The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dianna Graveman's Magical Breasts

      Get an image of Dianna Graveman in your head. Super-smart. Uber-talented. Co-editor of two Not Your Mother's Book anthologies. Owner of her own editing and design business. Got it?

     Now, imagine that her breasts are able to win a gold medal in a target practice. Imagine they can aim and hit a bullseye across a table. Imagine they are capable of shifting the way people think, the way people perceive things.

This collection includes stories from Tammy Goodsell (her story is the first one, and darn it, they included a photo of her
in her pajama jeans, and she promised it was a terrible picture but of course, she looked cute as a button), Linda O'Connell, Alice Muschany, Mary Horner, Dianna Graveman and moi...

 When I read the stories written by my writing friends, I enjoyed them all.  They were all witty and well-written. However, when I read Dianna's story, I was lucky I was not drinking milk at the time. Otherwise, I would have snorted it out of my nose. The ending is hilarious, and it made me have a completely different opinion of Dianna.

How about NaNoWriMo? Are you doing it? If so, what is your story about? Share, please...


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Chicken Soup Queen: Basking in Fifty Shades of Black (Ink)

       Linda O'Connell was a speaker at Saturday Writers' workshop on October 27. For many, she's known as a local Chicken Soup Queen because she has almost 20 stories published in the anthologies. She's one of the hardest-working freelance writers in St. Louis.

Okay, I admit it...This is a photo from a past event that took place at Borders.
But although her hairstyle has changed a bit, her blue eyes remain the same, as does her wit.

       In between doling out her tidbits of advice--things that she's learned the hard way--she passed out chocolate, she held up posterboard signs to send a strong visual message, and she had us creating slogans (more about that at the end).

       Here are some of Linda's wonderful points:

* Use your time wisely. We have a limited amount of time that is free to write. Don't spend too much of it on Twitter, Facebook, and so on...

* "Write" is a verb. Don't dream about it. Do it.

* Don't make excuses--make the time.

* Change your no's to yes's.  If you're prone to say things like, "No, I don't have time to write today because I have to paint the house," shift your thinking and say, "Yes, I have to paint the house today, but I'm going to carve out at least 15 minutes to write this afternoon."

* Being vague with details is passive writing and it's also passed over writing.  Paint a picture using specific details.

* Court words and writing like you would a lover. Fall in love with words. Discover the erogenous zone on the blank pages. Treat your writing with as much love and attention as you would someone you were wooing.

      During her session, Linda showed her prowess as an engaging speaker by keeping us active. She would occasionally prod us to proclaim "I am a writer" (with conviction), she had us write, and at one point she handed out small circles of cardboard. Everyone has a slogan or is wearing a button these days,  Linda reminded us, and she prodded us to dig deep and determine what our slogan would say about us as a writer.

       I came up with, "Sssh...Snarky writer at work." 

       What would your writing slogan say about you? It can even be a two-sided one--perhaps one serious and one more humorous...

        In my next post, I am going to share how reading a story written by Dianna Graveman--the super-smart St. Louis writer, editor and business owner extraordinaire--made me snort milk out of my nose.         

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pitch Your Pitch

photo by frank3.0
       So, you have a manuscript that's finished. You'd love to sign your name at the bottom of a contract. You cannot wait until an agent and then a publisher says "yes" to your baby.  This post might help you snag an agent...

      Yesterday I attended a Saturday Writers workshop. The speakers were Kristy Makansi (of Blank Slate Press), Steve Wiegenstein and Linda O'Connell. On this post, I'll focus on what Kristy and Steve said about pitches. Tomorrow, I'll share some of many Linda's tidbits.

        Kristy outlined what she considered what you should do and not do when it comes to pitches. Here is what you should include when doing a pitch:

* What is the conflict? What is stake for the main character?

* Get to the turning point in your pitch. Include the big turning point when you talk to an agent or publisher. What is the ultimate choice the protagonist makes?

* How is the conflict resolved? Tell the agent or publisher how it ends. Don't say to them, "You have to read it to find out." No. The agent does not need to read your book. They might sign you to publish your book. This is a possible business transaction for both of you. It's not a case of perusing the shelves at a bookstore to buy a novel to read over the summer. Tell them. (You might ask the agent, "Do you want to know how it ends?" because they might be the rare one who likes to be surprised. But if they say yes, tell them.)

* What makes your story unique?  Include the word count and the genre along with what makes your manuscript different.

* What is the setting, and how does the setting impact the characters? Don't just say, "It takes place in Missouri in the 1980's." Paint a writerly picture with your words, telling about the setting and how it roots the characters in their place.

Steve Wiegenstein strongly recommends rehearsing your pitch. Practice it over and over, and time it. After all, he says, "It's a speaking occasion. It's a sales occasion." The minutes fly by if you're stumbling and searching for words, so rehearse it with a timer.

He further adds that it might be a good idea to limit your pitch to four minutes. That means there will be 3 minutes for the agent and you to interact. Questions the agent/publisher has can be answered at that time.

These are the things that should not be included in your pitch.

* Details that don't have to do with the central character.
* More than 1 or 2 names of secondary characters
* Passive voice--It should be in present tense, active language, and avoid all cliches.

How about you? What pitch success (or nightmare) stories can you tell? What bits of advice can you add?