Posts Tagged ‘Fighting Gravity’

This Scares The Crap Out of Me: The Journey to My Logline, Revealed.

September 25, 2012

Ugh. Loglines. Authoress over at Miss Snark’s First Victim is running the pre-Baker’s Dozen logline critique sessions right now and I’ve been reading and adding my two cents and I’m reminded of how much query and logline writing sucks balls. So I’m thinking a concrete example of how you can go wrong, and then distill it down to something right, might help others going through this hell.

So what’s a logline? Essentially, it’s the pitch for your book distilled to one single sentence. Holy… Well, like most people, I started from the query and worked down. Want to see?

Now, I’ve never publicly owned some of this because it’s so embarrassing. But, in the spirit of helping others, and because this way you can laugh at me when I can’t see you doing it, I’ve decided to share my full novel-pitch evolution. That’s right, you get to see the bad stuff I actually put my name on and emailed to people.

Disclaimer: I’m not showing you the first one I wrote, or even the tenth. The very, very first stuff was pure garbage. Even I knew that. I worked and worked it until I got one I thought was pretty good. Here it is:

You can never trust anyone in authority. Jacob Dawes always knew that; but he fell in love with the Emperor anyway. The dangerous mess his life has become really is his own fault.   

Jacob is nothing and no one in the Intergalactic Empire where birth, wealth, and social status mean everything.  But when his incredible genius is identified, he becomes a valuable commodity to the Empire and he’s taken to the Imperial Intellectual Complex.

The Empire may want him, in spite of his origins, but the scientists and scholars at The Complex don’t.  His groundbreaking discoveries in physics overcome prejudice, and earn him the favor – and friendship – of the Emperor.

In time, the friendship becomes more and Jacob, cynical and wary of anyone in power, is now the Emperor’s lover. 

The Emperor’s favor isn’t a protection, and Jacob soon finds himself embroiled in dangerous political games he’s ill-equipped to play that may cost him the man he loves, and even his life. 

Wow, that’s long. Well, it’s a complex world and a complex character with complex problems. There’s only so much you can cut out, right? Here it was after I got some seriously good quality (and professional) help with it. This is the version that I queried with that led to the sale of the book:

Jacob Dawes’ scientific genius got him out of the slums and into the Emperor’s bed; but when a very public mistake gives his rivals an opportunity to be rid of him, Jacob discovers that fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

Well that’s a bit less, isn’t it. Barely even a pitch, more like a logline. It got me a book deal, though.

Here’s the back cover copy of the published book:

When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

Here’s my editor-approved logline:

A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.

Let’s be clear, I didn’t come up with that one, that was the combined effort of my editor and another author who is actually good at this stuff. I COULD NOT get the above back cover copy distilled to one sentence. What about all the stuff about his past? That’s Important! What about why he was ever in danger in the first place? That’s Important! What about the setting? That’s Important!

Well, sure. But that’s for the “oh, tell me more” version of a pitch, or the one you use when you’re querying. That’s not what a logline is. You often hear it called the elevator pitch. You find yourself on the elevator with your dream agent and she asks what your book’s about. That’s not the time to recite your full query from heart. That’s where you use a logline.

What do you NEED in a logline?

Character, conflict, decision, stakes. 

A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.

Character: Brilliant young physicist.

Conflict: Accused of treason.

Decision: Betray the man he loves or not.

Stakes: Death.

It can feel impossible to convey what is unique and interesting about your story without at least some of the trimmings. But there’s no room for that in a logline. Every word counts. Make one word and the one you put next to it convey whole volumes of information. Well you can do that, right? That’s what you do! You’re a writer!

Yes, but one of the hard things about writing a logline isn’t that you don’t know how to write a sentence, it’s that you have to learn to see down to the bare bones of your own story and find the very, very few things that truly matter in conveying an idea of the story in one breath. That’s really really hard for the writer because you are so close to the story you usually can’t see it clearly. That’s why things like Authoress’s logline critique sessions are so helpful! It’s HARD to be told you’re wrong, that what you worked SO HARD on doesn’t work, that your beloved Very Important details aren’t important to anyone but you.

Get used to it. Once you sell the book, you get to do that over and over and over again. For a living.

Have fun! 😉

And good luck!

(Check out, too, Authoress’s own post on loglines. As usual, the comments from the community are helpful as well. Don’t skip them.)

Interview on Grasping for the Wind

August 30, 2012

The lovely Bryan Thomas Schmidt of #sffwrtcht interviewed me recently. You’ll find it up today on Grasping for the Wind.

Here’s the interview.

(PS. While you’re there, give your congrats to site owner, John Ottinger & his wife, proud new parents this week.)

The Next Big Thing! – Author Edition

August 22, 2012

So, I was tagged to do this “The Next Big Thing” meme, by one of my favorite author people, J.M. Frey. The way it works, I tag five other authors in turn to participate by answering the questions below.

Naturally, I tagged the following authors:

Anthology J.M. Frey and I are in together. Check it out!

R.B. Wood

Steve Umstead

Roni Loren

Angela Ackerman

Peter Salomon

Now, not all of them could participate, but you should check them out anyway because they’re talented writers, great people, and they all work really hard to give back to the writing community as well.

So, there were questions, right? Here they are with my answers. And check out writers all over the web participating in The Next Big Thing!

What is the working title of your book?

Cascade Effect

 Where did the idea come from for the book?

This one’s the sequel to Fighting Gravity, my debut novel that came out this past spring.

 What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction with a bit of a gay love story on the side.

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I haven’t the foggiest. I’m not a very visual person, so even if I knew the names of more than the top five or six actors right now, I’ve never been able to picture any of them as my guys.

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Jacob thought marrying the emperor would make him safe; but he’s in more danger than ever, and this time, his worst enemy knows the one secret Jacob’s desperate to keep from the emperor.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither. I signed with a small publisher without an agent.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took shape over the course of about four months, but if I’m honest, the actual writing time was about three weeks worth of eight hour writing days sprinkled out over those four months.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

If anything, I think my brand of scifi most resembles Anne McCaffrey’s style of light but plausible sci-fi that’s very character centric.

 Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The writing fairies? I’m not sure “inspired” is the right word, but my husband was the one who convinced me to actually put it down on paper instead of just storing these stories in my head.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One thing people really seem to like about the series so far is that it addresses prejudice and social injustice in a story centering on a same sex relationship—where the sexuality of the people involved is a complete non-issue. It’s not only not what you’d expect, but really refreshing to me to get to read about a same-sex couple without their sexual preferences being The Issue.

OK, now that you know what I’ve got going on, check in with J.M. Frey and the other great authors on the tour. And Have Fun!

It’s My Turn!

June 25, 2012

 

I’ll be the interviewee on the popular #sffwrtcht this Wednesday at 9:00 PM EST.

That’s right, folks, it’s ME! No kidding. I know, me too. I’m really nervous too.

You going to be there to support me?

It’s Friday and I’m Not Even Here

May 25, 2012

Doesn’t everyone do a ‘thank God the week’s over here’s my I’m Getting Ready For the Weekend, Baby!‘ post?

So going into the Memorial Day weekend I bet most of you are looking forward to an extra day off. I am too. Only I’ve taken it by force today since I live and work in a vacation area and we don’t get the holidays off because you do.As we speak I’m headed up to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to get some much needed quiet time and, oh, write my ass off.

But since you’re probably working today and sneaking Twitter and blog time between tasks, here’s my Friday round up of things that happened recently.

Steve Umstead, @SteveUmstead posted a review of Fighting Gravity on Monday.

Jules, @bookwormjules reviewed Fighting Gravity on Jules Book Reviews.

I was interviewed by Michelle Ristuccia, @mrsmica on the #sffwrtcht blog.

Jeff Pfaller posted a review of Fighting Gravity on his blog.

Some things unrelated to me (because, frankly, I’m not that interesting):

My fantastic editor, Gabrielle Harbowy, announced that she’s got a new column over at Lambda Literary:

I will be answering all sorts of questions about the publishing industry, not limited to: being out in publishing, queries, books, awards, publishers, agents, editors, and how many spaces go after a period. I’m even looking forward to questions that stump me — if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find you someone who does.

The address for questions is publishing @ lambdaliterary.org, and the post with more information is here, on Lambda’s website. Please spread the word!

That’s all I can think of right now, which is a pretty good sign that I’ve forgotten something. But check these people out! And have a great weekend!