Friday, October 29, 2010

Story structure and NANO

Yeah I'm insane. I joined NANO with a three month old. Its going to be a ball of yarn fun tho'.

To be honest I couldn't even do it if I didn't have the knowledge of Brooks' story structure and a great story idea. I know where this story is going and have the basic story facts firmly on paper even if they're not in my head. (blame mommy brain for that one)

The main reason I love story structure is it's like a recipie for baking muffins. Hang here with me as I get all domestic on you. It gives me what to put in the story/batter in exactly the order and amounts I need it. If I follow the recipie I know the story/muffins are going to turn out great. The cool thing about this recipie/story structure is the variety. If I want to use whole wheat flour instead of white I can, if I want to use applesauce instead of oil I can do that too. I can add chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, or whatever I want because the recipie tells me I can. I can sit and write by the seat of my pants, (my muse's preferred style) as long as I follow the structure and still get an awesome plotted story out of it.

There has been no other writing help I have found that has changed the way I look at writing as much as this. Granted there has been a TON of things I have learned about writing from my friends and the internet. But this story structure has freed me from the "I have a great idea now where do I go" plot problem.

For those of you who are interested in what I am talking about go to my sidebar and click on the story structure links. If you are in Utah and/or are interested in going to an awesome LDS writers conference where Larry Brooks will be teaching about structure in a master class then click on the LDStorymaker conference link in the side bar too.

Speaking of great writing ideas, I am finally putting together my project notebooks that Nancy Campbell Allen talked about on her blog. I of course have altered them to my own needs but thought I'd show them to you when they are done. I hope to get the NANO one done before Monday. Thanks for the awesome idea.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What I learned from pitching my novel.

A few weeks ago my hubby gifted me a writers conference as some much needed stress relief.

It was a rushed drive to American Fork and a late registration, but I made it. Let me tell you as a side note, that this "little" three conference strong event was simply amazing. It was well organized. The teachers were great and every class was exactly what I needed to hear. I also won the grand prize (a 2011 Writers Market) which I am so stoked to use.

That isnt the real reason for this post tho.

The very last class of the day was open to "pitches" to the newly formed "AF Arts Council Press". I wanted to go to the "How to Write a Series" class but decided to see what an open pitch session was like. I'm glad I took that chance even if nothing comes of the pitch, I learned some valuable stuff.

We were invited into a nice office and asked to give our concact infromation.
Then one by one asked questions about our manuscripts. "What is your book about?" etc.

I only attended the afternoon pitch session so I don't know what the other session was like. But I will tell you what I saw and learned from my hour.

First, finish your book before pitching it. Stories and characters change as we write the book and might morph into something completely diferent before you type the end and then edit it.

Second, know all the "info": genre, targeted audience, word count, etc. Do the research it's worth the time.

Third, have an all ready established web presence (website/blog/facebook/twitter etc.) and know what goes into modern day marketing of books. Have marketing ideas thought out and a marketing plan in place. If you're going to have a platform, have it ready and know your subject.

Fourth, bring your stuff with you. I knew that pitches were happening at the conference but I thought they were reserved and an extra cost, which they usually are. I was also taking Eli with me and in the interest of "stuff" (baby, stroller, sling, diaper bag, and my pack) I only carried a notebook for notes and a few pages incase I found time to plot or had an idea. I was asked if I had any of my MS with me and I didn't. I gave my pitch from an old paper that had my old pitch paragraph from my query on it and I had to think hard to alter it to resemble more of what my current "rocking" query sounds like. I did at least have my business card with all of my web addresses (blog website facebook etc.) on it. From now on I will probably have a manilla envelope in my bag with the first three chapters, a synopsis, query letter, and business card. You can't be too prepared.

Fifth, be calm, drink some water (not too much) before the pitch, eat a few mints and relax. It's only your baby you're presenting to someone who has the potential and audacity to say they might be ugly. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Amie Borst and Free Critique Friday

You guys know all about my query success. And you guys know I owe alot of the success to my friends. Pendragon is the one who I worked with over and over to get the query to a decent state. She's an amazing plotter and what if player.

I heard about Amie through a friend's blog and heard about a contest she offered on her blog. For the first ten people that posted thier query in the comments on her blog she would give them a FREE critique.

Well of course I clicked straight over hoping that not all of the ten spots were gone. Well I was blessed, there were only five (I think) other querys posted. I posted mine and in a series of email conversations with Amie we polished the query until it shined. If you guys were wishing you'd seen this offer and sad you missed it........

Well you're in luck. Amie is offering a free query or first page critique every Friday. All you have to do is be brave enough to post material in her comments and hope she chooses you.

If you guys want to see what Amie did to my query go here and scroll down to my name (Michelle Jefferies). I promise you its worth the nerves to stick your neck out there.

Go on guys, Amie is really nice and she doesn't bite.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First 250 words blogfest.

I'm so totally late!!! So Sorry! I've been up since early morning with fall allergies and I forgot to post.

This blogfest is from Elle Strauss. I thought it would be good to participate.

This is the first 240 (the next ten words would have made no sense w/o the next pararaph.) words from my WIP it is the second book to the one that is pollished and being sent out now.

The working title is Latent as in something lying latent within someone.

The blown sand stung at Antony’s exposed skin and imbedded itself in his shoulder-length brown hair. He stood at the top of the pyramid of Khufu; the wind howled and buffeted him like it didn’t want him standing there. As if it policed the area, and knew, just the act of climbing the pyramid in the middle of the night, was not allowed.
Five years ago, it wouldn’t have mattered. The former assassin would have balked in the face of the laws of the land, but that was a long time ago. Now, the Speaker, the Head Elders mouthpiece, wasn’t in the habit of breaking the rules. This is different, he justified as he pulled an old piece of paper out of his pocket.
Elite’s list was now worn and tattered. The folds almost ripped through, keeping the paper in his pocket for years made it dirty. He read it again; her delicate handwriting graced the page.
Be bound together forever. He smiled at the memory of the top item on the paper. Kneeling on the cold stone floor at sunrise, he held the hand of a woman who took the place of his deceased wife Elite. The High Elder, Sori Katsu, pronounced that Antony and Elite Danic were bound together forever with their son Lucius. The bonding performed the morning Antony left Natani, a confirmation that after five intense years as Katsu’s student, his time of penance was over.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My thoughts about rejection.

It's going to be a time of rejections for me. I have submitted and even pitched my novel to various publishers.

In the last few days I had one friend see a bad review of her book that paralyzed her and kept her from working on her current book. Another submitted an experimental query and was rejected in ten minutes, and she laughed about it.

Are either of these people better than the other? No. One is newly published, one will have her book out next year.

Am I speaking a little hypocritical? Yes. Because I've been in both of thier places. I've had that rejection that I brushed off with a smile and I've had that devastating critique that could have paralyzed me. Actually it did for about an hour. Then through talking about it with a friend I realized that I had done my best on my MS and that it shouldn't matter to me what thay thought.

I kept the business card of the critiquer and on a quiet morning I burned that card into a pile of ashes, put the ashes in a baggie and tacked ot to my wall. Why? Because after that period of time where I bemoaned what they said and after what I learned from the experience I needed a reminder of the lesson.

Yea rejection is going to hurt, it's how you let it either spur you into action or let it keep you from working that matters.

I definately won't be perfect, I'll still have my moments of doubt. I'm a writer it's my nature. However whenever I get those future rejections I hope I will remember the lessons learned and move on.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Academy and the query part 2.

I knew months ago that the Book Academy conference at UVU was coming up in September. I also thought that because I'd have a newborn and medical bills I'd just go next year. I felt really bad because I loved last years conference, but hey what do you do?

I saw a contest on Facebook where you could win one of two tickets to the conference and I entered. I thought, I can't win if I don't enter.

Well I won! I was so excited I screamed and woke the baby. LOL

After the heart palpitations slowed I had the distinct impression that I was going to make a connection or two there and that is why I won. I have been praying that I would work my butt off if I was just pointed in the right direction. I didn't tell anyone though because I didn't want to jinx it.

I found a babysitter for Noble and Thursday my hubby drove me to Orem and Elias and I went to the Book Academy Conference. I registered and then found my friends Cheri Chesley and Melissa Cunningham and sat by them. Well about 10 minutes later Lisa Mangum from Deseret Book and BRANDON MULL of "Fablehaven" fame sat at our table. I was so excited.

After a great opening message I bought one of a few "Chocolate Never Faileth" books by Annette Lyon and went to my first class which was a workshop on query writing. The night before I had recieved a message from a friend that the class was going to be a workshop and to bring your query letter. Well as you know from the last post I have been working and pulling my hair out over my query. So I printed it off and put it in my bag for the next day.

After a short lesson on how to write a query, by Lisa Mangum from Deseret Book and Kirk shaw from Covenant. They asked for victims and I raised my hand. Lisa read MY query out loud to the class and after reading the pitch (three paragraphs) she stopped and said that she wanted to see the book. (I hope shes not kidding because I'm sending her a submission on Monday.) They suggested a few small cosmetic changes which I have done, but otherwise they liked the query. When I talked to Kirk Shaw after the class just to clarify the genre he also asked me to submit it to Covenant.

My heart pounded the rest of the day and I couldn't wait to share the good news with my friends. I had the feeling that I was going to make some connections and I was right. I am so blessed.

While I am bennifiting from being at the right place at the right time doing the right thing, I must thank those who helped me with this query, and MS.

Paulette Inman, best friend forever and plotter/what if extroidinare, for being my sounding board for the re-write of the query and the MS.
Tristi Pinkston, editor extroidinare, for the grammar edit on the blurb.
Amie Borst, new friend and awesome critter, for the outside "don't know a thing about the book" query critique.
And lastly my anonymous editor and good friend (you know who you are) for the undying, completely unselfish, editing work you did on my MS. Not only does it shine, it ROCKS!
P. S. Angie Lofthouse, my bloggy and Facebook friend, thanks for watching Eli for a few minutes too! What a lifesaver.

I had a blast and I came home reafirming that I work in an awesome career with awesome people.