July 19, 2009

What Makes Your Novel Different?

While working with someone who was preparing a query letter, I asked, "Just what is it that makes your novel different from all the rest?"

The book in question was a romance novel. Thousands of romance novels are published every year; I wanted the author to come up with one or two sentences that would show the agent she was querying exactly what it was that made her novel outstanding.

Saying a book is an historical romance set in a certain period isn't quite enough, since there are probably lots of queries that come across the agent's desk that fall into the same category. What makes the heroine special? Or the hero? What dilemma do they find themselves in?

I once wrote an historical family saga called Two Ways West that could be summed up with this sentence: Two families travel to California, one by covered wagon across the plains and through the mountains, the other through Mexico and by paddle steamer, facing many obstacles along the way, and finally becoming neighbors in the foothills of the Sequoia.

Because I'm writing mysteries now, I'm far more adept at coming up with a one or two liner (often called the blurb, or elevator pitch) for them.

My latest Rocky Bluff crime novel pitch is: No Sanctuary is about two churches, two ministers, two wives, one murder.

The next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Dispel the Mist could be described this way: While Deputy Tempe Crabtree investigates the murder of a popular female supervisor she has a close encounter with an Indian legend, the Hairy Man.

Not sure that's what I'll use, but it'll be something similar.

The point of this blog is to let authors know they need to be thinking in terms of what they will say about their book that can be condensed to one or two lines that will intrigue and agent, publisher and ultimately the reader.

Writing a synopsis is difficult, but personally, I believe this is even harder. So think about it, what makes your novel different than all the rest?

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

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July 14, 2009

Photos and fun fact of Public Safety Writers Conference are up at www.policewriter.com

There's also a You Tube video up (search PSWA Conference), Kathleen Ryan's report at http://www.womenofmystery.net , Marilyn Meredith's June 24-29 blogs at http://marilynmeredithblogspot.com

Yes, you can spot me in the crowd!

Marilyn Meredith took notes while I was too busy listening! She talks on her blog about tips from Betty Webb, the Mistakes That Make Us (law enforcement) Cringe, Screen Writing, Getting Forensics Right by Steve Scarborough and the editors and publishers panel.

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Laurel-Rain Snow has a contest give-away for her book WEB OF TYRANNY. She wants to know your favorite summer memory. Go to http://rainysnowday.wordpress.com:80/contests-giveaways/ You can see my entry there!

Contest ends July 31.

Laurel was one of the authors at our Hanford BookFest.

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July 12, 2009

How Do You Hero?

Before marriage, I was a serial dater. What does that have to with my hero? Simple. If it hadn’t been for guys like ‘Sand Box Boy’ or ‘Psycho Stalker’, I wouldn’t have compiled a mental list of what an ideal man should posses. I started the “wish-list” as something fun to do with my roommates, never knowing I’d some day draw upon those late night gab-fests as writing material.

Last summer, when I decided to start my book, I was at odds on how to shape my leading man. I wanted him to be real, yet also someone women would lust after and revere. Let’s face it, finding a good man and winning the lottery have similar odds! A hero needs to be something special. The Holy Grail of Men so-to-speak.

My husband jokes around saying women would be happy with men in general, if not for romance novels. When I asked him to elaborate, he shrugged and said no such men could exist except in fiction. Sure I laughed, but then I sat back and thought about what he was really saying. Women readers want the man who will pull their hair during sex, but then go get them a glass of water afterwards! We want the good guy and the naughty boy rolled into one shiny package. (If only such were available in a catalog!)

Amazing! Here I’d spent days laboring over the perfect equation for creating the next Rhett Butler and the facts were right in front of me all along. A hero needs to linger on your lips like a fine wine, but still pack a punch enough to make you crave more. So when I write my hero’s scenes, I remember what I wanted in a man when I was on the hunt, but also try to tie in the character arch most human men seem to have evolved away from.

I’d never admit it to him, but maybe my hubby is right, romance novels can warp women’s expectations of men. But what a delusion to endure! I love my big-guy more than life itself, but I sure love being engulfed in book with an alpha-male I don’t have to pick up after, too!

So, the next time you feel lost channeling a hero, think back to your own “dream man” and those heroes that left you panting. Make it fun! Get a ‘frosty beverage’ and call up your old ‘hunting buddies’. With a little imagination and a lot of laughs, you’ll be on the way to creating your own winning hero combination. Sometimes, the answers we seek are the ones we already have and didn’t know!

July 5, 2009

Independence Day-The Day After

Yesterday we celebrated an important holiday in this country. The 4th of July has great meaning for those of us who live here. It is one of our most patriotic symbols of independence. We celebrate this day because of independent, free thinking people.

This should be a special day for writers. We too are independent, free thinkers. If there wasn’t something in us that fights to go a different way, follow an inner voice or ignore the nay-sayers around us we wouldn’t be writers.

Writing is touted as an individual craft. The lone writer toils each day to dig deep inside themselves to bring to the page the words that will tell the story they must write. But we are genetically social creatures. We need support in our lives and even more so as writers. We crave the acknowledgement that comes from sharing our hard work with those who have the same drive to produce magic with the written word.

On the 4th we gather together with family and friends to enjoy and share our lives. Being a member of a writing group should have the same purpose. I have become good friends with the wonderful ladies in my group and they will forever be a part of my life.
If you are a lone writer reach out to other writers and find your own group.
And to my circle of writers; have a great 4th and I will see you again, same place, same time.

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