possible... (140 words)

Here is the photo for next week (7/22) so you can do some thinking and some drafting before it's posted:

       Have a great weekend, and hopefully during the conference my Croc will not fly into the air like a Milk Dud during a surgical procedure...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What Writing Friends Really Do For Each Other

        I was working on a pitch for my just-a-couple-of-thousand-more-words-and-it'll-be-finished manuscript. 
        Last night a writing friend Kathy Cureton (the artist formerly known as Val) gave me some feedback. It's now a little better than it was before. 
         Today I'm going to a writing critique meeting where several people are perfecting their pitch. I'll get to pitch to the group as well--before the big game on Saturday (a writing conference). Hopefully I won't be booed out of the room or sent back to the dugout in shame.
          On most Wednesdays it's WWWP night, where we critique each other's writing.
          On Saturday I'm riding with Kathy Cureton and The Pony to the conference.
           Sometimes my blogging friends give me encouragement. Or a swift kick in the tookus (when I need it).

         Writing is so much better when you're surrounded by friends...

         What have you done for a friend (or a writing friend) lately?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 16

 Perhaps you're not one of the hundreds of three people the one who've participated in this book blurb stuff. Maybe you're wondering what I'm talking about... If that's the case, read about how you join in the fun and find out exactly what it is:

  • Every Friday a pic is posted. The pic is meant to be the front cover of a book. Your book. You choose what kind of book it is. A romance novel? A horror story? An informational book? A sci-fi thriller? A beach read? 
  • You choose the title. And you write the blurb.
  • The blurb? A blurb is that text on the book cover (often on the back) that is crafted to lure the reader, making it impossible for them to resist buying the book. It's engaging... and short, so being brief is key. For this challenge, your blurb should be 150 words or less.
  • Lisa Ricard Claro started this book-blurb stuff up, but now she's busy with her next book. Love to Win will be coming out on July 30. I thought, once you've sold a series of books, you just lay around on the couch poking out the bottom of the chocolates in the Russell Stover assortment box (to avoid those yucky nougat-y candies) but I guess there's more to this publishing business than meets the eye.

  • After you write your blurb, post it, along with the photo, on your blog, and link it to this post via Mr. Linky (which is quite simple to do--even my very-handsome golden retriever can do it). You can also check out the other blurbs--there will hopefully be at least one other one besides mine that you can check out. 
       Here's the photo (book cover) for this week, along with my lame pathetic finished blurb:

The Rufus Way

Rural philosopher Rufus T. Brooks shares how he climbed to the top of his mountain of... well, to the top of where he is now. Thanks to Rufus' family, who painstakingly recorded Brooks' words as he spewed, everybody can strike out into the world the Rufus way.

Some of the sure-road-to-success chapters include:
  • No shirt, No Shoes, No Service? No Place for Me!
  • Taking Overalls from Business Casual to Cocktail Parties
  • Bits of Dropped Food + Beard = A Tasty Snack Later On
  • Tattoos Guaranteed to Impress the Boss
  • Size Does Matter: The Key to Growing An Extra-Long Tooth (In Front)
  • Beards: When Scraggly Becomes Sexy
        If you're a Honey-Boo Boo fan, and wonder how you can reach the same pinnacle that Mama June has, this is the book for you. (140 words)


        So join in on the fun. Participate. Write a blurb. And check out the photo for next week's blurb:

This is the photo for next week's book blurb. It will be posted on July 15,

News flash: I'm going to a writing conference a week from tomorrow, and I'm gonna make a pitch. I've pitched many softballs and baseballs and each time, the ball would go in wild, unpredictable and sometimes lawsuit-worthy directions. Hopefully my book pitch will be different...