Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Writer at Work

So I'm hard at work on my query.  Well, mostly, it's been an interesting week.  Anyway.  I've been going through all my saved info on queries and wanted to share the posts in case anyone else can find them useful.

Nathan Bransford has some advice here and here
Barbara Rogan has some tips here.
A query letter broken down into it's parts here.
Agent Vickie Motter has a few here, here, here, here
Of course there's Query Shark.

Probably the best was this template that was suggested
What does the protagonist want?
What's keeping him from getting it?
What choice/decision does he face?
What terrible thing will happen if he chooses A, what terrible thing will happen if he doesn't?


The main character must decide whether to__________. If they do (this) the (consequences/peril they must face are).  If they decide not to do (this) the (consequences/peril they face are)


Who is the protag?  (A fairy princess unicorn)
What is their problem? (is lost in the forest and alone, being royalty she's never been alone before.)
What do they do about the problem? (she searches for her lost guide, in the heart of the forest where the sun doesn't shine)
Who/what is the antag? (where she meets the wizard Horace who wants to use her horn in his immortality spell)
What are the stakes? (without her horn she'll lose her magic and princess unicorns will become normal unicorns, thus losing their royal status and their access to crowns.)

No, that's not really my story but it should be.  It would be crazy amazing, right?  Moving on. 

Hope this is useful to someone.  I'm getting back to work. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


Sometimes when I’m at a loss for what to write, maybe I’m not connecting with a character, or maybe I just don’t know what they want to do next.  Maybe I’m between projects and want to brainstorm for my next one or get ideas for a new one, I sometimes turn to an exercise created by the wonderful Ron Wodaski over at compuserve. 

It’s called the ABC’s.  Yea, we didn’t waste time writing a name for it.  What you do is take a character or story and go through all the letters of the alphabet.  Here’s an example of one of mine. 

J is for Jars of jam:  (double word point!)  Sun glinted off the jars of ruby red preserves.  Enough strawberry jam to last a year.  Or not.  With three men in the house food didn’t last long.  Still it was satisfying to see them.  She trailed her fingers over the smooth glass and thought of all the ways she provided for her family.  It was nice to be needed.  Even if it was only for Jars of Jam.

It’s first draft goodness but I found out some things about my characters.  I’m a panster not a plotter so I don’t fill out character sheets listing my characters favorite foods or colors.  This is writing from the characters pov and helps me find out the story and people. Some of my alphabet created scenes. Some just gave me ideas for themes or emotions. 

Do you have any writer’s exercises that get you in the mood for writing or help you get to know the characters and plot?

Friday, February 24, 2012


Sangu Mandanna who's book, The Lost Girl, is coming out later this year just put up some pictures of her cover. It looks really nice and she's also having a drawing for an arc.  If your interested head over here and enter.

Tag, I'm It

I was tagged four times this week.  Once each by RuthChristine Tyler, Dawn Allen, and Traci Kensworth.  Thanks for thinking of me! Because I doubt everyone wants to read 44 questions about me I just picked a few from each list to answer. 

1.     When it comes to books, what is your biggest pet peeve?
I’m against proper grammar and spelling! 
No not really. I really hate it when I finish a book and feel as if nothing happened. That there were so many words but they didn’t say anything.   

2.       Have you ever had Ketchup Chips?  EEEWWWWW!  

3.      What is your favorite animal?  Peacocks! And sloths.  They’re just so cool.

4.       How many books/short stories/poems/songs etc. have you written? Ha!  I can’t count.  I have a dozen notebooks filled plus all the stuff on my computer.  

5.      What book (craft or otherwise) have you learned the most from?  It’s not a book but my talented friends at Compuserve have taught me so, so much.  If I ever get published it will be thanks to them.  

6.      Is it okay for guys to wear pink? Yes, as long as they’re not related to me.

7.      Do you have a theme song? Please share. The imperial march from Star Wars

8.      Where would you bury treasure if you found some? I wouldn’t.  I would take it out and share it around.  Use it to make my family happy.  I’d probably put some in the bank because security makes me happy.  That’s why I’m a writer.

9.      What book and/or movie could you read and/or watch over and over? As far as books go there are a lot I could read over and over.  Jane Eyre. Pride and Prejudice.  Persuasion. The Outlander series. The Family Nobody Wanted.  Anything by Terry Pratchett.  Movies: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world. Shrek.Persuasion.  Pride and Prejudice, the Colin Firth version.  If anyone wants to know why I didn’t put the Kiera Knightly version I’ll be happy to tell you but be prepared for a rant.

10 Have you ever done anything illegal? My lawyer has advised me not to answer this question.
If the dream agent walked in one day with the dream deal on your latest novel, how would you react?  Honestly, I’d probably wake up.  Oh, you mean if it wasn’t a dream.  I'd try to cobble together some semi-intelligent questions then sign the contract before she could retract the offer.  I'd wait till she left to scream.  

I know a lot of you have already been tagged so anyone who wants can take my questions and answer them.  Leave a message in the comments so we can come on over.  If you don't want to do the whole think just answer one of them in the comments sections I'd love to get to know you all better.  

1.        If you could rule any country with an iron fist which country would it be and why?
2.       Who is your favorite fictional character?
3.       Physical books, ebooks or both? 
4.       Who is your nemesis?
5.       Salty or sweet?(I had a better question than this but I was in the car when I thought of it and now it's gone)
6.       How do you overcome writers block?
7.       If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?
8.       What is your favorite place to write?
9.       What would be your favorite vacation?
10  Do you have a favorite author?  Who is it?
11   Why do you blog?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I just sent my baby off to beta readers.  I'm a little nervous and very excited.  I can't wait to find out how I can make it better because I have no perspective anymore.  I do feel a little hollow inside.  This draft took about three weeks longer than I had planned so I've been pushing myself and it's been all I've been thinking of.  Now I'm not going to look at it until I hear back from them. I'm so very grateful to readers and critiquers.  I couldn't have done this with out them.

Don't worry, I still have plenty to do.  I plan to polish my query, get it critiqued, polish, critique, polish.... you get the picture.  I'll also be working on synopses of it plus the two that follow just in case I can find someone who wants to buy the whole trilogy.  Hey, I can dream.  I'll continue to research agents and maybe, just maybe I can catch up on blogging.  I'll be coming to all you campaigners! 

I just started babysitting again and today is my first day with the 2 month old.  Since we got pretty girl when she was 16 months old it's been 3 years since I had an infant.  I forgot how much they spit up.  Off to clean.

What will you be doing in the near future?  Any fun plans. 

Monday, February 20, 2012


Today is the blogging campaigns first challenge.  The rules are: Write a short flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these: end the story with the words: "everything faded", include the word "orange" in the story, write in the same genre you normally write, make your story 200 words exactly!

Here is my story that is exactly 200 words, began and ended with the requested words and is adapted from my WIP, so it's definitely in my genre. 


Shadows crept across the wall measuring the passing of time.  Anna didn’t know how long she stood there, her heart bleeding into the hollow where her lungs and stomach used to be, but the house was dark, the orange gone from the sky.
Her legs ached. As she moved one foot then the other little pins prickled everywhere. It was a relief to feel that kind of pain. The prickles eased with movement and she regretted their loss. Now it was too easy to feel the hole Paul had left in her chest. Where was he? The remembered anguish on his face made her crumple to the ground.
She couldn’t let him hurt like that. Jumping up, she was at the door before she knew it, fingers on the handle. But what would she say? Anything. Anything to remove that hurt from his face, erase the anger caused by her confession. Or worse yet, the dead empty look that told her she no longer meant anything to him.
Her heart twisted and her fingers slid off the handle. There was nothing she could say. He could never accept what she was.  She let the darkness take her and everything faded.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Will

Last week while visiting a blog I looked over at the blogger profile.  It said “I just want to be a writer---so I will”.  That’s all it said. 

My first reaction was to sputter, it’s not that easy, and imagine this person as one of the many who don’t have a clue what they’re getting into.  It reminded me of a fellow who visited Compuserve for a little while.  He spoke of his books and plots.  Whipped up a query letter and sent if off to some agents.  After a month or so he left a post saying he quit. He wouldn’t be coming back.  It was too hard to get agents attention, his books were good but no one would look at them because of the system.... You know the drill, I’m sure you’ve all heard it before.  Several people chatted with him, encouraged him, offered help.  “No,” he said.  He didn’t want help.  He was too old (in his 70’s I believe) to waste time learning to do it right.  He just wanted to be an author so he tried.  And failed.

But the more I thought about it I realized it was that simple.  I want to be a writer. So I will.  I am.  I’m not an author yet but someday I will be because I won’t give up.  Yea, it’s hard and I have to research publishing, and query letters, and marketing, and sometimes it’s discouraging.  Like right now when both of my children have decided that napping is NOT in their agenda.  But my determination is there.  I decided.  So come what may I’ll stick to it. 

My name is Sara, I want to be a writer

So I will be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How Low Can You Go?

I think every writer has low points. Point where we truly believe we are the worst writer ever, that we should just give it up before everyone points and laughs. We look at the words that yesterday seemed so achingly brilliant and want to cry because today they are complete trash.  Writers get in some pretty low spots.  Spots where it’s hard to get out of.

But we also have some pretty good highs.  The shiny new idea that highjacks our brains, making us giddy with hope and joy.  The electricity of writing that perfect scene or of figuring out the motivation behind one of our characters.  It’s tingly and new and if we could we’d float up to rejoice with the clouds. 

Would we have the good times without the lows? You know the saying “the higher you fly the farther you fall”  The highs and lows balance each other out.  If we couldn’t feel the despair we’d never know the joy. Sure the low points are discouraging and depressing but I’ll take them if that’s the only way to experience the pure pleasure of writing. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

I've never been big on Valentines Day. Working in a floral shop will do that to you.  You can read my post about it here.  But I do enjoy kissing.  And kissing scenes in books.  I rarely post snippets. I think I've only done it once before. But just because, here is an almost kissing scene from my current WIP.

She made the mistake of looking up. Paul was closer than she had thought, his eyes focused on her face, and she trailed off forgetting about the proper care of potatoes. For just a moment her heart fluttered to life and her stomach droped.
Taking a handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped the sweat from her face. He was so gentle and Anna quivered all over at the look in his eyes. His hand smoothed her hair as he leaned into her, brushing her cheek with his nose.
Eyes closed, lips parted slightly, she couldn’t move. Her breath was ragged and she was embarased he could hear it. Desperately she tried to focus, to force herself to do something, anything.
“What are you thinking Anna?” He whispered mouth against her jaw. She couldn’t answer, only gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. His lips traced a burning line up her jaw and nibbled under her ear. It was good his hands were on her arms, holding her up as her knees shimmied, melted and threatened to come unhinged.
“Da?” a voice came from outside and steps on the porch gave them a single moment of warning. Paul stepped back and Anna sagged against the table.