Twitter pitches gave me the pitching twitches

Have you ever seen stage make-up in the full day of light? On stage, with all the stripping lights, it looks fabulous. But when you see that same make-up on someone just walking around during the day, it’s confronting – too much. This is kind of like my introduction to twitter pitching. Pitches I believed too fantastical, too in-your-face, ended up being the life of the twitter party. In other circumstances the pitch might look out of place – like the party animal whose outlandish behaviour¬† at a frat party is encouraged, but that same behaviour would be frowned upon should they turn up to a job interview wearing a beer-chugging hat. But are twitter pitches as one-dimensional as this? Or like the beer-chugging frat boy who calls his mummy on Sundays and ruffles the hair of his youngest niece, is there a depth and intensity that you never saw until you gave them more than a passing glance? Yes, of course ūüôā Twitter pitching might have given me the pitching twitches, but it was a great sensation: it made me feel something again.

I loved the way my friend Jean would get all *shifty eyed* when we spoke about involving other people into the world of my book. Well now, not only am I giving the milk away for free, I’m throwing in a milking station and jean-short wearing cowboy – who likes to massage . . . It was sobering to throw my story in people’s faces 24 times in 12 hours and have people scan past it. It made me realise that there are a lot of great stories out there and that they sound a hell of a lot more interesting than mine. And it made me realise my hook is more just ‘slightly-bent’ and that it’s going to need some serious shaping to latch anyone with its curvy goodness. That can never be a bad thing ūüôā

I don’t want to get into what makes a great twitter pitch; people do this so much better than I. (Check them out one day. The ones I tried are #pitchMAS and #SFFpit, but there was #pitmad a few days prior ) I do have two opportunities with agents wanting to see my query, so that was pretty awesome. And after spending two months building my query and then moaning because I couldn’t send it out to agents this close to Christmas, it was nice to finally send those first two queries and have that feeling of hope resurface. Because isn’t that what keeps us going? As corny as hope is as a concept, I would rather have the possibility of rejection, than no possibility at all. It’s exciting – like when you know you shouldn’t call the love interest who shows little interest in you, and you know they won’t return your call. But don’t you just love that feeling in the pit of your belly that makes you feel alive?

 

 

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How do you take your protagonist? Grump, lump or shrew?

shrew

It’s been a couple of crazy weeks. I feel like I’m going crazy because, looking back, I don’t know what has taken up all my time. A voice whispers,” Or what you’ve achieved.” Maybe I am going crazy; I swear I’m hearing voices. Move along or I will start singing the first line of a song which my daughter will repeat over and over again, ten times louder than humanly possible. It’s your choice. I might even come with you.

I thought I’d take a break from the topic of book submissions. Now, you say it. Take a break from your book submissions. Thank you; I needed that push. If I had continued with book two and forged on – and not been discouraged by my fourth rejection – I would have written almost 3/4 of book two. That just goes to show how much time it takes to sell a book. That’s a fun fact that certainly helped me sleep last night. I’m really glad I did the math. Math is bad.

Crazy. Normally, it’s just the way I like it. I mean, of course all my characters are based on Disney characters…. You mean the secondary, insane ones, right? No? Oh, well not so much…

It surprises me when I read secondary characters who intrigue me more than the protagonist. Why is the primary character more neutral when you know the author has it in them to spice up the pages with more colourful characters? Is it intentional?

I can be reading a scene¬† with my favourite secondary character who is all wit and grit, and they leave. No!!! Wait! Come back! Don’t leave me with this person! We don’t have anything to talk about. It’s like me in a room full of…anybodies!

Why can’t our MC have the characteristics of those secondary? Is it because they have more impact, the less we see of them? Quality vs quantity.

I know that we make secondary colours by mixing primary colours. Is this why? We have a greater range of colours to play with, if we stick to drawing from primary colours?

In my personal experience, as a reader of first-person pov’s, if you don’t connect with the MC,¬† there is nowhere to hide. If you read a striking, over-bearing, sassy loud mouth, then there is a greater risk of the reader saying – Woah, that is way too much. Where’s the exit? There is none? No matter, I’ll just punch through this wall.

So, this is your shrew. You touch her politely on the arm to ask if she has the time,¬† and she smashes your face in for the audacity. And sometimes, if the author isn’t careful, it feels like you’re reading the book in CAPS LOCK. Writing in Caps is a sure-fire way of getting up people’s noses. I love a bit of fire, me, but I need a little grump, too: sarcastic, sardonic and dry.¬† A grew ( grump-shrew), if you will. I think there is a main cartoon character called Gru. Not Disney though, so I’m still on track with the comparisons.

Who is the lump? There is no lump; it just worked with my title¬† – rhyming with ‘one lump or two’. I have given many 5 star ratings for books headlining neutral characters who come across as quiet and submissive: a nice, unassuming character who goes with the flow. The only grievance I have is when they suddenly act of character and become all ‘chinny’ ( imagine Keira Knightley becoming indignant), and I wonder how they suddenly became so feisty.

For me, I like my protagonists feisty, dry and consistent. A grew. You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three days until my first submission – why is this process taking so long?

A week ago I started confirming all the details of my submissions. They fall over different days and have different requirements, so this is not just a duplication process.

Skim over the next part if you wish, the bikini is at the bottom.

To give you a brief summary ( about 5 hours a day)

Last Friday: confirming requirements: checking MS length required, date of submissions( some want 50, 100, one chapter etc );  manuscript cover letter and synopsis format; biography and cover letter  content ( If they say to email your cover letter is this a separate attachment *shrug*)

This Monday: Started writing biography and content of cover letter. Biography: who I am, my experience, and any relevant achievements. Cover letter: market I’m writing to, why, authors/work I am similar to, and in one case, how I can help promote the book.

Tuesday: Halved bio and cover letter content, and researched cover letters further through QLD Writers centre. It’s starting to look like a query letter now, even though it’s not going to agents.

Wednesday: rewrote synopsis to make it shorter (240 words) and punchier, formatted manuscript and synopsis checking indents, page breaks, changing font and adding headers and a title page, started cover letter.

Thursday: Daughter was off sick so I thought it wise to firm up my blurb, tagline, logline in case this helps with my synopsis. Rewrote synopsis to include the ending…fun day

Friday/Today: Have finally decided to submit my new adult urban fantasy as adult instead of young adult as MC is 20 – this has been plaguing me all week. And I have to rewrite everything above.

Where has the time gone? If I hadn’t started last Friday with these finer details, there would be no way I’d be ready on Monday. I cant stress enough- start this process early if you want to meet your goal.

I’m already thinking about editors eyes rolling over my work, tossing it aside and saying, “NEXT”. It made me think about the power of visualization. If I’m thinking they will hate it and that I will fail, have I already lost? Will this doubt sabotage my final revisions, ensuring the result is congruent with my beliefs?

When you want to look skinny, you visualize yourself after you’ve lost weight – wearing a bikini. If you want that new house, you picture yourself in it. So today I’m going to picture myself wearing a bikini in my new house while editors look over my work and say, “Wow. This is what we are after,” just in case any other negativity bleeds into my submission head space.

Romance and non-romance readers unite – is there a happy medium?

Gather round romance and non-romance readers and writers. Or gather around. Do it in a circular fashion, circle before you get here, or just come and sit down anywhere.

Now, scooch in a little closer.¬† I’m not a complete monster. I’m only halfway there.

Originally I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to talk about¬† the deep psychological reasons behind why¬† I can’t read romance and why others can.¬†¬† I’ve found great reading friends over the past three years and I know that our romance buttons need to be pushed in different ways. Some of us need a manual, but others can enjoy the book for what it is, and leave out with the nitpicking. This is one of those times where I think to say less is to say more.¬† I have a habit of coming across a little cynical.

I was an obsessive reader before I started writing. When I found there were adult versions of¬† Young Adult Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, I went a little crazy. Er, crazier. The supernatural without angst? Isn’t this one of their super powers that allows them to hook so many readers? Bring on the twenty books I ordered from the library. Bring on the flushed cheeks when I was served by a man at the counter and I used my husbands library card. He didn’t have to say, ” Are these for your husband?” But he did.

So my eyes were opened – widely. I have romance, sex and alpha men, and I didn’t know what to make of them. What I found though, is that there were romance aspects that stopped me from reading the more romance-skewed books. The romance seemed too extreme, too unrealistic. I was proclaiming, “Why is she so special!” “That wouldn’t happen!” I read to escape, but I found I was escaping less.

I ran to Urban Fantasy, clutching my pearls. I wanted more tension, a slower-burn romance, an exciting protagonist, a greater connection, a less protective male and less sex.

Would romance writers lose their market if they compromised these elements? When I throw a book because a woman looked at a man’s biceps thirty times while they were in a dire situation, is there someone out there dichotomous to me who throws the book when she only looked at them twice?

Is there a way to keep all of us happy? Is there a happy medium? Well, you’d have to find a happy medium first, and if they are happy, they’ve probably finally worked out the lottery numbers and won’t want to work anymore.

*braces herself*

 

 

 

 

Looking at review pressure points in a different light.

I never had a review blog, but I did write normal reviews on goodreads and was quite vocal. I don’t review anymore because I guess on this side of the writing, I’ve changed my perspective.

From my experience with reviewing, there are a number of pressure points that can boil blood.¬† This is my take now that I’m behind the wheel. These might be Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance pressure points, but some are relevant to all genres. This list isn’t exhaustive.

TSTL – Too stupid to live.

Well I changed this one to ‘ too stubborn to listen’¬† for Mae, my protagonist.¬† This is when you feel the character is making reckless and uninformed decisions, endangering their safety. Characters do some pretty stupid things. When you write, you need to take them on a journey or they’re all just sitting around in an impenetrable box shooting the breeze. And although the breeze might turn quite rancid after awhile as they start sharing breath, the story would be more interesting if you get them out there into the action. I think the key here is growth.

Growth

Okay, this one hasn’t changed for me. I love growth. I love to watch a sitcom where one minute you are shaking your fist at an idiot, and the next you are crying because they figured out that no-one tolerates a selfish hater. I can be easily manipulated by good writing. Where it happens is important to me though. I like characters to grow within the book. I won’t wait 2-3 books.

Love triangles

Sometimes they just appear. They don’t bother me anymore because what I thought was contrived, is sometimes a coincidence, and sometimes there’s more than one member of the opposite sex hanging around that’s single.¬† What does bug me though, is when the protagonist manipulates her loyal subjects who in turn morph into sulking morons when they don’t get attention. But I don’t review anymore. So I’ll shush.

Cliffhangers

I thought these only existed to entice the reader to continue the series. What I’ve realised is that you write until you feel the story is ready to end.

Mary-Sue

This one still confuses me but I love it when people rant about it. I think this is when a protagonist is deemed uninteresting,¬† but the love interest runs around like a headless looney to be with her anyway. Or is it when ten headless loonies want to be with her? Or do they whine about how boring they are – I don’t even have to infer it – but they suddenly become the most interesting person to the most amazing person and there is no reason? Is it when you feel the writer wishes they were the protagonist?

I can probably tolerate anyone as long as they don’t have loads of adoring fans who pass out with awe when they walk past. And I have to see that romantic connection. I get it when she’s sassy, and he’s sassy and together they are the Sassinators, but when there is only a physical attraction and there is loads of whine involved, I’m out. Wine involved? Count me back in.

Okay, I just did some research. This needs its own post. Could be fun.

Interesting Protagonist.

This is probably more of a pressure point for UF and PNR since most of it is written in first person pov. There is nowhere to hide. I used to wonder, “Why don’t writers make the protag interesting? A real fire-cracker?” They may not want to, they may want the story to shine, they may not think they are uninteresting. Also, I read a book with an over the top¬† fire-cracker once and wow that was exhausting. Maybe not to the writer though. *shrugs*

What are your reviewing pressure points and have they changed? Did you change your perspective on reviewing when you started to write?

*deletes goodreads reviews*

What makes you put a book down? Questions for beta readers.

I recently sent out a list of questions to beta readers. It would have been less scary to just ask for their general reaction – being hunted in the woods by a hillbilly would have been less scary. But it raised some interesting points and I hope it helped them with my expectations which in turn helps me out with my submission.

I found these ones most important:

When did you first put the book down and why?

This uncovers if your protag is likeable, if there’s too much detail, and if there’s enough action in the beginning. If they are reading the book for you they probably wont put it down, but a non-beta reader might.

Seeing that you may send only the first 50-100 pages of your manuscript to publishers/agents, this is going to be where feedback is integral.

I’ve spent two weeks rewriting my first two chapters to get to the action faster ( I’m writing Urban Fantasy though). I’ve deleted some detail, and I’ve tried to thread whats left¬† throughout in a drip feed format.

This one was tough for me because I love banter, but I decided to eliminate unnecessary dialogue – especially when it looked like Mae/I was trying too hard to be clever. The start is about setting the scene, and once you know what she’s like, I don’t need to hammer you with it.

And basically I tried to show and not tell ( are we sick of hearing this yet?) her background, her relationships with secondary characters and her personality. A lot of this is done in dialogue. You can infer a lot from the way they move and speak to each other.

What was your fav/least fav scene – could it be shorter/longer

This picks up any undeveloped ideas, or even areas where you emotionally connected with the reader and weren’t aware of it. This was also where I found that the beginning was two heavy in detail.

Was anything confusing?

I have a scene where you are taken back to the protags past. I kept it in first-person present-tense, and basically confused most people. If you confuse people they may switch off and skim, and the scene will lose its impact. It was suggested that I change this to third-person past-tense and now it makes sense again!

Could you relate to the character? Were there actions consistent?

This one was important too. Mae can be pretty dry at times. If she goes too far and I lose people, then I really need to be careful. It’s written in first-person present-tense, so there’s nowhere to hide. To help with this I made sure I didn’t overdo her inner monologue/narration.

Consistency. This was key for me. As a reviewer I’m pretty unforgiving when it comes to a characters consistency and believability. If they react a certain way in one scene, they had better be consistent with the next scene. Unless they’ve learned something, then I think its important to show that growth and make it apparent.

Would you like to see more of another character? Who was your favourite?

I’m not sure about this one. Maybe its because I got back four different responses and I got confused. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe I need to concentrate on key characters more?

Was the ending believable?

This was scariest. It’s a small cliffhanger. But ultimately, I ended it in such a way that would show that my series is heading this way and you should be aware. There wasn’t too many issues here, thankfully. But we all know, we are going to end it in a way we feel comfortable anyway.

 

So the feedback was great. And I took it all on board. I might change some of it now, I might leave it until publishing. But I know that that to beta, is to come first ūüėõ

What other questions do you think you should ask beta readers?

 

YA,NA and Adult: Blurring the lines

I’m going to be making some huge generalisations here. I’m in the final stages of my second to last edit and I have to take some leaps. Forgive me if I fall into a big hole in the process. I’ll roll over and expose my belly later, but I don’t have the time right now.

I should probably note here that I’m a huge Urban Fantasy fan ( with Urban Fantasy there’s a paranormal aspect, but the romance normally takes a back seat. If romance was driving, it would be called Paranormal Romance.) and my comments about contemporary romances are probably ill-informed and basic. But considering it takes up a large part of the NA market, and this is where my book fits age-wise, I have to acknowledge it’s existence.

Hi, NA Contemporary Romance *waves sheepishly*.¬† I’m Urban Fantasy, new to the block. No, please keep your pants on, this is just an informal introduction.

The year New Adult¬† was born ( protag aged between 18-25 I believe) , I contemplated writing a book. It was certainly¬† before the age group was accepted as its own category,¬† but I didn’t know it existed at the time.¬† I don’t know if I shied away from writing New Adult because of this, or because I wasn’t ready period. Redundant statement really.

I heard NA was born because some authors were being handed back their manuscripts and told: make the characters younger, tone down the sex and lets get some YA love out of the market. People wanted to write about emotions, the exciting time where you leave your parents to experiment life.¬† I believe it started with books like Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. Still pretty tame for NA really. The setting was university, but the sex didn’t dominate. I don’t know what happened though – over the next few years NA contemporary romance seems to have become very erotic.¬† I could proclaim myself a prude with my desire to shy away from reads that are heavily erotic. I don’t know if this is it though. And I’m not saying they don’t have great story lines that hook you in- I almost stayed up all night reading Beautiful Disaster. I guess I’m confused as to why the NA that’s selling well seems erotically skewed. Is this because there are no other NA genres available to this age group? Why can’t we have NA that reads like YA, but with older characters? Oh, but less angsty than YA.

When you take out the angst, you can almost argue it becomes more adult in nature. But considering a lot of my content and humour could be considered juvenile to adult readers,¬† this isn’t exactly where I sit either.¬† My character doesn’t tolerate boundaries, so I’ll be damned if I shove her somewhere she doesn’t want to go.

I’m blurring the lines. My book isn’t angsty, it isn’t romancey, it isn’t adult, it isn’t not erotic. Am I doomed? Will romance forever be kicking the back of my seat saying, “Let me drive. I can do this so much better, and I’ll do it better nude?”

When you’re writing, do you consider what appeals to your market, or like me, do you write what appeals to you, and hope that it will resonate with the right readers who can be of any age.