Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Author event at the library

The St. Charles City-County Library District’s Fourth Annual Local Author Open House will be held tomorrow from 5-7 p.m. at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, 2750 Highway K, O'Fallon. The library will offer refreshments and a festive atmosphere for visitors to chat with authors, purchase books and have them signed. I'll be there along with other writer friends including Margo Dill. Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Procrastination is fun and easy with this website

While I was looking up something about sentence lengths, I clicked on a link to an article about home décor for writers because 1) I’ve been thinking about posting a blog on this topic, and 2) Sometimes I develop a keen interest in subjects that have nothing to do with what I am working on, which prevents me from working on my work! (That should be the new definition of procrastination.)

I ended up on the Writers Relief website, where they have compiled a group of objects writers will love. You have to check out the perfect clock for writers – it has no numbers, just a message that says “Time to Write” on its face. And my other favorite, the unique keyboard that works with your iPad or other tablet device. I also like the candles that are library scented.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Here’s the link, now, go have fun! And any one of these would make a great present for the writer on your list, including me, in case you were wondering!

And if you want to see more (really cool) clocks for writers, go to CaféPress. 

Write soon,

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

Q: Where can you find the heart and soul of humanity?

A: The art world? Trendy restaurants, museums or pop culture as found on the internet or other media? You can look to those places for a good start, but if you want to save time, go to Bartlett’s – as in “Familiar Quotations.”
A good quote can serve as a diary, of sorts, that reflects the times and public opinion. In the just-released 18th edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, people, history and world events are summarized in 20,000 quotes throughout more than 1,400 pages. It’s the most extensive overhaul of the reference standard since its original publication of 258 pages in 1855.

Geoffry O’Brien, Library of America editor in chief and author of 15 books, spent six years as general editor determining which quotes to include. In a CBS This Morning interview on Nov. 14, 2012, O’Brien said (there are unforgettable) lines that people recognize that become the basis of conversation. “This is the process by which quotes become familiar.” While the first version was heavy on common Jeopardy! categories like the Bible and Shakespeare, O’Brien’s decision to add 2,500 new quotes from more women, foreigners and the media reflect their changing roles in society. New authors include Patti Smith, David Foster Wallace, Jimi Hendrix, Emily Post, Harper Lee, and the Dalai Lama.

As a journalist, speechwriter and teacher, I’ve used Bartlett’s for years. There’s nothing like a good quote to bring the moment into focus, and express the emotion of the occasion with a succinct, effective phrase to which everyone can relate. So the next time you’re searching for quotes on anything from the Holocaust to South Park, look to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

Write soon,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Five elements of a good pitch

Kristy Blank Makansi of Blank Slate Press gave an informative talk about pitching work to agents and editors at the Saturday Writer’s Workshop. She provided so much valuable information that I am going to break it up into three parts/blog posts.  Because she has been on both sides of the “pitch” table, her advice can help those of us who don’t have much experience, or haven’t had feedback that can help improve our skills. 

Part one contains the five elements of a good pitch. By incorporating these five aspects into your next pitch, the agent or editor will have the information he or she needs to make the right decision regarding your book. 

1) Simple conflict – What is at stake for this person.  What is the protagonist fighting for, and who or what is causing the conflict.

2) Get to the turning point – Use a beat sheet* to map out elements of certain turning points, events that happen to send the trajectory of story in a different direction. Those moments get you on the edge of your seat, or make you stay up too late reading. The big turning point is the ultimate choice he or she makes to decide if the goal can be met. Protagonist changes direction.

3) Resolution – The agent/editor needs to know what story is about. He or she is a partner, not a reader,  and you are auditioning each other. Tell what happens (unless he or she doesn’t want to know).

4) What is the story (same only different) – Give the word count, genre and what makes it different from other books in this genre. This should make the agent or editor want to read more.

5) Setting – What is it about the setting that makes the story interesting? The setting affects characters, geography and language. Some settings can be a character itself. Use your talent as a writer to paint a little picture of what that setting means to the story, and how that setting roots that character to the place.

Use these five elements to improve your next pitch so editors and agents can determine if your book will work for them.

Next time, five elements that should not be included in a pitch.

Write soon,

*According to Wikipedia, a beat sheet is used in screenwriting to outline the major dramatic moments (beats) of a screenplay or movie.