Thursday, April 28, 2011

When a Rose By Any Other Name Doesn't Smell as Sweet

Hey, out there in blogging land!
Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

*If you’re a nighttime, old sitcoms TV watcher, you’ll understand. If not, why aren’t you?*

The above line brings me to today’s topic, Word Choice! Picture this...

You’re sitting in front of the computer. The only sound in the room is your fingers tapping away at the keyboard. Words are flowing freely. The muse is hot! You wander, sentences to paragraphs, paragraphs to scenes, scenes to chapters, and then... You hit the wall. One horrible rotten scandalous little word breaks your concentration and stops you cold.
Word Jumble
I’ve had this nightmare AND faced the reality. If you’re a writer, I’m certain you have too. You come across a word that just doesn’t fit and your great writing day turns into an innumerable amount of time staring at those evil letters.

Our word choices create the voice of the story, shape our characters, and drive the plot. What would cowboy movies be like if John Wayne never moseyed or sauntered? What if Arnold never uttered the phrase “I’ll be back”? What if Scarlett O’Hara said anything other than “I’ll think about it tomorrow”? Characters would lose their individuality and westerns would be destroyed.

So, even though it is painful, annoying, and sometimes infuriating, take the time to consider your word choices. And make it a swell scrumptious fitting choice!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Contestapalooza: Pitchfests for Writers!

If you haven't heard, some amazing contests are going on this month! You can win critiques and/or partial/full requests for your manuscripts. Some are auction style for charity, others are best pitch competitions. Check them all out...

Enter to Win

Yatopia: Pitch Contest with Natalie Fischer! A Pitch and First Sentence Competition with the top 20 judged by the YAtopians, then the finalist chosen by Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Lit Agency.

Ebysswriter: Pitch & 250 Word Contest with Gina Panettieri! Write that Twitter-sized (140 character) Pitch & the first 250 words of your MS for a chance to win one of four amazing prizes: all critiques from Gina Panettieri of the Talcott Notch Agency.

Miss Snark's First Victim's Contest It happens every month at the beginning of the month. Rules are posted on her blog a few days before. Each month features a "secret agent" and the rules vary.

First Page Shooter Critiques Suzie Townsend, agent with FinePrint Literary Management, and Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, agent with Nancy Coffey Literary, are offering writers the opportunity to send the first 250 words of their MS for critiques. No contest, just send them in!

Critiques for Water by That Flighty Temptress An excellent campaign that includes critiques by blog hostess, Kat Brauer, as well as many special guests including authors, agents and editors. All proceeds go to Charity:Water a non-profit dedicated to bring clean water to those in need of it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More than the Hook: Your Opening Line

Unpubbed authors on the query hunt want to hook an agent or editor. It's no secret. So, that hook, whether it be a Twitter pitch, elevator pitch, or opening of your query is vital. We all know it, but what about the opening of your manuscript? Chances are if you snag the agent/editor with your pitch, the person is going to request more. The first line, first paragraph, first page, and heck the whole manuscript have to be as enticing as possible. Today, I want to focus on that opening line. The one that you want so juicy, it has the reader begging for more.
I'm a dialogue lover, so my opening lines tend to either open with it or come shortly after the opening. Although, it isn't a steadfast rule. The most important part of any opening for me is intrigue. I want to capture the reader and give them something to think about.

Here's some opening lines from my recent works...

BLOOD BOND co-written with Yelena Casale (not exactly one line, but the next two sentences frame it):

    "There’s no flipping way I’m going in there!" Cassie planted her feet and locked her arms against the doorframe. "Do you hear what I’m saying, Zoey?"

NIGHT WATCH (titled to be changed)

     Sera stared down at her fingernails, picking off the chipped red paint and wondering how in the hell to interview a murder victim’s sister.

What are your thoughts on opening lines? What do you focus on to capture your audience? Care to share? Paste your opening in the comments section below.

Friday, April 1, 2011

BlogFest Contest: My Twitter-Sized Pitch

Writer extraordinaire, Shelley Watters is hosting a BlogFest contest this week. The winner will receive a full manuscript request from literary agent Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management. What do you have to do to be a part of the contest? *Gulp* Write a Twitter-sized pitch. That's right, narrow down your manuscript to just a 140 characters.
Since it took me (and my writing partner, Yelena Casale) four revisions to get the manuscript, four versions of the synopsis, and thirteen drafts of the query to feel halfway happy, the TwitterPitch should take me about... any guesses? Well, this is draft number three. Please give me your thoughts, comments, and questions. Don't hold back, I can take the heat. Help me make this pitch smolder!
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 80k
OLD PITCH: Submit to madness, demon enslavement, or bonding to a vile angel - Cassie’s out of options. If she can’t master her powers, she’ll lose all.


NUMBER 1: Enslavement to a vile demon or vicious angel. Half of each in her blood, Cassie must master her power to open dimensional doors or lose all.

NUMBER 2: As a Key, half demon/half angel, Cassie can open portals btw worlds. If, that is, she can master her power without being driven mad by it.
Ok, now it's time for your input. Remember, the pitch can only be 140 characters long.
Thank you all for your input. Here is the final pitch based on all comments. I appreciate the support! Please let me know your thoughts on the final.

FINAL PITCH: Half demon, half angel, Cassie can open portals between worlds, but she must master her power or risk insanity and losing her freedom.