Monthly Archives: October 2012

November

It’s that time of year again. When the multi-colored leaves fall to the ground and get mulched by mowers or crunched by feet and tires. When flames blaze in fireplaces. When little hands wrap around mugs of hot chocolate, anticipating the coming snow.

And when hundreds of thousands of writers all over the world hunker down to spew out 50,000 words.

Yup, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins in a matter of days. And yup, I will participate again this year.

Last year, my kids were in school all day and I didn’t have a regular job—just a couple of French classes here and there. I had lots of time. I spit out between 2000 and 5000 words every day for 3 weeks. And every night I slept like a log.

This year will be different. This year my kids are still in school all day, but they each have a variety of afterschool activities that require me to drop them off, pick them up, and sometimes hang out somewhere without access to my laptop. This year I have a job that fills almost all my kid-free hours. I will probably not sleep. Let’s just come to terms with that right now.

My project this year is a YA called The Woods. It was not inspired by any books I’ve read, but rather by a ballet and the Eastern European myths on which the ballet is based. My main character reminds me of a character from a SyFy channel show RocketMan and I like to watch, but with different layers and different sources of depth. The Woods has a contemporary setting and might be Magical Realism.

What does November mean to you?

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Revenge of the Witch

Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice, Book 1) by Joseph Delaney. 

From Goodreads: For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried—some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.

Only Thomas Ward is left. He’s the last hope, the last apprentice.

From Vicki: Doesn’t that sound like a movie trailer?

Since you deserve a bit more of a plot summary, I asked a reader close to my heart. A-Read has read this plus the next 2 books in the series, so I asked him how he would describe Revenge of the Witch. He said, “I don’t remember what happens except that Tom has to face a witch named Mother Malkin.” That doesn’t tell you much, but it doesn’t spoil anything either. However, I think it tells you something that he kept reading the series.

This is a mildly scary read about the 7th son of a 7th son whose mother—hiding secrets of her own—apprentices him to the county Spook, the man responsible for containing or destroying local ghosts, ghasts, witches, and boggarts. Poor Tom has to leave the family farm to follow around a stranger who doesn’t talk much and who will undoubtedly lead him into danger. A girl who barely steps out of the woods might help him feel less homesick. Or she might lead him deeper into danger.

This is one of my favorite middle grade reads of the year. I wish I had more time to read the next books in the series like A-Read. Someday.

What do you wish you had time to read this year?

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A Writer’s Guide to Success—Or Not

Recently I went to a meeting about secrets to sales success. The business consultant leading the seminar usually works with investment and insurance companies. His words can also apply to small businesses. Here are some examples as applied to the Great Agent Hunt.

Ask negative questions

The consultant showed this in a pitch in which he stated some of the problems of the industry, demonstrated his credibility, and then ended with a negative question. He called it a 30-second commercial and I’m sure it’s very effective in business.

But it makes me laugh like a loon. I had to practically cover my mouth with my hand during the seminar. Remember all that advice to not start a query with a question because you don’t want the agent to just say no and delete your query? Can you imagine starting a query with this little nugget? It would go something like this:

“I talk to agents all the time who are so tired of receiving queries for paranormal romances. You’ve never had that happen, have you? Well, Awesome Agent, that’s why I’ve written a paranormal story with romantic elements instead. Your clients, um, I mean, the editors you submit to, won’t already be saturated with my kind of story. You wouldn’t be able to place such a story, would you?”

Now imagine an agent reading your email and immediately clicking Delete. Like I said, laughing like a loon.

Threaten to close the file

When you don’t hear back from a prospect, leave them a voicemail in which you say that since you haven’t heard from them despite repeated attempts, you’re going to assume they’re no longer interested, close the file, and move on.

This is actually pretty sound business advice. For other industries. Human nature dictates that we don’t want someone to close the file on us. We get that message and shout, “No, wait. Don’t close the file. I’ll call you. We can do business.”

But agents don’t want us to call. Or show up at their office. And they don’t care if we close the file on them. If we haven’t heard from them, especially after one or two innocuous status request emails, they’ve probably already closed the file on us.

The Triangle

Now this one actually makes sense for everyone, no matter what you do, who you are, and what you want out of life. The three sides of the triangle—the three keys to daily success—are behavior, attitude, and technique. According to the business consultant, most people ignore attitude, but attitude drives and is driven by daily behavior.

As writers, we have to maintain positive attitude, professional behavior, and work on our technique on a daily basis.

Buyer’s Psychology

Here’s more information that can actually work for us. According to this consultant, people buy emotionally and then justify it intellectually. For writers, that means we have to appeal first to an agent’s emotions. We have to hook them with heart or excitement. Then we have to follow up with a plot and character arc they can justify to their intellect, their fellow agents, and eventually to editors.

What’s your favorite piece of advice from people who don’t necessarily “get” publishing?

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Reading Update

While I was gone, I continued to read. Here are some of my favorites from the past couple of months:

MG:

  • Peter Abrahams’s Down the Rabbit Hole – I don’t think I could say enough good things about this mystery. I loved it. So did Stephen King.
  • Joseph Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice 1) – A-Read read the first 2 in the series, and has the 3rd on deck. A little dark and spooky.

YA:

  • Phoebe Kitanidis’s Glimmer – A very unusual story in a very unusual setting.
  • Tara Kelly’s Amplified – I just love her writing and her protagonists and her male leads.
  • Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Beautiful writing, unusual story, kick-a heroine.
  • Suzanne Lilly’s Shades of the Future – Sweet and heart-tugging.

Adult:

  • Kendall Grey’s Inhale – This one tugs on other parts than your heart, if you know what I mean. *wink wink*
  • Kate Johnson’s I, Spy? – A fun spy romp. Dump your disbelief prior to page 1.

What have you read recently that you MUST rave about?

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