Thursday, April 30, 2009

Contest Alert - Narrative Spring '09 Story Contest

Contest alert everyone...check it out: Narrative Spring '09 Story Contest

Awards: First Prize is $3,250, Second Prize is $1,500, Third Prize is $750, and ten finalists will receive $100 each. All entries will be considered for publication.

Follow this link for more details and to enter the contest online:

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Representation Call from an Agent

Wow-this blog post gave me the chills as I envisioned myself being on the other end, hearing the words, "I want to represent you".

Check it out, it's from Rachelle Gardner as she talks about "Getting the CALL" (when an agent calls you to talk about representation):

I can't wait to get that call, and I'm sure many of you feel the same. For those of you that have gotten that call already (Congrats!)...would you care to share your stories here or on Rachelle's blog?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thanks For Stopping by at the Tenafly Street Festival

Thanks to everyone who stopped by at the Tenafly Street Festival this past Saturday.

I had a great time talking to folks about my book ("Do You?"), talking about my upcoming writing projects, and showing off my photography.

Thanks again and I hope to see you all at the next event.

My next event is the BEA/WD Books Writers Conference at the end of May, and I'd love to do some networking-who else is going?

Monday, April 27, 2009

How To Get Poetry Published

One of my good friends sent me an email the other day with a question about getting her poetry published (Hi Michelle W., thanks for the question). I thought it might be helpful to publish her topic on the blog today.

How To Get Poetry Published
Research is probably the best first step. I started writing poetry many years ago, and self-published a book of poetry as well. But what I found was that it was a hard genre to break into. It's not easy selling poetry to the mass markets, in fact it's extremely difficult (not impossible, but difficult).

I've pasted a couple links below that might help in researching poetry publication.

Where to Get Poetry Published: and Publishing FAQ:

Poetry - How To Locate The Best Markets Where You Can See Your Poems In Print:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marketing - It's Not Always About the Product (the Book)

I think it's true what they say that all the basic story lines have been done before. Our job as writers is to come up with new, fresh ways of telling those same stories, with our own voices, with our characters, and our own points of view. So that being said, how do we sell "our version" of the same basic story to consumers, readers out there in the of course.

Even when you go the traditional route of publishing, you can either choose to sit back and HOPE that you're book will sell, or you can take your success into your own hands and market the book. For those of you that haven't researched the traditional publishing process and think that a huge marketing campaign is assigned to you as part of the publishing package with your agent/publisher I think you'll find it's quite the opposite. So, the more you can do on your own in that area, the better chances you have of succeeding.

I was reading an article about marketing (not specifically about book marketing, but product marketing in general) and it applies to book marketing as well. The product (the book) is important-yes! But marketing is just as important. Without having a solid plan in place to market, you're relinquishing your success to "whatever happens". I tried that approach with my self-published book, and let me tell you it doesn't work. For some, yes their book may start to build momentum with word-of-mouth promotion, but those cases will be few and far between.

Here's a quote from the article I mentioned above, and a link to the full article below that.

"Now don’t get me wrong. The product is still very important and is crucial for setting the foundation for any business. The ideal is to how a great product offering along with effective marketing strategies. However, what I’m saying is that exceptional marketing and branding can single handedly take a product from good to great."*

So, think about your book...what are some creative ideas for getting the word out into the world. The more creative and out-of-the-box your ideas are the better. And if you still have no clue of where to start, network with people who may have more experience in the area of marketing. Join marketing groups online, or survey your friends to see who may have experience in that area. Your due diligence now could lay the foundation for unbelievable dividends into the future.

*How to Take Your Product Offering From Good to Great - Without Actually Changing It (Winning The Web-Internet Marketing Strategies)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time To Get Back into Gear

Ok, ok, I have to admit that over the last week I've neglected to stay true to my editing schedule for The Hidden Force (my YA novel). I've been writing, yes, but it's been a lot of forum, op-ed writing, and social networking. All very important, but now I need to evaluate my time committments to each and ensure that I'm still getting my critical revising time in as my end-of-May deadline is fast approaching.

Time to buckle down and focus on the main goal at hand. I want to be ready to pitch to agents by the end of May.

So that's my pep talk to myself.

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Reality of Writing as a Business

Ok, so I stumbled on this article today, "The Reality of a Times Bestseller". I don't want to depress you all, but this article is a reality check for anyone who is motivated to write simply for the golden paycheck at the end of it all.

But also, after reading it, I have decided to use this information as a motivator to get as many writing projects in the pipeline as I can in hopes of creating a more stable stream of income from the industry.

I think it's also important to note that with added marketing perhaps the sales would be higher and thus the income might also follow.

So check it out. I'm curious to hear responses from those who read this.

The Reality of a Times Bestseller

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Come see me at the Tenafly Street Festival (Tenafly, NJ)

My first event of the year is scheduled for this weekend, Sunday April 26, 2009, at the Tenafly Street Festival.

I'll be autographing copies of my book, Do You? and displaying some of my favorite photographs.

The Tenafly Street Festival features outside vendors , crafters, food, music and live entertainment. Washington and Railroad Streets will be closed to traffic for the festival. Free pony rides for the kids. 11 am - 5 pm (rain or shine) FREE ADMISSION
Sponsored by the Tenafly Chamber of Commerce
Do You? is a collection of original poems and photographs (76 pages, 36 full-color photographs). It was a finalist in the 11th annual Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards. There are two ways to buy it (if you're not able to attend the Tenafly Street Fesitval), and I've included the links for each. From the publisher (XLibris) directly from my website at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting Inside an Agents Mind

Sometimes I wish I knew exactly how agents think when it comes to what they'd like to see in query letters, submissions, and what (exactly) it is that they're looking for. Sure some of that information is available on websites & publications like: Writers Market (, and WritersNet ( among others.

So, I've been on the hunt for great literary agent blogs. And I've found it has been extremely helpful to get insight into all of the things I listed above, and more.

Take this blog entry for instance by Rachelle Gardner from WordServe Literary which gives examples of feedback she's sent to authors with rejection letters:
Helpful stuff!

Here are a few more agent blogs that I've found helpful, check them out. If you have any you'd like to share, please do.

Colleen Lindsay, The Swivet, FinePrint Literary Management:
Nathan Bransford, Curtis Brown Ltd:
The Rejecter:
Lori Perkins' Agent in the Middle:
Buried in the Slush Pile:
Janet Reid's Literary Blog:
Jennifer Jackson's Et in Arcaedia, Ego Blog:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Event - Self Publishing Book Expo

All you self-published authors, here's an event just for you..."The Self-Publishing Book Expo". This is it's first year, and it's being held in NYC. I'm thinking of bringing "Do You?" to the event...might be some good exposure.

The creators of the event sound legit and come with a lot of industry experience.

Here's the link for anyone who is interested in researching it:

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Upmarket" - industry lingo

There's so much industry lingo out there. As I research agents and publishers, I've come across some lingo that I've had to research online so that I know exactly what they're looking for in who or what they represent. One such example, one that keeps coming up regularly, is "upmarket".

In my research, I came across this blog at "Guide to Literary Agents" which truly describes what "upmarket" means. I've included the link below:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Computer Backups of Your Writing

Have you ever toiled over a paragraph until finally you've gotten it worded just right...only to find you clicked the delete key and your computer freezes and in an instant you've lost it all? It's happened to me before. Now what would you do if that paragraph was not just a paragraph but your entire novel?

My greatest fear is that I will somehow lose all those years of work I've invested in my current novel. My brain, as creative as it is, comes up with these crazy scenarios and I imagine that my laptop and zip drive somehow get destroyed, at the same time. Argh!!! That's a nightmare.

So how much should one back up their work...I think it's a valid point.

Anyone want to share their expertise, or horror stories?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Writing - Tools (free book download)

Hey, hey, here's a freebie tool that you can download. I found this on the SCBWI forums.

Book: "The Career Novelist-A Literary Agent Offers Strategies For Success" written by literary agent Donald Maass.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Today is QueryDay on Twitter

Today is another installment of Queryfail (now renamed QueryDay) on Twitter. I missed the last one, so I've planned to follow this one as best I can. Check out the blog below to learn how to participate (ask agents questions, follow the chatter about queries they've seen - good and bad).

I think all aspiring writers could use some advice when it comes to our query letters.

update: 4/18/09
For those of you who weren't able to follow the Q&A yesterday on Twitter, I've listed just a few of the items that I found most useful below.
Q:bostonbookgirl: #queryday ?: To include the "personal" (I read your blog, clients, interviews with X) sentence(s) or not to include them? (@sam_elliott )
A:bostonbookgirl: #queryday a: @sam_elliot I love to know someone follows me on twitter and it is a nice hint that you aren't clueless. Def. include it!
Q: christinerose: Is "I'm seeking representation for..." in the first PP too obvious to include? Should an author go straight into their query? #queryday
A: ColleenLindsay: @christinerose You wouldn't be writing the query if you weren't seeking representation. Unnecessary.
Q: neenerspb: Can publishing fiction online, and getting a big following because of it, hurt chances of finding rep/getting published? #queryday
A: RenovationThrpy: @neenerspb No, you're building a platform - so long as your well doesn't run dry. #queryday
A: rachellegardner: The key to a query letter is the same as in good fiction: show, don’t tell. SHOW me that your work is amazing, don’t tell me. #queryday
A: skyladawn: @christinerose Start with the hook. One sentence premise that keeps the editor reading. Then your paragraph with the novel specs. #queryday
A: bostonbookgirl: FYI: The term “just completed” tends to read to me like “I never revised or spent time thinking about this after finishing.” . #queryday
A: skyladawn: #queryday Subject line "I've just written a novel that can and will sell!" is an auto-deleted email. Total fail.

A: zumayabooks: @TheaRauth Beginners can replace lack of creds with info on how they prepared manuscript--critique, editor, whatever. #Queryday
A: LeighEllwood #queryday I wouldn't compare a work to LoTR or HP, but to mention you believe readers of those works are your target gives a clear pic.
A: christinerose @dpeterfreund Also YA or MG is normally from a single POV - that of the young protagonist, of course. (I've recently learned) #queryday -11:01 AM Apr 17th, 2009
A: Remember, it's not bad to be able to compare your book to others people have heard of. It's good. It helps people begin to capture a vision for the type of book you've written. If you can point out the ways your book is similar and different, and why you think yours is a good complement to the other, you can further help a publisher understand what your book is all about. Don't ever claim "There are no books like mine." If that's your impression, go back to the bookstore and find some.
A: rachellegardner: TOP reason I say “no” to queries is the story doesn’t sound unique, fresh, exciting. The problem isn’t the query, it’s the book. #queryday
A: JoeBerkowitz @ChristaCarol And if you do mention your site, be prepared to prove your hit-count. Editors/agents go to #queryday -11:39 AM Apr 17th, 2009
A: rachellegardner @pdorseywrites If unsure, use Ms. or Mr. to be safe, professional. I've said on my blog I don't mind you using my first name. #queryday -11:46 AM Apr 17th, 2009
A: egtalbot many great thrillers have prologues, but have heard a lot that agents dislike them. Any advice on that? Rename "Chapter 1"? #queryday -11:49 AM Apr 17th, 2009
A: danielliterary @Selestial I don't like to hear anything about series in a query. Often scares me off. #queryday -11:56 AM Apr 17th, 2009
A: danielliterary @TheaRauth If your daily traffic numbers are in the thousands (of unique visitors), then mention it. Otherwise, no. #queryday -11:57 AM Apr 17th, 2009
A: rachellegardner @Evenstarr1 Writing credentials don't sell your book, your WRITING does. Can't stress strongly enough. Take time to develop craft. #queryday -12:30 PM Apr 17th, 2009
: ColleenLindsay @Georgia_McBride Right, but the standard YA is still anywhere from 55k to 80k. #queryday -1:08 PM Apr 17th, 2009
A: bostonbookgirl @screamingguppy I don't really care if you had an editor for the manuscript. No need to mention. #queryday -2:00 PM Apr 17th, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Contest - Emerging Writer Awards

I just found out about this contest, "Emerging Writer Awards". It's sponsored by Triom Publishing and Emerging Writer Magazine. The postmark deadline is August 31, 2009.

Here's the link for anyone who might be interested in learning more about it:

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great Reference Tool-The Elements of Style

A great reference, if you haven't already stumbled upon it: "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White. I love it because it's really short but compact and FULL of useful information that every writer should read and keep close to their desk for reference.

Check out the main sections of the book: Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, A Few Matters of Form, Words and Expressions Commonly Misused, and An Approach to Style (With a List of Reminders)...all in a short 95 pages including the glossary.

I've got my copy on my desk next to the Thesaurus and Dictionary for easy access.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We are Writers!

The process of writing a novel is truly a learning curve. Much different than the hollywood image of a writer who gets to devote every waking moment to developing the masterpiece, living in the old a lake...with no distractions to keep her (or him) from the all-important task of "the novel".

I find most of the writers I talk to are living a life far removed from that image. Many are trying to eek out just a few minutes per day to devote to their masterpiece. Sometimes it means writing during a lunch break, writing with the kids screaming in the background, or maybe (like me right now) trying to write early in the morning or late at night (while concentrating on keeping the eyelids open long enough to get the words on paper).

Some are trying to tackle a freelance career, AND trying to write their novel at the same time. That's no easy task either. You pour all your creative juices into the writing for the freelance work that it leaves little left for your own projects.

It's not easy, but then again nothing worthwhile ever is.

Whatever our situation, we must persevere. We must remind ourselves that this is what we're meant to do. And if we keep at it, and believe in what we're doing, we will one day call this our career. We are writers!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Writing update

I was happy that I was able to carve some time and write this weekend, even while being away for the Easter holiday. It gave me great satisfaction to know that I committed to writing even out of the regular writing schedule.

I'm still pushing myself to revise most if not all of The Hidden Force before the end of May. The process is going a bit slower than I had hoped, but I am counting on a quicker revision once I get to more recent material. The original chapters of the book have needed lot's of rewriting, in many cases it's almost like writing the book all over again and using the original material as a loose framework.

It will be interesting to compare the original drafts with the finished product to see how different it really ends up.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Offline until Monday

Best wishes for a great weekend to everyone! I'll be offline until Monday. So happy writing until then.


Thursday, April 09, 2009


As I've mentioned in previous posts, my first book (Do You?) was self-published. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about the process of getting a manuscript to a completed book. I also was adamant about what I wanted in the quality of the book and I made changes from the proofs until it closely resembled what I had envisioned. But, I also made mistakes. I didn't market the book. Oh, I wanted to, but for many reasons it didn't happen.

For my YA novel that I'm revising now, I'm hoping to navigate through the traditional publishing process. I will take what I've learned from the lack of marketing on the first book and apply it to this one. So I have gained invaluable experience that can be applied going forward to books whether traditional or self-published. And I've never dismissed the idea of self-publishing again.

So, when I came across this blog entry today, I was intrigued: The Future of Publishing? Self-Published Novel Wins Major Literary Award, and wanted to share it with everyone.

Do You? is a collection of original poems and photographs (76 pages, 36 full-color photographs). It was a finalist in the 11th annual Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards. There are two ways to buy it, and I've included the links for each. From the publisher (XLibris) directly from my website at

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Professional Writing Organizations

Professional organizations are an important way to keep abreast with industry news, and to network with other writers in the same genre. It’s also a step toward gaining merit, and showing how committed a writer is to the field. Today I made the commitment for membership to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

For those of you that write or illustrate books for children, middle grade, or young adult it's a group you should research for yourself. I’ve included their website link below.

Anyone have other writing organizations you could recommend?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan, circumstances have a way of overthrowing the apple cart. I had planned to write for three solid hours this morning. My son’s school had a scheduled half day, so I had taken the day off. But I had to flip my schedule since my son got sick yesterday, and I was home yesterday.

The writing time went out the window.

I even tried to get him to nap yesterday to salvage some writing time, but no such luck. He wanted mommy, and I don’t blame him. I want to be pampered too when I’m sick. Anyway what can one do but roll with the punches? Sorry for using all the clich├ęd sayings but they just seem to fit.

So back to the drawing board; now I need to find a way of setting three hours aside somewhere to write.

Wish me luck!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Manuscript Word Count & Format

If you're like me, I've come across a lot of conflicting information about what agents & publishers are looking for in novel lengths and formats. As an author trying to break into the industry, one of the things I've learned is to control the things that are controllable, and this is one of those things. Submitting a properly formatted manuscript, with a manageable word count is a step towards getting your manuscript read instead of it automatically getting rejected.

This weekend I came across a blog that addressed this very issue. It's worth reading the entry and the comments that follow. The blog is called, The Swivet (maintained by Colleen Lindsay, and a literary agent with FinePrint Literary Management).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Everyone Wants to Write a Book

How many people do you know who have said, "I should write a book about that (referring to their experiences on their job, dating life, a dream they had, a story they've thought up, etc.). I've known quite a few people that have said that in my lifetime.

It sounds so easy to write a book. As consumers we pick up a completed work, bound in a nice cover, and finished with a polished write-up in the back. But it didn't start that way. It probably started as chicken-scratch on a steno pad. And after many months or years it finally materialized into a cohesive piece of literature. Then it went on to rewrites, revisions, and editing. And if you're lucky and persistent maybe an agent shows some interest and pitches it to a publisher, or maybe several publishers. Your marketing kicks into gear. And finally, several years later, voila, you're an overnight success. Congratulations, your overnight success only took 10 years maybe.

So it's not easy, but what separates the would-be writers from the actual writers?

George Ingram ( and I were discussing this very topic the other night. We both agree that there are a lot of people who talk about writing, and very few that commit to writing on a consistent basis. I say it's the work and due-diligence that separates the two. The people that are serious about being a "writer" are the ones that commit to it every day. They are the ones that commit to completing their project, no matter what it takes.

I am by no means pointing fingers, because there were many years when I toyed with the idea of writing and only wrote when I was inspired to write. That's probably why it's taken me so long to complete my novel. Did I learn a lot during those years - oh yes! Was I committed to doing what it took to complete it - not quite. Am I committed now - you better believe it!

The process and path, of course, are different for each person. Some people will give up or get disillusioned. Others will stay the course. Some will get published, and some will not. But if you work hard to put out a solid story, believe in your story, and are passionate about letting the world know that it exists - I believe you will win.

Friday, April 03, 2009

It's writing time...

It's Friday and I'm looking forward to a weekend filled with family time and writing time. That's my schedule - no other committments. Ain't it grand! (sorry, the "ain't" just had to go in there).

It's a short post today as I'm feeling some strong inspiration coming on to get chapter 6 completed and I want to get to it while the inspiration is hot.

So my sights are set as I close this blog message for the day and move on to chapter 6.

Talk to you all tomorrow! Happy writing!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Learning from my writing buddy

My cat Felix is my writing buddy. I've come to understand that I can learn from him and his passion for writing. Ok, don't laugh, just hear me out.

We've both determined the most productive writing places & atmosphere...He likes early mornings (like me), he likes a quiet room (like me), and he likes to write (me too).

Of course his writing is a little less concise than mine, his writing consists of a string of characters as he walks across the keyboard. He's following that rule about not editing his work for the first draft. Smart cat.

His most consistant work comes as he stretches out in the small space beside my laptop, reaches out his paw pushing down several keys at a time. And no matter how many times I try to cajole him to take a break, to move to the side away from the keyboard, he stays persistant in his quest to write. He doesn't let anyone stop him from getting his story in print. I can admire that quality.

He's never at a loss for words. Every time he sits at the computer, he's ready to write. His paw hits the keys and he's off and running. He doesn't sit and stare at the screen hoping for inspiration, he just does it.

And last of all, he's consistant. He knows the routine, and even on days when I don't immediately saunter to the desk, he sits and waits for me.

So I can learn alot from my writing buddy, my cat, Felix. And as I write this my writing buddy sits beside my computer, purring away.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Upcoming Industry Events in New York City

There are a couple of important events coming up in New York City in May. Today I signed-up to attend both events and wanted to share the information with everyone.

1. BEA/Writers Digest Writers Conference Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center , in New York City.

I'm looking forward to spending the day in industry workshops and participating in the PITCH SLAM 2009 (featuring 66 agents, & 4 editors) to get the word out about my YA novel, The Hidden Force.

2. BookExpo America (BEA) The event is considered the previer event for the North American publishing industry and runs from May 28-31 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.

It should be interesting to see the up and coming publishing trends and network with industry professionals.