Posts Tagged ‘writers’

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.)

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!

Meet an Authoress’s Success Story: Monica Bustamante Wagner!

August 8, 2012

Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’s Success Story blog tours! Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross promote each other’s work.  Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories, so make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs.

Yesterday, the lovely Kristi Helvig@KristiHelvig interviewed me on her blog, head on over there and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Fighting Gravity!

And now, I’ve got the great pleasure of interviewing Monica Bustamante Wagner, @Monica_BW!

Our lovely Monica has offered a PRIZE, a query critique, to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on this post. So what do you have to say?

But first, let’s learn a little bit about our guest. Who is she? Well, here’s what she’s got to say:

I’m a YA fiction writer! I was born in Peru and was raised in Chile. With my sister in Australia and my father living in Ethiopia, I’ve had no choice but to be a bilingual world traveler.  And I love it!  I travel around the globe with my husband and three kids, learning about different cultures and countries.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in HR, I settled with my husband in a very small town in Chile, near the Pacific Ocean.

How did participating with MSFV blog get you where you are now?

I was the first Baker’s Dozen’s success story—back in 2010. And even though I’m with another agent now, Authoress and her blog have always inspired me. I’m so grateful and I’m sure that if it weren’t for Authoress, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

You clearly love Young Adult fiction, what subgenre(s) do you read most?

The YA books I love the most are the ones with a nice blend between literary and commercial, like the Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. But that’s if you really ask me to narrow down the types of YA/MG books I love to read—because as long as it’s kidlit and well written, I will probably like it! 🙂

What subgenres have you written in so far/do you plan to write in?

The manuscript that my agent, Lauren Macleod, signed me with is a YA fantasy. I have also written a YA paranormal thriller. And now I’m looking at the possibility of writing upper MG, too. It’s exciting!

Since landing your agent and starting this whole crazy process, what have you learned that you would pass on to aspiring writers?

I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. When I started writing, I thought it would be easier. But then, after a couple of years, I realized that writing is like a profession. Doctors take years studying to be able to work. Lawyers and architects take years, too. So why on earth did I expect my writing would be good enough the year I started? I think that for the writing skills to flow naturally on the paper, it takes time and a lot of dedication. And I wish I would have known that when I started!

I know you’re still in the early stages, but can you give us a sneak peek at what you’re working on, or what we might see from you in the future?

Sure! I’m working on a prehistorical YA manuscript now, set in the Andes Mountains, and it’s a story about revenge and acceptance. It’s going slow, I can tell you that, haha!

Thanks so much, Leah, for having me here, on your blog today!! <3

Thanks, Monica!

Don’t miss it, tomorrow on her blog, Monica is interviewing Emily Kokie, @emkokie!

And the rest of the tour:

Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner @Monica_BW 9-Aug
Emily Kokie @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter Salomon @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus 14-Aug
Tara Dairman @TaraDairman 15-Aug

Don’t Miss the Bus!

August 2, 2012

It started yesterday (yeah, I know, sorry) over on David Kazzie‘s blog where he interviewed Leigh Moore. But that was just the first day!

Don’t miss the rest of the tour, the Miss Snark’s First Victim Success Stories stops (heh) are listed below. These are some great people with some really inspiring stories.

See you there!

Author Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner @Monica_BW 9-Aug
Emily Kokie @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter Salomon @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus 14-Aug
Tara Dairman @TaraDairman 15-Aug

Authoress’s Success Story Blog Tour

July 26, 2012

Plagiarized, with permission, from J.M. Frey @scifrey, who put so much work into setting this up for us. Thank you!

Guess what? We’re just about to begin what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’s Success Story blog tours!

Authoress Anonymous has built a strong and supportive community on her blog Miss Snark’s First Victim: a community of writers, critiques, hopefuls, agents, editors, and readers. There, writers can participate in contests designed to help them practice giving and receiving critiques, polish their hooks, spiffy up query letters, and gain exposure to literary agents… and, in the case of some writers, get offered representation or publishing deals!

Over twenty professional authors now owe some part of their successes to Authoress, the incredibly generous people who participate in her contests, and her blog. Those of us who have owed our publishing successes to MSFV have decided to come together to celebrate both MSFV, Authoress, and to help cross promote each other’s work.

Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories. There might even be some giveaways, so don’t miss a single blog post! Make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs from August 1st to the 15th, and to follow the hash tag #MSFVSuccessStory this month for more details, tidbits, and info. See you there!

  Twitter Posting Date
David Kazzie @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh Talbert Moore @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson Coats @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M. Frey @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa Cruz @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda Sun @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah Petersen @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica Bustamante Wagner @Monica_BW 9-Aug
Emily Kokie @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica Goulet @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter Salomon @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah Brand @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus 14-Aug
Tara Dairman @TaraDairman 15-Aug