Writers’ Toolbox: Six Sentence Sunday

All you need to be a writer is pen & paper, fingers & a keyboard. To Sell books, especially in the online market, you’ll need a bit more than that. The name of the game is networking. This is why I suggest joining writers’ communities, and participating in activities like Six Sentence Sunday.

Writers’ Toolbox: Savvy Authors SUMMER SYMPOSIUM

I have to thank Caszie for this recommendation. Savvy Authors is holding a five-day event for writers, Savvy Authors SUMMER SYMPOSIUM. I’m new to the site, so I don’t know much about it. It looks as though you have to pay to attend the online conference, but it looks like it’ll be really informative.

Here’s what the site has to say…

Join us for five days as we talk craft – from plot and character, to dialogue, suspense, theme and story question (with a bunch of stuff in between) in chats, Q&A forums and mini-workshops. Our presenters will be sharing what works – whether it’s worldbuilding or setting or layering in back story; or even if it’s technical detail and the fruits of research, they’ll be exposing the craft that underlies a good story. We’ll also be talking about publishing and promoting, offering pitch opportunities to the attendees and raffling off books on craft from folks like James Scott Bell novels, gift certificates, workshops, 3-chapter critiques from published authors and more.

Check back often as we’re still adding more workshops, chats, Q&A’s & raffles

Writers’ Toolbox: Ten Ways to Jump-Start Your Plot

Every now and again, I’ll hear a voice in my head–let me finish–begging to be written about. It usually a strong voice with power and charm, but no direction. Finding a plot for my character is a lot like finding a dress for Prom. It’s a long process that takes a great deal of sacrifice on my part. Ten Ways to Jump-Start Your Plot is a great article for, well, jump-starting plot.

Writers’ Toolbox: Deciphering Blurbs & Reviews – Romance Fiction

Deciphering Blurbs & Reviews – Romance Fiction is more amusing than it is informative, but if you’re in the process of writing your blurb, synopsis, pitch, or query letter, this article is a must-read. It’s not a how-to guide, but it does point out words that are overused in book proposals, and the negative connotations they have attached to them.

Writers’ Toolbox: How not to Yank Your Readers Out of the Story!

We all make mistakes, but too many can kill your chance of getting published. The problem is that no one can write a perfect manuscript. The article, How not to Yank Your Readers Out of the Story, points out some pretty massive flaws that even some NYT Bestselling authors have made. Check it out, you do not want to repeat these.

Writers’ Toolbox: Mastering the Dreaded Synopsis

I cringe when I see the word synopsis. It’s a dreaded task that makes rewriting look easy. So much rides on those few pages, it impossibleto not be intimidated. However, thanks to the web, writers now have access to endless guides and examples. Two articles that I recommend are Mastering the Dreaded Synopsis and A Few Winning Synopses. The first gives pointers, while the second article is a collection of synopses’ of sold manuscripts.

Writers’ Toolbox: Avoiding The Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) Heroine

I found this article, Avoiding The Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) Heroine, and knew I had to share it. I absolutely hate these heroines! They are the reason I get up and turn off a horror flick. Masochism and women do not mix. Females are supposed to be smarter than this. We do not walk into dangerous situations when there are alternatives that don’t involve going face to face with a sociopath–like sending in the hero to check it out. Before you start screaming sexism, I think it’s stupid for men to do it, too, but unlike women, men have higher levels of testosterone and therefore have a believable excuse for this sort of stupidity.

Writers’ Toolbox: Autocrit

Editing is never painless, even for those who are good at it. It’s easy to miss the small things like repeated words or slow pacing, and beta readers aren’t perfect. Autocrit.com has been a blessing. This program examines 11 different areas of your writing (pacing, clichés, repeated words, dialogue, pronouns, sentence variation, etc.). Better yet, it’ll examine your entire novel at once to give you an over all picture. Go to the website and give it a test drive, you’ll be amazed by what this program catches.

Writers’ Toolbox: Bookends, LLC — A Literary Agency

Much like Pub RantsBookends, LLC — A Literary Agency is a blog written to help aspiring authors land an agent. These agents know it’s not easy, because they’re the ones that reject hundreds of queries every week. Believe it or not, they are not out to get you, and they enjoy giving rejection about as much as you enjoy receiving it. So do yourself a favor and keep and eye on these blogs and others like them.

Writers’ Toolbox: SlushPile Hell

When it comes to writing query letters, I cannot tell you what to do. I can explain format and what agents/publishers expect, but there is no secret formula that I know of–if you have one please share the wealth :). What I can offer you is SlushPile Hell, a blog that will tell you things you shouldn’t do.

It might not be a secret formula, but it’s a start.

Writers’ Toolbox: The Association of Authors’ Representation

We have discussed Writer Beware and Predators & Editors. Both are invaluable websites when you’re trying to decide who to query. Another great resource for checking the credibility of an agency is The Association of Authors’ Representatives(AAR). AAR is a nonprofit organization dedicated to setting a standard for agents. In order for agents to gain an AAR membership, they must met certain requirements and agree to the a code of ethics. It’s kind of like a Better Business Bureau for literary agents.

Remember, not all reputable literary agents belong to this organization, and the ones who do aren’t monitored at all times. Make sure to use all resources available to make sure you’re not being scammed.

Writers’ Toolbox: Predators & Editors

Predators & Editors is the place to go when you’re in search of an agent. There are a lot of websites out there that keep a running list of agents, and even searchable databases, but those websites are not always aware of how trustworthy those agents are. Predators & Editors is great about keeping their website up-to-date on which agents are reputable and which aren’t. So, before you send out that query make sure to the check the credibility of the agent your querying.

Writers’ Toolbox: Duotrope’s Digest

I have to thank Caszie for introducing me to Duotrope’s Digest. It’s the go to place if you’re looking to get published in the fiction or poetry market. They have the most comprehensive list of publishers that I’ve come across, and they have a detailed search engine. You just type in all the details of your manuscript, and tada, you have a suitable list of publishers to submit to. Better yet, they have response time stats and acceptance rate stats, and they gather this information through their submission tracker; which could be highly beneficial to you if you’re looking for a way to keep up with all of your outgoing submissions, and publishers you’re interested in.

Written Right Wednesdays: Darkfever

Since we’ve been on the topic of hooks this week, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorites. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning is superb, and in my opinion Darkfever has one of the best hooks of all time.  (Click on the quote for a full excerpt of Darkfever)

“My philosophy is pretty simple–any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book.”

Beautiful! There is a reason this book is a bestseller, and it’s Moning’s ability to suck you into the story. Her writing is suspenseful and intriguing. When writing your hooks–scratch that, when writing your entire manuscript, you should incorporate this same atmosphere. Readers want to feel the tension. Make me want to read more. If your first sentence isn’t good enough grab my attention, chances are, neither is the rest of your story. I’m not saying this to be cruel, but you need to realize that first impressions last the longest. Think of Twilight. Why do you think so many people made it through the insanely slow pace of that book? The prologue! It catches your attention.

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die–though I’d had reason enough in the last few months–but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”

Whether you love or hate Twilight doesn’t change the fact that that’s a good opening line, because it makes the reader curious. Who’s going to die? Why? How? What reasons did the narrator have to think he/she would die?

Your hook should create questions, so that people have a reason to move forward.