Hunting Agents

June 30, 2010

Song of the day: The Promise by When in Rome

Shh…I’m hunting wascally agents.

Christie Craig and Faye Hughes give key tips on the right and wrong way to meet an agent at conferences in this cheeky video.

I am fortunate to call Christie a good friend. She is a constant inspiration to me and I will shamelessly plug her books.  Please check out her latest sexy, fun suspense,  Shut up and Kiss Me, just released this month.

Also released this month is Christie and Faye’s Wild, Wicked & Wanton –  101 Ways to Love Like You’re In A Romance Novel. With a title like that, need I say more?


Jitters, Gerard, and Golden Heart®

March 24, 2010

Song of the Day: St Elmo’s Fire by John Parr

Eek!

It’s that time of year again. The blurry vision, the twitching, the anxious pill-popping, no, it’s not pollen induced allergies brought on by the first kiss of spring. It’s time for Romance Writers of America to announce the 2010 Rita® and Golden Heart® finalists.

Bling for the unpubbed.

Tomorrow, in fact.

Tomorrow, many of us will either pace the floor by the phone waiting, praying, willing for it to ring with our ever-powerful mind control or go about our day blissfully pretending not to notice it’s the morning calls go out.

Tomorrow, for better of worse, we will be put out of our miseries. The months long wait will be over.

Sure, there’ll be crying.  Tears of defeat or tears of blubbering joy, it doesn’t matter. Just keep the Kleenex handy.

Please don't eat me!

This year will be hard for me. As a finalist last year, I wonder if lightning will strike twice. Do I have a better chance winning the lottery or being eaten alive by a great white shark than obtaining the coveted Golden Heart® distinction? Probably. But a girl can hope, right? And I can hope Gerard Butler will shower me with his undying devotion.

I digress.

As they say on the many cereal box contests, ‘many will enter, few will win’. There are up to 1200 entrants and only a handful, eight, possibly nine per category, will walk away finalists. Your momma is right – we are all winners. But some of the judges might not agree. And so we must remember the golden rule…say it with me class…it’s all subjective.

This is what I call women's porn. A naked movie star doing my laundry. And I cropped it!

Some will hate an entry and want to use it to line their kid’s hamster cage. Others will think it’s the next best thing since women’s porn. Move over Nora, Linda or <insert famous author’s name here>. This entry smokes! But the reality is it’s the luck of the draw.

Did I get the right batch of judges willing to decree me into the 2010 GH knighthood? Oh dear. I don’t want to think about it. I might take up drinking – more heavily.

Now if YOU final, I have a few suggestions.

First, celebrate! This really IS a big deal!

Second, connect with the other 2010 finalists. These are the ladies whom with you will share a special bond. Together you will create a major support system. We 2009 Golden Heart gals came together and formed the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. We delighted in getting to know one another and trumpeted our sisters’ successes. Your new pals will grow, nurture and do a cheerleader pyramid of encouragement. You will swap advice, prepare for RWA® Nationals in Nashville and build lifelong friendships. You may even shop together. Anyone at last year’s conference in D.C. could spot a Ruby Sister. We wore red heels and Ruby Slipper pins.  And get hooked up with The Golden Network, an RWA® chapter devoted to Golden Heart® finalists and winners, past and present.

Next, polish your manuscript and query it within an inch of its life. Get it in front of as many agents and editors as you can. Don’t be afraid to mention your new title. Cue music – 2010 Golden Heart® finalist! Wear it proudly. Scream it loud enough and long enough and people will begin to take notice. Note: I do not recommend doing this in state or federal buildings or airports. You may find yourself in a cell lined with iron bars or soft padding.

"There's no place like the best sellers lists. There's no place like the best sellers list."

I raise a cyber glass of champagne to my fellow 2009 Golden Heart® finalists, the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood. Our reign has come to a bittersweet end. Wow! What a ride.

And I welcome the new Golden Heart® elite. Your journey has just begun.

Good luck to all who entered!


RWA DC Photo Gallery

August 19, 2009

Song of the Day: Photograph by Def Leppard (my all-time favorite 80’s rock band! <giggles>)

Hi Folks!

With the arrival of my daughter fast approaching, I’m a bit overwhelmed with what my DH & I have left to do. There is desperation to become organized both within the home and with my writing schedule.  And let’s not forget  getting my 8 year-old ready for second grade, research for my next WIP, contest coordinating, contest judging and juggling everday life. I’m a little behind, so I thought I’d add some pictures of RWA Nationals in DC. Something to tie you over until my next post. <tee hee>

 

Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel

Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Janet Evanovich -  Gotta love her!

Janet Evanovich - Gotta love her!

 
 
Dianna Love - She's just awesome

Dianna Love - She's just awesome

Anne Stuart  - A very funny lady!

Anne Stuart - A very funny lady!

PJ Mellor - Erotic writer

PJ Mellor - Erotic writer

Colleen Thompson - Suspense writer

Colleen Thompson - Suspense writer

 
 
Typical Stacey - my roomie

Typical Stacey - my roomie

Hey! How'd he get in here?!

Hey! How'd he get in here?!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Christie Craig and Pirate Yoda t-shirt wearing me

Christie Craig and Pirate Yoda t-shirt wearing me

 
Pj, wine & chocolate party

Pj, wine & chocolate party

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dinner with some Texas locals

Dinner with some Texas locals

   
Ruby Slippers anyone?

Ruby Slippers anyone?

 

Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

Golden Heart finalists - Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

 

Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

Golden Heart finalists - Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

Golden Heart finalists - Ruby Slipper Sisterhood

 

 

 

 

Laurie & Pat - Unique and fun Ruby Sisters

Laurie & Pat - Unique and fun Ruby Sisters

Heather McCollum & I getting ready to  PITCH! Nah - we're not nervous.

Ruby Sister Heather McCollum and I getting ready to PITCH! Nah - we're not nervous.

My new bud - Amy Talley

My new bud and Ruby Sister - Amy Talley


The Golden Heart Diaries: Following the Yellow Brick Road

July 24, 2009

Song of the day: Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

What a week at RWA® Nationals in D.C. So overwhelming – so fantastic!

My brain is fried and my sleep-deprived body is still on strike. Workshops, meetings, hobnobbing, receptions, retreats, autographing, spotlights, the list goes on. Where, oh where, to begin. How about the highlights?

Tuesday: The day of travel.

zac

You're breaking our hearts, too, Zac

It’s been 15 years since I’ve traveled solo but I’m glad to report no body cavity searches, no queasy turbulence to scare precious years from my life, and my luggage made it on the same plane.  I intended to write my stunning pitch, you remember, on this flight. Instead I watched the in-flight movie. Damn you, Zac Efron.

RWA Nationals DC 2009 099

Washington Monument

Once on the ground, Washington D.C. kept me awestruck with its incredible beauty. And not a politician in sight!

I realized after reaching the hotel I stood in the midst of romance greatness. Within minutes I sat eating a salad (based on the price, made with the finest produce from Atlantis topped with chicken born of golden eggs) just tables away from Nora Roberts.

RWA Nationals DC 2009 032

Ruby Slippers

The fun heated up when for dinner I met my fellow 2009 Golden Heart® finalists – The Ruby Slipper Sisters. We wore our red shoe pins, snazzy red heels and chanted ‘There’s no place like the best-sellers list. There’s no place like the best-sellers list.’ Lifelong friendships were forged this night.

 Wednesday: The RWA® conference officially begins.

Thus the flurry of my conference schedule takes hold and the next several days become eerily reminiscent of high school. The bell rings, class is dismissed and there are just minutes to visit the ladies room, add more band-aids to mangled feet, and move along to your next destination. Thanks goodness no tardy slips were handed out!

The Chapter Leadership Seminar and the Golden Network Retreat took up most of my day. Let me say, by the end of these two events, my brain shifted into overload with useful info.

The retreat had a panel of agents and editors who imparted the 411 on what they looked for from authors and then gave their opinions on a select number of queries. My query happened to be among the lucky (or unlucky) ones to which the panel made mincemeat. Though I did well, my query failed to ‘wow’ them.  Painful as it was to be torn apart by industry professionals I gained valuable insight. No anesthesia necessary.

 Thursday: Speakers and Workshops.

RWA Nationals DC 2009 023

Janet Evanovich, Stacey Purcell & Me (+ 1)

Janet Evanovich and Linda Howard were quirky, fun and hilarious speakers. The various workshops turned out to be gold mines addressing everything from business and craft issues to Brad Pitt. And who doesn’t like to talk about Brad!

On this evening, I attended a fun dessert reception with my fellow Ruby Slipper Sisters and members of the Golden Network. It was here I had my first pitch (unprepared, mind you, as I still hadn’t written one – Damn you twice, Zac Efron!). Much to my horror, I spent the entire evening with my pants on backwards. BACKWARDS! My roomie, in her most sweet, innocent voice, said, “I wondered about that. But then I figured it was some new maternity fashion.” What?!

 Friday: Take a deep breath.

More workshops, meetings and a luncheon with Eloisa James. I became inspired at the afternoon Rita/Golden Heart® Reception by the talent that floated and mingled throughout the room, all aglow with giddy excitement. Gotta love the camaraderie.

Also on this day, I had my pitches scheduled. The arctic air and overwhelming need to run screaming from the room did not sway me from doing my duty – selling myself and my story the best way I know how. I charmed the agent and editors, wooed them, enlighten them to seek the path of my greatness. Okay. I’m exaggerating just a touch. They made me work hard for their time, but I walked away from them feeling pretty darn good, managing three requests. However, I came to the conclusion agents and editors do not necessarily want the same thing. Hmmm…amusing fodder for another blog.

A bus tour of the city and then a party on the sixth floor, complete with the neighbors pounding on the wall, finished up an exhaustive day.

 Saturday: THE day!

The Ruby Slipper Sisters

The Ruby Slipper Sisters

In truth, I had forgotten that the Golden Heart® was a competition. Something special solidified among the Ruby Slipper Sisters and I am honored to be among them. There is no doubt that we will continue to encourage each other and celebrate all that we as writers reap. They have come to mean very much to me. Simply put, they rock! Thank you for the memories, ladies.

brad_pitt

Brad, why haven't you called?

The Rita/Golden Heart® Awards were indeed much like the Academy Awards – this is purely a guess since, to date, Brad has failed to bring me along as his arm candy. The velvet ropes, the flashy lighting, the superstars of the romance industry sitting among us, the words “And the award goes to…” it was all so awesome!

I did not win the Golden Heart® in my category, but I truly believe the right Ruby Slipper Sister did. I also believe that each Sister is a winner. We are rich from this experience and I am grateful to be a part of such a prestigious group. Congratulations to all the winners!

 For a complete list of the 2009 Rita/Golden Heart® winners please visit:

 http://www.rwanational.org/cs/2009_award_winners


Pitching: Scoring a Home Run

June 24, 2009

Song of the Day: Bullet With Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

With the RWA National Conference right around the corner, there has been quite a lot of buzz recently about pitching. What is pitching? Pitching is winding up your best fast ball (your novel) to deliver to a batter (an agent or editor) in the major league game of publishing. This is a little different than baseball. The goal is not to strike out the batter. Nope. The goal is having your ball, polished perfect and aerodynamic, make solid contact with the batter — at the very least hitting a base run.backe

Pitching can come in different forms. The most common is the sit down, face-to-face, in the flesh pitch, usually by appointment. Another type of pitch has been dubbed the “elevator” pitch. This usually occurs in passing or in casual conversation. An agent/editor may ask you what you are writing in the elevator, on a taxi ride, standing in a line, while waving dollar bills around at the male stripper club. There is also on-line pitching, such what we here at MuseTracks have provided. An agent or editor occasionally may use an internet blog or contest to harvest pitches.

So what exactly is a pitch? Well, a pitch is your story condensed down into a 30 second marketable spiel. It’s much like a blurb on the back of a book cover or a show’s listing in the TV Guide. A pitch can be one sentence or a short paragraph.

I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to perform my own pitches for a panel of agents. I know first-hand how daunting the experience can be. Although my knees knocked and I swear I acted like a babbling fool who just endured a root canal, I did received requests for a full from all the agents. Honestly, they may have just taken pity on me as I floundered on the table in front of them like a pathetic fish out of water. Or maybe, just maybe, I generated enough interest and they wanted to see more.

How do you put together a pitch? Geez! It’s just as hard as writing that dreaded synopsis. Fortunately, there are many with great advice on crafting a pitch and workshops are often available online. But I have found the teachings of Sharon Mignerey, author and writing instructor, to be the most concise and easy to grasp. She touts Dwight Swain’s craft book Techniques of the Selling Writer. According to him, there are five elements that can be found in every story.

baseball_hunk*a character

* a situation the character is in

*the objective or goal

*an obstacle such as a villain, complication, antagonist

*the disastrous outcome if the objective or goal is not achieved

Apply these elements together in just a few sentences and you will have created a well-rounded pitch.

Easier said than done? Use the elements above like a questionnaire. Fill in the blanks. Try to answer these questions for someone who hasn’t read your project. Get help from your critique partners or writing buddies. I promise you can whittle it down until you feel ready to hurl that baby at the agent/editor with confidence. You want to pique their interest. If you do that, they are likely to ask questions about your story. At that point, it will be as easy as a cake walk.

When you do step into the playing field, be sure to give the agent/editor the pertinent information they want before you start your pitch. What genre, where it takes place, who the target audience is and the approximate word count. Think of it as a launch pad. “My finished manuscript is a 71,000 word historical set in 18th century Caribbean targeted for St. Martin Press.” Now you’re ready for the wind up.

But wait! There’s more! Here are a few more tips you should consider before stepping on the mound.

Do your research on the agent/editor. Know what they are looking for, what they like and who they represent. Read their bios and blogs. Just don’t stalk them. That’s a no-no and could get you a restraining order.

Never pitch a manuscript that is not complete. If an agent/editor requests your story, they generally want it now, not several months later when you write THE END. By then, they may have different interests and quite possibly see you as unorganized and ill-prepared. Pitching an unfinished manuscript wastes their time and yours.

Get in the bull-pen and practice. Recite your pitch for your buddies and critique partners.

Dress nice. Choose business casual over the cute tank, Daisy Duke cut-offs and flip-flops.

Don’t bring manuscript pages or disks to your appointment. It’s presumptuous and most agents would prefer you follow their submission guidelines.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know the agent/editor.

In the same breath, once your pitch is done, and they’ve asked to see more, don’t linger. Get their business card, thank them and excuse yourself. That is the polite and professional way to end the pitch session.

Be confident, but not cocky. Be excited about your project, but not tooleageofthereown freaky. There are no cheerleaders in baseball. And don’t become too emotional. There’s no crying in baseball either! Silly analogies, I know.

Above all, relax. They are probably a little nervous. After all, they’re looking to score, too. If you are calm, cool and collected, you’ll both feel relaxed and you just may hear the crraaackk of your fast ball. It’s going, going, GONE!