I have another secret to share, come here. Closer… closer… STOP! Right there.
Look around. Do you see everything around you? This, my friend, is the path to failure. This is where dreams are broken. This is where it all falls apart. We call it life, sometimes adulthood, but what it really is the graveyard of our hopes.
Okay, you can back up now.
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Shake that negativity off. Take another deep breath and look around. You see this?
This is the path to success. This is where all your dreams come true. This is where everything works for you like you are a Cinderella whose fairy godmother took over the mob and took out those two step-sisters years before you ever had to scrub a floor.
Do you know what the difference is between the path to failure and the road to success? There is none.
There is only one road.
Some days it looks like you are careening towards failure. Everyone else took the express route and found their Prince Charming, their book deal, their million dollar dream and you are still scrubbing floors and writing books by candlelight as you weep into your ink-stained hands.
Suck it up, Buttercup, this is what success looks like before they photoshop it.
It’s hard work, long nights, gut checks, honest chats with friends, and getting knocked back on your butt ninety-nine times. And then you stand up for that hundreth time and punch back. Failure is success that quit. Failure is what happens when you stop standing up when you get punched down. Failure is a step on the long road to success.
Cry if you must. Take a deep breath, look out at the scenery. Take a detour and check out the little things. Then get back on the road and keep going because that’s what turns failure into Success.
If you quit because of a rejection letter, or because you didn’t get the job, or because you failed the first test in a class you aren’t giving yourself a chance to be brilliant. Believe in yourself a little bit longer. Stand back up. You’re getting there.
I originally published this list in April of 2012. A new friend had found out I’d written a book but at that point the only books I had out were romance. She wanted to be supportive, but didn’t want to read romance. Not every book is for everyone, so here are some (updated!) ways to support the authors you know and love even if you don’t want to read their books.
Here’s the thing, every author wants you to buy the book they’ve written. It’s how authors work. We write things down, edit like frantic marmots on meth, and then beg, plead, and cry until someone publishes our work. Then we set our hair on fire worrying if everyone will hate our work. What I’m saying here is: authors are lunatics. We really are.
And because authors are lunatics, we’ve set ourselves up with the expectation that no one will buy our beautiful book. Why? Because we know there are millions of wonderful books out there and readers only have time (and money) for a small percentage of those wonderful books.
In this instance, this person is a good friend from my writing group who doesn’t like romance or e-books. She likes mysteries and hardcovers. I get it. EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE isn’t a book she can buy and donate, it isn’t a book she wants to read, it isn’t a book she wants to recommend. I’m not going to hate someone for not loving my book.
I’m not going to be angry because someone I know doesn’t buy my book.
If you know an author and can’t buy or don’t want to buy their book, but don’t absolutely hate them, there are ways to support an author for free.
– Leave a Review – You may not know this, but Amazon doesn’t recommend a book until it has 50 reviews. I imagine Barnes & Noble and Kobo have similar algorithms. This is even more important if you’ve read the book for free (library copy, loaned by a friend, ect), leave the author a review somewhere. It makes us happy.
– Give A Tweet – Unless you object to the book, recommend it to friends. Word of mouth us how a majority of books sell. If you don’t have Twitter, mention the book on Facebook, tell someone at work, or casually drop the name. It’s okay to name drop authors, if no one else knows who you’re talking about, tell them the author is a fabulous up-and-coming writer you liked before they were cool. Go Hipster You!
– Be Nice To The Author – You’d think this would be a given, but it’s not. I’ve seen more than one author snubbed because they were finally published. It doesn’t matter who they are, they are still a person and you can be polite.
– Request The Book – If your library is like mine you can suggest books for the library to purchase. This now includes e-books. Most books are in the library catalogs, and libraries take patron requests seriously.
– List It On GoodReads – So this is slightly sneaky, but it makes authors happy anyway… List the book as To-Read on GoodReads even if you never plan on touching the book ever. I get giddy every time that little number goes up.
– Give The Author A Cookie – This might only work if you’re my friend from my writing group and you happen to make these delightful little lemon cookies that are addictive. But, if you are, cookies! I like cookies! I’m easily bribed like that. If you can’t bake, socks are an acceptable alternative.
Really, most the authors I know are chatty, happy people who just happen to spend half their life in an alternate universe. If you can’t buy a book, don’t stress it.
… and no one knows what they are. Or so says the infamous quote seen on mugs and hats everywhere people want to make money off of frustrated authors.
I’m not saying these are the missing three rules, but they’re my best guess for the time being.
1- Write it all down. Too many young authors dismiss an idea by saying “I’ll remember it later” or “it’s a stupid idea.” You won’t and it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s fanfiction, or parody, or something you wrote just because it sounded funny – write it down. Write it, edit it, and polish it before you judge your work. As long as you agree to learn from your mistakes there is no wasted time, and more than one author has become famous writing “just for fun” while they waited for the perfect book to come along.
2 – Assume your reader is intelligent. They want to read your book, don’t they? That proves they’re intelligent. So trust your reader and don’t hammer them over the head with needless details. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and give your reader a minute description of a car unless this car is radically different than the common definition. And get so lost in your love of words that you alienate your reader. Yes, a book set in ancient Rome would be more accurate if you wrote it in Greek and Latin, but far fewer people would be able to enjoy your work. Your readers are intelligent, don’t make them jump through hoops to enjoy your writing.
3- Start editing at chapter three. After your first draft is finished reread starting with chapter three. Many authors use the first two chapters to set the stage and establish characters. If you can start reading at chapter three and enjoy the book the readers don’t need those first two chapters. You may need them as an author, but your audience doesn’t. Of course, if you read from chapter three and nothing makes sense pat yourself on the back, you started your story in the right place!
There, now when someone tells you that no one knows how to write the perfect novel you can smirk knowingly and say,”I do.”
What three rules do you believe every good book follows?
Previously Published June 2012
LOVELIES! This fabulous announcement came across my Twitter feed this morning and I want to share so you can have a look. Being able to pitch a book on proposal, and sell it like that, is a great opportunity if you know you can write on a deadline and work better knowing someone is expecting your book. If that sounds like you, go check out Carina Press’s proposal and see if this is the lucky break you were looking for!
Confused about what the difference between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy is? There’s a great break down HERE.
From April 13th to June 4th, Carina Press is accepting proposals for paranormal romance.
Maybe you’ve heard that no publishers want paranormal, that paranormal is dead or that readers aren’t buying paranormal romance? Wrong! Carina Press is actively acquiring and publishing paranormal romance—and readers are buying it. So bring us your shapeshifters, your vampires, your fae and demons and witches. We want to read your paranormal romance proposals, because we love this genre and readers do too!
Closing date: June 4th, 2017 (all submissions due by 11:59pm Eastern on this date)
Requirements for this proposal call:
- Your book must fall within the paranormal romance subgenre, but can be of any heat level or pairing, including same-sex/multiples.
- Paranormal elements should play an important role in story development, plot and characterization.
- We will look at paranormal romances in different time periods and unique settings—they do not need to be contemporary or based in the US.
- Your proposed book must be a completely new work and not have been previously published in any form, whether self-published or released via digital or traditional publisher. Only new material will be considered during this submission call.
- You cannot submit a project you have submitted to Carina Press before.
Materials needed to participate:
- A query letter with a 1-2 paragraph book description, plus an introduction of yourself as an author/your writing and publishing history.
- Three complete, ready-to-send chapters of a WIP. If you have more than three chapters, you can certainly send more!
- A thorough, well-thought-out synopsis that is at least 5 pages long. The synopsis is extra important with a proposal because we need to see progression of plot, character arc, storyline and, also really crucial—how it ends! See more about writing a synopsis here.
- You may submit more than one project! However, please submit only one proposal per series.
How to submit:
- If your book meets the guidelines above and all your material is ready and properly formatted, please use this link to submit.
- Direct your submission to the editor who has advertised an interest in seeing manuscripts like yours! In doubt? Direct your submission to Editorial Director Angela James or Senior Editor Kerri Buckley.
- We will consider all proposals that fulfill submission call requirements and are received by 11:59pm EST on June 4th, 2017.
- All eligible proposals will receive a response within 12 weeks of submission.
Not going to be ready in time? Not to worry. We remain open to full manuscript submissions all year long via bit.ly/write4cp, and more submission and proposal opportunities are coming in 2017.
For questions about this call for submissions, please email us at email@example.com.
For more information about Carina Press, and to read our submission guidelines, please visit bit.ly/write4cp.
On one of the writing forums I belong to someone asked how anyone could possibly write with little kids around. What they really wanted to know was: CAN YOU WRITE WITHOUT PUTTING YOUR KIDS IN DAYCARE? Not everyone has a partner, nearby family, or the money needed to create a kid-free environment when they want to write.
There is a myth that you can’t write while you have little kids around. Or that you need to have a partner who will take care of the entire household while you sequester yourself with your muse to commune with pen and page.
And, like all other myths, it’s a big, fat lie told by some author desperate to get out of watching Frozen for the fifteen-millionth time.
You can write with kids at home. You can write with kids in the room. You can write with kids on your lap.
My first story (Even Villains Fall In Love) came out the same year my son was born. That means my two youngest kids have never known a time when Mommy wasn’t a published author. I wrote a trilogy between the time my daughter was born and the year she turned four. Four kids, three cross-country moves, and three books. If I can pull that off, so can you.
HOW TO WRITE WITH KIDS AT HOME
1 – Set reasonable goals and set acceptable reasons to miss writing. If you stress out because of impossible goals, or because you’re trying to write with a newborn, you’ll make yourself miserable. Don’t.
2 – Steal what time you can. When the baby naps, while CARS is playing for the 3rd time today… I’ve finished novels with babies nursing or a toddler on my lap. Use a boppy pillow and run spellcheck.
3 – As kids hit the Needy Years (3-5) where they nap less and need attention, make a writing space for them. My 5yo isn’t in school yet, but she’ll give me a quiet 30 minutes if I give her a dry erase board, markers, paper, and a place to sit near my desk. Thirty minutes usually means 500-1000 words. Thirty minutes daily means a novel is finished in 3 months.
4 – Prep to write so that when you sit down to type that is all you need to do. Outline, use note cards, use sticky notes, whatever… just make sure that computer time is spent writing, not trying to think. Check out the plotting session I did to get you started.
5 – Give yourself 30 minutes a day. You might get 300 words, you might get 1000, but with 30 minutes a day (weekends off) you can write a novel in 6 months.
One of the things I’ve noticed while editing for clients and helping with Son Of A Pitch is that many authors are intimidated by the synopsis. This is a standard part of most query packets and something that many authors hate writing.
A synopsis is just that: a brief summary of a book. It’s usually between 2-5 pages in length and dull as dirt. Because it is very challenging for authors to summarize their book, and because the synopsis is a very dry read, many people dismiss it as unimportant. They’ll dash off a synopsis, run spellcheck, and call it a day. That’s not the way to get an agent or sell your book.
WHY A SYNOPSIS?
The synopsis allows agents to see a summary of your book without reading the full manuscript. It’s a shorter time investment, which is better for business, and it allows them to see if your plot jumps the shark thirty chapters in. It also tells an agent where your marketing skills are at.
If you can make a synopsis with few adjectives and limited description exciting, you’ll be just fine. If you can’t, well, the agent has to decide if they want to invest the time in helping you learn.
WHY DO AUTHORS NEED SYNOPSIS WRITING SKILLS?
Here’s the dirty little secret most querying authors don’t know… your query and synopsis writing can make or break your career.
I don’t mean in terms of finding an agent either. A query becomes the basis for your back-of-cover blurb, i.e. that thing that actually sells your books to readers. The only difference between a query and a back-of-cover-blurb is you add the word count to the query. Even Indie authors need to know how to write one well.
A synopsis becomes the basis for selling your second book. After you’ve sold your debut novel it is common for agents to try and sell your next novel on spec. That means you write the blurb, the synopsis, and the first three chapters/30 pages of a new novel and try to sell it on that alone. In the case of a multi-book deal like the one I had for the Time and Shadows series, I had THE DAY BEFORE written and I sold the other two after I sent a synopsis in for them. The synopsis was the basis for the outline when I was writing. It was how I proved to my agent and editor that I had some idea where this series was going.
The sooner you learn to write a good synopsis, the better off you’ll be.
HOW DO YOU WRITE A SYNOPSIS?
– Finish the book
– Summarize each scene with one sentence
– Add additional information that is relevant for understanding character choices (fears, motivations, goals)
– Read through to make sure the plot and motivations are clear
– Add any words necessary to tie the sentences together (next, then, after)
– Edit for typos and grammar errors
One thing I have found DOESN’T work is trying to explain the book’s backstory in the first chapter of the synopsis. Case in point, the original synopsis for THE DAY BEFORE vs the synopsis that I sent to Marlene Stringer.
Synopsis 1: This was before the R&R that killed Sam’s fiancé. Notice how dull it sounds. This isn’t the opening chapter either. This is just filler.
Samantha Rose is a junior agent with the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, the main government body responsible for investigating violent crimes. While the Commonwealth borders stretch from the Panama Canal to the Arctic Circle, the bureau doesn’t see a reason to station Sam anywhere fun after she took personal leave to care for her father within six months of being hired. For her sins, she’s stationed in Alabama District 3 with a misogynistic boss who still thinks the United States shouldn’t have joined the Commonwealth.
Sam is bound and determined to handle every case with cool efficiency, no mistakes allowed. If Senior Agent Marrins had nothing to complain about, he can’t deny her promotion and the transfer to Washington DC where Sam’s fiancé lives. When she’s told to wrap up a Jane Doe case that looks like a dumped clone to investigate the vandalism at a government-funded lab, Sam thinks she’s found her way out of the rural south.
Synopsis 2: Written over a year later. It incorporated advice from agents, workshops, and fellow authors. It gets to the book right away, focuses on the plot, and shows the agent what the story was.
When a trucker finds a dismembered body on the side of the road junior agent SAMANTHA ROSE is the one responsible for finding a name for Jane Doe. Senior agent ROBERT MARRINS thinks the dead woman is clone. The coroner, LINSEY MACKENZIE thinks Jane was tortured to death but her fingerprints don’t match anyone in the database. MacKenzie’s fingerprints were found on the body, but this is dismissed because everyone believes he forgot to put his gloves on when Jane first arrived at the county morgue.
Sam is also assigned to look into the break-in at Novikov-Veltman Nova Laboratory by her boss, Senior Agent ROBERT MARRINS.
At the lab, DETECTIVE ALTIN walks Sam through the crime scene. Sam is introduced to DOCTOR EMIR and to Doctor Emir’s assistant HENRY TROOM. Sam is concerned by the disappearance of the two security guards, MORDICAI ROBBINS and MELODY CHIMES. It looks like the lab break-in is an inside job.
Can you see the difference?
A good synopsis may be dull in places, but it still sells the story. Happy writing!
Hello, Lovelies! There are 72 days and counting until I start packing for my wild adventure traveling from Alaska back to the Lower 48 via ever-neighborly Canada. And some of you have been asking when my next book is going to be available to read. Here’s the summer release line-up and, good news!, it includes some free reading!
April 28 – cover reveal for BODIES IN MOTION (book one in the Newton’s Laws SFR series)
June 12 – BODIES IN MOTION released on the blog as a summer serial…. new chapters will go up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout June and July.
September 26 – BODIES IN MOTION will be available in ebook and print
December – LAWS OF ATTRACTION (book two of Newton’s Laws)
April 10 – I’m writing something special for the HarperVoyager Science Fair! Details will be forthcoming… Look for #HVsciencefair on Twitter.
May 30 – Last Impulse Buy email before the hiatus
June 10 – I pack up my desktop and house. I will have spotty internet for the remainder of the summer but won’t be widely available. I’m hoping to keep Twitter updated as I travel.
July 15 – With luck, and if the stars align, I move into the new house and start unpacking.
August 1 – With luck, and if the stars align, I will be back, the Impulse Buy will be back, and regular blogging will resume.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS I KNOW YOU ARE DYING TO ASK
Where are you moving? I’m leaving the frozen north and moving to the gloomy northwest… the Seattle/Tacoma area to be specific. Where exactly in that area, I don’t know, I haven’t found a house yet.
Are you really going to be offline for a whole month? Possibly. I don’t know exactly when the movers will arrive but last time it took over four weeks for our boxes to make the trip. We were going Kansas -> Alaska in the winter, and this is a shorter boat ride to Seattle… but I still don’t know when the boxes will leave or when I’ll be able to move into the new house. Even after we move in, we have to wait to get the internet hooked up and the list of problems goes on. Four weeks is not that long when you consider I’ll be driving for about eight days.
What do you mean “Summer Serial”? There are a number of ways to release new books. There’s the classic big-ad-push that comes with big presses, there’s the targeted releases you find at small presses and from indie authors, there are soft release, and there’s serials… Serializing a story isn’t a new idea. It’s what comics do. It’s what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did to publish Sherlock. It’s a format that appeals to devoted fans and casual readers alike because you get to try the story for free. If you don’t want to read all the chapters, you don’t need to. If you want to wait until it’s all available for free, you can. If you want to buy the book, that’s an option too.
I’ve never tried serializing a story before, and I knew I wanted to do something to make up for my online absence this summer. A serial story sounded like a good way to bridge the gap between houses. You’ll have something to read, and I’ll have your comments to look forward to when I get back. If this goes well, I may launch future series this way. If it doesn’t, that’s life. This is an experiment and you get to participate! Yay! Science!
Wait… a new series? When did this happen? The Newton’s Laws series started while I was working on CONVERGENCE POINT and was originally intended to be stand-alone short story. Once I started world building a whole new universe unfolded and I couldn’t say no to giving these characters new novels.
How romance-y are we talking here? The Newton’s Laws series will not be a radical departure from my previous books. All the things you love from the Heroes and Villains series (snark, flirting, beautifully intelligent people) and Time and Shadows (murder, mystery, mayhem, tech) will be featured in this series. The romance and the tech are equally important to the plot, so the series is a Science Fiction Romance. These kinds of stories appeal to readers who love SF and don’t mind kissing, and to Romance readers who are willing to give spaceships a try.
Are you going to give us an actual blurb for this book? Yes! In April there will be a full work up with a chance to read the blurb, meet the major players, and explore this new galaxy.
What about that other title I heard you talking about? BODIES IN MOTION is my next release, but it isn’t my only project. You’ve probably heard me talking about FOUNDATION STONES (fantasy) and FREE FALL (SF). Those projects are still being worked on. FREE FALL is almost ready to shop. FOUNDATION STONES would have been finished if BODIES had stayed a short story instead of a novel. You’ll get to read them eventually.
Are you still editing for clients? I am taking editing jobs in April and May. The absolute last turn in date for full manuscripts is May 15. The last day I’ll take smaller projects (query and blurb critiques) will be June 5th. Because of the unpredictability of traveling I won’t be taking editing clients until sometime After August 1st. I will make an announcement on the blog and social media when I reopen. If you need an editor over the summer and don’t know who to turn to, feel free to email me for a list of recommendations based on your genre and budget.
March 6th there will be a #SonOfAPitch Twitter Pitch Party! What is a Twitter Pitch Party? How do you pitch? Why do you pitch? Here’s the quick and dirty details for all the Twitter Pitch debutantes out there!
What is it? A Twitter Pitch Party is an online event organized by writers, editors, and agents around a date and hashtag. During the event authors post a pitch (or logline) for their book with the appropriate hashtag. If an agent or editor likes the pitch, they’ll let the author know. The author will then send in a query along with requested pages. These queries will get top priority from agents and editors.
How do you pitch? It’s as simple as putting your pitch on twitter with the right hashtag! Going to be away from the keyboard all day? Use Tweetdeck to schedule tweets!
Why do you pitch? Did I mention that editors and agents give pitching authors priority when reading queries? It’s nice to get feedback fast. Over 60% of my full manuscript requests came from pitch parties. Even though I wound up with an agent I found through a traditional query process, the feedback from other agents helped me refine my early query.
Do’s and Don’ts:
Do use the hashtag.
Do be polite to other authors and anyone on the hashtag (but feel free to report spam).
Do keep a positive attitude.
Don’t spam the hashtag. As a general rule, tweet once every two to three hours (4 total tweets for the event).
Don’t tweet more than one book.
Don’t tag agents with your pitch.
Don’t pitch on twitter unless you are participating in an event.
Etiquette for authors on Twitter:
There’s a lot that can be said here, but let’s keep it simple: your twitter feed is part of your brand. Everyone – from potential agents to potential readers – will see your feed. So put your best foot forward. Make sure that someone reading your feed finds the same tone there that they will in your books. You want to keep a nice balance of book-related tweets (NASA tweets for the SF crowd, Teen Vogue tweets for the YA crowd, archaeology or Victoria tweets if you write historical fiction, ect), personal-tweets (pets… people love pets), and promotion (actual ads for your book should take up less than 10% of your feed).
Even before you publish, you want to make your Twitter feed (or whatever social media feed you use as your Home Base) a place that reflects you, your style, and welcomes new readers to stop by and say hi.
What you do put on Twitter: a real avatar (no eggs!), a good bio, a link to your website/author page, retweets of things that interest you, conversations with other authors, pictures of pets, pictures of your bookcase, pictures you, information about cool stuff in your hometown (I’ll be tweeting about the Iditarod this week), information about the research you’re doing for a new book, #WIPfire with a sentence from your latest story, fun stories about two people sharing a found wine bottle on the sub ride home.
What you don’t put on Twitter are things like: your address, your phone number, nude pics, complaints about how slow an agency is responding to your query, rants about how you could do so much better in self-publishing while querying, brag posts about how you’ve never read a genre but are totally going to rewrite it because you are a genius, or hate-filled screes against anyone (with exceptions for football season and March Madness… sports rants can be forgiven).
What if an agent or editor starts chatting with me on Twitter? Be friendly and keep talking. I’ve met some fabulous people who offered me stellar advice for free just because we happened to be Twitter-friends. Done right, social media can be an amazing networking tool, especially for people who live in remote locations (like me!), are anxious in crowds, can’t get to cons, or otherwise wouldn’t be rubbing elbows with people in the publishing industry on a regular basis.
Got questions? Hit the comment box and let me know what you’re worried about.
Remember back in November when we did the free query critique thing? This morning, awesome news was in my in-box!
Just wanted to send you a quick thank you. I sent out my first batch of queries this month with the query you critiqued. So far, I’ve gotten 3 full requests and 1 partial. I’ve still got quite a few outstanding queries, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your assistance.
Prior to the query critique this author felt they were struggling. The original query wasn’t getting much traction. With the new query… four sent queries, four page requests. I really loved the query and the premise of the book, and I’m hoping the author will email me soon to say they’ve signed with an agent!
I don’t have any more critique-giveaways planned at the moment (but I probably will later this year) you can always book a Query Packet Critique if you want me to help you with your query, first five pages, and synopsis.