GIVEAWAY - Dear Agent, Write a Great Synopsis, or, Tweet Right

This is the last week of my GIVEAWAY so here are the fabbity ebooks I'm offering to 3 lucky commenters!

Dear AgentDear Agent has step-by-step advice about how to write every part of the letter that you hope will catch you an agent and/or publisher. Dear Agent highlights many of the things not to do, the often-invisible pitfalls that so many writers fall into.

You’ve written the best book you can and you believe there are readers for it, but how do you persuade an agent or publisher to take it on? The first thing they will see is your letter or email and that short document must sell your book, make it stand out from the crowd, make it (and you) desirable. Dear Agent contains detailed expert advice, covering the best structure for your letter, what to put in (and what to leave out), answers to the questions writers ask, and all the horrible mistakes to avoid. Make your book stand out for all the right reasons.

A Write Synopsis  Write a Great Synopsis covers: the function of a synopsis, the differences between outlines and synopses, dealing with requirements for different agents and publishers, finding the heart of your book, how to tackle non-linear plots, multiples themes, sub-plots and long novels, and it answers all the questions and confusions that writers have. Nicola also introduces readers to her patent Crappy Memory Tool, explains the art of crafting a 25-word pitch, and demonstrates with real examples. Gold-dust for writers at all stages.
Read more!

And lastly, but not leastly, Nicola Morgan's Tweet Right (the image will not load ! so please link to it to enjoy it's pretty blue cover if nothing else).

Tweet Right is your guide to getting started on Twitter. Nicola Morgan leads you gently but firmly through the whys, the hows and the how nots, covering theory, practice and etiquette – including how to avoid the sins of over-promotion. Whether you’re intrigued or confused, sceptical or raring to start, whether you are a complete beginner or you’ve already taken tentative steps, Tweet Right will guide you from the very beginning until you are ready to fly.

So be sure to comment below and be in to win one of these beauties for your Kindle or (free) Kindle app!

Winners will be announced next week on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 - good luck!

Snogging The Crabbit Old Bat

The Crabbit Old Bat
- the UK's answer to Miss Snark - only more so -
is here at Help! I Need a Publisher!

Let me tempt you to rush over and read, read, read this hugely informative
blog for writers.

Here are links to the Crabbit Old Bat's topic:
Crabbit's Tips for Writers

Which covers
6. CRABBIT'S TIPS FOR SYNOPSES which is in book form now as 'WRITE A GREAT SYNOPSIS'  but you can comment below and be in the draw to win a digital copy!)


These last two topics are so huge, and The Crabbit (aka Nicola Morgan) has such a great list of posts on them, that I've linked you to a page where the posts are together - just be sure to scroll down and set aside an hour for blissful inspiration.
And there is much, much more at her site!

Here's a taste of the Crabbit Old Bat's own words on High Concept Books (because we all want one, don't we - or many so we can sell our stories)

The Crabbit's definition of High Concept:

Essentially, a book with an extra-strong hook. A high-concept novel is one which is easy to sell because the idea has wow factor and is easy to explain very quickly. The wow factor often comes from a sense of, “Why didn’t I think of that? That’s going to sell in shedloads. Damn it.” 

The Crabbit sums it up with:

Note, however, that your book does not have to be high-concept for it to be published, so don’t go hunting high-concept at the expense of good writing. In fact, if every book were high-concept, reading would become a nightmare of over-excitement. But if you do happen to come up with such an idea, it is more likely to fit the “what publishers want” category. And I am insanely jealous of you and may have to consider killing you.

Oh, by the way, do NOT say in your covering letter or query, "My novel is fabulously high-concept." This is for them to judge and you to grin smugly about in a place where they can't see you.

... which makes me grin and want to read more

Hope you do too.

Be sure to leave a comment so you go in the draw for your choice of a Kindle copy (or downloadable e-copy with your free Kindle app) of The Crabbit's Dear Agent, Tweet Right, or Write a Great Synopsis - or just comment coz I'd like to know you visited.

(A word of warning - I do find you if you comment, and will snog your blog if I like what I see ... waggling my eyebrows mischieviously as I type)

See you next week!

Warning Bloggy Pals, I have prizes!

I have some wildly wonderful prizes from Nicola Morgan,
writing guru and Crabbity mentor at
Help, I need a Publisher!

They're free copies of her excellent ebooks - Dear Agent, Tweet-Right and Write a Great Synopsis
Three (THREE) of you have a chance to choose one for your Kindle (or for your free Kindle app on your computer, iPad, etc) at the end of August if your name is picked out of my sunhat.

I'll give you a moment to stop squealing and find your way back to your seat. Nicola_Morgan

For the next three weeks I'll feature Nicola's wisdomosity and advice so you'll be salivating to win these giveaways (and also because these are the last busy weeks of vacation for many of us and school prep [ack] must be faced. Which reminds me, I have to wake up my teen before 3pm today.)

All you have to do is comment below in the next three weeks - a quick 'Hi!' will do - and I'll draw three names at the end of the month - August 30 so you can mark it on your calendars. I'll post the winners' names on Friday, August 31.


Now, more about Nicola Morgan. Today's quote from Nicola is from her bio:

"Before trusting my advice, you need to know why you should. So, here's some CV-type information to help you. (Excuse the boasting but it's what CVs have to do... And, yes, I cringe.)

I have around 90 books published, mostly in the children's and YA markets. Some of my books for younger children are best-sellers in their category, and many of my novels have made it onto various shortlists and / or won awards, including being nominated for the Carnegie Medal. I have also written hundreds of articles for magazines, and reviews for The Guardian and The Scotsman."
Go here if you want to learn more.

I have to add that it took her 20 years to get her fiction published. A fact that warms my heart and convinces me she knows the struggle many of us face. It also means we can love her so much more than those (abnormal) authors who write their first novel in six months, find an agent in three, and sell on their first round of submissions, mutter, mutter.

The topics she's covered on her hugely popular blog are so informative that I'm having a hard time choosing one to give you an idea of her brilliantosity ... another reason why I'll be spending a few weeks snogging her.

Fabbity-brill stuff and so little snogging space.
I counted 119 topics - lots of great advice written with humor about every aspect of writing.

Here's part of one that hits my writerly-spot: the post is on her topics list as 'Heartsong' and she's added the title 'What I won't do to sell more books' on the entry.

"I know there are things I could do which would make me sell more books.
  1. Stop writing so many different sorts; focus on one genre and write lots within it. (There'd be nothing wrong with that but I happen to want to write lots of different things.)
  2. Or cut back on being a writer and bust a gut to do more marketing. (Because as far as I know there are only 24 hours in a day and I can't stay awake for all of them.)
  3. Be strictly market-focused, deliberately tailoring the books I write to have a far greater mass appeal, even though those are not the books I really want to write. (Nothing wrong with them but they don't beat my heart.)
  4. Ask all my friends, family, blog-readers and Twitter followers to write fantastic reviews on Amazon, even if they haven't read my books. (Ugh.)
  5. Do many more events, and really push my books at them, instead of my usual pathetic, "I've *cough* got some cards here with info about my books, if *cough* *mumble mumble*". (Sigh.)
  6. Spatter Twitter with BUY MY BOOK messages instead of spending 99% of my time there talking about other things and making friends. (Ugh.)
  7. Care much less about what people think of me. (Impossible.)
But if I did any of those things, I wouldn't be the writer or the person I want to be. That's why I'm and have to be at least passably at ease with the way things are for me. Yes, I think I'm worth much more money than I earn; no, I wouldn't say no to selling more books; yes, I already do more than I'd like to in terms of marketing; yes, I think I work as hard and as well as most people on substantial salaries. But I chose to be a writer and anyone who goes into writing with a direct intention of becoming rich is not my sort of writer, or my sort of person. I never did think I'd be rich, though I couldn't have predicted the shocking fall in author income that has happened in the last few years."

Do go and read the rest!

Yikes, I really have to go wake my nocturnal teen ... See you next week and don't forget to comment, even if it tells you that you're spam. You're not spam, and I shall approve you and get your comment posted and in the draw asap :)

Happy day!

Snoggee #22 - Alyx Dellamonica

Oh boy, I didn't think I could get this excited about a blog but here I am - bouncing like an Olympian.

Let me intro Alyx Dellamonica
Alyx Dellamonica
Cool name, cool pic, and ver cool person.

I found Alyx at the Surrey International Writers Conference in 2011 completely by accident. I went to a workshop on Speculative Fiction and Alyx showed up and gave a workshop on World Building instead. It was so good that I wasn't disappointed at all.

Then I found out she teaches on-line writing courses through UCLA's Extension Writer's Program and has blogged some most excellent posts on writing.

She's even ver kindly put them together on her website under 'Teaching' so you can link straight to them.

Be prepared to start and not want to stop - but it is well worth your time.

She covers 'Revision: from Macro to Micro', 'The Spark Plugs of Fiction', 'The Quality of Prose' - and more.

My absolute favorite is 'Eye Bookisms' which is a fabby article on a common beginner trap we writers fall into - and Alyx begins by quoting Jeanne Cavelos, who's the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshop  (also a most excellent blog, especially if you're a fantasy/sci-fi writer):

"Many authors overuse words involving looking and eyes. They describe their characters looking, glancing, gazing, staring, studying, seeing, surveying, scanning, peeking, leering, ogling, noticing, watching, blinking, glaring, and just generally eyeballing everything. Characters' eyes flash, burn, linger, darken or brighten, and even change color. Characters' eyes drop to the floor (ouch!); they roam around the room (eeek!). Or characters may raise the ever-popular eyebrow." - Jeanne Cavelos

Ha! What a great list! and I haven't used surveying or eyeballing yet in my manuscript so I must go and find a spot for them ...

So don't hang around here. Go have fun on Alyx's blog!

Catch you next week - and get ready for a super duper give-away here (yes, here, on my blog) when I snog the amazing Nicola Morgan later this month. You won't want to miss it. Honestly!

Blog Snog #9 - yes, I know the count is higher but humor me

Happy Friday. Sorry I didn't post on Wed or Thurs but stuff happens even in my small and sluggish life, so, today it's Friday - and here I am with more Blogs to Snog!

Alexandra Sokoloff's Bk The first Snogee is most worthy and I highly, as in Himalayan highly, recommend you get her stuff. I've been enthused by her work, a gem of inspiration - Screenwriting Tricks for Authors - and can't thank her enough for her fabulous blog.

She is Alexandra Sokoloff at The Dark Salon Toot! She's brill and her blog post on July 24, 2012, Writing YA - Themes is amazing.

Click on the link and you won't be sorry, no siree (and I'm shaking my head vigorously, rattling my brain numb so you know I'm not fibbing.)

My next two snogs are for you if you like author interviews and book reviews.

Shannon Hitchcock  First up is Shannon Hitchcock's blog Shannon and The Sunshine Band
  Don't let the name throw you - it's not about KC or old disco tunes, but full of great book reviews of   wonderful books that you may not have heard of but will be really (really) glad you found. My link should take you to her post about Ruta Sepetys' highly acclaimed 'Between Shades of Gray' - which I hope you have heard of.

 Shannon's debut novel 'The Ballad of Jessie Pearl' will be out in the winter of 2013.

NEXT, I give you Christine Henderson at The Write Chris Chris & Books photo- On Writing, which is where she blogs "... interviews with writers who show what they've learned in their successes to encourage you to press on. I will also share my experiences with writing and researching -- as well as successes and failures."

That's me snogged-out for the day. I'm already excited about next weeks' snogees so see you on Thursday, Aug 2nd!

Snogging the High Concept Premise

Over the last week I've been snarfing up as much inspirational info as I can find in the hope of coming up with my next great MG fantasy novel. Which, once written, will become every kid's favorite story. That shouldn't be too hard, should it?

One of the treasures I found in my search is an article by Terry Rosio Terry Rossio & Ted Elliotof the uberly talented screenwriting duo of Elliot & Rossio (together in this pic) who wrote SHREK and ALADDIN and at least 4 other great scripts, plus co-wrote PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, MEN IN BLACK, and a blue streak of top grossing movies.

I found him - well, his articles - on

And his column Mental Real Estate is ALL about coming up with high concept ideas that are our mental real estate and just as valuable as acreage in Malibu.

Story writing is all about connecting with your reader, telling them something that they relate to - as Rossio puts it, "If you recognize the thing I tell you, that means it's taking up space in your head -- tangling up a few billion neurons -- residing on a chunk of mental real estate" ...
..."Step One on the search for mental real estate: resolve to write your screenplay with some kind of known element."
And then, putting your own twist or angle on it.

Which we writers know, but it really doesn't hurt to be reminded and have it presented in a fresh way.

Rossio goes into great detail from the perspective of a screenwriter (of course) but I found it all fascinating and insightful.

Here's the link: Mental Real Estate

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

To Snog or Not to Snog, that is the quandary

My quandary (unlike yesterday's quandary, or the particularly uncomfortable one I had the day before last) is that most of the blogs I've read so far today have left me yawning and rubbing my eyes between trips around the room to shake off the screaming abb-dabs.

Honestly, I've resorted to reading two cereal packets and a political pamphlet to liven up my day. It's taking a tremendous amount of will power to resist grabbing my Kindle and leaping onto a lawn chair.

BUT I intend to present to you a truly snoggable blog to save my half atrophied brain so here it is, and it's a beauty.
I am giving the incomparable Maggie Stiefvater a hearty snog  - for renewing my faith in bloggers and many more reasons besides - and for her fabbity fab blog post,
 from way, way back in October 2009. Maggie Stiefvater

It's for every writer who needs to find a reason to write on.
And that is why I'm snogging her today.
It is a blog classic.
One to read in tough and gloomy times, or every other week.

Wotz more, I am hugely happy to tell you about Rose Green and her blog Der Buchwald 
Rose is a fellow Blueboarder. Rose is quite the artist as well as a writer and her recent posts on 'Why you should read when you're a writer' and 'On aiming for the top and following your gut' are well worth stopping by to read.
And, while I was on Rose's site, I found a bonus. A gem. A link to
Brandon Sanderson's Write About Dragons which is amazing!
It's the complete video footage of Brandon Sanderson’s 2012 creative writing class at Brigham Young University. Wow!

So now I've successfully avoided the screaming abb-dabs and left you with my snog recommendations, I can skip off to my lawn chair.

Have a great day :D

More Most Snoggable Blogs!

When I started snogging blogs I thort it might be amusing for a few weeks but now I'm hooked. So many blogs to snog and oh so little snogging time.

So today I'm surprising 2 most excellent bloggers instead of sticking to my list because I'm allowed (nods enthusiastically ... not that any of you are shaking your heads, are you).

The first is because of her most amazing pic - that is a new tattoo, folks -  Carmella Van Vleet - and her post is most worthy of a read: Breaking through the wall (of writerly angst). This is the arm (and tat) of Carmella Van Vleet, who has only been known to me as Car on the Blueboards until today. Now I know her full (and rather fabulous) name and that she is a member of a blog I shall be snogging & lurking about at more frequently: MiG Writers

Donna Earnhardt My second most honored snoggee is Donna Earnhardt @ Word Wrangler who has invited us all to come up with 15 elevator pitches through July.

I'd lurve you all to join us (yes, us - I need a challenge every other minute to keep me from scampering off to polish the silver).

I'm kinda hoping it'll be good for me. I've come up with a few already so here's one to help you to commit - I mean, if I can come up with one, YOU can ... and it's not intimidating at all when you see that this is the kind of rubbish that I pass for an elevator pitch:
'Think: Dorothy goes to Oz to find her parents and meets hostile munchkins, undead witches and more than one scarecrow without a brain, when she's forced to save the world instead.'

Or my next favorite (which might just be a real manuscript one day if I ever get the darn outline done) :

'Chrysalids meets Enders Game only without any skills and a lot less team work.'

See? Easy! No one is ever going to ask me to elaborate so I'm off the hook (which is where I'd rather be) and I won't need to come up with details that will actually make sense to any poor beleaguered agent or editor stuck in an elevator with me. Win Win.

Of course, you'll prolly want to make more sense so ags and eds are interested in your novel but that's entirely up to you. (Yes, I am waggling my eyebrows and grinning impishly.)

Right, I'd better go and warn Car and Donna that they've been snogged royally, and work on my outline.

Looking forward to next week already coz I've got more great blogs to snog!

Oh! And DO post a pitch in the comments, or better yet, go and support Donna in her creative vigil :)

(And happy July 4 celebrations America!)

Bloggy Snoggy #8

Howdy! I thought I might be all snogged out but I took a break and now I'm back with mucho enthusiasm. There's nothing like a good blog to invigorate the zing in your day and Sarah C. Pilon has done just that! Sarah C. Pilon

Sarah is a fun blogger and an amazing artist - I really enjoyed myself reading about her and her most interesting Random Facts. Did you know racecar spelled backwards will still spell racecar? Me neither! Pretty awesome and most useful info.

And I found something that really piqued my curiosity - her latest post on Great Sensory Activities for Kids.

I'm making Flubber after work, and the Gorgeous One is going to love Colorful Rice ... and I think her Milk Magic just has to be tested ...

Don't forget to check out her archives and categories. There are some really fabby ones. So here it is:

Sorry to kiss and run, but I'm late for work (yes, I DO work at a real job. It's not all fun at the desk for me).

I will be back - that is a threat, though I sound nothing like Arnie.


Snogging Elissa Cruz!

Wake up - I've given you 2 weeks off and now it's time to check out the adorable Elissa Cruz.

I know she looks sweet - as if butter wouldn't melt - but the woman has more sass and spark than you might think at first glance.

She's nice, too, but nice is only one of her many talents.
Elissa Cruz is someone you want to pay attention to.

I've known Elissa a long time, mostly via Verla Kay's Blueboards so I have watched her work her magic on-line.

Elissa began a group blog of middle-grade writers called From the Mixed-Up Files and today (cool coincidence!) is their second anniversary - I'd get over there pronto and comment so you go in for their prize draw. A Nook and a $25 gift certificate, which isn't too shabby imo.

And if you do make a comment you get a weird little avatar - mine is a funky blue elephant-type critter that I'm very fond of - so it's worth the effort. I'm positively chuffed with mine, and will be all day.
Loads of great content in the archives to keep you happy, too.

Elissa is also part of the team that have organized a chat on Twitter every Thursday night #MGlitchat at 9pm ET and 6pm PT. It's the highlight of my Thursdays (after chatting to you lot) and I've learned interesting stuff as well as found kindred writerly souls to follow on Twitter.

Here's a link to the website so you can look up the topics being discussed AND access transcripts of the chats you've missed at the MGlitchat.

As if this wasn't enough, Elissa has her own blog which kept me busy reading so long this morning that I was late here to post. Sorry to keep you waiting but you'll forgive me when you go see for yourself. Just love her entry on May 23rd 2012 on the Art of Pacing - and all the other entries I managed to get to before duty and snogging called.

AND (I see your brows rise) Elissa has been a guest presenter at Kidlit Conferences (also a site well worth a few minutes of your time), and possibly other conferences, while she mothers 5 children, blogs, posts and works as Assistant Regional Advisor (ARA) for the Utah/S. Idaho chapter of SCBWI.

I'm starting to feel queasy.

Watch her! One day she'll have a book in print as well.