Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How Do I Get Published?

There is one question I hear the most at signings from aspiring authors. 

The question is, How do I get published?

Unfortunately, there isn't a simple answer to this, but I am able to lead people in the right direction. (We are of course, talking about traditional publishing, because if you are self-publishing, the way is a bit different.)

Here are the top ten things to do to be published.

1. Finish a complete novel

2. Have that manuscript critiqued by at least five people chapter by chapter and make the necessary changes

3. Send the changed novel to 5-10 others who will look at the book as a whole within a two week period of time. Make the necessary changes.

4. Send the changed novel out to 5-10 others. If you aren't getting plot complaints, move onto step five. If you are still getting plot complaints, repeat step 3 until you don't.

5. Pay a plot editor go through your book. This will cost you $2-4 a page. Make changes.

6. Once those changes are made, give it to a copy editor. This will cost you $2-4 a page.
7. Set up an account with querytracker.net and scope out which agents you'd like to query.

8. Use Elana Johnson's query book to write your query.

9. Follow the directions on query tracker and submit.

10. Once an agent picks you up, they do the work of selling your book to publishers. Yay!

The biggest thing that will increase your chances of an agent picking you up?

1. Do all of the above and then go to writers' conferences. They put you in front of the agents who are actively looking for clients.

Another big factor?  Luck! So, Good Luck, may the powers of the publishing world be at your fingertips.

If you want to self-publish then stop at step 6 and publish it.
Don't be tempted to cut corners. You need to do steps 1-6 for sure.

Is this list different than you'd imagined? What do you think?

In other news-- I'd love you to come check out the cover of my latest novel here. Thanks!!

Story Structure

I'm studying story structure (via the book "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder)
and trying to see how it is used. It's funny how it's starting to pop up everywhere! Like I was watching Disney's Tarzan and recognizing the elements I was learning about. Here they are--as I see them:

•Opening Image(s): The ship is sinking off the shore and a young family is saved in a life boat. The gorilla family's baby is killed by a leopard. Tarzan's parents are also killed by a leopard.

•Theme: Is supplied by the song playing in the background, Phil Collins singing "Two Worlds, One Family"

•Set up: Tarzan is not accepted by Kerchak but wants to be

• Catalyst: Kills a leopard and presents it to Kerchak, still not accepted

•Debate: Tarzan is upset that he's not like the other gorillas

•Break into Act 2:  The sound of gunshots lure Tarzan to discover people, he enters the human world

•B Story: He meets Jane, rescues her, begins to learn about the human world and speech from her, finds he is accepted

•Fun & Games:  Slide show and dancing with Jane, Tarzan's friends mess up the human's campsite

•Midpoint: Jane is leaving, Tarzan wants her to meet his family

•Bad Guys Close In: Kerchak discovers Tarzan led humans to gorilla family putting them all at risk; Tarzan decides to go to human world with Jane

•All is Lost: Jane and Tarzan are captured and Gorillas are caged by Clayton, Kerchak fights to save family and is killed

•Dark Night of the Soul: Tarzan realizes that he failed his family, humans are going to take them away

•Break into Act 3: Tarzan escapes the ship, fights for his family

•Finale': Tarzan battles Clayton, overcomes him through the talents he has developed by living with Gorillas, Clayton's own violence ends out killing himself

•Final Image: Jane stays with Tarzan, Tarzan leads his family in Kerchak's place; two worlds--one family is perpetuated with humans and gorillas in the same family

The story structure lessons from Save the Cat are giving me some handles to grab onto as Deanna and I rewrite a story that we've just felt "something was missing". So far we have found many things that are missing and we are working to plug those holes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Setting the Stage

My WIP #1 began as a dream that is now the middle of the story, and I had to work backwards to figure out how the MCs ended up there in the tale. But I also just winged it when I began writing it. What started as an exercise to see if I could write anything that was novel length led to me cranking out 80,000 words in a month, so I guess the exercise worked.

I'm normally very organized, and as I look back at that experience I'm still a little surprised that I just jumped right into it with no plans at all. Not that there's anything wrong with winging it; there's a wonderful kind of energy that comes from just jumping right in. But I'm finding that there are a lot of things I might (all right, should) have considered, when I was doing all that leaping.

Since then I've picked up a few books on writing. One is called Make a Scene - Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

The information has been very informative for this new writer, and I've had a several epiphanies as I study it and stew upon the information--especially in conjunction with input from my critique group. One thing that I've been really interested in relates to my work on description and the Show/Don't Tell issue.

Rosenfeld talks about how important it is to set the scene to ground your characters and keep them from becoming talking heads, that it may seem like mere background but is more like rich soil from which your story can grow.

The scene we set can be initally like stage directions for a play. It doesn't have to be perfectly established at first, and you can make notes to yourself--something like your characters being in a specific location like a restaurant with a reminder to yourself to research foods and smells unique to it. Your setting may not come to you all at once because some settings can and should have depth.

**light bulb goes off**

I realized something that could help me with my descriptions--using the five senses. Another 'duh' moment for me, but it was one that really excited me because it seems doable.

How do you set your stage? Are you able to juggle it all in your mind and don't have to take notes? Are you one of those writers who has maps drawn of your fantasy world? How much prep work do you do before you plow into the actual writing?

Friday, August 3, 2012


At our Summer Writers Workshop this past weekend, the iWriteNetwork Directors had a brainstorming panel where we each demonstrated our style of brainstorming.
So here's a quick recap for all you.
Cindy talked about how she likes to go on walks in the morning and she finds that she can work through rough spots and get into the characters head if she takes along a voice recorder and talks it through. Sometimes she just does plot work or scenes an other times she talks to the recorder as though she is a certain character.
Tristi likes to think in the shower but that doesn't work well to demonstrate in public so she had us all pick a character in a WIP and work though how they think and feel. Then how we would think/feel if we were in their shoes.
Donna likes to use the chat room on the NING. Asking others to help her think up lots and lots of ideas that may fit into the WIP. Like: What would two sisters close in age fight about? then everyone that's in the chat room can respond and she takes notes. These are a lot of fun!
Canda shared a sheet that she made up that she calls a beat sheet. It has a bunch of boxes all labeled with different words like: see, sounds, questions, actions, weather etc.. and you fill in the box with the appropriate things then work them into a scene that need to be clearer, longer or just more detail for a better mental image for the reader. This beat sheet is available on the NING for download.
I (Deanna) use music and photos for inspiration when I write in fact, I can't write at all with out music. I make a folder with pictures of places my character can go, or what they might look like and I build play lists for each book to listen to while I write. I played some songs and had people think about how the music makes them feel or could make their character feel and think about how the images could fit into their WIP too.
So what things do you use to brainstorm?

And to join the NING click here. It's our writers social network. No spammers allowed. :)